Tuesday, June 25, 2013

10 Steps to Overcoming Writer’s Shyness by guest author Lorraine Paton

It is with great pleasure that I introduce my friend and fellow author Lorraine Paton. She is an incredible woman and I am absolutely giddy she has released her first book! I met lorraine through the Alberta Romance Writers' Association. We have taught and taken workshops together, sat on the ARWA board together, we are in the same awesome critique group and will be team-teaching Writing Sexual Tension, Heightening Your Readers' Satisfaction at the When Words Collide conference in Calgary, August 9, 2013.

So, without further ado, I introduce to you Lorraine Paton!

10 Steps to Overcoming Writer’s Shyness
By Lorraine Paton

Thank you, Sarah, for having me on your blog today!  I’m thrilled to be here! 
As a newbie writer, I was anxious about sharing my writing with other people, particularly other writers, and now my debut novel has been recently released! It has been quite the journey! So, I thought I’d share the ten steps I took to overcome my writing shyness: 

1) Friends and Family
For me, the safest place to start sharing my writing was with friends and family… probably because usually they usually said they loved it!  They wanted to encourage me, and that is a wonderful thing.  
The one challenge was that if they sensed a problem with what I'd written (and I'm sure there were a lot of problems in those early pages), they didn't always understand how to define what it is because they didn't really know writing terms nor had they studied the craft of writing.  
I didn’t ask questions of those first readers, and, truth be told, I probably didn’t want to know if they didn’t like my story. I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.  At this stage in my writing, I still had a lot to learn, but I was excited about my writing and the joy of creating stories, and I instinctually wanted to share on some level. Having friends and family read my early work was a "feel good" way to start sharing.

2) Application for Writing Group
When I joined the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association (ARWA), I needed to submit pages to the Membership Chair in order to become a full member.  I wanted to be a full member, so I sucked it up and submitted my 50 pages.  Even though I knew my pages would not be critiqued—and, at the time, I thanked God for that!  It was nerve-wracking, but well worth it!

3) Ask Someone Knowledgeable for Feedback
My next step was to approach the founder of my writing group, Judith Duncan, and ask her to read the first few chapters of two of my stories.  She was experienced at mentoring newbie writers, and was very encouraging.  Her feedback was fantastic.  It helped me step back from my stories and she was able to identify opportunities for growth. 

4) Brainstorm with Other People
This was a fun and safe way to share parts of my story (like characters, plot, internal / external conflicts, etc.) with other writers or friends.  Sure, the other people weren’t actually reading my words, but they were giving my valuable feedback on character development or plot twists, helping me overcome clichés or big picture problems.  And, this helped build my confidence that the fundamental building blocks of my story were strong.

5) Share Excerpts with a Great Writing Group
In ARWA, we occasionally have roundtable discussions or feedback sessions.  During those meetings, members are encouraged to bring in usually one to two pages to share.  What is great about ARWA is that it is a safe and supportive community, so the comments are monitored and people are encouraged to stay positive.  Doling out little bits of my writing to fellow writers for comment kept it from becoming too overwhelming when I was still learning how to accept feedback.

6) Critique Group
One of the single best things I did was find a critique group that suited me.  Sarah Kades and two other writers are in mine.  We send approximately 10 pages to the other members. We read and comment the other submissions, and then we meet to discuss the pages.  This is a fascinating process because it really highlights how individual the reading process is – what one person loves, another might hate.  So, I’m glad I waited until I felt a little more confident in my writing and knowledge of the craft, so I could understand how to address the problems other people find. And, it really opened my eyes to the fact that my writing will never please everyone, and I can’t write in such a way that it will.  This shouldn’t have been a surprise, since there are books by best selling authors that I don’t enjoy, so why would I expect my writing to be different? That said, this process has also been incredibly encouraging, particularly when I submit something that resonates with each of my critique partners.  What a great feeling!

7) Blog Hop
I signed up for a blog hop called Six Sentence Sunday, which is sadly now defunct.  On the blog hop, we were required to post exactly six sentences.  I’d sweat those six sentences every week, but at the same time, the premise of the exercise was brilliant. You could sign up as and when you wanted, and chose any six sentences you wanted. The other authors who visited my blog to read my sentences were incredibly supportive, and I count many of the people I’d met through that blog hop as friends.  Although Six Sentence Sunday isn't around any more, there are still a lot of similar opportunities out there.

8) Enter a Contest
I entered an online contest where other people had the chance to read and vote on the submissions.  Although I didn’t final in the contest, I still count the experience as a huge success!  Not only did I put my words in front of tons of people, but also complete strangers contacted me on Twitter to let me know how much they enjoyed my story and others asked me where they could buy the book.  Woo hoot! 

9) Beta Readers
So, here I come full circle.  I asked some friends who were not writers to read my books again after I thought I was finished my billionth round of edits (but knew there would always be room for more changes).  This time, though, I gave my readers specific questions and encouraged them to let me know if they hated – and, if they did it, where?  You see, now I am further along in my knowledge of the craft of writing and feel better able to decipher and understand problems that are not already translated into writer-speak. And, perhaps naively, I feel confident that I could probably fix damn-near anything in my manuscript.

10) Publish!
And, now, after all of this, I’m excited to announce I’m at a point in my journey where I've entered into publishing.  I’m sending my book out into the big wide world, where anyone could read it – or review it! More importantly, I’m excited about it!  Go figure!  

Author Lorraine Paton
Lorraine's Bio:
Lorraine Paton's debut contemporary romance novel, Devin's Second Chance, was released in June 2013 and the next book in her Morning Lake series, Annie's Christmas Plan, will be available this fall.  Lorraine lives with her husband in Alberta, which is also the setting for her novels.  When she is not refereeing fights between her two cats or having fun on social media, Lorraine can be found working on several other happily-ever-after books.  

You can connect with Lorraine on: 
Her Blog: http://www.lorrainepaton.com/ 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/patonlorraine 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LorrainePaton.Author 
Or, by subscribing to her newsletter: http://eepurl.com/tYuqP


Devin's Second Chance
Cowboy Devin Trent’s life has been stuck for years, unchanged since his unfaithful wife died, and he is determined to keep it that way - an ever-present reminder of why he doesn’t deserve a second chance at love.  Claire Best, by contrast, is in turmoil – she is renting her house to summer folk, she is planning a big fundraiser, and her doctor has discovered something that needs to be investigated.  

Pulled together by the fundraiser, Claire’s teenage renter, and Devin’s matchmaking mom, their immediate attraction quickly escalates to more, but Claire fears her own health worries will only resurrect Devin’s pain and grief over his wife’s final days and she is willing to sacrifice her own happiness to protect him.

Can they overcome their pasts and listen to their hearts before their happily-ever-after slips away?

You can find Devin's Second Chance at: 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DEI4BCI 
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Devins-Second-Chance/book-zKwUutiErk-DimMMCcmcaA/page1.html?s=pICsvlfEBkyoqqZx7yehrw&r=1 
All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-devin039ssecondchance-1222664-149.html
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/326435


  1. Thank you, Sarah, for having me on your blog today! :) It was a lot of fun!

  2. Of course! Great topic, too, btw! Nice work! ;)
    Happy Writing, Happy Reading!

  3. All excellent suggestions, Lorraine. The one I really miss is belonging to a writer's group. I need to bite the bullet and try to find one in my local area. All of your points are well taken!

    Congrats again on Devin's Second Chance. I'm reading it now and enjoying it immensely.

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Mae! I really enjoy my writing group and I hope you can find a great group too.

      I'm so excited that you are enjoying Devin's Second Chance! Yay! :)

  4. I love this! And I love your feeling that you can fix just about anything in your manuscript. :) I'm glad we got to "meet" via Six Sentence Sunday, and I miss the camaraderie of everyone's comments and support each week. I'm looking forward to reading Devin's Second Chance, as soon as I finish this novella-that-thinks-it-is-a-novel. LOL Congrats again!


    1. Thank you, Donna! I'm glad we met on SSS too and I miss it too! I hope you enjoy Devin's Second Chance (after you give a good talking to to your WIP!) ;)

  5. Thank you Lorraine. Great suggestions for getting feedback on your writing. I especially like roundtable discussions where we each share just 1 or 2 pages. This can give a sense of whether or not you're on the right track. And, yes, it's amazing the wide variety of responses.

    Congrats on your first release!