Friday, April 15, 2011

Good Critique Partners

I've spoken before about critique partners, but it's time to do it again. Having good critique partners is very important. It can mean the difference between setting your manuscript on fire or believing in your work enough to find representation. I know, sounds a bit extreme, but go ask someone who has had a bad critique partner. Ask me. I've been down the road to critique partner hell. A dark and scary place. My vertabrae tingle just thinking about it.

How do you find a good CP? The best place to start is by joining a writer's group. There are many national and international ones with local chapters in your area. Go to a meeting and start asking around. Once you put your feelers out get your antenna up.

About three years ago I knew it was time again to look for new CPs. Let's just say the group prior wasn't exactly a good fit. (I'm being nice.) By the advice of a good friend I joined a local chapter of RWA (I was writing women's fiction at the time) and let it be known I was on the hunt for similar experienced writers.
I started getting some emails and calls from other writers also looking for a CP. My stomach performed that little excited flip it does when you think things are going your way. Things weren't going my way. I hung up with one writer thinking she was so bossy and pushy I'd rather read my novels to Jack the Ripper than work with her.

How do you know when you've found the right one? I am a believer your CPs should be roughly at the same place you are in the "know your craft" journey. If they are too far behind you or too far ahead of you the scales won't be balanced. You might be able to help each other out, but overall frustration will fly around like kite caught in a tornado.

This is going to sound very crunchy granola, but you'll feel it when you've found the right CP.

You will have respect for what they've written and they will have the same for you. You will like this person enough to become invested in their success because if you're not invested in their success you might as well take your pencils and go home.

I had received an email from a woman about becoming her CP. Right away I enjoyed the tone of correspondence. She was at the same spot in her journey as I was. I agreed to meet her and another woman. I'll be honest, before I arrived I thought, "Dear Lord, I hope these two aren't nuts." They might've been thinking the same thing about me, but I'll tell you what. I knew in an instant these ladies were put in my path for a reason. By the time our first meeting ended I wanted to hug them I was so overjoyed. I didn't. That would've scared them off.
It's three years later and we're still together. I'm thankful for their support, input, sense of humor, kindness. I could go on and on. They believe in my work, even when it needs improvement, and therefore I believe in myself. I'm one hundred percent invested in their success and they are in mine. They are my beacon of light guiding me home. (Okay, I've gone to the far side of sappy. Sorry.) I stand and applaud Marykate and Shari.

Wherever you are in your writing journey I hope you find the right CPs. If you have more questions post them here and I'll be happy to help you out. In the meantime, Moonlight and Violet by M. Kate Quinn ( will be released April 22 by The Wild Rose Press. It's a funny, heartfelt story about true love. It would make a great Mother's Day gift. Grab your copy today.

Talk to you later...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Authors' Day

I attended the Township Of Ocean Intermediate School's Authors' Day. The Language Arts teachers chose roughly 60 sixth grade students who show an interest and ability in writing to participate in a fun filled day. The students are broken into small groups and for 40 minutes they visit with an author and learn something new about writing. Then they rotate to the next author and learn some more. Topics discussed ranged from writing about feelings, to point of view, working with settings, illustrating children's books, and writing in the active voice. Once again I am humbled by the students' enthusiasim and curiousity in what I have to say. I mean, who am I, right? I'm nobody famous. Yet they suck up everything I share with them like the little sponges they are. I relish the opportunity to inspire these young writers to continue on their path. To promote a child's learning is to be a part of something bigger than I am. A blessing, indeed. Talk to you later...