June 22, 2009

Paty Jager on Critics

Critic- 1) one who expresses a reasoned opinion on any matter esp. involving a judgment of its value, truth, righteousness, beauty, or technique. 2)one given to harsh or captious judgment.

This word carries a negative connotation, yet, doesn't every one want an honest evaluation even if it is of one person's opinion? One person's view be it full of compliments can make your day or one person's view which judges or tells their thoughts that are unflattering can also spoil a day. Yet, when it comes down to it, both the good and bad comments can be used to make you better at what ever you do.

I know I've cringed and fumed a time or two over comments from writing contests or even from my own handpicked critique partners, but when I let the information settle and think it over, I realize there is something I need to consider. So, I've come to value critique and have used it as a means to strengthen my writing.

Of course you have to have a thick skin to take some things that may be thrown your way, but if you do step away and come back later, nine times out of ten you realize they were right.

Then there is the glowing critique- those we can never get enough of! LOL My last book Outlaw in Petticoats received glowing reviews from reviewers, yet my oldest daughter (my toughest critic) and my best friend, both, didn't care for the book. They thought I didn't dig deep enough and make it a fulfilling read. This bugged me. They both loved my book Gambling on an Angel which is more character driven and less action packed.

Well, my daughter took home my newest release, Miner in Petticoats, when she was visiting. She called me a few days after she went home, "Mom, I read your book." I held my breath, fearing what would come next. "And this is now my favorite of your books, it even surpasses Gambling on and Angel." That made my day and my week.

But I'm holding my breath- I've yet to receive a review on the book from a review site. So if my daughter didn't like the last book and the reviewers did.... Does this mean because my daughter likes this one the reviewers won't? I don't have time to worry about that I'm working on the next book.

Blurb for Miner in Petticoats:
Shouldering the burdens of his family and the mining community, Ethan Halsey devotes himself to providing for his brothers’s growing families.

However, Aileen Miller, a widow, also looking out for her family’s interests, refuses to part with the land he needs. As they battle- one to push his dream to reality and the other to prove no man will hurt her again- their lives become enmeshed and their hearts collide.

“Mrs. Miller?” he asked, extending his hand. She kept her head tipped forward just enough her
face was shadowed and hidden behind the brim of the hat.

“Who be askin’?” Her voice caught his attention with its deep, lyrical tone.

“I’m Ethan Halsey. My brothers and I have a claim just over the ridge.” It aggravated him he couldn’t see her face and register how she took his words.

“Are ye lost?” The voice vibrated under his skin, causing his body to warm.

He cleared his throat. “No, I’m not lost. I’m looking for Mrs. Miller. I’m assuming that is you,
since you’re the only grown woman I see here.”

“Ah m Aileen. Ah dinnae fancy bein’ called Mrs. Miller.”

This disclosure piqued his curiosity. “Mrs— Aileen. I’ve come with an offer.” Her head tilted, tipping the wide-brimmed hat to the side and revealing a slip of her face.

“And whit may this grand offur be?” He saw the slightest curve on one side of her lips.

“Ma’am, not to sound bossy, but I’d like to see your face as we discuss this proposition.” Her
shoulders dipped slightly before she squared them, stretched her neck to its full length, and
whipped the hat from her head. Copper sparks reflected off her hair as the sun lit her dark locks.
Ethan hadn’t believed the words of a cowardly man like Miles, and he was happy to see there
wasn’t any kind of mark on the woman’s face, at least none put there by the devil. Her skin was
abundantly sprinkled with angel kisses. That was what his mother had called the freckles on her
face. Angel kisses. He’d always had a fondness for freckle-faced women and children.

“Thank you, I appreciate seeing people’s eyes when talking business.” Ethan took a step closer
to the porch, waiting to be invited to the shade.

“And whit be yer business?” The woman didn’t seem inclined to invite him any closer.

“I’ve scouted the land all around our claim. The five acres of your land down where Cracker
Creek drops in elevation is the perfect spot to set up a stamp mill. The side of the canyon has the
right slope and the water is moving fast enough to power the mill.”

“So yer business is askin’ me tae sell ma land?” She clamped work-reddened hands onto
those ample hips and glared at him.

“We’d give you a fair price for the five acres, and you could use the stamp mill to claim more
gold from your mine.” The information didn’t seem to change her opinion. She still glared at
him. “We’re allowing the nearby claims to build rails to bring their ore to the mill. They can use
the stamp mill, giving us a small cut of their profits.” He smiled at his family’s generosity.

“So ye’re doin’ this oot o’ the goodness o’ yer heart? Takin’ yer neighbor’s land and their gold.”
Her light green eyes flashed with indignation.

If you would like to learn more about my books and myself hop on over to my website www.patyjager.com and while you're there enter my monthly contest.

Anna Kathryn, Thank you for having me here today!


Helen Hardt said...

Criticism is, unfortunately, a fact of life for all writers. We're putting our souls out there, and we're doing it willingly. Scary stuff, but part of the business. You're right about growing that thick skin; it's a necessity.

Paty Jager said...

So true, Helen. And you have to remember not everyone likes the same things. That's what makes the world interesting.

Susan Macatee said...

I agree, Paty! It is tough. I came up through entering contests and some of those critiques were downright brutal. Now, I'm to the point where I feel I can take anything my critque group, editors or reviewers dish out. But while it can make me cringe or get mad, I've learned to learn from the remarks that can help improve my writing and discard the purely subjective ones. And while it's never nice to get those negative critiques, it does thicken the skin.

Anne Carrole said...

Criticism is tough to take--after all, our books are in many ways our babies. But if the excerpt is any indication, this will be a winner too!

Paty Jager said...

Susan, I agree entering contests is the best way to learn to grow a thick skin. Some judges can be brutal.

Anne Carrole, Thanks!

Lauri said...

Yes, reviews can be scary. It's kind of like sending that first baby picture out and having someone NOT think it's the cutiest thing they've ever seen.

I agree with Helen, it is a fact of life, and all should be taken with a grain of salt. Some grains are just more coarse than others.

Great blog!

Paty Jager said...

Thanks, Lauri!

Elizabeth Pina said...

I love getting critiques from people whose opinion I value and whose writing style is similar to my own. I used to dread contest returns but now find value in each one.

If only I could bring myself to look at the critique of a partial I received earlier today - my initial glance registered copious notes!

Maybe in the morning.

How wonderful your daughter likes your work.

Paty Jager said...

HI Elizabeth. I agree sometimes you don't want to look at what CP's have said, but in the long run it usually makes the book better.

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