Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Crits for Water Interview with Author Jane Kindred

(Or, Voice + Stakes = Paramount)

A charity water fact: 50% of the schools in the world don’t have access to clean water or adequate sanitation.

Fantasy romance author Jane Kindred thinks that all schools should have access to water. That’s why she’s donated a query critique to the 2012 Charity Water campaign.

Meet Jane, member of team Megibow, and bid on her query critique here.


Jane Kindred began writing fantasy at age 12 in the wayback of a Plymouth Fury—which, as far as she recalls, never killed anyone…who didn’t have it coming. She spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. Although she was repeatedly urged to learn a marketable skill, she received a B.A. in Creative Writing anyway from the University of Arizona.

She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.

You can find Jane on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and on her website.


NAE:  What valuable lesson have you learned from one of your critiquers/beta-readers (feel free to share who it was)?

Jane: I took an online workshop with Writer’s Digest editor Jane Friedman where she critiqued first pages, and she got right to the heart of what was wrong with mine: I was trying to set a stage; she wanted to be intrigued. It wasn’t necessary for the reader to know exactly who my character was, or where she was, but they definitely needed to care what happened to her before the end of the first page, if not the first paragraph. The voice and the stakes were paramount.

NAE: What’s one of the worst mistakes a critiquer can make?

Jane: I’m not sure I know what the worst mistakes in critiquing are, but I know one of the worst mistakes a writer can make is to try to rewrite to please every reader. You have to evaluate which critiques are valid for you--without your ego getting in the way, which can be hard. It’s a fine line between thinking every word of a critique is right and thinking every word is wrong. LOL.

NAE: When you critique someone’s work, what is your general process?

Jane: I line edit as I go, otherwise I’d forget the things that initially stick out as I get lost in the story. It’s also an OCD thing; I like marking things, and can’t resist line editing, even if that’s not the version I’m ultimately going to give to the writer.

NAE: Is there one specific thing that you gravitate toward while critiquing?

Jane: I definitely gravitate toward grammar. If the grammar is distracting, I can’t even pay attention to the characters or plot.

Crits for Water Quickfires—And, go:

1. Oxford comma?   YES.

2. Should "I like him too" have a comma before "too"?   It depends on the context. Are there two people being liked? Or two people liking? Or is the person doing something in addition to liking? Never mind; just change it to “I also like him” and you don’t have to worry about the comma. ;)

3. Italicize or underline?   I know there are some agents and editors who still prefer underlining for emphasis so they can see it clearly (and I think there also used to be printer typesetting reasons to do it this way in a manuscript), so if that’s what they want, give it to them. But the correct type style for emphasis is italic, and that’s what it will end up being in print.

4. How do you separate scenes: #, ***, line break?   However your editor tells you to separate them. ;) It seems to be largely dependent on house style, but what I’ve seen most (and therefore, how I do it in my drafts) is to use a line break for a minor scene break and three asterisks for a major scene break.

5. What's your favorite verb?   I don’t think I can say that here, but it’s possibly of Scandinavian origin, and according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “the earliest examples of the word…are from Scottish”…and if it’s not Scottish, it’s crap. ;)


Thanks, Jane, for stopping by! Take a peek at Jane’s novels, such as THE FALLEN QUEEN.

Heaven can go to hell.
Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.
Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.
Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.


If you’re curious about the voice and stakes in your query and you think Jane could help, go to the Crits for Water campaign page for her query critique up for auction.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Crits for Water Interview with Author Imogen Howson

(or, the Impossible becomes Possible)

A charity water fact: The lack of clean water accounts for more deaths in the world than war.

Young adult author Imogen Howson is ready to help out, to slow the number of water-related deaths, through the 2012 Crits for Water campaign. She’s donated a 3000-word critique (available Monday, May 7th). She’s a writer, she’s an editor, and she’s got an eye for scene necessity.

Meet Imogen.


As a child, Imogen loved reading so much that she not only read in bed, at the table and in the bath, but in the shower and – not so successfully – on her bicycle. She enjoyed books in a slightly unorthodox way, too – many of her childhood books have ragged edges where she tore paper from the margins in order to eat it.

Some years later, she's busy writing romantic science fiction and fantasy for young adults and adults.
She lives with her partner and their two teenage daughters, in a house that desperately needs a second bathroom, near Sherwood Forest in England. She still reads in most places, but she no longer eats paper.

She's a member of The Romantic Novelists’ Association, the group blog The Lucky 13s, and the online writers’ community Romance Divas. She's represented by Mandy Hubbard of D4EO Literary Agency and her debut YA science fiction thriller, LINKED, is coming out from Simon & Schuster in 2013.


NAE: After a writer gets back an in-depth critique, what would you recommend in terms of a review/revise process?

Imogen: Read it a couple of times, then let it sit in your head for a couple of days. Often, a writer's first response to an in-depth critique is either "but that's WRONG" or "but I can't!" A couple of days thinking it over will help you get over your first instinctive response, and you'll get a better idea of whether it really is wrong or impossible.

At this point, assuming you've decided the suggested changes are useful ones (and totally ignoring the voice that might still be saying "but I can't!"), make yourself a list of what you're going to deal with and in what order.

Personally, I deal with the little things first (overused words, little continuity issues like someone's shoes disappearing mid-scene or someone else's eyes changing colour). I leave the bigger things (particularly the ones I still think are impossible to fix) for later, because I find that as I work through the manuscript fixing the little things I tend to get an idea of how to fix the bigger ones.

As you work through the manuscript, take note of the points where you can change part of a bigger issue (such as a single character's development). Then when you're done fixing the little things, you can go back to those places and start working on the bigger changes.

You'll probably find that what started out feeling totally impossible becomes a whole lot more possible later in the process.

NAE: What’s one of the worst mistakes a critiquer can make?

Imogen: Fixating on particular "rules" without paying attention to whether they're appropriate for the manuscript they're working on. For instance, some writers overuse weak verb/ adverb combinations ("she walked slowly"), and it's useful to them to be told to use stronger verbs ("she strolled") instead. However, if a critiquer goes into a critique with the attitude "all adverbs are bad" and tries to strike out the one or two carefully, precisely chosen adverbs this author has used, that's the reverse of helpful!

NAE: When you critique someone’s work, what is your general process?

Imogen: I read super-fast (it's a curse, not a gift!), so I'll read through once, getting a sense of the characters, plot, setting, conflict etc. Then, having noted the more global issues (unconvincing character development, fuzzy world building and so on), I'll go through and do a line-and-content edit, picking up everything (well, almost!) from character issues to awkward sentences to comma splices.

NAE: Is there one specific thing that you gravitate toward while critiquing?

Imogen: I work as an editor, so I've been trained into looking for everything. I think I'm particularly aware of pacing issues, though. If a scene doesn't advance the plot or deepen the reader's understanding of the characters, then often all it's doing is bogging down the book. Not always, though...

Crits for Water Quickfires—And, go:

1. Oxford comma?   Only if it's needed for clarity.

2. Should "I like him too" have a comma before "too"?   Only if you need it for emphasis.

3. Italicize or underline?   Italicize.

4. How do you separate scenes: #, ***, line break?   I like asterisks, or even better, fancy wingdings, but I've been trained into using two line breaks instead.

5. What's your favorite verb?   Shatter. I like verbs that come with images and sounds.


Thank you, Imogen!

There you have it. If you need help making the impossible possible, take a stab at Imogen’s 3000-word critique here (May 7th).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Crits for Water Interview with Michael Underwood

(Or, Happier with Your Story)

A charity water fact: One child dies every 19 seconds from fatal water-related illness.

Sadly, it’s true. That’s why author Michael Underwood jumped at the chance to help out in the 2012 Crits for Water campaign. He’s donated two separate query critiques and a 10,000-word critique. Watch the Crits for Water calendar for his auctions.

Meet Michael.


Michael R. Underwood grew up devouring stories in all forms: movies, comics, TV, video games, and novels. He holds a B.A. in Creative Mythology and East Asian Studies from Indiana University and an M.A. in Folklore Studies from the University of Oregon, which have been great preparation for writing speculative fiction. Michael went straight from his M.A. to the Clarion West Writers Workshop and then landed in Bloomington, Indiana, where he remains. When not writing or selling books across the Midwest as an independent book representative, Michael dances Argentine Tango and studies renaissance martial arts.


NAE: After a writer gets back an in-depth critique, what would you recommend in terms of a review/revise process?

MU: Read over the letter carefully, getting the general sense of the response. Then, if you can, put the critique away and work on other things for a couple of days. Then come back and re-read the critique, taking your own notes about comments you think are useful, and re-examining those you think are not.

Once you’ve gotten a handle on the comments, prioritize the revisions to be made. I always try to start with the biggest changes first, since they will have the largest ripple effect on the rest of the novel. If the big stuff is really intimidating, maybe do one or two little things in between the big tasks. Keep track of your revision tasks and don’t get discouraged.

NAE: What is the one piece of advice you can give to someone trying to develop his or her critique skills?

MU: Read, read some more, and think in terms of the writer’s efforts. Critiques, for me, aren’t about how you as a writer would fix what needs work, but helping the writer discover the solution for themselves.

At Clarion West, our system called for starting with positive comments, identifying elements that worked well for you. Then you can move into comments about elements that didn’t work. And if you have suggestions of approaches for revision, those can go at the end, but again, try to frame them in terms of what the writer is already doing or seems to like doing, not how you would fix their story.

NAE: When you critique someone’s work, what is your general process?
MU: It depends on the level of critique I’m giving. I don’t generally find it too useful to do a developmental/editorial critique at the same time as a line edit/copy edit, because they are different levels. If you still need developmental editing, why go ahead and clean up the prose, when thousands of words could still change?

I usually read through a whole time, making major notes on the side as I go, and then when I’m done, I think about the whole story/selection, and re-read the selection if I can to get another look and clarify my comments.

If I’m line editing, I will do everything at once, commenting in the margins as I go.

NAE: Is there one specific thing that you gravitate toward while critiquing?
MU. In a developmental edit, I tend to focus on character arc or the paradigm of the world – how the magic fits into the world, making sure the setting is consistent.

In a line edit, I usually focus on flow and readability, making sure that the prose is doing right by the story.

NAE: How do you reconcile contradictory critiques?

MU: As I was revising my last novel, a New Weird Supers fantasy, I revised it frequently enough with so many different voices that I was totally lost about what I needed to do. Some people said I needed to get to the action faster, and let the action provide the exposition, others said I needed to slow down and focus on character first, setting the stage.

They were both right, and both wrong. There is no one way to open a novel, because there are countless ways to hook a reader, many of them mutually exclusive, depending on the reader. If you’re stuck between contradictory critiques, go back to your own vision of the story. Which change are you more excited about? Which way of fixing it would give you the story you’d prefer reading? I always find revision easier when I’m changing the novel in a way that makes me happier with the story.

Crits for Water Quickfires – And, go:
1. Oxford comma?   Essential.
2. Should "I like him too" have a comma before "too"?   Depends on context, for me.
3. Italicize or underline?   I used to believe that editors wanted underline instead of italics, but Adam Wilson, my editor at Pocket, just had me change everything over to italics even before we went to production. Which makes me happy, because I’d rather the draft look like the page will look whenever possible.
4. How do you separate scenes: #, ***, line break?   I like ***
5. What's your favorite verb?   Defenistrate.


Giggling at defenestrate. Michael’s debut, GEEKOMANCY, will be released later this year. In the meantime, if you need help in attaining happiness with your story or your query letter, check out his items up forauction this month.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Crits for Water Interview with Author Sherry Thomas

(Or, Covering Your Blind Spots)

A charity: water fact Charity: water employs and trains Central Africans to build and maintain the water wells that save lives every day.

Historical romance author Sherry Thomas has charity: water on her radar for the second year in a row (see last year’s interview: If the Old Doesn’t Go, the New Doesn’t Come). Gear up for the bidding on her three-chapter critique donation (available May 1st).

Help me welcome Sherry and congratulate her on her release-day novel.


Sherry Thomas burst onto the scene with PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS, a Publisher Weekly Best Book of 2008. Her sophomore book, DELICIOUS, is a Library Journal Best Romance of 2008. Her next two books, NOT QUITE A HUSBAND and HIS AT NIGHT, are back-to-back winners of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA® Award for Best Historical Romance in 2010 and 2011.  Lisa Kleypas calls her "the most powerfully original historical romance author working today."

English is Sherry's second language—she has come a long way from the days when she made her laborious way through Rosemary Roger's SWEET SAVAGE LOVE with an English-Chinese dictionary. She enjoys digging down to the emotional core of stories. And when she is not writing, she thinks about the zen and zaniness of her profession, plays computer games with her sons, and reads as many fabulous books as she can find.

Sherry’s latest, BEGUILING THE BEAUTY, book one of the Fitzhugh Trilogy, is available May 1, 2012.


NAE: What is your favorite thing about writing a critique?

Sherry: When I hit on an issue and I have a pretty good idea on how to fix it.  

NAE: What is your favorite thing about receiving a critique back?

Sherry: When my critiquer not only sees problems, but gives me really good ideas on how to fix it. (Two sides of a coin.)

NAE: Why is critiquing important?

Sherry: For the one doing the critiquing, because it trains your critical thinking. For the one on the receiving end, sometimes there are just blind spots in what we can perceive about our own manuscript. A fresh pair of eyes can prove invaluable.

NAE: Your critique style is like which of the following: Red Pen Editor, Overall Commenter, Supportive Critic, You’ll Know It If I Catch It?

Sherry: I am an overall commenter unless the story doesn't have any major story/character/pacing problems. Then I might comment on scene-level problems. I usually do not pay much attention to grammatical/spelling errors unless they are atrocious. And I generally do not line edit when there are bigger issues.

NAE: Name one of your favorite 2012 books (coming out or already released), and why.

Sherry: I'm always behind so I will probably be 2015 by the time I get to 2012 books. The next book I'm going to read is The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.

Crits for Water Quickfires—And, go:

1. Oxford comma?   Yes.

2. Should "I like him too" have a comma before "too"?   I don't do it personally, but my copyeditors always do. :-)

3. Italicize or underline?    Italicize.

4. How do you separate scenes: #, ***, line break?   #

5. What's your favorite verb?   Be.


Take a look at Sherry’s new release, available now. Happy release day, Sherry!

When the Duke of Lexington meets the mysterious Baroness von Seidlitz-Hardenberg aboard a transatlantic ocean liner, he is fascinated. She is exactly what he has been searching for—a beautiful woman who interests and entices him. He falls hard and fast—and soon proposes marriage. 

And then she disappears without a trace…

For in reality, the “baroness” is Venetia Easterbrook—a proper young widow who had her own vengeful reasons for instigating an affair with the duke. But the plan has backfired. Venetia has fallen in love with the man she despised—and there’s no telling what might happen when she is finally unmasked…


Thanks for the interview, Sherry.

If you would like Sherry Thomas to look for blind spots you might have, consider bidding on her critique here on May 1st.

Thanks to everyone else has donated to the 2012 Crits for Water campaign so far. You guys are the best.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Crits for Water Interview: Romance Author Jenn LeBlanc

(Or, Feel it in Your Bones)

A charity water fact: 
Unsafe water accounts for 80% of all sickness and disease around the world.

That’s one of the reasons that illustrated romance author Jenn LeBlanc has stepped forward and donated a first chapter (up to 20 pages)critique. She knows that we can chip away at that 80% with huge results. Oh, yes. She feels it in her bones. Take a peek at her bio and then her thoughts on critiquing below.


Canon. Curls. Colorado. CJs. Chuck Norris.

Born and raised in a household of other people’s children in this beautiful state —very nearly with a camera in hand— she never left. She started her own family, got used to the curls, went to college, built a CJ, started a business, and totally beat the daylights out of Chuck Norris, all with a camera in hand. 

Spending her days in parenting chat rooms she got highly adept with one-handed typing and she can still type just about as fast with one hand as she can with two. It’s a great talent to have when engrossed in a scene and in need of a hit of caffeine. One she finished her first novel she quickly realized: She was born a photographer.

From the realization that someone ELSE would be shooting the cover of HER book her control-freak took over. What started as an easy cover shoot ballooned into this completely new kind of media, designed specifically for digital book readers.

She lives and thrives off chaos and the constant flow of the creative process. She wear shorts and flip-flops year-round —much to the chagrin of her friends and family— and she is currently working on the illustrations for her second novel. Her first serial novel THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE is doing its own Chuck Norris impersonation with the time travel charts on Amazon. You can find her on 
Twitter and Facebook sharing eye candy and being a total rock star.


NAE: What valuable lesson have you learned from one of your critiquers/beta-readers?

Jenn: One of the most important lessons I've learned from my beta readers and critiquers is that everyone comes from a different place and brings something with them to your work. Nobody is objective. Parts of my first novel deal with very difficult situations and getting opinions from others about how these things affected them was paramount to the process of building a character that was terribly misused and damaged, as well as creating the healing process and making sure that she was cared for properly by the people around her (most importantly the hero). In all of it, it's important to keep your voice, but just as important to understand how your words might affect someone. No you can't make everyone happy, that isn't the point, but building characters that are true to themselves and to their situations makes them accessible to your readers. They will fall for your people, love them even more, if they can relate and identify with them properly.

NAE: What is one of the worst mistakes a critiquer can make?

Jenn:  I believe the worst possible mistake a critiquer can make is to make it personal. It's a very delicate operation, critiquing. You are looking at someone's heart, their very soul in some cases, and you have to treat it as such. You have to be true to the process and discuss the problems or issues as you see them with the manuscript while at the same time not attacking the writer, or the work in a personal way. It really isn't easy, and the person you are critiquing needs to be just as open and prepared for the process as the critiquer is.

NAE: What is your general process when you critique someone’s work?

Jenn:  I like to read through and make general observations. However, if the work is in need of a great deal of help with technical issues that sometimes isn't possible, and I will work on those first. But I like to read the work, get the general idea and feel for the voice and pacing of the ms before digging in and attempting to find any issues that are keeping it from being the strongest possible work it can be.

NAE: Is there one specific thing that you gravitate toward while critiquing?

Jenn:  I tend to gravitate toward emotion and characterization. I adore pushing the emotion in a scene, ensuring the scene has reached its fullest potential. I want to feel it in my bones, whatever emotion it is, I need to feel it in my bones. I look for description and dialog that is well balanced and brings the reader on the journey. Language that shows instead of tells, words that describe without being passive or obtrusive.

Crits for Water Quickfires: And, go.

1.       Oxford comma?   Yes.
2.       Should “I like him too” have a comma before “too”?  Yes.
3.       Italicize or underline? Italicize.
4.       How do you separate scenes: #, ***, or line break? ***
5.       What is your favorite verb? Want.


The first part of Jenn’s THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE, FREEDOM is available on kindle for free.

For a chance to ensure everyone feels  your MC’s emotions in their bones, follow the instructions for Jenn’s first chapter critique here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Crits for Water Interview with Author Elise Rome

(Or, Can’t Help Marking Things)

A charity water fact: The 2012 Crits for Water campaign has raised over $2,000 so far, which gives 100 people water for 20 years. Our goal is to help another 400 people.

And romance author Elise Rome is on board, helping out for the second year in a row (see her 2011 interview: Tempering Your Overprotective Muse). She’s got a 50-page critique up for auction here.

Meet super-mommy slash author, Elise.


Elise Rome has never forgiven Margaret Mitchell for making her fall in love with Scarlett and Rhett in Gone with the Wind and then not giving them a happy ending. She likes to think that she makes up for this injustice with each romance novel she writes. When she isn't telling stories about sexy, headstrong heroes and intelligent, independent heroines, Elise stays busy chasing after her two young daughters, semi-attempting to do housework, and hiking in the beautiful foothills of Colorado.


NAE: What is your favorite thing about receiving a critique back?

Elise: I really appreciate having another set of eyes looking over my work. I usually edit as I write and then go back to edit even more, but I know that there are things that my critique partners catch that I never would by myself. And when I do something right, I love getting that confirmation from a critique partner that it worked for them as well.

NAE: Why is critiquing important?

Elise: I see critiques as feedback from the author's first readers. Yes, they probably read more slowly and analyze more than normal readers do, but they're still readers when it comes down to it. If I don't have a strong opening, my CPs will tell me. If they don't like my hero, my CPs will tell me. They're not just there to correct my spelling or grammar or tell when a sentence doesn't work; they're invaluable in making all aspects of the book as good as it can be before it's actually published, and my writing would definitely not be as strong without them.

NAE: Your critique style is like which of the following: Red Pen Editor, Overall Commenter, Supportive Critic, You’ll Know It If I Catch It?

Elise: Red Pen Editor. Even when people just ask for me to beta read, I can't help marking things when I see them. Unless something really strikes me while I'm doing line edits, I'll save all the good stuff for my summary at the end. My marks and comments in the actual manuscript are for me to tell the author what I think needs worked on.

NAE: Name one of your favorite 2012 books (coming out or already released), and why.

Elise: MARIANA by Susanna Kearsley just blew me away. This is the first book of hers I've read, and I can't wait to get time to read other books in her backlist. It's not really a romance novel as much as a mainstream time travel with romantic elements, but I still loved everything about it. She has such a fluid, easy way of writing that pulls you in with each sentence, and although the pace was never gripping as it might be in suspense novels, I couldn't stop turning the pages.


Crits for Water Quickfires – And, go:

1. Oxford comma?   Yes! Leaving it out drives me crazy.

2. Should "I like him too" have a comma before "too"?   Yes.

3. Italicize or underline?   Italicize.

4. How do you separate scenes: #, ***, line break?   ***

5. What's your favorite verb?   To love. ;)


Thank you, Elise! Elise’s novella, The Sinning Hour, is scheduled to be released soon. And it looks fabulous.

A man accustomed to getting whatever he wishes and a woman whose wishes have never come true: at night, all they need is one another.


For those who’d like to see the types of things Elise can’t help marking in a critique, take a stab at her 50-page critique here, and save lives.

Crits for Water Interview with YA Author Brigid Kemmerer

(Or, Taking Things by STORM)

A charity water fact: 300 children die per hour from water-related diseases.

Which is why author Brigid Kemmerer is spending the release day of her novel STORM doing something charitable. She’s donated a 20-page critique to the 2012 Crits for Water campaign. I won her critique last year, and let me tell you—she’s awesome!

Meet Brigid.

Brigid Kemmerer was born in Omaha, Nebraska, though her parents quickly moved her all over
the United States, from the desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the lakeside in Cleveland,
Ohio, and several stops in between. Brigid started writing in high school, and her first real “novel
was about four vampire brothers causing a ruckus in the suburbs. Those four brothers are the
same boys living in the pages of
The Elemental Series, so Brigid likes to say she’s had four teenage
boys taking up space in her head for the last seventeen years. (Though sometimes that just makes
her sound nuts.) Check out her
blog and find her on Twitter.


NAE: What is your favorite thing about writing a critique?

Brigid: I'm not great at writing an overall critique. One of my crit partners (hi, Bobbie!) is exceptional at qualifying what works in a scene on many levels, and can send me paragraphs outlining my characters' motivations. I'm honestly convinced she knows my characters better than I do. I prefer to go through a manuscript and make comments as I go -- and there will be several.

NAE: What is your favorite thing about receiving a critique back?

Brigid: I love receiving critiques on my work! I'm a perfectionist, and I love hearing what's not working -- so I can fix it. I used to get the knee-jerk reaction of, "Don't criticize my work!" just like everyone does when they're first starting out, but once I learned that people are genuinely trying to help me improve, I stopped feeling that way. Now I look at every criticism as an opportunity. I'm also secure enough in my own work to reject a change if I don't feel it's working -- as well as to admit I'm wrong if something is genuinely crap.

NAE: Why is critiquing important?

Brigid: Critiquing work for others is the best way to develop your own editorial eye. While writing workshops are great places to hone your craft, they can be expensive. I could never afford to do one, so I critiqued as many manuscripts as I could. It's a quick (and FREE) way to learn what works, and what doesn't.

NAE: Your critique style is like which of the following: Red Pen Editor, Overall Commenter, Supportive Critic, You’ll Know It If I Catch It?

Brigid: I'm a combination of the Red Pen Editor and the Supportive Critic. I'm going to mark obvious errors, but I'm also going to put reasoning behind my bigger picture changes and explain why I think a change is necessary. I also try to look for places where something is working WELL, because I think it's easy for writers to fall into the habit of only looking for the bad.

NAE: Name one of your favorite 2012 books (coming out or already released), and why.

Brigid: So far I've loved UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi and I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER by Sophie Kinsella.


Crits for Water Quickfires – And, Go.

1. Oxford comma?   Absolutely.

2. Should "I like him too" have a comma before "too"?   Yes. And if it shouldn't, my copy editor will catch it. :-)

3. Italicize or underline?   Italicize!

4. How do you separate scenes: #, ***, line break?   I use three pound signs: ###

5. What's your favorite verb?   I have no idea. I like the word "saturnine," but that's an adjective.

Because this is her second year participating in Crits for Water, you can check out her previous thoughts about critiques here: Critique Until it’s Automatic.


If you want to see if your writing has the elements of a great work-in-progress, take a look at Brigid’s 2,500-word critique here. In the meantime, check out her debut release, STORM.

Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys-- the ones she doesn't want. Ever since her
ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her.Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the
school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water--just like his brothers
 can control fire, wind, and earth. They're powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death. And now
that she knows the truth, so is Becca. Secrets are hard to keep when your life's at stake. When
Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place
at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris,
and Becca wonders who's hiding the most dangerous truth of all. The storm is coming. . .


Thanks, Brigid, and happy release day!