J.M. Frey is an Author, Screenwriter, and Professional Smartypants. She holds a Masters of Communications Culture from Ryerson and York Universities, as well as a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts from Brock University and a minor in Classical Mythology. She specializes in fanthropology: the study of media audiences and fans. She also appears in several documentaries and radio shows speaking on this topic.
Working as a sensitivity reader or a beta reader for a writer friend is one of the greatest joys of being part of the writing community. You get to read a new story before anyone else and you have the privilege of helping your writer friend turn their just-pulled-from-the-cave-wall stone into a highly polished, beautifully cut, sparkling diamond.
Obviously there are no hard-and-fast rules about what you should and should not be doing as a critique partner (beyond Wheaton’s Law). You and your author will find your own communication style and rhythm, as well as levels of honesty and helpfulness that you’re both comfortable with. However, the whole point of stepping up as a critique partner is to support your writer friend and help them make the book they’ve written the best version of itself that it can be.
Sometimes this means you have to point out flaws, but it also means that you should be pointing out the stuff that’s good, that really works for you, and connects with you emotionally as a reader. Writers need to know not just what needs to change, but also what needs to stay the same.
If your characters are the lens through which the reader experiences your story, and you the writer are the glassmaker, then vocabulary makes up the grains of sand which create the glass. Likewise, tone is the mold into which you pour your hot glass to set the lens.
Some grains will be hard, rough, imperfect; and, poured into a straight-edged mold, would make a wonderful lens for, say, a gritty detective story. Some will be dark, and smooth, and sharp, combined in a rough mold that produces a lens that is uneven and hard to see through, making it suitable for gothic romance. Some will be filled with glitter, poured into a star-shaped mold, ideal for magic and fantasy.
Your combination of Voice, Vocabulary and Tone create the Narrative Voice that is unique to your work and your book.
After a short hiatus, LIPS LIKE ICE is back in print! If you’d like a copy of your very own, you can find all the current retailers listed here. I’ll update the links as more become available, so check back if your preferred retailer isn’t linked yet.
The book is still serializing for free on Wattpad and Radish, and will remain available to read for free until January 2022.
I’ve been re-releasing my backlisted titles over the last year with my personal imprint Here There Be. I’m happy to announce that in advance of the re-release of my 2015 erotica novel LIPS LIKE ICE, I will be serializing it on Radish and Wattpad for free.
There will be three short episodes dropping each week, and the complete ebook and paperback will be released in Fall 2021. After that, the free version of the book will be pared back to just an excerpt, so read as it’s released if you want to get the whole story!