If you ever want to know if you' ve progressed in your writing skills, go back to old manuscripts but be prepared to be amazed. In seeking out old files for "Crystal Magic", I came across some from about five years ago. They are terrible. I mean really bad. But that's okay, and in fact, it's a good thing because it encourages me and motivates me in my rewrite of the book. There's nothing like some cold water in the face to get you going again. The story is still as good as it ever was and possibly even better, so now it's up to me to take it back to the core and start layering on new images, new dialogue, and definitely new abilities. The characters are just as strong and the plot line will change very little, only the telling will change. It will take some time and some help from my friends but it can be done. My goal is to have it ready for submission by the end of the year so it has a chance of being available for the next season for Christmas books. It's a reasonable goal, I think but we'll see.
As of today,the Mystery is 'hystory.'. After struggling for years with the story, the solution to the problem came to me during the night...too many characters. Simple as that, but it will require a complete re-write so it went back into the drawer this morning and Crystal Magic came out. This was not an easy decision to make and it came after I don't know how many critique group reviews and discussions with a dozen others. It's hard to believe none of us saw the problem but it just goes to prove that no mattter how many times you critique a book or story, the answer can be right in front of your nose. I'm actually glad to get back to Neufie and Elizabeth's story anyway. It won't be a 201o release but perhaps 2011 and there are still those that think it should be a made-for TV movie. I don't see any of them coming forward with the cash it takes to get the process started though so we'll see what happens. I still have hopes of getting to at least one more conference this year but the likelihood of that happening gets smaller every day. It is just so expensive that a person on a fixed income doesn't have much of an opportunity. Even if I were to drive every day the cost for gas would be prohibitive. Stay tuned. I haven't given up hope yet.
I've been agonizing over my critique group situation and I realize that the one I'm in probably isn't the best fit. Not because of theother members,k because they have helped me a lot, but I'm not helping them. It's primarily due to genre differences since they all have young children so they write for picture books and early readers. I suck at writing picture books (although I'm taking a class on it,) so I can't give them really solid critigues. I know what I like and why I like it but when it comes to the technical aspect of the genre, I'm a dunce. We don't have many critique groups here and the ones we have tend to be large and therefore don't give the writer a good platform for periodic critique. I know of one group that a member can only get read about once every six or eight weeks and that's just not enough. The other problem, and it's a big one, is that most groups are general interest groups that tend to favor romance and adult thriller type works. So I'm going to try addding an online group or forming my own on line group. I have contacted other members of SCBWI and I'll see what happens. Remember when selecting a group, try to get an idea of their focus before you join because it's not fair to either party if the mix is wrong. You might even ask for samples of their work so you can see if style and/or focus is wrong for you. There's probably no such thing as a bad group, but it has to fit your style and genre or it won't work as well. I'll let you know how I make out.