Will I Be Your Critique Partner? (And Some Other Things)

First, let’s talk about some pleasant things.

I had the most fun time last night at The Writing Barn in Austin! I got to join my author friend,the amazing Joy Preble – who writes some of my favorite books for YA readers EVER – and Bethany Hegedus, and a room full of librarians, writers, and readers for a whole night of shenanigans. We ate, we drank, we read, we told Super Secret Stories about our books, and it was super fun.

Here is one very calm, tame picture to prove it happened. The rest are classified. 🙂

Writing Barn fun

And now I am packing for a wonderful week in Edmond and OKC, chock full of writing workshops, presentations, lunches, dinners, and maybe even a book signing! But before I go…. let’s talk about whether or not I can be your critique partner.

If you find yourself thinking, hey! I wonder if Nikki can be my critique partner, first ask yourself these (possibly unpleasant) things:

1. Have I met her or spent a LOT of time chatting with her online, to the point where Nikki said/emailed/Tweeted “Hey, we should critique for each other,” or “I must read this story of which you speak, send it now?”

2. Have I shared a bowl of soup with her? (If you don’t know why soup is significant, you may not know Nikki well enough to ask the CP question. Soup is central to her CP relationships.) Have you written with her in a coffee shop?

3. Did Nikki ASK me to send her my work to read?

4. Have I ever babysat one of Nikki’s kids? Or fed the goats for her while she was on vacation? Or sent her an ENORMOUS basket of chocolates and by enormous I mean the size of a car?

5. Am I an Apocalypsie? Have we served on a panel together? Has Nikki fangirled me to an embarrassing degree online because I am her Favorite Author Ever OMG?

6. Did I meet Nikki at a school visit and she said “Hey, I want to read that, send it to me!” *

7. Am I paying her to read my work? (Yes, this is a thing authors get paid for. Not Nikki, usually. But maybe someday.)

If you can answer YES to any of these, then you have a relationship with me of some kind, and you should feel free to ask to read my work and/or have me read yours. I will be flattered, and pleased, and sometimes honored. I may still say no, depending on what’s going on in my real world life.

But… if you have never met me, live far away, and just Googled me randomly and thought “Hey, I know, I’ll ask HER to read my 850,000-word time-travel-dystopian-rhyming-novel-in-verse…? **

I must kindly decline. I have kids to raise, soup to cook, chocolate to eat, and young authors’ manuscripts I must cheerlead. Oh, and books of my own to write, too! Maybe someday we will meet at a conference, our eyes making contact across a crowded table stacked with ARCs, and the magic of a friendship will begin to blossom… but until then, I am full up on critique partners. 🙂


* In this case, young friends, YES send it… but I will probably respond with a LOT of pompom shaking, and not a lot of rough-and-tumble harshness, because you are a kid, and I want more than anything for you to KEEP WRITING and not give up no matter what! But I will give you some helpful advice. Please only send me one manuscript, though? Thanks.

**As this sort of thing is actually happening to me right now, I felt a blog post was in order. I hope I made it funny and not mean… but seriously. The Internet is a weird thing, and I think some strangers have gotten quite the wrong idea, what with me being a Mostly Nice Person and all that. As a CP? I am not nice. I am terribly frank and overly honest and tend to say things in a not-so-pleasant way. I am the Simon Cowell of CPs. You really don’t want me. And until we have soup? It ain’t happening.

Need a critique partner? Try the lovely Internet places listed below, or better yet, find real, live ones at a local SCBWI conference, meeting,  or shindig. SCBWI? Is the KEY, people.

Online Critique Places:





meetup.com – hunt for “Literature and Writing” meetup groups in your area.

Googlegroups or yahoogroups. Or any one of a number of online listserv group meets.