Follow my journey toward publication. Laugh, cry, point and stare-- it's all good. I'll leave a trail so that you, my fellow author, may have a straighter path to finding your own elusive publishing contract. Adventure awaits. Let's travel together...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Social Media Monday: Critique Groups

Critique groups are the first thing I ever used the internet for. Only back then it wasn't a group per se, rather a message board on nanowrimo. But I was using the computer to make social connections for the purpose of feedback on my writing. I've come a long way from simply slapping a scene on a message board and waiting for comments from goodness-knows-who. I'm much more selective now of who I take advice from and even who I give advice to.

My first connection blooming beyond the message boards was with someone at the site as well. Jacki Newberry and I kept in touch and chatted, read each others' work, and encouraged each other years after meeting at nano. We're still facebook friends. I may get her for an interview one of these days yet!

Some of my best mentors have come from interacting in the blogging world. Reading other blogs and leaving comments or asking questions led to my relationship with critique partner April Gardner, one of my most well-respected critiquers. That relationship introduced me to Lisa Lickel and the three of us have given each other feedback as a group for awhile now. I've also critiqued with all of the members of COTT at one point or another and their talent and ability is phenomenal.

Recently I began critiquing with Carol Moncado, Pepper Basham, and Casey Herringshaw--all of whom I met through the ACFW loop. They are all very talented authors. (Shout out: Pepper is a Genesis double-finalist, so she knows what she's talking about. *wink*)

My foremost critique partner is Jessica Patch. If you don't already follow her blog, you should--she writes the most goosebump-raising devotionals, wacky personal stories, and hilarious but touching accounts of moments with her son, Myles. You gotta keep an eye on this one, folks.

With these different groups and partnerships, I get a wide cross-section of perspectives in my feedback (which is vital) and I also learn so much by reading their work and critiquing for them. My writing has grown my leaps and bounds through this process. I've come to believe that you can read all the how-to articles in the world, but working with talented critique partners is like dumping yourself into a foreign country to learn the language rather than relying solely on flashcards and a translating dictionary.  Don't get me wrong, the dictionary and flashcards are necessary too. But you learn much more about practical use and application through living with those who speak the language. Good crit partners "speak the language." And guess what? Chances are you speak the language too--in a different dialect. So hook up with some awesome peeps and glean from each other. It's one of the biggest benefits of social media, in my opinion. =) 

I love seeing my besties drop by and I love making new friends. If you are usually a lurker, I want to meet you! For the next 30 days, when you comment on any post on my blog, you will be entered into a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card. If you mention me and link back here on your own blog, you'll be entered a second time. Have a great week!

Who have you met through online connections? Where have you found your best critique


Pepper said...

Michelle, you are MUCH too sweet to me. Especially since I've been really behind in getting your crit back to you :-(
Crit partners are not only vital in giving a new perspective, but they are also important in encouragement! The ladies at The Writers Alley are fabulous - and now the new group with you, Carol, and Case is even better. What a blessing!

Jessica R. Patch said...

Michelle, thanks for your kind words! You reserve your harsh ones for my chapters...jk...I treasure your feedback and your consistency to make me "do better." I can always expect to see that in red! Love you, my cp and my friend.

Michelle Massaro said...

Pepper, you've been a tad busy so no worries. I have been blessed by the discussions we've had so far in our fledgling group and look forward to more. Thanks! =)

Jess, what harsh words? lol ;) Love you too! You're a precious friend and invaluable cp. =)

CarolM said...

Congrats again Pepper!

And I'm loving our little group too!

And, uh, Casey's glares and tushie kicking for my word counts. I need that today!

And I'm loving getting to know you, Michelle! I truly am! Thank you!

Casey said...

A great crit partner is hard to find, hard to lose and impossible to forget.

So okay, I borrowed it from another saying, but is all so true!! :)

Michelle Massaro said...

Very true, Casey! =)

Carol, me too. =)

Thanks again for being so helpful and inspiring.

April W Gardner said...

Casey, you're so right! Crit partners are easy to find, but a great one? one that challenges you, but can learn from you as well? Those are hard to come by!!

Thanks for including me in your list of crit partners that you value, Michelle! Truthfully, I'd be lost without your eyes on my work! You make it shine.

Great post!

Pepper said...

Casey saves her sweet comments for blogposts, I see.
As Carol well knows, she saves her dangerous side for critting.

Terri Tiffany said...

I met all my critique partners online and so many other great writers who have helped me in this journey:))

TNeal said...

I met my critique partners through ACFW. We've been together for several years. In this last year, I've noticed how my crit partners have grown in their writing. We are all much better writers because of the shared writing experiences and expertise. Each crit partner adds something to the whole--a fresh pair of eyes, a particular skill, etc.--that strengthens me as a writer.

Michelle Massaro said...

TNeal, thanks for stopping by! I agree, I can see growth in my partner's and my writing over the last six months. It's like iron sharpening iron. =)

Terri, thanks for joining in. =)

Pepper--don't you know it! lol

April, nice to see your face. Thanks for being a great crit partner. I'd be lost without your eyes on my work too!