Saturday, June 25, 2011

Guest author Vivi Dumas on handling critiques

I want to thank Corey for inviting me here. I would also like to offer a free ecopy of my novel, Soul Catcher, to a lucky commenter today.

I’m Vivi Dumas. I know…I know. You’re asking, “Who the hell is she?” I’ve been writing for the last couple of years. Last year, I had the pleasure of becoming a published author. My debut novel, Soul Catcher, and my short novella, Salvation, was published by Decadent Publishing. I have another short novella as a part of an anthology published by Ravenous Romance. I primarily write paranormal romance. I’m currently working on the second book in my Dueling with the Devil series and a young adult novel.

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to many authors and had many great writers give me valuable advice as I move forward in my writing career. This industry is difficult for someone like me. I’m more of a science, not art, kind of girl. I’m very analytical in my day job. Two and Two usually always add up to four in the real world, right? Well…the world of writing isn’t like that. I think the most important piece of advice I take with me is stay true to yourself.

There’s no exact formula for success. I’ve sent the same manuscript to many different people and received a lot of different feedback. Some hated my characters while others loved them. Some needed more backstory. Others commented the backstory bored them to death. Too much action or not enough action. The more people I asked the more confused I got.

What the rational side of me decided to do with the feedback was weight it. If I received the same feedback from the majority of the readers, I added it to the “Must Consider” list. If the feedback went against something I felt was pivotal to my story or changed the integrity of my characters, I didn’t use it. I weeded out those in my circle who love everything. Those people will usually not give you an honest opinion. It’s hard for some to provide negative feedback, especially when they know you’ve worked hard on your MS. It’s important to choose your beta readers and critique partners carefully. You want someone to give you honest and constructive feedback without tearing you down.

As someone who’s early in her publishing career, my advice is to surround yourself with people stronger than you and stay true to yourself, but remember you don’t know everything. Writing is a craft. There are rules. You shouldn’t try to break the rules until know all of them and are big enough to let your work to stand on its own. Lastly, keep writing. The only way to get better is to keep putting pen to paper or fingers to keys.

Thanks for having me!
Vivi Dumas

Where to find me:

Soul Catcher Excerpt
The growls and snarls inched closer. Angel’s feet pounded the dirt, kicking up red dust all around her. The barren trees provided little sanctuary. Her heart and mind raced as she tried to think of her next move. The skies darkened above and thunder rumbled through the thick air. The air smelled of dampness.

How long had she been running? It seemed hours. Other than Noel, the other cadets were long gone ahead of her. Being human sucked when it came to supernatural warfare, but she refused to give up. Every day the class waited, watched, wondering when she was going to quit. Two of the others had already dropped out, and they were demons.

Noel passed Angel on the left, ducking through the low branches of the charred trees, cackling as he passed. Angel picked up her speed, her calves cramping and an ache developing in her side. She wanted to stop. Stopping meant quitting. Quitting was not an option. The hellish howls closed in on her.

Angel glanced over her shoulder and caught sight of one of the ugly beasts. It’s long, rounded snout protruded from an enlarged head. Red eyes peered through the charred trees, scanning the landscape. A ridge of ivory spikes ran down the monster’s back extending from each vertebra. The dog-like fiend pounded through the forest on powerful, muscular legs, which carried its compact body. Out running them wasn’t going to work. She had to come up with another plan. Scanning the terrain in front of her, the only place to go was up. The trees disappeared into the grey clouds. If she could climb high enough, maybe she could wait them out. Or maybe they would go find another victim.

She lunged for the closest branch, leveraged her foot on the tree trunk, and boosted herself off the ground. It took all her strength to hoist her weight into the tree. As she reached for the second branch, three hounds pounced on the trunk, clawing at her dangling foot. The dark-haired one’s razor sharp teeth nipped Angel’s ankle. Stretching for the next limb, she stared down just in time to see the dagger like claws of the reddish colored beast rip into her calf.

Scurrying up the tree, she climbed higher until she was out of reach of the animals. Angel perched on one of the higher limbs, praying it could hold her weight. She clung to the trunk and observed the creatures clawing the burnt bark off the tree. Slowly, deliberately, a hound dug its sharp claws into the tree, using them like spikes, and began to maneuver its way to her.

Tremors quivered through Angel’s body, almost causing her to lose her grip and fall. Thunder clapped and lightning flashed. Ominous clouds gathered overhead, growing darker as the hound drew nearer. The animal swiped at Angel’s bleeding leg, barely missing as she jerked it onto the branch she sat on. Electricity hummed in the air. Angel felt the energy gathering about her, a strange, eerie sensation floating on top of her skin.

The hound’s red eyes glowed as it stretched towards Angel, drooling from its mouth and snarling. Angel stood on the limb, grabbing for the one above her. As she pulled on the branch, it snapped in her hand. She wrapped her arms around the trunk to keep from falling. The beast snagged her ankle, jerking its head, trying to yank her from her perch. Lightning flashed through the sky, hitting its target—Angel.

Angel closed her eyes as the bolt of electricity hit. The pain she expected never came. Her body absorbed the energy and channeled it to the beast attached to her ankle. The smell of burning fur wafted to Angel’s nostrils. The hound fell to the ground with a thud. The two other monsters sniffed its cohort and growled up at her. Angel redirected the remaining energy to the creatures below with deadly accuracy.

You can purchase Soul Catcher at:
Barnes & Noble
Decadent Publishing
All Romance Ebooks


  1. I agree, Vivi! Surround yourself with people who are stronger than you! You are a wonderful woman and great inspiration to us all! I'm thrilled to call you my friend!

  2. Great post Vivi, your a true inspiration. Great excerpt too, sounds like it's going to be a great read :)

  3. Great post & advice. All the best and much success to you with your writing career!

  4. Thanks everyone for stopping by. Heather you have a copy of Soul Catcher coming your way. Hope you enjoy!