Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Blessing of Having a Great Critique Group

I joined ACFW March, 2014. Almost immediately, I signed up for Scribes, their large critique group, and started submitting one of my stories. Going from a “loner” writer to this was quite a wakeup call, and I was quickly caught up on a lot of “rules” that seemed to be expected. My manuscript improved, and I started making friends.
Four months later, I was invited to join two smaller critique groups. The choice was put before me, and I am so grateful for the one the Lord helped me make!
Over the next little while "Love Revealed" was chosen as our name and a critique group was formed by Marion Ueckermann, Heidi McCahan, Janet FergusonLaura Hodges Poole and myself. At the time three of us had been published and the rest of us were still "slushing" it for the most part.

Marion had her "Passport to Romance" novella, Helsinki Sunrise:

And Heidi debuted with Unraveled:
And Laura had a short story included in an anthology. 
There were other minor publications, but this gives you an idea of where we were at. 
Introductions were made, and we started officially submitting ~4000 words/week to each other. Month after month we submitted, slowly working through everything from full novels to short stories. Over the past two years we have laughed together, patted each-other’s backs, felt each other’s disappointments and joys, and told some great stories. We each have our strengths and weaknesses (like my ability to leave out articles and other small words--honestly I don't understand how it happens!) and have rounded out and deepened each other’s stories.
When signing a couple of contracts in the fall, it struck me that everything I have sent through my critique group has been published or contracted—something that wouldn’t have happened without the assistance of these writers, their insights and their kind honesty.

In celebration of two years together, I would like to share some of this group's accomplishments:


Two ACFW Genesis Semi-finalists
ACFW First Impressions Finelist 
Love Inspired's Blurb to Book- one of us made it to the second round, and one of us made it to the final round (both of us received full manuscript requests!) 
Storming The Short Story Contest hosted by the Texas chapters of ACFW: we dominated the romance category with a win and honorable mention (both stories were published!)
ACFW Virginia Chapter's Short Story Contest- A win!
Winner of the  Idahope Writers Contest 

Also, one of us just hit USA Today Bestselling list with a collaborated box set!


Short stories:
That last one holds two of our stories! :) 


Full Novels:

Currently we also have another four novels contracted for publication, and even more in the works! 

One of our books will soon be available in Norwegian, as well!

Not bad for two years.

I look forward to many more years writing with these wonderful ladies as I know my writing would not be what it is without them. Thank you!

What has your experience been with critique groups?

In case you want a closer look at any more of those great titles, here are the Amazon links. :)

Marion Ueckermann
Heidi McCahan
Laura Hodges Poole
Janet Ferguson 
Angela K Couch 

Angela K Couch is an award-winning author for her short stories, and a semi-finalist in ACFW’s 2015 Genesis Contest. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. Angela lives in Alberta, Canada with her “hero” and three munchkins. Visit her at www.angelakcouch.com, or follow on Twitter or Facebook!


  1. I love this group and these ladies. Best decision in my writing career for us to band together. Was fortunate to meet Heidi and Janet last year at ACFW in Dallas and bunk down with them for the few days. Unfortunately I can't be at ACFW this year where I think all of them will be attending. I'll be there in spirit.

    1. And we will miss you. Thanks for getting us started, Marion! :)

  2. My writing has really grown through our critique group. I've also benefitted from them becoming group of Christian friends who've prayed with and for me at various times of crisis in my life. So thankful for my critique group!

    1. :) I forgot to mention that aspect as well. Prayers have been invaluable!

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  4. Thank you for the mention, Angela. I'm grateful for each of you and both my personal and writing life have been blessed abundantly because I'm a part of this wonderful group.

    1. My life has been so blessed as well. Thank you. :)

  5. Angela, well there's the proof in the pudding in the fruitfulness (excuse the pun) of this group working together. Amazing! God is good.

    Congratulations to you all and I trust you'll continue to enjoy each other's company and stories.

    I must find one I can join.

    1. Thanks, Ian! God is good. I wish you luck in finding, or creating a critique group. Definitely something worth putting some prayer into before settling. :)

  6. Thanks Angela. It's certainly a great testimony to how it works. I belong to the KCW (Kindred Christian Writers Clinic) where we submit much less (unfortunately) but we have also had a number of successes. Not as many as you folk though! I would agree that my writing wouldn't be where it was if it wasn't for this group.

    1. It is such a blessing to have support of other christian writers who can be honest, but kind. :)

  7. I love critique groups! So glad you ladies have found good chemistry. I have been meaning to try Scribes. You are a great advertisement.

  8. I'd had very mixed experiences with critique groups until 2009 when I roomed with a girl at ACFW who went on to become my critique partner. Then over the next few years four more women got added to the mix. Today I'm so grateful for their invaluable assistance in my writing but, just as importantly, their amazing friendship!