VICKIE MCDONOUGH is an award-winning author of 25 books and novellas. Her books have won the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, Texas Gold, the ACFW Noble Theme contest, and she has been a multi-year finalist in ACFW’s BOTY/Carol Awards. Vickie is the author of the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series from Barbour Publishing. Watch for her new books from Moody Publishers, Texas Trails: A Morgan Family series, in which she partners with Susan Page Davis and Darlene Franklin to write a 6-book series that spans 50 years of the Morgan family. The first three books release this fall. Also, next year brings the release of another new series from Guidepost/Summerside, Pioneer Promises, set in 1870s Kansas.
You can find out more about Vickie and her books at www.vickiemcdonough.com.
LONG TRAIL HOME
by Vickie McDonough
Published by Moody Publishers
ABOUT THE BOOK
A weary soldier returns from the War Between the States to discover his parents dead, his family farm in shambles, and his fiancée married. Riley Morgan takes a job at the Wilcox School for Blind Children and tries to make peace with God and himself. When a pretty, blind woman who cares for the children reaches through his scarred walls and touches his heart, he begins to find renewed faith and hope for the future. But when he discovers Annie feigned her blindness just to have a home, will his anger and hurt drive him away and ruin all chances for a future filled with love, faith, and family?
Readers, buy your copy of LONG TRAIL HOME today!
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR FEATURE AUTHOR
Critique Groups – Life or Death to a Writer
I can say without a doubt that I’m published today because of the help I’ve received from my critique group partners. They’ve encouraged me when I wanted to give up on writing. They taught me to show, not tell. I learned point of view from them, and they’ve become my friends. Most of my experience with critique groups has been positive, but that hasn’t always been the case.
I nearly quit writing because of the harsh comments I received in my first critique group, when I was a brand new writer and green as a pickle. The critiques from one member made my manuscript pages look like bloody road kill. I cried many tears over her harsh comments on my many mistakes and lost confidence in my ability to write. Looking back, she was probably right in her assessment, but at the time, I wasn’t ready for such in-depth critiques.
As a more experienced writer now, I crave those detailed assessments. Tell me what’s not working in my story. Did a section leave you scratching your head in confusion? Does the dialogue of the children in my story sound like real children or is it too mature? Is my bad boy hero too unlikable? I want to know what works and what doesn’t.
You may not be at the stage where you want such detailed critiques. Maybe you only want help with grammar issues, or maybe you want help with your dialogue or someone to help you brainstorm a new story. The important thing is to find a critique group that fits your needs.
So, how do you find one? Most online and local writers’ clubs have critique groups you can join. I also did a Google search and discovered there were eighty-two pages of critique group listings! Wow! There are ones for any genre: non-fiction, short stories, all types of fiction, and even children’s books.
There are critique groups that submit weekly, others twice a month, and some monthly. Some groups submit a chapter at a time, while others have a page limit. Some groups are a mixture of writers of different genres, while others are genre-specific.
So why do you need a critique group? Besides the fact that you are networking with other writers, you will learn a lot, especially if you’re a newer writer. Often the more experienced writer just needs another set of eyes to look at her story before it’s shipped off to an editor. A critique group is also a good place to ask questions and to brainstorm.
Some of the key things you want critiquers to look for in your manuscript are:
- Spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors – Be sure to submit your best work, not your rough draft. Critiquers will tire out quickly if you use them as a spellchecker.
- Continuity issues – Does your heroine have green eyes in the beginning of the story and blue eyes at the end? Did you accidentally change your hero’s name? Does your widow heroine have two children at the beginning of the book and one at the end?
- Overused words – just, really, that, etc.
- Point of view problems
- Author intrusion
- Too many –ly words instead of strong verbs
- Telling instead of showing
- Too many dialogue tags – he replied, she murmured
- Inconsistencies in storyline or character’s behavior
- Stereotyped characters
You’re sure to find the right critique group if you get out there and hunt for it. You might kiss a few frogs before finding a group that’s a good fit, but it’s well worth the time and effort. You’re writing will improve greatly under the tutelage of a few good critiquers.
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Thank you, Vickie, for sharing with us today.
Guest Question: Have you ever been a part of a critique group? More than one? Were they helpful or not? Why? If you're not a writer, have you ever been part of a group supposed to help you in some way toward a specific goal? Was it successful? How so?
ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of your choice of ANY book on Vickie's web site. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.
The contest is open to US/Canada residents only.