Monday, June 13, 2011

Confessions of a Critique Group-Part Two

Here we are. Week number 2 of our Confessions Series.
This week we are pleased to welcome YA author, Maureen Hardegree.

Five Things I Learned

Most of us who have been a part of a great critique group know the rules. Be kind in your criticism. Be generous in your praise. Lend a strong shoulder when the road gets a little bumpy. What isn’t shared as often are the smaller idiosyncratic rules that each individual group develops. And since the theme of this series of blogs is Confessions of a Critique Group, I’m going to share with you a few rules Missy, Lindi, Meg, and I developed over the years.

1. If you and your critique partners value sleep and you’re meeting at night, don’t make the coffee too strong or order a double espresso. Decaf is your friend in certain limited circumstances—and this is one. Hint: If one of your critique partners has the shakes after drinking a cup of your coffee, it’s probably too strong.

2. If you have a pet who might do something weird like dig in one of your critique partners’ purses to excavate a pack of spearmint gum, warn them. My cat Pumpkin, who is no longer with us, regularly rummaged through Lindi’s purse looking for mint gum. Countless people lost food to the queen of scroungers as well.

3. If one member of the critique group has a friend with a vacation home and is kind enough to offer it to your critique group, say yes to the writing retreat. Even better—when that vacation property is a gorgeous house on the beach in Destin, FL. Yeah, we’re lucky.

4. Premium ice cream is the great healer of all rejections and less than enthusiastic contest scores. Some favorites during our critique sessions: Godiva White Chocolate Raspberry, Ben & Jerry Fish Food and Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

5. A crowded coffee house isn’t the best place to discuss infamous Chapter Eight (which showcases your ability to write a steamy love scene) unless you are oblivious to raised eyebrows and snickers from the patrons leaning in to listen from the tables around you.

What are some unique rules your critique group developed?

Thanks, Maureen!
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!

And yes, if you answered the question last week your name is in the box-once. If you answer again this week it goes it again--and so on for the four weeks. So if you comment each week your name will be in that extremely cute pink box 4 times!

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!


  1. Hmm, love those rules, Maureen. I think you guys were on to something there. Unfortunately my crit partner and I don't live close enough to meet face-to-face regularly, but we do email each other regularly.

    You know, maybe we need to find a way to send that ice cream through the world wide web. Now finding someone with access to an awesome beach house for a writing weekend may take a little more doing. I guess we could both post a huge beach view picture and pretend. LOL

  2. Dianna--welcome! I agree with sending 'stuff' through the web.
    It was nice when we could meet face to face. There's something about having a cat dig through your purse, (I loved Pumpkin!) and celebrating with real ice cream. And Maureen makes awesome coffee!

  3. This makes me jealous for a real f2f critique group! Living in Bermuda I have never had the luxury, which makes my September trip to ACFW conference every year all the more special. I have been really blessed to have some really great online critique partners though, most of whom I have now met in person!

  4. Diana,
    You should definitely try to organize a retreat with your cp if you don't meet face to face. Maybe halfway between your place and hers? It's great for the brainstorming possibilities, and you will get a lot done without distractions.

    Diana and Catherine,
    Have either of you thought about skyping with your critique partners? It's almost like being face to face. It's a great alternative to try, and skype is free.

  5. The ice cream sounds wonderful! But how did you get any work done at that beautiful location retreat? I wouldn't be able to work with a view like that :) lol

  6. Not in a group; just a reader, but enjoyed your post. The ice cream sounds here in GA!

  7. Eva,
    We took walks then wrote. I think Missy and Meg tried to write on the porch. I think once we even took a break to watch the wedding next door! Amazingly enough we got a lot accomplished--writing-wise.

  8. Jackie S.,
    Glad you enjoyed the post! The ice cream is great for consolation and when it's super hot--like today in GA.

  9. Hi Maureen:

    These are the Unwritten Rules of Critique Groups (Usually needed in large groups).

    1. It’s OK not to have an opinion on everything.

    2. Don’t keep telling everyone to do things the way you do it in your WIP.

    3. Know when to stop talking and let someone else talk.

    4. Don’t say something just to be saying something. It’s ok to miss a turn talking.

    5. Don’t keep switching the comments over to the problem you are working on.

    6. Don’t look at every comment as a way to read from your WIP.

    7. Don’t be a Johnny One Note who finds the same problem with everyone’s work every time. (If everyone knows what you are going to say before you say it, you don’t need to say it.)

    8. Don’t add parenthetical comments within your critique comments just to be talking about something you rather be talking about.


  10. Vince,
    Those are great rules. I suspect you may have had a domineering critique partner in your past. :)

  11. Cathy and Maureen--Cathy did ask me if I had Skype--we should try it, Cathy--although I always cringe at videos of me!

  12. Eva, We did work. I have photos of all of us, in the living room, cords and laptops everywhere!!
    But it was great!

  13. Jackie S.---It has been a great time to eat ice cream here in Ga lately. And it's only June!
    Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Vince, those rules crack me up--some of them can be so true. (I'm thinking of myself here--things to watch for that I do!) :)

  15. Sorry I'm late!! I enjoyed traveling down Memory Lane, Maureen! :)

    Yes, I loved to work outside on the balcony. Love that white noise while working!

    And the seafood was great, too. :)

  16. Love the rules! Vince I love your rules!!

  17. Love the rules! Vince I love your rules!!

  18. Hi Maureen:

    There is usually not a problem with a single CP.

    Problems arise as the critique group gets larger. One group I know of actually had to disband the group and then secretly reform to get rid of two people like I mentioned above.

    I think one or two good CPs is best!


  19. Rose--Vince does have great rules.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  20. Vince--Wow-they had some people not playing by the rules.

  21. Love reading all the comments! Love the prospect of having a Critique group meeting at the beach too!

  22. Christy, The beach was fun!

    Lindi P.

  23. Sorry I'm late to the party! I have so many great memories of our crit group, including Pumpkin. She was always very entertaining.

    Thanks for sharing, Maureen!

  24. Our crit group meets once a month, but tries to add in some others. Our rules are:

    Be kindly honest so we can all be published.

    Bring food.

    Bring sweet food.

    Bring salty food.

    Um, did I mention bring food?

    Plan for 3-4 hours.

    Share what you know and be sure to send the email to all with the attachment that has the info.

    Show up to one another's book signings.

    When in doubt, act it out. (We have been known to act out scenes to see if the body language works.)

    Bring food...

  25. Meg--Hi!! And yes, we did love pumpkin!

  26. Ang,
    I think you forgot to mention food!

    But I do like the acting out part. We never did that! Sounds like fun, though.