This is today’s post on Roni Loren’s most excellent blog, Fiction Groupie. I thought y’all might be interested.

A New Way to Find Critique Partners

I get a good bit of email via this blog asking me questions. And I have to say one of the most popular questions I get asked is–can you critique my work? This is closely followed by–where do I find beta readers/crit partners?

These are tough questions to answer because, well, on the first one the answer is usually no. For me to thoroughly crit one chapter for someone, I usually need 1-2 hours. Seriously. I’m detailed. You’ll feel like you’ve had a proctology exam. And between blogging, writing on a deadline, being a mom and wife, I just honestly don’t have the time these days. I even had to leave my own crit group last year because I couldn’t dedicate enough time to be an active participant. So now I just exchange with a few trusted betas when I can.

However, just as a sidenote and a shameless self-promotion, Kat Brauer will be auctioning off a crit from me over at Crits for Water in May. All proceeds will go to an awesome charity that provides clean water to countries where that is hard to find. Deets coming soon. But I hope some of you will bid on little ol’ me.

*back from our commercial break* Okay, so I need to address the follow up question of–where the heck do I find crit partners? (Because you need them, you here? NEED them. Do not go submit your work without having beta readers WHO ARE NOT RELATED TO YOU, ARE NOT YOUR BEST FRIEND, AND ARE NOT SLEEPING WITH YOU give you feedback. Don’t do it.)

In the past, I’ve referred people to message boards, I’ve done matchmaking here on the blog and on Twitter (rather successfully in fact. *waves at all the crit lovebirds*), but really my advice usually came down to “you have to network”. Get to know people through writing groups, your blog, twitter, whatever.

But now there is a new option that I’m so excited about. Penguin has launched Book Country. This website is a new place for writers (and readers) to go to post parts of your work (only members can view it) and get feedback from other writers. It’s social networking and critiquing all wrapped into one.

For any of you following Colleen Lindsey on Twitter, this is the Sekrit Projekt she was always talking about. I had the opportunity to see her speak about it a few months ago when she presented at the DFW Writer’s Workshop, so I’ve been waiting with bated breath for the public launch so I could share the info with you guys.

I’m not going to go into how the site works (more info on that here), but the cool thing about it is this awesome genre map that lets you code your work on genre, heat level, and humor level. So people who are looking for what you write can easily find it. Also, it’s a setup that forces give and take because you can’t get crits until you give some. Love that.

And….it’s free! Yay for that.

So go check it out. Maybe you’ll find a crit partner match made in heaven. 🙂 If nothing else, playing with the genre map alone is super entertaining.

So have you had trouble finding crit partners? If you have some where do you find yours? Anyone try Book Country yet? And if you’re looking for a crit partner, feel free to put your genre and email address in a comment below–maybe this can act as some more matchmaking!

  • Welcome to my newly designed blog/website! I’ll write a proper post soon–I haven’t had new posts lately due to my new design. But I wanted to check out the new digs before too much time passed.
    And a big THANK YOU to Jean Ditslear of Redwall Communications (, who customized this so beautifully for me. Ain’t it the coolest? (Like Jean herself.)
    Check back soon, and I’ll post the announcement of a new post on Facebook and email.
    As always, thanks for visiting.

  • I have to say, I’ve never uttered those three words in my life, but I am tonight. It all started with an email I got this morning. In January I’d entered the Northeast Ohio Romance Writers of America’s (NEORWA) Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest. The big draw for the contest was it was only open to unpublished authors, and you didn’t have to submit a synopsis, just the first 20 pages or so of your story. (I love writing my novels, but I’ve resisted writing a synopsis. I’ll have you know I’ve written one over the past weeks. It was a Herculean effort, but now that I’ve done it, I feel like maybe I can split a few atoms in my kitchen.)

    Over this past weekend, for whatever reason I remembered that they were going to announce the finalists in April, and I checked the website. Sure enough, April 4th was the big day. I wish I hadn’t looked, because then I was bummed on Monday (the 4th) when I didn’t hear anything. I hadn’t counted on anything, but certainly I had this tiny glimmerette of hope. When I didn’t hear anything, I thought, “Oh, it’s just a contest from CLEVELAND, for heaven’s sake. They can’t even keep their river from catching on fire.” (This was somewhat easier to think because I’m a Steeler fan.)

    And then, and THEN, I got an email today (April 5th) telling me I’m one of three finalists in that wonderful contest from that wonderful city! The final judge is Alicia Condon, a romance editor at Kensington Publishing. I just hope Alicia likes movie stars and horses! I’ll know if I’ve won on May 14th, when the NEORWA has its annual Cleveland Rocks Romance Conference.

    Now, I have no idea how many entries the Cleveland Rocks contest attracted. But I don’t care. I feel terrific that I am a finalist in the very first writing contest I’ve ever entered, so I’m just going to pretend there were FIVE MILLION entries. The great thing about this is, now I can say in my query letters that I was a finalist in a contest, and the final-round judge—an editor at a major independent publisher—will be forced to read the beginning of my novel!

    Cross your fingers, press your thumbs (if you live in the Czech Republic), light some candles, send Ms. Condon a new iPad, whatever you have to do. Help me win!!

    And, as always, thank you for your support.

    Speaking of contests, my lovely friend and brilliant romance author, Joanne Kennedy, has an even bigger reason to celebrate. Her ONE FINE COWBOY was nominated for a RITA award, the Oscar of the romance novel world. I am soo happy for her, I feel like I was nominated! Yes I’m happy because I know a RITA nominee (which is really fun), but mostly because she is one of the nicest people on the planet. (And also because there’s all kinds of natural horsemanship in her book. Can you say “serendipity”?)