Writing Group Indie Author

How to Accept Constructive Criticism in Writing Groups

Writing groups are a great way for independent authors to get support, make connections, find resources, and–perhaps most importantly– hear critique on their works in progress. However, getting this feedback without becoming resentful, angry, or sad can be tricky for some. Here are three things to remember during the critique delivery process that can help you actually enjoy it.

 


 

1. “This is what I’m here for.”

Remembering this can help ease some of the defensiveness you might feel when people start dissecting your writing. The entire reason that you joined the group and decided to submit your book / chapter / poem for critique was so that you could get honest feedback about how it could be better. If you didn’t join the group for this express purpose, then the fault really lies with you for presenting yourself as someone who wants to strengthen their craft, yet all you really wanted was for people to kiss your ass unjustifiably.

 

2. “How bad would it be if I’d published without knowing this?”

Many independent authors are self-published. This means that they have full control over the creation, revision, publishing, and marketing of their writing. Unless you’ve created a Cartel like I have, there’s a good chance that your writing groups are the only thing saving you from publishing something that is full of plot holes, grammatical errors, character inconsistencies and the like.  If you find that your writing group is bringing up a bunch of problems that you missed, don’t look at it as an attack on you or your writing. See it as your reputation being pulled back from a cliff!

 

3. “No one is perfect.”

I have read books by many authors who are traditionally published (meaning they have teams of people and bundles of cash at their disposal to make sure that their writing is consistent, error-free, and as strong as possible), yet have several errors in them. If these bestselling authors with publishing powerhouses behind them can’t produce a perfect manuscript, how sane is it to believe that you will do so on your own? Hell, even with the feedback of your group?

 

The point is: Relax. Take the feedback you think is helpful. Ignore the feedback you don’t think fits. Just don’t ignore solid feedback because you didn’t like hearing it. That’s not fair to you, your writing, or your readers.

Have other tips for getting through the critique process? Leave a comment!

New Product: Minnie and Mickey Kindle Sleeve!

Reading has always been fun, but now it’s adorable, too!

This e-reader (Kindle, Nook, etc.) sleeve offers lightweight protection and screen-saving softness with a snow-white (ha!) fleece interior (fully lined), two Velcro closures, and Minnie and Mickey button accents. Fits up to 7.5 X 5-inch readers (or physical books, if that’s more your thing!).

Just another great Volo Press exclusive! Click the pics to buy! 

 

Bestseller: Beneath a Scarlet Sky (Mark Sullivan)

Grab this bestseller that, to date, is still holding on strong to a 4.9-star rating after over 1,200 reviews!

Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel by [Sullivan, Mark]From Amazon

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

Fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.

Get your copy now from Amazon.com!

 

Get Yours Now: Tablet Mount

Kiss your carpel tunnel good-bye! This nifty bit of hardware can help you read, browse the internet, watch movies, and video chat in a convenient, hands-free way. As writers and readers, it’s critical that we take care of our hands, so instruments like this are essential. Mount it on the side of a table, the seat in front of you, or even your headboard to read as you drift off to sleep. Would make a fantastic gift for anyone who owns a tablet or e-reader.

Mature Bookworms Only: ‘Show Her’ Opening Chapter

It’s brought some to tears and made others nauseous. You’ve been warned. This is the opening chapter of ‘Show Her’. If you want to order it now for delivery after April 1st, just go to volo-press.com/show-her or order at the end of this post. Thanks!


Everyone knows you can’t force a man to come back if he doesn’t want to. But coercion, enticement, and allure can work wonders.

 

Of course, none of this was Erika’s intent. She was an eleven-year-old girl still silently reeling over the departure of her father for a younger, prettier version of her vessel—the woman who gave birth to, and raised, her and her younger sister, Elena.

 

About two days after the packed bags, begging, and arguing, Erika was sitting on the front porch with her sister. She attempted play, pushed to feign joy, but she couldn’t get Elena out of her funk. But Erika was old enough to understand that once he was gone, he was gone. There was nothing else to be done. So why wallow? Why fret? Why not get on with things?

 

Erika was using the mobile television to play one of her favorite movies about a man fighting to find his kidnapped son. Erika laid back on the black silk, goose down quilt, on top of a day bed, her sister beside her. A drone the size of a dollar bill projected the film onto the ceiling. Erika commanded the drone to turn up the volume as the sound of their vessel in the kitchen chopping shallots became increasingly distracting.

 

Erika giggled and squeezed her sister as the puppy that opened the movie came on screen. Erika made sure Elena noticed her being okay, laughing, enjoying spending time with them. Erika wanted her happiness to be contagious. Somehow, then, it would be real.

 

She felt Elena’s sniffling slow and her whining calm. Elena’s face inched away from Erika’s hairless armpit and towards the ceiling as the boy found the puppy and decided to bring it home in an attempt to keep it as his own. The meek laughter that sounded from her sister when the boy had to stop at some park sprinklers to try to get some of the puppy urine off of his shirt comforted Erika.

 

Erika could feel the tension in her sister’s body easing away as the film went on, only to return with a vengeance when the boy finally got home and confronted his father about the puppy.

 

Even though the father was kind, thoughtful, honest, and pleasant in his interaction with his son, her sister couldn’t stand to be reminded of what they’d lost. She began crying again. Erika felt her frustration rising and left her in the day bed to rot in her sadness.

 

“You big baby!” She yelled at the melancholy strain surrounding the house.

 

Erika went back into the house and upstairs, passing pictures of herself and her sister at even younger ages. An eight-foot-tall portrait of her father was painted directly onto the slate wall at the top of the stairs, dominating the hallway. Erika paused to glare at the portrait with clenched fists. Her father was by all accounts a handsome man. Hair always freshly twisted, neat. His face, in the portrait, carried a light that only creative license could inject. In person, her father rarely smiled or laughed. Not that he seemed depressed or particularly sad, simply…uninterested. The portrait showed him in a tailored midnight blue suit, the color complementing his café au lait skin. His hazel eyes were not (maybe could not be) painted to show the intense judgment and power that emanated from the real things.

 

Erika blinked her stinging eyes and walked to the master bedroom. Before her stood a piece, ten feet long, molded into a semi-circle, glistening in the light of the crystal and white gold chandelier in the center of the room, and adorned with five mirrored panels. This was her vessel’s personal makeover studio. Erika had snuck peeks at her vessel making her face throughout her early childhood and the transformations she witnessed seemed nothing short of magic. Years fell away, fatigue disappeared, anger softened into angelic peacefulness.

 

As she grew older—as was her vessel’s duty—Erika got lessons from her on how to dress, speak, and craft her face to entice, seduce, and maintain the attention of a potential master. Erika was fascinated about the fact that she could create happiness and tranquility with dusts, creams, and stains.

 

She stepped up to the center of the bow of koa wood trimmed with ebony, allowed her eyes to glide over the various boxes, baskets, cups, and trays of oils, powders, fragrances, conditioners, and paints.

 

In her peripheral vision she saw a sparkle. Looking up at the last mirror on the right, she saw her father’s watch hanging on the corner of the frame. With hands and digits made entirely of black diamonds, the watch had been his most prized possession. This was the utmost confirmation that he would never return. If he had left something so important to him behind for so long, he meant to stay away.

 

Erika pulled on one of the crystal knobs on the top drawer and withdrew some of the brushes and pencils. She used cleanser pads to clear her skin, allowing it to dry before she got to work changing her face. When she finished, she pulled a short, pleated, black skirt and long-sleeved, gunmetal blouse from the closet and put them on.

 

She was surprised that she had developed enough at eleven that the skirt stayed up and the blouse didn’t hang off of her, but hugged her swelling chest. She pressed a button below the center mirror and it moved forward and tilted down so that she could see her entire body and not just her head and torso.

 

This was the first time she saw herself in her own styling. The first time she realized that, as she grew older, finding someone willing to purchase her was going to be the least of her worries. The thickness of her thighs and flare of her hips told the story of a body that would draw masters for miles. She would have her pick. A tiny, mournful smile touched her lips as she observed herself. Erika, the grown up.

 

After a few more seconds of twisting, turning, and modeling for herself in the mirror, she had worked up some laughter. Heartfelt laughter, not the kind she used to try to coax her sister and her vessel into being happy again. She released her notions of a lady’s proper behavior and let the mirth tumble freely, raucously from her throat. Short of breath, she finally walked back up to the dresser and used the control panel to put the center mirror back in place.

 

As she reached for makeup remover, she felt a presence behind her and realized that her father had entered the room. He must have snuck in through the rear door since her sister wasn’t trailing him and her vessel had not screamed curses.

 

For a moment, Erika was overwhelmed with happiness. She thought her hopes had been realized and that he had seen the error of his ways and returned to the family. He had come to make peace.

 

But the way he was looking at her in the mirror disturbed her more than usual. His normally cold demeanor was mixed with something electric. Dangerous even. He looked at Erika from head to toe from behind and at her reflection in the mirror.

 

“Those are your vessel’s things you have on.” His voice was deep and monotone, as though he were bored. Erika now knew, based on his body language and the words he chose to speak at that moment, that he was preparing to discipline her for using her vessel’s things without permission. Tears burned her sinuses again as she realized he had probably only come back for the watch.

“I’m sorry, Daddy. I didn’t mean any harm. Please don’t hit me. I’m taking it off.” Erika tried her best to hold back her tears as she reached for the makeup remover, hoping to move quickly enough that he would let her go without punishment. But he was faster.

 

Erika’s father took two quick, long strides and was by her side, grabbing her wrist. He force her hand down onto the dresser and signaled for her to put her other hand on the dresser as well. Crying had always made her beatings worse—her father noting that she was trying to manipulate him and therefore deserved more punishment—but she couldn’t hold the tears back any more, especially as he grabbed the watch off of the mirror and put it on his wrist.

 

Erika understood that this may be one of the last times she ever saw her father as he goes on to live a new life with his cuter, more youthful, childless purchase. She hated that this was how she was going to spend this time—being hit, feeling sorry, having made her father angry. Erika felt worthless and ashamed.

 

Erika’s father stood behind her and pulled down her skirt and panties and then she heard him taking off his belt. She made fists with her hands, but kept them on the dresser, per protocol. She braced herself for the lashes to come, letting her tears flow freely, but silently.

 

The first lash came like a wave of anguish that spread across her skin. The pain only intensified strike after strike, as though the belt were sprouting spikes and flames the longer it was wielded.

 

Finally, after Erika was certain she wouldn’t be able to sit for the rest of the day, and her father was breathless behind her, the hits here, just like she hoped for. He’s here…he’s here…he’s here…

 

Erika could see her father in the mirror when she looked up and he was smiling, lost in an ecstasy that didn’t match her experience at all. This was the most expressive she had ever seen his face. His moaning and gasping was like a beautiful, new language he was speaking to her. In the midst of her violation, she was shown a power that she didn’t realize that she had.

 

She kept her eyes on the reflection of his in the mirror until he finished with her.

 


Like what you read? Be sure to leave a comment! Thanks for reading!

Book Review: The Challenge (Christopher Kokoski)

If you’re trying to spread the gospel, The Challenge is here to help make it a little easier.

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What is The Challenge About?

The Challenge is a non-fiction work meant to help spread Christianity to non-believers. The idea is to have them read through a series of thoughts that are meant to make a logical case for the existence of God and the super-humanity of Jesus Christ.

 

Why is The Challenge Taking on This Task?

In most sects of Christianity, evangelism (spreading Christianity) is part of being a Christian. However, some people are shy, socially awkward, or maybe just too aggressive to deliver the message successfully. The Challenge hopes to bridge that gap so that just about anyone can try to spread Christianity to others without feeling strong discomfort or starting an argument. Just hand them the book and ask them to read it.

How Does The Challenge Accomplish Its Goal?

The book has two sections. One that speaks to the messenger and one that speaks to the receiver. The section for the receiver explores logical arguments for and against the existence of a god and the idea that Jesus Christ is the savior of mankind.

The ideal is for the person receiving it to be open-minded enough to read it. Within the book, the person is actually encouraged to reconnect with the messenger and have a conversation about there newfound religion or why they still don’t believe after they’ve read the book.

 

Where Would I Use The Challenge?

I don’t see that you could not hand this book off to someone in just about any context. Co-workers, friends, family members, even people you don’t necessarily know (that kid that rides the bus with you every day wearing a ‘There is no God’ pin on his backpack).

Who Can Receive The Challenge?

If you have anyone in your life who is a Christian, I could see them appreciating this book (if they enjoy reading, that is). Some of the concepts may be a bit hard to grasp for younger readers unless they excel at reading.

 

When Is The Challenge Available?

The Challenge is currently available for sale on Amazon.com for $4.99 (paperback)!


I was connected to some Mormons for a couple of years (long story), and one of the conversations we had was about how hard it is to reconcile faith with fact. It seems as though the two are mutually exclusive. If I know that something is, I don’t have to have faith because it’s a fact. But when I choose to believe something, even though I have no strong evidence of it, that’s acting in faith.

Therefore, when an attempt is made to use basic logic to convert someone, it can be tricky. But, if any book can help you get it done, it’s The Challenge.

 

Will you donate $5.00 to support Volo Press (an American, female-minority-owned, small business)?



 

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3 Major Health Benefits of Reading

Your love of reading is not only fun, it’s probably helping to keep you mentally fit in these three ways.

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Reduced Stress

When our minds become overwhelmed with everyday tasks or even one major life crisis, our brains don’t function at their best. For your number-lovers, reading books has been shown to offer up to a 68% reduction in stress levels. And it doesn’t carry the risks that heavy alcohol consumption, gambling, or even thrill-seeking (such as sky diving or base jumping) can bring.

 

Higher Intelligence

Reading makes you smarter. If you didn’t already know this, understand that there is scientific evidence to confirm that fact. Reading can strengthen various kinds of thinking related to elevated intelligence. This includes problem-solving, deductive reasoning, and compassion and empathy. People who grow up without being able to think about more than one way to fix an issue, breaking down situations into more basic parts, and understanding that not everyone in the world does (or must) think and behave the exact same way that they do tend to have more negative consequences throughout their lives. These problems could include a stifled social development, difficulty learning, even blatant xenophobia.

 

 

Stronger Memory

Because reading affects these various processes in the brain, it can actually help strengthen your memory. This is great news for people (like me!) who have a family history of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Even as children, teens, and adults, having a stronger memory can help during tests, at job interviews, and networking events.

Just 3 more reasons why reading is awesome! Read on!