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426Latinidad 4/13: 10th Anniversary - Writing Critique Groups

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  • Marcela Landres
    Apr 8, 2013
      Latinidad 4/13: 10th Anniversary – Writing Critique Groups

      1. Saludos
      2. Q&A: Becky Levine
      3. Resources: $10,000 Essay Award
      1. Saludos

      In continuation of my celebration of Latinidad's tenth anniversary, I am
      culling the best advice and advisors from back issues to help you get
      published. Previously, I've discussed managing money and time, plus
      writing classes. This month's focus is the supreme importance of getting
      your work critiqued.

      Writing classes are an excellent means by which to receive constructive
      criticism. Once the semester is over, though, you're on your own again.
      In contrast, a good writing critique group can last for years, providing
      what every writer needs: regular feedback. To learn more, read this
      month's Q&A with Becky Levine, author of The Writing & Critique Group
      Survival Guide.

      Helping Latinos get published,
      Marcela Landres

      To read past issues of Latinidad®, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/marcelalandres/
      2. Q&A

      Becky Levine is the author of The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide:
      How to Give and Receive Feedback, Self-Edit, and Make Revisions. She has
      been a freelance editor for over ten years and has belonged to her own critique
      groups for over fifteen. Becky speaks at workshops and conferences and
      has written articles for Writer's Digest magazine. She lives in California's
      Santa Cruz mountains with her husband and son. For more information, visit

      Q: At what point will a writer know s/he is ready to join or form a critique

      A: I think any writer can join or start a critique group—they may just be ready
      for a different type of group than another writer. The best thing a writer can
      do before jumping into a critique group is look at their goals—whether they
      want to critique in-person or online, how big a group they're looking for, if
      they want to critique with writers working in a specific genre. And the most
      important question they should ask themselves is where they are on their
      writing path—how much time do they want to put into their writing today,
      whether they've been writing productively for a while or are just getting
      started, and how close do they (honestly) think they are toward querying an
      agent or editor or having a book ready to self-publish. Writers of different
      skills can critique together, but a writer should be aware of what will make
      them comfortable and productive and look for a group that is the right fit.

      Q: What are the top three attributes writers should look for in a critique

      A: A writer should be looking for a group that:
      -Meets at a time and place (including online) that will make it easy for the
      writer to commit to showing up, with writing and critiques.
      -Lets each writer work at their productivity level—with time to have their
      work critiqued and to critique writing from others.
      -Where the writer feels comfortable and safe, where they can share their
      writing and receive respectful, constructive feedback.

      Q: If someone is creating a critique group, what are the top 3 qualities
      writers should look for in prospective members?

      A: A writer creating a critique group should look for members who:
      -Have an equal level of commitment to the group.
      -The writer feels comfortable and relaxed with, open to sharing writing
      and feedback.
      -Are flexible and willing to grow—in both their writing craft and their
      critique skills.

      Q: Should a writer be part of a group for his or her entire writing career,
      or just the duration of time required to critique a single manuscript?

      A: I think critiquing is for life. :-) Obviously, if a writer has decided that
      they have one book to write, and that's it, they don't need to stick with a
      group after it's done. On the other hand, writers who plan to keep writing
      can brainstorm ideas with their group, get motivated by watching other
      members write, and continue to grow their writing by critiquing, even if
      they aren't putting new words on a page that month.

      Q: Now that you've had a book published, how has your relationship to
      your critique group changed?

      A: I don't think it's changed that much. Everybody in the group was
      excited for me and happy to help me with their critiques as I wrote The
      Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide. And we celebrated big time when
      it was published! They still watch me writing and struggling with my
      current projects, and they'll still argue (nicely!) with me when I give a
      critique they don't agree with. We've been critiquing together for a long
      time now, and every one of us keeps getting better and better at this
      writing thing—in good part, I think, because of those years of critiques.

      Q: Who is your agent and how did you meet him/her? If you don't have an
      agent, how did you come to be published by Writer's Digest Books?

      A: My agent for adult nonfiction is Jessica Faust
      (http://www.bookends-inc.com/about_us.html ) at BookEnds, LLC
      (http://www.bookends-inc.com ). I was lucky enough to be speaking at a
      conference, as a freelance editor, and to sit on a panel with Jane Friedman
      (http://janefriedman.com ), who was still with Writer's Digest then. There
      was a lot of talk about critiquing during the panel, and afterward I took a
      breath and pitched her the idea for the book. Some discussion and an
      outline later, and I was on the way.

      Q: What are you working on now? What should my readers look to read
      from you next?

      A: I'm working on my fiction projects at this time—I write fiction for
      children and teens. I have a completed middle-grade mystery that I'd
      love to find representation for, and I'm writing a young-adult historical
      novel and a picture book as well. I'm also starting to work on some
      nonfiction for kids—hoping to find homes for those pieces with magazines
      and educational publishers.

      3. Resources

      "I read How Editors Think in one sitting and was engaged from beginning to
      end. It is well written, highly informative, and humorous—I found myself
      laughing out-loud in a few spots! Thanks for sharing the secrets of the trade."
      —Mayra Lazara Dole, author of Down to the Bone

      Inspired by my experience as a former Simon & Schuster editor, How Editors
      Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You reveals what it really takes to get
      published. For more information, visit:
      Deadline: May 13
      Creative Nonfiction Journal seeks experimental nonfiction for their
      "Exploring the Boundaries" section. They want essays that not only push
      the boundaries of the genre, but also tear down the borders. For more
      information, visit
      Deadline: May 15
      Ragdale offers residencies from two weeks to two months to emerging
      and established writers from all over the world. Financial aid is available
      on a limited basis. Past residents include Francisco Aragon, Loida Maritza
      Perez, and Achy Obejas. For more information, visit http://www.ragdale.org/
      Deadline: May 15
      The Hudson Valley Writers' Center offers $1000 and publication by
      Slapering Hol Press for a first poetry chapbook. For more information,
      visit http://www.writerscenter.org/shpcompetition.html
      Deadline: May 15
      The Blue Lynx Prize offers $2000 and publication by Lynx House Press
      for a poetry collection by a U.S. citizen living anywhere in the world and
      by international writers living in the U.S. For more information, visit
      Deadline: May 24
      The Whidbey Writers Workshop Alumni Association Emerging Writers
      Getaway is a seven-day retreat given annually to a fiction writer who
      has completed but not published a novel. For more information, visit
      $10,000 ESSAY AWARD
      Deadline: May 31
      Creative Nonfiction Journal in partnership with Arizona State University's
      Global Institute of Sustainability offers the $10,000 Walton Sustainability
      Solutions Best Creative Nonfiction Essay Award. Whether you're deciding
      it's not worth the trouble to recycle or are living off the grid, they want to
      hear about it. For more information, visit
      Deadline: May 31
      Weave celebrates diversity in both the creator and their works and strives
      to showcase both novice and established writers and artists. For more
      information, visit http://www.weavemagazine.net/
      Date: June 1
      The Writing Across Borders conference will engage the writing community
      in a discussion of our role and responsibilities at this moment of economic
      upheaval and unprecedented movement across borders. For more
      information, visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/362297
      Deadline: June 1
      The Marguerite McGlinn Prize for Fiction offers $2000 and publication in
      Philadelphia Stories for a short story. For more information, visit
      Forever My Lady, a Latino-themed novel, has been relaunched as an
      indie book and became the #4 book on all of Amazon. Get your copy
      today! http://tinyurl.com/d8u4j58
      Please forward Latinidad® widely.
      For more resources, visit http://www.marcelalandres.com/resources.html
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      You are welcome to reprint part or all of this e-zine; please credit
      Latinidad® and include a link to http://www.marcelalandres.com/
      Visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/marcelalandres/

      "This is an absolutely essential skill for a writer: the ability to involve
      others in your revision process. You have to be not only the author,
      but also your own editor in chief."
      --Thomas Legendre

      Latinidad® © 2003 by Marcela Landres

      Marcela Landres
      Author of the e-book "How Editors Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You"