Thursday, June 23, 2016

Finding a Great Critique Buddy



Hopefully, as I write this post, there are as many aspiring Superromance writers as there are readers who visit our blog because I thought I'd share an invaluable writing tip...find a critique buddy!

Finding a person or persons to whom you entrust your work, before acceptance, is a tough call for any aspiring writer to envision, let alone action. As writers, we spent months (sometimes years!), with a body of work that is often spattered with our blood, sweat and tears. To then share that work or, more accurately, invite it to be criticized is a tall order.

An order that it took me writing three full-length novels before I decided I wanted to find someone to read my work before I submitted it to agents or publishers. Lord, how I wish I’d come to understand how vital having someone read my work BEFORE I submitted was so important to the book’s success.

There’s no doubt about it, finding a good critique partner/s is hard. Once you make the decision to look for one, the path is fraught with danger. You’re taking a huge risk that the person might be too harsh, too thin-skinned to accept your returning critique or worse, they proceed to change every word you’ve written until their suggestions completely obliterate your individual voice.

However, if you find a partner/s who are kind, considerate, informed and vying for your success as much as their own, you will want to keep that person with you for the rest of your career and wonder how you ever managed without them.

For me, I had several misses before I hit on the three critique partners I have now­­––three fabulous romance writing, romance loving ladies who have worked with me throughout the writing of my last five novels.

I would truly be lost without them!

We work by exchanging a chapter at a time for critique during the first draft stage of our novels. The thought of sharing that messy, discovery stage of your work might fill you with horror BUT I can genuinely say (for me, at least), having someone comment and critique your brand new words can lead to wholly stronger, more vibrant and exciting following drafts. To have character inconsistencies, plot holes and repeated words highlighted at the stage when you still have so much time to fix, change and delete is fantastically freeing for your creativity.

So, how do you find these wonderful partners/friends who will hold your hand and cheer for you at the finishing line? Firstly, join as many online and real-life writers groups as possible. Talk to these writers, get to know them, come to like and understand them as individuals. Who would you avoid? Who makes you laugh? Whose writing aspirations match your own? Who shares a love of the same genre and authors? All these questions will give you a good chance of narrowing down that person/s who will improve your work.

Be brave and make the decision to start on the path to finding your critique buddy today – more than one is even better because you’ll have differing opinions on the same piece of work. If the two or three partners say different things, then it is up to you to decide what is right for YOU. However, if two or three partners comment on the same area of your work…you would be foolish not to revisit it and make some changes. Clearly something there isn’t quite right.


Happy hunting! I promise you’ll come to fully understand and love the benefits of no longer working solo. Good luck!

Rachel x

Author of the Templeton Cove Stories
Saved by the Firefighter - coming Nov 2016
Her Hometown Redemption - Sept 2015
Christmas At The Cove - Nov 2014
What Belongs To Her - Mar 2014
A Man Like Him - Aug 2013
Finding Justice - Feb 2013

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Visiting the Harlequin Offices!

As regular visitors know, I dreamed about becoming a published author long (long, long!) before I sold my first book - A Perfect Distraction - to Harlequin SuperRomance. What you may not know is that I also dreamed that one day I would be able to visit my publisher's office.

Earlier this month, that dream came true!

My husband and I were visiting Canada, because he was giving papers at conferences in Ottawa and Kelowna, and we made a special stop in Toronto, so that I could spend the day at Harlequin head office. And what an amazing day it was! I had such fun meeting everyone and finding out what happens behind the scenes.

First, I was welcomed by my editor, Victoria Curran, and the rest of the wonderful editorial team for SuperRomance and Heartwarming. As you can see, they made me feel so special by popping open champagne and making Mimosas/Bucks Fizz (that's another one for my Two Nations Divided feature - every Friday on Facebook). I brought them a special tin of Biscuiteers biscuits from England, which were made to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday.







 Next I was given a tour of the various production areas, where I met the fabulous people who work so hard to turn the manuscript I send them into the book you hold in your hands or get on your ereader.







These lovely ladies run the copy editing and proof reading departments for all of Harlequin. Yes, even the offices in New York and London! Their teams ensure that books are printed with as few mistakes as possible.




Shane showed me how my book cover was built up from the base template, adding my name and title, back cover copy, the bar code and finally the cover image. This was fascinating for me as in my marketing career, I'd had many dealings with packaging development. Only in those days, it wasn't all computerised!






Then, it was on to the Art Department to meet the guys responsible for our gorgeous covers. They try hard to match the authors' vision for the hero and heroine and create a cover that will pop and sell!

Time for lunch! It was great to be able to spend time getting to know all the editors, as there is rarely time to do that when we meet at conferences. Especially when they edit other lines than SuperRomance.


After lunch, I got to meet the lovely ladies responsible for the Harlequin Reader Service. Many of you loyal SuperRomance fans use the Reader Service to receive your books, so it was great to meet them and learn about what they do.


The tour continued with, among others, the legal department and the executive floor. Nice office, Craig!

Last, but definitely not least, was a stop in Diane Moggy's office to see the famous peregrine falcons nesting on the opposite building. Unfortunately, this was the best photo I could get with my cell phone of the four chicks.

The whole day was amazing and special, truly a dream come true. Many thanks to Victoria for taking time out of her busy schedule to organise the visits to all the departments and to take me around to meet everyone. And to all the wonderful people at Harlequin who made me me feel so welcome!

Is there a place you'd love to visit? Have you had a visit dream come true?






Visiting the Harlequin Offices!

As regular visitors know, I dreamed about becoming a published author long (long, long!) before I sold my first book - A Perfect Distraction - to Harlequin SuperRomance. What you may not know is that I also dreamed that one day I would be able to visit my publisher's office.

Earlier this month, that dream came true!

My husband and I were visiting Canada, because he was giving papers at conferences in Ottawa and Kelowna, and we made a special stop in Toronto, so that I could spend the day at Harlequin head office. And what an amazing day it was! I had such fun meeting everyone and finding out what happens behind the scenes.

First, I was welcomed by my editor, Victoria Curran, and the rest of the wonderful editorial team for SuperRomance and Heartwarming. As you can see, they made me feel so special by popping open champagne and making Mimosas/Bucks Fizz (that's another one for my Two Nations Divided feature - every Friday on Facebook). I brought them a special tin of Biscuiteers biscuits from England, which were made to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday.







 Next I was given a tour of the various production areas, where I met the fabulous people who work so hard to turn the manuscript I send them into the book you hold in your hands or get on your ereader.







These lovely ladies run the copy editing and proof reading departments for all of Harlequin. Yes, even the offices in New York and London! Their teams ensure that books are printed with as few mistakes as possible.




Shane showed me how my book cover was built up from the base template, adding my name and title, back cover copy, the bar code and finally the cover image. This was fascinating for me as in my marketing career, I'd had many dealings with packaging development. Only in those days, it wasn't all computerised!






Then, it was on to the Art Department to meet the guys responsible for our gorgeous covers. They try hard to match the authors' vision for the hero and heroine and create a cover that will pop and sell!

Time for lunch! It was great to be able to spend time getting to know all the editors, as there is rarely time to do that when we meet at conferences. Especially when they edit other lines than SuperRomance.


After lunch, I got to meet the lovely ladies responsible for the Harlequin Reader Service. Many of you loyal SuperRomance fans use the Reader Service to receive your books, so it was great to meet them and learn about what they do.


The tour continued with, among others, the legal department and the executive floor. Nice office, Craig!

Last, but definitely not least, was a stop in Diane Moggy's office to see the famous peregrine falcons nesting on the opposite building. Unfortunately, this was the best photo I could get with my cell phone of the four chicks.

The whole day was amazing and special, truly a dream come true. Many thanks to Victoria for taking time out of her busy schedule to organise the visits to all the departments and to take me around to meet everyone.

Is there a place you'd love to visit? Have you had a visit dream come true?






Monday, June 20, 2016

The Birthday Police

By Jeannie Watt

Yesterday was my birthday. It didn’t start like most of my birthdays.  I woke up from a dead sleep to find that it was light outside, which startled me. I go to bed at 8:30 and get up at the crack of dawn. It was way too light to be the crack of dawn, so…?


That was when I heard the voices and the knocking on the door. We live in the middle of nowhere; no one drops by my house. I haven’t had a single Trick-or-Treater in twenty-two years, so a knock on our door at any time, unless it’s Fed Ex or UPS, is very strange. Heart-poundingly strange.

I headed out to the living room to discover that the house was pitch black, despite my bedroom window being lit up. And there were two men on my porch. Figuring that if they were bad guys, they wouldn’t be knocking, I opened the door and found myself facing two deputies. I had neglected to put on my glasses, so they were blurry deputies,  silhouetted by the headlights of their vehicles, which were creating the pseudo daylight outside my bedroom window.

“Hello, ma’am. We’re here because a neighbor wanted us to check on your welfare.”

Uh…yeah…okay. Welfare.  “I’m…fine?”

“We have a report that this house has been unoccupied for days.” Blurry deputy #1 stares suspiciously at me. I’m wearing a fuzzy red robe and squinting at him because I can’t get him in focus.

“Nope. Been here the entire time.”

“This house hasn’t been unoccupied?”

“I live here. I’ve been here.”

The deputies then go on to explain that my neighbors were concerned because my house has been dark for days and they saw a car drive past the driveway and then turn around and drive in. They were afraid we were being robbed.

Okay, even with my heart pounding and my brain scrambling to make sense of these strange goings-on, I found that incredibly sweet. Our newest neighbors live a half mile away. They just bought the house and we’ve yet to meet them, but they cared enough to call the sheriff when they thought one of their new neighbors was being robbed.

I explained to the deputies that the house hasn’t been empty—that we live on a generator and go to bed before dark, so that’s why the neighbors haven’t seen lights. If someone turned down our driveway, they weren’t there now and so the deputies were free to go on their way.

They were quite happy to do that—after I showed ID and proved that I was who I’m supposed to be, which was the homeowner and not a fuzzy-robe-wearing robber. I might sound glib, but I appreciate that they did that. I mean anyone could bring a fuzzy robe and pretend to be a befuddled homeowner and distract the deputies while a partner continued to bag the family silver.

So the day started with the cops arriving a little after midnight. Several hours later, one of my good friends had a healthy baby boy.  My family called me, I made incredible meat pies and then  my husband broke out the good Scotch. We toasted birthdays--both mine and little Cullen Finn’s--as well as Father’s Day, healthy happy kids, caring new neighbors and being blessed in general.

Truly a full and rich day.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Winner of Claire McEwen's Giveaway!


Thank you to everyone who commented on my Who's Rescuing Who? post!!

Colleen C, you are the winner!  




(Horns blaring!  Fireworks exploding! Confetti falling!) 

Please contact me at cmcewen.writer@gmail.com so I can send you your book! 

Thanks for joining me at the SuperAuthors Blog!


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