On the theme of not being lonely … I’ve been a while between blogs.

You might have noticed all the online jokes or not-jokes-really on Facebook from writers saying all the stay-at-home restrictions —don’t-meet-up-with-friends; don’t-go-to-cafes; don’t-exercise; don’t, don’t don’t schtick—hasn’t made a blind bit of nevermind to writers.

That’s life as normal for us.

I agree, me too, but I’m still saying doesn’t mean we’re lonely.

When I last blogged the reviews had just came in from the Ink and Insights competition. They were great, and this is my fav insight on my POV Pender.

Characterization is a strength of this piece. I feel like I know Pender better than some of my acquaintances. I love her dogged work ethic, the way she fumbles through her first major crime scene, and her increasing irritation with getting thrown into a situation out of her depth (and not being able to reach those who could help her).

That annoyance moves a bit toward nasty temper, and she sometimes seems to lack empathy, which makes her a slightly unsympathetic main character. But she’s truly well-rounded, and if I can’t decide whether I like her, that’s probably more my issue than hers.

I love the cast of supporting characters–each one vivid, but in her (or his) place. Miss Hind and her sister seem particularly well drawn. I loved this quote about Gretel: “She was the hole left in the cardboard after her sister was stamped out.”

Dialogue flows beautifully.

I could imagine someone saying these things–they roll off the tongue; however, occasionally, there is so much narrative in the middle of the dialogue that the flow of the conversation gets a little chopped up. The gestures are great, though, conveying so much about character and mood–jutting chins, hands jerking from pockets, car windows rolling down. A great line along these lines: “Pender killed the eye-roll before it spiraled into obvious.”

There are all kinds of things going on beneath the surface of this story, not just secrets related to the murder, but also something (it’s not clear what yet) between Pender and her husband (or is it boyfriend?), and a less than congenial working relationship between Pender and the more senior officer who eventually shows up to take over.

Who wouldn’t love a critique like this?

It makes my creative juices zing and it makes me feel part of a community, and that’s my point. Writing needs community. Most writers need to be part of a writing community.

That critique, was written by Rachel Hoff, a Colorado-based writer. She’s also a profession editor and you’ll find her on Reedsy. I loved how she got to know Pender so quickly so if you’re looking for an editor, there you go, she’s great.

In my list of not-lonely stuff, since I last blogged, I attended Jericho Writers’ first online Summer Festival of Writing. Jericho Writers was started (or is owned) by Harry Bingham. He writes the Fiona Griffith murder mystery series and he’s a very talented writer. There’s a man who knows about characterisation.

I somehow accidentally overpaid so they offered me a spot, one-on-one with an agent instead of the refund which sounded like a great deal to me.

I now know you’re not supposed to pitch if you’re not finished the manuscript.

Q. Guess how I learnt that?

A. Not the easy way.

But this Jericho Writers one-on-one thing didn’t sound like a pitch. It sounded more like the agent would comment on the submission: which means the first 50 pages, the log-line, comp (a shorthand chatter-noise to compare your book with two others: Fiona Griffiths meets Paddington Bear, for example, although that’s a ridiculous example).

Still, as the time for the phone call got closer, I did feel pretty nervous. I really admire this agent. I’d LOVE to be represented by her. What if it actually was a pitch? What if I pissed off not one, but two, agents? Small community, agent-world.

The one-on-one experience was great. I’m not saying yet who the agent was, but the very best, the most amazingly best-by-a-football-field-or-two thing happened.

“Send me your manuscript when it’s done. And take your time. These things take time,” she said.

That’s the best overpayment to attend a conference I’ve ever made.

And actually that’s not all, but the blog is long enough.

So back to my main point.

It’s true there are writers who sit and write and stick to their schedule and don’t show it to anyone but the publisher and they are amazing and their books are masterpieces. It’s absolutely irrevocably true.

But it’s much more common for writers to form networks and writing groups and edit groups and meet at conferences and put themselves in the sightline of people who might say ‘send me your manuscript’.

And those writer’s aren’t alone and they aren’t lonely.

So just sayin’.

Be one of them. For most writers, it means your book will be better and so will your mental health.


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