Critique Groups

In response to a reader request, there will be a future blog post (or two) exploring critique groups. Six dynamite book creators (featured below) have agreed to share their thoughts/experiences. Now is your chance: what would you like to know about critique groups? Ask away!

The panelists:

Martha Brockenbrough is author of Things That Make Us [Sic], It Could Happen to You, and the forthcoming Dinosaur Tooth Fairy. You can probably guess which one of those books is for kids. She also writes a weekly parenting blog , educational pieces for Mom’s Homeroom on MSN, and is soon to start blogging about kids’ books for MSN Entertainment with the delightful Jaime Temairik.

(photo credit Matt Peyton)

Deborah Heiligman is the author of Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith, a National Book Award finalist, Printz Honor, La Times Book Prize finalist, and the winner of the first YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award. She has published 27 other books, including, Cool Dog, School Dog, From Caterpillar to Butterfly, High Hopes, Honeybees and ten books in the National Geographic Holidays Around the World series. Forthcoming: The Boy Who Loved Math, a picture book about Paul Erdos, Intentions, a YA novel (Knopf) and a new mystery-laden nonfiction book to be published by Henry Holt.

Sara Lewis Holmes is the author of two middle-grade novels, Letters From Rapunzel, and Operation Yes, a Cybils Middle-Grade Fiction Finalist and one of Booklist’s 2009 Top Ten Arts Books for Youth. As part of a military family, she has lived in eleven states and three countries, and is the proud mother of two college-aged children.

Originally from Chicago, Henry H. Neff now lives in Brooklyn where he writes and illustrates The Tapestry, a critically-acclaimed series of fantasy fiction novels. The Tapestry’s first two volumes, The Hound of Rowan and The Second Siege are in stores while the third book, The Fiend and the Forge will arrive in November 2010. In his spare times Henry enjoys visiting young readers, reading and cheering on his beloved Chicago Bears.

Ann Whitford Paul became inspired to write picture books after years of bedtime reading to her four children. She writes picture books, poetry and early readers. Her books have won numerous awards including NY Times Notable books, Carl Sandburg Award for Children’s Literature, Bank Street College Best Books list, Notable Science and Social Studies Books, National Parenting Centers “Seal of Approval,” 2001 Recognition of Merit from the George C. Stone Center for Children’s Books of the Claremont Graduate University, and been nominated for numerous state reading awards. She is the author of the popular WRITING PICTURE BOOKS: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication.

Conrad Wesselhoeft worked as a tugboat hand in Singapore and Peace Corps Volunteer in Polynesia before embarking on a career in journalism. He has served on the editorial staffs of five newspapers, including The New York Times. His YA novel Adios, Nirvana will be published this fall by Houghton Mifflin. He lives with his three teenage children and a big, grinning poodle named Django, in West Seattle.

Housekeeping details: I’d like to give the panelists 2 weeks to answer your questions and I’d like this discussion to happen here mid-June. If my math is good (odds are it isn’t!) that gives you until May 27 to submit your questions!

Get cracking.

No Responses to “Critique Groups”

  1. Michèle Griskey

    Hello Experts,

    I have a question. I’m fortunate enough to be part of a dynamic critique group. We are a small group, but we have the perfect balance of encouragement and honest feedback. Recently, we’ve had some requests for new members. We have room for more (maybe one or two), but I don’t want to destroy the magic.

    How do you go about adding a new members to your critique groups? What is your vetting process? If it isn’t going to be a good fit, how do you say no? The last question may sound strange, but I live in a very small community and want to stay friendly.

    Thank you everyone! This is a great idea.

  2. FlyingPeg

    This is a great idea, Kirby! Thanks in advance to you and all the panelists.

    I am part of a great critique group with just three members. We are all working on novels. Because of our different and more lengthy timelines, there are many meetings when we don’t have any pieces of writing to critique.

    Sometimes a member will bring a piece to share and get feedback on. Other times we will discuss our latest writing techniques and will share a writing exercise. Sometimes we will all read the same book and will critique it with a writer’s eye and a reader’s ear at the meeting.

    Do you have suggestions as to how we can make sure our group stays on track and keeps the momentum going even if we don’t have pieces of writing to critique?