Sunday, December 4, 2011

Guest Post: Leah Cypress (Author of Mistwood and Nightspell) + Giveaway

I am excited to have Leah Cypress on the blog today as part of her blog tour. You can see the full list of stops and dates ->HERE<

About Leah Cypress:
I wrote my first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, I wrote my first book, about a girl who gets shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies, very impressive).
 *taken from authors blog*
      I first discovered critique groups in law school. Until then, I wrote my stories and/or books, read them over several times myself, occasionally had my sister read them, and then sent them off to editors.
*shudders at the memory*

Apparently, this wasn’t all that terrible – I did get a few non-critiqued short stories published, and even got my first encouraging rejections letters (the ones with a scribbled "send me more" at the top). But once I discovered critique groups, I could never go back. All it took was once instance of seven different readers thinking my main male character was female, or mentioning that I had forgotten to mention a crucial plot point, to make me swear by them.
But while I’m solidly behind the critique group concept, I’m also aware of the dangers. Critique groups can be a crutch; you can have something critiqued over and over again, trying to make it everything to everyone, and scrub out your own unique vision. The worst mistake you can make, when going through critique, is thinking you have to get everyone in your group to love your manuscript.
When I sent one of the earlier drafts of Mistwood to my critique group, one critiquer wrote to me to say that she was going to have to withdraw because she couldn’t finish the manuscript; she disliked my main character too much. Needless to say, this was a confidence-shattering moment for me, especially since the critiques I’d been getting until then were all glowing. But now that the book has been published, I realize that she wasn’t wrong; she represented a sample of readers who do dislike Isabel. No character is going to be universally liked, just as no person in real life is universally liked. No story is for everyone. It is really important to winnow out the critiques from people who are simply not the story’s audience, and – not to put too fine a point on it – ignore everything they say. They’re not bad or wrong, they’re just not useful.
Sometimes you have to ignore the critiquers and follow your own muse; it’s important to distinguish "I didn’t get this concept across on the page" from "these critiquers are in disagreement with the concept." You also have to guard against laziness; sometimes, it’s easier to throw your manuscript out to the wolves than to figure out what’s wrong with it yourself. Books are not written by committee.
I know some writers who gave up on critique groups after getting published; deadline pressure makes it a lot harder to work in time for that process, and in the end, the best critiques will come from your editor. But for me, they are a necessary part of my revising process, and I don’t see myself going it alone any time soon.
Nightspell (Mistwood, 2) by Leah Cypress, 2011. Published by HarperCollins.
Open to residents of the US (sorry international followers, but I can only ship within the US).
A stand-alone companion novel to the much-acclaimed MISTWOOD. When Darri rides into Ghostland, a country where the living walk with the dead, she has only one goal: to rescue her younger sister Callie, who was sent to Ghostland as a hostage four years ago. But Callie has changed in those four years, and now has secrets of her own. In her quest to save her sister from herself, Darri will be forced to outmaneuver a handsome ghost prince, an ancient sorcerer, and a manipulative tribal warrior (who happens to be her brother). When Darri discovers the source of the spell that has kept the dead in Ghostland chained to this earth, she faces a decision that will force her to reexamine beliefs she has never before questioned - and lead her into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens the very balance of power between the living and the dead.
Okay, the Raffl;ecopter form is now working. =)

Giveaway Rules:
December 19 (the end of the tour).
Winners will have 48 hours after being contacted to reply.
Fill Out Rafflecopter form to enter.


  1. Thank you so much for the giveaway! How do we enter? I couldnt find anything about it in the post.

    chelle2006 @

    Im a GFC follower-Michelle Adams

  2. Wow, so much to say.

    First of all, yay for a fellow lawyer (or law student)/fiction writer! I always love discovering more of those, it makes me feel less alone.

    As an author who has assembled his own little critique group, I agree with you completely about both the ups and downs of the groups. I think it's essential to get my work reviewed by not only multiple people, but by people with a wide variety of different tastes and perspectives. That way there's a better chance that legitimate flaws will get caught and corrected. You can make more sure that your characters present themselves in the ways you want them to, and can eliminate language or images that might be awkward or confuse the reader.

    On the other hand, since we writers attach so much of our egos to our work, it can be difficult to step back and look at criticism with an unbiased eye -- i.e., ask ourselves whether that's something we really ought to change for the good of the work, or whether that's a point where we'll simply have to agree to disagree with the critiquer. This becomes particularly difficult when the critiquer is incredibly invested in what they do and attaches a great deal of their own ego to the critiquing.

    So my opinion (and from your blog entry it sounds like we agree) is that you have to figure out which critiques help you make *your* narrative vision better, and which critiques would fundamentally change it. (Not that fundamental change is always bad, I've had several critiquers give me ideas that were fundamental changes, but that I ended up taking because I liked them better than what I had planned.)

    Having said that, I enjoyed reading your post, and I look forward to reading your book.

    Keep the faith,

    John A

  3. Thanks so much for offering a giveaway!!!

  4. Thanks for being apart of the tour. A wonderful post. The giveaway is much appreciated!

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  5. Awesome giveaway!
    I don't think I could be in a crit group. I'm not good at telling other people what they should do with their own work.

    travisp1026 at yahoo dot com

  6. Having critique partners or being part of a group is important to my writing, but as you said I had to learn to accept that not everyone is going to love or agree with my vision. Great post! Can't wait to read your books!

  7. I'm still trying to find critiquers right for me. It takes time and patience. And sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

  8. prernapickett at yahoo dot com. Sometimes you have to go with your gut. Critiques aren't always right.

  9. Hooray for giveaways! Many thanks.

    smcdanielc [at] gmail [dot] com

  10. Thanks so much for the opportunity to win this!

  11. "it’s important to distinguish 'I didn’t get this concept across on the page' from 'these critiquers are in disagreement with the concept.'"

    Very true! On the flip side, when writing reviews I try to make the distinction between "this book didn't work" because of things like plot holes, or inconsistencies, etc, and when a book didn't work for ME because it isn't personally my thing.

    Thank you for the giveaway!

  12. Thank you for the guest post. I had never thought about the good and the bad of using a critique group. I can see why trying to please everyone could become an impossible goal. Thanks for the giveaway!

    wheems01 (at) gmail (dot) com

  13. A chance at free books? Count me in.

  14. I'm just starting to look for critique partners of my own. And you're right: Everyone has something different that they like/dislike. You can't please every person. Changing one thing to please someone else might change something another person loved or, as you said, change your vision of where you want to go.

    You have to figure out what works best and whether or not these changes would enhance the story you're trying to sell. It's such a slippery slope!

  15. Thanks for the giveaway!

    And I think this post was spot on.

  16. Thanks for the giveaway!


  17. I've heard about this book through the grapevine these last few months and so far nothing bad has been said. Plus the plot sounds amazing too!

  18. Interesting what was being said above about sort of not letting all critiques get to one's head. Because people will always have different preferences. And I think I try to remember that when I send my stories (just a hobby for now) to a friend...she may not like what I've written but it doesn't mean someone else won't. :)

    Also I recently picked up a copy of Mistwood, so I'd love to have this one for my shelf as well. Thank you for the giveaway!


  19. Thanks for the giveaway! You can't please everyone, that's for sure! I have only heard good things and have wanted to read this series.

  20. Great guest post. How do you find a good critique group?


I read, and am working on replying, to all the comments y'all leave. All comments are moderated by me, so, if you don't see it automatically that's why.
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