Thursday, July 7, 2011

Critiquerly Interview with Author Medeia Sharif

(Or, Release-Day Give Away: Bestest. Ramadan. Ever.)

I met Medeia Sharif several months ago, during the Write-Hope auctions in March, which raised money for the younger victims of the tsunamis in Japan. Medeia's day 8, item 1 caught my eye, and I ended up winning her 50-page critique. Lucky me! Except, I didn't quite have 50 pages to send her because right after winning the auction, I decided to re-do my WiP in first person. (I know, I know. Bad me.)

Shortly thereafter, I decided to re-do some of the main plot elements. And change some characters around. And then? My WiP turned into a completely different story. Medeia faithfully checked in with me, always understanding that I needed just a few more weeks. And well, when all the faerie dust settled, my first 50 pages were finally ready for her just about two weeks ago. And my patient little Medeia, even though I'd come dangerously close to the release date of her debut YA (Bestest. Ramadan. Ever.), provided me with a timely, intelligent critique. Sigh.

To summarize, Medeia is fabulous because:

1. She donates her time to a worthy causes
2. She worked through a wonderful critique for me
3. Her debut YA novel has just been released
4. She seamlessly used critiquer in her interview below

Whew! Oh yes, let's not forget the best part. If you are able to show as much patience as Medeia (while she waited for my first 50), you'll find the give-away contest at the end of this post. *cue: standing ovation*


Medeia Sharif is a Kurdish-American author and high school English teacher.
She received her master's degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University.
She lives in Miami Beach. Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. Is her debut novel.
She's got a terrific website/blog, she's on Twitter, and posts to Tumblr.


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

MS: I would sit on the revision notes. I never dive into revisions right after a critique. I need time to digest the information. I let things stew for a week or two, and after my mind has wrapped itself around the revision notes and my own thoughts regarding the big picture of the manuscript, I'm ready to revise.

Not too long ago I received copious notes from several readers. I thought, "What am I supposed to do with this?" and "Revising will take too darn long." I felt overwhelmed. Once I let some time go by, I was able to redo my outline, plug in necessary changes, and comfortably swing into motion.

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

The best way to develop critique skills is to watch others critique, whether they do it verbally or through note-taking. Both online and in person I observed how other people gave feedback. After my observations my critiques became more detailed and, based on people's gratitude, more helpful. And as time goes by, I'll get better at critiquing since I'm still learning about the process.

NAE: When you critique someone's work, what is your general process?

MS: If it's a chapter, I read it several times. If it's a longer piece, I'll read it once or twice at a slower pace. I line edit as I go along—I can't help it when I see an error—but I know I don't catch all the mistakes since I'm more focused on the story than the grammar.

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

MS: I'll take note of everything, but I gravitate towards plot and pacing. This stems from being a plotter; before I start a WiP I spend quite a bit of time creating spreadsheets to see where action turns.

Question added by MS: What qualities should one look for in CPs?

Right now I receive critiques from people who are in various stages of writing. They are newbies, unpublished but have been writing for years, agented, soon-to-be-published, and published. All of them provide valuable input. They're dedicated writers who are sincerely interested in the writing and publishing process. Basically, you need to find people who have a passion for writing and who keep up with the market. In addition to craft, CPs should be able to discuss trends, age levels, genre, and other concerns that affect a manuscript. They'll all be at different levels of the critiquing spectrum, but you need to have a few seasoned critiquers in the bunch to lead and inspire everyone.

Thanks, Medeia!

Give Away Contest & Rules

PRIZE: A copy of Medeia's YA debut, BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER. along with a signed bookmark (no, not signed by me, silly. Medeia signed it!). This prize is a matching set. So gorgeous together. Oh yes, you want this. Your friends will be so, so jealous.

TO ENTER: Just leave a comment!

That's it. The contest ends Sunday (7/10) at midnight, CST. Winner will be selected via random number generator. Good luck!


Marewolf said...

Cool! I read the blurb on the website and it sounds like a good read :)

I tweeted it (I should at @ you, Mary, but I didn't because I forgot! I did @ Medeia, though).

I also like to read other people's crit's, it definitely has helped me learn how to be a better critter (chirp chirp).


Alexandra Shostak said...

I would love to win a copy of Medeia's book! Great interview :D

Julie said...

Ugh... I am SO glad I'm not the only one who gets overwhelmed by critiques. I got the same dumb "what-am-I-supposed-to-do-with-this" look on my face the other night after coming home from a particularly brutal critique session. I almost wanted to pretend that I'd never heard any of it and just ignore all of it...

...don't worry... I didn't.

But I was tempted!

Luckily, after a couple of good nights' sleep the revisions didn't look so bad anymore. But its still nice to know that even PUBLISHED (woot, woot, Congrats, Medeia!) authors struggle with the overwhelming sensation of dread when it comes to revisions!

Anita Grace Howard said...

Sweet! I'm in at just under the wire. LOL. The book looks great. And Medeia sounds like such a lovely lady. Thanks for the excellent crit advice! I'm so impressed that you create spreadsheets for your plots! Wow. Very organized. Looks like it works, because you have a wonderful debut novel to show for it. Congrats!

And thank you, Mary!

Eisley Jacobs said...

Excellent give away! Congratulations Medeia!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for interviewing me, Mary, and the wonderful comments from you guys. :)

Marybk said...

Thank you, Medeia!

Contest winner TBA tomorrow morning.

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