Manuscript Critique Services

I’ve got some really exciting news! And if you’re an aspiring writer, I hope you’ll find it exciting, too!

Along with my amazingly talented friends Elizabeth Richards (BLACK CITY), Paula Stokes (THE ART OF LAINEY) (but you might also know her as Fiona Paul, who writes the VENOM series), and Tara Kelly (HARMONIC FEEDBACK), I’m starting a critique service!

I really love doing critique. I think I’m good at it, too. I adore finding the strengths of a manuscript, identifying what we want to see more of, and encouraging writers with smiley-faces and hearts in the margins. But I also like finding the fault lines in a manuscript – places a reader or potential agent or editor might trip, and asking those tough questions about pacing, logic, character motivation, and world-building. I studied new play development in grad school, and I really loved working with playwrights on new scripts, and I find that the same skill set totally applies to books.

I’ve already got a bunch of fabulous critique partners who run the gamut from traditionally published with multiple books to debuting in 2014 to self-published to querying. I feel like I’ve learned a TON from working with them – and from my own wonderful and super-challenging editor, Ari Lewin (who has edited  fabulous New York Times bestsellers like Rick Yancey and Rachel Hawkins and Marie Lu).  When Paula and Liz approached me about MCS, I was a little worried about whether I’d have the time. But ultimately I decided to make the time. Critique is something I really enjoy, and I absolutely want to give back to aspiring writers in every way I can.

So…are you an aspiring writer? Do you have a query letter and/or first ten pages that you’re not quite confident in, and would love someone to take a second look at? Or maybe you’d love to have us read the first 50 pages of your manuscript to make sure it’s super-polished. Perhaps you’ve  got an entire finished novel that you’d like detailed feedback (including line notes) on. We can do any or all of that, and I think our pricing is really reasonable. As of today, October 1, Manuscript Critique Services is open for business! Check out our website for more info.

If you’re interested in working with me and curious about my credentials, critique style, or what kind of manuscripts I love best, here’s my bio from the site:

Jess is the author of The Cahill Witch Chronicles: BORN WICKED (2012), STAR CURSED (2013), and SISTERS’ FATE (August 2014). The trilogy sold to Penguin Young Readers in a major pre-empt and was featured in Penguin’s Breathless Reads campaign. Both BW and SC were Indie Next List picks and BW received a starred review from VOYA. Jess teaches writing workshops for tweens and teens with Writopia in Washington, DC. She’s worked with critique partners who run the gamut from aspiring to self published to traditionally published (by Penguin, Scholastic, Walker, Disney Hyperion, Sourcebooks, and Harlequin Teen). Her critique style has been described as “incredibly insightful” and “a warm and encouraging hand.” Jess will leave smiley-faces and hearts in your manuscript next to the things she loves – while also asking questions to enhance your world-building, sharpen your characters, and heighten the stakes of your plot. Her focus is on YA historical, fantasy, Gothic, and paranormal romance. Her favorite books feature clever, independent girls who nevertheless get in a fair amount of swoony kissing, and she loves stories about sisters, complicated female friendships, ghosts, or witches – especially ones that feature settings so vivid they’re practically characters. Some of her recent favorites include BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore, OUT OF THE EASY by Ruta Sepetys, GILT by Katherine Longshore, and BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by April Genevieve Tucholke. 

Questions? You can contact us here. And to help spread the word about our launch, we’re also giving away some 10-page critiques to start! Check it out!


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