Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Critiquerly Interview with Author Roni Loren

(Or, a Tiny 'Thank You' is Huge)

Romance author Roni Loren is our special critiquerly guest today. She’s a card-carrying member of the Crits for Water club, so after you read her interview, consider bidding on her 2,500 word YA/romance critique that will be up for auction tomorrow (5/18) here. She’ll also have query critique up for drawing.

One more quick comment from me? She’s about to give us one of the simplest, best pieces of advice in this interview. The entire interview is fantastic, though, so read on.

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Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys
was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved,
but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. After earning a master’s degree in social
work from LSU, she worked in a mental hospital, counseled birthmothers as an adoption
coordinator, and did management recruiting in her PJs. But she always returned to writing.

Though she’ll forever be a New Orleans girl at heart, she now lives in Dallas with her husband
and son. If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her reading, watching reality
television, or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to rockstars, er, rock concerts--yeah, that's it.

Her debut novel, CRASH INTO YOU, will be published by Berkley Heat/Penguin in January 2012.

She is represented by Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency and is a member of RWA
and the  North Texas Romance Writers.
This is Roni's website, this is her blog, and here she is on twitter.

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NAE: After a writer gets back an in-depth critique, what would you recommend in terms of a review/revise process?

RL: First, I would say read through the critique, take a deep breath and let the feedback sit with you for a day or so before you do anything. A lot of times we have a knee jerk reaction and instantly want to get defensive. Or some of us are the opposite and internalize everything and feel ready to scrap the whole thing because clearly it's crap. (I'm vacillating between both extremes.) So don't change anything until you give it some time to settle into the nooks and crannies of your brain. You'll find that some of the crit will resonate and some of it may not. Decide which parts you're going to change and go forward.


NAE: What is the one piece of advice you can give to someone trying to develop his or her critique skills?

RL: Get critiqued yourself. It's impossible to become a good critiquer if you're not having someone put your stuff through the wringer. I also HIGHLY recommend volunteering to judge contests (many local RWA groups run national contests and are always in need of judges. You can find the lists of upcoming contests here). The score sheets that you have to work through to judge an entry are excellent at training you to look for both big and small things in your own manuscript. And it's amazing what you can see in other's people's work that you never pick up in yours.

NAE: When you critique someone’s work, what is your general process?
RL: I'm a line edit as I go person. Then I give overall feedback at the end on bigger picture items. Even when someone asks to just give overarching feedback, I can't help but line edit, lol. I'm a very nitpicky critiquer but I (hopefully) deliver all the feedback with love. I kind of liken it to a thorough physical at the doctor. It may be a little uncomfortable, but in the end, it's good for you. : ) To get an idea of my critique style, you can see some of the crits I've done online on my blog here.


NAE: Is there one specific thing that you gravitate toward while critiquing?

RL: Not really. I try to look at all the aspects, though I don't focus as much on minor grammar stuff as I do on the bigger issues. However, typically people have one or two big problem areas when I critique that are repeated throughout their pages. It's different for every person, but it seems like we all have our favorite bad habit. (Mine is using "just" everywhere and characters smiling a lot.) For instance, if someone head hops in the first page, it's usually a problem throughout. Or if someone has a penchant for overwriting or purple prose, it's typically throughout.


Question added by RL: How should you respond to a critique?

RL: I've done a lot of critiques. Not just in my own crit groups, but I've done many on my blog and have given away a lot in contests and such. And like I said, I'm a detailed person, so I know sometimes the feedback I give can be overwhelming. But I've gotten such a wide range of responses from people. Most are very nice and seem genuinely thankful for the feedback. But others, it's like radio silence. That stresses me out because then I'm worried that I offended you or something. Realize that it takes someone a lot of time to critique for you. Even if you don't agree with their feedback, take the time to say thank you.

~~~

Many thanks, Roni. I would have never thought about judging contents as part of writerly development, but that is fantastic advice. And the whole thing about saying thank you? So important and yet too easy to overlook at times.

I can't wait until CRASH INTO YOU comes out in 2012. Congratulations on your debut novel!

Check out the Crits for Water campaign this week, and don't forget to kick the tires on Roni’s 2,500 critique auction tomorrow.




6 comments:

Amber said...

I think saying thank-you can be hard if you really do get offended. Thankfully this hasn't really happened to me, but I already know that when it does I will be so upset. But it's still a very good point, and I think a "thank you for taking the time to do this" is pretty much always called for ... even if you're hyperventilating at the moment :)

Marybk said...

Hi, Amber. Yes, by all means, finish hyperventilating prior to making a 'thank you' attempt. It is a hard thing to do if your defenses go up, but it's also a hard thing to give someone the feedback you know they need if you think you might offend them. However, it's different when the critiquer seems to *want* to offend you. I haven't had this happen, but I know people who have. There's a balance on both sides.

Anita said...

Thanks for another great crit interview, Mary!

Roni, I, too, loved the advice about judging contests to sharpen your crit skills. And yes, it's always a good idea to use your manners, and thank you is a very good start. :)

Leah Petersen said...

Great advice. I think giving crit is one of the best ways you can pay it forward as a writer. It's also one of the more painful parts of being a writer when you're on the receiving end. Such a conundrum. ;)

PW.Creighton said...

Great interview. Always great perceive how others sharpen their skills for writing/critiquing.

Marybk said...

Hey, Anita. Have you ever judged a contest? The closest I've come is in Zoetrope, where we do the weekly flash fiction contest. But, every participant votes on their top three. Judging a contest has a whole other flavor.

Leah...LOL! Yes, we writers collect scars as we go along.

Thanks, PW, for stopping by. Glad you liked the interview.

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