Critique Connection and Webinar

Howdy, readers! Summer has been a bit slow on the blog. Do not fear. After Labor Day, starting next Wednesday, September 7th, the posts will once again be full steam ahead. In the meantime, I’ve been meaning to open the blog up to another critique connection post since early summer, and here it is.

Before I do, let me tell you about the latest Writer’s Digest webinar I’m doing. In July, I offered a picture book craft intensive, focusing very specifically on writing for the youngest readers. It was my first “specialized” webinar and it was an overwhelming success. (Thank you so much to everyone who listened to that one! I’m digging into critiques for it right now!) On September 15th at 1 p.m. Eastern, I am offering a Middle Grade and Young Adult Craft Intensive webinar.

This 90-minute webinar will focus exclusively into the craft of writing fiction for the middle grade and young adult audience. I’ll talk about the marketplace, strategies to really make your novel stand out in the slush, character, plotting, tension, description, setting, voice, submissions, queries, and much more. It’s the first time I’ll be focusing exclusively on MG and YA, so even if you’ve taken one of my webinars before, you will be getting brand new content. You can sign up by clicking here.

The bonus of my webinars, as many of you already know, is that they include a critique from me for every registered student. For this one, I will read and critique the first 500 words of your MG or YA novel (one project per student, please). Instructions for submitting will come when you register for the webinar.

If you’re having scheduling issues with the time or date, don’t worry. By signing up, you will receive a recording of the webinar (emailed about one week after the original webinar date), you will have the same chance to ask questions as the other students, and you will still get your critique. So sign up even if the time or date doesn’t work for you!

This brings us to Critique Connection. I’ve done these posts in the past and leave the comments open so that you can connect with potential critique partners. Here’s what you need to post:

  1. Your genre (ie: fantasy, paranormal, realistic, historical, etc.)
  2. Your audience (ie: picture book, MG, YA, etc.)
  3. A little about your manuscript (practice your one-line “elevator pitch”)
  4. What you want out of the experience (a critique of your XX,000-word mss., someone to read your first 3 chapters, help with your query letter, etc.)
  5. Your email address for potential partners to contact you (I’d type it in the following format: mary at kidlit dot com so that you avoid spam bots.)

Only post a comment for this entry if you are looking for a critique partner. I will leave it up until after Labor Day to get the most exposure for it. And while you’re thinking of getting critique, do sign up for my webinar!

35 Replies to “Critique Connection and Webinar”

  1. Critique Connection:

    YA Paranormal – 16-year-old Mira uploads entire psyches at a single touch, a “talent” that drives her to attempt suicide and makes her the target of a cold-blooded murderer.

    The manuscript is 50,000 words, but I’d be happy to have someone take a look at the first 50 pages. And I’d be glad to do the same for someone else. laurisawhitereyes at yahoo dot com

  2. Mary, I love that you post these critique connections–so helpful! Thanks!

    My current novel is a YA Contemporary. Charlotte is determined to wipe all traces of her father out of her life after he ditches her and her mother, but in the process she ends up alienating her friends and family.

    It’s currently at 70,000 words, and I’d really like to trade full MS beta readings with someone else! I love reading contemporary especially, but I’m open to paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi, too!

  3. Critique Connection:

    Picture Book

    Billy the Brook Trout learns lessons about life and helps parents and children start discussions about differences.

    First Chapter – 911words.

    sueannporter at yahoo dot com

  4. Critique Connection:

    Picture Book

    A retelling of the Little Red Hen with a twist. Mama makes strawberry jam but no one will help her. Is her family really just too busy or are they up to something.

    Entire MS – 500 words

    darshana at gmail dot com

  5. Critique connection:

    YA Paranormal
    (62,000 words)

    Insomnia put fifteen-year-old Grace in the clutches of death—literally—and now she’s forced to don Death’s hoodie and pull herself together to find a way out of this mess with as few souls hanging in the balance as possible.

    I’m hoping to exchange the first three chapters and see how things go. If we mesh, I’d love to have the opportunity to exchange full manuscripts.

    LisaMarieBasso (at) yahoo (dot) com

  6. Critique Connection:

    YA Spec Fic
    (40,000 words – in progress)

    Part sci-fi, part romance, part psychological thriller. Vera is a seventeen-year-old Reader of memories. When a mysterious stranger infiltrates her society, she must decide if she is willing to risk everything to expose his secrets – and hers.

    I’d be happy to do an exchange. Prefer critique of full ms for characterization, plot, big picture stuff. No line edits.

    KC – ktcinthecity at gmail

  7. Critique connection:

    MG Humorous Steampunk
    (54,000 words; currently working on revisions with an agent)

    A young lab assistant and an eccentric professor have 48 hours to recover their runaway steam-driven pteranadon before Queen Victoria locks the professor away for good.

    I’m looking for someone to do full manuscript critique, exchange and help work out ideas with. I’d prefer someone working in MG, but I’m open to most genres.

    fivecat at gmail (dot) com

  8. Critique Connection:

    YA Contemporary
    (55,000 words – complete)

    17-year-old Eva Hunter has to find a way to navigate diabetes, camp, and a lunatic counselor boyfriend – before someone ends up dead.

    I’m just about ready to send it out, but would love a fresh beta read of the first three chapters. Prefer someone who reads and enjoys contemporary YA. I’m happy to critique chapters in exchange.

    nora.e.coon [at] gmail [dot] com

  9. I am looking for an experienced critique partner to exchange a chapter or two with per week. (I cannot work with first drafts or incomplete manuscripts. Sorry!)

    I’m presently editing a young adult paranormal. About 75k words. And I should warn you that my work borders on horror.


    Shiloh isn’t your typical teenager. Even though, she loves to shop, enjoys gossiping with her friends, and thinks her parents are totally uncool. Deep down, Shiloh knows she isn’t normal. There’s the gift of Sight (Yes, she can see dead people), the magical powers—oh!—and the demon slaying.

    Let’s not forget her supernatural training with her uber cool mentor Evans, where Shiloh resolves to learn more about the dark curse inhabiting Whispering Pines. But when she embarks on a dangerous journey to seek out the town’s insidious origins, the mystery of her family’s past deepens, and she is again thrust into Ravenhurst Manor’s nightmare world.

    To complicate things, she’s torn between two hotties, Trent and Dante. And Shiloh must face her biggest challenge yet—and it’s not deciding which crush to take to the prom.

    No, she must decide which boy will live and which one will die…

    Please contact me if you’re interested in exchanging the first two pages of your MS to see if we are compatible. Sherry_soule @ yahoo.com

  10. Critique Connection:

    I have a ~100,000 page borderline YA novel about a kid who gets sick in his senior year of high school. I say borderline because it’s graphic about disease and sexuality, and there are parts that will probably be offensive to some readers. If that sounds like your cup of phlegm, let me know: dx [at] duncancross.net

  11. Critique Connection:
    MG Fantasy

    MS1 (MG Fantasy; 75,000 words): Lara and Ethan discover a magic ring that whisks them away to ancient Baghdad where run-ins with murderous thieves, evil sorceresses and a 200-year old explorer test their courage and creativity.

    MS2 (MG Contemporary with Fantasy twist; 25,000 words and growing): Being the new kid in town is bad enough, but bad becomes even worse when Makayla’s parents make her sign up for the neighborhood baseball team. Between constantly striking out and missing easy catches, Makayla makes more enemies than friends. Then she meets Smith, an outcast elf who claims he can grant her deepest desires. But will achieving her dream of being a great player destroy the one true friendship she’s made in her new home?

    Initially, I’m looking for a critique of the first few chapters of either or both manuscripts, with a full read-through of MS2 in the next month or so.

    southgeorgia1780-writing at yahoo dot com

  12. Thanks for doing this, Mary! You’re always such a great help. 🙂

    Critique Connection:

    YA Urban Fantasy
    (97,000 words–complete)

    Seventeen-year-old Gabriel Durante has to team up with a fashionista and the Angel of Death in order to kill the demon he’s served for seven years.

    I’d be happy to do a full ms exchange/critique for general things like plot, characters, and ideas. I’m unable to do a line edit style critique because I’m limited on time and have other time commitments. I’d prefer to exchange with someone who is ready to query, so that way we can help each other with not only our manuscripts but our query letters, querying, etc.

    naseoullee at gmail dot com

  13. Yay – thanks for giving us space to find like-minded critters!

    Critique Connection:

    YA mystery
    87,000 words

    Twitter pitch: Emma seeks the truth of her birth mother’s murder confession. Family secrets tangle her feet…and the real killer waits for her to fall.

    I’d like a beta reader for a full ms exchange. Since my MS is set mainly in Nova Scotia, I’d love to find a critiquer who’s a little familiar with the province – but I know that might be a stretch. 🙂 I prefer someone fast, experienced and not afraid to give/receive tough advice on pacing and characterization. I’m open to all genres but am not the best choice for vampires.

    rewrighter at gmail dot com

  14. FOR THE LAST TIME – YA Contemporary – dark
    W.C. – 51,000

    Jennifer Cast cannot even look at her phone without seeing the words “loser, skank, slut.” She starts hearing the words inside her head, the world around her becomes one massive horror flick in which she is the main character. There’s only one way to escape; death.

    * lakemichigan37@yahoo.com

  15. Found my last two crit partners here, and they were fab. Not looking now, just saying thanks again Mary.

  16. UNDECIDED – YA Contemporary Romance
    (60,000 words, complete)

    Two friends who always make the wrong decisions have one last summer to figure out where they belong.

    A year ago, Ryan wanted to cross the friends’ line, but Summer couldn’t decide if she wanted to go with him. By the time she did, he’d moved on. Now Ryan’s with Marcy, and instead of making his own decisions, he’s letting her call the shots, including deciding which college he should attend. Summer knows he’s making a major mistake. But she won’t be able to convince him to take control of his life unless she can figure out how to take control of hers.

    I’ve just completed a major revision and I *think* I’m about ready to query, but I would like a fresh set of eyes to read for big picture things like pacing, characterization, etc. I’d prefer to exchange with someone who reads YA and also has a complete manuscript (that isn’t a first draft).

    melinda.a.gray at gmail dot com

  17. The Necklace – YA Contemporary 68,000 words Complete

    Seventeen-year-old Shayna has to figure out a way to rescue her merchant marine father that’s been captured on a Nigerian pirate ship. Only, the boy she’s falling for? Might just be one of the pirates.

    Would like to start with a critique of three chaps.


  18. It´s for a YA audience.
    It´s a Fantasy- Adventure story.
    It´s about a great prophecy, a mummy, a stolen secret treasure, a kidnapped father and maybe love.
    I´d like someone who can help me finding my story not boring (and wiriting that my story isn´t boring) and helping me getting deeper in the adventure genre.

    fabiennejuline at hotmail dot de

  19. YA Paranormal
    85,000 words, complete

    Ember would give anything to escape her warden-like parents. When she finally does, she discovers even her best friends aren’t who she thought they were and that her mother’s lies started at the beginning of time.

    I’m looking for a beta reader for a full ms exchange. I would like someone who is also close to query-ready and reads YA. I am a coconut not a peach, so I’m looking for someone to give/receive tough big-picture feedback. This is a vamp-free story. Melodie, while I am no expert, I have been to Nova Scotia.:)

    docmarvil at marvilperiodontics dot com

  20. Crique Connection: PICTURE BOOK

    A clumsy princess discovers that all she needs to be, to get her own fairytale ending, is herself.

    I’m looking for someone I can exhange critiques with and with whom I can laugh and cry over the writing ‘business’. I would love to meet multiple people and form a small group.

    janischa32 at gmail dot com

  21. Picture Book

    Two brothers build a flying machine out of household objects and run into some mechanical problems on their first test flight.

    I’m an author/illustrator, so I’m looking for help with my dummies, but more with the story/writing specifically. I come from an illustration background so I’m hoping to find some writers to form a small crit group. But if there are any author/illustrators out there it would be great to exchange full dummies.

    contact (at) jeffdecoursey (dot) com

  22. Critique Connection:

    Picture Book

    Melody is certain today is an umbrella sort of day and sets off with unshakable confidence and a skeptical but trusty hippo to show everyone umbrellas are sunny-day essentials, but that is not as easy as she imagined.

    I am looking for fresh eyes for this manuscript that has been revised, and I would love to talk about my query letter as well as connecting with someone(s) who would also be open to a continuing critique process for other PB manuscripts.

    runtotorun121 at kc dot rr dot com

  23. Hi! I’m happy to connect with anyone who needs a crit. I work mostly in magical realism, which really is just a twist on contemporary. I’m not much for sci fi or horror, but would be happy to help where I can with anything else.

    I’m querying at the moment, but I’ll be ready for feedback soon on a new piece of work. So perhaps, a one way track just for a little bit with view of running both ways in the near future!

    mclarenoz at bigpond dot com
    Thanks to Mary!

  24. Critique Connection: YA contemporary, 78,000 words complete

    Orphaned at five and adopted at seven, 16-year-old Nuncio Hawke never imagined that the paper route he took would send him on a journey to help the damaged people he encountered save not only their own lives, but his as well.

    Looking for someone to do either first few chapters or full MS exchange — really need a new perspective other than my friends who are so nice but not writers! Nearly ready to start querying as well.

    So grateful to Mary for this opportunity . . .

    bciesemier420 at gmail dot com

  25. Cheryl Mansfield says:

    Mary, thank you for opening your blog for this sort of connection.

    Critique Connection: Middle Grade (I write on the younger end, but also have some “tween” projects. I also write PB’s.

    Current project: MG Mystery target lower MG approx 25,000 words

    9 year old Heroine must use her faulty psychic ability to fix a broken friendship, find a missing dog and save her mom’s diner all before an annual town festival.

    I’m an advanced writer looking for one or two partners for an on going/long term basis to plot/brainstorm, critique and support each other as we seek representation/publication. I currently work with one person and we are open to forming a group, or I can continue to work on an indivdual basis.

    CherylM112 at aol dot com

  26. Critique Connection:


    Not a typical Pirate’s tale. A lonely sea traveler turns to a life of pirating. The story contains underlying themes of compassion, respect for others, and the environment.

    I have been receiving positive feedback via rejection letters from Canadian Publisher’s regarding this manuscript. Just wondering what other’s might have to say about it!

  27. Critique Connection:

    MG humorous adventure 30K – The Adventures of Bic and Bill

    And YA contemporary 60K – Was The Water Warm

    MG adventure is narrated by a chicken about the not quick in the head farm boy Bill, his alcoholic Daddy, a six foot boxing rat, Bill’s love affections for the beautiful Sue Anne Lee, his trouble with Sherriff Bodean the father of Sue Anne Lee, an ornery goat named Del Ray, and the return of Momma.

    Looking to trade full manuscript critiques.

    YA contemporary takes place over the course of 24 hours as the MC Rube fresh out of his senior year of high school and still a virgin struggles with the decision of whether or not to have sex amidst the swirl of one hectic and night.

    I’ve gone over this a lot but would be looking for first few chapters to a full, but definitely help on the query.

  28. I’m a bit late for this, but this seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up!

    YA Contemporary Romance: JUST A CON

    Pitch: Sixteen-year-old con artist, Megan Benson lands a place living in the wealthy Keller mansion only to realize too late this is the one family she doesn’t want to pull a heist on.

    I’ve recently made a major plot change and need a new set of eyes to look it over. I’ll be glad to critique anything YA (although dark or high fantasy’s not really my thing). I’ve been told I’m fairly good at the big picture, characterization, and plot stuff. My weakness is line edits though. Thanks in advance!

    email: phanhnguyen1 at yahoo.com

  29. Critique Connection:

    Middle Grade Paranormal Adventure called DANGER IN MOSS MINE

    Angus is an awkward 13-yr-old hiding in the shadow of his perfect older sister until their mom dies under mysterious circumstances, a stranger whisks the siblings away to live in a ghost town, and the ghosts of his parents’ past come to light and show Angus his own hidden potential.

    I’m flexible, but I’d like to exchange full manuscripts. I’m hoping to find someone to work with long-term. 🙂

  30. Definitely forgot to include my email address.

    katiestillgrowing at hotmail dot com.

  31. I know I’m late on this one, but I am looking for critique partners if anyone else is still looking.

    Genre: MG Science-fantasy

    When Dwyth doesn’t qualify for the Spitting Lizard Battle, an annual contest in which the thirteen-year-old children in his tribe telepathically control giant lizards and are assigned roles in society based on the results, he runs away in search of his place in the world.

    I would like a full critique of my 72,000-word manuscript called UNGIFTED (it’s a rough draft).

    Email: cvonhalle [at] gmail [dot] com

  32. Erica Angle says:

    Critique Connection


    I may have missed the boat, but I, too, am looking for a critique partner. My WIP is about Fin, a 17 year-old girl, who travels back in time to try and fix a horrible event that happened to her family.

    I’m about 28K words involved, so I’m not ready to swap manuscripts yet, but I’d love to exchange one to three chapters with someone who is also writing YA—anything but romance or fantasy would work for me.

    email: medusa15 [at] msn [dot!] [com] (I’m sure I screwed that up…)

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