Thursday, February 9, 2012

How It Began - Becoming Your Own Critique Partner

The first thing to mention here is for those making a comment and leaving a way for me to reach them, an autographed copy of Becoming Your Critique Partner will be given away.

Becoming Your Own Critique Partner is a book about writing mainly geared toward genre fiction. Years ago, Jane Toombs and I attended the first EPICON in Omaha. There we met with other authors who had chosen the electronic way to publishing. The motel was wonderful and cozy for there weren't too many people. One nice thing was the rec room offered complimentary beverages every evening. So Jane and I went from our room to the small bar. We spent time talking to other authors who had chosen to publish electronically. This was the days of books on floppy discs to be read on the computer. When we returned to our room, we sat around talking about what to do next. Jane or I, I'm not sure who mentioned writing a book about writing. Then we began to jot down titles. Some of them were definitely influenced by the liquid libations.

Here are some of the chapter headings. Your Tell Needs Showing about showing not telling.
Listen To The Mocking Bird is about dialogue.
Is Your Black Moment Really Gray -
Can This Plot Be Saved.

This is just a sampling. We divided the 20 chapters between us and decided we would write and exchange the chapters and re-write each other's. I'm not sure now which chapters I started and which Jane did. We started out in a rush but then slowed down. Writing nonfiction is quite different from writing fiction. I had done some ghostwriting and thought this would be a breeze. Not really. Finally we had a finished project and we set out to find a publisher. If I remember the sequence, the first publisher died without putting the book out. The second publisher did produce the book but for some reason though the book sold we never received a cent from that publisher and they vanished into the ether. Though we were without a publisher we did enter the book in the 2003 EPIC award contest and had no thought of winning. We did not prepare a speech and actually managed to say something. Only one of the trophies arrived and Jane and I decided to share it. We did not have to since EPIC had a second trophy made and it sits on my shelf. Then we set out to find another publisher and Liz at Zumaya had loved and admired the book. She took it on and Jane and I added a final chapter.

So this is the story of Becoming Your Own Critique Partner. Will I ever write another nonfiction book. Doubtful. My brain doesn't seem to be wired that way these days.


Jane Toombs said...

Um,Janet, I think we started creating the table of contents titles while still in the "welcome" room because I brought home some of them on cocktail napkins. Also as I recall nothing happened for awhile, then all of a sudden I received a chapter from you. Not to be outdone, I wrote a different one and sent it to you. But like you I can't recall who wrote what. It was fun, though I'm with you--nonfiction is hard to write. Jane

Karen Wiesner said...

I really enjoyed reading this, Janet, and your comment, Jane. As a writer of fiction and nonfiction, I concur that writing nonfiction is vastly different and, in my opinion, not nearly as fun. But it's incredibly worthwhile.

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R. Ann Siracusa said...

I'm anxious to read this. I wouldn't ever give up my critique group, but I believe any writer needs the skills this book teaches. Both authors know their "stuff."

CityGirl said...

What a great collaboration! The craft of writing can only be improved I think when collaborating with a good critique partner or group. Would be interested to see what the finished product was!