Sparks Still Fly! Free Read Contracted from White Rose Publishing – and a note on constructive criticism

Hey, everyone! Just wanted to share that my new free read-Sparks Still Fly-was just contracted by White Rose Publishing.

So, why write another free read? Tessa Takes a Chance is up there…showcasing my style, giving potential readers a taste of my voice…right?

The truth of it is, I’m writing in my comfort zone as I continue to hone my craft. I had a wonderful experience, learning from Nancy Taylor Rosenberg from her Fight to Write seminar – learning that writing is rewriting. Once you get comfortable with the idea, the rewrites, page line edits, and everything that comes along with it don’t rile you up anymore. Instead of trying to explain myself during critique groups (and those of you who go hopefully can tell) that when comments come out, my mouth closes and my eyes open. I learned through the All or Nothing rewrite process that every time my CPs had a comment, it was because I’d been unclear. If they couldn’t “see” something in my story, it’s because I’d clouded the vision for them. I’d made an error that knocked them out of the web I wove for them. I’d jarred them out of that warm, wonderful suspension of disbelief. And there’s no one else to fix that but the author.

When being critiqued, take your lumps. Read up on How to Be Critiqued here – good stuff! Someone once told me, God gave us two ears, two eyes, and one mouth for a reason. And anything that needs explanation more than likely is worth a second glance. But, writing is an art. And art gets critiqued – or it’s nasty cousin – criticized. So how, as a creative person, do you take the good and leave the bad? What’s good? Well. Good criticism is something that will help you build your story. It’s something that — even if you have to knock down a wall or two — leaves you with a bigger, brighter room than you started with. Bad criticism offers no resolution. No suggestions. And in the same vein of the building example – it’s destructive. It knocks down a retaining wall and leaves the whole story in the dust.

However, the only way to grow as a writer is to allow others to read what you’ve written. And the only way to do that is to embark upon the journey with someone OTHER than your mother, your father, or your best friend. As a good writer friend of mine once said… “It’s nice to hear my writing’s great. But I want to know what’ll make it BETTER.”

The flip side of the coin is – how do you critique someone else’s work? Again, you have to know where they are in their writer’s journey. Are they ready to get to work? still in the planning stages? If someone’s trying to crank out a story in a first draft, don’t bog them down with surgical grammar corrections. Give them notes on the plot. The believability of their characters. The fine tuning of their hooks, and cliffhangers. If someone is getting ready to seek an agent or publisher, that’s when it’s time to dig to the nitty gritty. Sentence structure. Grammar. Forgotten elements and when you make those dreaded POV slips.

So, this is what I’m attempting to do while working on my next WIP — which is growing from a short to a good sized novella. Writing is rewriting. Know it. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

And if you still have difficulty with the whole acceptance of being critiqued…I suggest a classic: Dale Carnegie’s “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.”

Look it up. You won’t be sorry.

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About Ashley Ludwig

Ashley Ludwig is an Editor for Patch News, Orange County and Los Angeles. She is also an inspirational romantic suspense author.

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