Monday, June 6, 2011

Confessions of a Critique Group-Part 1-Missy Tippens

June is here--and with it comes our Monday series of posts-Confessions of a Critique Group.

Meg, Maureen, Missy and Lindi used to meet once a week--every week--for critique. We formed a very special friendship. So this month, we're just sharing from that spot. 4 ladies who met via one avenue and have continued on through life, twisting and turning with what has come our way, yet still maintaining a special bond. (The twists and turns didn't twist and turn amongst us--just life in general!)

We are posting in order of how we got the call. Today is Missy Tippens--the first of us to hear those amazing words--
"We'd like to offer you a contract on your book."

Missy, here. I’m excited to be kicking off a blog series on critique groups. And more excited that all four members of my first critique group—Maureen Hardegree, Meg Moseley, Lindi Peterson and I—have now seen our writing dreams come true. :)

I’d like to start off saying that critique groups work for some writers but not for others. So please figure out what works for you and stick with it.

I was the last person added to our critique group, so I can only speak to what we did after I joined. When I joined, we met weekly in person and went over critiques of chapters we’d done for each other throughout the week. We discussed our stories and talked about problems and ideas.

Before I started in the group, I had entered one contest. I know some of you have heard this before…I tied for 35th place out of 36 entries. Ouch! I was horrified and almost gave up writing. Then once I started getting feedback from this wonderful group of ladies, I finally braved entering again.

I’ll never forget the call from my husband while I sat with my critique group that night. He called to say I was a finalist in the Laurie Contest. :) I went on to win that contest, thanks to all I’d learned from Lindi, Maureen and Meg.

Critique can sometimes be hard to take. We want everyone to love our babies. :) But it was necessary for me to prepare for working with an editor—which I began doing January 30th, 2007, when I got the call from Love Inspired!

Our group met in person for a couple of years then moved to occasional online critiquing. But I’m still thankful for those early days. For Meg’s ability to help figure out the plot, for Maureen’s ability to help with grammar and mechanics (I still remember her writing RUE—resist the urge to explain—and now catch myself on this flaw!), and for Lindi’s knack of evaluating the overall arc of the story.

We’d love to hear whether or not you’ve ever been in a critique group. How did it work for you? And if you’re not a writer but a reader, we’d love to hear whether you’re in any kind of book club or readers group.

Thanks, Missy!
When announcing this series we also said there would be prizes. And yes, there are prizes. To be entered for the grand prize, which we will announce on Friday July 1st, just leave a comment. You need to leave more than an 'I want to win' comment. Address the question each of us leaves you with and your name will go into the special pink box!
The grand prize winner will receive a copy of each of our debut books! Plus Maureen is tossing in the second book in her series, 'Hainted Love' which just released. And there will be a $25 dollar Amazon card added!
Make sure you come back to visit every Monday and get those comments posted!

We're off to a great summer!


  1. Missy-we're off and running. Thanks for kicking us off!

  2. Hi Missy:

    When do the confessions start?

    Is it too late to join your class?

    I’m too nice to be in a critique group. I’m more into Praise. But like marriage, I’d really like to find the one, ideal, CP – for whom we are each the right person.

    I guess I'm looking for a 'muse-mate'. Well, 'aim high', they say.


    vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

  3. I'm in a crit group. I have one partner who will drop everything (within reason) for me when I'm on deadline. She's been an amazing supporter. The others are great encouragers and we are honest with one another because the goal is publishing, not feel good praise. It takes a lot of courage to speak the truth in love. But it's the only way we move forward in our careers.

  4. Vince, sorry I didn't do more confessing. ;)

    If you're talking about the plotting class Lindi and I are doing, it's not too late! They'll accept registrations until tomorrow, I believe. Scroll down for the link on Lindi's Friday post.

    Does your wife read your work? If so, she could be your muse-mate! :)

  5. Angie, that's great that you have that!

  6. I'm in a critique group through ACFW. There are four of us and these other three women are fantastic. Always so gentle in telling me my submission stinks! But it's what I need to hear!!

    Thanks - this is going to be a great series!

  7. LOL, Edwina! :) It's kind of like when my daughter tells me something doesn't look good on me. Somehow, it's just nicer coming from certain people. ;)

  8. I was lucky enough 5 years ago to have a wonderful writer email me and ask, "Hey I'm forming a critique group. Would you like to be a part of it?" Of course, like an idiot, I didn't immediately jump at the chance because, unknown to a lot of people, I have great difficulty approaching and talking with people I don't know. (She didn't know this becuase it was email thank goodness).

    Saying yes and being a part of a critique group has been unbelievably important to me. In addition to the help and the gentle criticisms, I've really needed the behind the scenes encouragement. After all, who doesn't need a pick me up when you get that horrible judges comments or find that you didn't final in that contest again.

    Over the years our critique group has dwindled from four to two, but that support is still there and still invaluable. (Hopefully, she can say the same.)

  9. Dianna, thanks for sharing. That's so nice that they've ended up being so important in your life. I feel that way about our group.

  10. I have so many great memories of our crit group! Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Missy.

  11. Vince,
    I like what Missy said--your wife could be your muse!

  12. Ang,
    That's great you found a critique partner like that. It is important to hear what needs to be said, and also to say it in a way that is encouraging.

  13. Edwina,
    I doubt anything your write 'stinks!' But it's a blessing to be able to learn from what others have to say.
    I'm glad you found a comfortable group.

  14. Dianna,
    Sometimes it's best not to jump right away! It sounds like you took your time. I'm glad it worked out and I'm sure your critique partner feels the same way. :)

  15. Missy,
    I remember the night you finaled in your first contest, too. We celebrated the following week-- with ice cream and asti.

  16. Maureen--Ah, yes, ice cream and Asti--such a combo, huh? Love it!

  17. My husband reads everything I write. He gives me great feedback. Sometimes we talk about my characters over dinner as if they are real people!! It's like what Missy said about her daughter-no matter what he shares, I'm able to take it in stride and I usually agree because I trust his opinion. Feedback has to come from the right person or its not able to be as effective.

  18. I've never been in a critique group. Maybe I'll do it someday. I do read my sister's writing though.

  19. I'm just a reader; love you ladies' books. I have not been in a book club group, but would like in the country have not found one. I have been in several Bible study groups.

  20. Hey, Maureen, I tried to post a response earlier today but it didn't show up.

    I remember celebrating your Maggie win with you--and watching you nearly faint! :)

  21. Hey, Melanie! So glad you stopped by!

  22. Rose, that would be fun to share a love of writing with a sister. Mine loves to read but not write. Although she does like to brainstorm on occasion.

  23. Jackie, some friends (from church) and I are about to start a book club. I'm so excited! :)

  24. Melanie,
    How awesome! I mentioned one of my characters tonight and my hubby had no idea who I was talking about! I can't wait to meet your guy!

  25. Rose,
    It's great if you can find the right people. I'm sure your sister appreciates you reading her work--I know I would!

  26. Jackie---thanks for stopping back by. We've missed you! I haven't been in a book club yet either. I would really enjoy it I think. I love the fellowship that takes place when discussing a novel.

  27. I don't belong to a critique group, but my mother and I swap books often and talk about them :)

  28. Eva! Hi there. Do you have a critique partner? Does your hubby read your work? Just curious. I have a funny story about my hubby and reading my work. Too long to go into here, but let's just say it's probably best I have a couple of critique partners. :)

  29. Lindi, I have a critique partner if you count that voice in my head or that feeling in my gut :) lol

    I do read scenes by family and run ideas off them too though. I'm a seat of the pants writer, so if I write myself into a wall they listen to me figure a way out :)

  30. Eva Maria,
    That's great! I've always had critique partners so I can't imagine sending to my editor without one of them reading it.
    Your family sounds awesome and helpful, too!

  31. Hey, All,
    I've enjoyed reading about everyone's critique groups and interested by those who don't have one.

    I'm a part of Dianna's critique group and we've come a long way in, gosh, has it been 5 years. We've grown up together I guess you could say. Dianna's great with story mechanics and questioning everything. We brainstorm together which is invaluable!

    My husband likes that I write, and I bounce "male-related" questions off of him. But as for reading what I'm writing, For Get About It! I'm on my own there...That's ok, I'll call Dianna!

  32. Christy,
    I love brainstorming. Isn't it good to have someone to brainstorm with? I also bounce guy thoughts and sayings off of Lenny.