Thursday, April 19, 2012

Crits for Water Interview with Author Anna Randol

(Or, Consistent Characters: Vital)

A charity water fact: A trip to find water takes up to 6 hours for women and children to collect. Disease-ridden water.

Because some people don’t have any choice. But historical romance author Anna Randol is working on giving these people more choices, because she’s donated a 25-page plus query critique in the 2012 Crits for Water campaign. 

Please help me welcome Anna.


Anna lives with her family in Southern California. She writes sultry, adventurous Regency romances
 for Avon. Her debut novel, A Secret In Her Kiss, is set in Constantinople and earned a starred review
from Publisher’s Weekly, who called it a “...masterful debut…[that] spins a tale replete with mystery,
espionage, and memorable romance.” When she’s not plotting fun, sexy storylines, Anna’s usually
 eating dark chocolate, having wild dance parties with her kids in the living room, or remodeling her
house one ill-planned project at a time. She loves hearing from readers at her website or on Twitter!


NAE: After a writer gets back an in-depth critique, what would you recommend in terms of a review/revise process?

Anna: This is the process that I find works for me. First, get a large amount of chocolate and soft, non-breakable objects. Then with eyes closed, click the button to open the critique. After you’ve built up your courage, eat some chocolate, then open your eyes. (After all, I’ve never heard of anyone having a mental breakdown while eating chocolate). Read the critique through once. Throw convenient, nearby, soft objects at your computer. Eat more chocolate. Step away from the computer. Take a moment to actually ponder what the critique said. Read the suggestions again. Realize the critique giver actually had a few—okay, lots—of good suggestions. Incorporate the edits that resonate with you.

NAE: What is the one piece of advice you can give to someone trying to develop his or her critique skills?

Anna: Read a lot! And read a lot out of your comfort zone. For instance, I have a weak spot for Beauty and the Beast retellings, but if all I read are those stories, how will I be able to give useful feedback to a my crit partner’s gritty, post-apocalyptic zombie mystery? I’m not saying you have to be an expert in all genres to be a good critiquer, but I think it helps to understand there can be a difference between what I personally like and what is good or workable. It’s important to remember you are trying to make the work you’re critiquing the best it can be, not rewrite it to be the book you would write.

NAE: When you critique someone’s work, what is your general process?

Anna: I read through once and try to get a feel for the characters and pacing. I’ll only make notes if my hand becomes possessed and I have no choice (or it’s some little thing I’m afraid I’ll overlook later). Then I sit back and think about the book—sometimes even over several days—and consider what stuck with me (the good: e.g. great heroine, fast plot, funny dialogue) and what is nagging at me (The things I’ll suggest changes in: e.g. plot holes, inconsistent motivation etc.). After that, I will go back and do line edits and mark the good and the bad and, hopefully, be able to explain why for both.

NAE: Is there one specific thing that you gravitate toward while critiquing?

Anna: Not grammar. Seriously, I can read right over the worst mistakes.
But plot and character consistency are vitally important to me, as is making sure every character has strong motivation for their actions. If I don’t know or believe why your heroine is going down into the dark basement, there will be many scribbled notes from me.

Crits for Water Quickfires: And, go.
1. Oxford comma? Always. Can’t have strange items unintentionally pairing up.
2. Should "I like him too" have a comma before "too"? Yep. (Although I always forget to add it.)
3. Italicize or underline? Italicize.
4. How do you separate scenes: #, ***, line break? Umm…can I combine answers? I do ###.
5. What's your favorite verb? Quash.


Thanks, Anna. Love that: quash.

Anna’s debut novel, A Secret in Her Kiss, is available here.

A rare beauty, raised in the exotic heart of the mysterious East, Mari Sinclair knows it’s time to end her 
career as a British spy when she narrowly avoids a brush with death. Unfortunately, there are those
who think otherwise—and they are not above using blackmail to keep Mari in the game.

Saddled with a handsome, duty-obsessed "minder" to ensure that she completes—and survives—one
last mission, Mari is incensed . . . for her guardian, Major Bennett Prestwood, is simply too dedicated, too
unbending, and too disarmingly attractive. But in the face of dark secrets and deadly treacheries, as the true peril
 to Mari is slowly revealed, loyal soldier Bennett realizes that to save and win this extraordinary woman, he will
 have to do the unthinkable and break the rules—rules that passion and desire have suddenly, irrevocably changed.


If you’d like to find out if your characters have that vital consistency, check out Anna’s Crits for Water 25-page plus query auction here

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