Thursday, November 10, 2016

Using advanced readers

Autumn is upon us in New England. It hasn’t “come on little cat feet,” as Carl Sandburg says, but rather appeared and vanished, the foliage season now gone.

This is when I usually enjoy writing a new book, and I’m doing so now, starting a new series, in fact. I’m in the honeymoon period. Everything is fresh –– new characters, new setting, new (and interesting) conflicts. The only real stress I have at this junction is finding time to actually write. I’ve put many hours into the new book to date –– outlining and writing and rewriting the opening; I changed point of view three times (and tense once) before settling on one. Now, I’m off and writing.

Receiving feedback has gotten more important to me over the years. I attended an MFA program, graduating in 1998 from the University of Texas at El Paso. The overall experience was wonderful, the workshop experience, though, upon completion –– similar to most graduate students –– left me longing for nothing but privacy: I was ready to take what I’d been taught and write on my own when I graduated at 27. Now 46, I look for advance readers and have put together a strong stable of trusted confidants.

What I struggle with now is when to share works. How many pages are necessary in order for me to receive feedback I can use? This probably varies from writer to writer –– I can understand why some want to have a work completed before sharing. I, however, work in a Google doc and once I hit 50 pages, just share the doc with my friends, who comment as I go. Come to think of it, I’ve receive feedback even in the conception phase this time around: my agent Ginger Curwen critiqued my outline.

I’m curious to hear from my Type M colleagues and our fellow scribes as to their use of advance readers.

These are the wee hours of Wednesday, Nov. 8, the day after the United States Presidential Election. Donald Trump is now president, and I have the same sensation I did the day after 9/11 –– change is coming.

He has promised it, after all, for the past 18 months.

What changes will America see? What changes, if any, will the publishing industry see?

As a liberal-leaning registered Independent, who plays a conservative in his series (Peyton Cote, after all, is a border patrol agent), there will be additional political fodder for those books. He promises to ratchet-up the fight on ISIS, so the border patrol will be impacted, either financially or through immigration policies.

This weekend, I’m speaking on a panel at the New England Crime Bake. It will be interesting to see fellow writers and gauge their respective levels of satisfaction with the outcome, to hear their predictions of the president-elect’s impact, if any, on our business.

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