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Friday, March 8, 2013

Critique Partner Love

Me and Tara D. (and chocolate hearts)
*Amy Trueblood has posted another fabulous agent interview here: First Five Frenzy with Stephen Fraser 

*Next Friday, I'll be posting an interview with author LINDA URBAN (yay!) and giving away a copy of her new book The Center of Everything

Critique Partners have changed my writing life. When I first started writing novels, the concept of revision didn't mesh well with my style. I was an excitable newbie with lots of ideas, so I would write a novel, edit, get feedback from one beta reader, and enter query land. After a few partial/full requests and more than a few rejections, I would decide I was too excited by my new project to keep querying or consider revision. My new project was always waaaaay better and more deserving of my attention.
Charlie and Tara D. 
I'd scrap the current novel and move to the next. This was my learning process for a year or so. Instead of working painstakingly on one novel for six months or a year and polishing it, I wrote three. All of which got requests, mind you, but none of which got me an agent. I was happy with the process, figuring I was giving myself an education by writing a lot and learning from what I thought failed in each of the previous novels. 

But about two years ago, I started working with the same two people for multiple manuscripts. We traded back and forth, got to know each other's writing, and got to know each other. Last year, I got to know two more writers.
Charlie and Tara D. and Creme Brulee

These ladies provide a support network and craft-related relationship that rivals some of my best friendships. I feel enriched by and invested in my CPs' writing journeys. Their joys and frustrations become my own, and this world has become a better place because of them. 
Tara D. doing a rare tent reading

By the way, the photos are of THE Tara Dairman, the only writing friend I have who lives close enough to visit. She brought candy and books, put up with an aggressive snuggler (my four-year-old, not me), and was even game to hang out in the tent that we put up in the family room. What a gal, eh? And she has a book coming out next year!

So please go visit the following ladies and follow them on Twitter. They are all very wise and funny (which is the best combination possible):

Joy McCullough-Carranza, @JMCwrites
Becky Wallace, @BeckyWallace1
Tara Dairman, @TaraDairman
Ann Bedichek-Braden, @Bedichek

Send a thank-you email to your own CPs and have a wonderful weekend!

55 comments:

  1. I'm glad you found such great CPs. It's so important!

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    1. It really has made a huge difference in my writing!

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  2. Awww, thanks, Jess! Pictures of myself plastered all over your blog post were NOT what I was expecting to see when I visited today... =)

    PS, Jess is a brilliant CP as well who has helped me solve some major issues in my most recent revision. I'm so lucky to have her!

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    1. Hey, photos of you are what you get when you bring chocolate and books (including an ARC!) to my house :)

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  3. Cheers to critique buddies everywhere. I SOOOO rely on mine. I don't know what I'd do without them. Thank you for this gratitude reminder.

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    1. Anyone reading the comments, Jean is the author of the fabulous picture book my daughter is holding (Time for Monsters!). Thanks for commenting!

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  4. Jess is not only a brilliant CP but an amazing friend and person!! I have been sooooo hugely blessed to have her in my life the last few years. I would be lost without her (and my manuscripts would be much worse off).

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    1. You're too sweet! And my daughter would be lost without her Cordelia dresses--seriously, she wants to wear them all the time and she tells everyone that they are her "Cordelia clothes." People ask me if it's a store :)

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  5. Jess, you are an incredible CP, yourself! I'm pretty sure I remember saying something about how if you weren't willing to keep exchanging writing with me, I would hunt you down...

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    1. I would have hunted for you as well :)

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  6. They are HUGE for me as a writer - they see things we as the author just don't see.

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  7. What a great group you've got! One good critter can definitely make all the difference. :)

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  8. Hope you have a great weekend too! I owe so much to my critique partners, and I just love them to bits.

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    1. I'm sure they love you, too, Beth! Do they get your baked goods for free? Do you need a new critique partner??? :)

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  9. Critique partners are awesome. I have one really good one and am trying to set up a new bigger group. Fingers crossed it words out.

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    1. Fingers have been crossed for you over here :)

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  10. I just saw your sale news and put out a plea on FB begging for someone to point me to you so that I might congratulate you and tell you I'm already dying to read your book. So congrats! And hooray! Pls look me up near your pub date. I'd love to feature you at my blog with a classroom connections interview.

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    1. Whhhhhhaaat? Hello Caroline Starr Rose! Um, I love your book and can't believe you're commenting on my blog! I'll definitely be in touch :)

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  11. Jess, you are the bomb.com!! My life and writing has been so much better with you in it! Thanks for all the awesome emails -- especially those with slightly inappropriate subject lines -- and the constant optimism!

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    1. Hey, hush up on the inappropriate subject line business. First of all, that's a matter of opinion. Secondly, I'm trying to be a middle grade writer over here--quit cramping my style! :)

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  12. Jess, you are the bomb.com!! My life and writing has been so much better with you in it! Thanks for all the awesome emails -- especially those with slightly inappropriate subject lines -- and the constant optimism!

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  13. Aw, that's sweet :)

    My CPs are the best. I'm sometimes amazed by how much they've helped me.

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  14. II'm in a group of three writing partners and we meet once a month, e-mail more frequently. Can't say enough about them and what a blessing they are both in friendship and support. We met at a writer's conference in Chicago but live within 30 minutes of each other. Who would have thought...?

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    1. Funny how life works out that way! Glad you've found partners to work and bond with :)

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  15. Critique partners are some of the best things to ever have in a writing life. They provide the information that helps with growth, comes with encouragement, sometimes humor and more times than not, the needed word or two to make a difference is sparking a flame for ways to view change about a manuscript. Glad you found CPs that have enriched both your writing and your life :-)

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  16. I finally have a critique partner too, Jess. And, yes, it makes a world of difference. I was approached by someone a few months ago, and I was hesitant to say yes. But I am so glad I did. We are a perfect match. :)

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    1. That's great! It's magical when you find the right person :)

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  17. I'd be lost without my critique partner's. They're my extended family and my writing has improved by light years since I found them. I can't help but notice your critique group needs a dude:) Glad you found your writing family.

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    1. I agree with you completely. And yes, one of these days we need to add a dude :)

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  18. Such a nice nod of appreciation to you CP's. They really can make or break an aspiring writers career, so you must choose carefully...and it appears that you have! :)

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    1. I love them all and feel like a very lucky girl~ they've definitely helped move me along the path of this writing journey :)

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  19. Is Linda Urban her real name? Talk about serendipity.

    Being comfortable with a writing process does not compare to getting jabbed by someone proofreading a story. Currently I have a friend who is studying to become a professional editor, and her comments have been valuable.

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    1. Glad that you found a friend with editing skills~ that's great for both of you (you can get feedback and she can help out with your manuscripts!). I'm not sure if Linda Urban is her real name :)

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  20. I depend on my critique partners to help me see what I don't see. My manuscripts are always way better after getting their feedback. I submit re-writes to them, too. I have to reflect that my work is always a team effort, looking back.

    Thanks for your feedback about my blog face lift. :-)

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    1. A team effort is a great way to phrase it :)

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  21. CPs are the rocks that help you polish your manuscript into a gem! Especially since they have to read that darn manuscript almost as many times as you do!

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  22. Thank goodness for CPs! Good ones are beyond price, not just for saving the manuscript, but for getting us through the emotional roller coaster that is the writing process. I don't know how anyone manages without a CP! Thanks for this lovely post, Jess!

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    1. Yes! The emotional support is just as important as the writing help!

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  23. CPs are so priceless and precious when you find the right ones.
    I can't agree more with you. :)

    ~Akoss

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  24. Wonderful post. Now I'm off to track down the lovely people you've mentioned!

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  25. Having good critique partners is a huge, huge blessing :).

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  26. Critique partners make all the difference! So happy you found a great one. And I'm always up to follow people recommended by those I admire, so off to do so now. :)

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    1. Thank you, Janet :) They're super sweet folks to follow!

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  27. Jess! It's been so long. I'm glad to be around blogging again. And I totally agree with your thoughts on CP's. They are the greatest! Thanks for the post. I'm off to visit your CP's :)

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    1. Hi Michelle! Off to check out your blog :) Welcome back to blogging!

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  28. My first betas were two teens I hired for feedback. I had no idea how important CPs were. I had a crit group for a while, but that disbanded (we're still friends). I have one CP now and several betas. And I don't have to email my CP right now. We email each other 100 times a day. But I did send her a congrats ecard a fews minutes ago. News coming soon on my blog. :D

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