Friday, April 30, 2010

Through the Good and the Bad: Crit Partners

This post is going to be a little short, because I totally lost track of the week and now work from my day job is waiting to be done. Despite its length, I think it's an important post. We've all felt overwhelmed in our lives. Once I hit the "publish post" button, I will have officially put my fears, apprehension and doubts away. We'll, at least for awhile.

Recently our crit group took a hiatus. It was much needed for the three of us. Between our personal lives, jobs and book launches (YAY Kitty and Tracy (ahem, I mean Judith!), we found that the group wasn't doing what we set out to accomplish. Instead of it being a safe haven for us to let down our guard as a group and go through our work with a fine tooth comb, it became stressful. At least, that's how it felt to me. We weren't consistent, weren't active enough to be helpful. I found that I would put off the crits and my chapters (we try to crit a chapter a week) until the last moment, because other things in my life were swallowing me whole. I wasn't enjoying it like I used to. In the past, I looked forward all week to their new chapters, waiting to see where their stories went. I sat at the edge of my chair, waiting for their critique of my new words, biting my nails in anticipation whether good or bad. Sadly, that went away.

I was working on two project at the time of our hiatus, but instead of feeling refreshed and creative when jumping back and forth, I just felt overwhelmed. It was like I didn't know if I was coming or going. I thought that I could take a break for a few weeks and then jump back in. To a certain extent I did, at least for awhile. I wrote a VERY rough draft (minus the last few chapters) of one of my ideas. I had fun, but it didn't have the spark I wanted it to. I didn't know why it had lost its whimsical feel that the synopsis, lore and first chapters had. Shrugging it off, I jumped into my other story hoping that I just needed to step back from the first one to get a new perspective when we went back. Writing the second story wasn't as easy. I struggled, and instead of working through it, I put it down. Stupid I know.

After a few months of reflection, I realized what was missing. It wasn't anything that changed with me specifically, it was that I didn't have the safe haven of my crit group to talk me through the bad times, cheer for me through the good. I didn't have them riding me when I didn't write, reminding me why I love to write and read every day. The last few months have been a nice getaway, where I can focus on other things in my life, but now I'm ready to jump back into it. I'm happy to saw that we will be back together starting this Sunday! I look forward to the roller coaster ride that is a fun crit group.

Thanks girls for making me a better writer and making sure that I stay on top of everything. Without you, my work wouldn't be where it is at today. It's all because of you.

(Okay, so I lied, this post isn't that short).

Monday, April 26, 2010

Launch Party Tips and Blog Talk Radio

What a crazy fun weekend! I'm still flying after the UMS Launch Party on Saturday, followed by a wonderful chat with Barry from A Book and A Chat on Blog Talk Radio. Seriously, I'm not sure how I was able to function at school today. I may have to do an inventory of the collection - did I really check in books? Or did I just scan UPC codes by mistake? (Yikes!)

Anyway - I thought it might be cool to pass along a few launch party tips for those of you embarking on a similar journey. So, here goes:

1. No matter how stressed / frazzled you get in the days before the launch - the number one thing to remember is - you have people who love you and will have fun no matter WHAT glitches the night may bring - RELAX already.

2. You have every right to be a stressball - so many things can go WRONG! lol...

3. If you get a cake, make sure it will feed twice as many people as you are expecting for the launch - better to extra cake, than not enough.

4. Breathe.

5. Make sure the smallest act of kindness / helpfulness is acknowledged - most people are out of their element at these events - if someone offers to help clean up tables when the show's over - hug them!

6. Start planning at least 2 months before the launch. Get your venue, have a theme, find an outgoing friend to MC, tap into the local art scene and see if you can feature other artists/musicians - the more you share the spotlight - the bigger the spotlight grows.

7. Invite / blackmail / seduce people into attending - drag folks in off the street if you have one is safe from an author on a launch party mission.

8. Enjoy every second - it goes by in a blur! Thankfully, people like my friend, Dave, have amazing photography skills to help you remember it all.
9. Have another friend take some video footage and add it to the end of your rambling blog post: