THE GROWING WRITER | What Are Your Writing Sins? by Vanessa Riley

THE GROWING WRITER | What Are Your Writing Sins? by Vanessa Riley

headshot_VanessaRileyTWhat Are Your Writing Sins?

by Vanessa Riley

If a list of your writing sins were presented to you, what would you do?

In my debut release, Madeline’s Protector, my hero, Lord Devonshire, is a reforming rake. As a second son, the one his father thought was expendable, he’s lived his life seeking the approval he never gained from the ‘old man’. Just as Devonshire’s about to commit his life to the heroine, a list of all the scandalous things he’d ever done is presented, and he’s mortified. The shame takes him down a destructive path.

As a writer, a list of our sins frequently arrives from critique partners, agents, editors, and sometimes readers: unintentional telling, an accidental head-hop, a sentence so purple it could be mistaken for eggplants. Once you’ve dusted yourself off and stopped drinking gutter water, use these steps to help make it better:

  1. Put down the list and do something to get your mind in a positive place: Go for a jog, eat a piece of good chocolate.
  2. Hours or days later, give the list a second look and decide if the critique is fair and accurate. Try to avoid explaining why you wrote what you did. The reader won’t have the benefit of knowing these reasons. It is okay to agree that something is wrong or not written as well as it could be. Or, sometimes a dog is just a dog. No amount of cute sweaters (or excuses) will make a pup a human child. Critiques require an open mind. You will never improve if you can’t handle honest criticism.
  3. Take proactive steps to “improve”. Even if you’re not sold on all the items on the list, you are a writer. Imagine how you could make the sentences better so it conveys your intent and voice but doesn’t stumble the reader or pull them from the story.
    1. Maybe this paragraph could be more exciting and draw a reader into the action if I show the happenings.
    2. Okay, I’m trapped in the hero’s head. What is he thinking? Can he interpret the heroine’s thoughts from her facial features.
    3. Okay, I’ll scrap four of the adjectives and the precious metaphor to get the point across more clearly.
    4. Reward yourself. Celebrate your professionalism with a bite of dark chocolate. This will get those happy endorphins going enabling you to write more.

Fine, I do think chocolate offers a panacea of benefits. For me, it makes the pain go away as I improve my craft.

About the Book

MadelinesProtector4in300If all the young men of England leapt off a cliff, Madeline St. James wouldn’t care. Then she’d have peace. Her nightmares of courtship would end, and she’d cozy up with a Psalm in her aunt’s quiet sculpture garden.

Yet, a chance meeting and a bullet wound change everything, and Madeline must trust the Good Shepherd has led her to the altar to marry a dashing stranger, Lord Devonshire.

Death and pain are no strangers to Justain Delveaux, Lord Devonshire, and he vows his dutiful bride will be kept safe and in her place. Though this compromised marriage is in-name-only, his wife and her unwavering faith both intrigue and allure him. Perchance when he thwarts his brother’s killer, Justain will tempt the unpredictable Madeline with the comfort of his arms.

But can Madeline and the stubborn earl forge a true bond before the next disaster strikes?

 About the Author

The Regency and Victorian eras have always been a magnetizing draw for Vanessa Riley. Even as she worked to complete her doctorate in Mechanical Engineering, she made time for renaissance fairs and any novel or cinematographic work depicting these genteel societies of old. Perhaps, the attraction arises from the kinship she feels with the period being brought up in the restrictive Southern Bible Belt with its stringent definitions of decent behavior and life expectations. Perhaps the common dominator to this appeal is her own thirty day Christian courtship or even the arranged marriages of her uncles; each is emblematic of the nuptials of those earlier times.

A technology muse like Dr. Vanessa Riley is probably not the immediate choice to write about haute ton English society set in the 1800′s. With her most recent published work being “Reducing Deformation by Phase Manipulation,” the common visceral reaction is that Providence has given another mule a voice to tell His story. Nevertheless, this mule uses her determined spirit and dogmatic tenacity to master the subject and to discover the hidden nuances of a character making him believable, her human and both ready to be used of God.

Vanessa holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering and a masters in industrial engineering and engineering management from Stanford University. She also earned BS and MS in mechanical engineering from Penn State University. She has been a radio anchorwoman and church announcer. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association and Romance Writers of America.

Today, Vanessa juggles mothering a eight year old, her seventeenth wedding anniversary, engineering, writing and speaking at women’s events. She is known for her humorous delivery of poignant truths. Vanessa is currently, editor in chief of an online social network,


Madeline’s Protector can be purchased at BNAmazonCBD: