Critique Technique Table of Contents

Here’s a Table of Contents of all of the Critique Technique posts to make it easier to go directly to the post you want to read.

Introductory Posts

Part 1 of Many

Part 4: Series Preview

Reader Response

Part 2: How Do You Feel?

Part 3: Authorial Intentions and Tracking Your Own Responses

Beginnings and Endings

Part 5: Weak or Missing Hook

Part 6: The Wrong Beginning

Part 7: Scene and Chapter Endings

Part 7b: More on Scene and Chapter Endings

Part 8: Story Endings

Characterization

Part 9: Characters and Conflict

Part 10: Poor Characterization

Part 11: Lack of Character Development

Part 12: Showing and Telling in Character Development

Part 13: Timing the Reveal

Part 14: Out-of-Character Behavior

Part 15: Unclear Character Goals

Part 16: Unclear or Insufficient Obstacles

Part 17: Dialect...

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Published!

The cover image for The Eternity PlagueI am thrilled to announce that The Eternity Plague has been published! Here’s the blurb:

In 2035, Dr. Janet Hogan makes a stunning discovery: infected by five species of naturally-mutated viruses, every one of earth’s nine billion inhabitants has become immortal.

Or have they? By the time Janet learns that this immortality is an illusion, it’s too late to change people’s beliefs. Some love her for creating this miracle and the coming paradise they long for. Others hate her for what they see ahead: immoral behavior without consequence, overpopulation, famine, and worse. Zealots demand that she save people’s souls, humanity, the earth… or the viruses. Or else.

Janet realizes this awful truth: no matter what she does, no matter what anyone else wants, sooner or later, billions will ...

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Runaway Dancer, Getaway Tales Review

Jeri McAndrews is a classically trained ballet dancer who ran away from the School of American Ballet in New York and the demands and discipline of ballet. She landed eventually in southwestern Colorado, where among other things, she taught dance and choreographed and performed in modern dances in wild outdoor settings including the Great Sand Dunes National Monument. The title of the book is apt: while dance is certainly a core of McAndrews’ life, so it seems is running away, getting away from… many things: teaching middle school English (to be fair, a challenge only a few people are cut out for), marriage, parenthood, big cities (can’t argue with that one).

Why did she run? We’ll never truly know...

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Light of the Dragon review

Marielena is a young and extremely powerful witch, Sinnie a just-hatched baby dragon. No, wait. Let me let author Susan Trombley introduce them to you.

“Marielena ran as the world shattered around her. The ground cracked and crumbled beneath her feet. The roar of dragons and gods rent the air. It was the end of times, and it was Marielena’s fault. … It was Marielena’s magic that had built the gruesome portal, powered the gate, and provided the key. She’d done as they’d demanded, and she had doomed them all. …

“Then Marielena saw it, a small glow like a shard of sunlight trapped within the rubble. … The glow belonged to the burgeoning aura of a tiny dragon, uncurling its round body and serpentine tail from the remains of an eggshell held within a broken box...

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Newspaper article on my house

On August 20th, the local newspaper, the Sierra Vista Herald, published an article on my house, since it’s likely to get a LEED for Homes “platinum” rating, the highest. Unfortunately, the article is behind a pay wall on the Herald’s web site, so I’ve attached a copy here. You can use either this link

Living ‘lightly on the land’ article, svherald

and then click on the image of the first page of the PDF file to download it, or you can click on this link to download it directly.

 

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2017 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon

This past weekend I volunteered for the 17th consecutive year with the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. It all started with a spur-of-the-moment decision on race day for the inaugural marathon in 2001 to head downtown and see what I could do. Three years later I was in charge of hundreds of “course marshals” and since I moved to Arizona, I’ve gone back every year to help out with the Relay Information Booth (which I created) and by driving the lead vehicle, and then a “sag wagon,” on race day.

This year we had a new sponsor for the lead vehicle, so it wasn’t “skinned” with a graphic wrap like it has been in years past.

OKCMM 2017 Lead vehicle

Besides HAM radio operator Tom Webb, a friend from my Air Force days, to keep us in touch with Race Control while we were out on the course, and Jon Hulsey, the Course Co...

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Fatigue, A Stalled Book, and Art in the House

Oy veh. What a week the last few weeks have been. Stress levels haven’t been just through the roof, they’ve been somewhere out beyond the orbit of the Moon, so my body’s said, “OK, I’ve had enough of this fun.” Welcome to knock-you-flat-on-your-back fatigue. To quote the lyrics from the ’70’s rock band Spirit, “It’s nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong.” Boy, howdy.

That Stalled Book

I’d like to blame it all on the draft of book #3. Progress has come to a screeching, grinding halt. I shouldn’t be surprised: I knew, even as I was writing the second draft, that there were significant problems. Then my writers’ group found what they found, and my own read-through and analysis found even more.

OK, fine. I’ll interview my characters. That’s a technique that’s helped before...

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The Joys of Home Ownership

Ah, the joys of home ownership! Ah, the joys of acreage ownership!

Now that spring has sprung here in southern Arizona–more like summer with the temps we’ve been having lately!–I knew I couldn’t delay getting the tall dead grass around the house cut down, at least out to that safe distance insurance companies recommend for fire safety.

But! Not only do I have lots of TALL grass, I also have lots of loose rocks, and the combination of tall, dead, dry grass and rocks ranging from pebbles to head-size (and larger) hiding in said grass is not a good combination, especially mixed with the steel blades of my riding mower. Sparks + dry grass = fire = not a good thing. What to do? What to do?

Tall grass 1

Well, the first thing to do was to go tromping through the grass, looking for as many of those rocks, esp...

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House Guests and Book News

House Guests

One of the reasons I built my new house the way I did was so I could have house guests, and now I have. Last Monday I was pleased to have friends John and Karel spend the night on their way back to Albuquerque. They had been marshaling at the PGA golf tournament in Phoenix, and since John is also the Southwest Region President for AFA, he uses the trip to also visit the four chapters in the state, including mine here in Sierra Vista.

Before they arrived, however, another visitor came. His name is Padraig, but like many Irishmen, he prefers to be called Patty. Patty’s an interesting sort. Rough-hewn. Despite my persistent requests, he insists on staying outside. “Sun or snow, rain or blow,” he says, “my place is out of doors, lad. I’ll be fine...

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Book 3 Draft 3, New House News, and Cookies!

A lot has happened since I posted last, especially regarding draft 3 of book #3.

Book 3 Draft 3

Shortly after the first of the year I began the process of getting ready to write draft 3 of my third book, working title Guardians. The first step was to read draft 2 from beginning to end to get a sense of the state of the story. And the results were what? Twelve-plus pages of hand-written notes, that’s what.

Step 2 is to go through all of the feedback I’ve gotten from my critique group and consolidate their comments onto one document. How much is that? This much.

The stack of draft 2 feedback

It’s hard to see the markings on the ruler but the stack is over six inches high. And since I’m looking at feedback from eight different people, I need to spread out. A lot...

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Catching Up–House News, Sort-of White Christmas, Book Sales

Miller and Carr Peaks

“They” say that catching up is harder than keeping up, so WHY did I stop blogging, putting me in this position of trying to catch up on everything all at once? I have an idea, but I’m not going to bore you with it. Time to get back in the saddle.

New House News

Remember that window that thieves broke to get in back in October? It’s STILL not fixed. I wrote about how the glass company, MilGard, sent the wrong glass in the wrong size. What I didn’t write about was that after my installers took it back, MilGard sent the wrong size AGAIN! Then claimed they couldn’t possibly have made a mistake. On the third try, they got it right… but then last Friday the installers brought the wrong glass. You should have seen the hang-dog looks on their faces when they told me. All I could do was laugh...

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Fight the Power (Company)–and Burglars

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been tied up preparing for a hearing of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) on a rate hike package requested by the local power company, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative (SSVEC). I’ve written before about how they were trying to raise the rates on folks like me who have solar panels by crazy amounts, and how a group of us have been fighting this. Back in May I went up to Tucson to testify at a hearing on the case run by an administrative law judge.

Electrical towers

Photo by Luis Relampago, via freeimages.com

Earlier this month, Judge Martin finally released her “Recommended Opinion and Order” (ROO). We were delighted to see that she largely sided with those of us who opposed what SSVEC wanted to do.

But there was one more step in the process...

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