Category: critiques

Avoiding Cliché

So, I got feedback from my other essay yesterday, the one I was wondering about while waiting for feedback from the first free-form essay. It was highly favorable. The professor loved it, except for my next-to-last-sentence, which was, he said, the only one he would change. That sentence was a cliché, which slip into my writing without me even noticing.

Should I have caught it? Definitely. Was he right? Absolutely. Am I upset about the feedback? Are you kidding me? I’ve learned a lot from this class, especially from his comments. I got very detailed feedback, several paragraphs long, on this essay. He took the time to tell me how much and why he liked my voice, my setting, my characters…and what I did at the very end that erased all of that hard work. Knowing the positives about the essay, and what negated them, allows me to actually learn this lesson, instead of just getting the grade.

The point of his feedback:  cliché= laziness. Laziness is bad and undoes all of your hard work. So….don’t be lazy:  avoid cliché!


Doing Too Much

In case you’re wondering where I’ve been (you know, all three of you that are reading this), I need to make a confession: I tend to over-commit myself. Basically, I need about 5 extra hours in every day to get everything done I need and/or want to do. Here’s a list of things I need to be doing on a weekly basis (some of which I’m failing miserably at):

1) Work (2 15-hour days, 1 13-hour day). On my feet….
2) School: 17 hours this semester (5 class, one lab, WTF was I thinking?)
3) 3 blogs (my writing blog, my personal blog, my environmental blog)
4) Write the first draft of The Fall (My Muse thinks I’ve gone on strike.)
5) Revise the zombie story
6) Revise the werewolf story
7) Write book reviews for (assuming I have actual time to read)
8) Keep up with my writing crit circle (I’m trying.)
9) Church (This has become a necessity in my life. Period.)
10) Keep up with all my home projects (the green-friendly ones that are now my priority)
11) Hang out with family and The Diva (so she doesn’t have a complete breakdown. I love you, sister-wife!).
12) Work out. (Ha. Hahahaha. Yeah. With what free time? I’m pretty sure the 5-7 miles I walk at work 3 times a week count for something.)
13) I’m taking a 6-week Nutrition class on Coursera (halfway through), with a Philosophy class starting in 2 weeks…
14) I’m pretty sure I’m missing something, but I can’t remember what just now…

You’ll notice this list does not include things like, oh, sleep, relax, hang out with friends. All of which are things I do try to do, too. I’ve had some stuff going on with the Sierra Club and Environment Texas. This past weekend, I had a membership class at church. I have another one next weekend.

Watching TV…sigh. It’s a good thing I have a DVR. That’s all I’m saying. Actually, I did watch two shows I had recorded on Sunday, while I was doing other things. A friend of mine called while I was watching. He asked what I was doing. When I said “Watching TV,” there was dead silence on the line for a good ten seconds, then “REALLY?!” Yeah. Before that, it had been…oh, probably a month, since I had my TV on. Money well spent on the cable bill, huh?

In short, I’d show you my daily planner, but I’m too embarrassed. It’s probably confusing to everyone but me. Plus, I’m severely OCD when it comes to my planner and it might be color coded…

So, every day, I feel like this:

"Lalalala...I've got this!"
“Lalalala…I’ve got this!”

But in reality, I look like this:

...or not...
…or not…

Lost: one Muse. If found, please send home ASAP

I’m proud to say I’ve actually made progress this week.  Not on writing.  I haven’t done any actual writing this week.  Sigh….Muse?  Where aaaaare you?  Hello? Okay.  This is what my progress on The Fall looks like over the past few weeks:

dear cursor

You’re right:  nothing.  No writing.  But it’s only Tuesday….Apparently, my Muse has taken off for parts unknown.  Knowing my Muse, “parts unknown” is probably code for “a beach with a hammock, a never-ending margarita machine, and a cute cabana boy.”  I digress.  Where was I?  Not on a beach….

I did, however, manage to do my revision chapter outline for seven chapters of the werewolf story this morning.  I also converted an entire chapter of the zombie story from 3rd person to 1st person POV.  That’s trickier than it sounds…I’ve done short crits for two people in my writing group.  Written several blog posts for my other blogs.  And looooots of homework.   Yay for homework.  Except not.

Goals for the rest of the week:  Convert another chapter of the zombie story.  Finish the revision outline for the werewolf story.  Write another chapter of The Fall.  Survive.



Where Have I Been?

…that’s a good question. Let me see if I can give you the simplest answer. (Simple. Ha. There IS no simple answer. But I’ll try to explain.). For the first time ever, I started NaNo but didn’t finish it. I think I wrote about 18k words, and then hit a wall. Not a wall in my writing, a wall in my life. For the past four months, I’ve been struggling with depression. And also, apparently, denial. But about halfway through November, I hit this wall, and realized I wasn’t getting any better on my own. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t focus on anything (Good luck with writing…). I didn’t want to be around people. I was sad and hopeless all the time. Thank God, I have good friends, some of whom have been through this. I finally listened to them, saw a counselor and my doc, and now, six weeks later, thanks to meds and some other changes I’ve made, I’m feeling MUCH better. It’s hard to overstate just how much better I feel now. I feel like myself again. And that is SO nice.

I’ve started being active in my crit group again. I’ve started revising my Werewolf story (again). I’m even planning on starting a new story, if not today, then Saturday. And I plan to start blogging here regularly again. I’m back. You’ve been warned….

The Prodigal Returns

No, I haven’t actually dropped off the face of the planet. Not that there’s been much evidence to the contrary around here…I’ve been busy. Yeah. That’s it. Busy. Sort of. Or lazy, whichever word you prefer (although the second is probably much nearer the actual truth). Work’s been pretty busy lately, and I’ve been out of town, too, so that’s two excuses I’m using.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of editing on Witches. I’m a little past the halfway point in this pass, and of course, editing eats my brain, so it’s a slow go most of the time. At this point, I’m looking forward to finishing this pass and putting it away for a while.

My crit group has two new members, and is a lot more active lately, so that’s been taking more of my time than it has in roughly a year. It’s all good, though. We needed the new blood, and they seem to be a good fit. They’ve both done really useful crits on my latest chapter, and I’m looking forward to getting into both of their stories.

I haven’t done any writing this month. At all. Might possibly explain my less-than-sunny attitude of late. (Actually, it probably does. I’m always much happier when I’m writing something. Guess that’s a sure sign I was meant to be a writer, huh? Maybe not a good one, but a writer nevertheless.) I’m hoping to get at least a few thousand words in this week so the month won’t be a total bust on the writing front. I think I needed the break from my over-achieving madness, but I can feel the stories starting to nibble at the edge of my brain again. Not to mention that I’m playing catch-up on the HTTS lessons, and that story is starting to take shape as well. Like I need another story in the queue for this year.

Actually, the main reason I haven’t been around lately is that I got sucked into Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books. Completely consumed. To the point that I find myself talking with a Scottish accent (But only in my head. So far, I’ve managed to keep it from being out loud. The talking-to-myself-in-my-head thing is totally normal for me. I swear.) I absolutely love these books. The world is so realistic I feel like I’m there. I love Jaime and Claire. I think they’re great characters, and so lifelike I feel like I know them. (And, incidentally, could I get a Jaime for myself, please?) I love big books that let me sink into them, and I’ve been totally immersed for the last several weeks, to the point of staying up ’til 3 a.m. on a day I have to work because I had to find out what happens! I just wish I’d read the books before Conestoga last July, when Diana Gabaldon was the Guest of Honor. I did go to several panels she was on, and was very intrigued by her, but I probably would have gotten a lot more out of it if I’d read the series first. Love them. Can’t wait ’til September when the next one comes out. And, strangely enough, I’ve seen three people in the last couple of weeks who have been reading one of the books. Go figure. I’m surrounded.

So, that’s the reason I haven’t been around. I’ve been in Scotland (I wish), and in the 1700s. Good reason, no? But I finished A Breath of Snow and Ashes today (at about 2 a.m.), so I have absolutely no excuses for slacking off. (Like I need an excuse.)


I didn’t come anywhere near hitting my goals for January. At all. Guess that’s what I get for setting such high goals, huh? I’m really not stressing about it, though. I started on the werewolf story, made it to the second chapter, and stalled out, probably because I was writing without any sort of plan. Then I discovered the HTTS class, which I’m going to use on this story. So really, although I’m not actively writing this story, I’m still working on it. (At least, that’s how I’m wording it to myself.)

The zombie story fell by the wayside this month, too. But, my co-writer had a computer meltdown, so we couldn’t really email about things like we normally do. (That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.) I am currently working on a chapter, though. And it should be finished up today.

I also did a novel swap in January that wasn’t anywhere in my plans for the year. Unplanned, maybe, but greatly appreciated and enjoyed. (Thanks, Dale!) I got some good things out of the crit I received, and as always, learned a lot from the crit I did.

Now, I’m off to work on Lesson Two of the HTTS class: Making a Sweet Spot Map.

March Madness

I haven’t made much actual writing progress lately, since I finished the first draft of my 2YN story, but I’ve been working on other things. I’m getting more heavily involved with the edits for Witches, trying to cut a lot of the extraneous details and wanderings, at the same time as strengthening the conflict and some other weak spots. Editing is hard for me. Very hard. Without that initial rush of creative energy, the work seems to drag, no matter how much I still love the story and the characters. Of course, Witches is the first thing I ever really tried to write, so it’s my baby. And killing any part of my baby is hard, no matter how much I know it needs it. The reactions from my crit group to the changes has been pretty positive, so I’m hoping to keep the improvements at least on that level.

The only new words I’ve written in the last week have been on the synopsis for Through Shadowed Stone. I’ve never written a synopsis before, and I know the drafts I have now are…not very good. Not horrible, I don’t think, but nowhere near good. I’m so grateful to have found the workshop on Forward Motion on putting together a submission package! It’s going to be a lifesaver, without a doubt. The original draft for my long synopsis was 1k over where it needed to be, so I had to cut that. The shorter synopsis involved cutting another 750 words. I know I tend to be a bit wordy, but cutting things out of the synopsis was difficult for me. The current result is definitely still a work in progress. It needs a lot of smoothing before I even get to the polishing stage. It’s more of a step-by-step description right now than a narrative. I know I need to make it flow, and show a lot more of my writing voice. But it’s a start.

I’m also working on a novel crit for a novel exchange. Well, “working on” may be the wrong word. I’m working on starting to read the story so I can critique it. I’m a fast reader, so I’m not worried about that part. I’ll read through the story the first time fairly rapidly, then go back through at a slower pace and pick it apart. I’m really looking forward to reading it, though. I just did another novel crit on a work with really strong, vibrant writing, so I’m looking forward to reading this one as well. I just have to conquer my procrastination tendencies and get started.

Other than that, well, there is no other than that. Besides working crazy hours this week, that’s all I’ve been doing. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep up the rather chaotic pace for the rest of the month.