Wednesday, February 18, 2015

My Guest: Ronel Van Tonder

From Sunny South Africa, my Guest this week is a writer who brings some interesting solutions to an issue true to the heart of any author. Ladies and Gentlemen...

Ronel Van Tonder

How to get Constructive, Unbiased Critiques

What's one thing all authors have in common? We all want feedback. You wouldn't be an author if you didn't want someone else to read your work and experience some form of an emotional reaction.
That's why, whether you're a new writer or an established author, having your work critiqued is a crucial element in the writing process.

So what's critiquing?

Critiquing is allowing someone else (be they a casual reader, another author, or an editor), to read your work and provide feedback on it. Critiquing, if done right, can provide a plethora of useful information about your writing to help to improve your craft.

Critique & Improve

As an author, critiquing can answer many pertinent questions for you, as critiquing can be both constructive and unbiased.

Critiquing answers important questions about your writing, such as:
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Does your plot make sense?

Is your writing coherent, and how can it be improved?

Are your characters captivating?

How realistic is your dialogue?

Does your novel begin/end in the right spots?

Are you formatting your novel correctly?

Are your funny bits actually funny?

And are your sad bits indeed sad?

Although there are several hundred critiquing groups in existence, here are two that I highly recommend:

Scribophile (

Scribophile is an online community that allows you to critique other writers’ works, as well as submitting your own for critiquing. It also contains forums with genre and topic specific groups. The feedback you receive is plentiful, concise, honest, and unbiased.

You get "Karma" points for every critique you do, which allows you to then post your work for critiquing. It's a "pay it forward" system that really works.

Here are some of the highlights:

Free and Paid membership options

The free version limits the amount of "works" you can have at any one time, as well as the amount of private messages you can store. But it still provides valuable feedback, and can really help you understand both the weaknesses and strengths in your writing.

Forums & Groups

Scribophile’s forums make finding the right critique group very easy. There are all sorts of critique groups, ranging from short stories to genre specific and even writing prompts if you’re in need of creative inspiration. Joining a group helps you to target your critiquing. This in turn provides niche-specific feedback which is invaluable, especially to genre authors. 

Very detailed, online critiques

The Scribophile website comes with three different critique types: inline, template and freeform. The inline version is fantastic, because you can highlight words or sentences and make suggestions, corrections or notes. It makes figuring out the critique a lot easier.

Here’s an example of a piece of my work that was critiqued by a fellow forum member

Here’s an example of a detailed rating provided with a critique

Message system

With Scribophile, you can send personal messages to other members, or write on their Scratchpads for the world to see. You can also send gifts to members, which use some Karma points.


Authors can add their social media links and a host of other information to their profile pages.

Bookmark & Set Reminders

If you see a chapter/work you'd like to critique, you can easily bookmark it and read it later - great for when you're in a hurry and want to come back later to read a piece.

Reputation Points

You also receive reputation points for interacting with fellow community members by responding their queries, liking their work and sharing critiques.


Scribophile also runs competitions from time to time.


If you want an online community that’s passionate about writing, improving their work and providing honest and unbiased feedback, then Scribophile is for you.

Wattpad is another online community that I discovered which allows for critiques. Members here are more concerned about the essence of your work than its structure and form.

You’ll find Wattpad members commenting on sentences they liked, what intrigued them about a character, or specific points about your story they enjoyed. With a sophisticated story structure that allows for chapters, covers, media and votes, this is a great way to get feedback from a diverse community.

Although usually not as concise as Scribophile, Wattpad is still a great way to collect unbiased critiques that will help you polish your writing and pitch future novels to potential readers.
Here are the highlights:

Story Structures

Wattpad allows for chapters or parts for every story along with basic formatting. It also provides writers with the tools to add a cover and other media to the work. 

Votes & Statistics

Statistics can always shed a light on which demographics enjoy reading your work, along with a host of other items.

Readers can also vote if they enjoyed your writing, and leave comments. Published works can be edited and published, giving you complete control over your writing. 


Wattpad had a thriving community that share a deep passion of the written word. There are groups which can assist genre-specific authors with getting targeted feedback from fellow group members.

Mobile App

Wattpad also provides a mobile app, which makes it easy to check up on notifications, read other authors’ work, and reply to comments.


There are a few regular competitions running on Wattpad such as short story competitions and the like. Most aren’t for cash prizes, but every bit of exposure helps!


Wattpad is a great place to get feedback on your story as it develops. It’s also a great place to upload complete works and short stories to provide additional traction for your priced titles.

In Conclusion

There are many other critiquing groups and platforms out there, but these two work great and are easy to use. With their large communities and host of functions and tools, these two websites have become firm favourites when it comes to critiquing.

What critiquing sites can you recommend? 


Ronel is a brand-spanking new indie author. She loves creating fantastical worlds set in the future, the mythical, and the horrific. Translate: She writes science-fiction, fantasy and horror novels.

Her life story is not particularly fascinating, but her love of technology, PC games and writing is. Beside writing, she spends her time slaying rendered baddies in the form of robots, gangsters and aliens - with any weapon that happens to be at hand.

When she's not writing, she's gaming, and when she's not gaming she's either sleeping or eating, as these are prerequisites for a continued life on planet Earth.

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Thank you, Ronel, for providing us with plenty of food for thought. If you haven't read any of her sci-fi novels yet, check them out. I had the privelege of reading 'Compile: Quest' a few months ago and it's on a par with works from some of the classic sci-fi authors such as Asimov and Herbert whilst reflecting 21st Century writing styles. Don't miss them!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Guest: Seumas Gallacher

What can I say? My Guest this week is the inimitable Scot who entertains daily on his renowned blog and electrifies his fans with gripping thriller novels. And... he's got some interesting news...
Ladies and Gentlemen, Lads and Lassies, I give you...

Seumas Gallacher

…one simple step for a Blogger… 
one giant step for a self-publishing Author…

…January 27th, 2015 is unlikely to go down in the history books for future generations to marvel at its significance… but for this ol’ Jurassic quill-scraper the date is laden with various emotions… it marks the first day when my wee Jack Calder crime thriller masterpieces saw the light of a Publisher’s beacon… the good folks
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Crooked Cat Publishing, Stephanie and Laurence Patterson,  have contracted to re-launch my entire series to date, with the likelihood of further titles to follow… the emotions are mixed, Mabel, ‘coz it means that all of the Master-Gallacher-solo-driven initiatives in the self-publishing universe now have a formal partnership… the six years of exhorting, complaining, and, yes, whining, like a Missed-An-Oscar-Award-Actress, that nob’dy in the publishing industry LUVS me or my WURK are now over… the incredible range of fantastic literary pals include many who have already slung their hammock over to the Crooked Cattery… and they all speak well of their experience… I’ve been asked several times ‘why go with a publisher after all this time, and after yer successes to date with 80,000+ downloads on the Great God Amazon?’… well, I could give yeez plenty of so-called ‘logical explanations, Sherlock’, but it boils down to this… it feels right, it feels ‘time’, it feels good… and the wunnerful thing is that I realize that any author, self-published or ‘housed’, is still expected to bear a significant amount of the SOSYAL NETWURKIN activity that is so inured in the ‘business of writing’ for a scribbler these days, in my not-so-‘umble opinion… and as many of yeez Lads and Lassies of Blog Land know, I rejoice in being a part of the Web WURLD…and here’s the clincher… the Patterson duo as publishers ‘get’ the modern reality of hybrid offerings to the reader market… eBooks and print, and oh, by the way, they have the ability to get my stuff into many other distribution channels that my single brain and one pair of hands simply could never find the time to do, and write… watch this space… yeez will be kept informed… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!...


Seumas Gallacher was born in the cradle of the Govan shipyards in Glasgow in the so-called “bad old days” which were in reality the greatest of days, where everybody was a real character of note. An early career as a trainee Scottish banker led to a spell in London, where his pretence to be a missionary converting the English locals fell on deaf ears. Escape to the Far East in 1980 opened up access to cultures and societies on a global scale, eventually bringing the realization that the world is quite simply one large extended village. The lifelong desire to write resulted in a series of thriller novels. Seumas says that finishing that first novel was one of the best feelings he has ever experienced in a life full of rich emotions. His other novels, "The Violin Man’s Legacy” and "Vengeance Wears Black" will be following shortly, also from Crooked Cat Publishing so watch this space for an update and links in short order. 

Here are the other two thrillers NOW AVAILABLE from his new publishers:

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Thank you, That Man, for sharing this great news with your fans. Best wishes for this new stage in your writing journey. I've read all three of Seumas' books and am eagerly awaiting the fourth, 'KILLER CITY', out later this year.