Cindy Keen Reynders was born in Portland, Oregon and has lived all over the United States and also in Japan. She currently lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming with her husband Rich whose family has lived in the state for generations. At one time, she had three poodles that matched the color of her carpet. She now has one poodle, a Shih Tzu mix that likes to “eat” the carpet.
A mystery author with two series, Cindy also has a job in the real world. She works for Laramie County School District 1 (LCSD1) in Cheyenne as a marketing specialist in the district’s Community Relations department.
The Saucy Lucy Series from Medallion Media Group includes The Saucy Lucy Murders (2007), Paws-itively Guilty (2008), and A Killer Slice (Amazon, 2011). Her Wysteria Hedge Haven Clan Series from Angelic Knight Press includes 7 Year Witch (2012) and her newest release, A Witch at Midnight.
Letting People Read Our Work by Cindy Keen Reynders
Sooner or later, writers must bare themselves to the world.
No, we don’t have to run around stark naked and expose our booties or anything that might get us arrested. If that were necessary, I’d never have become a writer. Seriously, I would scare animals and small children. Walking around minus clothing is definitely not my thing, though I did once visit a beach in the Bahamas where some of the ladies had no compunction about letting it all hang out.
I certainly wasn’t one of them.
But I digress. What I’m trying to explain is that we must let people read our work so we can get feedback about our story plots, our dialogue, characterization, tone, setting, POV, etc. Critique groups are awesome for providing this or perhaps a group of trusted friends might work more effectively. After all, we’re not writing for ourselves. We’re writing for an audience, and we want our stories to be polished before we send them out into the world.
I think the compliments about our writing are easy enough to digest. It’s the constructive criticism that stings. However it behooves us to listen and absorb the information that is being shared by the critique partner, friend, etc. That doesn’t mean you have to cave and take everything to heart. After all, these are opinions. Please note that it’s important to be professional and at least consider what people have to say after they’ve taken the time to review manuscript pages. It’s possible certain individuals might bring publishing industry experience to the table that might prove invaluable.
The other side of the coin is that sometimes people simply may not care for our writing style or maybe they don’t read a lot in the genre of our choice. That’s cool. Different strokes, you know? If we sense that is the case, we should politely thank the critique partner, consider what they’ve said, and either incorporate their suggestions or ignore them. We don’t have to cuss them out or make enemies for life. It’s unnecessary to burn bridges. We want to make friends along our writing journey, not enemies who throw sour grapes at us.
In my experience, once we become used to the process, it is easier to sift through the well-meant advice. That’s not to say it’s ever easy, but we learn, over time, which suggestions we want to incorporate or ignore.
Here’s some show and tell you might enjoy. I made a complete nincompoop of myself the first time I took pages of my writing to a critique session. It was a closed group, and a writer friend got permission from the head honchos to allow me to visit. In my innocence, I thought I’d knock their socks off with my brilliant scene.
I couldn’t have been more misguided. This particular group had a strict format requirement, which I did not follow. Strike one. I single-spaced my pages. Strike two. I placed my stapled pages in a folder instead of simply paper clipping them. Strike three. If that wasn’t humiliating enough, one of the members, a multi-published author, took one look at my first paragraph, turned as white as a sheet, and left the room in a big hurry.
Needless to say, that manuscript has never seen the light of day. But I learned a lot from the comments that group gave me. Over the years, I’ve belonged to many groups and I love the synergy. I love the different points of view people have to offer and the brainstorming that can add creative twists to a story.
Do you have a critique group that you meet with regularly? If you do, kudos for taking the leap. I think they are very worthwhile. If you don’t, it’s something you might want to consider. Think of it this way—athletes have coaches. Why shouldn’t writers have them, too?
Thanks, Cindy, for being my guest today. And by the way, I love the cover art for the two books in the new series.