Category Archives: Writing

Seeking CPs!

It took me years to find a core group of critique partners who I felt like I could really trust. It’s the closest experience I’ve ever had to online dating and the thought of having to relive all of those awkward introductions and “first dates” has led to me putting off finding new CPs altogether.

In the past few years most of my CPs have either gotten agents or the all elusive book deal, meaning they don’t have time to read for me anymore. Others have decided to take a break from writing and some even switched careers. And when it comes to the few CPs I can still rely on, I feel so guilty asking them to read something new from me every 6 months, which means that it’s probably time for me to meet some new people.

It feels like I’ve been out of the self-publishing world for a while, even though it was just last October that I published the last book in my paranormal romance series. Still, it’s been a long time since I was in a routine and drafting one manuscript while revising another. I miss that routine and I’m hopeful that the summer break will help me find my way back. And now that I know what to expect once the new school year starts, I can do a better job of avoiding burnout and staying committed to my creative practice.

Obviously, the title of this post says it all. I’m in the market for new critique partners and I’m open to other indies, traditionally published authors, or any advice on where I might find quality CPs.

A little about me, in case you just stumbled upon this blog by accident–>

*At this point in my self-publishing career my books have been downloaded over half a million times and I have a loyal readership that’s almost 4,000 strong.

*I tend to genre hop and write everything from historical fiction, to contemporary young adult, to paranormal romance.

When it comes to a critique partner, I’m not necessarily looking for someone with similar sales numbers. I remember what it was like to only sell a couple copies of my books a month and how hard it was to make connections with other writers who were more successful. Because of that, my main goal is to connect with CPs whose writing skills are equal to or better than my own. In other words, I want to connect with people who I can learn from and who will push me to become a better writer. Not only will I try to offer that as well but I will also be excited to introduce my CPs to my readers and hopefully grow their audience in the process.

There are excerpts of my novels all over this blog and the first book in my paranormal romance series is perma-free for those wanting to check out my writing quality and style. FYI, I’m currently working on a contemporary YA romance that I would love to get feedback on in June. If you think we’d be a good fit, feel free to email me at lzkbooks@gmail.com or on twitter @laekanzeakemp.

Let me know what genres you write in, what you’re currently working on, what you’re looking for in a critique partner, and what you think you can offer as a CP. A short writing sample will also be helpful, whether that’s personal writing on a blog or an excerpt from a novel. If I think we’d be a good match I’ll definitely be in touch! If you don’t hear from me, it will either be due to differences in quality/style or because I’ve already found what I’m looking for.

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It Doesn’t Suck

I have good news. I’m halfway through revising my new YA contemporary novel and…it doesn’t suck. In fact, there are moments. Real beautifully authentic moments that I somehow created, which means that I am capable of finishing this book and making it good. Which I was not entirely certain I could do after…well, the reaction to TDOTN. Maybe there’s some people out there who aren’t sure I can do it either. But one word, one page, one day at a time I’m going to prove us both wrong.

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New Year, New Goals

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I am a planner. Always have been, always will be. But that doesn’t mean my plans always pan out. I had planned to blog more this past year and reconnect with the blogging community. This did not happen. I’d planned to release TDOTN in June. That did not happen. Filling in my writing/revision calendar used to be a compulsory obsession and I haven’t touched it in months. I haven’t touched this blog in months. But now that I’ve finished my master’s degree and successfully survived my first semester of teaching, it’s time to find my way back to these important touchstones–the places where I first began to dream. The places that held me accountable and connected me with other dreamers in pursuit of the same dreams.

So, on that note, here is my new list of dreams.

*P.S. I live 90% of my life in the future, which means that my 2017 new years resolutions were actually planned years ago and now it is simply time for them to manifest*

1. Buy a home

I have lived in apartments for 8 years. That’s 8 years of listening to couples scream at each other on the other side of the wall; 8 years of possessed toilets and ice makers and broken dishwashers and bugs so big they were almost alien; 8 years of confined quarters and a pile of dirty dishes being the “heart” of the home; 8 years of wishing for a window, for a porch, a place to play our music loud, and a yard for our dog to run in. But this year, no more wishing. It’s time to put down roots.

2. Finish my next book

I wrote the rough draft of this novel years ago. But then TGIB series got so big that I never had time to go back and finish it. It will be my return to contemporary fiction and I can’t wait to start writing in the real world again. I’ve already locked my schedule in and will be writing/revising on Sundays until it’s finished. Not when I want it to be finished and not when some pre-order deadline says it’s finished (did I mention I’m never doing pre-orders again?) but when it is finished.

3. Start writing THE BOOK

I’ve blogged about THE BOOK in the context of when is it okay to follow a plot bunny even though you have other books to finish. I have been fantasizing about the plot of this story, reworking it, and falling in and out of love with it for about 2 years now. But I still haven’t written a single word. In 2017 all of that will change. I’ll be writing the 1st draft of the novel over the summer and then, based on CP feedback, I might consider subbing it. I’m still not sure how I feel about that yet. There’s a lot to consider before making that decision. But the possibility keeps nagging at me and I just feel like it’s something I need to explore.

4. Hire a website designer

I finally created an official website this year but it’s pretty plain and doesn’t really speak to the content of my books or my personality. Because of the issues I had with Amazon this past year, as well as all of the changes they keep making that make it harder and harder for KDP authors to sell books on their platform, I need my website to be a source of reliability and consistency where readers feel safe shopping and I have more control over how issues are resolved and how quickly. I also want to be able to start offering exclusive content on my website, which means I need a design that’s more attractive and easier to navigate. If you have any recs for great website designers let me know in the comments!

5. Create paperbacks for all of my books

This is one example of the exclusive content I want to start offering on my website. So many readers have emailed me asking about paperbacks. Seeing my books in print has always been a dream of mine but I just haven’t had the time or the space to devote to doing it right. Now that I’m done with school and will *hopefully* have more space soon I am going to start looking at costs of illustrators and professional formatting. I recently read one of Ksenia Anske’s blog posts on paperbacks and how, in the digital age, they’re being considered more like collectibles or works of art. I absolutely agree with this and because of that I plan to be really intentional about the design, possibly incorporating illustrations and other design elements. I also want to be able to sign every single paperback, hence the need for more space to store them and more time so that I can ship them to readers myself.

Disappointment

Every writer you know who has been shelving manuscript after manuscript; every writer you know who frantically checks their sales page every half hour; every writer you know who spends more time staring down a blank page than actually writing; every writer you know who is too afraid to even call themselves that isn’t actually afraid of not finishing. But of not being good enough. The fear of failure has crippled us all, and if we’re lucky we experience a little bit of success–enough to quell those fears for a while. But what no one tells you is that success fixes nothing. Because once you have a little bit of success, that fear of failure is quickly replaced by something else. The fear of being a disappointment.

While finishing TDOTN, every time I felt blocked, the words barely trickling out, I had the luxury of reminding myself that I had finished 6 other novels. I could finish this one too. I would. Success had leveled some of my doubt but it wasn’t the fear of running out of words that kept stopping me in my tracks. It was the fear of finishing, of coming to the end of the series, and it not being good enough. Not good enough for readers. Not good enough for the characters and the world I’d spent 5 years building.

I spent 2 years working on this novel–rewriting, revising, building it piece by piece and tearing it back down again. I came to a point when I realized that it would never be perfect–a moment of revelation I have with every novel–and that if I didn’t set some kind of deadline I would never be able to move on. I needed to move on. So that’s what I did. I set a deadline. I finished the novel. I published it. And then my worst fears came true. People were disappointed.

This blog post isn’t about me trying to explain the lesson in all of this. It’s still too fresh for me to find the value. I understand the mistakes I made and how I let down my readers who pre-ordered the novel by delivering a faulty file. I also understand how great of a risk it was to trust that Amazon would value its KDP authors enough to fix the mistakes they made as well. But I’m not talking about the disappointment surrounding how the book was delivered to customers. I’m talking about the disappointment people felt about the story. The story. My world. My characters. My ending. Right now…it’s way too painful to understand the lesson in all of that. But I will. One day soon I will wake up and not be so afraid to start again.

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Re-read The Children of the Moon Chapters 51-56

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*It’s been really emotional watching Bryn transform. Every long sleep has hardened her but she’s still the girl who cares about other people; who wants to save the world, despite not having been a part of it her entire life. But sometimes it’s also hard to watch. As Bryn spoke these words, I didn’t have a clear vision for her future. I still don’t. I still can’t imagine her at the end. I don’t even know what the end looks like. But I know what she wants, and my hope for Roman is the same hope I have for her, that after all the destruction, all the nightmares and darkness, I’ll finally be able to give it to her.

CM-51-56Q2*At this point moments of hope are few and far between but despite all Roman and Bryn have been through, despite the darkness in them both, I never wanted them to forget what love can do. Their love. It’s not just a shield but a shining light and as they venture into the night it’s the only thing that can guide their way.

*I love the image of Roman, Bryn, and Felix locking hands–“a chain of love and light.” The so-called “normal” or “human” characters in this story are just as essential and just as strong as the paranormal ones, sometimes stronger. They make the same dangerous sacrifices and they love with the same intensity. And that’s what makes them powerful in their own right. Bryn’s character and her entire journey is just a metaphor for the power that we all possess and Felix’s role in Dani’s healing is a reminder of how accessible that power is to all of us. He may not be able to do what Bryn and Roman can do. He may not be indestructible. But in some ways that makes his love even greater because there’s so much at risk and yet he chooses Dani anyway.

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*One of the greatest things about love is how it gives us permission to be the best version of ourselves. Bryn’s love liberates Roman. Existing within the confines of her imagination means that Roman can be the person she believes him to be, the version of himself he’s been fighting to hold onto all along. And in this moment he realizes that being good is a choice. Anything can happen in Bryn’s dreams, even redemption, and there’s nothing Roman wants more.

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