The Donors by Jeffrey Wilson

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I just finished my review of The Donors by Jeffrey Wilson. It was so scary – in a good way – I recommend it to anyone that loves a good horror story. The whole review should be up on the website within a few days. (

Wilson draws heavily from his diverse background. Check him out (

The Donors by Jeffrey Wilson brought to you by JournalStone.

GenReviews and Picture Books

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I just finished reading “The Donors” by Jeffrey Wilson. It was so intense I shut the windows to keep the demons out when I read it late at night! My review should be complete and uploaded within a day or two. Check out Tony Burton’s Genre Fiction Reviews site at

Feel free to check out my previous reviews and those of others I am humbled to share the page with.

It is a great site to get honest reviews of mainstream and newbie novels.

If you have a book you’d like reviewed, contact Tony via the website.

Regarding the picture book genre, I the second draft of my latest picture book, Eli’s Spots, is in my crit group and ready to send out to houses as soon as I get their feedback and tweek it one last time.

“Jumping Joey” is going out tomorrow. It’s been out 3 times now. One editor liked the main character so that is a plus!!

My productivity has increased exponentially now that I gave up Farmville. For anyone familiar with this facebook game, you know how many hours a week it can suck out of your life. I used to work the farm for an hour or 2 a day. Then I realized I could get the same relaxation from writing during that time, and it actually made me feel better than I did after clicking on animals to feed them and crops to harvest.

Farmville is fun diversion, but writing is a better choice for me.

Mock-up/Dummy book

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This week rejection #3 arrived. Three isn’t that many, we’ve all read the horror stories of dozens and dozens of rejections. One of the gals in my crit group suggested using a mock-up or dummy book with my stories to make sure there is enough action and each page moves the story forward.

Looking online for examples seemed to be the easiest way to proceed. Of course there were hundreds of hits. I looked at quite a few, then picked two to work with. The best was Darcy Pattison’s blog ( She has so much useful info I go back to her site often. Check out her blog as a great resource for your writing.

She explains the basic set up: 16 pages of paper are folded in half to make 32 pages for text. Leave pages 1-3 blank, beginning the text on page 4 or 5. The text should spread across both pages from page 6, ending page 29.

If you don’t have enough text, or too much text – REVISE!

If you can’t create a picture in your mind (the illustrator has to have something to work with!) – REVISE!

If each page doesn’t move the story forward, or add to the tension -REVISE!

If you can skip pages without missing them – REVISE!

Cut words if needed, work on the pace, move settings from place to place, add emotion and action if flat!!!

I’m pulling out my scissors, mocking up my story to make it the best it can be before sending it out again!

Thanks Darcy for all of your great tips!

Chesapeake Crimes, This Job Is Murder review

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My latest book review, Chesapeake Crimes, This Job is Murder at

Short stories are a perfect way to get your lit fix even if you are “too busy” to read a book! Or enjoy yourself and read more! Small bites or a feast, this book is delicious.


Good day for writing

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eToday was a great day for writing.

I updated my knitting blog (writeknit) with my project progress, wrote a book review for Chesapeake Crimes, This Job is Murder and now this. Some days are easier to write than others,

My latest picture book manuscript, Eli’s Spots in safely in the hands of my crit group. I’ve already received great feed back from them.

What are your feelings about crit groups? Personally, I feel then strengthen my writing. I don’t have a local group, but online has been a great resource for me.

I found lots of information, and wanted to share part of the article at this site:

Choosing the Right Group


While the right critique group can advance your writing in giant leaps, the wrong group can severely damage your tender confidence.

So how do you choose a group?

There are a number of questions you can ask before you begin. Assess your comfort with the answers before committing to join.

If it is a face-to-face group, how often do they meet? How long are meetings? How are critiques handled at meetings?

N/A for me

Do you submit manuscripts ahead of time so that the other members have a chance to review them at their leisure? Or do you only critique what is read/heard during the meeting?

We don’t actually meet – only emails 🙂 Our schedule is to submit once a month, then crit the other member’s reviews with weeks we don’t submit.

How many people are in the group? Are they beginners, experienced or both?

There are 5 members of my group. Most of them have published children’s books and stories in magazines. Personally, I have not been published in this genre, but hope to say I am by the end of this year.

Does everyone critique all submissions? How long do you have to critique a submission and how many per week are you required to critique?

Yes, a week, one

How often are you required to submit something and what word length is expected?

Once every 5 weeks. It can be a whole picture book, a chapter or 2 from an early reader, a magazine article or story or a query letter.

Sounds simple, but I think I was just lucky to find my group.



The Happy Housewife review

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Check out my latest review at:

If you love fast paced mysteries – this is for you!

How do you evaluate your stories?

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I just read an article about writing picture books. I’ve been polishing my picture books for submission. One has been out to two publishers, both rejected it but I am holding on to my belief in the story. Maybe it needs a bit more tweaking? It has been through my crit group a couple of times and has been changed/tightened/improved (I hope) over the course of a few months.

Anyway- reading an article by Linda Arms White, The 5 Biggest Picture Book Mistakes – Are You Guilty of These? I found a nugget of gold. She advises using this simple sentence to evaluate your book:

This is a story about ___________________(the main character) who wants___________________(what? The goal) more than anything, but can’t get it because___________________(why? This is the story problem.).

If it isn’t exciting enough to grab your attention after you fill this in, punch it up! If you can’t fill this in, start over! Is it new, different and unique? Better be if you want to be published. 

I am bumping my story up to this sentence and if it holds merit – off it goes again this week!

Onward to my goal of finding a home for at least one of my picture books by the end of the year!


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