My Take on Critique Groups by Cynthia Gail – Guest Blog and Giveaway

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This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Cynthia Gail will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

My take on critique groups

I think critique groups are absolutely wonderful! I have two amazing authors that I brainstorm with when I’m outlining and when I’m stuck. They read each of my manuscripts before they go to my publisher for submission. They’re honest and not afraid to tell me that I need to delete a whole scene or an entire chapter, and they’re usually spot-on. And best of all, they never try to change my voice.

But as much as I believe critique groups are a must-have for every author, there are definitely rules that have to be considered:

• They have to like the genre you’re writing in. Otherwise they won’t like your work, they won’t be able to concentrate appropriately when reviewing your manuscript, and it will hinder their objectivity.

• They can’t be afraid to hurt your feelings. Let’s face it – not everything an author writes is good. We all use the delete button on a regular basis; it’s part of the process. A good critique partner needs to be honest and objective, with the goal of making the author and the manuscript as good as it can be.

• Critique partners should write at similar speeds and lengths. We all have different schedules, but if one author is writing six 90k word manuscripts a year and the other partner writes three novelas, the relationship becomes lopsided.

• Be honest about expectations. A critique partner isn’t an editor. Or maybe you’re lucky enough that she/he is. But that doesn’t mean it’s their responsibility to line-edit your work. Talk openly about what each member in your group is willing to contribute and what your expectations are.

• Learn from your critique partners. Keep a notebook or word doc with a list of your weaknesses so you can consistently improve your craft.

• Don’t send your manuscript to all critique partners at the same time. Utilize their strengths and minimize duplicate efforts. You’ve wasted your valuable resources and their precious time if you get three identical sets of critique notes. Think strategically about each of their strengths. If one partner is great with emotion and description, one is stronger with story arc and the big picture, and one is the grammar queen, take the time to work with each in the proper order.

o Story arc and big picture would come first. Review their comments and mark-up, then update your manuscript accordingly.

o Emotion and description would come next. Review scenes/chapters they point out that need work. Enhance weak description, emotion, and dialogue.

o Let your grammar expert be the last to run through the almost-ready submission. The story should already be in top condition – her/his job is to put the final polish on grammar and format.

• As a critique partner, always strive to give more than you receive, communicate your own schedule so they understand your availability, keep your commitment & deadlines, and don’t get offended if your partners don’t accept every single suggestion.

MediaKit_BookCover_SummersFamilyAffairJenny Cohen defines successful independence: she put herself through college, couldn’t ask for better friends, owns a consulting firm, wears designer clothes, and just moved into her dream home . . . But she’s alone, except for her ailing mother whom she supports in a nursing home. As the marketing consultant for Chester, Dorsey & Tanner, she’s surrounded by male attention. Too bad it’s the overly-protective big-brother type.

Architect, Craig Stone, hasn’t looked at another woman since his wife passed away four years ago. His time is taken—building a career while trying to be both mother and father to his eight-year-old son. But when his appointment with the largest development firm in Nashville is double-booked with a black-haired beauty, he finds himself reaching for new possibilities.

The attraction sets off more fireworks than the Fourth of July. Yet, their relationship is riddled with issues neither one of them expected. Somewhere in the middle they must find a way to compromise or let go of a chance for love they may never find again.

Enjoy an excerpt:

All thought froze, as a beautiful voice cut through the near-silence of the room. Craig stared at the portfolio for just a second more before turning his attention to the front desk. He couldn’t see far enough around the corner to get a good view. What he did see . . . a pair of black strappy stilettos.

“Better you than me. He’s in an awful mood. Jeffry was out for just three days and his temp messed up the entire week’s schedule.”

Craig quietly moved down the row of chairs. Though his line of sight was much improved, he still couldn’t see the face behind the voice.

“You know it’s only going to get worse. It’s just Monday. How bad is it, really?”

She must be leaning over the desk, because her voice was now a faint whisper and the scene that greeted him was a firm derriere and a pair of runner’s legs that made his heart skip a beat.

“I’m not sure. I do know that you’re double-booked with the gentleman sitting across the room. Don’t look now.” Someone cleared their throat. “He’s a new architect Nick’s consulting with on the expansion designs. Too expensive to reschedule. Sorry.”


“Brandon’s supposed to be part of their meeting and the temp had it on his calendar for noon tomorrow, instead of nine today.”

“I guess I can take second place. Only because it puts Brandon at my mercy. Tell Jeffry to come to the lobby and we’ll work it out. I’m always flexible, especially when it gives me an edge.”

The women laughed, a beautiful melody that rang through his entire being. Craig watched as she straightened and he could now see long, wavy black hair, falling against a ruby-red silk blouse. She reminded him of a Victoria Secrets model—long and lean, with a hint of curve.

“That’s why I like you so much. It’ll be a few minutes, if you’d like to have a seat.”

Craig shifted his attention back to the contract in his hand and purposefully read the title five more times. Slowly. He listened as her shoes clicked across the hardwood floor, waiting until the sound stopped before turning in her direction. She’d taken the chair he’d previously occupied and was sliding her phone into a black designer clutch.

Then she greeted him with a smile that still held a spark of amusement. He took a deep breath and swallowed. She had a hint of summer tan that made her skin glow, a touch of sheer gloss on her lips, and chocolate-brown eyes that instantly warmed him to the core.

His throat went suddenly dry and his mind raced for something to say. He stared silently, feeling like a teenage boy who’d never spoken to a girl before. Somehow, he found his footing and stood, then walked over to the chair next to hers. “Craig Stone.”

About the Author:MediaKit_AuthorPhoto_SummersFamilyAffairMy husband and I live in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee with our three dogs. When I’m not working or writing, I can be found with family and friends. I love to bake in the winter, grill in the summer, and on occasion, I sneak away from everyone and curl up with a good book.

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Buy the book at Amazon. Buy the other books in the series: Winter’s Magic and Spring’s Surprise.

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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. Rita Wray says:

    Great excerpt, thank you.

  3. Thanks for having me today!

  4. Betty W says:

    Interesting article about critique partners/groups! Thank you for the great post and contest!

  5. Betty W says:

    I enjoyed learning about you and your book~thank you for sharing!

  6. Judy Schechter says:

    Congratulations on your book’s release, it sounds really good! And thank you for the awesome giveaway!

  7. Patrick Siu says:

    I have enjoyed learning about the book. Thanks for sharing it.

  8. Betty W says:

    This sounds like a fascinating book! Thank you for the great post and contest!

  9. Godlike says:

    Thanks for sharing!

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