The Novel Novel Group


I am so pleased to have been invited to join Heidi’s writers group here in Dubai!  Yup, a novel length submission group which is novel for me – other groups I have attended critiqued short lengths of writing – 2000 to 4000 words from as many as six or seven people.  Some were short stories or parts of novels, some were bits of writing on their way to being a short story or novel.


In this new one, we read a complete novel, just one, from one author until we are done – albeit 10-15 chapters at a time, critiquing each section each week.

After two meetings, I can say I do like this new protocol.


  1. As I follow along the story, it’s easier to pick out plot holes/ flaws when I have the whole book.  When critiquing pieces from six or seven authors in short bursts, you get  a short peek into the plot and if you get to read more, it’s usually months later.
  2. I am invested in the story, the characters, the world of the novel.  As I go deeper, I can watch the characters change as each new plot twist unfolds.  Love it!
  3. I can keep track of continuity.  I notice if the car the antagonist drives changes color suddenly,  if mannerisms are out of character from earlier chapters, and since these things are important to me, I assume they are important to the other writers.
  4. I can also I pick out repetitious descriptors and descriptions, something that can break the spell of the book faster than a misspelled word.
  5. And it’s fun to find out that what I thought was a flaw in the narration is really a plot twist I never saw coming in the next chapter.

So, yes, I like this “Novel” group.

Disadvantages?  If you don’t like the genre, it can be hard going – but less than I thought.

This novel I’m reading now is set in a dystopian world of monks and soldiers, very cerebral, chock full of meditation and mind games.  I’m more of an action/dialog kind of gal.  But when the author asked if I found it hard to read, I was pleased to say, “I read the first 30 pages out of respect, but after that I was hooked.”   Good writing always wills out.




Recommendation for the day

Am I OCD?  Don’t care.  But I am taking days off from the never ending, never quite enough effort to improve my exercise routine, my nutrition, my writing and relationships etcetera.  Shit, yeah!  I even keep a finger on the pulse of my relationships – husband, daughter, sisters, friends, writing group, for God’s sakes!  I am supposed to be retired.

So today I am going to read, all day, for no other reason than to enjoy the feel of a book in my hands.  Kathy Reichs  Speaking In Bones



Ode to my kid

She’s not me; she’s better.

I had a kid late in life.  Yes, selfish – lots of places I wanted to go, and did.  Lots of things I wanted to do and see -and did.

Then I met my husband who is different.  Because who you like when you are in a hurry, like in your 20’s and 30’s, is a different guy than who you like when you are 40 and sick of slick and shiny.

And we had a kid.  She’s 24.   And holy crap, she turned out great.  I mean GREAT. Independent, hard working, thoughtful, and focused.

Which means if I never write another book, or sell one, or get on a bestseller list or walk to the stage to receive a prize, I have done more good in one human being than any bestseller could do.


Sometimes I need to get away – from my writing room

Is it writer’s block, writer’s fatigue, or as a fellow writer confessed at group – writer’s fear?

Good ideas often come to me in the metro, or a taxi, as I wait in line at the bank.  Sooooooo, there are whole blocks of days, I make myself leave the security of my computer desk behind and ride the rails, usually with a book and my Galaxy Note.  Amazing how an inexpensive change of scene can free you from the pressure.




Sometimes tea helps


I am a morning coffee person.  Two cups start the engine, but afternoons, nope.  So I am always on the lookout for a delicious cup of tea.

This month’s recommendation – Teekanne  (since 1882) Premium Rooibos Vanilla.  Smooth, antioxidant, and delicious with milk. (Please spare me the “how could you”speech against adding milk. I already have a Brit brother-in-law)

When I am at a loss for words, and my house has already been cleaned twice this week, I have a cup of tea.


The Art of Tenacity or drip, drip, chip away


First, I bought a new phone and spent 3 days trying to transfer data.

Meanwhile, I had planned to write, not wade thru tech blogs, but I needed my new phone to function – I could not continue carrying around 2 phones – one with the sim card and one with all my apps (and data).  So finding the instructions that worked (and I could understand) was important, so I could free myself up to write – a query letter.

The Q letter is my nemesis, my boulder, my personal blister on my heel.   These take me a long time for all the usual reasons – defining major plot points, finding the precise words that describe the characters, editing until the sentences swim off the page like shimmering dolphins.

On the plus side, I have written excellent q letters before, so I know this.

If I keep at it, keep a note pad nearby, wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, if I write down ideas as they occur, the letter gets written.  I drip, drip, chip away until it’s done.  That’s the secret for most difficult endeavors, right?

Also YouTube is the best for tech questions and demos!