I recently gave A Million Little Choices by Tamera Alexander a 5-star rating (it’s so good, y’all!), so I’m super excited to welcome her to the blog today to talk about writing with a critique partner!
A MILLION LITTLE CHOICES by Tamera Alexander
GENRE: Women’s/Southern Fiction (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Focus on the Family
RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2023
Sometimes secrets just won’t stay hidden . . .
Now from USA Today bestselling author and Christy Award Hall of Fame inductee Tamera Alexander comes the story of two women from different centuries living in the same house who share strikingly similar journeys.
Claire Powell’s life is turned upside down when her beloved husband admits to a “near affair.” But when Stephen accepts a partnership with an Atlanta law firm without consulting her and buys a historic Southern home sight-unseen—it pushes their already-fractured marriage to the breaking point. Claire’s world spirals, and she soon finds herself in a marriage she no longer wants, in a house she never asked for.
In 1863, Charlotte Thursmann, pregnant and trapped in a marriage to an abusive husband, struggles to protect her unborn child and the enslaved members of her household. Desperate, she’s determined to right the evils her husband and others like him commit. But how can one woman put an end to such injustice? Especially if her husband makes good on his threat to kill her?
Both Claire and Charlotte discover truths about themselves they never realized, along with secrets long hidden that hold the power to bring God’s restoration—if only they choose to let it.
Read my review of A Million Little Choices HERE.
iron sharpening iron: writing with a critique partner
by Tamera Alexander, author of A Million Little Choices
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
Proverbs 27:17, NLT
Writing can be a lonely pursuit, and it’s easy to become so close to your own work that you can no longer be objective. Enter: a writing-critique partner!
Deborah Raney and I have been writing-critique partners for more than twenty years—ever since we met at the first American Christian Fiction Writers conference in 2002 when I volunteered to critique Deb’s manuscript for Playing by Heart. Unpublished and still learning the ropes, I felt like I was standing in front of the Mona Lisa with my Hobby Lobby paintbrush. But I sensed an opportunity from God and went for it.
Over the course of critiquing nearly three dozen manuscripts between us—and becoming dear friends—we’ve learned much about what to look for in a critique partner, what works, what doesn’t, how to handle conflict and competition, and how to “agree to disagree” with grace.
Let’s explore some FAQs about finding a writing-critique partner (WCP).
Where and how do I find a WCP?
∙ Connect with someone from a writers conference/group or book club. One-on-one partnerships often develop naturally from larger critique groups, so join a group with an eye to eventually working with one other writer as a WCP.
∙ Ask a well-read, non-writing friend/relative to critique your manuscript. Perhaps barter services in exchange. A non-writer who loves to read your genre can be an invaluable source.
∙ Pay for a critique at a local or national writers conference you’re attending. Worth every penny!
∙ Consider joining American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW.com), an organization that equips writers who write from a Christian worldview, which has writing critique groups available to their members. That’s where I started!
∙ Offer to critique for a published author. I’m certainly not suggesting you start stalking local novelists, but if you’ve established a relationship with a published author at a conference or online, it might be a possibility! And once I committed to writing my first book, Deb was willing to critique my work in exchange. Win-win!
Why have a critique partner?
∙ At the point when we most need to be objective, we are too close to our own story to read it as an unbiased reader, let alone evaluate it critically. WCPs offer perspective. Which Deb certainly did for me with A Million Little Choices (November 2023).
∙ We bring only one (obviously biased) opinion or viewpoint to our own work. A WCP can view our work from a different point of view since they’ve likely had a different upbringing, different life experiences, and therefore a much different “filter” through which to read your work. (I live in Nashville; Deb lives in a smaller town. Amazing what different perspectives that affords us!)
∙ WCPs often come up with ideas or plot directions you never would have dreamed of.
∙ It makes a solitary occupation so much more fun! Working with Deb provides that human touch a career in writing is often missing. And with the wonder of technology, we’re only a click or call away. Deb and I are tough on each other, but we’re also each other’s biggest fans.
∙ It’s so much easier to see “mistakes/room for growth” in someone else’s writing. We learn from critiquing each other’s manuscripts and then can apply those principles to our own writing.
∙ Brainstorming! With today’s technology, WCPs don’t have to be next-door neighbors or even live in the same state. You can “video brainstorm” any time. And it’s free! Plus, you can record it for reference (and laughs) later.
Why choose a WCP versus a critique group?
∙ Time element––it takes much more time to critique three or four manuscripts versus just one.
∙ Too many cooks can sometimes spoil the soup. Writing “by committee” can mess with a writer’s voice. It’s a fine balance to stay true to your voice while also striving to remain open and teachable.
∙ By concentrating on the one-on-one relationship, we are able to focus on that one person’s unique strengths/weaknesses as a writer. And likewise, they can do the same for us.
Why choose a critique group versus a WCP?
∙ When you’re new and still learning the basics of writing, it’s good to have input from multiple writers because, chances are, you have a lot of basics you’re still needing to learn. Having multiple critique partners can also help you find your voice as a writer.
∙ When you desire quick response/input from more than one person about a particular aspect of your work. The chances of someone being available to read your work in a timely manner are much greater if you’re part of a group.
∙ When you haven’t found that right critique partner yet (and you’re in God’s “waiting room”).
Finally, do you want a WCP? If yes . . .
∙ First and foremost, pray about who God might pair you with.
∙ Seek someone whose strengths make up for your weaknesses, and vice versa.
∙ Ask God to keep your heart teachable.
∙ Attend local or national conferences.
∙ Be open to critiquing others’ work. (You never know what will come from that offer to help out.)
None of us ever “arrives” in writing. We must continue to learn, to grow. We want to give God our best, and as King David said in 2 Samuel 24:24, “I will not present burnt offerings [or manuscripts] to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing” (NLT).
So be willing to pay the price, hone your craft, and give God your best. And keep your eyes open to the possibility of a critique partner to share the “cost” along the way.
Tamera Alexander is the Christy Award–winning bestselling author of numerous books, including Colors of Truth, With This Pledge, A Lasting Impression, A Note Yet Unsung, To Whisper Her Name, and more. Her richly drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide. Tamera and her husband make their home in Nashville, where they enjoy life with their adult children and precious grandchild, who live nearby. Add two rambunctious but lovable Australian Terriers to the mix, and life is pretty full and rich! Connect with Tamera at her website.
Tyndale House is offering a print copy of A Million Little Choices by Tamera Alexander to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read A Million Little Choices by Tamera Alexander?