Friday, January 16, 2015

OH LOOK PIP BARTLETT

Today, I got a few advanced review copies of Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, my joint project with my friend Jackson Pearce. And also: my first book illustration credit. Lover galloped into the room with the package and waved my drawings in front of me. It felt pretty marvelous to see it in person.

 pip bartlett interior

pip bartlett arc pip bartlett and maggie stiefvater  

 (it's for the 8-12 age group, officially) (it comes out April 28th)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2015 Critique Partner Love Connection

It's time for some hook-ups. Namely, the 2015 Critique Partner Love Connection.

As many of you already know, I have two critique partners (Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff) whom I love dearly. For the last 6+ years, they've read everything I wrote before my editor ever got a look at it. Tessa and Brenna critique, suggest, support, and mock whenever I need critique, suggestions, support, or mockery. Our critique group is the result of a long search — I went through numerous writers' groups and one-on-one readers, and always felt that the edits were missing something. I wanted to be critiqued, and yet I never wanted to act upon the critiques I got. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to find critique partners who enjoyed the same sort of story-telling that I did; critique partners who weren't always suggesting that I turn my novel into the sort of novel that I didn't want to write. Also critique partners who communicated in the same way as me — we do everything via gchat, informally, without structure or rules.

So. I found Tessa and Brenna by posting a match-up exactly like this one, and every year since then, I've done a match-up for others to use. In the years in between, other resources for crit partners have appeared on the internet, and I keep thinking I'll stop getting requests to post one here. If anything, the requests have multiplied. Possibly it's because the most difficult part of the critique partner search remains the task of finding a human who enjoys the same sorts of story-telling as you — maybe the mere fact of having me in common maybe takes some of that odiousness away. Whatever the reason, I keep getting asked, so here it is.

Here are the rules, such as I ever have rules:

STEP ONE: Post a comment saying the age range (adult, YA, MG) of your project, a brief, one-sentence blurb about your book (or just the genre if you don’t want to share more than that), and whether or not you have an agent, etc.*. Also include the last book you read that you loved and also the book you feel epitomizes you as a reader. If you write in a language other than English, include that info with the language in all caps so it's easy to find while skimming the comments. Finish with a way to contact you.

*You don't have to include the agent/ publication information unless it's important to you to find a critique partner who is also agented/ published. I was agented/ published when I met Tessa/ Brenna; they were not. It depends on the sort of support you're looking for.

STEP TWO: If someone else in the comments sounds like a possible match, send them a message saying so and find out if it’s mutual. If it is, exchange the first 50 pages of your manuscripts, critique them, and return said critiques. If either of you doesn’t feel like the crit relationship is working at that point, you get to smile and say thanks and walk away without any questions asked. This is VERY IMPORTANT. This ability to shake hands and part ways without hard feelings is the reason why this process works. Sometimes it takes a few exchanges before you realize it's not a good match. Don't feel pressured into sticking with each other — remember that this is honest speed dating and a 'not for me!' is not a rejection based upon merit. 

NOTE: I myself am not looking for critters. Two partners is enough for me — I can’t keep up with anymore. I recommend definitely two or three partners for best results. That way when someone says “this sucks!” and someone else says “does not!” you can be the tie breaker. But if they both say “this sucks!” and you say “does not!” it means you’re wrong.

FURTHER NOTE: I don't read the comments, really. My imaginary assistant Halfred and I monitor them infrequently only for spam-deletion purposes.

I'll be mirroring this post on my website, Facebook, and Tumblr, so check the other comments there as well.



It delights me when writers come up through my signing line and let me know they met their critique partners through me. I can't imagine writing professionally without Tessa and Brenna, so it's nice to think I can pay that forward. Happy hunting.
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