Feedback by Storyteller

Getting feedback on your writing, in any genre or form, is a good litmus test for the writer. Often, what we put on the page and think conveys a story or point, can be lost on a reader who doesn’t “get it” in some way or another. One of the best ways to get some true feedback on your writing is to share it before submitting it to an actual publisher or self-publishing and throwing it out there. One good source for this pre-read can be a critique group, if you can find and join one. An easy way to find such a group is to google “Meet Ups” in your area and specify for writing groups. Often they will offer options such as online meetings or local meetings you can attend. Some require a membership in a writing organization such as here–Writers of Kern. Others may not, so explore that venue.

Another good way is to put out a blog and see if you receive comments on what you have written. You can say it is part of a larger work or just test the waters with a short essay, poem, etc..

A third venue is friends or nearby/local colleges and universities who put out anthologies from their liberal arts division. They are often looking for aspiring writers and eager to help. Contact them and ask if they can help. Friends you may ask to read need to be ready to be honest and forthright so that you gain some insight into where you can improve and what is good that you wrote. It is not fishing for flattery. 🙂 It is asking for some constructive criticism.

We often find that feedback is priceless and many times we have found these avenues beneficial to our writing and a great learning experience. We often tend to write in our own “bubble” so we need outside sources to help us see our foibles and triumphs. Contests and submissions to same are good, but they will not always give you feedback–merely rejection or acceptance. It is up to you and your particular level of comfort in sharing that will determine which, if not all, sources you seek out. But remember, FEEDBACK is your greatest measurement if you want to make a living through your words–or share with the world.

We sincerely hope this helps!:)

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Judy Kukuruza’s book “One Body, Many Souls” can be found on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2FuA241; Their website is at https://onebodymanysouls.com/. Their blog is at https://storywritersthoughts.wordpress.com/.

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Tooting your own horn

(aka self-promotion)

Many people have trouble with self-promotion or as some folks call it “tooting your own horn”. This happens to folks in all professions, not just writers. It is hard for a lot of people and the majority of those are women, who are culturally conditioned to be humble and demure.

There is also an unspoken stigma to self-promotion, although it is a neccessary “evil” if you want to succeed in your chosen field. Often it is perceived as being egotistical and self-serving in a negative way.

However, there are definitely times and ways to do it, that are less “egotistically” perceived and more “informationally” received.

So what are the circumstances that will help you to promote yourself without coming across as being a butthead?

Well for starters, it is perfectly acceptable to spread the word near and far on social media, your blog, your online resume/portfolio, and in the newspaper when you have published something or have had something of yours included in an anthology that has been published. And if you decide you only want to do one of those – make it your online resume/portfolio that you definitely update with this marvelous information. If you can, link your announcement to wherever the book or item can be purchased. And encourage people who may be happy for you, to also spread the word.

If you have been invited to read your work in front of a live audience – as in a book signing or poetry reading – make sure you promote it, invite people, tell people when and where and how much it costs to attend. If you are truly ambitious, send out a press release! Make sure you post the event on your Goodreads.com author’s page, and for goodness sake, get photos and make sure those get posted to your blog, your social media and everywhere else right after the event. And again, provide a link to where folks can purchase your book or item.

When you receive feedback in any of those formats, THANK the person and share any upcoming news that might be relevent to their commentary. For example: if someone congratulates you on publishing your book and you have just scheduled a book signing – mention it. Or if it someone you know well, thank and offer to sign the book for them. You get the idea.

In short, even if you have hired a promoter (social media manager, or PR person) – it is up to you to manage the process, to make sure that the information is complete and out there and that your work gets in front of as many people as possible.

It is a small world, and you never know who knows someone who might read your work and review it well, causing it to spiral up to the best sellers list somewhere. Seriously, stranger things have happened.

PROMOTE yourself well and others will want to help to promote you, too!

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Perils and Plusses of Writing by J. Kukuruza

A lot of times, writers complain about “writer’s block” and how they are stymied because they can’t think of anything to write or they don’t know where to go and how with a particular piece they are working on. That can be a real pain and costly if you have a deadline to meet! But sometimes, the opposite is true and just as debilitating–too many ideas in too many genres. Which do you go with? Can you pick just one and focus on it? Or is your mind constantly teasing you with more and more ideas and more and more genres to explore? THAT can clog up the works even more so than the dreaded “Writer’s block,” leaving you wandering around in a maze of words and ideas, going nowhere. Ever have that happen? Personally, “writer’s block” is preferable to having topic after topic, idea after idea, bumping in your head and begging to be put on the page! For us, “Writer’s Block” will recede as we make a conscious effort to notice things, people, or animals and apply it to what we are writing or want to write about. But a plethora of ideas? Aaaaaaargh! We become like a kid in a toy store with limitless choices and feel the pressure to choose, but… The peril lies in having so much in your heart and head to choose from that you could conceivably walk out, choosing nothing, and hope it will all sort itself out. Result? Nothing written, nothing explored, NOTHING DONE! To avoid this, we choose a simple solution–at least to us. We write poetry and lots of true memoir stuff. So when overwhelmed, we often turn to a genre we are less familiar with and then write. Children’s stories, for instance, are HARD to write! Why not try to write a story for a 4-6 year old? Now that will tax your brain and creativity! Or try flash fiction! That is not an easy genre, either! You have to lure your audience in, hit them, and bang! Get out! Another challenge to creativity! There are so many genres to choose! And so many ideas floating around in your head–why not go there? You might find you simply CANNOT do it. PLUS side? An abiding respect for those who can!
We all learn as we go. We have tackled so many different genres and found some that feel really good, and others we now know to steer clear of. If you feel this way, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone — go for it!
Having said this, and being tired of poetry presently, we are toying with historical fiction. Never done it, but so many ideas relating to history right now. Wish us luck–and the same to you!

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Judy Kukuruza’s book “One Body, Many Souls” can be found on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2FuA241; Their website is at https://onebodymanysouls.com/. Their blog is at https://storywritersthoughts.wordpress.com/.

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Choosing Topics to Write On By. J. Kukuruza

When we taught college classes, we assigned an essay a week on different rhetorical modes. After we had assigned a rhetorical mode for them to tackle, the first question was always, “What is the topic?” Our answer was ALWAYS, “Your choice.” This would elicit responses such as, “But we need a topic!” Or, “We were always assigned a topic to write on. I don’t know what to write about!” The frustration they were experiencing was obvious and always, again, led to the advice to pick something they were curious about if it were an explanation essay, or something they had a definite opinion on (if the essay were to be argumentative) that could be backed up by facts. As to a narrative essay–they should pick a time they remembered and write about it so that the reader would feel they were there, experiencing what the writer experienced. There would be much head-shaking and looks of discouragement–but they would try and most did an admirable job.

In your writing, the same thing should apply, we believe. It does not matter what genre you choose, it needs to be something you are vested in some way or another. What intrigues you, as a writer? What do you see, hear, experience that makes you want to explore further, write about?

If you feel like you are stuck in, for example, writing murder mysteries and cannot break from this mode, what else interests you? Can you weave a tale from seeing, for example, a homeless person with their dog, nothing more than a backpack, and wonder what that person’s story is? Plus, go one step further and watch, observe nuances, and then dare to talk to the person that you now THINK you know. They could help you write a different piece of work by their experiences, an editorial if you’re inclined towards journalism, a narrative, and yes, even a murder mystery. This may sound a little extreme to get a topic going, but think about it. If you are open to what is going on, how people feel or don’t feel, how certain things make an impact or can be shuffled off the shelves of your mind, you are now reaching new material, new topics, and developing new passions and desires to write about.

It is our opinion that there is no shortage of topics to be written about. Risk being open and human. If you want to write children’s stories, sit with children and listen to their stories, their interests. Talk to others who seem to share your particular fascinations with certain topics or issues.

It may seem we are being redundant but we truly believe if you watch–nature, people, animals–you will be afforded more topics and more in-depth material than you ever felt possible. One thing, as a side-note, that we find fascinating, is sitting in a waiting room anywhere, or a library and notice what people are reading, doing to amuse themselves. And many times, we wind up researching and developing topics that have personal significance to us. In short, the things to write about are there–You just have to see them, hear them, and put them into words.
Happy adventures in writing.


Judy Kukuruza’s book “One Body, Many Souls” can be found on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2FuA241; Their website is at https://onebodymanysouls.com/. Their blog is at https://storywritersthoughts.wordpress.com/.

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