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Critique Connection

It has been a while since I’ve opened up the blog to a Critique Connection. Writers are always asking me how to find critique partners so I periodically make a post where y’all can introduce yourselves in the comments and hang your “I’m looking for a critique partner!” shingles.

It’s simple: Comment below, list your email address (I recommend spelling things out like “mary at kidlit dot com” just so it’s harder for people or bots to spam you), and describe your project, the genre, the audience, whether it’s finished, and what you’re looking for out of a critique experience. For example:

Hey! I’m Mary (mary at kidlit dot com) and I’m working on a 75,000 word YA about space hamsters and the women who love them. I’d like a critique partner who vacuums my living room and cooks me dinner, but I’d settle for someone to give me feedback on my first three chapters.

Only try not to be a cheeky monkey in yours. Leave a comment or browse them and reach out to people who might be a good fit for your work. There are no guarantees here, but I’ve heard of several groups who have met and mingled as a result of these posts, so I keep doing them occasionally to give writers a chance to connect.

In other news, there are two workshops that I highly recommend, one through a lot of personal experience. That one is the Big Sur Writing Workshop put on by my former agency, Andrea Brown. It is truly phenomenal, a hands-on opportunity for close, personal attention on your pages from talented faculty and other writers. The registration deadline was last Thursday but there just might be more room, so it never hurts to double-check. If not, you should put this one on your radar, and know that it recurs every December and March.

Also on the west coast and a bit later in the summer in case you can’t get into Big Sur or need to scrape together pages or finances is the Oregon Coast Children’s Book Writers Workshop. I haven’t had any experience with this program personally but it is another interesting option to consider if you’re looking for the kind of intensive manuscript attention that’s a huge help for writers working on their craft.

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  1. Patti’s avatar

    Hi! I’m Patti (patti at buffwerk dot com) and would love to connect with a fast critique partner (I say fast because my current CPs take sometimes months to do a chapter and by the time I get it back I’ve already revised it).

    I’m halfway through writing a YA Paranormal I hope to keep under 100,000. It is about a girl who discovers a magical, antique manuscript while researching her mother’s murder. There are some historical sections (ranging from Medieval to WWII) along with contemporary sections, so somebody who reads historical novels or has a good grasp of history would be a huge plus.

    Anybody interested in a trial exchange of three chapters? Of course I’ll return the favor. Looking forward to hearing from you! And thanks to Mary for the opportunity.

  2. Hong’s avatar

    Hi everyone,

    My name is Hong hongtranbooks[at]gmail[dot]com I have a finished 46,000 word MG fantasy and Vietnamese fairytale retelling manuscript set in Ireland about a girl who must find a magic crossbow to prevent dark sorcerers from bridging their world to Earth and killing her mother.

    I’m looking a critique partner who can give me feedback on my query pitch and the first 1-3 chapters.

    In exchange, I can critique your query pitch and the first 1-3 chapters of your MG/YA fantasy/fairytale retelling

  3. stacey’s avatar

    Hello there! I’m looking for a CP/beta reader for my YA contemp about a 16yo prostitute who is busted and sent back home to deal with her “real” life.
    It deals with dark themes (obviously) and has some swearing (but not overboard) but its still pretty light, involving a super cute high school romance. I hope to start querying somewhat soon.

    I like to get to know people I send to so send me an email an we’ll see if we’re a good match (I may so no thanks, especially if I get more than 2 responses. But I always love new writing friends :-) Email: gstac2006@yahoo.com

    Oh! And I’m willing to swap so let me know what youd send me!

  4. Connie B. Dowell’s avatar

    Thanks for opening this up! I love the space hamster plot. I almost wish it was a real book. :)

    Hi, I’m Connie (cgbdowell at gmail dot com). Right now I’m working on some picture book manuscripts (at the moments, specifically one about a confused robot) and a YA historical mystery set in 1919, which I estimate will run 65,000-70,000 words. While the YA will not be ready for critique for some time, I would love feedback on the robot picture book and a synopsis of the YA, which I could have ready and polished in about a week. I’m especially looking for feedback on plot structure for the YA synopsis and whether the picture book is understandable (leaving room for the pictures while not being utterly confusing can be a challenge sometimes) and whether the language itself is as evocative and playful as I hoped.

    I’m a thorough reader and adaptable. I can give you big picture or line by line feedback as needed. Also, I’m comfortable critiquing chapters or short works or beta reading a whole novel. I will be out of town, though, Feb. 15-18, so I won’t be super responsive during that time, but I will be checking email when I can.

  5. Cristy’s avatar

    This is a fabulous idea! Thanks, Mary!

    Hi everyone, I’m Cristy Zinn (zinn dot cristy at gmail dot com) and I’ve just finished a middle grade fantasy novel. I would love to trade the first three chapters with anyone else writing fantasy or SF for that age group. Although the manuscript has been through a few pairs of eye, I need someone to take a fresh look at it. I’m only available from the beginning of March.

    Looking forward to hearing from you… whoever you are.

  6. Chris V’s avatar

    Ditto on the awesome idea, Mary, and thanks so much! I’ve participated in one of these before (on this site) and it was very valuable.

    In any case, I am Chris von Halle (cvonhalle at gmail dot com) and I just finished the rough draft of a middle-grade dystopian novel. I also recently got an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, so I like to think I’ve learned something about the craft (even if just to humor myself) and could help somebody out with their work as well. I would be most interested in partnering with somebody who also writes within the middle-grade fantasy/science fiction spectrum, though I could be open to others depending on the genre.

  7. Katie’s avatar

    Thank YOU!!!!

    I’m Katie (katiestillgrowing at hotmail dot com), and I’m working on a Contemporary YA and would love to exchange a few chapters with anyone. I also have a MG fantasy we could exchange if you’re not in to contemp. :)

  8. Richelle’s avatar

    Thanks Mary!

    I’m Richelle Morgan (richelle at richellemorgan dot com) and I have a draft of a MG adventure I’d like to exchange. I’m in the midst of doing a first pass revision, so I probably wouldn’t be ready to send anything until maybe April, but I can start reading anytime — either MG or YA, most any genre (though I confess high fantasy isn’t my favorite).

    I attended the Big Sur Writing Workshop last year (and was in one of Mary’s groups!) and I can vouch for it being a great experience, even when battling a monster head cold.

  9. Haley Aldrich’s avatar

    Hi! I’m Haley (UCF 612 at gmail dot com). I’m a relatively new writer and I’m looking for a critique partner. I have 2 works in progress that I would love review on.

    Book 1 is a MG mystery (thefts). I’d really like critique on the opening chapters. The MC is a 12-year-old girl whose best friend is accused of being a thief and she tries to find out the truth before he gets in trouble. This one has a nearly completed 1st draft but the opening chapters are ready.

    Book 2 is a YA mystery/suspense. This one is about a 16-year-old girl who tries to prove her stepfather is a serial killer. I’d really like critiques from someone who is an avid suspense reader. I’d like to know if I have the suspense ramped up enough. This one has a completed first draft, I’m currently working on the 2nd draft. This one might be a few more months before it is seamless, right now I’m re-writing the beginning.

    I am willing to swap work but I am very, very new to critiquing. (fair warning!)

  10. Chandler’s avatar

    So glad I stumbled on this! I’ve been lucky enough to have three fabulous critique partners for several years now who have become great friends but for various reasons (babies, jobs, etc) are taking breaks from writing. I’d really like to find a few more great matches to share this crazy journey with.

    I’m repped by Writers House. I write YA primarily; but I have ghostwritten 3 books in an MG series, so I have at least *some* experience there and am more than happy to read MG. I don’t have one specific project in mind. I’ve been ghostwriting and working for book packagers for about 3 years now and am just getting into writing stuff (hopefully) under my own name again.

    I have a YA psychological horror that I’m about 55k into and a YA monster book in the works right now.

    I like contemps a lot. Generally don’t tend toward high fantasy these days, but I can be persuaded…

    I’m looking for thoughtful honest critiques, someone to talk shop with and share ups and downs. My email is chandler1986(at)gmail(dot)com

  11. Megan Lentz’s avatar

    Hi! My name is Megan (megan(dot)lentz at gmail(dot)com) and I’m working on a ~80,000 word YA soft sci-fi/dystopian. When Earth was destroyed many generations ago, a group of scientists escaped to colonize a new planet. Now they have returned to Earth, only for the MC (15 year old Anya) to discover that there are survivors on Earth. As Anya races against the clock to rescue the survivors, she uncovers horrific truths about her own people’s past, and begins to question everything she’s ever known.

    I’m on my 3rd overhall and am looking for a critique partner to provide feedback on plot (specifically pacing) and character development (are the characters engaging/believable/likable). I’d love a critique partner who is working on a YA or MG fantasy, sci-fi, or dystopian (I’m an avid reader of these genres).

  12. Chandler’s avatar

    Not sure why mine didn’t post… but I’ll try again!

    So glad I stumbled on this! I’ve been lucky enough to have three fabulous critique partners for several years now who have become great friends but for various reasons (babies, jobs, etc) are taking breaks from writing. I’d really like to find a few more great matches to share this crazy journey with.

    I write YA primarily; but I have ghostwritten 3 books in an MG series, so I have at least *some* experience there and am more than happy to read MG. I don’t have one specific project in mind. I’ve been ghostwriting and working for book packagers for about 3 years now and am just getting into writing stuff (hopefully) under my own name again.

    I have a YA psychological horror that I’m about 55k into and a YA monster book in the works right now.

    I like contemps a lot. Generally don’t tend toward high fantasy these days, but I can be persuaded…

    I’m looking for thoughtful honest critiques, someone to talk shop with and share ups and downs. My email is chandler1986(at)gmail(dot)com

  13. Shelley Sly’s avatar

    Hi everyone! I’m Shelley, and I write contemporary middle grade. I’d love to exchange manuscripts with anybody who writes MG (doesn’t matter if it’s fantasy or contemporary or whatever).

    My latest MS is about a sister and brother who sneak off to Washington D.C. to try to meet the president. :)

    I’m very experienced with critiques (this will be my 12th exchange), but will gladly work with anybody regardless of experience level.

    My email address is reddshell (at) gmail (dot) com. I’ll be out of town for a week starting tomorrow 2/15, but I can still correspond through email while I’m gone and can start critiquing when I get back!

    Thank you for hosting this, Mary!

  14. Pam’s avatar

    Hi,

    I’m Pam and working on publishing some of my picture book manuscripts.

    Thanks, Mary, for posting this. I’m looking for a couple serious PB writers to exchange manuscripts on approximately a once a month basis. I’m in two fabulous critique groups, but I’d love one or two more people who are far enough along in their writing journeys to critique honestly and have some knowledge about the current picture book market. I don’t typically write in verse, so I’d prefer to exchange with others who write in prose.

    If you are interested in exchanging, my email is wonderwoman5432 (at) gmail (dot) com.

    Looking forward to making some new friends.

    -Pam

  15. Chelsey’s avatar

    Hi,

    I’m Chelsey. (chelseyblair at gmail). I’m currently revising two YA contemporary novels (summaries below) and looking for a like-minded crit partner or two. I’m also in the query trenches with my YA supernatural GHOST LIGHT and would not be against having someone to hold my hand there….

    In FALL TO PIECES seventeen-year-old rockstar wannabe Meridian Ashton breaks ties the way she changes strings on her guitar to cope with her travel-writing mother’s nomadic habits. But when she loses her leg thanks to a dumb decision involving a balcony and a mosh pit, she gets stuck at her aunt and uncle’s place in suburban Massachusetts and discovers that the only way to get back on the path to fame might be to start letting people back her up.

    SWING is about sixteen-year-old Sabine Darielle, who, after spending most of her sophomore year in and out of the burn unit is going to make her junior year better–the best. She’s president of the swing dancing club, has a hot surfer-boyfriend, and her baby nephew is just about the most adorable thing on the planet. Her plans for perfection are thrown off by Elodie Martin, who has come back from boarding school loaded with secrets. Sabine is determined to discover what is behind the once-bubbly girl’s new timid demeanor, even if it means alienating those who are suspicious of Elodie’s sudden return. She owes Elodie for being the one to found the club that helped Sabine keep it together last year, and being the only one who knows how Sabine got her scars–inside and out.

  16. Kristi’s avatar

    Yes, thank you, Mary!

    I’m Kristi (kwientge at yahoo dot com). My passion is MG and I have a few WIP’s, but one that I’m really passionate about. I have an online critique group at cbiclubhouse, but like some of you have mentioned, it’s rather slow.

    I’d like a partner who can give me ‘big idea’ critiques first and then delve into the nitty gritty if we mesh.

    Thanks

  17. Bonnie’s avatar

    Hi, I’m Bonnie (grandmapride @ yahoo .com) Thanks Mary, what a wonderful idea to get writers together. I have a local group I meet with but would really like a one on one critique partner or two who are into MG writing.

    I have an anthropomorphic story for 8 to 12 years titled “The two-Headed Rat.” A young rat can’t make up his mind what he wants out of life. Thrown from a bad situation at home into dealing with strange new friends who are totally different from him. He struggles to find out where he belongs. Humorous poetry is scattered throughout and it also deals with becoming a leader.

    I also have a MG fiction mystery of an 11 year old girl who works at her school’s library called “The Red Powder Mystery.” She is accused of stealing from the overdue fund. She, with the help of her best friend must prove her innocence before she is permanently humiliated by the whole school. This story deals with responsibility, honesty and promises.

    My plan is to self-publish and I have had both stories edited. I would appreciate a three chapter review on either or both for pace, interest and general opinion. Also if the titles work. Of course, I would love to do the same for anyone who would like to switch with me.

    thanks so much, I am excited to work with you.
    Bonnie

  18. Chalon’s avatar

    I will definitely contact some of you. I just completed my first MG novel and would like some honest feedback.

    My novel is MG fantasy and I would love to swap critiques.

    My email is (mtnmom44 at gmail dot com).

    Thanks!

  19. Rachna Chhabria’s avatar

    Hi, I am Rachna (rachnachhabria at ymail dot com). Though my passion is MG, I also love Picture Books. I have 2 fabulous Crit partners for my MG books. I am looking for a crit partner for my Picture Books.

    Cat and Rat is about a naughty rat caught by the garden cat. Afraid to end up as her lunch, Robby the rat uses every excuse he can think up to escape from the cat. Ultimately what comes to Robby’s rescue is the witch’s curse.

    My second PB is Buttercup. Its a story about a bee and a butterfly who are trapped inside the buttercup flower, which closes its petals at sunset every day. Its about two unlikely creatures helping each other in difficult times.

    I would happily crit your PB in exchange.

    If anyone is interested in exchanging PB manuscripts you can contact me at my email address.

    Thanks Mary for this wonderful opportunity to make connections and friends.

  20. Melinda’s avatar

    Hi! I’m working on the second draft of a 65,000-word YA novel.

    Here’s a brief description:
    When 16-year-old Olivia is stunned by not one, but two boys claiming to be her boyfriend, she discovers she’s somehow shifting between alternate versions of her life, each shaped by decisions she made—or didn’t—in the past. If she can’t figure out where she belongs, she might get stuck where she doesn’t forever. But deciding where to stay also means choosing who to leave behind.

    I hope to be finished with this draft in a few weeks. I’m looking for someone willing to read the full manuscript who can point out big-picture issues like character development, pacing and plot inconsistencies. This is my fourth completed YA novel and I enjoy reading all types of YA.

    If you want to exchange a few chapters to see if we are a good fit, email me at melinda.a.gray at gmail.com. Thanks!

  21. Rachael R’s avatar

    Hello, my name is Rachael Rice (nd I am in love with YA fiction.

    I’m currently working on a YA Fantasy with some light romance in it. I’d love a critique partner who also writes YA in the Fantasy, Paranormal, Dystopian, genres. Though I am open to others.

    I can give regular weekly or biweekly feedback (depending on my schedule) and I tend to do the line edits, nitty gritty, stuff first before moving on to big picture.

    If you’d like to exchange first chapters please email me at Rachnicrice at gmail dot com.

  22. Jeff DeCoursey’s avatar

    (Thanks Mary!)

    Hey everyone, I’m working on an historical MG about a boy who’s kidnapped by the circus after his father steals money from the ringmaster. When his father doesn’t pay the debt to set him free, he searches for a way home, along with a way to understand his father. I’m just moving into a solid draft now, so it’ll be a month or so before it’s ready for for a read.

    I’m hoping to find other MG writers who, after deciding we’re a good fit, want to go chapter by chapter, and really help one another refine our manuscripts till they shine. (Even if it takes several passes to get there). I’d love to crit anything MG, especially character driven, plot twisting, light sci-fi or fantasy, as well as contemporary. I’m not a good fit for high fantasy or really heavy sci-fi though.

    If you want to email me and see if we’re a fit, drop me a line at contact(at)jeffdecoursey(dot)com By the way, I have a couple writing samples on my website, from this and another MG work in progress, if you want to test the waters first. www(dot)jeffdecoursey(dot)com

    Thanks!

  23. Eileen Donovan’s avatar

    Thanks for this opportunity Mary. I’m writing a MG fantasy about a 12-year old boy who, after meeting a wizard, transforms into various creatures to explore their worlds. Ultimately, these experiences will help him rescue his kidnapped sister. Would love to hear from anyone who thinks this is the kind of novel(?), about 8,000 words, they would like to critique. My present critique group consists of adult novel writers and they just don’t really get my style or content. You can reach me at edonovan4906 at yahoo dot com. Hope to hear from you.

  24. Stephanie’s avatar

    Hi everyone!

    I’m working on what I’m hesitantly referring to as “a YA contemporary sci-fi inspired by Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN”, but that genre classification may change. Here’s the short pitch:

    Science prodigy Mary brings her dead boyfriend Adam back to life, but the creature who emerges from the machine isn’t the boy she loved: he’s a freak. When everyone the new Adam has encountered turns up dead and the evidence points to him, Mary is torn between destroying the monster she created – or trusting him long enough to stop a killer after the secret of life itself.

    I’m up for any kind of critique, chapter by chapter, and am just focusing on finding someone I really connect with as both a reader and a writer.

    My email is steph (underscore) smith (underscore) performer (at) yahoo (dot) ca. Hoping to hear from someone!

  25. Seth’s avatar

    Hey everyone,

    First of all, mad props to Mary for doing another one of these.

    I’ve been working on a YA/UrbanFantasy for quite a while, and I need someone with fresh eyes to pick out the problems with the manuscript. It features a male protagonist, and has mucho supernatural elements, as well as a (kind of) love triangle (think gargoyles meets harry potter).

    I’m happy to exchange a full manuscript critique with anyone. Mine is about 85k, so I’m happy to take on a manuscript of similar length. I can probably get the critique done in a month or so – maybe less if you’re pressed for time.

    Hope to hear from ya! sethzherman at gmail dot com.

  26. Vanessa’s avatar

    Hi everyone,

    My name is Vanessa and I’m working on a gritty YA thriller set during the zombie apocalypse. The novel is told in three pov’s and deals with dark/mature issues similar to The Walking Dead.

    For Carly, living amongst the undead is not an easy task, and her abusive stepfather Tom doesn’t make it any easier. When her own mother becomes infected, Carly has no choice but to try and escape. On the night that she plans to leave the community chaos erupts, causing her plans to backfire.The community fences have been broken down by an outside gang leaving everyone inside open to the undead. When it seems things can’t get any worse, her little brother is kidnapped. Forced to team up with an old flame, Carly and Joshua must race to save her little brother’s life.

    I would love to team up with another person. I’d be up to critiquing chapter by chapter.

    VanessaBooke(at)gmail(dot)com

  27. Steven’s avatar

    Thank you Mary and hello all,

    I’m very interested in looking for a writing partner to critique each others stories, pitch ideas to and generally just motivating each other. I’m currently working on a middle grade fantasy about a boy, his workaholic dad and three billion nanobots.

    Keep writing,
    Steven

  28. Steven’s avatar

    And woops didn’t add my email – Steven (dot) short (at) me (dot) com

    Thanks again.

  29. Kim’s avatar

    Hi, I’m Kim (kimdsmall at comcast dot net) and I have a 48,000 word upper middle grade contemporary manuscript that I’d love to get some critique partners for. The book is about a shy, eighth grade boy who finally finds his voice when he becomes his school’s new advice columnist and starts solving people’s problems through words. He’s enjoying his newfound popularity until he gets an anonymous letter from a student threatening to commit suicide if the gay bashing doesn’t stop. Only then does he realize that some problems don’t have easy solutions, but that the power of words can unite people in ways he never imagined.

    Several agents have read my full and given me some lovely comments about my writing, voice, and characters saying they think the manuscript has the potential to be great. Some have even offered to look at a rewrite. The problem is they seem to be struggling with some parts of the plot although everyone seems to have a different idea of what they think isn’t quite working, which is making me pretty confused at this point. I would love to get some help with this as I’m very passionate about this project and want to make it as good as it can be.

    I’d be happy to read other people’s manuscripts and do what I can to help you all get your work to the next level.

  30. Bryan’s avatar

    Hi, my name is Bryan(auctionvampire at yahoo dot com), and I’m looking for a critique partner. I’ve just completed 110,00 word MG adventure that I would really like to get someone to look at–that’s not related to me. The story is about a 13 year old girl named Abbey and her doll that are whisked away to a world called the Realm. The Realm is the land of ideas, where the inspiration for all of man’s most popular stories originate.
    Everything is perfect until Abbey has to return home. In order for her to leave the Realm, she must right a wrong, by going to a place called the boundary (the border that separates the Realm’s heroes from its villains), and face a creation of her own making.

  31. Bailey Brooks’s avatar

    Hey, Mary, thanks for sharing. I hope your Easter egg basket if full.

    I’m interested in a reader swap and write in 3rd POV, which is my comfort zone. With this in mind, I have a 40k ms, upper MG, thriller pursuit set in the late 1940’s.

    When two ten-year-olds’ runaway with a stolen souvenir that holds a mystery, two ruthless federal agents pursue them across an unforgiving landscape and use extreme measures to recover the piece of alien technology. Kate and Billy leave a trail of destruction as they flee to reach her grandpa where they take flight, which leads them along a dangerous path of trust, betrayal, and discovery.

    Cheers, Bailey Brooks: bbrooks1066(at)gmail(dot)com

  32. claudia’s avatar

    I know i´m several months late with this post but if anyone is still interested, I´m looking for a MG to Tween critique partner who i can bounce ideas off and who can help me with the plotting of my story, which is my weakness.
    I´ll read your first chapters and try to give you a thorough “critique”…or whatever you need. I think I´m especially good with dialogue and character creation.
    I´m working on 2 MG novels ( one closer to tween) both with a speculative twist ( read–distopian, ghosts, sci fi and the like).

    Drop me a line at : thequillwitch@gmail.com

  33. Daniel Riles’s avatar

    Thanks, Mary, for making this available.

    I have written (and sat on for over a decade) a first draft of a MG fantasy in which science has seemingly conquered magic. Puberty brings on minor embarrassments in the form of uncontrolled magic, but medication puts a damper on that for most. The protagonist, however, is one of the exceptions, and he must flee the officials to the safety of his paleontologist uncle’s camp where he discovers a lot about both magic and science.

    I am new to sharing manuscripts, but I would love a partner to help me through the revision of this one.

    Dan Riles (stlbanjo (plus) book (at) gmail (dot) com)

  34. Self Realized’s avatar

    Betta reader critique partner, needed asap!!

    I have wrote a book called THE TRUEST STORY EVER TOLD: THE COSMIC PLAY, and before I press the book I would like to find a supreme beta reader, or critique partner. If you are or know any supreme beta readers, or critique partner please let me know, thank you…

    Who are you? Is God, Satan, hell, heaven, death, twin flames, soul mates, psychic powers, aliens and much more real? Are we in heaven, hell, dimension school, prison, purgatory, or is this all the same, but worded differently?.. I would like a beta reader, critique partner or to read and be apart of this soon world best seller. Will you be able to say I was the beta reader, or critique partner for that book o my god…..

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