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Confidence Wavering? Read Your Old Reviews

I’ve been pursuing this publishing dream for eight years now and even though I’ve previously landed an agent (and later let them go) and I’m currently working with another agent modify a manuscript to her specifications, I still struggle with bouts of negativity and self-doubt.  I’m not sure why I ran across this today, but I opened a file that contained a bunch of critiques from one of my older books. Some of you might remember Authonomy– a peer-review site that was ran by HarperCollins for budding authors which generated publishing contracts for some members. I uploaded several chapters of my Mystery/Thriller FALLEN KNIGHT, complete with a mocked-up cover, primarily to get some kind of feedback. This was before I knew about critique groups or beta readers, so I was looking for help where I could find it.  Well the reviews were so positive that I copied them from the site into a word document for safe-keeping.  Here are a few of them.

Usually I try to find some helpful places to finesse, but honestly, this is really well written and edited! My hat's off to you.

This promises to be a first-class mystery. Finely crafted, the descriptive prose flows with compelling dialogue and interior dialogue driving the story forward like a rocket ship. This is a terrific mystery/ thriller.

I find your storytelling to be highly engaging. This story starts with a bang and the action is excellent – shelved.  You weave the components of your story together like a master. I didn't see anything I'd change.

Well edited, smooth and easy to slip into.  A good, strong piece of thriller writing, you will need it, the genre is very popular and crowded but your writing certainly shines.

I love the way you throw us straight into the action of this novel. There's an excellent blend of action, dialogue and introspection which gives a smooth flow to your writing. You're a born story-teller and I think this has great promise.

Up high on my little shelf!

I enjoyed the opening chapter it set the scene and the pace was good. The end came as a complete surprise.  I do like this; it is for me nice easy reading, deep enough to interest. The plot is building as it should and you have hooks in all the right places. Your characters are lifelike as are their names.

This is very good, I want to keep reading and find out what happens. An enjoyable read, lots of unanswered questions to keep the reader interested, the sort of thing I can imagine buying and reading.

Loved it.....I like that your MC is a lady detective and very good at it..... The difficulty for writers in the thriller genre is keeping to pace, even when dropping in background detail......You do this very well.  I can clearly identify each characters profile in my minds eye.....A great read, which I'm happy to support.

This is a fluent and engaging read. The end of chapter one was certainly a shock. An energetic and dramatic beginning to the story.

Very interesting end to chapter one. Very unexpected too and a real kick in the pants. Good characterization and you give us just enough to let us fill in the blanks without telling us every little detail about the people. Good pacing too and the dialogue is sometimes written in short fragments, which is exactly how people talk.

Whoa, didn't see that end of chapter one coming. Having read all your chapters now I'm impressed with the way you set up that opening chapter: giving the characters, especially the unfortunate Brady, real depth. I'd initially thought that his appearance was set to be short-lived, but the revelations of chapter ten show the importance of that opening chapter.  I liked your pitches and there are some great hooks at the end of chapters - the one at the end of your final chapter is particularly strong and left me pleading to read more, well done.  This is a strong contemporary thriller with strong characterization and realistic dialogue where the demands of the genre are well covered. I've enjoyed it very much.

In my opinion, this is a well written work. The beginning is very good and the story develops well. The story is interesting and you treat your characters nicely. I believe it will do well here.
John Harold

Oh shit, what a first chapter. I was loving the relationship between Brady and his mom - really unusual and beautifully done. Then, wham. So of course we turn the page, and keep reading and keep reading.
This is very well done, nicely paced and much as I'd love to find some nitpicks or offer some helpful crit, I'm afraid I can't think of anything I'd want done differently. You clearly know exactly where you're going and I suspect a lot of people will want to follow your Pied Piper's trail!

It was what brought me to your book . You know what?
The first chapter is perfection, wrapped in awesome and tied up with Holy Crap.
You do an above excellent job in depicting the relationship between Brady and his mother. I could feel the love.  Brady is a great character. He is typical and yet different at the same time, he is familiar and dynamic. You do a great job at letting the reader know what is going on without TELLING them what is going on. There was a subtleness to this that I think a lot of crime/thriller books miss. You have it to a tee.
You finish off the volleying of the first chapter with a superb cliff hanger and who couldn't read on.
I looked, honestly I did, for things that were out of place. I then slipped so far into the novel that you could have spelled every second word wrong and I wouldn't have noticed. That is a talent. For a first time in a long time I was simply a reader, felt great!

The ending of chapter one is undeniably shocking. The plot and characters are well developed. The dialogue is snappy and quickens the pace. All in all, I think you have a winner here.

Bloody hell, that is some first chapter! Professional, engaging and well-paced, there's a lot here to like and I can't find anything to criticize.

DL, this was one of the easiest reads I've seen on this site. The writing is clear, fluent, and well polished. C1 is a superb portrayal of adolescent insecurity and confusion. I challenge anyone to read the first chapter and try not to turn the page after that splendid hook at the end. I am amazed more people haven't read and backed this. I know I'm backing it.

Great work! This is one of those books that sounds good from the pitch and once you start reading you cannot put the bloody thing down (so to speak!!). I am starting to get worried that the whole thing aint uploaded, or even finished! You are So backed buddy!

You sure know what you are doing. Great cover, inviting pitch, great opening and a polished read.  I can see this published, I know I would buy it

Very slick. An engaging thriller (just when I was ready to give up on the genre). It's topical, exciting and has a unique female detective, not to mention a great hook at the end of the first chapter. This has all the elements of success. Backed.

This book is entirely publishable and is a really good read. Diane is a great, believable character and a book like this could even spawn a series. If I had one thing to mention it would be perhaps that the prologue is a tad too long and involved, though you brought it to life so well! Backed!

Holy mother of cliffhangers, Batman! Just read through chapter one and HAD to turn the page... Nice hook, way to keep the reader sucked into the story.

Needless to say, my confidence level was boosted considerably after reading these. So if you find yourself down-in-the-dumps about your writing, do what I did, pull up a few of your old critique/beta reader comments. They can do wonders!

WRiTE CLUB 2018 – A Call for Volunteers

WRiTE CLUB is back…but it needs your help!

I want you to know that it absolutely tore me up to shudder the contest last year because of my work commitments. I did consider (although briefly) turning over control to someone else in my absence, but I just couldn’t do it and instead decided to risk bleeding away the momentum the contest has built in order to ensure it remained true to its core goal–providing aspiring writers an easy (and painless) avenue to give their writing the exposure it deserves.

I’m happy to report that we’re back, bigger and better than ever with more high profile judges and even more prizes! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The contest is right around the corner and I need to get my ducks in a row.  That means I need help!  Although the anyone can enter WRiTE CLUB and we’ll take as many submissions as needed, the scheduled bouts are limited to only 30 participants (fifteen bouts).  In order to narrow down what I estimate will be 200-225 entries (500-word samples) in a fair and unbiased manner – I need a selection committee of a minimum of 12 judges (I like to call them my slushpile readers) to read all of the entries and vote for their favorites, which I will then use to select the top 30.

Before you raise your hand, I need to fully explain what you would be volunteering for.  This is a big commitment!  First, you must be open to installing and using Dropbox (a free file sharing program that I will provide complete instructions on how to use). Then you will have until April 15th to read what could be 225+ entries, each one approximately 500 words long -- which in total equates to the length of a small book – and then you’ll select 30 of what you believe are the best ones.

Most importantly – you cannot be a WRiTE CLUB contestant if you do this. 

So, what do you say?  Interested in helping shape how the competition plays out – without officially participating?  If so, send an email to and I will be in touch.

If you’ve been a slushpile reader in the past, do me a favor and leave a comment letting everyone what a favorable experience it is.

Thank you in advance.


Oh…and it’s never too early to start promoting. Submissions for WRiTE CLUB will open on March 12th. Tell your friends!



Taking Stock–and Looking Forward

I’m tempted to label 2017 as a complete bust and just move on, but there were a couple of significant things that happened last year (let’s call them silver linings) that I shouldn’t overlook or minimize.

So, let’s take a brief look backward before we set our sights on the future. As I’ve chronicled here previously, my day-job not only had me traveling quite extensively for ¾ of the year (at one point I was on the road for 13 weeks straight), but the combination of the travel and the project I was involved in consumed all my energy to the point I had to step away from my writing, my critique group duties, and just about everything else writing-related. I had to shutter my beloved pet project -- WRiTE CLUB -- and was unable to attend my favorite writer’s conventions–the DFW Writers Conference. But my misfortunes don’t end there. To add insult to injury, after I was able to return to my critique group and some semblance of blogging, I ended up missing all of our scheduled meetings due to unexpected conflicts and then I scheduled a blogfest (Déjà vu 2017) that I wasn’t able to promote or even take part in because I came down with a sinus/chest infection that totally kicked my butt! Yeah - #DejaFAIL. To say that I crawled out of 2017 wouldn’t be an understatement, a literal one to be exact, because I wrenched my back on New Year’s Eve and that rendered me almost useless.

Like I said, it would be easy to call 2017 a bust.

But from the rubble of that year emerged a few shiny gems of inspiration.

It would have been easy for our critique group to have folded and gone our separate ways in my absence, but other members stepped up (notably - Nancy Williams for one) and heading into 2018 our group is as strong–and productive–as ever.

Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to work on my manuscript last year I made the conscious decision to seek out a copy editor early on so that things wouldn’t become totally stagnant. That choice has yielded big-time. As a direct result, I have made contact with a well-respected New York agent and I’m now revising my book based on her suggestions – hopeful that it will lead to representation and eventual publication.

And although WRiTE CLUB was silent last year, I have already lined-up some amazing authors to act as judges for this year’s edition and it’s shaping up to bounce back bigger and better than before!

So, how is 2018 shaping up, you ask?

I should be able to answer that question more definitively come late-February, as that is when I’m scheduled to deliver my manuscript changes to my prospective agent. And although I’ll still be traveling for work occasionally, it won’t impact my writing pursuits in the least. Overall, it looks like 2018 could be a significant year for me. Regardless how it plays out for me…



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