Tuesday, January 26, 2010

She's Ba-ack!

Remember Becky Levine? She's the Author of The Writing and Critique Group Survival Guide.

Becky will be giving her book away here at The 3 R's on Groundhogs Day! Since this is such a great informative book I don't want you to forget about the contest. So I'm tossing out a few more questions in order for you to hear what Becky is thinking about writing, research and critiquing.

1. Becky, since I read your blog, I know you’re also writing a historical novel. How does writing, self-editing and receiving feedback on a work of history compare to other writing you’ve done?

I haven’t gotten much feedback on my historical YA yet. I have a need on this book to submit it to my group earlier than I usually would, perhaps because I feel a bit intimidated by it. I did just let my group know that I’d be going light on actual historic details in this first draft, so I could focus on the front story, and I told them I’d be happy if they’d point to places, during their critiques, where they saw a need for some of those details. All the help I can get, I’m thinking!

2. Let’s say you’re helping a middle or high school student with research ideas. What advice would you give?

I think I’d point them in two directions—the Internet to get started, to learn the basics. Then I’d send them to their librarian for help hunting down memoirs and diaries to get a real feel for people’s daily lives in that time. I have so many history books on my shelf, and they’re wonderful, but a bit overwhelming. The best book I’ve read so far for my WIP research is I Came a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House, by Hilda Satt Polacheck. She came to Chicago from Eastern Europe, found Hull-House, and knew Jane Addams personally—and it’s all in her book.

3. I get into schools and also do writing seminars with teachers. So I’m wondering if you have thoughts about how teachers could use this book in the classroom.

I believe that teaching writing, especially beginning writing, in a critique process is a great way to do it. I think, depending on the age of the students, the book could be used as a text (say for community-college classes), or (for younger students) a teacher could pick and choose pieces to show how a group of writers can (respectfully) help each other grow their writing skills and improve their current manuscripts.

4. Do you make school visits or conduct any writing workshops?

I do teach writing workshops, for writing clubs and conferences, and I’d love to visit critique groups or school writing classes as well.

5. Please add anything else you want the world to know.

Over the past year, I’ve heard lots of people talking about their experience with critique groups—good and bad. Everybody I know has a very real horror story of their own, or one they’ve heard about and want to pass on. :) My hope is that this book will help writers get past those stories, past their worries about whether they can share their work, whether they’re “good enough” to critique someone else’s writing. My critique group and critique partners have been the biggest possible gift my writing could have, and I feel like everybody should get their chance to have the same non-horror experience.

Thank you Becky. Your amazing book is a real gift as well.

And to the rest of you - the rules for the book giveaway are in the sidebar. Now go follow them. No kidding!


  1. Joyce, thanks for running more of the Q & A! I should probably add that any HS student couldn't go wrong reading your books to see how to write historical fiction. I'm just halfway through Comfort for the small time--MAN, you can write! It's so beautiful. :)

  2. Becky, you are so welcome!! And a big thanks to you for your affirmation.

    I so appreciate it!