31 Jul 2014

Secrets of Halstead House by Amy M. Reade

Secrets of Hallstead House
By: Amy M. Reade
Releasing July 17th, 2014

Macy Stoddard had hoped to ease the grief of losing her parents in a fiery car crash by accepting a job as a private nurse to the wealthy and widowed Alexandria Hallstead. But her first sight of Summerplace is of a dark and forbidding home. She quickly finds its winding halls and shadowy rooms filled with secrets and suspicions.
Alex seems happy to have Macy’s help, but others on the island, including Alex’s sinister servants and hostile relatives, are far less welcoming. Watching eyes, veiled threats…slowly, surely, the menacing spirit of Hallstead Island closes in around Macy. And she can only wonder if her story will become just one of the many secrets of Hallstead House…
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Author Guest Post

Group Therapy by Amy M. Reade
I joined a critique group in the spring of 2013.
I’ve heard all the reasons that people have for avoiding critique groups (He stole my work! They made me cry!), and I know there are horror stories.
But thankfully, my experience has been nothing short of marvelous. I am in a group of (currently) five women and we write in a nice mix of genres. There is a prose writer, a YA writer who just might be branching out into poetry, a memoirist, a writer of women’s commercial fiction, and me, the novelist.
My first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House, was finished before I joined the group. The only other person who read the book before my editor was my husband. There were plenty of people who wanted to read it, but I was too self-conscious to give the manuscript to my family or friends. I was afraid that if they didn’t like it they wouldn’t tell me in order to spare my feelings.
The women in my critique group have great suggestions and deliver them with honesty and consideration. They offer support along with their constructive criticism. I know that my family would do the same thing, but it’s different when other writers read my work.
In addition to my critique group, I am a critique partner with a wonderful woman who writes science fiction, fantasy, and is currently trying her hand at satirical romance. It’s been a great experience trading submissions because she and I have the luxury of spending more time on each other’s work than we would if we were part of a larger group.
My critique group and my critique partner have seen my second novel, tentatively entitled The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor. They were able to identify some of the loose ends I missed while I was knee-deep in the history of antebellum South Carolina, as well as making great suggestions about certain aspects of the story —which characters needed further development, where I needed to add more description, where I needed to show, not tell.
If you’re looking for a critique group, there are several places to go. The first place would be your local library. There is usually a spot where notices are posted, and sometimes you can find groups looking for members there. If not, ask a librarian about local writing groups. If there isn’t one, consider starting your own. Advertise at the library. If you start the group, you get tomake up the rules. Typically, a group is limited to a manageable number of people, say five to eight. You can meet whenever it’s most convenient for you, at a place that’s most convenient for you. It can be in your home or at the library or a coffee shop. You can ask members to submit work ahead of time or you can have a quiet reading time before the meeting starts so members can read the submissions. You can meet as often as you’d like- once a month, twice a month, whatever works for you. You can also make the rules about length of submissions.
Another place to look is the Internet. I would look in two places. I would look first for writing organizations in your state. That’s how I found my critique group. I looked online for writing groups in New Jersey.
Second, I would look for writing organizations that focus on the genre you prefer, such as Romance Writers of America or Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. You’ll often find that such national organizations have smaller state or local chapters that may sponsor writing groups.
If you love to write or if you’re thinking about writing, I encourage you to try out a critique group. It can be a great way to meet other writers and hone your craft. Best wishes!

Amy M. Reade is a debut author of romantic suspense. A native of upstate New York, she grew up in the Thousand Islands region and was inspired by the natural beauty of that area to write her first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House. She now lives in New Jersey with her husband, three children, a Bouvier des Flandres named Orly, and two rescued cats who refuse to answer to their names of Porthos and Athos.
Upon graduation from Cornell University and Indiana University School of Law, Amy practiced law in New York City, but soon discovered that her dream job was writing. In addition to volunteering with school, church, and community groups, Amy is currently working on her second novel, set in the area around Charleston, South Carolina.
Though Amy lives within sight of the Atlantic Ocean, she is partial to the blue waters of the Pacific and spends as much time as possible on the Big Island of Hawaii, which is the setting of her as-yet-unwritten third novel.


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