free short story & the value of critique partners (#SFWApro)

First, a brief message: Just a reminder that I have posted a free short story "La Santisima" for you. If you would prefer to download it to your device, you can get the epub and mobi versions at Smashwords. You can rate it on Goodreads if you like.

In other news, I spent some time with my critique partner yesterday. We usually do chapter critiques via email. That is so that we can spend our face-time brainstorming both characterization and plot issues.

Last week, I sat down and developed an bulleted outline for the last half of the book. This is a reference that I can scan prior to writing the chapter. It contains nothing more than a list of plot points.

However, when my partner and I met, I went through the entire outline. This turned into one of those dreaded forty minute speeches entitled "What My Novel is About." It was the type of blow-by-blow account that sends most professional authors and agents into glaze-eyed comas where they nod occasionally (note: the nodding isn't in agreement, or a social cue to continue, they are usually fighting sleep).

On the other hand, my partner, who is a professional author, listened attentively and interjected some helpful points of her own just as I do for her. That is what critique partners do. We know one another's novels as intimately as our own. Neither of us are looking for a pat on the back, more often than not, we're looking for weak spots in one another's work.

The "What My Novel is About" speech is one that I always save for my critique partner and no one else. When I am at cons or other events and someone asks me about my work, I usually have a tag-line prepared. Nothing that will take more than a minute or two to explain. If the author or editor wants to know more, they will ask. Otherwise, we can move the conversation on to more interesting topics.

I would much rather someone read my work than hear me tell them about it. I believe the power is in the characters' voices and the story.

I will have a blurb for Cygnet Moon soon. I want to you meet Makar, but I want you to hear his story through his words, not mine.

And don't forget to check out "La Santisima" if you have time.