Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Gracious Critique Partnership by Guest Lynne Marshall



The scariest part for most authors once they’ve completed a manuscript is letting someone else read the book.  It is a huge step, and we must take it in order to improve our stories. 

My Critique Group Background


When I first joined RWA and my local chapter in 2002, they didn’t have a chapter critique group.  I knew I needed feedback on my book and asked around if anyone else was interested in starting up a group.  One woman took the initiative to spearhead a critique group and another offered her house once a month on Sunday afternoons.  Now I had to put my precious baby novel where my mouth was and sign on.

Taking that first step opened the door for a wealth of information and learning.  There were a dozen of us who showed up month after month, and it was a long and tedious process.  In order to participate, each person had to submit twenty-five pages and be willing to read everyone else’s submission.  That was a lot of reading/critiquing to do, and many of the other people were like me having never been in a CG before.  The results were a mixed bag, some comments were useful, some lame, some insightful, others off the mark, and still others were really picayune.  As time went on a handful of us regulars noticed each other as being dependable, courteous, thoughtful and thorough.  We singled each other out and splintered off into our own critique group.

That year-and-a-half with the Fabulous Fictionists (Yes, we gave ourselves a silly name) was a joy.  All serious writers at various levels and abilities, we critiqued honestly with respect, watching how we phrased our comments, being tactful rather than wielding a sword.  The beauty was we all learned from each other and grew to be better writers.  All five of us are now published, and unfortunately, our group critique sessions are long gone due to some moving away and time constraints for others.

My personal critique journey has narrowed down to one single CP.  We met in another small group that could get rather intense, and found our personality styles meshed well.  She writes big stories with a lot of sex.  I don’t.  I write category length at the sensual level.  What genre you write shouldn’t impact your compatibility as CPs because it’s about the writing.  We both respect and value the other’s writing expertise and our books are always better as a result.

Things to Disregard 


Abusive critique partners are unacceptable. Lose them.  Now.  Always put unnecessarily cruel comments aside, if the CP can’t figure out how to make the point without being rude, they cannot be trusted.  Hostile or unkind remarks are uncalled for, even if you’ve written a story that needs a lot of work.  A little tact goes a long way in critiquing. Using the HALT method might be the key for best CG results: Don’t critique or read a critique when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. 

If a CP plays the role of expert and contradicts your facts, gently remind them you’ve done your research (I’m assuming you have) 

What to Take to Heart

 
Consistent comments from more than one CP means you need to take a look at the problem and fix it. 

An honest critique is a learning tool for your writing, not a judgment of who you are as a person. Put your personal insecurities aside and focus on the writing tips and suggestions.  Critique comments should be given with your improvement in mind. Learn from them.  It is important to grow thicker skin in order to improve in a critique group setting. When critiquing, though, like the old song says – accentuate the positive!

On-line critiquing

 
Due to today’s busy schedules, many people turn to on-line critiquing.  This works for long-distance CPs, or in my case, two super busy ladies who can’t find time to meet regularly at Starbucks.  The best way to approach the long-distance critiquing unit is to put on the tracking device and insert your comments as you read.  Consider reading the submission twice and only inserting your thoughts on the second go-round.  Agree on a set number of pages you’re both willing to critique at any given time and stick with it.  Give your word about how soon you will get the critique back to the other person and keep it.

E-mails are easy to misunderstand and to read into. It takes a bit more care to communicate thoughtfully, always keeping the other person’s feelings in mind.  I suggest you re-read what you’ve written and think about reading the same words for one of your own submissions.  If anything strikes you a “pingy or slammy” fix it, in other words, re-write the negative.

When Things Don’t Work Out


We live in a complicated world, often the best laid plans don’t work out.  If your CP isn’t keeping her end of the bargain and it’s preventing you from making progress in your book, it might be time to end the relationship. Be honest but not to a fault.  Many people have life issues that interfere, and we never know the whole story behind the change in diligence and consideration, so be kind but firm.  However, there is no point in continuing an unsatisfactory critiquing relationship.

Recap on the Gracious Critique Partnership Qualities:


Critiques that are: Dependable, courteous, thoughtful, thorough, diligent and considerate.


Critiques are given: Honestly, respectfully, tactfully.  


CPs who are: Compatible (It isn’t necessary to be friends or to write in the same genre) and who value each other as writers.


Put aside: Personal insecurities.


Focus on:  The writing. Accentuate the positive. Re-write the negative (comments)


The CP covenant:  Promise to critique a set number of pages a week/mo, and keep it.

Are you in a critique group?  Do you have any tips you’d like to share?  If you’re not in a critique group, what keeps you from joining one? Has this blog made you change your mind?



Lynne Marshall is a multi-published author of twenty contemporary romances for Harlequin in both Special Edition and Medical Romance lines, and also in single titles with The Wild Rose Press. She is also venturing into Indie publishing with One for the Road due out this fall. 


She lives in Southern California with her husband of many years, and is the proud mother of two adult children. She is a dog lover, a cat admirer, a woman of faith, a curious tourist, and is known to take long, meandering walks, especially when it’s a beautiful day. 


The second book in the Grady family duet, The Medic’s Homecoming, is a July 2013 Harlequin Special Edition. 


Making the Surgeon Smile was book #7 in the NYC Angels Medical Romance continuity in June 2013.  Watch for the upcoming 200 Harley Street 2014 Medical Romance continuity in which she also takes part.


You can connect with Lynne Marshall on the Web:


Website Facebook  Friend her!




Back of the book blurb for The Medic’s Homecoming:

Lucas Grady never planned to return to Whispering Oaks.  But when family duty called, the prodigal son arrived like the good soldier he’d been for years.  And with him came the unfulfilled expectations of the past—expectations his neighbor, Jocelyn Howard, knew all to well.

Jocelyn had been in love with the rebel next door since she was a little girl.  But she couldn’t shake those old insecurities that she’d never be good enough, for Lucas or for anyone else.  Still, the newly discharged Army medic had scars that could never be truly healed—or so he thought.  Maybe together, they could mend their wounds…and make each other whole again…




Today Lynne will be giving away the first book in this Special Edition duet - Courting His Favorite Nurse to one commenter. 




Winner announced in the Weekend Edition. 

Additionally, Seekerville recently helped match up a few critique groups. Let us know how that's going in the comments and Seekerville will give away a surprise package to each member of your group. Or if you already in a group, share why it works to have your group entered.

78 comments:

  1. Lynne, I've been thinking about this whole critique partner thing for the last few weeks.

    On one hand I know I need one, but on the other I need one that writes as much, if not more than I do.

    I've kind of bounced around in the critique realm for the last two years. I had a great crit group. There were five of us, and one by one major issues occurred and we dissolved. I have since joined three different critique groups through ACFW, left one, another dissolved and I haven't been active in the last. Mainly because I have had deadlines.

    Right now, I don't have an actual critique group that I'm active with, but I do pass works back and forth with one other writer.

    I didn't know Seekerville set up critique groups. I guess that's what I get for being AWOL for awhile. ;)

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  2. WELCOME BACK, LYNNE!!!

    Love the name of your group!

    This will be interesting to see what is going on with critique groups in Seekerville.

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  3. Hi Lynne:

    “One for the Road” is my favorite Lynne Marshall book. It was one of the best and most fun to write reviews I can remember doing. Will you bring it back with the same cover? It’s perfect for that southwest setting.

    Was your first book a medical romance? Don’t you think if your CP was also a medical person that it would be helpful? Do the SE and Harlequin editors fight over you? Who decides on what your next line will be?

    My comment on CPs: join or at least visit Toastmasters. Every meeting will be an exercise on how to do critiques the best way. Oh, and you might learn how to give a great speech!

    If you do a Launch tour for ”One for the Road”, I’d like my web site, Philosophy of Romance, to be a part of it. I’m a believer and hope someday there will be a second book in the southwest series. (Hint).

    Vince

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  4. Oooo!

    I love my critters. My sister is my oldest critiquer. She read the very first thing I wrote, which I think was a fantasy middle grade story with flying cats. I'm serious. I like to torture her. (And I didn't write this in the middle grade years. I wrote it about 7 years ago. Ugh. Sad.)

    She's also a very talented writer of the Edgar Allan Poe variety. Short and scary. It wouldn't seem like we could work together, but we do. Because if she can get me to enjoy a short suspense story with a mind-blowing ending, and I can get her to enjoy an inspirational sweet romance, then we've done our jobs.

    Julie Hilton Steele is awesome for picking out the 'feelz'. If my characters are acting and reacting in a way that doesn't make sense emotionally an psychologically, she catches it. Maybe it's the pastor-training in her. In 'Leaving Liberty' I had a recovering alcoholic and an abused child making their way toward reconciliation. She was an amazing soundboard for those conversations that have to ring true. You can't just stick in AA's 12 steps and call it good. Invaluable.

    Someone wrote me a message tonight that said she wept during one scene because it was so much like their own 'making amends' step with their children. She wanted to know if my parents were recovering alcoholics. I said, 'no, I just got really good feedback from professionals'. Thanks, Julie!

    Christina Rich is the eagle-eye. I should call her the 'fine tooth comb'. When I send something her way, I get back a story that's been poked, prodded, and set on fire. KIDDING! She's very gentle. But thorough. She makes me want to be a better historian, which is good when I'm writing historicals.

    I joined ACFW looking for a group, but could never get partnered up with anybody. Luckily, I seem to have found a few good critters to keep me from dissolving into 150K story monstrosities that describe my character's every movement and thought.

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  5. Wow, that was long. Sorry. Maybe I should go write...

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  6. Hi Lynne,

    Welcome to Seekerville this morning.

    I'm part of a crit group on ACFW. I've learned so much from these wonderful people. I didn't realize Seekerville set up crit groups. I'm not sure how I missed that, but I'm not surprised.

    Seekerville is a vital part of my writing journey, and I appreciate you ladies more than words can say. God has surely blessed your ministry through this blog.

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  7. I think for most people, like Christina, it's difficult to find a group that matches an author's needs. I think Lynne is a good reminder to keep searching.

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  8. Good morning, Lynne. Welcome to Seekerville.

    OMG, you hit upon so many tender spots in my psyche!! Tender spots that are long time healing after sticking with CPs out of misdirected loyalty!!!

    Do not stay with abusive critique partners!!

    I'm so proud of you splintering off your original group to critique with respectful, encouraging partners. We all need that boost!!

    Thanks for sharing, Lynne.

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  9. I've had the same crit partner for 15 years. We met in a very large, very general writers' group (everything from novelists to people who wrote rhyming poems about their cats), and we split off into a smaller, serious critique group for book-length fiction. When that dissolved after a few years we kept in touch, and started critiquing again a couple of years ago. She's a "rules" girl and I'm more free-form, though definitely not a pantser, so we balance each other out. After these years we know each other's red-flag issues, and though we don't sidestep them, we are careful. She also got me into a monthly craft group. I am blessed to know this person. The best thing is that she gently steers me back to God when I get frustrated.
    Kathy Bailey

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  10. It is ALL about respect. It's also important to respect genre and religion. I've been in a couple of secular groups, briefly, and made it clear that I wasn't interested in their opinion of my characters' spiritual growth. They were respectful and stuck to craft. I think we also have to respect people's genres. Who knows why God led them to write whatever they're writing? And if it's Christian, you assume they were led until proven otherwise. Not that it's any of our business.

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  11. Couple o' thangs completely unrelated to our topic!
    1. How does CBA feel about mixed-race romance? I want to do something in the Harlem Revival of the 20s, and it has to be mixed-race. Is it a no-no? Kathi Macias just did a contemporary with a mixed race. What is the general feel?
    2. If anybody cares, I have a book review in About.com's Christianity section. I reviewed Angela Hunt's "The Offering," the one where she tackles surrogate pregnancy. As good as Jodi Picoult in taking on a current issue, but with the spiritual element Picoult doesn't have.

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  12. Riffing on yesterday (it takes me a while to process things):
    The other thing about social media and especially Facebook is that no, not everything needs to be posted, especially regarding kids. Some of the young mothers I know post amusing anecdotes heavy on the topics of "poop" and "pee." Those kids are going to hate them when they grow up. I never post about "poop" and "pee," mostly because my kids are in their 30s now, but also because I have that Fifties sensibility that some things should remain private.
    Anyway, I wonder if we're (editorial "we," people) are sacrificing something precious in our determination to be clever. On the other hand, their posts get more hits than mine, so maybe there is something to it. Maybe I could rent a grandchild from Hertz Rent-A-Kid. Oh, it's too early for this. Where is Helen with the java?
    I'm making blond brownies with butterscotch chips this morning. Had to use up extra eggs. Will save some for my Seeks.
    (Also riffing on yesterday, remember that I have a VERY DRY WIT and nothing above is serious. Except the blond brownies. My wit is so dry even some English people don't get me.)
    Kathy Bailey
    Puzzled in New Hampshire

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  13. Awww, thanks, Virginia. I have to say you're really good at picking out slow pacing and discombobulated sentences. :)

    And Carol is great at that fine tooth comb thing.

    Love these gals!

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  14. Hey Seekerville,

    I paired up with Elaine from ACFW last fall and we worked together until Natalie joined us this spring. We've been a bit hampered by the summer, (it is probably me with my conference issues), but I am looking for us to go full blast into the fall.

    My critique group has worked out better than I dared hope. It has been a blessing to find people who are willing to help and I take none of it for granted, believe me.

    Have a great day everyone!

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  15. Lynne,

    Thank you for coming and bringing your helpful hints in your post. Have a good day!

    Piper

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  16. Hi Lynne,
    I love the name Fabulous Fictionists! Thanks for sharing your insights. I haven't joined a critique group, mostly because of time constraints. Before I submit a manuscript to my editor, I usually have someone (friend or relative who isn't afraid to be honest) read it to look for inconsistencies or problem areas. But I think having another writer would be of great value.

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  17. Christina Rich - It sounds like you might be prime for solid online critique partnering. Finding the right person is always hard, though.

    If you've written many books and have deadlines with an editor, sometimes that is the way to go. Not that editors should be critique partners, but they certainly know how to spot the issues in our work that often manage to slip by us.

    I hope you can find something that works for you and your situation.
    best, Lynne

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  18. Hi Tina!

    It's always a pleasure to come to Seekerville.

    Thanks for having me.

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  19. Hi Vince!
    I was blown away by your wonderful review of One for the Road.

    I love the idea of joining the toastmasters, especially since I'm a scardy cat about speaking in public. However, I really do appreciate speakers who don't say "you know" or "uh" in between every sentence. LOL

    I'm afraid I've disappointed you, Vince, because the "older heroine" book that followed OFTR took place in Maine. The cover had jagged cliffs, ocean and Adirondack chairs.

    I wrote straight contemp romance before I discovered the Medical Romance line. When I wrote my first meds, I was in the c.g. I described in the blog. It was totally up to me to get my med stuff right. They critiqued the plot flow, characters, dialogue, etc.
    I've had many different editors both in UK and US. No fighting. LOL>
    Thanks for your generous comments, Vince. :)

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  20. Virgina C. Munoz - what a great story! And, wow, having a relative read your work - that can be very tricky, but it sounds like it works for you.

    It sounds like you've got the perfect combination going for you and your writing. You sure take the hard topics head on! I commend you.

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  21. Good morning to you, too, Jackie. It sounds like ACFW is a great writer's organization, and Seekerville has truly carved out a name for itself.

    I always love to visit.

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  22. Sherri Shackleford - seeking is the big key. This cg or that cg may not fit, but someone or something in one of those groups will lead to the right combination of critique and size.

    I personally think it's good to have two partners if you have time and they are good at getting your work back to you quickly (and you do the same for them). That way, if they both point out the same thing, and you were hesitant to change it, you'll know you really need to make those changes. The 2to 1 is important.

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  23. Hi Audra H. - you know the big advice we all get from writing conferences - your editor is not your friend.

    I think we need to carry that into our c.g. - however, most of us feel like friends with our cps and that makes things messy when we realize it isn't working for us. No one wants to break up with friends because hard feelings insert themselves into the mix.

    Thanks for commenting!

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  24. Kaybee - I'm very glad you have found your perfect cp. If something works, stick with it. I think my cp and I have been together for six or seven years now.

    Very important comment about respecting aspects of another author's books that are different from your world view. We all need to respect that and critique the writing craft, not get into debates about content - unless a person is really off base.

    Lots of food for thought. hey - where's the donut lady?

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  25. Good morning, Piper! I'm so glad you've found the best combination of cg for you.

    May you blast away in the fall.

    :)

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  26. Hi Karen Kirst - once an author is published, the time constraints really enter in. It is hard to find other authors who can meet your deadlines.

    However your beta readers are invaluable. I think good BR are harder to find than critique partners sometimes.

    I do miss the Fabulous Fictionists. Still keep in touch with a few of them, but life has a way of moving on doesn't it?

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  27. Hmm... I too missed Seekerville matching up critters... I was AWOL for a bit too...

    /waves to Christina who's awesome/ ;)

    I have my BritCrit gals. Which is interesting because 2 were writing British [one WWII, one Regency], one historical [Civil War but loves Regency] and me [mostly contemp], but somehow we still ended up with the name BritCrits.

    Since then, Kristy [the Regency gal] has sold a WWII/Contemp series to Thomas Nelson. The rest of us are still working our way through. We bounce stuff off each other and crit entries/proposals etc before we submit them. Generally, we send off full manuscripts unless we need something in particular.

    We're all kind of scattered across the board with that though [I have 10 complete MSs, some more polished than others, and am actively working on three of them - while handwriting something else at the pool since it won't leave me alone but computer time needs to be for the others]. Another is polishing her first MS we've seen bits of. The third just sent off her only polished MS for a request [she has several finished, but stuffed under the bed as it were]. And Kristy who has turned in the MS.

    Even though we've been together a year almost now, we're still kind of figuring it out...

    And then...

    Then...

    There's Christina.

    :)

    I think she's been more help to me than I have been to her [at this point anyway!] but thank God for her and her help!

    Plus I get to be a first reader for a couple of peeps - like Melanie and possibly one other though that's not definite yet :).

    ACFW has been a Godsend - along with Seekerville and other friends met along the way. I've had more people than I can shake a stick at help me at various points [Pepper, my local gals [though we tend to do more chitchatting than critting ;)], Melanie, and so many more].

    And um, I should probably get some work done before class starts instead of blathering on and on some more. I'd love to be entered though :D.

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  28. There is nothing more heavenly than finding a willing Beta Reader.

    I have someone doing one of my romantic comedies right now. When you stare at a story for so long it becomes impossible to see the forest for the trees. The value of a cold read is priceless.

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  29. Carol, you're great!!!!! Don't discount the help you've been.

    Beta readers are the bomb! I have my cousin's wife. She's a certified teacher, homeschools, loves to read, scored very high on her ACT, missed only one on the English portion and wants to write someday. So, I'm good with her being a beta, especially since I'm the comma queen. I'm learning though.

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  30. Hi Lynne,

    Finding a gracious critique partnership is like finding the holy grail. Back in my other writing life, I had a lot of critique partners, maybe too many. There was the big group, but I got partnered with this sweet matronly lady who wrote medieval romance. I'm sure there's a great audience for medieval but it's not me. Then I found a friend critique partner. It was fun, we called each other twenty times a day with ideas. Unfortunately we didn't get much done.

    After I joined ACFW I joined the large critique group, but the rule of cutting off at 2500 words drove me crazy, and there were critiquers jumping in the middle of the manuscript, all their questions could have been answered if they'd read the first part. I advertised for a small group, but everyone wanted a mentor I think since each one was looking for a published author.

    Then Piper offered to give it a try and I remembered that I liked her stories. She and I are pretty evenly matched in experience. I was planning to be at RWA to see her recognized as a finalist in GH, but medical reasons are keeping me away.

    Then Tina introduced us to Natalie Monk. I liked her story too and she's in the process of polishing, as I am. Come Aug I hope to be getting new submittals from these two. They are both professional and helpful.

    What I need now for one of my manuscripts is beta readers. I have one, a swap, but I'd like other swaps with someone who writes historical romance, except for medieval.

    I know my experience with cps isn't unusual, but I thought I'd lay it all out. Aside from catching errors in writing, cps are invaluable for prodding you to get something polished enough to present to the world.

    Thanks for the post. Maybe it will stir up interest in finding new partnerships.

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  31. Hi Elaine - your story made me smile. Thank you so much for sharing it, and I hope you find the perfect cp combo, too.

    I think you're on the right track now, though.

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  32. Great tips, Lynne! And I so agree, Tina. After awhile the story pages blur before your eyes and a beta reader is awesome.

    I'm blessed to have two awesome critique partners. We do the long distance email thing which works great for us. Don't know what I'd do without them!

    Happy birthday to my son who turns 17 today and is still doing great as far as the headaches go! He passed his school year and only needs to make up one credit next year!

    God is good!

    Cheers,
    Sue
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

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  33. Carol Moncado - I love your cp group name - BritCrits. Sounds like a great mix of genres and levels of knowledge.

    We got lazy after a while with our cg name and called ourselves the four Fs - since there were four of us.

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  34. Susan Ann Mason - I'm glad the blog was helpful for you.

    Very good news about your son, too.

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  35. Pardon my French, but what's the difference between a crit partner and a Beta reader?
    Thanks,
    Kathy Bailey
    Chatty today in New Hampshire

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  36. Lynne, thank you for sharing your informative thoughts on critique partnerships, especially about being very careful with on-line communication and how comments might be misunderstood. I like your idea to read through once, make comments, then re-read those comments before sending.

    Thanks to TINA...I have a wonderful on-line CP!!! (I hope she shares that feeling.) We're still working on our new CP relationship, but she is very thoughtful...I haven't cried once at her comments...mainly nodding my head in "ah-ha" moments! :) We're both FLEXIBLE and write inspirational romance, so I think this will work for us. We plan to share a chapter at a time. We want to do online brainstorming. I'm not sure how the give and take of that will go via email, but we want to try since we are both looking to share ideas and get feedback.

    Thank you, LYNNE and TINA!

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  37. Lynne, since I discovered all these lovely authors I haven't been reading the Harlequin series, but will be watching for your name, especially in the Medics series! Thanks for coming to Seekerville.

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  38. Not crying is a good thing, Sherida. LOL.

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  39. Lynn, so glad you could join us today. Great tips for great critique groups!

    Love your Fab Fictionists! One of my first cp groups was called the Scribe Sisters. We had so much fun! Probably laughed more than we critiqued. That was at the very beginning when we didn't know the rules. At conferences, we'd so back to our room and have our own awards ceremony. We even had pins that we presented. The Peach Pit, as I recall. And we wore tiaras!

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  40. Lynne, I have never been in a critique group. I bet it is a great learning experience.

    Thanks to Tina, I too have a wonderful, thoughtful and very knowledgeable online CP! Waving to Sherida! I think we are a great match.

    Tina has been extremely helpful! She is such a lovely,giving person!!

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  41. Welcome to Seekerville Lynne, Have fun. Seekers have been my best crit partners. smile I'm so blessed.

    I am at the airport ready to fly to Atlanta to see some of them. Sure hope I didn't forget anything. Too late now. LOL

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  42. Hi Lynne -- great advice, especially about abusive critique partners.

    I belonged to a five-person online critique group through an RWA online chapter for a while. It proved a good experience ... and I just learned that two of them are now published (!) I've had some face-to-face critiques that proved invaluable (as well as Seeker critiques). But for where I am now, I have two amazing beta readers. They are the type readers I am writing for, so their comments/observations/suggestions/questions are a huge help. Hmm. I sense the beginnings of a 'thank you' page :-)

    And thank you for your Gracious Critique Partnership Qualities -- something to definitely share if/when I have a CP again.

    Nancy C

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  43. *waving* to Donna! Whew....glad we have the same opinions of each other! :)

    And I forgot to mention earlier, I really like my CP's story and writing style, so that makes this critiquing journey great fun!

    TINA: Perfect match! Thanks!

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  44. Thanks for the post Lynne.

    I have two wonderful cp who are helping me straighten my mess of a ms.

    Such a blessing to have great partners.

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  45. Kaybee - a critique partner is also a writer (usually) who knows how books are supposed to work. they help with GMC issues, story arch etc.

    A beta reader is a person who loves to read. They are usually avid readers and though they may not have studied how books work, they're instinctual reaction to the book is invaluable. They shouldn't be giving advice on how to fix things, just tell you where they had issues in the story, where things lagged etc.

    Sort of like a book review versus editorial notes. Does that help?

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  46. Sherida, I'm so glad this blog was helpful for you. Also, I'm thrilled you have a good critique partner and are ironing things out.

    One thing to consider with brainstorming, if one or the other of you have cell service with lots of long distance credit - is to do it over the phone. Or, skype with each other. That's another possibility.

    Good luck!

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  47. Marianne - thank you for looking out for Lynne Marshall books, and thanks for reading the blog.

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  48. Hi Debby Giusti!

    What wonderful memories. Having fun with fellow authors is incredibly special.

    As I recall, we used to laugh a lot too, oh, and chat until someone suggested what we were really there to do.

    Had a farewell high tea party once when one of us was moving out of state.

    Ah, the good old days. :)

    Thanks for the memories.

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  49. Hi Donna - may you and Sherida bring the best writing out of each other.

    Happy for you.

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  50. Sandra Leesmith - Have a wonderful conference. I always feel a little sad on the years I don't go when I think about all the marvelous women converging on whatever big city the conference is in.

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  51. LYNNE ... WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!!!

    LOL ... I LOVE the "HALT method"!!!

    I used to be in a crit group with about five gals and a guy and it was pretty helpful for about a year or so, but then everybody got so busy that it dwindled and died. I still maintain friendships with most of them and to be honest, I do miss having a crit partner. But I know that tread water as it is with deadlines and promotion, so the thought of critting someone else's work while they crit mine is overwhelming. Even when I volunteer on Seekerville to crit as a prize, it takes me hours and hours and sometimes days to critique because I am SO anal. So for me, critiquing is just not an option, something I dearly regret.

    BUT ... I have to admit, your blog today DOES give me pause, forcing me to possibly consider the prospect one more time ... :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  52. Chill N - Nancy C - it sounds like you've got the perfect set up for your present needs.

    May it prove to be a positive outcome!

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  53. Connie Queen - Isn't it wonderful to let two other sets of eyes figure out where we went wrong?

    LOL

    I'm glad you're in a good CP group.

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  54. Hi Julie Lessman - I think there comes a time in the writer's life where a CP is no longer feasible. Brainstorming sessions with trusted authors may be all you need, and you'll always have your editorial letter to make the revisions you need.

    I'm glad you like HALT. I got that from church actually. It applies well to so many things (like prayer and communication in general) and is a good idea in general.

    Isn't it amazing when you think about how many authors give time to judge/critique in contests for other writers?

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  55. Haven't read the rest of the comments, but Kathy Bailey, I don't want to write for CBA if mixed-race is a no-no.

    Mixed race relationships aren't an opinion, like whether people should have a glass of wine with dinner.

    You just solidified a story I've been playing with, in my head.

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  56. Ha, I didn't realize I had gotten a shout out from Virginia. I have been told I am more of an intuitive person who spots what works from the emotional angle.

    But boy, I have a long way to go when it comes to craft and that is why Virginia and Mary Curry and other readers are so important to me. People who are willing to teach me and not make me feel bad about my ignorance.

    Peace, Julie

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  57. I stand in awe of crit groups that stand the test of time. Many times differing writing...seasons for lack of a better word...seem to cause groups to drift apart.

    While one partner writes daily and churns out 20K words in a month, another might take a four day weekend to do hers.

    My best experiences with critiques has been from critting partials to go out for a submission deadline and swapping crits on completed manuscripts.

    Weekly, consistent critiquing has alwasys fallen by the wayside for one reason or another. Probably more my fault than anyone elses.

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  58. Virginia, finding great partners is like unearthing gold! :)

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  59. General question: What do prefer to crit/have critted in your partnerships? And how often?

    Just curious...

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  60. Aha...beta readers vs. CPs.

    I think having anonymous beta readers would be cool. Uh...or maybe not. lol

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  61. Lynne, welcome back to Seekerville! It's always a pleasure to see you.

    Oh my stars, I laughed over your initial critique group... but I nodded sagely over the dumping of abusive critique partners.

    They're out there.

    They're toxic.

    You don't need 'em!!!

    Such good advice from such a well-written woman. Thank you so much for sharing it today! I'm staring at Pam's beta readers comments and cringing at the thought of beta readers.

    Although I use a couple of trusted people to see if I get the looked-for emotions correct.

    And they're beta readers, I suppose.

    Okay, I will not jump to typical Ruthy-snorting conclusions!!!

    :)

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  62. Thank you Lynne, that clears it up.
    I also love HALT and use it for just about everything, from responding to negative e-mails to dealing with my diabetes.
    Kathy Bailey
    Done for today

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  63. Pam -

    My local group meets every other week during the year [we're likely not meeting for the next month or so b/c I have four kids... the rest might but they all have out of town trips and company and stuff]. There we likely do contest entries or sections we're having trouble with.

    My other peeps I generally prefer full MSs at a time. I [usually] write linearly but I write SHORT then add so sending something out a few chapters at a time as I finish them is kind of pointless... Again, unless it's something I'm having trouble with or a contest entry/request/submission/etc.

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  64. Pam, I like getting an initial opinion to see if I'm on track, and then I prefer to have a crit once it's done, and I prefer to critique fulls too. Mainly because I've see way too many cps change and rework and change and revise and rework... you get the picture. By the time they are on to the second chapter most of their cps have already read/critiqued an entire novel worth of words. :)

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  65. Aaaaand that is why Carol and I work well together.

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  66. Carol & Christina, it does sound like you guys work well together! :)

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  67. I prefer Beta Readers over critique partners. I just need a quick hit over the head and then send me off on my merry way to fix things.

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  68. Tina, I wish that worked well for me, but I'm still trying to learn all these grammar rules.

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  69. I'm loving all of the comments. So interesting to hear all of the different takes on CGs.

    Julie H. Steele and Pam Hillman, thanks for your insightful remarks.

    Ruth Logan Herne - it is always a pleasure to visit Seekerville. I'm glad you enjoyed the blog.

    Talk amongst yourselves ladies - there is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom at this blog!

    I am thoroughly enjoying all of the comments, but don't feel the need to respond to each one.

    I'll check back later.

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  70. Thank you, Lynne for this good, good article! :-)

    What would we do without those who read for us? I'm blessed with people who love me and think everything I write is wonderful...

    And then I have two people I trust to dig in and tell me the things I need to hear.

    One of these readers is my daughter. She's been giving me her 'honest' opinion for...well, a long time! She reads with an ear for the story only and that's very helpful when I began to wander.

    The other reader and dear friend, gives me feedback on everything. She's a writer and a lovely person who knows how to handle my insecurities, as well as my manuscript. :-)

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  71. Mary Hicks. You are very fortunate.

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  72. Dear Mary Hicks - you are welcome. I'm so glad you enjoyed the blog. It sounds like you're in good hands with your daughter and dear friend.

    Thanks for commenting.

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  73. Even as a non-writer I can imagine how a critique group could be invaluable at times.

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  74. Mary Preston - just for the comraderie alone, a critique group is wonderful. It gets lonely spending so much time in front of a computer, and we need to have community in our lives. CGs give that, along with making our stories better.

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  75. Hello Lynne,

    Thanks for sharing! What a great topic.

    I was in a general crit group on ChrisianWriters.com for about a year before I joined the ACFW crit loop several months ago. Recently I joined a smaller group of 5 other ladies and have really been enjoying it. I haven't submitted much to them yet, but I have already learned a lot. It's kinda funny though, a lot of my Crit Partners are also on Seekerville! (Hi Jackie!)
    We only have a number for our group, not a cool name like BritCrits. :D love that!

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  76. Thank you for the advice. Taken to heart. Would love to win and read your book. Thank you for entering me in your giveaway.
    Barbara Thompson
    barbmaci61(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  77. Hi Vision Writer - I'm so glad you enjoyed the blog topic, and that you are well embedded in CGs.

    Thanks for commenting.

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  78. Hey Barbara Thompson - I'm glad you found the blog helpful.

    I do want to make sure that you know that my book is straight contemporary romance, not inspirational. In case that makes a difference?

    :)

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