Jody Hedlund on Critique Partnerships

Jody Hedlund and I have been critique partners since May 2010. We joined forces when the first draft of her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, was complete. I’ve been privileged to critique that book as well as her third book, and I’m looking forward to her fourth.

When we formed our partnership, I was nearing the end of a major rewrite of the story that became my First Sale. Jody critiqued the story for me, and her input helped make the story much better. She really knows her stuff.

I’ve invited Jody here to talk about critique partnerships and give you some insights into why ours works so well for us.

Welcome, Jody! I’m very excited about the release of The Doctor’s Lady. You poured your whole heart into this story, but a small part of mine is in it as well. I know how much time and effort you put into getting this story ready for readers and am delighted to see the glowing reviews pouring in.

What part did having a critique partner play in the overall process of getting The Doctor’s Lady ready for publication?

Having your input, Keli, was very critical. You provided two different levels of feedback that were important in getting the book ready for publication. The first level was a detailed edit in which you helped me polish my manuscript. The second level was helping me brainstorm ideas and solutions to bigger picture issues that my in-house editors wanted me to change.

As you said, you poured a part of your heart into the story. You invested hours and hours reading the book for me on TWO different occasions and in some places three times. Your feedback along with the feedback from my editors helped take my book from a book readers could like to a book readers could love.

We both write inspirational historical romance. Do you see having a critique partner who writes in the same genre as an advantage or a disadvantage?

Having a critique partner who writes the same genre is a HUGE advantage, particularly for historical writers. Even though we’re generally history geeks, we can accidentally add in words, clothing items, dialog, and other details that weren’t in use during the setting of the book. Having another historical “expert” read through your book is incredibly advantageous in catching those details that slip by. They also have a better feel for how much of the historical exposition is necessary to clarify the story—and they can let you know when you’re adding in too much or too little.

I tend to be a micro editor who notices the small stuff, whereas you’re more of a macro editor who focuses on the big picture. Do you see our differences as a positive or a negative?

We compliment each other, which is extremely positive for me. Since I’m more of a big picture writer, I needed someone who could help me see the smaller details that I was missing. I feel much more secure and professional sending my books to my editors after you’ve combed through them.

On the other hand, I’m able to provide a critique for you that centers on some of the bigger plot and character issues. Although we both can help each other with just about anything, we definitely come at our partnership with our strengths that can help fill in each other’s weaknesses.

What questions would you suggest a writer seeking a critique partner ask herself before approaching someone?

How much commitment can you give to a partnership? What kind of critique do you need (which will require understanding your strengths and weaknesses to some degree)? What kind of critique is the other writer needing?

Finally, what is the skill level of the person you are approaching? Anyone can read your book and give you feedback. But in order to move your book to the next level you really need the input from someone who is mostly at the same level as you or beyond.

What steps would you suggest potential critique partners take before formalizing their relationship?

When you approached me about forming a critique partnership, you suggested having a trial period where we both could do a critique for each other, see how we liked each other’s styles, and test whether the partnership would be beneficial and worth the time investment. I think that was the perfect way to begin a relationship.

We committed to helping each other through one project, and then we re-evaluated at that point whether we wanted to continue. And of course we did. We discovered that we worked really well together.

What have been the most helpful aspects of working with a critique partner, and what have been the most challenging?

The most beautiful part of my critique partnership with you, Keli, is the friendship that we’ve forged. In partnering with you, I’ve gained so much more than a critique partner, I’ve also gained a friend I can turn to for everything—both the highs and lows of my writing life and even in personal problems.

I always wondered if getting too close to a critique partner would harm the ability to do an objective critique because we’d be worried about hurting each other’s feelings. But I’ve found that the closer we are, the more honest and open we can be with each other. When we genuinely care about someone else’s success, we’re willing to do whatever we can to help them, even if at times it might be slightly painful.

Thanks for taking time to share your insights with us, Jody, and for your kind words. And just for the record, I didn’t ask you to say so many nice things, but I appreciate them all the same. 🙂

If you have questions about critique partnerships for Jody or me, or want to tell us about your awesome CPs, please feel free to leave a comment.

Jody’s Contest and Puzzle Piece #2

Please tell us about your exciting contest and how visitors can participate?

To celebrate the release of The Doctor’s Lady, a sweeping story of love and adventure, I’m offering one Grand Prize winner the chance to find Priscilla’s steamer trunk and win a $300 prize package sure to delight anyone with a trailblazer’s heart. Head over to my website and fill out a simple form to enter the Be a Trailblazer Contest.

You can earn more entries (and increase your chances of winning ) by collecting 4 puzzle pieces and discovering the name of the Fort hidden in the completed picture.

One of the puzzle pieces is right here on Keli’s blog! The other puzzle pieces are hidden on three other blogs (see my News & Events page to find out where).

Tell your friends about Jody’s BE A TRAILBLAZER contest!

Share on Twitter!

Share on Facebook!

Win One of Jody’s Books – Six Chances Copies Being Given Away!

I’m giving away three copies of Jody’s best-selling debut novel, The Preacher’s Bride, and three copies of her new release, The Doctor’s Lady.

I’ll choose six winners from those who leave a comment by September 8th.

On Friday, September 9th, I will post the six winners’ names here as well as in a comment and contact them by e-mail.

The winners of The Preacher’s Bride are Wendy, Lynn, and Jennifer.

The winners of The Doctor’s Lady are Katie, Michelle Fayard, and Lady Dragon Keeper.

No purchase necessary.
Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to number of entrants.
Prizes will be mailed to U.S. or Canadian addresses only.

• • •

The Doctor’s Lady

They vowed to keep their marriage in name only.

But when the unexpected happens on the grueling journey west . . .

Their carefully constructed partnership will be put to the ultimate test.

Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field. Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs.

Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God’s leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

• • •

About Jody

Jody has written novels for the last 18 years (with a hiatus when her five children were young). After many years of writing and honing her skills, she finally garnered national

attention with her double final in the Genesis Contest, a fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

Congratulations! You’ve just discovered Puzzle Piece #2 in Jody Hedlund’s BE A TRAILBLAZER Scavenger Hunt! If you want to learn more about the scavenger hunt and earn 20 extra entries in her contest, click on the puzzle piece to be taken to her website.

Her first published book, The Preacher’s Bride (2010 Bethany House Publishers), hit the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) Best Seller List on two different occasions and has won multiple awards.

Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, released this month. She has completed a third book, which will be released in 2012. She’s currently busy researching and writing another book.

You can learn more about Jody by visiting her website and blog:


About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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33 Responses to Jody Hedlund on Critique Partnerships

  1. How fun to hear from both of you about your unique partnership and how you make it work! When I read about all the behind the scenes pre-publishing prep that goes on, I’m reminded of the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I doubt most of us who see the finished product realize how many countless hours go into every aspect of each book we hold in our hands. Many thanks to you, Jody and Keli, for giving of yourselves so we can enjoy the fruit of your labor!

  2. Julie Nilson says:

    Jody’s comment about genre rings very true to me: Last night, I met with my critique group, which tends to focus more on literary fiction. This time, one member had submitted a science fiction story and I submitted a dystopian future story. Those genres aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that was very clear last night! A few of the members had a lot of trouble commenting on our pieces since they don’t read anything else in the genre; meanwhile, my sci-fi friend had great comments on mine and I think I was able to offer some substantive comments on hers as well.

    I’m planning to continue the dystopian story, and I will still continue submitting it to the group because a few of them always have good critiques on stylistic/thematic issues. But for big-picture, genre-related issues, I know I’m going to be relying most on my sci-fi pal.

  3. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by and to those who left comments on the post.

    I put the comment numbers in a bag yesterday, shook it, and drew the winners, but just as I prepared to post the names, I heard a crack of thunder and had to shut my computer down. Things are quiet so far this morning, so here are the winners of Jody’s books.

    The three ladies who will be receiving a copy of The Preacher’s Bride are Wendy, Lynn, and Jennifer. The three who won a copy of The Doctor’s Lady are Katie, Michelle Fayard, and Lady Dragon Keeper.

    Congratulations to all of you. I’ll be in touch. =)

  4. I found it fascinating to hear the details concerning how your partnership works. You two compliment each other beautifully and that shows in both your work and in your friendship. Kudos to both of you on a job well done!

  5. Marcia says:

    It’s wonderful to hear of your partnership! Jody’s a great writer and I loved hosting her on my blog on the 7th. I’ve been desperately seeking a critique partner myself. If anyone knows someone who is also looking, please send them my way! I write historical fiction and would love to end up with a relationship like Keli and Jody’s. Great interview, thanks!

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