Friday, December 06, 2013

Blog Tour: Dead Land: Wearing A Thick Skin

I am honoured to host on the Dead Land blog tour today!

The strength of criticism lies in the weakness of the thing criticized.” Henry Wadsworth 
Longfellow 

Let’s be real; it’s hard to accept criticism. Even after asking our peers for their honest opinion, according to Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” Is it really that important for others to criticize our work? If we love our novel, poem, song, or painting, does it truly matter what others think? Well, if we desire to perfect our craft, I believe the answer is yes. A fresh pair of eyes is like a clean sheet of paper. Words that may have become stale from the writing and rewriting of their parent can be reborn under the gaze of a new reader. Last year, I completed the writing of my first novel, Dead Land. I read it countless times. I laughed when the characters joked, and cried when they suffered. Even after reading the first draft dozens of times, I would find myself tearing through the pages, again caught up in the lives of my fictional friends. It was an enjoyable process. The characters and their world became my world, and I lived amongst them throughout my season of writing. My confidence grew with each reading, and eventually I decided to take the next step. With a deep breath, I did the unthinkable. I shared my first draft with others. I gave copies to my incredibly cerebral book club, to my close friends and family, and, gasp, even to my connection of English teachers. I asked all to be honest. I asked for their constructive criticism, and in turn I received it. Although hard at the time (as I thought the first draft was pretty solid) I now see that their criticism was a gift. My English teacher colleague Julia reminded me of several grammar rules I had forgotten; my exceptionally well-read friend Erica suggested that I add a heart-twisting ending; my friend and local librarian Diane pointed out areas of the story in which she wanted to know more; and my family members suggested adding details of scenery and character descriptions. Need I go on? I received more suggestions than, at first, I thought I could handle. But instead of caving under criticism, I chose to handle it. I sat down at my writing desk, opened my laptop, and spent the summer with my manuscript. I knew that my first draft readers wanted me write a successful novel, and, after all, wasn’t that my goal too? It may take a village to raise a kid, but I think it takes a whole network of family and peers to write a novel. Honestly, it’s hard to hear people tell you what they don’t like about your book. But do you know what’s wonderful? Listening to your critics with a thick skin, seeking wisdom in the suggestions that are solid and dismissing with maturity the ones that are not, and finally, recognizing that “the strength of criticism lies in the weakness of the thing criticized.” Once weaknesses are fortified, the sea of criticism calms. Confidence is restored. And one who is willing to learn becomes better. The result? Readers of the revised draft only criticizing one thing: that the sequel was not yet completed. I better get busy. Now that’s progress. 

J.E. Byrne Bio 

As an undergraduate Journalism student at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Jodi took the advice of one of her professors and changed her major to English, specifically focusing on the art of writing. This decision laid the foundation for a career in technical writing, teaching, and eventually fiction writer. Her debut novel, Dead Land, is set to be released by Take Two Publishing on December 3, 2013. Dead Land follows the life of eighteen year-old Sarah Cain as she struggles to survive the pressures and temptations of high school, relationships, self-discovery…and the end of the world. The novel combines Jodi’s love of fiction, appreciation for young adults and the many challenges they face, and a passion for the spiritual components in life. Jodi resides in Pennsylvania where she’s working on the second installment of the Dead Land series as well as running her online book club blog. 

Social Media 

Jodi’s Blog: http://authorjebyrne.com/blog/ 
Jodi’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjebyrne
 Buy Dead Land http://www.taketwopublishing.com/j-e-byrne/ 

Synopsis 

Caught up in the rave of the ultimate high school party, eighteen-year-old Sarah Cain finds herself outside at 3:10am with her high school crush. Together they witness a violent explosion that tears through the sky. Knocked unconscious, Sarah awakens to a world she no longer recognizes. The sun does not rise, there is no moon or stars, and black rain falls heavily on her shoulders. Forced into survival, Sarah is frequented with strange words and dreams that mystically draw her toward a mountain promising life, even amidst her dying world. Setting out on foot to follow this vision, Sarah meets up with other survivors and discovers that some of them have shared her same dream. Together the group sets off to find The Mountain. Tempted by good and evil at every turn, survivors must decide which path to take.

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