~~ Vonnie Davis
Almost a year ago, I listed my name on RWA's site for finding a critique partner. The two I had before were great. Awesome. So good, in fact, they had each contracted a series with close deadlines. I felt, with all the pressure involved with the growth of their writing careers, I was adding extra stress by asking them to stop working on their stuff to read my chapters. So, maybe I could find someone who was less strained for time. Who didn't have deadlines, edits, and promo of new releases constantly looming.
A young mother contacted me. She'd never been published. Okay, I could work with that. I was being told by my editor, at the time, that I wrote old. My word usage was dated. So, a younger adult could help me be more current. Win-Win.
She sent me her first chapter. There were several problems. Not huge, mind you. Newbie problems. Ones I'd made myself years ago. Okay, ones I still make before I do a hard edit. How much more honest can I get with y'all? Even so, beneath the almost constant use of that, just, and only, I could see talent beaming through. She didn't have "telling" versus "showing" nailed down so I sent her lessons I'd written for Savvy Authors.
In short, I mentored her.
Not with this new young woman. She wanted to learn. Whatever instructions I gave her, she soaked up like a sponge. Slowly, the lovely woman I mentored became a stronger writer and a valuable critique partner. She began to pick up on my weak points, which pleased me. Why? Because
I knew she was getting stronger.
Once her book was written, we went through the editing process together. I learned more about street drag racing than I ever knew there was to learn. She sent me YouTube videos on the sport to watch and get the gist of her writing topic. I helped her make her Young Adult romance shine with suggestions here and there. She'd learned so much in our time together as well as the online classes she'd taken, I just stepped back and watched her shine.
I gave her tips on how to write a synopsis and a query letter. I edited them for her. Not that I had much to do. She'd gotten it.
Since she has no agent, she went to the RWA site and got the listing of publishers that accept unagented submissions. She sent off her query package according to what each publisher requested on their website, exactly as they'd requested. I'd told her this was her first test as an author. Publishers figure if you can't follow directions on how to submit, how will you follow their editing instructions?
Pardon me while I sound like a proud Mama. This young friend, who I've never met, who's never been published has a contract offer from a small publisher...AND full manuscript requests from The
Wild Rose Press, Lyrical, HarperImpulse, Siren, Harlequin, City Owl, Entangled, and Sourcebooks.
Several who are giving her submission prompt special attention because of her contract offer from a small publisher.
So, mentoring turned into critiquing and a great friendship. Candice writing as Leslie, you go girl!