My Loss is Your Gain

Ever since the Thomas Fire in December we’ve been clawing our way out of the hole that it caused us for shutting down my husband’s business for a month, and then having clients catch colds and flus and vacations.

Every month we’ve clawed a little closer to normalcy but it seems like each  month brings with it a new small catastrophe that we could have easily dealt with had it been a normal winter for us.

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Last month we had to repair equipment for the business and then, yesterday, our refrigerator died. I mean. You can live without a washer or dryer. We do live without a dishwasher. But you can’t live without a fridge. Maybe if you live in the tundra and can keep food in the snow? But not in So Cal and not in these rolling heatwaves.

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So my loss is your gain. How so? I’m offering a deal on my Manuscript Critique and Content Editing services. If you email me at shaunagranger82@gmail.com with the subject line “Manuscript Critique Refrigerator” or “Content Edit Refrigerator” I will give you a 25% discount on your project. Just don’t forget that key phrase.

And if you’re just in the giving mood you can support me on Patreon. I post unpublished fiction, tarot card readings, and give rewards based on your level of pledge. I will be sharing a brand new book, serialize, in the coming weeks.

If a monthly pledge isn’t your bag but you still like to send money to strangers, you can hit me up on my Paypal here: paypal.me/JSGrangers

So if you have a book you’ve been dying to get work done on, now is the time to hit me up!

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Catching up

I’m trying to be better about this space because I’ll forget about it for months at a time and then it’s awkward when I come back, acting like we’re cool, like I haven’t abandoned you for so long and am trying to pick up like it’s only been a couple of days.

So, with that in mind, I’d like to remind you that you can follow me on quite a few platforms outside of this blog. I’m usually much better about being active an vocal there.

We’ve got my FB fan page. I’m good about keeping people up to date about writing and bookish things there. And, I promise, I don’t spam post so I won’t be clogging your feed.

2017-07-28 11.03.48We’ve got my twitter feed. I’m far more outspoken there. I don’t shy away about my rage screaming over politics. If you like to keep art and artist separate and you don’t swing toward the liberal side of things, consider this your warning about my twitter space. I like the freedom I have there and I won’t apologize for it or anything I say or share there.

Then we have Instagram. Oh, I do love Instagram. That’s a lot of puppy pictures and what crazy hair color I’ve got going and food pics and coffee (lots of coffee) and of course, bookish stuff.

patreon bannerAlso, I have a Patreon page (with a new post up today!), where you can help keep me from being a starving artist with your monthly pledges. You can pledge as little as a dollar just because or you can pledge $3 a month and have access to all the exclusive fiction content I’m sharing (right now I’m posting the installments of Maggie’s [from Dandelions] story that will eventually become a real book, but you can read as I write), at a $5 pledge you get a free ebook of your choice each month and the rewards grow from there. Also, every patron gets their name listed in the acknowledgements of each book that releases as long as they’re a patron. I’d love to see that list of names grow.

spellbound widget invertedAnd, of course, we have the Spellbound Scribes. Through accidents and luck, I somehow became the moderator of this awesome group blog where I, and some awesome fantasy authors, post once a week on various bookish and writerly things. It’s very informative and helpful, I think.

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Second to last, I have two manuscript critique slots open for August. I don’t have any time in September, so if you want to grab one of these two slots, now is the time. You can check my rates and philosophy on my Manuscript Critique page and contact me at shaunagranger82 @ gamil dot com. If you mention you saw this post, I’ll give you 10% off the total cost of the critique!

Finally, just to remind you, or tell you if you don’t know, the eighth Matilda Kavanagh Novel is set to release in September! Eeep! And you can preorder your ebook copy now at your favorite ebook retailer.

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Pre-order links:

Amazon Barnes and Noble | Smashwords Kobo iBooks

The Importance of Good Alpha/Beta/Critique Readers

When you first start out writing, it’s incredibly difficult to let go of your pages and let someone else read them. Even a trusted friend or mate, the idea of someone else reading your work is so terrifying, it is probably the main reason so many people never pursue publishing. And it’s a sad thing.

Husband puts tiny faces on the bottoms of pages depicting his reaction to what he's reading and as a marker of how far he is.

Husband puts tiny faces on the bottoms of pages depicting his reaction to what he’s reading and as a marker of how far he is.

When I first started out, I held back my work as well, never wanting people to read it until it was totally polished and perfect. Yeah, I know, impossible. That’s why writers always tell people, don’t read your old work because you’ll want to fix it. There comes a point where you have to accept that something is done or just never finish.

But I have to say, it is having trusted beta readers and Critique partners, that has given me the courage and confidence to put my work out into the world for mass consumption – even though it is still terrifying! When people tell me they’re writing, or they’ve finished a project and don’t know what to do next, I ask, “Have you let someone else read it and give you feedback?” Often that answer is either met with complete shock and terror or a common answer of, “Yes, my spouse/mom/girlfriend/boyfriend/bff read it and they loved it!”

I mean, that’s great, but is your spouse/mom/girlfriend/boyfriend/bff a writer? Or an editor? Or anything to do with the writing world? Oftentimes, not. And oftentimes that spouse/mom/girlfriend/boyfriend/bff wants to love it to support you, or can’t see the errors because they love you, or don’t want to hurt your feelings so there is a tiny chance they’re lying to you.

Don’t get me wrong, if your spouse/mom/girlfriend/boyfriend/bff is in the creative world, or if they have a skill set that is imperative to your work so you need their insights, then yeah, let them read and critique. But they have to critique. They have to be honest with you. And you have to take that honesty.

Honesty. And then we talked about how to make it possible.

Honesty. And then we talked about how to make it possible.

My husband reads all my work. Mostly just to support me as my spouse and so that, when people ask him about my work, he can answer intelligently and I really appreciate that. But he is my Alpha Reader for the ASH AND RUIN TRILOGY. Why? Because he has many skill sets that are essential to the plot of the book, the fight scenes, the survival aspects, and the weaponry used in the books, that gives him the qualifications to critique the book for me and give me feedback, constructive criticism, and help to make it correct and better before I send it off to my beta readers to critique the book as a whole. For my other books, he helps me with fight scenes, but that doesn’t make him an alpha or beta reader for those.

What do my betas/CPs do for me? They help me make the book stronger. They tell me what works in the book, what they loved, what made them laugh or cry. Then they tell me what didn’t work for them, and why. Where my story might’ve gone off the rails and didn’t make sense. They tell me when I left a plot thread hanging, so what the hell happened with character x? They ask questions so I know that other readers will have those same questions and I won’t have the luxury to answer them so I need to fix it.

That little line made my whole day.

That little line made my whole day.

Having readers look at your work, give you honest feedback, and opinions on what to do to make it better, is not a slight against your genius. It is an opportunity to make your work shine, if you’re willing to take it. Now, believe me, if you have a reader who just tears you down, without giving you any praise, even tiny things to hold on to, it’ll break your spirit. So you have to find the right balance in your team of readers. Yes, team. One ain’t gonna cut it. I like to have three betas, and I like for all three to be different kinds of people. It really helps you weed out personal taste responses and know when things are really working or not in a general sense.

But the way you make that happen is by being open and honest with your readers as well. Ask them what kind of Beta/CP are they. Do they like to do reader reaction with in-text notes as they go? Or do they like to read the whole thing and then type photo 2up a critique letter with generalized reaction but comments on core things that stuck out to them? Or maybe they like to do a bit of both? I, myself, like to put reader reaction notes in the document itself so that I can make sure I don’t forget something I wanted to bring up later. And I like to put little “lols!” and “Good line!” comments when something gets me. But then I like to give the writer a short letter at the end, recapping and maybe making broader comments on issues I found, or illustrating things they did particularly well.

So let go of that baby. There is no way to know your book is ready for the masses or an agent to see if you don’t let someone who isn’t emotionally connected to it read it and tell you what they think. Even if they hate it, it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. The best thing about writing, is that you can always rewrite, but you gotta do it before you hit “publish” or burn bridges with agents because you sent pages prematurely. Have faith! Have courage! Build your team!

And, if you want to be someone’s beta, keep these things in mind. Constructive criticism doesn’t mean ripping someone to shreds. People need to know they did do some things well. We are not in the business of crushing dreams. The pie is big enough for everyone to have a slice.

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