Today, I’m pleased to Helen Lacey, author of the romance novel DATE WITH DESTINY.

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Date With Destiny

Financier Grace Preston did fourteen-hour days in New York City. She didn’t do small towns in Australia. Not since she’d fled almost twenty years ago. But when a personal trauma sent her home-with a secret she couldn’t reveal-the last person she needed was her first love.

Local cop Cameron Jakowski had loved Grace for most of his life. But he wanted marriage and family and she didn’t. He was small town, while she was big city-and lived half a world away. But for now she was right here-a walking, talking temptation. One he managed to avoid…until he made one mistake. He kissed her. And reawakened the passion that could change their lives…forever.

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Mills & Boon UK

Harlequin US


Amazon UK


Powell’s Books




 Helen’s here today to talk about the importance of a having a good critique partner.

Take it away, Helen!


The Importance of a Good Critique Partner

Once upon a time, in a land far away, I wasn’t very good at taking critique. Now, some years and tears later, things are very different. I love sending work out to my crit partner/s, agent, editor etc.

But lets step back a minute – the old me used to shudder at the prospect of discovering what someone else ‘thought’ of my work. Why? Because I couldn’t bear to be criticized. Hmmm. So there lay my problem with critique. I took it to heart. I felt as though I was being criticized. Now, I had a day job and took advice/critique there, I had equestrian training for years and took advice/critique there too. I even took advice/critique from my mother about my ….er… housekeeping.  But the writing…that was personal. Because they were my words, my creativity, my deepest thoughts coming onto the paper. They were me.

When I started sharing things with my writing group many years ago, all I wanted was to be told it was awesome, the best thing ever, ready to be sent out to publishers ASAP. When that didn’t happen I’d sneak back into my turtle shell and suffer in silence.

For those who don’t know, it took 23 yrs from the time of my first submission to Harlequin and close to the same amount of rejections before I sold my first book in 2010. But by the time that happened I had a much tougher outer shell. What happened? A couple of things…I started entering contests and got two critique partners. The contest thing was a great way to build resilience to rejection. It wasn’t a walk in the park though….in the beginning I’d have chewed fingernails waiting for the finalists. No final, then more inner suffering. If I finalled, Yay! When I didn’t….oh well….big sigh and enter something else. I think the anonymity of entering contests helped my critiquing/rejection fears. I didn’t know the other person on the end of the critique/scores, so the reaction was less personal. But my critique partners really helped break the cycle of taking feedback, since I worked with other authors who were at the same place I was. We were peers and then became friends. Trust built and from there it was about honest, helpful feedback that was about getting my stories in the best shape possible. We don’t always agree, and that’s okay. But I never take the critiques personally now. It’s about the work.

So, if you fear feedback or critique, one way to help is to find someone to work with who you trust, keeping in mind that this kind of relationship takes time. Don’t feel overwhelmed if the first critique is not what you expected. And always make it clear what you’d like from the critique and ALWAYS keep that in mind when critiquing someone else’s work. If they’ve asked for you help looking at something like pacing, or character motivation, don’t do a line edit. And if it’s not working, be honest and say so….you may find it’s not working for them too and you just need to re-establish what you both want and need. Having a crit partner can be a richly rewarding relationship, even if it’s only ever on-line.

Do you have a critique partner? Is it something that works for you? I have a copy of my August Harlequin Special Edition release, Date With Destiny to give away to one commenter.



About Helen
Helen Lacey grew up reading Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables and Little House on The Prairie. These childhood classics inspired her to write her first book when she was seven years old, a story about a girl and her horse. Although, it wasn’t until the age of eleven when she read her first Mills & Boon, that she knew writing romances was what she wanted to do with her life. Her parents’ love of travel meant she saw much of the world in those early years and she feels fortunate to have had a diverse and interesting education over several continents.

She continued to write into her teens and twenties with the dream of one day being a published author. A few years and careers later, including motel operator, florist, strapper, dog washer, and retail manager, she got the call from Harlequin Special Edition. She loves writing about tortured heroes, both cowboys and CEO’s, and heroines who finally get the love of the man of their dreams. She now works part time in her sister’s bridal shop, where she gets to meet fascinating people, some of whom might one day end up being in one of her books.

From Welsh parents and a large family, she lives on the east coast of Australia in a small seaside town at the southern most point of The Great Barrier Reef, with her wonderfully supportive husband, many horses and three spoiled dogs.

 Connect with Helen:

Website    Blog      Facebook    Twitter     Goodreads 



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20 Responses to “The Importance of a Good Critique Partner by Helen Lacey”

  1. LGSmith says:

    I found both of my critique partners through my blog, and I think that was a great way to do it, because I knew them for quite awhile before we exchanged work. We already had some rapport and it extended to our critiques. We’re able to be very honest with each other without (hopefully) hurting feelings or crushing creativity.

  2. Awesome. Now that’s what I call determination.

    I have had several critique partners, and participated in a critique group too for a little bit. I echo what you say about contests. For me, bloghops were essential in strengthening my writing as well as being able to take critiques. Currently I have two partners, and both are stellar. I don’t know what I’d do without them.

  3. Southpaw says:

    I just started the critiquing process. I found two who seem to be working out so far.

  4. Yes, I have a great critique partner. And I’ve gotten better about listening and changing things that need changing as the years have past. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story of how long it took till you became a published author. Good luck with your book!

  5. I have three critique partners and two of them make the most hilarious comments. No way I can grow defensive when I’m laughing!

  6. I love my crit partners; they’re honest and great at pointing out what I’ve missed. Just getting positive comments doesn’t help–of course, positive comments are always appreciated. :-)

    Loved reading the story of your publishing journey.

  7. Congratulations Helen! After 23 years your shell must be tough as nails.

  8. LD Masterson says:

    I’m in a critique group but I really wish I could find a crit partner that felt like a better fit. I envy those of you who already have that.

  9. Helen Lacey says:

    Hi LD – many writing organizations have a critique partner register, so that might be worth looking into. Perhaps there’s one person in your crit group that might like to work one on one with you? Thanks for stopping by :)

  10. AshleeW says:

    I would like to have a writing critique partner, but was wondering if I could get your opinion on something: How can I know if the critique given to me by this person, who will most likely be a beginner writer like myself, is something valid enough for me to use as a basis for making changes in my writing? When considering getting a critique partner in the past, this question has always come up.

    • Helen Lacey says:

      Hi Ashlee – that’s a really great question. It is challenging trusting another writer who may be at the same point in their career as you – but in saying that, it doesn’t diminish the special skills they might have when critiquing. I would suggest making it very clear what you want – as an example, perhaps you are having a problem with viewpoint – before you begin your critiquing relationship, ask them if they feel confident enough to recognize vp issues in your work. I have crit partners who are unpublished and I value their opinion as much as someone who is published. And you really just have to jump in and start somewhere – try sharing one piece of work with very specific questions on what you want…if the result is what you want, share something else. You’ll quickly discover if this person is right for you and vice versa. Hope that helps. :)

  11. Nas says:

    Great advice, Helen! Loved your answer to Ashlee’s question.

    Thanks Nutschell!

  12. Akoss says:

    I agree with having CPs, especially if they are supportive of your work.

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