If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.


Our reason for creating WWK originated as an outlet for our love of reading and writing mystery fiction. We hope you love it, too, and will enjoy our holiday gifts to our readers with original short stories to celebrate the season. Starting on 11/16 stories by Warren Bull, Margaret S. Hamilton, Paula Gail Benson, Linda Rodriguez, KM Rockwood, Gloria Alden, and E. B. Davis will appear every Thursday into the New Year.


Our November Author Interviews: 11/8--Ellen Byron, and 11/15--Sujata Massey. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


November Saturday Bloggers: 11/4 Margaret S. Hamilton and 11/11 Cheryl Hollon.


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.


In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," just published, will appear in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spending Reading Time with the Unpublished


I love knowing other writers for many reasons—reasons I’m sure most anyone reading this shares.
Camaraderie. A sense of understanding. Tips and tricks. Book recommendations.
But, for me, one of the best things about getting to know other writers is getting a chance to read their work.
I find this to be something very unique and fun because I know the brain from which this great story I’m enjoying came. Sometimes, what’s in the pages happens to be a surprise. Other times, I can sit there and go, “That sounds just like so-and-so.” Either way, it’s delicious fun—no matter if the book is published or not.
For this reason, I spend a lot of time reading books that aren’t truly “books” but manuscripts.
I don’t really care if this affects my Goodreads numbers or if I can’t plow through a hot new book the second it comes out. I only have so much reading time and if it goes to something that’s really a manuscript and not a book, who cares? Because, besides the fact that I enjoy it and that I know writer friends find it helpful, there’s another benefit of this practice: It allows me to read all sorts of books without breaking a sweat.
Just in the past few months, I’ve read a time-travel sci-fi, a turn-of-the-century historical, a YA fantasy, a small-town mystery, a literary thriller, a war time historical, a contemporary mystery, and my Kindle is loaded with much, much more. This doesn’t include books I’ve copy edited through the publisher I work for or any of my freelance. And you know what? It’s been fabulous.
Sure, sometimes I like to break it up and read a published book now and again—fiction or non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. And sometimes I feel like I might say yes too often to reading books I don’t have the time to get to for another month or so. (Sorry to all the writers out there waiting on me currently.)
But I’m glad I can do this. I love that I can not only give other writers feedback but that I can also grow as a writer simply by reading someone else’s turn of a phrase, or characterization or plotting.
In fact, I dread the day when I’m going to have to be pickier about what I say I’ll read.
I know it’s coming, and probably has been for a while. I know that when I really get into the revision stage of my own projects (as I am now), that I’ll need to save my precious reading time for my own words. And that there might come a day when my editing schedule is so full, I won’t be able to “just read” a manuscript for fun as easily. But I’m relishing in the chance to read as many unpublished writers as I can while I can.
Do you read other writers’ manuscripts on a regular basis? How do you think the practice affects your own writing or writing process (or doesn’t if you don’t do it)?

7 comments:

James Montgomery Jackson said...

I once was a reader for Poisoned Pen Press and I used to belong to critique groups. I dropped PPP when I realized I was no longer learning enough to justify the time spent on dreck. The critique group died a natural death. I’d join another if the right opportunity came along because performing careful critiques helped my writing more than anything else. I still belong to a short story critique group even though I rarely write short stories just for the practice an analyzing how other people work their magic.

All of which is to say I don’t read as many manuscripts as I used to. I’ve instead taken to reading works by unknown to me authors, often very early in their careers. Some books are delightful surprises. Some others I wondered what the publisher saw that I did not. It used to be I would finish whatever books I started, but I no longer do that. If I am not enjoying it by 50 or so pages, I’ll put it down and pick up something else. If I got it for free, I am even less patient. And if it is self-published and filled with typos I’ll put it down regardless of how well I like the story—the internal editor aggravation is too high.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

I try to read a lot of manuscripts because I want my manuscript read. I, too, enjoy reading them--although rough drafts aren't as much of a treat as those that have been polished. Conceptual editors must slog through a lot of garbage, but I've employed them to save myself time, which to me is as valuable as money. I also am getting pickier about who reads my manuscripts because not all readers are equal. When a writer gets to a certain stage of craft, getting a more professional read is essential to get to the next stage of craft.

I'm glad you read a lot of manuscripts, Sarah. It's a gift to other writers. In addition, I read many books, new releases, for this blog for interviewing their authors.

Gloria Alden said...

I belong to a Guppy critique group with only three of us because the fourth never showed up. We've been together for at least four years now and read and then reread each others manuscripts after the first one is edited. An earlier critique group fell apart. I was interested in only one of the other critique group's work, and several had so many problems that I didn't know where to start with my critiquing without totally destroying their confidence. Several rarely critiqued anything. Although the members were probably quite nice - in fact one is, I know - we never became a cohesive unit unlike my current one.

Like Jim, I find many published books that I wonder how they ever found a publisher. I rarely finish a book that I can't get into because of various problems with it.

Daveler said...

I read more self-published books than I do traditionally published books. I'm like you and I enjoy connecting with authors even more than I like reading fiction.

I find that reading manuscripts though, especially other critiques of those manuscripts, can really confuse things for me. Like the other commentors said, there are times in which I have huge problems with something that others didn't, or liked a choice that others hated. It tends to confirm my belief that getting published and getting attention is far more complex than your literary choices.

KM Rockwood said...

I belong to a critque group, and I find it invaluable. We've been together for about 4 years, and we meet once a month for breakfast, to exachange material and to critque one another's work. I feel like it keeps me from going off on a strange tangent, and it definitely keeps me from using slang/expressions that seem perfectly normal to me but that might not be understandable to most readers. And I love that our mixed-gender group gives people the opportunity to hear, "Well, from a male perspective..."

I just served as a judge in a contest, and found that experience to be enlightening. I tried to be encouraging but point out what I saw as fatal flaws (like the female protagonist coming across as a player when I was pretty sure that wasn't intended) but I haven't heard back, so I don't know if I was successful or not.

Warren Bull said...

I belonged to an excellent critique group once and I was sorry when it ended. I am also a "recovering" editor. It was a thrill to find a top notch work, but it rarely happened.

Sarah Henning said...

Fantastic comments everyone! I must admit, the reasons many of you say you don't read too many manuscripts anymore is exactly why I'm pretty sure my numbers will go down eventually. Quality varies greatly, of course. So far, I've had good matches, but I've also been as selective as possible, if that makes sense. Though, if I'm being paid to edit something, I obviously don't get much say. Still, those are fun:)