sanding1No. Today’s entry has nothing to do with “sand” the noun, although as I write this, I have dug my toes deep into the sand of Florida’s Gulf Coast. What a treat after the sub-zero stretch and snow drifts of New Hampshire! This week’s class topic was “sanding” the verb, otherwise known as editing, editing, editing. It makes me think of refinishing a fine piece of furniture. Using varying levels of coarseness of sandpaper to strip away outer layers to reveal a gleaming finished product.

We submitted the first page of our story for close reading and critiquing by our peers, going line by line, word by word. It was a great exercise to read my peers’ work to find their subtle errors, or think about suggestions for them to improve certain sections.

While I await the “sanding” feedback from my course, I received notes back on my first chapter from friends, family and new associates I found on Facebook. True to Mark Zuckerberg’s recent assertion that he wants FB to return to its roots of connecting people and building communities (vs. just news feeds and ads), I was thrilled to find and join two FB groups, Authors & Writers Helping Each Other Grow and Beta Readers and Critique Partners. What an incredible amount of knowledge and willingness to help! I posted a quick blurb in the Readers group about the direction of my novel. Three women replied they would help me by reading my first chapter. They provided far more feedback than my course reviewers. I am thankful for their honest critiques, suggestions for editing and improvements.

First Reviews, Draft #1 _ Chapter #1

Coursera Peer Reviewers – Initial Feedback

The first few lines were descriptive and set the tone of a bored/anxious young woman. The letter opener grabbed attention well. Then to find where it came from was well done.

The characters and the context are brilliant, very amusing and realistic, it makes you want to learn more about them. On top of that, each one of them is genuine and unique. Somehow, the context of the time also feels credible and makes you want to read more.

Facebook Beta Readers & Critique Partners

LG from New Brunswick, Canada: It’s very good and has quite some potential. You can paint more around the events in your story. It is a strong base for sure…Showing small emotions will tell the reader more about Eliza. Otherwise well written…love this paragraph, leave it, action and emotion!

CL from USA: I have read the beginning pages of your novel. I had a positive response to it and would read more. I like the time period – opportunities to explore medical, social, legal, and business abound. Your main character seems very much of the time, focused on society and getting married. I know the letter opener is going to pull her into something. Is that right? One thing is bothering me. Why are these extraordinary women who are involved in such rich lives so fluttery over the invitation?

SN from India: First of all, I must confess I really enjoy well written historical fiction which invokes the place and time in a believable manner. Your work does this for me. You also write dialogue very well. It is appropriate for the speaker, takes the story forward. I can see that that you have researched the period. What I like best is that you have woven in historical facts in a very organic manner so I didn’t feel like I was reading a History text book. A big minus for me was the constant shifting between Present Tense and Past Tense throughout. Overall, I’m interested in knowing what happens next in your story!

I am also thankful for the cheerleaders in my group of family and friends. Love you all. Your support means the world to me.

“Great start…can’t wait to read what’s next”   “Wonderful start…I’m on the hook”  “Looking for the next chapter”  “Can’t wait, can’t wait for more, more, more!” “Janis has the Robinson literary gene. Girl can write.”

Now, I too can’t wait to dive in further to Eliza’s life and story. Stay tuned for Chapter 2.






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