Barbara Barrett

Romance at Work

Thoughts from the Treadmill: Feedback

Great news! Even though Driven to Matrimony is no longer free to download on Amazon, it is currently listed at $2.99. If you missed the free week, this is the time to purchase the Kindle version before the book goes into worldwide release on January 15. And, the digital version of And He Cooks Too is 50% off at The Wild Rose Press through Black Friday.

See buy links below.

Photo by Leslie Sloan

Photo by Leslie Sloan

Last week, I mentioned how the universe had aligned to present me with two great inspirational experiences. I went on to describe the first, writing a one-act play and participating in its cold read debut. This week, I want to focus on the second experience, another type of “cold read,” only this time involved two current manuscripts in progress. On November 16, the SpacecoasT Authors of Romance RWA chapter presented “Super Saturday,” fall edition. The featured speaker was Rhonda Penders, editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press, my publisher, which has received the “Best Publisher” award from Preditors and Editors 2008 through 2012. Besides describing how TWRP has grown from an inspiration she and her critique partner, RJ Morris, shared not quite eight years ago to start an ebook publishing company that offered several genres of romance novel, she also presented her thoughts on the current state of publishing in the romance world.

The day opened with current STAR president, Marian Griffin, reading one- and two-page excerpts of manuscripts and query letters submitted by attendees. Following each read, Rhonda, plus two TWRP paranormal editors, CallieLynn Wolfe and Frances Sevilla, gave their first blush reactions, indicating what appealed to them and what might need additional work. I submitted the first two pages of two contemporary romance novels I currently have underway. Both had received prior review and comment from critique partners and been reworked to the point where I thought they were in pretty good shape. Wrong! Both, not just one, elicited improvement comments from the panel. They liked the writing, one strong, good point, but each received thumbs down in at least one area.

One was viewed as confusing, because more than two characters were named in the opening paragraphs without enough explanation of their relationships to each other. They also questioned the set-up; was the physical ailment described logical or even possible. Ouch. The other excerpt left them wondering what type of story it was – romance, romantic suspense, paranormal or something else. In addition, at least one of the panelists didn’t think the actions of one of the characters rang true for the way he’d just been described.

Seated: Rhonda Penders. From left: CallieLynn Wolfe, Frances Sevilla, fellow TWRP authors, Brenda Sparks and  , and me.

Seated: Rhonda Penders. From left: CallieLynn Wolfe, Frances Sevilla, fellow TWRP authors and me.

Whew! That’s a lot of feedback based on a short read. But how great to have received it now, while I can still address and repair it rather than in a rejection letter later. I have a do-able list of items to go back and rethink, as well as research in one instance. Not that I plan to throw out everything on those first two pages of both excerpts. Both contain good stuff. Besides, these reactions came from hearing the excerpts read out loud. An oral read is good for hearing problems with dialogue, repetition, poor grammar but not necessarily for gleaning all the points in the set-up.

My reaction to this experience? First, back to the drawing board to take care of easy fixes. Second, consider starting at least one of the manuscripts further into the action to make the story question more clear. And finally, send the first six chapters to beta readers for their reactions before making major changes. Feedback is great.

DriventoMatrimony_7901_75076fbc-thesleepoverclauseAndHeCooksToo_7346_750

Driven to Matrimony                                                                                         http://amzn.to/1aowiJ2

The Sleepover Clause                                                                                         Amazon ebook, Amazon POD

Barnes and Noble

iTunes

iBookstore

Kobo

 And He Cooks Too                                                                                          The Wild Rose Press, TWRP POD

Amazon Kindle, Amazon POD

Barnes and Noble Nook

iTunes

iBookstore POD

Kobo

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