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Adele Buck, Author Posts

Let’s talk about critique

There are a lot of articles going around right now about critique and a lot of them are very good. I’m going to try to address the power and the pain of critique from a slightly different angle. Because emotional response to critique is where 99% of the rubber ceases to meet the road in my experience.

Who am I to talk about this? I was an actress in a past life (like, seriously, I haven’t been on stage in 26 years, but I was an actor for 11 years*), and I am here to tell you that being critiqued on a performance is really nothing like having your writing critiqued.

It’s worse.

Imagine standing on stage (or more realistically, in a windowless, dingy rehearsal space) and feeling things. Making the lines someone else wrote personal to you, being passionate about something. Throwing yourself into a performance and feeling everything your character is supposed to feel.

And then being told, “Huh. I didn’t see it,” by just about everybody in the room.

This was you. Your voice, your body, your face. Attempting to convey emotion and meaning that nobody saw.

My point isn’t to play “which artist has it worse.” My point is to say I have some experience with dealing with intensely personal critique and to offer some of the strategies and techniques I learned to take the pain of critique and turn it into something better.

  1. Breathe. Really. Sometimes critique can make you feel like you were punched in the gut. It robs you of breath. Breathing helps you think, helps you relax and take in information. So check in with your body. Are you breathing? If not, do.
  2. Nod. Now maybe you’re thinking, Is she daft? Nod? Yes. Nod. What you’re hearing may be hard, but it’s probably true. Unless you have a critique partner (CP) who is intent on submarining you (and if you have one of these, get out. Now.) they’re relating their honest experience. The physical experience of accepting the criticism will hopefully soften your resistance. Your CP is telling you how s/he reacted to your piece. Is their experience universal? No. Is their experience valuable? Yes.
  3. Try to think of at least one thing you could change that might change your CP’s experience of the manuscript. I’m not saying to make those changes. I’m saying to think them through. Your CP has given you a lens to think about your manuscript differently. Use it. Take notes. You might make those changes. You might not. You might make entirely different changes. The point is, your CP is giving you a pivot point to work with. Work with it.

These are brief, Saturday evening thoughts. I’d be delighted if I got more suggestions in comments.

*I’ve spoken at conferences a bunch in the intervening years (fun fact: Adele Buck is my pen name, so looking me up that way won’t help much, but I’m also not hiding, so if you’re super diligent you might find me…though I can’t imagine why anyone would WANT to).

#PimpMyBio – VERSION 2

Hello #PitchWars mentors!

I’m Adele Buck, writing adult contemporary romance. The book I’m submitting is Persuading Anna, a contemporary retelling of Austen’s Persuasion (and yes, right out of the gate, if you have a better title, I am ALL EARS.)

The book has been critique-grouped and edited, but definitely still needs work! I’m eager to get a fresh set of eyes on it. Want to tear it to pieces and put it back together?

Bring. It.

Who would want to read this book? Well, do you like contemporary Austen retellings?

How about a heroine in a male-dominated job and industry? (She’s the Chief Financial Officer of a computer gaming company).

(I love me some competence porn.)

A best friend who’s not afraid to say things like, “Do you always braise your birth control, sweetie?”

And last but not least,

A flawed but redeemable second-chance romantic hero who looks like this:

A bit more about the story:

Successful gaming executive Anna has overcome discrimination and outright abuse to get to the top of her career. But her legendary cool composure is shaken by the reappearance of her seductive high-school sweetheart, Rick. The possibility of future love could bind them together but their differences also have the potential to ruin Anna’s career and separate them forever.

(Oh, and did I mention there’s a Caribbean vacation? No? Well, there’s a Pinterest board if you’re interested in the…extensive research I did for that. It was a CHORE, let me tell you.)

Why Me?

  • I’m a former actress, so I take criticism well.
  • I make it my life’s mission to make people laugh. So hopefully you would find me not only hard-working (which I am) but fun! (Hey, with this book I coined the term, “Chekhov’s Bikini Top.”)
  • I am on my third career (first: actress, second: financial markets and corporate communications executive, third: academic law librarian) this means I’m flexible and open to change, as well as the hard work that significant change brings (each career change required a new degree…)
  • I’ve learned a LOT since I wrote this book (it was my first, I’m now writing my fourth. The third got a nod from an editor in the last #PitMad and is currently on submission at Carina Press). But I need the help of someone with some distance from the manuscript to help me apply those lessons.

Some of my recommended recent reads:

Some of my all-time favorite reads (an entirely un-exhaustive list):

7/23/16 ETA Some more random facts:

  • I have 2 cats. One of them is on Twitter.
  • My husband is a fantastic cook.
  • I am dead serious about working out. Favorite workout is Bar Method, which a MMA friend of mine referred to as, simply: “Pain.”
  • Somewhere in the last three or so years I became a morning person. No, I don’t know how that happened either. No, I won’t make you wake up at six on a Saturday.
  • I live just outside Washington, D.C. which is currently hotter than Satan’s balls. I’m originally from New Hampshire where the mosquitos are the size of helicopters. Still can’t figure out which is worse…
  • Some favorite non-book media (definitely not an exhaustive list):
    • Movies: Monsoon Wedding, Holiday, Bend it Like Beckham, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Persuasion (duh. The one with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds), Sense and Sensibility (also duh. I once made my husband take my photograph in front of a costume from that movie because I was out of my mind over standing that close to something Emma Thompson once wore).
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    • TV Shows: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Leverage, Orphan Black, Lip Sync Battle, Supergirl, Agent Carter, and I’m still not over the fact that they cancelled Terriers after only one season (on a cliffhanger, too).
    • Where does the ’96 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice go? Because that.
  • Yes, I’m both very feminist and very silly.
  • I’m a librarian (subtype: academic, sub-subtype: law). So when I find out something you like, I will almost inevitably surprise you by sending you stuff about that thing pretty much forever (or until you tell me to stop). It’s a hazard of the profession.

Looking forward to submitting!

Check out other prospective mentee bios here.

#1LineWed – June 15, 2016

#1LineWed is a hashtag prompt from @RWAKissofDeath for writers to select a line from a work or work-in-progress on a particular theme and post it to Twitter.

Theme: Lines from Page 6, 16, or 160 (I did all three)

When Colin first meets Alicia, he makes the mistake of questioning her honesty because of her profession.

From Acting Out, in progress.

Ellie and Mari’s mother is a master of guilt.

From Software and Sensibility, completed work, as yet unpublished.

Anna’s sister-in-law Sofia assures Anna that her New Year’s Eve outing will be safe.

From Persuading Anna, completed work, as yet unpublished.

All of my #1LineWed responses

#1LineWed – June 8, 2016

#1LineWed is a hashtag prompt from @RWAKissofDeath for writers to select a line from a work or work-in-progress on a particular theme and post it to Twitter.

Theme: Number.

Laurie defends himself against his boyfriend’s accusations of excessive shopping.

From Acting Up, completed work, as yet unpublished.

All of my #1LineWed responses

Pitchwars – PimpMyBio

EDIT 7/22/16: Aw heck – this old thing? I wrote a much more fun one which you can see over here.

Greetings to all who came here from Lana Pattinson’s generous blog hop…I’m going to be holding my breath, crossing my fingers, and entering one of my books into Pitch Wars this year.

A New Hampshire native, Adele has lived in the Washington, D.C. area for almost 20 years. Her very first fiction writing experience was a serialized story about a girl who turns into a horse that enthralled her second-grade class. She continued to indulge her creative side with a theatre degree from Syracuse University and then her less creative side with degrees at the University of Maine School of Law and the University of Maryland’s iSchool. Returning to writing was like a return to acting for Adele, especially in writing comedic dialogue and sorting out unusual character motivations.

In her non-writing life, Adele is the Instructional Technology Librarian at a Very Big Law School. Prior to beginning her library career, Adele spent two years as a legal index editor and 12 years working in executive relationship management with the NASDAQ Stock Market and in corporate communications for NASDAQ-listed companies.

She’s a lot more fun than that sounds. Promise.

#1LineWed – June 1, 2016

#1LineWed is a hashtag prompt from @RWAKissofDeath for writers to select a line from a work or work-in-progress on a particular theme and post it to Twitter.

Theme: Late.


Cath doesn’t know how to behave the morning after her best friend and business partner kisses her…

From Acting Up, completed work, as yet unpublished.

All of my #1LineWed responses

#1LineWed – May 25, 2016

#1LineWed is a hashtag prompt from @RWAKissofDeath for writers to select a line from a work or work-in-progress on a particular theme and post it to Twitter.

Theme: Anger.

Former teenage sweethearts Anna and Rick finally talk openly about their past.

From Persuading Anna, completed work, as yet unpublished.

All of my #1LineWed responses

#1LineWed – May 18, 2016

#1LineWed is a hashtag prompt from @RWAKissofDeath for writers to select a line from a work or work-in-progress on a particular theme and post it to Twitter.

Theme: a closing chapter hook.

When the discovery of Juan’s secret devastates Mari, her sister Ellie tells him where he can go.

From Software and Sensibility, draft completed, partially edited.

All of my #1LineWed responses

#1LineWed – May 11, 2016

#1LineWed is a hashtag prompt from @RWAKissofDeath for writers to select a line from a work or work-in-progress on a particular theme and post it to Twitter.

Theme: opening lines (from any chapter)

In the previous chapter, passionate kisses on Ellie’s front stoop following a promising first date were interrupted by Ellie’s mother paying an unexpected visit. Though Ed, her date, handled being given his walking papers with aplomb, Ellie is mortified and frustrated.

From Software and Sensibility, draft completed, partially edited.

All of my #1LineWed responses

#1LineWed – May 4, 2016

#1LineWed is a hashtag prompt from @RWAKissofDeath for writers to select a line from a work or work-in-progress on a particular theme and post it to Twitter.

Theme: “pretty.”

James, an actor, has been teasing Cath, the stage manager of his current play. Cath is a middle-distance runner and he’s told her she needs to eat her lunch so she will be fueled up to run. She takes an enormous bite of her sandwich and replies:

From Acting Up, in progress.

All of my #1LineWed responses