Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Guest Blogger - Sally Bradley

My friend Sally Bradley, owner of Affordable Novel Critique Service is guest blogging at On The Write Path today. Here's a little bit about Sally:

Besides my relationship with God, there are three things that matter to me.

The first is books. I’ve always loved to read. One of my favorite childhood memories is of going to the library and picking out a dozen young adult novels that didn’t even last the two weeks until the next trip.

Chicago is pretty special to me, too. For most of my life I’ve lived in the city’s suburbs, but don’t ask me how to get anywhere. I can point you to the airport and the lake and the White Sox stadium. What else matters, right?

Most important is my family. My husband is a great pastor with a heart for helping people grow spiritually. My kids have a heart for — the White Sox. We’ve brainwashed them well. But their love for God is growing, and that’s exciting to watch.

When I’m not busy with family, church, and the too infrequent White Sox games, I write.

Right now my novel Touching Home is making its way from my agent to publishers, in hope of finding its place.

Any spare moments left are for reading. Like my book, much of what I read is Christian fiction. In them, I find characters who believe in God like I do and struggle with some of the same things I struggle with.

Has it been awhile since you’ve read a Christian novel? Stop by a bookstore and pick one up. I bet you’ll find yourself surprised not only at the writing talent and the topics they cover but encouraged by the great hope they offer.

And here are Sally's thoughts on the upcoming ACFW Genesis Contest:

With the ACFW Genesis contest approaching, many of us are going to be fine-tuning our novels' first fifteen pages and their accompanying synopses. We'll be writing, rewriting, sending pages to critique partners, rewriting, and rewriting again until we fear we've lost perspective. That's a scary place to be. What do we do then?

1. Do listen to your critique partners.

If you're finding that all or even a majority of the group are commenting on the same section, there probably is a problem you need to address. Your writing partners might have given you suggestions that you know weren't the right fix for the story, but that's okay. Just realize that you need to analyze the section with their comments in mind and sweat through that part of the story until it works.

2. Don't jump at everything your critique partners say needs fixing.

This is a toughy because it's too easy to be sure that our critique partners don't get us and that all the editors out there will. So how do you know when to listen and when not to? First, refer to number one. If you're blowing off everything your critique partners say, then odds are that they're right and you need to address what they're finding. But if you can objectively say you're analyzing your critique partners' insights and putting the ones that work into your story, then when you get that deep gut instinct that says, "No, I think they're wrong this time," you can go with it. After all, you know your story the best. Go with what you envision that story becoming. Second, when in doubt, examine who the information is coming from. Is it from someone who writes gut-wrenching women's fiction and you write comedic genre romances? Their suggestion of a deeply emotional scene on page 6 may not work in your genre. Same with a newer writer who doesn't understand the way your genre works in today's publishing world. Or a published writer who maybe didn't catch what genre you're writing in. At times like these, your instincts may be exactly what you need to go with.

3. Do your best and rest in God.

This is where I shake my head at writers who don't know a God who cares about every area of their lives. Writing is a demanding, exhausting industry. How do they stay sane in this biz without Him? Even as a Christian, it's too easy to freak ourselves out that it's all up to us and we're just not good enough. Remember, whether you get back scores in the high 90's OR the mid 50's, God has His hand on you. His timing is the timing that matters. The Bible says that The king's heart is like channels of water in God's hand--He turns it wherever He wishes. He can turn the hearts of editors, too. When the time comes for each of us to be published, we can't mess up God's plans. He's bigger, stronger, and wiser than we are. As a Christian writer, you do your best, and then you let God's plan unfold in His time. So don't let any lost-perspective fears keep you from entering the contest. Do your best, listen to your writing buddies, prepare yourself to learn from your judges, and leave the rest to God. I'll be doing all that right along with you.

Thank you, Sally, for these wise words. As I approach the Genesis this year, I'm more nervous than I have been the previous two times I entered. I needed this reminder to trust God first, then my abilities, and the help of my wonderful critique partners.

Please check out Affordable Novel Critique Service. Sally's services include:

Synopsis Critique
Proposal Critique
Query Critique
Manuscript Critique
Substantive Edit
Mentoring Critique

Thank you, Sally!


  1. THANK YOU Sally for the timely advice. Very wise words indeed as I am struggling with getting my act together for this year's Genesis. Thanks Erica for having Sally. I, too, am more nervous than last year. Maybe because the competition is getting stiffer. I love Sally's last bit, though. Do your best and relax. That's it in a nutshell.

  2. God's been hammering that into me--do your best and rest. Easy to say, hard to do.

    Thanks for having me, Erica.

  3. Very good interview. I went to Sally's site and was happy to see she is upfront about pricing, etc. Am seriously considering using her service in the near future and recommending it to my friends.

    I too liked the advice, especially about knowing when to trust yourself. No one knows your story or characters like you do. So often we get in a tizzy trying to write to please our crit partners instead of ourselves and the vision God gave us. Very timely advice! I enjoyed it.