Tuesday Tips – Why Critique Groups Are Important

Why Critique Groups Are ImportantWhy Critique Groups Are Important

You’ve spent hours, days, and years (yes, I said years – even with picture books) on a manuscript.

You’ve gone over it a gazillion times. You finally push yourself back from the computer and declare it ready.

But is it?

You’ve grown accustomed to your characters, their subtle and outlandish flaws, their quirks that make them – them! You have mapped out your setting and know every stone and corner in your story’s world. You know the conflict everything is a part of and everyone one is going through. So can you really “see” your story now???

Chances are, No.

This is where a second (or third or fourth or ???…) set of eyes can come into play. BUT do not get your best friend or your mother or someone close to read it and tell  you what they think. Although there is nothing wrong with them reading it.   😉   Get a group of your peers to look over it.

A critique group is just that… a group of your peers who are willing to give feedback. You, in return, give your opinion on their story too. They are also someone who is pursuing a career in writing and will be able to look at your material more critically than someone who isn’t in the field.

Some people are leery of doing this. They have heard of ideas being stolen. Harsh criticism on work to where the writer is left in tears. There are hurt feelings and deeper scars when it comes to trust.

BUT, BUT, BUT!!! There are people out there (AMAZING people) who are willing and lovely, and who will send out positivity into you and your work. It may take a few tries to find the right people in which you click with. You may have to weed out and resow with new people when a few don’t work. That is part of the process though. When you do find the right people, something will click! You will see that there are brilliant people who will push you further than you thought you could go. They will help your skills improve and the end result will be your career will begin to take shape.

What Should You Look For?

  • Look for someone who is like-minded.
    You want someone who has goals similar to yours. Are you wanting to get published? Find an agent? Just get some words down? Find people who will push you (and you push them) to the next level.
  • Genre.
    A lot of people think if you write a book, you can critique anything. Nope, nope, nope. I tell people it’s like dogs…
    A Chihuahua is a dog, a Lab is a dog, and a St. Bernard is a dog. (yes)
    Would you give them the same food? (no)
    Would you give them the same amount of medicine? (no)
    Do they take up the same amount of room? (no)
    The same amount of upkeep? (no)
    The same is true with your writing. Sure board books, picture books, early readers, chapter books, mid grade, young adult, and new adult are ALL children’s writing. BUT they are different writing styles, how you approach the subject matter, IF you approach the subject matter, word count, and on and on.
  • Rhyming and non-rhyming
    Oh how I love rhyming, but my own critique group will tell you it’s not my strong point. (hahaha, I try.) Rhyming is very tough to do, to keep it within certain parameters, to not force the issue, to not do something just to make it fit, to not write it badly. There are some wonderful people out there that can do this though. Study their work if you choose to do this. Make sure your critique group is on board with you on the rhyming bit too.
  • Time commitment.
    Are you wanting someone who is only going to put 10-15 minutes of thought into a critique or are you wanting more in depth feedback? Line by line or overall thoughts? Nitpick or over-easy remarks? The more in depth someone goes, the more time they will need to spend on your work. (Which they hope you will do the same with theirs.) Make sure it is something you are comfortable with and are able to do.

How To Get Started?

Put a call out or scan around and see if someone else is already looking.

Set up guidelines: What you expect from each other. Turn around time. What needs to be said when sending work. HOW to send work.  etc. The more specific you get, the better your expectations will be.


Honestly, I’ve been in a few critique groups. Some have been better than others. I have made some great, great, GREAT friends along the way too. I hope this helps ease your mind about critique groups and helps show how to get the ball rolling too.

Let me know what you think about critique groups?
Are you in one or more?
What have been the benefits/set backs?

Until next time…

Happy Writing!

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www.Wednesday… 12×12 and Julie Hedlund




I wanted to remind everyone about this great writing challenge.  ^^^^^ Yep, that one. The 12×12 Writing Challenge is currently underway aaaaaand it’s not to late to join in. Buuuuuuuuut time IS running out! Friday, February 28th, is THE LAST DAY to register to officially participate in this years’ challenge.

What Is It About

12×12 is all about writing. You have 12 months to write 12 picture book first drafts. Seems pretty easy, right. *cue evil laughter in the background* Believe it or not, writing is hard, life gets in the way, and sometimes your muse takes a vacation without telling you.
With the 12×12 writing challenge you get the added benefit of a community of writers who all are trying to do what you do… in the same genre! You can bounce ideas off of each other, ask questions, express concern, post exciting details, and rant. hahaha. Even when someone else is asking a question, it may trigger an idea with you and you are off and running with an idea yourself.  The group is mixed with newbies, mid-range, and experienced writers. This is an added benefit. You get experience, you get the ones digging in, and you get the ones who are struggling and may see something in a different way that you haven’t thought of.

How To Join

You can click on the 12×12 picture above or click here.  There are 3 different levels and different fees that go along with them.

What To Do After You Join?

W-R-I-T-E! Put your butt in that chair  (BIC)  and get to business! That is part of the job description. You have to write, type, scribble, BLEED those words out and get them down.
There is a forum with 12×12 as well as a Facebook page where you can ask questions, post events, introduce yourself, find critique groups, post the first 250 words of your ms, and MORE!


Why am I posting about something that someone has to pay for? Because I use this challenge myself! This is my 3rd year doing 12×12 and I believe the motivation and people keep me accountable and moving in the right directions.
Does it work? Yes, if you put work into it.
Will it guarantee a sale? No, that is up to you. YOU have to work at this writing business. YOU have to research publishing houses. YOU have to submit and get those rejections. YOU have to not get discourage and decide that YES, THIS IS WHO I AM AND WHAT I WANT TO DO!
But… you will have a whole slew of people behind you. Rooting you on! And enjoying it when that sweet success does happen. 🙂

There are other writing challenges out there too. I participate in quite a few. hahaha. I like challenging myself to become a better writer. How about you?

Let me know if you are participating in the 12×12 Writing Challenge. Or what writing goals do you have? How are you going to keep yourself accountable and achieve those dreams?
I’d love to hear from you!!!!

Happy Writing!

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Tips on a Tuesday: Writing In The New Year!

Hello everyone.

Tips! I love them. I take them to heart. I try to follow them and incorporate them into my writing. How about you? What do you do to help take your writing further? What do you do to expand your knowledge of the craft? Here are a few things I am doing this year:



There are many challenges out there to push you in your writing, keep you accountable, and find a community of writers. Starting off the year, I am participating in 12×12 Challenge, Start the Year Off Write, and ReviMo. (click on the badges to find out more and participate yourself!)  Eventually PiBoWriWee and PiBoIdMo will come. AND ***SNEAK PEEK! SNEAK PEEK!*** I am working behind the scenes with some colleagues to get a challenge to kick the Summer months off. SO STAY TUNED TO THIS BLOG!


The best thing about participating? The people! Let’s face it writing is an isolating profession. Writing challenges bring people together and brain storm, talk about the craft, and somewhere to have a sound board.


There are some great organizations or groups you can join too. The SOCIETY OF CHILDREN’S BOOK WRITERS & ILLUSTRATORS, The CHILDREN’S BOOK INSIDER, and The INSTITUTE OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE RX are just a few.  These groups share insider information on editors and agents. They also post exciting news such as winners of awards, new sales, and new businesses that are opening in the field. PLUS there are many, many, many groups on FaceBook that you can search for. These groups share support, encourage writing, network about the writing field, and on and on I could go.   😀


The old adage “Write what you know.” is true. So READ what interests you. Read for the entertainment and enjoyment of the piece. THEN read it again… look the format, outline, and white space of the material. Map it out with high and low points. Break it down… even picture books have layers!!! What is the overall theme? What is underneath? Type it out! YES, type it out. You will get a feel on how the manuscript flows, not the end piece, but the actual words. Really dissect the work and get to the bare bones of the material.


  • Read how-to books!!! Yes, MORE reading.
  • Take classes. You don’t have to go to college to do this. There are plenty of courses available online… some are free.
  • Discuss your manuscript with like-minded people. I’m not talking about your spouse (unless they write -and in your genre) or your best friend or your children. Get someone else in your genre to give you an honest critique. Critique groups are a great way to build your craft and make your writing stronger.

So that should give you are great start to begin your writing journey OR to give you a boost on your continued journey. I would love to hear about what you do to give yourself the shot in the arm and get your writing going! Leave me a comment below!!!

Happy Writing,