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Monday, 14 September 2015



by Melanie Surani



In author Melanie Surani’s edgy thriller novel, opera singer Joshua Gray wakes in an eerie art museum exhibit. He comes to believe he’s been kidnapped and abandoned. And he isn’t the only one…

As Josh and four others struggle to piece together their new reality, they discover the museum’s main building has been razed and the place is boarded with no obvious exit. Who left them in the museum and why? How can they escape? The only link that binds them together is a mysterious woman named Blair, who they each encountered before blacking out. Josh unexpectedly finds himself drawn to one of the other captives, a long-time fan named Sophia. Their attraction plunges the group into a dark pool of suspicion. When allegiances shift and pieces connect, the strangers are forced to reassess their situation. Is the real danger inside or outside of the museum?

Suspenseful, romantic and filled with drama, Awake will keep you up all night.


Costumed mannequins, wearing everything from Rococo dresses to the "50's Housewife," lined the room and clustered in the center. They had coverings over their heads: burlap sacs sewn to fit the face, or draped with gauze over antlers, or covered in feathers.

One of them might move.

To get to the rest of the exhibits now, she either had to go through or turn around and catch it from the opposite direction. As she turned, though, an Employees Only sign caught her eye.
The door opened with a creak. Sophia checked the costumes for any sign of life before ducking inside and slamming the door. She panted for a moment with her eyes shut. When she opened them a crack, the light hadn't come on. After waving her arms over her head, she threw the door open again with a hammering heart.

Like so much topiary at the Overlook Hotel, she expected the mannequins to have clustered around the door. Of course, nothing had changed since she'd checked the gallery before. She eyed the figures again, before propping the door open and returning to the dim office.

Unused items crammed the floor. A computer and phone sat on the single desk, files stacked on the floor. An empty closet in the back stood open, yawning darkness. Multiple metal signs leaned against a wall, notices pointing toward restrooms, galleries, a café, and the lobby.

"Damn it," she whispered. Who the hell took all the signs down?

Sophia picked up the phone, pressed the switch-hook, but no dial tone sounded.

"Why…" Why leave the electricity on and cut the phones?

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How to Find a Critique Buddy

Asking someone to point out your faults is never fun. If you do it when someone doesn't ask, sometimes they call you an asshole. And like the proverbial little kid who points to a lady in the supermarket and yells, "MOMMY, THAT LADY'S FAT!" sometimes the criticism does nobody any good.

As a fiction writer, if I don't have my work critiqued repeatedly, it ends up being something not a soul will ever read. Everyone's work is rough at first. It's a special person indeed who can write something only once and have it be perfect.

One of my first critique partners was my dad. I gave him a novel I was working on and completely in love with, thinking he would devour the thing and tell me all about how my book really made him think and that it was super interesting. Instead, the manuscript sat on his TBR pile for weeks. When I finally went to get it, there were notes in the first quarter of the book, stating things like "this doesn't make sense" "why can't the main character be a woman?" "you should set the story in America" and many more!

I was furious. Not only could he not find time for me, he didn't even like the book. And the time he told me "men would never hold hands like this ever!" the character had been helping another guy off the floor. Things like that made me think either I was the worst writer in the world, or he just didn't pay any attention to what was going on, and those were both awful things for me to think about.

I had the same problems down the line with other critique partners. Most of them would understand what I was getting at, but someone would inevitably have a huge problem with something that wasn't even there.

So how does a person find a critique partner who points out the flaws in your work without making you cry and throw in the towel?

Because we all live on the internet these days, it's fairly easy to find one or two. I put out a tweet looking for a group, and found one. Most of them were good. We traded work and got through it.

A website called brought me the most luck. You can add one chapter at a time for a generic critique, or you can join a group and find someone who'll take the whole novel at once.

Bottom line is, when you find someone who loves what you write and gives you constructive feedback, keep that person happy! Repay them by critiquing their work. Thank them even though they made you cry that once (and eventually, they all do).

Having your work edited shouldn't take the soul out of your work. It's still yours, but you're too close to see what needs to be done on your own. And while people like your mom might say really nice things about your work, she might love you too much to say anything negative. Let her boost your confidence when your critique buddy kicks your butt.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Melanie Surani is a blogger, hair stylist, and author with a heart for international travel. When she isn't cutting hair, Melanie is thinking about ways to kill people (for mystery novels). She lives with her husband and cat in New York City, where she is hard at work on her next book with Booktrope Publishing. Melanie is a member of the International Thriller Writers society. Follow her adventures at:

Connect With Melanie

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  1. How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?

    1. I've found a few people who have consistently given me good critiques. As for reviewers (such as on Goodreads and Amazon), it's been slow, but good.

  2. It's a thoughtful post!


  3. I really enjoyed the excerpt, thank you!

  4. I really liked the article describing your process of finding a critique buddy. It must be an arduous process. Sometimes I read the user reviews and can't believe what is written espeically one in which the reader stated that they read two pages but didn't like it so gave a one star rating. It just felt like someone just being mean.

    1. For me, if I'm going to read two pages of something and put it down, I never write a review of it. Some books aren't for some people and that's okay. I've read half a book and hated it, but realized it wasn't a fault of the author's: it was either a subject matter I didn't care for, or stylistically something I couldn't get behind. In those cases also, I won't review it.
      Thanks for your comment!