Lessons learned for today, actually a reinforcement of a previous lesson: “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Author forums and critique circles are wonderful resources but you have to keep in mind that this is your story. If you attempt to follow each opinion and suggestion, you will end up with Frankenstein’s monster where your original manuscript used to be. A patchwork of pretty parts that, sewn together, looks ugly.
The issue at hand was Becca and Timmy’s age. I had a firm number in mind, but as each opinion came along, Becca became younger or older. A reader friend of mine who is NOT a writer pointed out that each character we create comes from memory or piece of our psyche. Reflecting upon that, I remembered exactly how old I was when these events took place. Fortunately, only a handful of people have purchased the e-book and the reference to specific ages are very few, still I feel obliged to correct the story as soon as possible rather than waiting for the paperback edition.
My point is not whether changing a live book is a good idea. I am sure many will say it is not. My point is that nobody can write your story for you. The road to becoming a better writer is not reading a bunch of books on how to write, but rather reading good books that you like, understanding what you like about them and integrating those principles into your writing. I just finished reading Every Last Kiss by Courtney Cole. What I loved most was the luxuriant texture with which she described the fall of Egypt without distracting from the primary plot. I will try to apply that principle to my future stories where it is appropriate.
Do not try to be the next Ernest Hemingway or Faulkner, be the first you. Keep writing my friends!