Monday, November 14, 2011


Title:  Rachel Dahlrumple
Author:  Shea McMaster
Publisher:  Lyrical Press 
Available:  Now
Source:  Goddess Fish Tours (author)

Genre:  Romantic Suspense (PG-13)

I was selected to be one of several guest post stops along the tour line for Shea McMasters!  YEAH!!  This being November and many people involved in NANOWRIMO she is talking to us today about critique partners and how to find one and how to handle brainstorming!  

First of all, I’m thrilled to be here. Thank you so much for hosting a leg of the “Rachel Dahlrumple” release tour!

Earlier in this blog tour, (Nov 7 Romance with an Attitude) I wrote about breaking through writer’s block and how I have a group of “hammers” who help me smash that particular obstacle from time to time. I can’t stress enough just how valuable critique partners and/or groups are. 
It can be incredibly difficult to find like-minded souls. I’ve been extremely fortunate to find people with similar outlooks as far as helping, but they all approach writing from different directions. And of course, they have oodles of diverse experiences to draw on. So here are some suggestions for finding and working with critique partners.
Don’t choose critique partners by how much they stroke your ego. Find people honest enough to be blunt, without being cruel. There’s never a need to be cruel. We’re all working toward the same goal. It’s not a competition and slashing someone’s efforts serves no purpose at all.
Where do you find critique partners? That can be tougher. My first ones I found online through Yahoo Groups. I even formed my own crit loop once to fit a certain niche.  Local CPs can often be found at RWA chapter meetings. Or if you don’t have an RWA chapter nearby, is there another writer’s group? Find the one that nourishes your writing. Don’t tolerate the ones who put you down to make themselves seem superior. Another way to connect with other writers is National Novel Writing Month, known as November to the rest of the world. Check out There are local gatherings in almost every region. Get connected and get involved.
Once you find some critters, there are common sense rules to brainstorming and critiquing. One of the most important is to keep an open mind. Not all experienced writers will have great suggestions, and not all newbies are clueless. Often if a writer is new, he or she is still enough of a reader to offer insights from that angle. All comments are valuable in some way.
If three people tell you the same thing, whether it’s the scene starts in the wrong place, the order of action is off-kilter, or the hero is icky, take a long hard look at your “darlings.” They may not be so darling after all and need to be killed. If I get three opinions which don’t agree, then I feel free to ignore them, or select one that seems more right than the others.  And if they’re all off base, say Thank You, and move on.
When doing a brainstorming session, be respectful. Each person gets to speak without interruption. State your opinion, or listen to the opinion being spoken. Most important, if you’re the recipient, acknowledge the offering. You don’t have to use any of it, but someone took the time to think about your work. It won’t kill you to say thank you.
If you are the one offering your opinion, once you’ve had your say, and if the author doesn’t use your idea, drop it. It’s their story, they get to choose what they do or don’t use. Doesn’t mean your input isn’t appreciated or useful, it just means it’s not right at the moment. It may be perfect for the next story. And by drop it I mean don’t come back to it meeting after meeting, critique after critique. Move on.  You’ve been heard. Don’t bog things down with old business. I could go on and on, and some people do, but it’s important to remember. There’s not much worse than taking abuse for a scene you wrote, and changed, years ago. Keep the momentum moving forward.
And last but not least, when giving a return critique or helping someone brainstorm, remember this simple saying: Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Don’t say it mean.
Which brings me around to my current release, Rachel Dahlrumple. If you’ve read it and like it, I’d love to hear from you. If you hated it, well, um… Okay. But if you loved it, I’d sure appreciate a starred review the next time you blow through Amazon or B&N, or wherever you picked up your copy.
And I’d like to hear about your best or funniest experience with a critique partner or group.  Or if you had a session that was a good learning experience.
As an example, I’ll never forget the day I was driving the carpool to crit meeting when my friend climbed into the car and said, “I love your world, I love the secondary characters, but I hate you hero and heroine.” Yeah. But hey, she had some valid points, I did make changes, and that book went into trade paperback print. So it turned out well in the end.
Now you. Remember a particularly pivotal critique?
Shea McMaster
Traditional Romance for Modern Women

Shea will be giving away a custom tote bag or mug to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour!  Follow the tour by clicking on the banner at the top of the page and comment on the blogs.  The more you comment the better your chance of winning!

About the Book:
Her husband's death is just the beginning of her marital woes. 

Rachel's humiliation over the discovery of her late husband's affairs turns to fear when one of his mistresses sends her a poisoned bouquet. But finding the source of the killer flowers is only one step on her path to solving the mystery her husband left behind. 

Deputy Dan Weston is with Rachel when the bouquet arrives, and he's at her side as she deals with so many of the secrets that come to light after her husband's death. Dan has carried a torch for Rachel since puberty and he's not going to let her dead husband's vindictive girlfriends or his psychotic mother come between them now. But that means finding out who is sending snakes and poisoned posies before one kills Rachel. 

My take:
This was a great romantic read to while away these colder fall evenings!  The suspense kept building...even tho' I had the doer figured out pretty quickly the book kept me involved in many other side stories that I didn't lose interest like I do with other books after I figure out who done it!  There were a few repeats of personal stories of side characters that did distract me..but it only happened a couple of times.  There was so much mystery surrounding the family and it came out in pieces that I couldn't put the book down so I could find out all the secrets.  I also loved the fact that we were so into Rachel's head and her spunk (read sarcasm) came out loud and clear and I loved listening to her.  There was a lot of emotion packed in this if you get emotional may want some tissues handy!  This is a little more on the edgy if you like your romance on the sweet may want to shy away...but it's nowhere near an erotica classification!  I'd recommend this for these upcoming cold winter nights to help heat things up!  

About the author:

The softer, sweeter side of Morgan O’Reilly, Shea McMaster lives for traditional romance.

Born in New Orleans, raised in California, Shea/Morgan got moved to Alaska in 1977, where she attended high school before running back to California for college. Alas, once back home she met and fell in love with her own forever true hero, a born and raised Alaska man. Since then she’s had a love-hate relationship with America’s largest state.

With her one and only son half way through college, and mostly out of the house, Shea is fortunate to spend her days engaged in daydreaming and turning those dreams into romantic novels and novellas featuring damsels in distress rescued by their own brains and hunky heroes.


I was given a copy of the book to review and no other compensation was given and I was not required to write a favorable review!  


  1. I don't write, so no critique partner, but I do have a very good friend. We have a very honest relationship with neither being at all hurt by what is said. It could be anything from the perfume worn, to what they ordered for lunch. Nothing is sacred.

    A great post & I am looking forward to reading "Rachel Dahlrumple".


  2. Jacque, Thanks for the review! Yours is the first I've seen since the release a week ago. Gives me great hope for more to follow :) Looking forward to a great day here.

    Hello Marybelle! Good to see you hanging with me. It warms my heart more than I can say :)

    I'd also like to take a moment to thank my organizers at Goddess Fish. Marianne and Judy are awesome! Couldn't have made it this far without you.

  3. Great advice, Shea. Critique partners help me with reality checks - sometimes I'm right and sometimes they are - lol!
    I love face-to-face critique sessions, when multiple people get to brainstorm something. We feed off each other, and the recipient gets to benefit from all that excitement.

  4. Hi Shea!
    I've been through the crit partner mill just as you have (Okay, for other readers, I'm one of the thorns in Shea's side, muahaha)and it's true that cultivating the trust in such a relationship takes time and effort. Another thing to keep in mind is that every CP has a different strength. You need macro-critters and micro-critters. Macros see your big picture. Micros are your line editors and continuity monitors. Both can be annoying. Both are invaluable. Just like normal friends (writers aren't normal--let's just get that out right now) your crit partners feed all different parts of your soul, they come and go, and the best ones last forever.
    Thanks, Shea! Thanks, Jacque for inviting us all here.

  5. Tam, Liz and I have worked through many a critique together!

    There was the session one of you called the other on "closed body language" when being critiqued. That was memorable! Also opened our eyes to learning how to take a crit.

    As for different partners having different perspectives, I can count on Liz to find my grammar boo-boos and Tam has no problem telling me if a section bores her to tears. And another partner has absolutely NO problem telling us when she hates a character or their actions.

    It all works toward making me a better writer, and I hope you all feel the same.

    Glad you dropped in!

  6. Wow...thx for the comments on my lil' ole blog! Shea...I had never read any of your stuff before (tame or not tame) but am definitely oing to be looking you up! Your crit partners have done you wonders! Thx for stopping by!!! Many successful sales to you!

  7. Loved your take on crit partners. As one that you've nicely ripped apart a time or two, I have to agree with everything you said. A writer needs honesty more than anything. Well that and a dust buster for our egos once the honesty hits the fan.

  8. They're all sworn not to reveal what I've threatened with to get them to comment *wink*

    Seriously, I'm blessed by a great family of writers. They're all my sisters, except Jmo who is more like a second husband for all the nagging he requires. Just Kidding!! But he's definitely family too. We all keep each other lifted up but grounded at the same time.

    Thanks to everyone for stopping by! You've been ever so patient with my blog-demands. Okay, my begging. I'm big enough to be honest!!

    Tomorrow I can be found at:
    and according to my tour schedule, there will be a review posted at:
    Hope everyone will take long enough to look in and post another comment!

  9. Great post, Shea. I have appreciated advice from writing friends - truly a gift (after one thinks about it for a while ;o)

  10. This was a FANTABULOUS read and I agree with your review! Molly(at)reviewsbymolly(dot)com