Digging Deep with Rachael Thomas

Please welcome author Rachael Thomas. She's talking about Digging Deep today!

Rachael says...

I had an amazing time during Harlequin’s competition So You Think You Can Write 2013 and reached the dizzy heights of Top 10 finalist. My entry, Behind the Scandalous Façade was available online to be read and voted for.  I didn’t make the final 3, but my full manuscript had been seen by editors at Harlequin Mills and Boon and I was hopeful something good would come from entering the competition.
Just before Christmas I received feedback on my competition entry and spent the festive break revising the story and resubmitted in January this year. I was totally amazed when I got a call from Harlequin Mills and Boon offering me a two book contract.
The first book is the competition entry, now with a sparkling new title of A Deal Before The Altar and will be available in October 2014

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Over to Rachael...

Digging Deep

During the last seven years, as I wrote and submitted with the hope of publication, one of the most often given pieces of advice, was to create more emotional depth. Or to put it another way, dig deep.
At first encounter these phrases may seem like a magic code, one you just can’t crack. It certainly felt that way to me and for a long while, feedback from submissions suggested my writing needed much more emotional depth.
So how exactly do you go about creating that elusive emotional depth? You dig – not with the garden spade, but with question after question. Find out everything you can about your characters, from what they like and dislike to what happened to them in the past. But don’t stop there. Keep digging. Ask why a particular incident affected them, why they feel the way they do.
This is what my heroine, Georgina, said in my first Presents, A Deal Before the Altar and it’s the scene that came to my mind, sparking the story off.
‘I meant what I said.’ She spoke firmly, determined he should never know just how anxious she was, how desperate to achieve her aim. ‘I will do whatever it takes.’

A cascade of questions came from this. What will she do? Why is she anxious? Why did she have to do it? By digging into Georgina’s past, answering as many questions as possible the story grew. Then when she met Santos, there was even more digging to be done, but it was great fun.

I know only too well, that as a new writer, the temptation to use lots of different problems and issues for your characters to deal with is huge, but you don’t need to. Explore one problem, ask why it is an issue to them, why and how does it affect them. Each question asked is digging a bit deeper and the deeper you go the better, resulting in characters you know well, ones who will leap off the page, drawing your reader in and most importantly, making them care about what happens.
Happy digging!

A Deal Before The Altar
"I have a deal to put to you, Mr. Ramirez." 

Georgina Henshaw will do anything to ensure her younger sister's happiness—even marry the darkly enigmatic Santos Ramirez! She has just one condition—she'll wear his ring, but she'll never share his bed!

Santos has earned his ruthless reputation, but even he isn't sure whether to be shocked or awed by Ms. Henshaw's proposal. He can't deny marriage would solve his current problem, but to truly secure his family business, the delectable Georgina must provide him with an heir….!

Get it on Amazon


  1. Congratulations on the release, Rachael. A Deal Before Altar sounds intriguing!

  2. Welcome to Happy Ever After, Rachael, and congratulations on the release of A Deal Before The Altar!

  3. Great advice about focusing on one problem and delving deeper into it.

  4. Great advice! Congrats, Rachael!

  5. Not the first time I've heard authors tell of being asked to be more aware of emotional depth.

    Great post, it most take a lot of dedication to see a book through to its publication.

  6. Great post! Digging deep is so important, and not something that gets talked about as much--thanks for the wonderful advice!

  7. Congrats on the new book Rachael! And that advice is great, something more people should think about more.

    Hello to Kelly :)

  8. Thanks for the welcome and congratulations everyone. I hope the advice is helpful. It certainly helped me on my writing journey!

  9. That's good advice from Rachel about paring down the issues. Also, congrats on your success at SYTYCW. Very exciting. I wish you well for your latest!

    Hi Kelly!

  10. Thanks The Armchair Squid and Denise!

  11. Rachael, congrats! I keep telling people contests are the way to go. Super awesome advice. The digging is half the fun, and I guess that's why I like later drafts so much, because you have the distance to focus on those micro aspects.

  12. Thanks Crystal and you're right - digging is half the fun!

  13. YAY to Rachael. I know that has to be a great feeling!!!

  14. Congratulations on making it into the top 10. That was awesome!

  15. How cool that Rachel's path to publication involved a writing contest and the exposure she got from it! Congratulations to her! Wishing her the best of luck. :)


  16. Congratulations Rachael, I can only begin to imagine how exciting its all been.
    Thanks for sharing this Kelly, I enjoyed it very much.

  17. Thanks Stephanie, Sherry, DMS and Barbara!

  18. Congrats, Rachael.

    It is important to dig deep. I've had issues of not digging deep enough or having a clutter of too many problems.