5 Years of Blogging [newsletter launch + giveaways]

Every April I say to myself: “You should do a special post on the anniversary of your first blog post.”

Myself always replies: “Ah, yes, what a lovely idea.”

And every year, the 19th of April slips by like a… um… a, uh… Sneaky Thing under the cover of darkness. Or something. (The significance of April 19th is that it’s my blog anniversary, for those of you who weren’t catching on).

Me to myself in January 2018: I decree that it will. not. happen. this year! April 19th shall not slip by like a Sneaky Thing under the cover of darkness! No! Not This time!

Myself to me on April 20th: Oops.

Thus, here we are. On the 23rd of April. Talking about how I’ve been blogging for five years now as of April 19, 2018. Which was four days ago.

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A few numbers:

  • 5 years of blogging (in case you hadn’t picked up on that already)
  • 3 different blog names (anybody remember the two blog names that came before Penprints? If you do, keep it secret, keep it safe.)
  • 224 posts (including this one). Only 97 of them remain public; the other 127 are hidden away to never be seen any other eyes but mine own. However, my Original Post remains as cute and 15-year-old-Rosalie as ever.
  • Nearly 300 followers 281 to be exact, but “nearly 300” sounds better

Now, here is quick survey to please fill out with your feedback on Penprints. I want to know what you guys want to see/not see on Penprints, so please take 3 minutes to fill out this survey.

To celebrate I’m launching my newsletter and throwing a few giveaways!

How is subscribing to this newsletter different than subscribing to just Penprints?

Ah, I’m glad you asked.

I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a very compelling list of differences that will make you want to subscribe ASAP.

  • Way more info so that you are in the know; need to know stuff, and you’ll need to know it
  • Frequent giveaways (once a quarter)
  • Sneak peaks at my current writing projects (excerpts, collages, playlists)
  • Special announcements (submissions, contracts, first looks at blog posts/series)
  • Input on the newsletter freebie (more on that in a minute)
  • All sorts of recommendations (music, books, etc.)
  • You get emails from High Command (that’s right–this newsletter is going to be called High Command, and thus will, at the very least, sound Super Swanky)
  • Input on what you, as the recipients of the High Command memos, will be called (you get to name yourselves instead of just being called “kids”, “friends”, “guys”, and all the other things I call you here on Penprints)

How often will memos (aka: newsletters) from High Command be sent out?

Ah, I’m glad you asked.

Fresh newsletters will be in your inboxes every month or so. (Translation: I’m shooting for once a month, but sometimes it might be every other month.)

If something exciting happens (i.e. – CONTRACT), a little newsletter might surprise you with nothing more than Exciting News.

Newsletter giveaways will happen once a quarter, theoretically corresponding with the beginning of a new season (if I can keep my scheduling head on straight; bullet journal, don’t fail me now). The giveaways will be for gift cards, books, and other such fun things.

What is a newsletter freebie?

Ah, I’m glad you asked.

A newsletter freebie is a shorty story or ebook (or something of that nature) that is given out those who loyally subscribe to a newsletter. I’ve been planning on putting together a newsletter freebie since 2016. “Planning” is the operative term here.

SO, as some of the first subscribers to High Command (my newsletter), you would be able to offer special input about what you want to receive for being a subscriber and thus set the trend for all the subscribers that come after you. I’ll give you a few options in the first newsletter.

And what is being given away?

Oh, I’m glad you asked.

Because I don’t have a newsletter freebie to offer you, I’m offering several prize packages. Four prize packages, to be exact.

The Reinke Package

the reinke packageThis includes hard copies of three books by Tony Reinke (aka: one of my absolute favorite Christian non-fiction authors ever).

I’ve read all three, and they are a-mazing. Each one has transformed my thinking in exciting ways, and I cannot recommend them enough.

  1. Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books
  2. The Joy Project
  3. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You

The Writer’s Package:

the writer's packageThese includes hard copies of three writing craft books that I believe are essential to every writer’s bookshelf. I have read and reread them, and they have taught me so much as a writer.

  1. On Writing by Stephen King
  2. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King
  3. Go Teen Writers by Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson

The Brandes Package:

the brandes package 1This one includes–you guessed it!–hard copies of books by Nadine Brandes AND a complete set of the Happy Hello magnetic bookmarks based off of characters from the Out of Time Series. I have read all four of these books and adore each one, and the bookmarks are so much fun!

  1. A Time to Die (Out of Time Series #1)
  2. A Time to Speak (Out of Time Series #2)
  3. A Time to Rise (Out of Time Series #3)
  4. Happy Hello Out of Time Series bookmarks
  5. Fawkes

The Musical Package:

the musical packageSome stuff from my favorite musicals! (No, none of this is The Greatest Showman stuff, even though I so enjoy that musical.)

  1. The Phantom of the Opera DVD (the movie version with Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler)
  2. Wicked Original Broadway Cast CD
  3. Les Miserables themed travel mug

When is all this happening?

Ah, I’m glad you asked.

Today is April 23rd (in case you hadn’t noticed). The first newsletter will go out June 1, and the winners of the giveaways will be announced in that newsletter.

SO, you have until May 31st to subscribe and be eligible to win one of the four prize packages. That’s over a month, kids.

What do I do with all this info (aka: how do I enter the giveaways)?

Ah, I’m glad you asked.

So, to subscribe to my newsletter and specify which package(s) you want to be entered to win, hop over to THIS FORM to enter your email address and check the appropriate giveaway boxes.

And that’s it, kids!

Don’t forget to fill out the survey about Penprints (it’s just a couple minutes, I promise)! I so appreciate all of you who have joined in on this blog over the last five years! You’ve put up with long, unexplained silences, we’ve had great conversations, and you guys make this fun!

What else should I include in my newsletter? Which prize package appeals to you the most?

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – And, no, I’m not ashamed of having a whole package devoted to Nadine Brandes’ books. Not one bit.

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The Story Behind “Our Family” [a behind-the-scenes look at its journey, from awful beginning to unexpected end]

As many of you may know by now, my second published flash fiction came out in March! It is titled Our Family, and it was no easy story to write (as I’ve said numerous times on my various social medias because I cannot get over how crazy this whole process was). Today I want to share more of the behind-the-scenes in hopes that other writers may be encouraged.

the story behind our family.jpg

The Set-up

I keep an eye on Splickety Publishing Group’s upcoming themes for their three imprints: Splickety, Havok, and Spark. The theme for their March issue had caught my attention way back last year when the 2018 themes were announced, but I had no ideas for it. And I don’t mean no “good” ideas for it; I mean no ideas whatsoever. But my mind kept circling back to that issue and that theme: Dystopian Disaster.

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Then, less than a week before the deadline, a seemingly unrelated idea I’d had for a while came to the surface, one I’d thought of after all the hurricanes last year.

What about the lag time between the hurricane and when relief starts to come in? What if no relief came at all? What then? What about all those people?

I decided to give this idea a go, to see if it could be worked enough to fit the theme.

Sunday, January 7: 5 Days to the Submission Deadline

I’ve never tried to draft and then edit a flash fiction in so little time. I always want to let it sit and get more distance from it, but there was just no time for that.

I cranked out a rough draft about three teens trying to escape a gang that had gotten control of what little supplies were left after the hurricane. It was violent and intense but with a bright spot of hope at the end. It wrecks the world, I thought to myself.

Tuesday, January 9: 3 Days to the Submission Deadline

After letting the rough draft sit as long as I dared, I cut out the third teen, worked in a twist, and then went in for a little more tightening. It was more intense. More violent. The bright spot of hope nearly nonexistent. It kind of made me cringe.

Out it went to the first line of critique (aka: my parentals). Things were a little confusing with my gang of baddies, so I went in for another round of edits to clarify things. I was also starting to freak out a little about the imminent deadline.

Wednesday, January 10: 2 Days to the Submission Deadline

I finished off draft three, and it took another turn for the worst. Even more violent. Even more intense. And whatever that spot was at the end, I don’t think “hope” is the word to describe it. I was really starting to squirm.

The deadline was so. close. and something significant was still so wrong with it. I had no title and no idea how to fix whatever was wrong. It was something deeper than the violence (I am a firm believer in dark stories because they are truer to reality, more honest about our fallen nature, and they give hope the starkest backdrop to shine against).

But the darkness in this story was just confusing and bleak. The twists and violence were there for shock value more than they told a good story. But off it went to the next wave of critique (aka: my brother Caleb and two others) while I paced and squirmed and cringed, stress levels rising by the minute.

nightmare 1

Thursday, January 11: 1 Day to the Submission Deadline

Two of the three received it pretty well. Some things were still confusing and there were some plot holes that need clarification or removal, but over all they seemed to like it. Which, considering I’d been winging it since Sunday, I thought was not bad. Could be worse, I reasoned.

But the third, Caleb, did not like it. Like, at all. He tried to say it kindly, and I had anticipated such a response from him… but I had only one day left to make changes. Why not just go for more clarification and hope for the best? And, besides, he was just one of several critique people, so why not go with the majority? I couldn’t possibly rewrite it in such a short amount of time and actually expect something good to turn out. Could I?

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This was when I finally started to get a clue. As a little bundle of frustration, conflict, and uncertainty, I finally decided to have a real talk with God about it. Up to this point, I’d just prayed in passing “help me write this story, Lord” or “bless this story, Jesus” or other little nothings in passing when I wrote or prayed, staunchly avoiding really praying about it.

Alas, come Thursday, I was out of options and time, so to God in prayer I went (one would think by this time in my life I would have done this sooner, but unfortunately not).

The rest of Thursday passed more-or-less thusly:

Me: So, um, what’s the deal with this story? Will You help me with it? Should I just send it in basically as is? It’s not that bad, is it?

Holy Spirit: You wrote it by yourself.

Me: Yeah, but it’s not that bad. I mean, I can submit it and get feedback at the very least. The last five pieces have been rejected, so I doubt they’re going to accept this one since it’s kind of a wreck.

Holy Spirit: But what if they do accept it?

Me: Then that would be good…?

Holy Spirit: Would it, though?

Me: Why would it not be?

Holy Spirit: You’re very vocal about Me online.

Me: … Mhm…?

Holy Spirit: But where am I in this story? When people read it, where will they see Me? Are you going to tie My Name to this dark story and call it good? How does this story make My great Name known to the world? If you’re going to say you write with Me, then you need to actually write with Me.

Me: *sinking feeling* So you mean I need to rewrite it? *whining* But I don’t have time for that! It won’t turn out!

Holy Spirit: Are you sure? Do you doubt me?

Me: *grumbling* When you say it like that it sounds bad. *more grumbling* Well, if we’re going to do this, we need to get to it. I have no idea how to fix it, so, um, the ball’s in Your court.

Holy Spirit: You know I always take the weight off you when you come around to owning your weakness and ask for help. Remember, My power’s made perfect in your weakness.

(Sometimes I swear it’s amazing I haven’t been smitten by God for all the times I’m so casual and whining and petulant. Not even kidding. He is so patient, so gracious.)

That’s the basics of what passed between me and God a few times on Thursday, and then I got a breakthrough, a really good one.

stranger things 19.gif

So I sat down at my computer, released my death grip on control, and rewrote the story, and this time it had a heart, a soul that made me smile. This time, I could see a piece of Jesus when I read it, and I had full confidence that this was not a story to be ashamed of or worried about what people would think.

Some people wouldn’t like, but that didn’t matter because I liked it, because it was hopeful and subtly sent arrows pointing to the God I love. I was confident because I finally had peace with it, finally knew that God was pleased by it.

Friday, January 12: The Day of the Deadline

After a few more rounds of small edits to tighten things and reword a few things, I sent it in… But then there were issues with my email, and it wouldn’t go through. At that point, I was done. I wanted to be done thinking about it, but no, it wouldn’t go through. Even after four tries. Four. tries.

Me: After all that, it’s going to get stuck in the submission process, God? What?! Technical difficulties are going to take it down?

Holy Spirit: After all that, you think some technical difficulties are going to take it down if I want it to go through? Trouble shoot and try again.

(As I said before, God pours out His grace and patience on me by the oceanful.)

After some trouble shooting and some untraditional detours, it went through. And a few weeks later, it was acquired. And a little while after that, it was out in the world.

And then God really blew my mind.

People have been so encouraging in their response to Our Family, and while I believe flash fiction has the potential to be powerful, I did not dream that Our Family would touch people as much as it has. I was expecting “Aw, it’s a nice story”, but I’ve been so floored and humbled by what people have said.

God has touched people’s hearts in ways I hadn’t ever thought of, things were huge to people that I never thought were huge when I wrote it, pieces of God so much clearer than I thought they would be. A few people have cried over it. Cried. over. it. WHAT?!?!?!?!?! How did that even happen????

I guess I was just expecting little from God. Again.

dream bigger 1

Conclusion

This is a long post, and maybe it’s got far more detail and drama than you ever wanted, but it is what it is.

I want people to know that Our Family wasn’t anything to get excited while I had my death grip on it. I want people to know that it only got its heart because God.

I want other writers to know that amazing, unbelievable things happen when you give a story over to God, when you write it with Him.

I want other writers to know that He is so patient and gracious, especially since I know I should know all this stuff already.

I want other writers to know that God can blow your expectations out of the water, that He can work little miracles in stories that, by all rights, shouldn’t work or succeed.

I want other writers to go out on a limb, go out on God, and keep working even when it’s stressful and tough.

So let’s talk. Is there a story you’re struggling with right now? What does your writing process look like? Tell me about a time when God did something you hadn’t even imagined!

With much love,

Rosalie

P.S. – If it isn’t clear from the rest of this post, praise God. For all of it. Glory to God. For all of it.

Cap-tivated [a flash fiction]

I’ve decided to share a flash fiction I wrote a while back with you all on the blog. For those of you who don’t know, a flash fiction is a story in 1000 words or under. Cap-tivated (the flash fic I’m sharing today) comes to 971 words.

Note: I’m under no delusions about my romance writing skills, just so we’re all clear from the outset. I just know that the way to get better at something is to practice, so here’s to practicing and jumping out of the comfort zone and writing romance even though you don’t really know how to write romance.


cap-tivated.jpg

She sported that awful St. Louis Cardinals tee and baseball cap the first time Cal saw her in the fifth grade. Any decent person would know better than to wear Cardinals stuff in Chicago Cubs territory, but Cal supposed that it was more proof that she was not a decent person.

It was just another Saturday of backyard ball with Jimmy, Nate, and Alex. Cal had struck Alex out twice and was about to start on a third thanks to his wicked curveball when she came up to the edge of the yard, baseball glove in hand and Cardinals cap shading her face. “Hi’ya! Do you have room for another player?”

The other boys looked to Cal. His yard, his job to get rid of the girl. He rubbed his thumb across the baseball and shrugged. “Ah, nah, two-on-two works pretty well for us.”

She adjusted her cap. “Oh, okay. Well, I’m Molly. I just moved into the house two doors down, so just give me a holler if you have room for another player.”

Cal nodded, as if they would ever want a girl underfoot for one of their games, and she disappeared down the street with an overly cheerful wave. Trying not to smirk, Cal wound up for his next pitch.

But she came back the next Saturday. And the next. And the next. And every single Saturday after that, even when it was raining. Always in that awful cap. And each time, the other three boys would look to Cal to handle it. His yard, his job to get rid of the girl. And each time, he’d come up with something to send her away.

But then Mom happened to be there one day when Molly showed up, and all hope was lost. “Cal, you let this sweet girl play with you,” Mom said before disappearing inside.

Sweet girl? Psh. Just look at that cap! There’s nothing sweet about her. But he had no choice. Molly bounced up to Cal. “Can I pitch?”

He shot a glance at the kitchen window. Mom’s silhouette lurked by the sink, probably watching their game with her Mom-eyes. Crud. No getting out of it. He reluctantly tossed the ball to Molly, teeth grinding. “Sure.”

The summer before high school Cal’s friends went off to camp while he stayed home. He sat on the swing set in the park, baseball glove on one hand, baseball in the other. One week in, and it was shaping up to be the loneliest, most boring summer in the history of summers.

A pair of tennis shoes appeared in the corner of his eye. “Hi’ya, Cal! Your mom said you’d be here.”

Mom, why do you do this to me?

Molly ground a woodchip under her shoe. “I thought we could maybe play some catch.”

He glanced up and took in her dusty, summer appearance. Two braids, an ever-present smile, and that awful Cardinals cap. She didn’t seem to ever change as the years passed. It was either that or he couldn’t get past that hat. “Eh, I’m not really in the mood.”

But she wouldn’t let it go. She straightened her cap and flipped a braid over her shoulder. “Or you could finally teach me that curveball.”

Of course she had to mention his famed curveball. It was like she knew he couldn’t resist the offer. She was that annoying. But by the last week of summer when his friends came home, Molly was throwing a better curveball than Cal, and Cal was carving a C and an M into a tree in the park.

“Tonight was really the best, babe.” Molly toyed with the brim of her Cardinals cap as they pulled into their driveway.

Cal shot her a smile and killed the engine. “I’m glad you liked it.”

She laughed. “I loved it. I still can’t decide if it’s harder to believe that you, Cal Foster, took me to a Cardinals game, or that it took four years of marriage for you to finally get around to it.”

“You know I work in baby steps.” He opened his car door. “I just wish you would have let me buy you a new cap. That one’s a mess.”

“Agh, Cal, this cap has so much sentimental value!” She pulled the cap off and gave the brim an affectionate brush.

“Then I can get you a glass case for it.”

She rolled her eyes. “Let’s pretend you didn’t say that. Anyway, babe, I’m gonna need some help getting out of the car.”

“Ah, right.” He swung his door closed and went around to her side. With a grin, he took her hands and helped her stand.

“Phew.” She put a hand on her rounded stomach, breathing a little hard. “He’s going to be a big boy.”

He led her up their front steps. “Boy? Since when did you decide that it’s a boy?”

“He carries so differently than Emma did, and Emma needs a little brother.”

Fishing the keys out of his pocket, he quirked an eyebrow at her. “That sounds so scientific.”

She grinned and twisted the end of one of her braids. “It is. And, your mom agrees with me.”

Cal groaned as he pushed the door open. “Of course she does.

Molly kissed his cheek. “And, also, I got Emma a little something special while you were getting refills.” She smirked and wandered inside, dropping her purse as she dug some cash out of her pocket for the babysitter.

As she disappeared into the kitchen and started chatting with the sitter, he opened her purse to find a toddler size Cardinals cap nestled next to the baseball she caught at the game. He rubbed the cap’s red and white stitching. “Well, boy or girl, this next baby gets a Cubs cap.”


Cap-tivated was submitted to a magazine and rejected in June 2017, and so it shall live out its days on Penprints. :)

Thanks for reading! You can find my published flash fictions here.

Are you a fan of flash fiction?

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – here’s a shout out to my favorite sister-in-law, Janie, who came up with the adorable and brilliant title for this story!

What do you mean this post is supposed to have a title? [it’s something about saying the same thing again and again]

About six or eight months ago, I decided to try to post a God-related blog post every other week so that I would write and share thoughts and findings about God, the Christian life, Jesus, etc. more often because I’d been inconsistent in my posting before. Now, I’m thinking about that decision a little more critically.

on repeat.jpg

Sometimes I worry that I’m just saying the same thing over and over again on this blog.

Sad to be single? –> Be careful not to listen to your emotions too much. Pray. Focus on Jesus. Read the Bible.

Need some hope? –> Be careful not to listen to your emotions too much. Focus on Jesus. Pray. Listen to some good music. Read the Bible. You need the Holy Spirit’s help. You don’t know everything.

Struggling with sleeplessness? –> Pray. Listen to some good music. Work on memorization and meditation. Focus on Jesus. Read the Bible. Also, the Psalms.

Judging others? –> You’ve got some pride. Think about yourself in relation Jesus. Focus on Jesus. You need the Holy Spirit’s help.

Need an appetite for God? –> Think about yourself in relation to Jesus. Pray. You need the Holy Spirit’s help. Also, the Psalms. Read the Bible.

Self-control issues? –> You need the Holy Spirit’s help. Focus on Jesus.

Giving or receiving writing critique? –> You’ve got some pride issues. Be kind.

Trials? – You don’t know everything. You need the Holy Spirit’s help. Focus on Jesus.

In sum: God, Jesus, the Bible. Emotions = fickle and untrustworthy. Pride bad and you’ve got it. Here’s my current playlist on the subject. Read the Bible. You’re having daily devotions, right? The Psalms. Also, the Holy Spirit.

Anyone else noticing a theme? A few common denominators?

So I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently (aka: the last six to eight months)–if I’m just saying the same thing over and over again, should I simply stop writing about God-related things? Is it useless?

Or is it that maybe the answers to many questions are a lot more simple than we like to believe?

Because, really, how much will our lives change if the Holy Spirit is filling every breathing moment?

Because, really, how much will our lives change if we sit down everyday to carefully read and contemplate the Bible?

Because, really, how much will our lives change if we go daily to our knees and put in the effort to pray like we mean it when we say, “Thank you for this day” and “In Jesus’s name, amen”?

I believe my life, and yours too, will change in ways I cannot begin to imagine.

So while I don’t want to become a broken record on this blog, I don’t want to stop saying what’s true.

1) We over-complicate things, expecting a hundred different solutions to a hundred different problems, but the solution is really quite simple: Read the Bible; pray everyday.

2) We’re creatures who so quickly forget. So, I’ll remind myself and anyone who reads Penprints about the simple truth, the simple Gospel, as long as I need reminding (spoiler alert: that will be a very, very, very long time).

On the other hand, topical blog posts can only take us so far.

I want to start doing something a little different here on Penprints. I want to keep writing topical posts about the Christian life when I have something to say, but I don’t want to speak just to fill the silence every other week.

To balance out the topical posts that seem to all end the same way just with different words, I want to start doing a few more exegetical study posts. I have the four Servant Songs from Isaiah and a few other passages in mind that I want to share studies from sometime this year (“sometime this year” is my way of giving myself an opportunity to procrastinate).

The point of this post.

Some things are worth repeating, but that does not give us *cough cough* me license to grow lazy and simply say the same thing over and over again because I feel like I have to say something but have nothing else new or helpful to say.

It’s just one of those things that’s hard to balance like the Force, but for all our sakes I shall do my best.

What sorts of posts do you want to see on Penprints? What are you up to this happy Monday?

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – I’m sorry for how last week’s post tried to drag you out of your inbox by giving only an excerpt of the post in the email. I was fiddling with the settings and accidentally hit the wrong button. But I don’t want to be the blogger who tries to up pageviews by not giving her loyal followers the whole post by email as promised (I have unfollowed blogs for that very crime).

P.P.S. – For those of you still trying to figure out if you’re in the 15% that knows what the feature image has to do with this post, there is no 15%. The picture has nothing to do with this post. All our minds = blown. Lol, sometimes I think I’m so funny.

A Writer’s Guide to Receiving Critique

A couple of weeks ago I posted about giving critiques to fellow writers, and today we’re looking at the other side of the coin: receiving critique. Some of this may be some no brainer stuff, but it’s taken a few years of watching myself and other writers take critiques and different ways we do it well and some ways we do it very poorly for me to finally figure this out.

So let’s get this party started.

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Before you send out your story…

Evaluate why you’re getting a critique.

For a while, I sent my stories out for “critique” to get a pat on the back. Of course, I would never (ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER) have said that aloud, and I never actually thought it in so many words… but my reactions to criticism betrayed me. My heart wanted people to love everything about my stories—which is normal, but in my heart, I also expected people to love everything about my stories.

Spoiler alert: that is not what a critique is about. At least, that’s not what it should be about. So before you send out your story, check your heart and unspoken motives to make certain you actually want to make your story better.

Be choosy about who you ask for a critique.

There are a few things to watch out for when deciding who to send a story to. First, don’t pull from only your peer group. If your writing equals are the only ones reading your story, the only level of excellence you will achieve is that of your peer group. No matter how long you’ve been writing or how much success you’ve seen, there is still so much you don’t know. To get the most out of a critique, it’s best to get the opinions of people from as many different backgrounds as possible so that you can get the most varied and in-depth feedback as possible.

Second, be careful to send to primarily (if not exclusively) trusted people who truly know and care about you and want you to grow and succeed. These people will give some of the most encouraging feedback, and they will be willing to say hard things gently in order to help you get better.

If all you ever hear from a certain critique partner is negative and proves unhelpful, stop sending them your stories. On the other hand, if all you ever hear from a critique partner is positive, excited feedback that strokes your ego but doesn’t challenge you, stop sending them your stories because they aren’t actually helping you.

After you get your story back…

If you’re upset by a critique, wait for your emotions to cool before replying; you want to respond, not react.

Alas, not all feedback is going to make you go over the moon. If it were, you would never grow. So, if/when you receive a critique that’s very upsetting, resist the urge to hop on your computer and rage at the person who gave the critique. No matter what they said about you or your story, you should never reply in the heat of emotion. There is no legitimate license for that anywhere in the world. Wait a few hours, or even days, if that’s what it takes for you to graciously reply.

Resist the urge to debate them about the critique.

This principle rules out passive aggressively telling your critique partner they’re wrong. They may be; they may not be. Regardless, don’t critique their critique. Friends, little will make your critique partners want to never agree to read and give feedback for you ever again like a response that insists—either overtly or subtly—that they don’t know what they’re talking about or they’re the only person who thinks that way. Such replies reek of disrespect and arrogance which stir up unnecessary strife between you and your critique partner.

Usually, the best way to respectfully disagree is the silent way since writing is not something worth serious conflict.

Remember why you’re getting a critique.

If you’re having a hard time swallowing a critique, it’s time to revisit why you sent your story out to get critiqued in the first place.

This is your story.

Now, receiving a critique with grace and humility does not mean you take every suggestion and negative comment to heart. First, remember that feedback will often conflict, so it would be impossible to make every change. Second, your job as a storyteller is not to produce something that makes everyone happy. Your job as a storyteller is to craft the strongest story you can. Take the feedback that helps you do that and throw out the rest.

Value your critique partners, especially the ones who give constructive criticism.

My brother Caleb is one of my favorite critique people. He’s not a creative writer by trade, but he knows stories so much better than I do and always has good input. Buuuuuuut, I kind of have to brace myself whenever I’m reading his critiques, not because he’s mean or anything like that but because he’s very clinical in his comments. Reading his thoughts is like pouring alcohol on a cut—it stings, but I know it’s going to go a long way in strengthening my story.

It’s been some of his suggestions on The Necklace and Our Family that changed them the most for the better (he’s the one who helped me out of the deep, dark early drafts of Our Family). I know I can trust him because he loves me and is always pushing me to grow and change for the better.

So when it comes to your critique partners, value you them and make sure they know that you value them.

Thank them. A lot. Like, a lot, a lot. Don’t forget that it takes time to read, digest, and then give feedback on a story, so thank them for their time and their thoughts. I don’t thank my critique partners enough, and I don’t believe we can be too grateful.


That’s all I’ve got for today, kids!

Here’s a huge shout out to my go-to critique partners: Daddy (the first to lay eyes on any of my stories), Caleb (the super wise dude), and Katie (basically the epitome of the balanced critique partner). <3 Thank you guys so much for all the times you’ve read bits of flash fiction and gotten back to me when I frantically send it in to you in the eleventh hour. Without you, The Necklace and Our Family wouldn’t be out in the world today.

With love,

Rosalie

P.S. – Do you have anything to add to this post? Anything you disagree with? What’s up for you this fine Monday??