Critique Connection

Every once in a while, I open up the blog to a Critique Connection in the comments. A lot of writers have reported finding critique partners or groups this way. I haven’t done it in a while, so I figured, why not?

Here’s what you should leave in the comments:

  • The category of your WIP (picture book, middle grade, etc.)
  • Genre, if applicable
  • Whether you’re looking for another set of eyes for your current project, or a longer-term critique relationship
  • How to reach you (I’d suggest formatting your email like this: mary at kidlit dot com, just to discourage spam)

Good luck potentially connecting with some like-minded writers! I hope you find your next critique partner here.

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16 Replies to “Critique Connection”

  1. Thanks, Mary!

    I write picture and board books of all varieties, some STEM-based, others with emotional ties, and a few silly and rhyming. I’m open to short and long-term critique partnerships, but I do believe that follow up and follow through are equally important. I’ve found (almost) all of my current critique partners/kid lit friends via blogging… both through reading and writing, so I’m eager to see what happens today!

    jprevost6 at gmail dot com.

  2. #critique
    Hello! I write middle grade fantasy as well as picture books.
    I would like to find a long-term critique partner/group. I put about 2-4 books out per year (that is the goal anyway). You can reach me at dawnpaul at mail dot com. Thanks!

  3. Middle-grade fantasy book. I would love another set of eyes for this project to see what is working and what isn’t. I would like this to be a long-term relationship because of other WIP. You can reach me at jessrenee38 at gmail dot com.

  4. I have found good critique partners on here before, and it’s always helpful to have new critique partners who can look at a revision with fresh eyes, so I figured I’d post again. I write middle grade science fiction. I’d be happy to read middle grade of any genre. Let me know if you think we’re a match. My email is meagan.k.boyd (at gmail dot com).

  5. Hi. I am currently moving thru the second revision of my 37,000 word middle grade comedy, Snaggletooth, in the vein of Judy Moody or Sheila the Great but with a Mexican American flair. I have had bites from 3 agents but no takers so this revision is based on their recs. I am focusing on the first five chapters. A short snippet follows. I would be happy to return the favor on another project in a similar stage of rewrite! 🙂 Thanks

    They call me Snaggletooth and that’s no compliment, I’ll tell you that much for free.
    Mama says not to worry. That the kids at Grove City Middle School will like me just fine, once they get to know me on the inside. Mama means well, but she doesn’t know squat about sixth grade if that’s what she thinks. The kids here don’t give a hill of beans about my insides. I could poop diamonds and they’d still poke fun at my dead, grey front tooth, my tortilla belly, and my frizzy hair.
    I was rocking the sixth grade at my old school in Richmond. I had the best, best friend ever and made captain of the basketball team-my outside shot is butter. I even made A Honor Roll, and that has never happened before. But here in Texas my life stinks worse than a porta-potty parked in the sun. And I should know cause I had to use one of those nasty things out behind the gas station when I had to pee real bad on the drive down. I didn’t even know those things still existed in the United States of America. They shouldn’t, that’s for sure. The smell was ferocious and the flies-well lets just say they belong in Jurassic Park.
    I just cannot even believe my perfectly awesome life managed to go so totally rotten in just two weeks! How you ask? I blame it on our stupid, spring break staycation.

  6. Thanks, Mary, for offering this CC.
    I’m Jeff, an upper Middle Grade author looking to swap big picture/content type comments on my current (complete) wip, which is a contemporary Action/Thriller novel: Two twelve-year-old kids wash ashore on a remote tropical island as castaways and must survive king-sized Komodo dragons, headhunters, and a pirate raid. If interested please contact me on: benjj1706 at gmail dot com.

    1. Hi Mary! I hope you are well and appreciated all your wonderful editing on my last book, PP a couple of years ago. I have just completed a middle grade book and was just sharing with the gremlins and fairies who share my office who often growl at me, and sometimes cheer me on as I write, that I really need some fellow writers to get some feedback and notes on this book. And dada! And here is your email in my inbox. My book is, The Book Conservatory – Fantasy – Fablehaven meets A Night at the Museum set at The New York Public Library.

  7. I’m Katie, and I’m currently dipping my toes into the Picture Book landscape—learning as much as I can and starting to write my first few manuscripts. I’m open to critiques on specific projects or a longer-term critique relationship. Feel free to reach me at katiemclaughlin8 at gmail dot com.

  8. Great idea, Mary! Thanks for the opportunity. I would like another pair of eyes (and possibly a continuing critique relationship) for my Biblical Fiction Chapter Book, “A Changing Heart” based on an Old Testament account of Naaman’s wife’s little servant girl. You can contact me at Jarm at me dot com.

  9. Such a fantastic idea! Thanks, Mary! ❤️

    My WIP is a picture book that I’d love some fresh eyes/new perspective on.

    I’d also be up for long term critique relationships.

    You can reach me at
    abbey dot taylor at gmail dot com

    I look forward to chatting with fellow writers!

  10. Hello, everyone! I write YA Fantasy and am currently polishing a 90K ms for submission. What I’d like is a beta read once it’s finished. It’s a gritty coming of age, with two love scenes, so, just saying.

    Also, I run an online Spec Fic critique group which is totally private. (We do this on a linked batch of Trello boards & the system rocks.) We have MG through adult, all flavors of spec fic. We do frequent Skype hangouts with writers and craft teachers. Brian Staveley and Lisa Cron and Jefferson Smith are some of our more recent speakers. (Mary, any chance we could entice you into giving us an hour or two? The people who join us really get into the group. We’re around 20 people now from Italy to Australia and every US time zone there is.)

    If someone is interested in trading a beta read or in sending a sample of their work for possible inclusion in the crit group, email me at morgynstar at yahoo.com

    1. Morgyn I would be potentially interested in both trading a beta read and getting into your group. I write middle grade and young adult. I have 2 complete novels not published yet, I have been searching for a rigorous critique group in my specific genres to help get me to the next level. I have attached a sample of my young adult dystopian WIP for your review.

      Chapter 1 One Nation

      The human race has taken a wrong turn somewhere south of Hell. But in my little corner of the world, the tiny mining town of Chisholm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, life keeps plodding along. You have to scratch deep down to know that Black Flu has decimated Asia and is blowing through Europe, that half the world is starving, or that the President has called up our National Guard.
      At Thomas Jefferson High School, we are plowing full steam ahead-football, homework, and the SATs. When the electricity goes out we work by the windows. If the heat fails we wear extra layers and fire up the wood stoves. It defies logic, but nothing short of everyone breaking out in festering boils is gonna so much as delay the start of classes. It could be the zombie apocalypse and Thomas Jefferson High would still count tardies. I should know-the principal is my mama. I love the woman, but she is a bulldog in lipstick and heels. She’s made up her mind that it’s gonna be business as usual at Thomas Jefferson, so by God it is.
      I raced through my physics, then vaulted onto the couch next to my sister, Abby, stealing half her quilt
      “Hey!” Abby yanked the blanket. “Get your own quilt.”
      “Babs, have mercy.”I burrowed my cold feet behind her back.
      Tonight was a good night. The electricity was on, the Wi-Fi was working; we even had satellite reception. The wind whistled outside, sending leaves swirling pst the window; but inside Mama, Abby, and I were snug as bugs.
      I texted my best friend, Izzy. “Get ready. Storm rolling off mountain.”
      My screen lit up sad faces. ☹☹☹
      “Do we have plenty of wood for the pot belly if the electricity goes out?” Mom asked from the bar in the kitchen where she was chopping onions for chili.
      “We’re good. Dad and I split and stacked a whole bunch before he left.”
      A crash on the patio made me jump. Branches screeched back and forth along the metal roof.
      “I hate that sound,” Abby put her hands over her ears.
      “Hate is an awfully strong word for a ten year girl to use,” Mama said.
      Abby made a face. “But it’s exactly what I meant.”
      I grinned. “She’s right. That’s a horrible sound. It makes me itch down in my bones”
      “I’ll get your daddy to cut those limbs when he gets home,” Mama said.
      I shook my head. “I hope you’ve got earplugs, cause who knows when that will be.”
      Mama ignored me, slamming her knife over the cutting board, pounding the vegetables to smithereens.
      We haven’t heard from Daddy for over a month, not since he got called up to Walter Reed. Mama didn’t want him to go, but in the military, even when you’re retired, they can call you up to protect the national security. As one of the only Infectious Diesease Specialist in the military that’s just what they did.
      He warned us that he might not be able to communicate once he got to Walter Reed, so I’m not worried about him exactly; but with the rolling black outs and oil shortages, I just want to let him know that that we’re OK.
      Living where we do, fifteen minutes from the nearest town, services are spotty on a good day. We know how to get by with wood stoves and propane when we have to. We’re way better off than the people in big cities like Richmond or D.C. They are really freaking out, apparently.
      “Lizzie,” Mama snapped, “get that hand out of your mouth or I’ll make you wear Band-Aids on all your fingers.”
      I had been attacking my fingernails again. I extracted the offending finger from my voracious jaws. My pointer nail was chewed all the way down to the quick. I’m trying to stop, truly, but I don’t even realize I’m doing it most of the time. I shoved my hand deep in my pocket and ground my teeth as the wind set off another round of scraping over the roof. There is no way I can spend another night listening to this infernal screeching. I’ll get up on the roof tomorrow, when Mama isn’t around, and cut down those limbs.
      Mama would never allow it. Tromping around on a roof is not behavior fit for a lady according to her. Mama may be the last living southern belle, which is funny because she’s super smart, has a PhD, and sits on the city council, so you wouldn’t think she was the type, but she is old fashioned. She never goes out in public unless she’s fully made up and wouldn’t say ‘shit’ if she stepped in it. My sweats and ponytail give her cat fits.
      Daddy is the exact opposite. He taught Abby and me to hunt, fish, and even spit from the time we were knee high. Truth be told, I am no fan of camping or the hunting, but I keep that to myself-just to keep Mama’s bees buzzing.
      The television beeped sharply three times. We all three looked up. A perky blonde news anchor replaced Carson Daily from “The Voice.”
      “Breaking news from Paris.”
      The picture panned to a platoon of soldiers in black fatigues bearing the now familiar insignia of One Nation, an eye within a diamond on their shoulders.
      Mama stopped murdering the carrots and moved closer to the TV.
      The soldiers led two men in business suites across the lawn of a large official looking building and stopped next to a flagpole flying the red, white, and blue flag of France. The two men in business suites were then forced to lower the French flag and raise the black flag of One Nation in its place.
      When they were done, the One Nation commander stepped forward, gave each man a tiny bow, then pulled a handgun from his thigh holster.
      POP! POP!
      The two men crumpled, the flag unraveling between them, flapping like a wounded bird.
      The air sucked right out of me.
      “Did they just kill those men?” Abby shrieked. “Why would they do that?”
      Mama grabbed Abby. “It’s all right baby. It’s all right.”
      The TV panned back to the announcer. “One Nation has taken control of the Palais du Luxemburg and Charles de Gaul airport,” she grinned this plastic smile like she was giving us the weather. “At eight am this morning, One Nation began dropping bombs on London from German F-35’s which have been housed at Charles de Gaulle since Germany was invaded earlier this year.”
      I finally found my voice. “Holy shit. Is this really happening?”
      “No trash talk, Lizzie,” Mama snapped.
      I shook my head. “Even on the eve of World War Three?”
      “Are we at war? Are we going to be attacked?” Abby wailed.
      “No. Of course not,” Mama shot me the stink eye. “That’s a whole ocean away.”
      “American aircraft carriers are converging on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast in support of our allies. Congress has been called into special session.” The announcer tossed her hair and gave an extra big smile.
      I shook my head. France had fallen to One Nation. It felt totally unreal, like a set up for one of those “Gotcha” reality TV shows.
      Abby cried full out then. My insides ricocheted inside me like Ping-Pong balls. I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve seen that little girl cry and they all involved blood or broken bones. Now I worry about pretty much everything but it’s a constant simmer, just below the surface, so you’d never know-unless you looked at my fingernails I guess.
      I hugged Abby as hard as I could, trying to squeeze the fear out of us both.
      Mama snapped off the TV. “It looks bad, but there’s no reason to get all worked up. We’re safe here.”
      “But what if-”
      “No one’s interested in a tiny town in the mountains of Southern Virginia, anyway. Times like these are when living squat in the middle of nowhere is actually an advantage,” I said.
      Abby stopped wailing and wiped her eyes. That apparently made sense to her. “Really?”
      “Definitely.”
      Mama led Abby to the bathroom. “Let’s draw you a nice hot bath, then we’ll eat.”
      I grabbed the remote and snapped the news back on as soon as they were out of the room.
      The image showed a hospital ward lit by fluorescent bulbs, beds arranged in a ring around the periphery. A nurse in a Hazmat suit bent over patients, adjusting pillows and IV bags. “Five more cases of Black flu have been identified within the military population overseas. No cases have occurred in the general public in the United States. Foreign travel and trade bans remain in full effect.”
      Mama returned a minute later.
      “One Nation is meeting with the Vice President and key members of Congress at this moment, offering their assistance in the health crisis.” The picture panned to the White House press office. Vice President Strong stood beside the Senate majority leader and two men wearing the black fatigues of One Nation.
      My heart pounded. “Where is the President?”
      Mom shook her head.
      The announcer answered my question. “The President has retreated to Camp David and Congress has gone into Special Session in order to decide whether to invite One Nation into the United States to assist in vaccination treatment efforts. Officials in Poland, and other countries currently offering open borders to One Nation have offered their reassurances that One Nation has been instrumental in halting the spread of Black Flu within their borders. They assure us that the camps and schools One Nation has set up in their own countries have alleviated the critical hunger crisis as well.”
      “Are they kidding after what we just saw?” Mama shook her head.
      The image panned to an immaculate dormitory with bunk beds along the walls. Women sat at card tables in the center. A tall thin woman in an orange jumper women stood and said. “We are grateful from the bottom of our hearts to One Nation. We are much better off now. We work and are well fed and no one is ill.” The group of skinny women sitting at the table around her smiled and nodded at those words; garish grins that did not reach their eyes.
      “I’ve heard enough.” Mama hit the power button and turned off the TV again.
      I reached for the remote. “London is being bombed. Don’t you want to know-”
      “There’s no point getting all worked up by something happening a world away. I don’t want to get Abby all riled up again.”
      “Abby’s’ in the bathroom!”
      “Enough!” Mom began setting the table. Full formal, fork on the left and knife and spoon on the right like always. “Go tell Abby to finish up. We’re ready to eat.”
      I snorted. For a smart woman, Mama has an unbelievable capacity to ignore reality sometimes.
      Dinner was bizarre, Mama treating it like a regular meal. Abby had regained her spunk and she and Mama chatted about classes and friends; but a coil of fear had lodged in my throat and wouldn’t budge. I could barely speak much less swallow dinner.
      As soon as dinner was over, I grabbed my I Pad and messaged Dad: “HOW’S IT GOING?”
      No surprise, there was no response. Snapchat was on fire, though. My ex-best friend Sherrie, who ‘accidently’ kissed the only boyfriend I’ve ever had when I was down with a cold, posted a photo of her and her parents loading carts with canned goods at the Piggly Wiggly. The caption read, “GETTING READY!”
      Brad, my cheater ex-boyfriend, posted a picture of himself holding an AK-47 in front of his family’s well-stocked gun cabinet. “ONE NATION, COME AND GET IT!”
      I showed Mama. “We need to drive into town and stock up on some food just in case,” I whispered, not wanting to scare Abby again.
      “Not in this weather. Anyway, that’s ridiculous. Panicking is a waste of time.”
      “Mama, they’re preparing for the worst.”
      “Tell your friends they’d be better served sitting tight and using the noggins the Good Lord gave them. Tomorrow will be school as usual. Why don’t you post that?”
      “Hmmm, I’d rather not, thank you very much.”
      “Then clear the plates.”
      “We can’t just bury our heads in the sand and hope Dad gets home in time to save us. One Nation could come here too. We both know that, whatever we may say to Abby.”
      Mom whirled on me. “Watch your tone. I am your mother not one of your friends.”
      “Then face facts, Mama. This is bad. Let’s at least get some supplies. I’ll go myself. It’d be foolish not to.”
      “I think I know what’s going on in the world a little better than an uppity seventeen year old.” Mama slammed the chili pot into the sink and fixed me with a death glare.
      I braced for the tirade already feeling my cell phone and I-Pad slipping away, but instead Mama took a huge sigh, pinched the bridge of her nose, and leaned up against the counter looking tired.
      “You really think your daddy and I have no plan?”
      I stared at my toes. I’d finally cracked through Mama’s southern calm, but now kind of wished I hadn’t. “Not one that I can see,” I said real quiet.
      Mama walked into the living room. “Abby, I’m going to show Lizzie something. We’ll be back in half an hour.”
      “I’ll come too.” Abby said.
      Mama kissed Abby’s curly brown head. “You sit tight here, bug. We’re just going next door to Uncle Jefferson’s place. We’ll be back in a jiff.”
      She walked to the back door pulling on her coat and hat. “Come on Missy. You want a plan. I’ll show you the plan.”

      1. Allyson, email me your chp in Word to morgynstar at yahoo.com

        I want hard copy I can comment on. Far as I read, am impressed. And as for tough, yeah, that’s what we do and do well.

        1. Great is chp my current project? Do you prefer YA? If so I will only send you the first few chapters of the young adult dystopian I sent a sample of because the the rest are too rough to make you slog thru at present. If you want a completed work, I have a full middle grade novel I need a read and critique on before I send out to agents. Do you do middle grade,? A can send a sample as well.

  11. First, thank you for the opportunity, Mary!
    I write picture book and board book mss whenever ideas strike, so they vary in subject matter but are all fiction. I am looking for another set of eyes and/or a longer-term critique relationship. You can reach me at shlemu99 at gmail dot com.
    Looking forward to hearing from you!
    Sheri

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