On Vacation!

That’s right faithful readers, the Naughty Quillers are taking a three week vacation – virtually speaking. With the end of summer approaching, and for some of us the return to school for the little ones nearing, we decided to take a well deserved break. We’ve been going at this strong for over a year now, I think we deserve one don’t you?

But we will be back!

We’re going to enjoy these last days of the summer months before everything gets back into the swing of things. We shall return to action on September 4, 2017. So don’t go too far y’all, and mark the date on the calendar. We shall see you then, rested and bushy tailed – at least that’s the plan.

The Naughty Quillers (Doris, Jules, Kacey, Moira & Raven)

It’s What You Say AND How You Say It: Power of Critiques by Jules Dixon @JulesofTripleR for @RavenMcAllan

It’s What you Say AND How You Say It: Power of Critiques

Writer print

Raven McAllan sends her best to everyone. She’s feeling under the weather, so I’m going to fill in for her today with a topic I’ll be presenting to my Romance Writers of America group, Romance Authors of the Heartland. We hope you feel better, Raven. Hugs.<3

So, critiquing for other authors can be an extremely daunting task. Often it’s hard to understand where to start, what to say, and how to be most helpful to the author’s work without changing the author’s voice. Plus, we have to believe that our opinion is worthy of being offered. That’s often as much of an accomplishment as the critiquing.

Before I start, I want to point out that critiquing is not really concerned with grammatical issues or punctuation problems, but if you catch a few of those and note them to the author, he or she will be all the more thankful for it.

Critiquing is usually a “higher level” look at the story, including characterization, plotline, continuity, dialogue, conflict, pacing, and more.

A few things to keep in mind when you’re reviewing another author’s work…

First, consider the author’s voice.

If possible, read another one of the writer’s finished works to understand what voice the author considers true to their writing. Do they have a consistent beat to their prose? Do they have a special way of involving a backstory? Do they take the time to point out details that might not seem important to you, but have importance to the character or story in the end so that you’re not pointing out something that might be cleared in conclusion?

Make all attempts not to change the writer’s voice. You don’t have to love their voice, but it is not yours to alter.

Second, know your strengths and communicate them to the author.

If you are wonderful at character development and elaborate plotlines, tell them beforehand, but if you struggle in developing conflict or finding authentic and differentiating dialogue for characters, then get that out on the table, too. We’re not going to be fantastic at everything, so if the author really struggles in the same areas as you do, it will be hard to be effective. So, you have to be as honest with yourself as you are with them.

Third, be constructive with your words and avoid vague platitudes or being overly critical. Be sensitive, but honest.

The point is to help the writer consider ways to improve the work. You may say something like, “I like the plotline and how you effectively close the main character’s relationship up. Please take a look at the side plot of XYZ, I think there might be a loose end there.” Maybe the writer has questioned the issue in their mind too, but he or she needed to hear it from you to validate the point.

Don’t be shy, but keep in mind that changing things like character names, plotlines, and such isn’t up to you. You work within what the author provides you pointing out issues and problems as you see them. It is their circus and their monkeys. You are in the bleachers watching and writing a report on the chaos and tricks of the monkeys.

Critiquing isn’t easy, but it can be very rewarding. I’ve learned so much about my own writing by helping others and finding issues or enjoying phenomenal writing that inspires me, which is an added benefit, too.

What else do you think is helpful in critiquing or receiving critiques from others?

Now get out there and help each other! 🙂



Writer Retreat aka seeing Raven #TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Hello, lovely peeps, Doris, writing this from my comfy armchair at the lovely Raven McAllan’s in Scotland.

Yep, I’m here for the week, to recharge my batteries, and to spend time with one of my most favorite people in the whole wide world. 🙂


We all need to unwind and relax, and what better way to do it than with another author. We haven’t actually managed to get a lot of writing done, yet. Too busy chatting and putting the world to rights, but we’ve hashed out plot points, buffed up one synopsis, and generally speaking, had fun.

Now, I’ve never been to an actual writer’s retreat, but I imagine it’s something like this. Authors getting together, chatting plots, and bouncing ideas off each other while encouraging each other to write.

Naturally, copious amounts of caffeine, and wine, and in our case G&T’s will be consumed. It all aids the creative process, right?

So, what I’m saying here, nothing beats getting together with other authors and chewing the fat. No one understands you like another writer, so, if you get the chance to meet up with others in this crazy profession we’ve chosen, jump to it.

Now excuse me, I have some writing to do. That Raven cracks a  mean whip. 😉

Stay naughty, folks,

D xxx



Hi from Raven (@RavenMcAllan)

Hi, Waves madly this is Raven.

Raven McAllan

I live in Scotland where midges rule and you don’t see nearly as many men in kilts as people think. Have I spoiled all your illusions now? Oops, sorry.

Even so it’s a beautiful place, on a nice day. However, when winter can start in September and go on to June, to a sun lover like me, there’s not nearly enough good days.

Ah well.

At least when its raining or grey and miserable— dreich as we say—I’m happy to sit inside and write. On one of the few sunny and warm days we get I play hooky and sit outside my study, (which overlooks the garden and the forest) and er…plot. Sort of. After all reading is research isn’t it? And research is part of plotting.

Luckily I love research. I believe it is vital. The facts have to be correct, be it for my Regency stories, (as in the word pussy wasn’t in general use until round 1848) or contemporary. Not getting your facts correct is sloppy. And to be honest in this day and age, with easy access to reference books on line, unforgivable. There have been times when I’ve ranted over geographical errors in a book I’m reading, or rolled my eyes at a Regency heroine called Wendy.

That apart, I ramble—a lot.

No, not through the forest, although we have some fantastic walks around where I live, but like on here. My Dh tells me sometimes to slow down and stop changing the subject. Sadly my mind is often like a demented flea and hopping all over the place. I wish I could keep up with it.

Scotland Loch Awe mountain landscape

And as this was really just supposed to be a ‘hi, this is Raven and I’m your Thursday host’, post, on that note I’m hopping off.

I have three lots of edits to do, and you remember what I said about research? Yeah, I need to find out a bit more with regards to true Scotsmen, dirks (daggers) and Edinburgh in 1818.

Until next week,

happy reading,

love  R x