Tag Archives: critique

Want an Accountability Partner? Consider This First.

19 Jul

Maybe you’ve heard of accountability partners. Maybe you’ve considered getting one. But what is an accountability partner, really, and how do you get someone to help?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, “accountability partner” is teaming up with someone who will keep you accountable for your writing progress. For example, your friend may check in with you every Tuesday to make sure you’ve written 1,000 words that week, and if not, you may jump on Zoom for a quick write-in.

Accountability partners look different to everyone because every writer has their own unique goals.

It may include critiquing, or it might only be a verbal check-in. The partnership can go both ways or not. Your accountability partner might not even be a fellow writer. Finding what works for you is what’s key.

Here’s how I set up my accountability system without anyone but me knowing.

As of late, I’ve spent most of my writing time revising rather than writing a first draft. That said, I have a hard time concentrating on one novel at a time. On any given day, I tend to have three going: One I am revising, one I am writing, and one I am dreaming about (or outlining). That way, I have different projects for different energies. (If I only revise, I lose my motivation fast.) But working on three separate projects doesn’t come without difficulties.

How do you know you’re writing enough? What time do you dedicate to which project? When will you get it all done?

These were questions I had to ask myself. When it comes to revising, I know that I need to get it done as fast as possible, but I also need it to be quality edits, not just speed. That’s why I put most of my energy into that project. That said, I know I need to honor some creative/writing time for myself. If I don’t, I get burnt out. Nevertheless, it’s easy for me to forget that and fall into a responsibility trap, where I end up drained and frustrated.

This was why I knew I needed to make a specific, time-set goal around creative writing.

That goal? Every month, I will write two new chapters for my monthly critique group.

Sometimes I send more if they have the reading time and I had the writing time. But I tend to only manage two chapters. That’s about 20 pages. It’s very minimal. But guess what? It’s better than nothing. Believe it or not, by the end of the year, I tend to have a full-length novel.

But do my critique partners know about this? No, not really.

Here’s the deal: I don’t have accountability partners in the traditional sense. No one is going to email me and say, “You told me you’d have X done by this date, so where is it?” The way I approach it is a lot more light-hearted.

No one in my group knows that my goal is two chapters every month. No one gives me a hard time if I don’t meet that. But every month, my iCalendar bings the week before our meetup and asks me if my pages are ready. If they aren’t, I focus solely on those pages until they are good to go.

For me, accountability is about giving yourself permission to set everything else aside to focus on that one time-set goal you promised yourself.

It’s investing in your work, your future, and your writing. Finding a pattern that helps you do that is key. Sometimes discovering that requires help from a friend or a family member (or an alert on your calendar). Don’t be afraid to ask those around you if they’d be willing to check in. That said, I’d recommend considering your goals before you talk to others. That way, you can tell them what you need.  

My advice?

Set a small writing goal, but don’t forget to consider your accountability.

I will write (# of words) every (time: month, week, etc.) for (my critique group, my website, myself).

If you’re feeling really brave, add stipulations: As I approach my deadline, I will set aside (TV, other projects, dessert) until I complete it. I will also not hesitate to ask for help on (laundry, dishes, childcare, etc.) if I need extra time.

Lastly—and as always—it’s okay to adjust your goals.

Even your accountability partner will understand if you say you can’t write the same amount of words in the fall as you can in the spring. Life happens. Don’t punish yourself for not hitting your goal. Instead, ask yourself why. Are you being too hard on yourself? Are your expectations too high? Adjust your word count or time, and try again.  

It took me a long time to find my happy place with creative writing vs. revising, but I would never have found it if I hadn’t adjusted along the way.

For instance, I used to write 10,000 words a week. That number makes me gasp now. With a full-time job, a house to take care of, and the understanding that I need more time to be human, I’m nowhere near that output anymore. And that’s okay! I have new goals now. And with those, I am staying accountable.

What about you? Do you have accountability partners?

~SAT

Book Ratings & Review Exchange Debate

13 Sep

Before I get into rating novels, I wanted to share a link for Minutes Before Sunset fans:

As you’re waiting for Seconds Before Sunrise, tell me what you think will happen and/or what you want to see in Book 2 of A Timely Death trilogy on this Goodreads discussion by clicking here.

I also wanted to give links to two major developments in the young-adult movie industry:

  • J.K. Rowling is penning a new film-series which takes place 70 years before Harry Potter. Read more here.
  • Filming of City of Ashes has been delayed. (I’m so sad, but read more here.)

But now…book ratings!

If you follow my Facebook Author Page, then you know I have been asking writers and readers alike how they feel about when someone asks you to only post a review if it is 4 or 5 stars? Is this deception or is this “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all?”

I asked this question, because I’ve seen a trend in the industry of authors regulating reviewers (telling them to only post the review if it’s of a higher rating.) To me, I found it very surprising how many writers and reviewers accept and even encourage this concept. Personally, I am on the side of deception. I don’t think there is anything wrong with 1, 2, or 3 star reviews. I find honesty to be more important, and, also, honesty from one person may lead another reader to realize they will still like the novel. For instance, someone can review a book, give it one star, and say it was due to the genre. A reader might see this and realize they still love that genre; therefore, the one star review is still very helpful. I also think there is a major difference between a “hate” and a “critique,” and a 1-star review isn’t necessarily a “hate.” But this is my opinion.

I wanted to hear others’ opinions, and here are some from my Facebook page:

Joe H. Hinojosa: “I felt that if I’m going to be constrained in my review, I would have a hard time being honest, and my belief is that my integrity is on the line. I don’t want to compromise that. As for your question, it made me believe that the author did not believe that his book merited a high rating, that it lacked something, either grammatically, or perhaps the plot itself was poorly constructed. To solicit a review, and putting conditions on posting the review, seems to say that he himself rates the book poorly.”

Patrick Dixon:  “If someone asks for my opinion “but only if it’s good” I say no for similar reasons to Joe’s above. Now, if they ask without restrictions, and I can’t give it at least 3 stars due to nagging issues that are fixable (and I think the book has goodness buried in it, just needs an edit or a fix or an explanation about something), I’ll message the author directly (if I can) with what I’d give it and why, and give them the option if they want me to post it or not. If the book is completely not my cup of tea, but may be of value to someone else, I’ll post it, with the caveat near the top that “This is not MY kind of book, but if you like <x, y, or z> then it might be for you,” and try to point out the good points for other readers. But that’s just how I do things.”

Amber Skye Forbes: “It is deception because it isn’t allowing room for opinions that could provide a fair, balanced review for a potential reader to buy your book. For example, three star views are not inherently bad. I have bought books based off three star reviews before because what the reviewer didn’t like, I liked.”

Mariah E. Wilson:  “I think that authors need to let readers see the bad reviews along with the good. And how an author handles a less than desirable review speaks volumes. If you’re so insecure about your work that you ban reviewers from posting anything below a 4 star review, it seems unfair. And besides, not all “bad reviews” are bad. A review is what? An opinion. Everyone is different and everyone is going to have a different experience with the same book. If two people read a book and both give it a 5 star review, they could both love different parts of the book. It’s just an opinion.”

So what is everyone else’s opinion? If you read the opinions above, you will see they are generally on the deception side (which I am in agreement with) but I am interested in hearing more from the other side as well. Please share your opinion either way as I think this is a growing trend, and it’s important to understand why such things become popular if we want the industry (especially the Indie industry) to continue growing.

Other news: Submit your novel to AEC Stellar Publishing now! 

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Movie Mention: The Host

4 Apr

Website Update: I hit 6,000 followers on ShannonAThompson.com. Thank you for all of your continuous and loving support 😀

27 days until Minutes Before Sunset release!

I’m going to be super careful with this review, because I think it’s necessary.

The Host is the movie adaption of Stephenie Meyer’s novel, The Host, which I wrote about my post December 21: Relax: The Host. So I’ve read the novel before seeing the movie, and I think that’s REALLY important when seeing this movie. I say this because there are quite a few people I’ve talked to who saw it (and didn’t read the novel) that enjoyed the movie.

imagesI have to admit that I was ultimately disappointed. But I want to clarify that I remain VERY open when it comes to movie adaptations. I understand that novels cannot be exactly transferred to the screen, just like any art. I like to remind myself of “Girl with a Pearl Earring” — first a painting, then a novel, then a movie. Every type of art brings a different viewpoint to the table. And I wasn’t annoyed with most of the things changed in The Host from book to movie. I was actually more disappointed with the overall acting and directing. It took me out of the film quite often. For instance, the boys often reminded me of a boy band (which I did not picture in the book at all) and it seemed visually ridiculous.

Nevertheless, I was entertained. It wasn’t necessarily a bad movie, but it was a bad adaptation. I consider the novel to be really well done (especially in the different worlds described), but the movie wasn’t very special.

I really hate to say things like this, (I normally don’t review the bad movies I see) but I wanted to be honest, especially since I recommended the novel. I still recommend the novel (as long as you’re a fan of young-adult lit), and, if you didn’t know, it’s been announced that it is a trilogy, but Meyer has yet to write the last two books.

I’ll be sure to look out for those, but I’m not sure I’d see the movies if they were ever adapted by the same actors and director.

Sigh.

I feel so sad to have such a depressing review. So I’m adding pictures of Bogart below. Happy Thursday!

~SAT

April 6: Publishing Tips: Introduce Extras.  

These pictures were actually taken on the same day. Little Bogart & fat Bogart. Who knew cats could have a flattering side?

These pictures were actually taken on the same day. Little Bogart & fat Bogart. Who knew cats could have a flattering side?

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