And Ray gave it a YES.
So before you read any further, please follow this link and read the first page of A Girl Called Graye and use the voting buttons to tell me whether or not you would turn the page. I would also appreciate any feedback, compliments and constructive criticism alike, as they will all be read and taken seriously. My page is listed along with the Holiday Bookshelf, so you’ll have to scroll to the bottom to find my public flogging. 🙂
I can’t express how thankful I am that this came at this particular time in my life. I’m always petrified to show my writing to anyone outside my inner circle (even showing it to those closest to me always causes a decent case of indigestion). I submitted my first chapter to Flogging the Quill on the same day I accepted my new job running the education department of a local children’s museum. I was very excited about the position, with only a couple of exceptions: less time at home and much less time to write.
You see, that little voice in the back of my head kept telling me to hang it up. The publishing world is going through a major upheaval over self-publishing ebook authors and all that jazz. It’s more competitive and even harder for newbies than ever before – so that small part of my brain said it was time to focus on my career now that opportunity had presented itself once again. After all, I really am an excellent educator and here was my chance to help other educators grow and develop too and really make a difference in my community. Time to put on my big girl panties and give up those pipe dreams about being published, right? Right. That’s what I said to myself, anyway.
So I decided to submit to Flogging the Quill and finally let others give me the reality check I needed. I fully expected Ray to say, at the very best, “Not quite” – then I expected comments like, “Needs to work on the craft of writing,” and other things like that. I almost fell out of my seat when I read his email to me and his review on his site.
Drum roll please! He said it reminded him of Harry Potter! Not in a plagiarism kind of way – in the way the story starts with “colorful, detestable antagonists” – I was literally dizzy as I read these words (over and over again). It was one of those rare occasions where I truly could not believe my eyes. Not only had he said YES, but he had really NICE things to say about MY story and MY writing. Shut the front door! I almost fell out of my seat!
Lesson one learned from this: Always be honest in your critiques. My husband took the time to go back through Ray’s other reviews and was truly surprised at how rarely he gives a yes – and a full yes (meaning he doesn’t say something like “Yes, but…” and offer suggestions for edits) is even rarer. He usually says no, albeit a polite no, and explains why. He does this about 80% of the time, at least that was the number for the reviews dear hubby looked at and he did not look at all of them. Had Ray’s previous reviews been more mixed, his review of my work would not have had the same impact with me. He’s never rude and never offensive – on the contrary he’s polite, informative, and helpful. But always honest. A no is a no and a yes, well, it’s really a yes.
Lesson two learned from this: I’m reminded of why I write in the first place. I write for me. I write for my husband. I write for my daughter. I write for my sister. I write for my niece. I write for you (even though you may never get to see it). I write to give myself and others pleasure. Do I want to be published? Well duh, of course I do. But that’s not the reason I write. I’ve been writing for years and only recently began to consider submitting to agents and publishers. There will be no more talk of giving up writing. Ever.
And lesson three learned from this: This story will be published. I’ve kind of said that all along. This is the one story that won’t leave me alone. The characters, and their world, are with me everywhere I go and in everything I do throughout my day and often even in my dreams as I try to sleep. I’ve said all along that “if I can’t get it published the traditional route” then “I’ll self-publish a few copies to give as gifts to everyone I’ve driven insane about it over the past few years” and I stand by those words. But this time with conviction. I love to write, and I truly love this story. Seeing my words on Flogging the Quill’s site did something to me yesterday. A fundamental shift in how I view my writing. It’s no longer a hobby for me, but a necessary part of who I am.
And if you want to know what’s up with the dragonfly – well – you’ll have to read the book (as soon as it’s available).
And to the fantastic Angela James: Yes, I’m aware I just used up a good number of my allotted exclamation points but it just couldn’t be helped under such circumstances.
Happy writing everyone!