Category Archives: Writing/Craft

Writing Tips ~ What to look for in a Critique Partner & Writing Links


When I first started writing, I belonged to a couple of critique groups and while I found them VERY helpful I also found a large group to be a bit overwhelming. Personally I’ve found that having at least two (but no more than four) crit partners to give different perspectives to be the best scenario for me. So after nine years of writing, here are a few things that I’ve found to be the most important aspects I look for in good crit partners…

Honesty: You need a critique partner who’s going to be honest with you. And no I don’t mean, one who’s going to say, “Your story sucked!” 🙂  No, I’m referring to a person who’s not afraid to tell you if something doesn’t work for her…and ‘why’ in a constructive manner. Being honest with your CPs and having that honesty returned is critical to establishing a beneficial, long term critique partnership. Sure we can complain to our CPs that they just tore our book to shreds, BUT I’d much rather ‘fix’ the issue now then have an agent or editor reject the story or a reader call me on it later.

Responsiveness: This is very much a two way street. Now it’s true we need to give our CPs enough notice that something is coming for crit, but sometimes things happen. Having a CP who gets crits done in a timely basis (whatever ‘timely’ means to the two of you) is important in keeping a rhythm going between you and your CP. Some CPs prefer to crit a chapter at a time. I prefer chunks or even better…the whole book. I prefer this because I can also look for continuity and catch issues easier if I’m reading the whole story without time lagging in between (because that’s when you forget the details).

Similar writing skill level: Obviously we’d like to have someone who is more skilled than us, but each critique partner brings her own skill set to the table. For instance, one of my CPs has 3 other women who crit for her. Between the four of us, we each find something different. Every time! *g* All of our different perspectives helps her craft a well-rounded novel in the end.

Reading for several aspects at once: I prefer to do a line for line crit. Other than grammar, I also look for plausibility, logical scenarios, time line consistency, appropriate point-of-view shifts, world rules consistency, passive vs active, telling vs showing, pacing, descriptive details (ie, do I ‘feel’ the scene), and characterization development. All these things tie into making the story an overall ‘good read’. Every CP will have their strengths in critiquing your work and that’s why it’s important to have more than one CP. They will each find an different aspect in how to improve your story.

Likability: While this doesn’t seem like it would be something that’s important in the critting process, THIS is very important during those times when you have to “be honest” with your CP about something in the story not working, especially if you end up having to call on the phone to explain where you’re coming from because email just doesn’t cut it. That said, with every crit, it should be understood that it’s not your manuscript and the author can take or leave your comments as she sees fit.

How did I find my crit partners?

I found my first crit partner via an on-line message board. I got lucky and we hit it off right away and we were at the same skill set level. My second and third crit partners were authors that were at the same publisher with me. I now have three crit partners and I find each of these ladies brings different aspects to the table when they crit my work.

I highly recommend working with critique partners. Good ones are worth their weight in gold. They will help you improve your work because they care about the overall product…almost as much as you. After all, they had a bit of input in the process!


I’ve received several emails recently asking me about how to get published, so I decided to create a Writing Links page. Hopefully you’ll find the information helpful.

Writing Tips ~ Understanding Your Voice/ New reviews/Contest


For a writer first staring out, I think understanding one’s own voice is kind of a strange concept to grasp. You’re trying so hard to wade your way through the mechanics of writing, your focus isn’t on what the heck your voice IS at that point in time. :) The reality of your voice is…it becomes more defined and distinctive the more you write.

I’ve read authors’ books where I really appreciated their writing style, it was so lyrical. But “voice” is more than just style of writing. It’s the whole package. The best way I can describe “voice” in all its intangible glory is as follows; Voice is what gives your dialogue its unique rhythm, your characters their distinctive pop, and your plot its layered depth.

Does having a specific “voice” mean you can only have one type of writing? I hope not! I’ve written serious tear-jerkers, humorous romps, and intense action-adventures. But I’ll bet one thing is true in all of these stories…my voice comes through, regardless. In other words, no matter the genre or focus of your story, your voice will circle back to that “unique rhythm, distinctive pop and layered depth” thing every time. At least, that’s how I see it.


Not just the same ole, same ole! “Have you ever picked up book after book after book (I could keep going on) and none of them were holding your attention because it was just the same ole same ole? Brightest Kind of Darkness, love the title by the way, was a book I picked up after becoming bored with reading and *hoping* it would fix the my lack of good reads…it did just that! Click here to read the entire review at The Reading Housewives of Indiana


Unique storyline and beautifully written “…Brightest Kind of Darkness is a wonderful start for a new series which isn’t easy to forget. Its unique storyline and the beautiful and easily flowing writing makes it possible to be sucked into a new world and I can’t wait to find out more about this.” Click here to read the entire review at Fictional Distraction.


“…Brightest Kind of Darkness was a really entertaining read full of original ideas. It wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly somewhere in my top reads of 2011. The reasons for this are many: the unique plot, the chemistry between Inara and Ethan, the solid characterizations and the writing itself…” Click here to read the entire review at Great Imaginations.


Definitely going on my list of FAVORITE kindle books! “…This story was scary, suspenseful and extremely romantic. I loved the growing relationship between Nara and Ethan and they way their gifts worked together. I did not put this book down until I was finished with it and wanted to start it all over again from the beginning. I highly recommend this author and I will be diligently looking out for the sequel.” Click here to read the entire review by The Book Runner


AMAZING BOOK!! “This book was so good on so many levels. The idea of it was so intriguing and even now I have so many questions! When I first started reading I was excited because even though Nara had some kind of supernatural ability there wasn’t any of that usual instant attraction stuff between her and Ethan. I loved how naturally their relationship progressed. They spent time together and built up a trusting friendship first, eventually leading to love. The love I felt as a reader from both of them was so obvious, and I adored how the author used such a natural evolution from friendship to what they now have. I can’t wait to read more about Nara and Ethan… together they make one heck of a pair and I’m so excited to find out what happens with Ethan!…” Click here to read the entire review by Sara Hulce


Tomorrow is the last day to enter the BOOK LOVERS INC contest to win an eBook copy of BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS. 🙂

Writing Tips ~ Where to Start Your Story

I usually post Writing Tips on Thursday, but with Nanowrimo officially starting I thought today would be a great day to post an entry for my Writing Tips series.

Don’t you wish there was some magic formula that said, Start you story HERE like that sign to the left? Haha, me too, but hopefully this post can help point you in the right direction.

I admit it, I was a backstory queen when I first started writing. But I think that had more to do with the fact I was 1) initially a total seat-of-the-pants writer and 2) I didn’t plan my characters. They evolved as I wrote the story. Therefore my first two or three chapters were really me creating long, drawn out–very involved–character sheets. Heh.

Then a writer friend passed along a concept that has stayed with me…

Start your story where your character’s conflict and your plot’s conflict collide.

I’ve never forgotten it. Did it change how I started my books? Sure it did. But what I also discovered was that my progress slowed a bit in the beginning, because (apparently) I needed those first two chapters to get to know my characters inside and out. That was my muse’s process.

Now, instead of having to cut the initial three chapters, I’ll have to go back and flesh out the beginning. I also now create a detailed outline as a way to get to know my characters. That way I’ll know what I need to go back and work on for more for clarification.

Keeping that rule of thumb “how to start my story” in mind has been immensely helpful. It forces me to stay focused and reminds me that all that stuff I’m itching to show about my character right up front can come later, sprinkled in bit by bit.

The nice thing about following the concept of starting where the character’s conflict and the plot’s conflict collide is that you have so many options for a gripping opening scene…from an action scene to a dialogue scene…to even strong narrative. I just ask my character(s): What kind of scenario can I put you in that represents the crux of YOUR issue and the story’s main plot? and then I’m off and running, er typing. 🙂 

Hopefully you will be too. Best of luck, you Nanowrimo-ers!


Also, I wanted to highlight a couple of recent reviews BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS received. Thank you to Angel’s 909 Reviews, Ron C. Nieto and Romancing the Book for the wonderful reviews!

5 Stars! “…P.T. Michelle will leave you dying for more! Over all, this is a great story of love, mystery, loss, gain, friendship, and adventure. I cannot wait for P.T.’s next novel!
Brightest Kind of Darkness will have you on the edge of your seat, fighting every need you may have, just to read one more page, and always dying for more. With great characters, a strong plotline, and a never-ending supply of action—this novel is the perfect read, and will have you questioning everything from, “What will happen next?” to, “Just how far you would go to keep the ones you love most, safe?”  Click here to read the entire review at 909 Reviews
4 Stars! “I do have one roaring complaint about Brightest Kind of Darkness: I want more of it! There are so many things I thoroughly enjoyed from this book. For starters, the action was non-stop. From the opening scene, which put me on edge and shot up my adrenaline even when I wasn’t yet invested in the characters, all the way through to the very end, I was glued to the pages and unable to turn away! Every spare moment I had, I invested into reading more, into trying to figure out the mystery of the dreams and the visions and the crows and…Wait. I’m not making much sense, am I? I always try not to spoil reads, though, so I can’t really explain what the above referred to, but I can promise that you’ll be hooked from one issue to the next…”  Click here to read the entire review at Stories of My Life
4 Stars! “This was an exceptional Young Adult novel. I grew attached to the characters pretty early in book and was with them everything step of the way…”  Click here to read the entire review at Romancing the Book.