Posted in Editing, Writing

8 Reasons Why Joining A Critique Group Is The Best Decision

A few years ago I remember posting on my blog seeking a writing group. I was looking for something online because I was working full-time and going to school full-time.

I knew a writing group would help me with my writing, but I didn’t know where to start. I had no idea where to look for such a group.

The day after I posted something on my blog about it, my dad ironically found an article in the newspaper. Our local library was putting together a writer’s critique group. Kris and I looked into it and we joined immediately.

We’re still part of that group to this day and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

8 Reasons Why You Should Join A Critique Group

I’ve always heard pros and cons about joining a writer’s group, but I’ve found it to be more helpful than harmful. So, here some reasons why I think every writer should join a writer’s group.

1. Editing Skills

When I first joined my writer’s group, I was taken aback at the feedback I received. When I read their pieces my thought was, “Wow! This is really good!” I liked all the stories and I wanted more. I didn’t really have too much to say because I couldn’t find any mistakes.

But there are always mistakes. There are always opinions. What did you like? What didn’t you like? I’ve learned a lot about editing over the past few years I’ve been part of my group. I know the right questions to ask and know what to look for when reading someone else’s work.

2. Writing Skills

Just like editing, you learn a lot about writing as well. As you read the work of your fellow writers, you’re looking at different writing styles and ideas. You learn from one another to help with your own writing process.

3. Inspiration

Stuck on something in your writing? Feel like something isn’t working out or you have writer’s block? Ask your group members for their opinion on what you should do next. They’ll help generate ideas and then you can pick and choose and try out the different ideas because deciding what to do next.

4. Socialization

Writers aren’t the best at being social. Having a group of writers is great because it gets you out of the house and gives you social interaction with other humans. Not only do you find a great community of writers, but you’ll also make new friends as well.

5. Promotion

Have a blog? Share it with your group. Finally getting that book deal? Throw a party with your group. Your writing group members are most likely your first fans. Plus, you can bounce promotion ideas off of one another as well.

6. Self-Confidence & Thick Skin

When I first joined my group and submitted my first piece I was nervous. I’ll admit, there was a sick feeling in my stomach when people told me what they liked and what they didn’t like about my work. Taking criticism is hard to get used to. However, there will be people out there who absolutely love your work and there will be people who think you’re a terrible writer. Everyone has their own opinions, their own tastes in books.

Your writing group will be honest and help you along the way. Through that, you’ll gain thick skin in taking criticism as well as gain self-confidence in your own work.

7. Motivation

Sometimes it’s hard to keep writing. Having a deadline to submit something to your group can either help or hinder that motivation to write. For me, it usually boosts my motivation to keep writing. I want to keep up with the members of my group and I’m also excited to share what my novel has in store for them next.

8. Writing Time

We all complain that there’s not enough time in the day to get our writing done. Having the deadline of the group will help with that. In a way, it’s kind of like homework and you end up making sure you find the time to get that writing done.

Are you part of a writing group? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted in Short Story Sunday, Writing

Short Story Sunday 161: Memories

Short Story Sunday: "Memories" | Flash Fiction

            When you’re having a good time with friends or family, that’s all you think about in the moment. You’re having fun; you’re having a great day. You never realize that you’re actually making memories.

Sophia stood in the middle of the cemetery wearing her black dress, the same outfit she wore just a year ago to Camille’s funeral. She held onto her black clutch with her arms down in front of her. Her head was bowed as though she was saying a silent, sweet prayer, but she wasn’t thinking about anything at all. Sophia just read the gravestone over and over again in her head.

Camille Maria Andrews, 1990-2010. A loving daughter, sister, and friend.

Sophia shook her head at the dates. They were having a wonderful time that night, but neither one of them had any idea that one of them would wind up six feet under. They were young and stupid… Really stupid.

Sophia blamed herself for what happened. Her other friends and her family tried to convince her otherwise, but she knew they were just trying to be nice. They pitied her and didn’t want herself to go through life believing she had killed her best friend since kindergarten. Even though Sophia didn’t directly kill Camille, she might as well have. She just only wished that it had been her because Camille didn’t do anything wrong.

Being a year older than Camille, Sophia had turned 21 excited that she was able to legally drink. Neither one of them had ever taken a sip of alcohol underage before. When Sophia had her first taste of a cold beer, she licked her lips not believing that she had been missing out on so much for the first 21 years of her life.

She wanted to go out and celebrate her birthday with friends, but Camille wasn’t allowed to drink. She didn’t want to drink, either. Camille knew it was a bad idea. She was patient enough to wait until she was 21.

“But I can’t celebrate my birthday without you!” Sophia had whined.

“You and I will go out together this weekend. It’s not a big deal.” Camille had said.

“It is a big deal. I’m 21-years-old now. I’m an adult. I can drink. This is a big one and you should be there with me.” Sophia had continued to argue and whine causing a few eye rolls from Camille.

“Fine, but I’m not going to stay late.” Camille had finally given in, like she usually did whenever Sophia complained.

Sophia cheered and handed Camille a fake ID. She had already contacted a guy from their high school and had one made for her. Camille was angry with Sophia for doing that. She didn’t want to break any laws.

“I’ll go to the bar with you, but I’ll just order a soda. I don’t need that.” Camille shoved the identification back at Sophia and turned to walk away.

Sophia tucked the card into her purse. She respected Camille’s wishes, but she wasn’t about to leave it behind. Just in case.

Camille was the designated driver for herself and Sophia since she wasn’t allowed to drink and therefore didn’t plan on drinking. Yet, Sophia took it upon herself to order two beers when Camille went off to the ladies room to freshen up.

When Camille came back, Sophia pushed one of the bottles towards her.

“I’ll drink both, but please just have a sip. You won’t regret it, I promise.” Sophia had explained.

Camille rolled her eyes. “Only because it’s your birthday. But if you drink both of these beers, that would make three for you. So you’re all done after these two, okay?”

Sophia nodded eagerly. She had been willing to make any kind of deal with Camille since Camilla had been willing to come out to the bar with her and to even take a sip of beer.

Of course, Camille loved the taste so much that she ended up drinking the whole bottle herself. Before she or Sophia knew it, they had both drunk a lot. Camille was confident that she was sober enough to drive the both of them. Sophia kept getting sick and couldn’t tell the difference between up and down, so she definitely couldn’t drive let alone be able to tell Camille that she too was too drunk to drive.

So they left the bar with an underage drunken Camille behind the wheel. Neither one of them ever saw that guardrail on the side of the road coming.

Sophia closed her eyes and thought back to that moment, but she couldn’t remember it. She only knew what the nurses and police officers had told her. Sophia tried to remember, but all she could think about was when she woke up in the hospital two days after the accident. Camille had already been pronounced dead.

Swallowing a lump in her throat, Sophia sniffed back some tears. She couldn’t believe that it had already been a year. As she stood in front of Camille’s grave, she had no idea what to say. She wanted to apologize, wanted to talk about what has been going on since she’s been gone, wanted to let Camille know that she missed her dearly. But no words would come out.

She didn’t like her birthday anymore now that could barely remember her 21st birthday. The only thing she remembered from it was that her best friend died.

“Happy birthday to me,” Sophia muttered. She dreaded this birthday since it marked a year and Sophia knew that she would dread her birthday every year for the rest of her life.

She blew a kiss to Camille gravestone and headed back to her car with her head bowed.

Sophia had never had anything else to drink after that day. It didn’t feel right since it was the cause of her friend’s death all because of her.

She didn’t think it was fair if she continued to drink and live while Camille would never get the chance to turn 21.

Words: 1,006

I hope you enjoyed this story! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Posted in Short Story Sunday, Writing

Short Story Sunday 160: Late

Short Story Sunday: "Late" | Flash Fiction           

Gwen stepped out of her car and pushed the lock button on her key. The car beeped at her as she turned her back and walked away. She had her backpack strapped to her back, plus her lunch box and a tote bag hanging from her right arm. Her car keys were in her left hand and her water bottle was in her right hand. She staggered towards the door as she tried to hold onto all the weight. She refused to make two trips inside the school even though her arms were burning.

She entered the school and walked through a couple of long hallways before making it to her classroom. Gwen had the day off from work, but she had so much work to do that she wanted to take advantage of the spare hours. Otherwise, she would have just spent the day in her pajamas playing games on her iPad. Of course, she would much rather be doing that but she knew deep down that if she didn’t put some stuff for her classroom together today, she would be regretting it tomorrow.

She had a couple of things that needed to be hung up on all the wall and she had to take down the current bulletin board and put on the new one. It didn’t seem like a lot, but she knew it was going to be time consuming.

Gwen made it over to her desk in the back of the room and dumped all of her things onto the surface of her desk. She held onto her lunch box and stuck it in the mini fridge behind her desk leaning up against the wall. She had brought plenty of food for herself in case she was at the school late. She hoped she wouldn’t be there long and she would be able to eat her food at home, but the last time she came late to work on her classroom she was starving because she didn’t bring any food and ended up being there a lot longer than she had originally planned.

She stood in the middle of her classroom and looked around. Where to start first? Gwen knew the bulletin board was going to take the longest, so she decided to get that done first and get it out of the way.

Gwen opened a drawer in her desk and took out a staple remover. The board she was taking down was all about community and the next unit was talking about being thankful. It didn’t take Gwen long to take down the community board, but now she needed to put up the thankful information.

She had taken home a lot of construction paper and glue to create a giant turkey out of heart shapes. She made a giant heart for the body and a small heart for the head. Using orange and red construction paper, she created the beak and wattle and drew on its eyes with a sharpie marker. She laughed every time she looked at it. She wasn’t the best artist so it looked ridiculous, but she liked how it turned out anyway.

Using red, orange, and yellow strips of paper, she created the feathers. She had also cut out red, orange, and yellow hearts and stapled them to the end of each feather. The following day in class, Gwen was going to have the kids go up to the board and write something they’re thankful for on the hearts at the ends of the feathers. She pictured it to look cute when it was all said and done, but once she put it together on the board is was lop-sided and looked weird.

Gwen inhaled and exhaled standing back to look at it. Well, whatever. She shrugged and turned away from it. These were young kids. They were going to be amazed at the large turkey hanging in their classroom and love the bright colors. They weren’t going to worry that the feathers weren’t even and the turkey had a sleepy look in his eyes.

Once that was done, Gwen cleaned up the stray staples (she used a lot trying to stick it to the board!) and then moved onto hanging everything else up on the wall.

She had some post cards about working together as a team that she had to laminate and hang up on the wall. The kids didn’t pay too much attention to the team building terms so she thought that if she hung them up on the wall, Gwen could reference to them often when the kids weren’t getting along with each other on a project or just in general.

It took her a little while to laminate the cards as she had a crank instead of a full electric machine, but it did its job especially since she didn’t have too much to laminate.

It took Gwen a while to tape the cards to the wall. Every time she did, she would step back and see that one was crooked or one wasn’t centered with the others. Gwen grunted each and every time she had to get back up on her step stool and fix one of the signs.

When it was finally said and done, she began to clean up and gather her things when her cell phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Where are you?” it was her husband.

“I’m at work. I just finished. I’m leaving in a minute.” Gwen replied.

“Do you have any idea what it is?”

Gwen looked over her shoulder and looked at the clock hanging above the door. It was almost nine o’clock. She bit her lower lip. Oops. She didn’t intend to stay in her room for this long.

“Uh,” Gwen stammered, “like I said, I’m leaving in a couple of minutes.”

Her husband sighed on the other end. “Drive safe.”

“Will do,” Gwen hung up. She put her phone in her pocket and gathered her backpack, tote bag, and lunch box. She shut off all the lights and yawned.

She utilized her day off nicely, but she was going to be tired the next morning when she was going to have to go back to work.

Words: 1,029

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Posted in Short Story Sunday, Writing

Short Story Sunday 159: Waiting

Short Story: Waiting

            Two days had passed, but nothing happened. Addison waited by her phone all this time waiting for the phone call, but nothing came through. She often picked up her phone and attempted to call someone wondering if there was something wrong with her phone, but it always seemed to work.

Her friend would pick up and Addison would say, “Hey, I’m just checking to see if my phone works. It does. Talk to you later, bye!” Then she would hang up. She called so many times that it got to the point where her friend would answer, “It works. Bye.”

Addison would laugh after hanging up. She had such a kind, understanding friend. Even though her friend really had no idea what was going on. But that was what made her wonderful. She had no idea what Addison was doing, but she understood and didn’t bother to ask for two many details.

It was her parents that she had to convince. Addison would try to sneak her phone to dinner and they always scolded her and took it away. It wasn’t polite to have a cell phone on the dinner table while she was with family eating a meal together. So, one time, she tried hiding it in her pocket. However, she forget to put her phone on silent mode and received a text message from her friend. Her parents heard the “ding” of the incoming message and took away her phone.

It was good thing cell phones had voice mail and told her if she missed a call from someone or not. Otherwise, Addison would go crazy.

On the third day of waiting for that phone call, Addison came to dinner and rushed to eat her food.

“You’re going to get sick if you eat too fast like that.” Her mother sighed. “Why can’t you just enjoy this time with your parents?”

“I normally do,” Addison swallowed a mouthful of chicken. “But I’m still waiting for Gary to call me.”

Her mother frowned and looked over at her husband, who was too wrapped up in his meal to even notice what was going on. Addison’s mother nudged him with her elbow and he looked up shocked knowing that he had missed something.

“Help your daughter, would you?” she said.

Addison raised an eyebrow. Help her with what?

“Oh, uh…” her father swallowed his bite and cleared his throat. “Addie, sometimes boys are…”

“Stupid.” Her mother finished.

“Right,” he rubbed the back of his neck.

Addison rolled her eyes. Now she knew what was going on. “Guys, before you continue,” she said holding up a hand, “Gary isn’t stupid. He said he would call and he will. But–”

“But guys don’t always follow through with the things that they say.” Her father interrupted her. “They say that they’re going to call you, but they don’t always do that. Sometimes it’s because they forget and sometimes it’s because they just say that to make you feel better because they’re… Well…”

“They’re wimps.” Her mother finished. Her father furrowed his brows and looked over at his wife.

“Take your father for example,” Addison’s mother pointed to her husband with her thumb, but stayed focus on her daughter. Addison glanced at her father who simply shrugged his shoulders and went back to eating.

“I had to threaten to break up with him if he didn’t propose.” Her mother said. “I mean, we were together for what? Six years at that point? He was pushing 30.”

“So,” Addison interrupted, “Are you trying to tell me that I should call Gary myself even though he hasn’t gotten back to me yet?”

“Absolutely not!” her father stiffened and looked up at her again.

“We’re just trying to explain that men can fickle sometimes.” Her mother shrugged her shoulders.

“Guys have a code, too.” Her father continued. Addison pursed her lips together wondering when would be a good time to interrupt her parents again. She didn’t expect to get a side course of lecture to go with her chicken.

“Guys think that they should wait a few days before calling a girl.” He said. “For some reason they seem to think that by making a girl wait, she’ll want him more or something like that. They don’t call right away because they don’t want to seem like they’re coming on too strong. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Addison nodded. She opened her mouth to say something, but her mother spoke first.

“Men are ridiculous like that.”

“Really?” her father deadpanned at his wife, but she only shrugged in response. He turned his attention back to Addison.

“My point is that Gary wants you to anticipate his call. He wants you to go a little crazy waiting for that call so when he does, you’ll feel like you want him more than ever. He wants you to feel relieved when he finally does call.”

“Men are complicated and childish. They think they can get the upper hand by doing this.” Addison’s mother added. “Don’t give him the satisfaction.”

Addison’s father nodded in agreement and then took another bite out of his dinner.

Addison leaned against her arms folded on the table and stared at her parents intently. Were they finished? Could she speak yet?

“Do you have any questions, honey? Dating can be such a cruel world.” Her mother said.

“Right,” her father nodded, “especially when you’re in high school and your hormones are all over the place.”

“Oh, right. We should discuss her hormones.” Addison’s mother wagged a finger at her husband as though he was onto something and Addison was no longer in the room.

He shook his head. “Yeah, you can. I’m not touching that one with a ten-foot pole.”

“Guys?” Addison said loudly. “I think this conversation has gone on long enough. I just wanted to inform you that Gary and I are working on a school project together. He’s supposed to call me with his research piece.”

Her parents looked at each other with confusion.

“Oh,” her father said.

“Well, then by all means,” her mother said, “call him back. You don’t want to wait until the last minute with something as important as a school project.”

Addison sighed nodding her head. At this point, it was just best to agree with whatever her parents said. And she had, somewhere along the line, lost her appetite.

Words: 1,065

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Posted in Author/Site Information, Blogging, Reading, Writing

May 2017 Goals

May 2017 Goals for blogging, reading, and writing

Reading

Okay! This is the month I get back into my reading routine. As usual, I’ll read at least four books, but I hope to read more than that. Here’s what I plan on reading:

1. Snap, Cackle, and Pop by Carol Kearney
2. Madam Tulip by David Ahern
3. Underneath by Anne Goodwin
4. Dream, Recurring by Mark Canniff

Feel free to following along on my Goodreads and my Reading List to keep up to date with my reviews. Also, follow my Bookstagram. I’m still trying to get into a routine with it, but it exists. So, there’s that.

Writing

After a month of writing 50k, I don’t plan on getting much writing done this month. With that said:

1. Edit George Florence – I wanted to edit this last month, but Camp NaNoWriMo took over. I haven’t looked at this novel in a while, so May is dedicated to working on this novel.

2. Submit to two contests or magazines – I want to still attempt to get my writing out there. I’ve done well submitting this year, but I didn’t submit anything in April. It’d be great if I could find a couple of contests or magazines to try out.

If you’re looking to follow more of my writing journey, please consider signing up for my Newsletter. It’s free and I don’t spam. If you’re still unsure, check out more Info on it.

Blogging

Blogging is about to get busier this month, not because I’m in the works of a third blog (I know, I know…) but also because I’ve gotten behind on posts with the two blogs I currently have.

1. May posts for writing blog
2. May posts for Double Jump
3. Plan new blog (I won’t be talking about this one much. It has nothing to do with writing or reading, so I don’t even know how many of you would even care about it, but I do hope to get it up and running by the end of the summer. So, it’s another blogging goal for me.)

Oh, and I have to start commenting on other blogs again. I do pretty well with blogs I follow, but I need to explore WordPress a bit more.

Overall

I don’t know if I’m ready for May yet… Bring it on!

What are your plans for May? Is it going to be just as busy as mine? Let me know in the comments below!

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