I’m a huge fan of the husband and wife writing team known as Ilona Andrews. The Kate Daniels series is my hands-down favorite urban fantasy series. They are awesome sauce.
Because I like them so much, I stalk their blog. What? They asked for it! When I found out they donated a three-page critique as a fundraising incentive to a great charity* I knew I had to do it!
But what if they hated my writing? What if my favorite best selling authors tore my writing all apart and left me broken and crying on the floor?
But, I put on my big girl pants and did it. And then I got the instruction email from Ilona which included this:
Please indicate in your email if you would like a softer critique. If you do not, we will critique you with the same viciousness we would critique one of our peers. Please make sure to have a stuffed animal to hug when you receive our critique back. We recommend one of the softer varieties so when it is thrown at the computer screen, it will cause minimal damage. 🙂
Deep breaths. I can handle this. Worst case scenario, they have a lot of suggestions – hey that’s a learning opportunity from a NYT best selling author! Best case scenario, we become BFFs and they introduce me to their agent. (kidding! …sorta)
She suggested sending in the first three pages. So, I know that my first chapter is not my best writing. The publisher told me so, my critique partners told me so. I’ve revised it probably ten times. The lack of agent interest was yet another big clue. I just couldn’t get it right.
After another round of edits, wherein I felt much better about the state of my opening pages, I sent it off with my permission to give me the hard feedback. (I actually do have thick skin about critiques, and I want to know what they really think so it can get better). I got a response very quickly from Ilona:
Hi Bonnie,You put me into a difficult position. I can’t really give you [the donation value] of critique here and I don’t think you need it, quite frankly. I can offer only general comments.
*Releases clutch on teddy bear*
Excellent descriptions, vivid choice of words. Excellent detail with fortune cookie aroma, very immediate.
Squee! Happy dance. Oh. My. Gawd.
So, you know, we’re like basically BFFs now. And then she gave me like two pages of great suggestions despite saying it would be pretty general. I asked my allotted follow up question and she clarified and asked which publisher was going to release my book. I was professional and (fingers crossed) funny and only fan-girled on her once.
So there you have it – Ilona said nice things about my writing.
And did I mention we’re BFFs now?
*The charity is called the Pixel Project. Their mission is to “raise awareness, funds and volunteer power for the cause to end violence against women (VAW) using the power of the internet, social media, and pop culture/the arts.” www.thepixelproject.net