The Writer in the Corner

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by Chandra Lynn Smith

I’ve been a professional dog trainer since 1988. A few years ago I trained a German Shepherd dangerous fear issues. I stood at the kennel, leash in hand and greeted her. She growled. For those of you who read my opening sentence and thought what a fun job, well, not always.

I opened entered the kennel. She leaned further into the corner and gave me a perfect view of her healthy teeth. I did what anyone would do next: I closed the gate behind me and slowly slid to the floor opposite her. Using a soft, calm voice I talked to her. That’s it, just talked. I told her about the weather, the kind of music I liked, what she was going to learn that day…

As a writer, I was the terrified one sitting in the corner. I guarded my carefully crafted words and snarled—well not literally—at anyone who had the nerve to suggest corrections. Then I joined an ACFW critique group. My original critique partners would tell you they heard some of my snarls. I was also welcomed into three amazing critique groups; Penwrights, Imagine That Writers, and Sharpened Pencils. The members of those groups taught me how to read a critique with thankfulness instead of bristles. They challenged me to calm down, not be afraid and glean from their knowledge. They still challenge me, but I no longer growl. Most of the time. 

Because of their help and encouragement, my first book, The Light Holding Her, a novella in Coming Home, a Tiny House Collection was published in May 2017.

… As I sat in the kennel talking to the dog, she relaxed. After a few minutes she began to slink across the kennel floor toward me. I kept talking. A few more minutes passed and she made her way to my side and rested her chin on my lap. I kept talking. After she heaved a sigh and relaxed against me, I began to rub her ears and we were friends. She was a huge training success story…

In 2015, I won the novella category in the Genesis contest. The manuscript was complete then, but I was working on another project so Turtle Box Memories was put on hold. Last year I met an editor willing to take me under her wing and work with me. She entered my ‘kennel’ with me. She is tough, but amazing. I don’t growl at her words. I listen to her calm southern voice telling me she believes in me and wants me to succeed. Then I open my computer, take her suggestions and my manuscript will soon be ready for print.

In Habbakkuk 2:2 we read, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.”  I am thankful my critiques partners and editor are brave enough to join me in my corner and help ensure the correct message is carried to others.

Cornered by critiques? @ChandraLynnS addresses this at #ACFWBlogs. #amwriting Click To Tweet


The Light Holding Her in Coming Home a Tiny House Collection is Chandra Lynn Smith’s debut novel. Chandra, a 2015 Genesis winner, writes contemporary fiction filled with inspiration, intrigue, romance, and dogs. Chandra’s career as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer provides her with a variety of canine characters and challenging situations. Chandra and her husband are the proud parents of four sons and joyous grandparents to the most beautiful granddaughter in the world. They live on a small farm in South Central Pennsylvania and two dogs. Their house is often filled with all four sons, wives, fiancés, one beautiful granddaughter, friends, and anywhere from four to nine “grand dogs.”  You can find her  on her blog and website



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