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The Anatomy of a Critique Group

The Rockville Writers’ Group gets together on the fourth Saturday of each month.  I very much look forward to our meetings because I know that I’ll always come away with a sense of accomplishment, whether it is relative to my own writing or that of my colleagues.

            I got to thinking about why this critique group works so well and why some fail.  I

identified a number of factors that I’d like to share.

            First, the Rockville Writers’ Group is structured.  We have guidelines for operation which insure that all members are actively engaged.  We critique in a proscribed way. 

            All the members of the group enjoy active lives with plenty of responsibilities and interests.  But when we come together, it’s all about writing. That’s our focus and we stick to it.

            Group members enjoy an easy camaraderie.  We joke.  We laugh.  We like being together.

            Speaking for myself, when I submit a story for critique, I truly value the group’s input.  And that’s because my colleagues are all terrific writers and I respect their talents.  They provide me with suggestions and diverse points of view that enrich my writing.  If I don’t want to integrate suggested changes into my story, I’m under no pressure to do so.

            We have eight group members-four women and four men.  We come from different professions, different life situations and write in several different genres.  Mystery/suspense, literary fiction, and science fiction.  Some of us are traditionally published, some self-published, and some not yet published. Some write short stories, others novels.  The diversity works for us.

            In May, I’ll be celebrating my second anniversary with the group.  And I’m the newest member.  I know that over the years of its existence, members have come and gone.  But, at this point in time, the chemistry is right.

            Here’s to the Rockville Writers’ Group!


Try It. You’ll Like It

I’m very proud to be on the Board of Directors of Malice Domestic, Ltd.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this organization, let me tell you about it.

            Malice Domestic was established in 1989 to provide a venue to celebrate the traditional mystery—books typified by the works of Agatha Christie.  Each year, over 500 authors and fans gather in the Washington, D.C. area for three days of author panels, interviews, signings and a host of other enjoyable activities.  The convention is known for its air of camaraderie, diverse programming, and excellent planning.

            At a Saturday night banquet, Malice Domestic presents the prestigious Agatha Awards for the best books published the previous year that conform to Malice’s rules for eligibility.  Categories covered are: Best Novel; Best Historical; Best First Novel; Best Short Story; Best Children’s/Young Adult; and Best Non-Fiction.  All registrants have the opportunity to nominate their favorite books in each category several months prior to the convention.  Attendees vote for their choices on site.

            Each year, the Malice Domestic Board of Directors elects a very special group of individuals to be honored at the convention for their considerable contributions to the genre: Guest of Honor; Toastmaster; Lifetime Achievement; Malice Remembers (a posthumous award) Fan Guest of Honor; and in some years, several additional honors.

            If traditional mysteries are your cup of tea, please consider joining the festivities.  The 2013 Malice Domestic convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Maryland, May 3-5 and marks Malice’s 25th anniversary.

            For more information, please visit:

                                                                        —-Harriette Sackler               

Harriette’s Musings

Welcome to my site. I’ve entered the blogosphere and will occasionally post on things that are happening, including news on House with a Heart, Malice Domestic, mystery news, my travels and anything else that comes to mind.

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