This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Julian North will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
I don’t have a formal critique group. I’ve never attended a writing workshop. I doubt I ever will. That mostly has to do with my introverted personality. Also, I don’t particularly enjoy writing short stories or specific works for critique purposes. I don’t like criticizing other people (or “critiquing” them). Oh, and writing isn’t my day job either.
So, how do I improve my craft?
Mostly by making mistakes and having them pointed out to me. For my recent dystopian novel, Age of Order, I relied on a core group of beta readers who suffered through multiple drafts. Each one of my readers has their particular strengths and quirks. My wife is actually my most brutal critic. She gets everything first. She reads painfully slow (English isn’t her first language). She doesn’t even need to tell me when she doesn’t like something. I know because she falls asleep. Which she did reading the first chapter of Age of Order. Twice. It’s been substantially revised since then, I promise!
Another of my readers is a native Spanish speaker who helps me with my use of Spanish—although he’s rather disappointed in my efforts. I recently read the Brief Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao at his insistence so that I might gain a better understanding of how to use Spanish slang to communicate cultural flavor. I’ve got some ideas for the next book, but mostly I’m still in awe of Junot Diaz’s writing. I’ll never be able to do what he did in those pages.
Finally, there is my editor. She’s simply awesome. She’s was the most enthusiastic reader of the story; she questions the characters, thinks about the narrative, story arcs, dialogue. She sends me spreadsheets that I don’t understand. But each time I take her advice on something, it’s better afterwards, and I’ve learned something new.
So, I guess you could say I don’t belong to a critique group, but I’m surrounded by one.
What if the people who thought they were better than you… really were?
In this world, inequality is a science. Giant machines maintain order. And all people are not created equal.
Daniela Machado is offered a chance to escape the deprivation of Bronx City through a coveted slot at the elite Tuck School. There, among the highborn of Manhattan, she discovers an unimaginable world of splendor and greed. But her opportunity is part of a darker plan, and Daniela soon learns that those at society’s apex will stop at nothing to keep power for themselves. She may have a chance to change the world, if it doesn’t change her first.
Age of Order is a novel that explores the meaning of merit and inequality. Fans of the Hunger Games, Red Rising, and Divergent will enjoy this world of deception and intrigue, where the downtrodden must fight for a better future.
Enjoy an Excerpt:
I dashed towards the dilapidated collection of storefronts hugging the fringes of the worn avenue, the rusted metal gates firmly closed, lean-to homes piled on their concrete roofs. Makeshift cardboard dwellings crowded the sidewalk. I ran for one of the lightless alleys between the buildings. Lurkers lived in those narrow corridors as surely as rats lived in the sewer, but I’d rather face them than the machines. I leaped towards the darkness.
A finder beam latched onto me as I sailed through the air, the comparative safety of the alley as tantalizingly close as candy in a shop window. I imagined the tight little dot on my leg, hot and hungry. I could almost touch the alley wall. But not quite. The hulking metal slave fired.
A correction pellet sliced through the fabricated leather of my sneaker and bit into my flesh. The force of the impact was enough to screw up my balance too. I landed on one foot instead of two, falling forward. Chewed-up concrete surged towards me. I sacrificed my right palm and left elbow to protect my head, and the viser strapped to my left forearm.
I scrambled to my feet and ran down the alley, my jaws clenched, but the pain wasn’t what was bothering me. I told myself that my shoe had blocked a lot of the pellet. That I probably hadn’t gotten hit with a full dose. That what was coming wouldn’t be that bad.
About the Author: I’ve been writing since I could grab a pencil (remember those?). Then I had kids. Not much time for writing anymore. Until they started school… in New York City. I’m not from here, and the tumult of that experience inspired me. AGE OF ORDER grew from a diary of injustice. Now I write what I’m feeling, and let the rest flow from there. I hope you enjoy it.
Please visit my website at www.juliannorth.com and join my book club to receive a free short story set in the same world as AGE OF ORDER.