— Originally published 4/26/2010 @ LiveJournal

I had this done on Friday, but things were too hectic for me to be able to edit it until today. But here it is!

Part 1 is here, part 2 is here.

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So far we’ve talked about how to use critiques, but the big question those just starting out might have is “But how do I get critiques?” There are many ways, some of them more expensive (and in some cases less effective) than others, but there’s probably one out there that will work for you. So let’s go through this.

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— Originally published 4/16/2010 @ LiveJournal

If you haven’t read Part One, it’s here.

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So you’ve done the brave thing: you’ve put a finished story out there for critique, and you’ve waited and waited, and now you have a slug of critiques sitting in front of you. Now what do you do?

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— Originally published 4/15/2010 @ LiveJournal

I actually thought about writing this months ago, but never got around to it, and now that I have, I realize that it’s going to be multiple posts. Who would have thought that I’d have so much to say about critiquing?

Anyway, I first decided to write this when I was fresh off of getting a whole lot of feedback on my novel and quite literally feeling like I’d been punched in the gut repeatedly until I wanted to puke. Getting critiques can be difficult, even for those who’ve been taking the punishment for years. I went through a phase where I just couldn’t deal with critiques anymore and so stopped doing them or putting my work out there to be critiqued for several years right after Clarion West. Eventually I came around to the fact that critiquing is useful, particularly for the learning writer, for it forces one to go beyond their gut reaction to a piece and analyze why something isn’t working, or even why it is working. One can grow by leaps and bounds if they go into critiquing others’ work with the right mindset and open themselves up to the lessons it can teach.

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Here’s a list of the most recent reviews for my short story “The Hearts of Men”:

Soyka at Black Gate: The proverbial “worth the price of the issue” story is “The Hearts of Men” by T.L. Morganfield, who seems to specialize in a subgenre of her own devising, Aztec mythology.

Talekyn at 365shortstories: Morganfield’s story, of the reincarnation of some Mexicali gods in the American southwest in modern times, is a far far darker work, and the focus is on the reincarnated Huitzilopochtli and his hunger for human hearts on the path to do battle with his sister, who has stolen the moon. The teenager in question plays a vital role in the story, but is not the center of it (although he may turn out to be the heart of it, pun intended). It’s a dark, dark story that I really enjoyed.

Daniel Woods of Tangent Online: It is not so uncommon to find fantasy stories based in the mythology or religions of other cultures, but more often than not this is restricted to Ancient Greece, Native America, etc. — the “familiar” ones. I enjoyed this piece because I have never seen the Aztec beliefs used for a story, and it caught my attention straight away. It may not be an outstanding tale, but “The Hearts of Men” is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale genre.

Jamie Lackey: “The Hearts of Men” by T.L. Morganfield is my favorite story in this issue. It’s a re-imagined Aztec myth set in the old west. Everything about it worked for me. The pacing was great, the world was immersive, the characters felt real, and I love the ending.

Lois Tilton of Locus Online: This one is best appreciated by readers with a basic understanding of the Mexica myth. But the best touches are those in which the author has updated things; Méxtli comes to life with a pair of six-shooters, not an obsidian-studded club. Unfortunately, the updated god is a bit moralistic as a narrator.

— Originally published 4/23/2009 @ LiveJournal

I had another day of massive editing on very few words, so I could get my scene turned into the class. I’ve learned some interesting things about editing from doing these two scenes so far. The “teacher” has set a strict limit of 2 pages of text, 12pt TNR, double-spaced. Anything over that she won’t read (and who can blame her; she’s got college classes to teach and her own books to write, in addition to reading and commenting on all these scenes. She’s a busy gal!). I’ve learned that in my own personal style, this amounts to roughly 700 words, give or take 50 words. And both times so far, what I’ve wanted to use has been closer to 2 1/2 pages, but I set my sights on making it 2 pages. Both times I’ve hit my goal, though it’s taken several hours to do so. I’ve been not just fixing awkward phrasings or picking new verbs, but adjusting action to better show character emotions and move towards the big moments I want to reveal in more efficient ways.

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