To Critique, Not, and What Type of Critique, by Paula Rose Michelson

It seems that all of our lives someone is critiquing us. First it might be our mother or father because they are trying to teach us what appropriate behavior is. Next it might be our teacher who is charged with the responsibility of helping us learn the skills necessary to advance to the next grade. Finally having matriculated, landed a job, and if one wished a spouse, we might feel that we’ve arrived. And for some the need to sustain that feeling may ultimately impede them allowing their creativity to be revealed to the rest of us.

I should know, for having been informed that I was deficient in many areas, I wanted to hide. Yet it wasn’t until I was standing in line with the Dean of the Library of Biola University who was soon to retire that I asked him what he planned to do once he could order his daily activities as he’d like. Imagine my surprise when he uttered that one word that writers prize above all others, “Write.” A lengthily discussion ensued during which I discovered that most good or even great authors never seek a publisher do to fear of…

Now as a recovering somewhat left of nor-mal in almost everything including ego trips, I understood what he said, and knew full well all that was not said, yet implied! I could sum all that my head and heart were burdened with in one thought, Writer be ware! Yet since many overcome their worries through a recovery (critique) group, I thought it beneficial today to write about the various types I have either been in or heard about. But before I begin let me share that what I write is soul my take.

For the purpose of this article I will break groups by focus and mode of interaction.

The Feel Good Group: A great way to begin ones writing journey. This gathering exists to encourage each other. Its membership may be writing within so many different genres that it might be described as a Potpourri Critique Group. Upside: Many who fear harsh comments will feel good especially if you are the only one writing in your genre. Downside: The writers’ within the group may be unable or fearful of giving a creditable evaluation, least they receive one.

The Evaluation Group: A great place to learn the skill sets such as Point of View (POV), Character Development, and Plot. Lead by a well known writer/author or someone with know how, here one can learn the nuts and bolts of their craft. For many (like me) who did not major in any form of writing in college save term papers, this group can be a quick way to learn the necessary tools.

The I’ve Got Mine Group: This group is one I would not be drawn to because I believe that ones commitment to growing in the craft can be inhibited by grandstanders. By grandstanders, I mean those who are very well known for what they do, yet when asked will not assist but might instead impede others growth. For example when asked what type of critique group has merit they might chose to mention the type that works for them. However, one must note that just like different people do things differently which I must say very tongue-in-cheek is why they are different, some many need to visit many groups before they find the one that’s right for them.

I noticed that I have written over 500 words without mentioning what type of group I belong to and since you’ve dropped by to chat with me, not the hypothetical professor I might have sounded like, let me confess, “I’m a group hopper!” That’s right! After spending four years in a feel good group where few brought anything that they had written to read, and pages were never sent in advance, I matriculated to an evaluation group. If you’re wondering how many years I spent there, I’ll confess, NONE! I discovered that there were two evaluation groups that meet monthly, sent in my first chapter to one, and a few months later repeated the process with the other. And dear friend I found pay dirt! That’s right you heard me, “Pay dirt!” that noun of yesteryear fame which is called an Americanism perhaps because it stems from the 1855-60 gold rush era. But, I digress, the pay dirt I’m writing about can best be defined as mining someone else gray matter for profit. And the profit I speak of is acquiring an individual sense that what you have to say, and they way you express it has merit. Not merit because you’ve written the next big hit or better yet, a timeless classic, but merit because you have added to the wealth of ideas upon which individuals thrive and society and nations exit.

If you think about your writing in light of the last sentence, I believe that you will grasp that the higher calling you and I struggle with is worth the effort, sacrifice, and others potential lack or understanding or appreciation, which brings me to my last point: Whether they know it or not, whether writing for academia or pulp fiction, writers write their heart. Therefore lets end by looking at the Bronte sister: Charlotte's Jane Eyre was the first to know success, while Emily's Wuthering Heights, Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and other works were later to be accepted as masterpieces of literature. One might ask, so I will, can any of us who slave to make each sentence a masterpiece live with “Later to be accepted as masterpieces of literature” accept this as a more than acceptable outcome? For sanities sake I believe we must. Otherwise we might find ourselves checking our novels numerical standing on Amazon several times a day while we wonder what the numbers mean, admonish ourselves, yet return once more. I know for I have been guilty of this fruitless activity. Better to work at our craft, publish or be published when the opportunity is available and let, as in the case of Bronte sister, posterity decide the outcome.

Until next time I wish all who write the blessing of ideas that inspire, and for those that read, may the next book you pick up give you everything you wished for but never thought existed.

Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing now available on Kindle.
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What do the Numbers Mean? by Paula Rose Michelson

For many looking at data is tantamount to taking a sleeping pill. Others say that statics rock their world! Having worked for a marketing research company, I learned that the way questions are worded can prove or disprove the viability of various choices. However, looking at raw data gathered without questioning others can be very relevant.

Before you review the figures I believe it prudent to mention that having received inquires about the number of books I have sold through this and my Casa de Naomi Reflections blog, my website, the various dot coms my novel is available on, and the many signing events I have gone to, I cannot give you a figure because I do not know what is happening within the book market, and I cannot control what a reader will buy.

If you ever wondered who’s reading this blog, and were interested in where they live, here’s that information: 

United States





United Kingdom





For those of you that are interested in what operating system readers use to visit this blog, here is that information:

2,717 (77%)

326 (9%)

184 (5%)

103 (2%)

Other Unix
100 (2%)

53 (1%)

This looks impressive, doesn’t it? But do these numbers equal book sales? Perhaps. I am saying perhaps because last week Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing’s standing on was in the mid six millions. Then the book Kindled and the number drop to the mid three millions! Does that mean that the novel sold about three million copies in a few days? Or does the novels number reflect the decease in the sales of other novels? Because new novels appear on Amazon daily, perhaps neither scenario is accurate.

Or, it just might be that many, like my friend Jane, who read the novel while flying and exclaimed, “I was unable to put it down, and glad that I finished the read before I had to disembark!” readers of this blog are telling others about the blog, their checking it out, and like their friends buying the book!

Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing now available in Kindle.

This is a first for me, but having looked at's Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing sales page, I discovered that numbers (as I have been saying) can mean many different things! Currently Amazon's bold blue lettering says they have eight books in stock. However, the lighter purple lettering above that claim shows that currently they have three books and more are on the way! Again, this leads me to wonder what numbers really mean! Although I don't want to belabor the point, I must add that each dot com has changed the price of the book at various times. I understand that those selling the novel in a foreign market where prices are higher must do this, but I find myself wondering if the change in price might indicate??? 

All I know for sure, is that one way or another we authors have to love Amazon since their the biggest dot com player:  Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing now available in Kindle.

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The Year of 5,000 Books, by Paula Rose Michelson

On the 14 of January 2011,  my good friend Marlayne Grion had me come to her house so she could set up this blog. We selected the template, she added the features, and with some prompting from her, I agreed to her adding my picture so you could see me. Everything that needed her attention had been done, save one, and I have to admit that when she told me I needed to name my blog, I was stymied! I froze for I could think of nothing to say, or rather call this blog. Unlike the two times I had been pregnant and knew a name must be forthcoming upon the arrival of each precious bundle, I hadn’t a clue! It seemed to me that this was becoming a habit, for I had written a book without a title, and the chapters within it as well. Now, if I did not rise to the challenge, my blog might just (to my horror) be titled “Untitled!”
I closed my eyes thought about the Laguna Woods Writers meeting I had attended, and said, “Year of 5,000 Books.” I opened my eyes, watched as my friend typed the name into the subject field, and saw it become the blogs name. The moment I saw it, I realized that it should read The Year of 5,000 Books, but it was too late, for Year of 5,000 Books now had a Copyright © 2010 Year of 5,000 Books All rights reserved. If you think I’m daft, hit the first sentence of this entry and you'll be able to see my January 14, 2011 entry, then scroll down and see the copyright information that I mentioned. 

Since this blog began many have asked me why 5,000 Books? Today I share why that number matters to me, and if you’re a writer/author why it might matter to you as well.

To get at what I want to share with you, please pardon me for backtracking, which for someone like me who try to write sequentially i.e., in order, can appear disorganized, but here goes: While listening to an agent speak about those who send queries, and thinking of a publisher that shared how unlikely it was for new authors work to sell well, I realized that 5,000 in book sales within the first 12 months of release would ensure two things. One, it meant that booksellers would order my book thereby ensuring that I, would have book signings at those stores. And two, it further ensured that my six-volume Casa Saga, or anything else I wrote would be ordered by those booksellers, who are ever in search of a guaranteed sale to stock.

So it is that Year of 5,000 Books, which I blurted out seems to have been the right title for this blog after all! Therefore, should you wish to join me on this journey please know that books are the topic, both mine and yours. That’s right, YOURS!! For if you write of romantic historic fiction, follow this blog, and wish to be featured one month because of a book or article release please contact me. 
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News Flash! Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing now available on Kindel

If you have been waiting for Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing to be available on Kindel, your wait is over!
If you have wanted to read a portion of Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing before you bought the novel, go to Amazon, and hit Kindel. Once the Kindel opens use the Search Inside feature and enjoy!
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Last Year – This Year, by Paula Rose Michelson

Although living in Southern California one might not notice the change of seasons, every now and then one stands out amongst the others. One summer might bring sweet breezes instead of Santa Ana’s, and one winter might be cold enough for Ron and I to drive to the mountains before the snow melts, thus reminding us that although the names of the seasons stay the same, things are not stagnant.

For more years than I can count Ron and I were in change of hospitality for those that volunteered to make the MJAA Conference an event others could enjoy. Though often seen we were seldom able to snatch more than a few moments to visit with friends, renew acquaintances, attend a lecture, or enjoy shopping at The Messianic Marketplace. However, that changed last year when I felt the Lord encouraging me to pre-sell Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing during that three day event. Though I worried about selling a book that I did not have, those in charge let me pay my fee, and it was my joy to meet and speak with thirteen people who choose to buy the first book of The Casa Saga! I could hardly believe it when I counted the amount and discovered that the sales met the provision I had prayed for and not one penny more! LAST YEAR I prayed that I would sell enough books to cover the cost of the table, and I, no rather He, did! THIS YEAR I had the first volume of the six-book Casa Saga to sell. Nevertheless, once again God challenged me to do the unthinkable and pre-sell book two. And like last year people were eager to buy that book!

Since I shared a table with my good friend and fellow author Marlayne Grion, on occasion she would ask me how many books I had sold. Looking back, I know that when I said what I am sharing with you, my words might seems as odd to you as they probably sounded to her, for you see this is a faith walk. By faith in God’s providence I probably gave away as many books as I sold. I gave a book to a woman who told me that she had spoken with someone she felt needed to read Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing more than she did. I joyfully gifted her a replacement. I gave a book to two women who wanted to bless others, others I gladly gave to people eager or promote my work. I gave books to those who needed but could not buy a book. Lastly I gifted a book to Eva Rydelnik who years ago had read the manuscript at my request because, as a teacher Messianic Literature at Moody Bible College, I hoped to receive an endorsement from her. After she finished reading the manuscript a lengthily dialogue ensued during which she informed me that she could not give her endorsement because there were no hidden Jews in Spain. She offered to give me her endorsement if I set the date back 100 years. I could not do that for I had meet Sephardic Jews from Spain and heard their stories. Our parting was bittersweet, and I did not hear from her again until she walked the length of the marketplace.

I still do not know what caused me to look up when I did, but seeing her eyes riveted on me, a smile on her face, a spark of excitement kindled within me. Yet it wasn’t until she stood before me and proclaimed, “You made a believer of me!” that I understood that she had been observing all I did,  and read what I posted!

I have only seen Eva twice in my life. The first time I saw her was to ask her if she would read my manuscript. The second time was to hear from her own lips that she now knew that there are still hidden Jews in Spain!

1 Corinthians 13:12 says, For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known… and I believe that just as Eva and I loved each though we could not affirm the others point of view when we disagreed, the Lord loves us with an ever lasting love though we contend with Him.

May we like Levi, whom you may know as Matthew walk in the certain knowledge of Gods truth, as that apostle wrote in Mathew 6:21 remember, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

My prayer for you is that you walk in the certain knowledge that your faith walk is ordained and directed by God for without Him we may stumble or worse yet become sidetracked by what is not of God. 

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