Nancy's Books

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Working Together

In a literacy meeting, I heard an African proverb that resonated with me: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. 

I’m dedicating my first blog post of 2018 to my critique partner, Sandi Underwood, who has enriched my writing over the years. With her keen eye, writing experience, and willingness to help, my writing journey has taken me farther, much farther, than if I trekked alone.  

She is invaluable to me because she questions my work. If all the feedback I receive is positive, I won’t grow as a writer and won’t learn to create stronger stories. Editors will certainly find holes, actually wide gaps, if my eyes are the only look-see my words get prior to submitting to a publisher. My critique partner not only points out what does not work but what works well. I need to know both. Her feedback offers an objective review of my draft, an evaluation of its suitability for the age group, and most importantly, it allows me to “see” my work from another perspective, and a qualified perspective, at that. 

I almost never follow-up with an explanation of why I wrote something the way I did. If she didn’t understand it or the writing was cumbersome on her first read, it will be the same for an editor or a reader. She has my trust, so if she isn’t grasping the flow and rhythm, neither will the gatekeepers. 

In turn, I evaluate her work, which is as valuable to me as receiving a critique. I’m forced out of my comfort zone by engaging in her story and analyzing the many components. 

Regardless of where you are on your writing journey, a knowledgeable critique partner can take you far. Attend writing workshops and conferences to find people who understand the genre in which you write and are interested in working together toward a common goal. 

Sandi, thanks for traveling this literary journey with me!   

Call for Submissions for Young Writers:

Sprout. Our vision is to have a space where young minds can share their thoughts and opinions about society through creative expression. Sprout is a nonprofit, online literary journal for teens, by teens—we look to publish creative media that demonstrates awareness of the world and social commentary, sharing art in its purest, rawest form.

Submission guidelines at

Call for Submissions for Adult Writers:

Upworthy reaches a massive audience with meaningful stories every day, and we're looking for original stories that support our mission of creating a better world. That's where you come in. We're currently accepting pitches from freelancers for stories that are:
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    Is the topic, narrative, character, or outcome something truly new?
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    Are there enough visual elements to engage readers who might be skimming on a phone?
  • Shareable
    Would you share it? Would your friends share it? Most importantly, would your mom's friend share it?
Submission guidelines at

Nancy Kelly Allen has written 40+ children’s books and a cookbook, SPIRIT OF KENTUCKY: BOURBON COOKBOOK. Check out her blog at


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