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It’s late 2015 and I released my second novel, Ballyvaughan, several months ago. I’m well on my way to finishing my third novel and it has been so much better this time around. I wrote the first two in a vacuum. I had a couple of close friends who read early drafts, but it is hard to keep asking people to read a few hundred pages each time due to edits throughout, so my editors were the first people to read them all the way through when they were finished.
Since Ballyvaughan was released, I’ve been honored to be part of a small group of people sharing our writing with each other, reading revisions every other week and offering blunt, uncensored critiques to each other. It is all thanks to my editor, Ginger Moran, and an virtual class she started in the summer with participants from all over the country. When the class was over, we asked to continue, and we did.
It has given each of us deadlines to hit in order to provide new or revised writing for our turns to present, as well as a diverse group of readers and writers going through every line of each other’s manuscripts to help us each make our work better. My new work is pushing from my detective series into more of a CIA spy thriller and several members of the workshop are admittedly not general readers of that type of fiction. So if I can keep them interested and reading, hopefully it will mean fans of the genre will really enjoy it.
This workshop environment has helped me speed up my writing as well. I plan to release the new book early in 2016, which is far faster than the two years it took between The South Coast and Ballyvaughan, and the new one is bigger and has a more complex plot.
Find a group of writers to share your work with, give each other feedback, and help with deadlines and milestones. The effect on your writing can be wonderful.