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What I Learned About Writing This Week…from Kindle All-Stars

So. Thanks to Josh and a rollicking romp of insanity, I somehow got myself involved with the Kindle All-Stars Project.

In short, KAS is the brainchild of one Bernard J. Schaffer, who is putting together a short story anthology for Kindle of various independent authors. The proceeds of the anthology will go to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Who wouldn’t want to throw their writing hat into a ring such as this?

So, I did. I submitted a horror short story. And, two days ago, I got an email from Bernard.

He said he can’t accept the story as-is.

But he can’t reject it either.

He wants me to fix it.

His email gave me the freak-out.

Not because he was mean or anything of that sort. Yeah, the critique was tough to take (what critique isn’t?), but I came away from the email feeling like he respected the story and respected me as a writer.

No, the freak-out came from the realization that this was the first critique I’ve ever received from someone with whom I’d never had any prior contact.

I sent my story to a total stranger and actually got specific feedback on it.

That has never happened before.

  • I’ve sent novels to strangers (i.e. publishing houses) and received polite rejections.
  • I’ve turned in writing assignments to writer and long-distance writing coach Elizabeth Engstrom and received critiques in return. But this was under the umbrella of a writing course via correspondence, and I had at least communicated with her before sending her my stuff.
  • I’ve shared my writing with friends and family who gave me honest but kind feedback. But they were friends and family.

Mr. Schaffer was a stranger whom I’d re-tweeted a few times on Twitter. But we’d never exchanged emails before; he wasn’t friends or family; and he was telling me specifics on story-fixing instead of politely telling me I sucked.

Hellllooooooo, broadened horizon.

I love it.

I intend to spend today working on the fixes. I’m hoping to finish them and send the story back to Bernard by the end of the day. This is a wonderful and crazy challenge to set myself, and the writer kid in me is jitterbugging with the most cramazing glee.

In his email, Bernard did not say that if I make the requested changes, I’m definitely in the anthology. But even if I don’t end up making the cut, I won’t regret this experience.

I did a First. I got some great pointers on becoming a better writer. I got to look Fear in the eye and say, “Shove it, sugar. You’re not the boss of me.”

I got to squash that little voice in my head that is so given to negative self-talk.

Step outside the box?

I smash the box, y’all.

And that’s WILAWriTWe.

8 Responses to “What I Learned About Writing This Week…from Kindle All-Stars”

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  2. Robert Goodrick says:

    Intense. Perspective outside of our circle is so exhilarating. It’s stories like this that inspire creativity in others.

  3. Joshua Unruh says:


    I had pretty much the exact same reaction to the whole experience. I may have even got one more bit (or am about to) of useful experience.

    I’m going to say no some.

    A lot of the edits I received were SPOT ON and definitely things I need to work on. Some of them are things I already know I need to work on, which is even more annoying. But some of it was just plain wrong for my story. And I get to say that with confidence.

    Pretty exciting stuff.

    Even moreso if we make the cut!

    • To if or not to if, that is the question…. 😉

      Josh, I think that sometimes, saying “no” to edits is the hardest thing. I’m always questioning myself: “Am I justified in refusing to make this change? Or am I being blind for the sake of protecting my ego?”

      But there are definitely times when protecting the integrity (i.e. cohesion and spirit) of the story means saying “no” to an edit. I think part of growing as a writer is learning to discern exactly when to do that.

  4. virtualDavis says:

    Time for cartwheels! But first revise. Edit. Resend. Then cartwheels. And a chocolate milkshake. Then back to the keyboard to bang out another. And another. Congrats, Court!

    • Thank you, my friend! I’m not sure about the cartwheels, but the chocolate is definitely on the continual radar! ; ) In the meantime, I have edited, revised, and sent. Bernard wrote back to confirm receipt of the re-write, but he has to wait a few more days to announce the latest admittees, to the anthology. So I am waiting with much nervousness!

      Maybe I do need to try a few cartwheels. ; )

      By the way: Through Klout, I’ve learned that Davis is your last name, not your first as I’d thought! And your first name starts with a “G.” So, Mr. Mystery, what’s the full first name?!? 😀

  5. […] I’d been working on and sent it in to Bernard. He sent it back with edits, and I had a mild freak-out while my writer self dealt with the knowledge that I’d not only sent my work to a total […]