PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUES

Rate Your Story offers writers a number rating (1-10) on a manuscript. If you're a Member, or purchase a SPEEDPASS, you'll also get a few sentences of feedback.  However, you may benefit from having a full critique of your story – something not offered from Rate Your Story. Many of the volunteer judges at Rate Your Story also offer critique services (for a fee) through their personal websites. 

Get to know the Rate Your Story judges below: 



Dorian Cirrone
Dorian Cirrone’s newest book, a middle-grade novel titled THE FIRST LAST DAY will be out in June 2016 from Simon & Schuster. She has also written for younger children and teens. Her novel DANCING IN RED SHOES WILL KILL YOU was named an ALA Popular Paperback and made the Amelia Bloomer List for Feminist Fiction, as well as The New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age list and the Texas State Reading List. Her poems, shorts stories, and essays for children and adults have been published in literary journals and anthologies. Dorian holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in English and has taught writing at the university level and at many workshops and conferences. She is the Assistant Regional Advisor of the Florida Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). For more about Dorian and her books, visit www.doriancirrone.com

Kelly Hashway 
Kelly Hashway is both an author and an editor. She writes everything from picture books to adult novels. When she isn’t writing, she works as an acquisitions editor for Leap Books Seek. She also has her own list of freelance editing clients. She is the author of the Touch of Death series and The Monster Within duology for young adults. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency. For more about Kelly’s published works and her editorial services, visit her website: www.kellyhashway.com

Dianne Ochiltree
Dianne Ochiltree is a nationally-recognized author of books for the very young. Her picture books have appeared on many recommended reading lists, used by teachers in the classroom lesson plans, been included in literacy programs such as the Dollywood Foundation's Imagination Library and honored with book awards, including two Florida Book Award medals for children's literature. Dianne is a certified yoga instructor; and the human half of a therapy dog team with Sally, the family's chocolate Labrador retriever. She and her husband, Jim, live in sunny Sarasota, Florida. To learn more about Dianne's books, writing workshops and manuscript critique services, go to dianneochiltree.com
Lisa Amstutz
Lisa Amstutz is the author of more than 40 nonfiction books for children and co-author of one adult title. She specializes in topics related to science and agriculture. Lisa has written fiction, poetry, and articles for a variety of magazines, including Ladybug, Highlights, Cricket, ASK, and Jack and Jill. She is represented by Victoria Selvaggio of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. Lisa serves on the board of SCBWI: Northern Ohio, and enjoys mentoring new writers. For information on her manuscript critique service, visit www.LisaAmstutz.com.

Anne E. Johnson
Anne E. Johnson writes fiction in many genres. Her works include the middle-grade paranormal mystery Ebenezer's Locker (MuseItUp), middle-grade historical mystery Trouble at the Scriptorium (Royal Fireworks), and noir sci-fi series The Webrid Chronicles (Candlemark & Gleam). She has had dozens of short stories published in magazines and anthologies, and many of them can now be found in her book Things from Other Worlds: 15 Alien and Fantasy Stories for Kids. Visit Anne's website to inquire about professional critique services or to learn more about her books and stories. 

Linda Skeers
Linda Skeers LOVES children's books! She's the author of picture books, children's nonfiction, magazine stories, poems and articles on the craft of writing. She is a former instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature and co-teacher of the annual Whispering Woods Picture Book Writing Workshop. Linda enjoys mentoring aspiring writers and does private manuscript critiques. For more information go to www.lindaskeers.com.

Rob Sanders
Rob Sanders is a writer who teaches and a teacher who writes. Every day you'll find him at Mintz Elementary School in Brandon, Florida where he teaches kids about books and words and reading and writing. Then he scoots back home to write books for children just like those he teaches. On weekends and holidays you might find Rob with his dog, Baxter, at the beach with his great nieces and nephews, or learning and working with other children’s writers. Nothing makes him happier than hearing boys and girls say, “Read it again!” Visit Rob’s web site (where you can learn more about getting a professional picture book critique) at www.robsanderswrites.com and his blog at www.robsanderswrites.blogspot.com.

Heather Macht
Heather Macht is an active children's author who has been creating rhyming stories, specifically about dinosaurs, since the third grade! She earned her AA in fine arts from Florida State College at Jacksonville and held a career in the I.T. world before becoming a full-time writer and mom. Macht’s an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and lives with her family in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. In her spare time, she dwells in poetry and picture books and enjoys painting. Heather Macht is the author of You May Just Be a Dinosaur, a rhyming picture book of GIGANTIC proportions! For more visit www.heathermacht.com.

Lori Degman
Lori Degman is a picture book author and teacher of deaf and hard-of-hearing students.  Her first picture book, 1 Zany Zoo (Simon and Schuster, 2010), was the winner of the 2nd Annual Cheerios New Author Contest and was a featured title on the 2013 Illinois Reads Book List.  Her second picture book, Cock-a-Doodle Oops! (Creston Books, 2014) was a 2015 International Literacy Association Honor Book.  Her third picture book, Norbert's Big Dream (Sleeping Bear Press, 2016) will be released in July, 2016.  She writes mostly in rhyme, sometimes in prose, and always with humor.  “I love helping writers with their rhyming picture book stories," she said. "My professional critiques include comments on all aspects of the story, as well as a line-by-line review of both rhythm and rhyme.”  Learn more about Lori’s critique service on her website: www.Loridegman.com.

Lisa Albert
Lisa Albert’s thought-provoking young adult novel, Mercy Lily, debuted from Flux in 2011. Lisa’s also written three nonfiction titles including, Stephenie Meyer: Author of the Twilight Saga, Lois Lowry: The Giver of Stories and Memories, and So You Want to Be a Film or TV Actor? She’s been a contributing writer for The Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market where her author profiles and articles on the craft of writing have appeared. Lisa has presented workshops on writing and the publishing industry for the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and has appeared events held by the American Library Association, the American Association of School Librarians, the Wisconsin Book Festival, and the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books. In addition to being an author, Lisa is a Library Assistant at a K-8 school library and loves being surrounded by books and children every day.

Melissa Gorzelanczyk
Melissa Gorzelanczyk is a freelance writer, editor and author of The Hybrid Homemaker who offers critiques and other writing services. Her debut YA, ARROW, will be published by Delacorte/Random House in 2015. She has a ten-year background as a newspaper and magazine editor, and was the recipient of the Marsha Dunlap Memorial Scholarship (SCBWI-WI, 2011) for one of her YA manuscripts. She is represented by agent Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson. Contact her through Elance or follow her writing at Peace & Projects.

Kristen Fulton
Kristen Fulton lives in Central Florida with her husband Rusty, a rocket scientist (really). Kristen's books are represented by Kendra Marcus of Bookstop Literary and she has three forthcoming nonfiction and historical picture books. Kristen is also the founder of Week of Writing: Nonficpic week and organizer of a private picture book retreat that will take place in Georgia in July 2014. When she is not writing or planning her WOW retreat, Kristen likes to watch the Hallmark channel. Learn more at http://www.kristenfulton.org.
Allyn Stotz
Allyn Stotz was always a storyteller as a child, however it wasn’t until 2009 that she finally woke up and decided to put her stories down on paper. She has four picture books published, The Pea in Peanut Butter, Kailee Finds Magic IN Words, Hippo Bottomless and her latest The Color of Love. She has also been published in various children’s online magazines. Allyn came from a family of writers. Her father wrote and owned the town newspaper in Edgerton, Ohio and her mother wrote a weekly column. One of her sisters is a freelance editor/writer in the commercial industry. Watching Allyn’s journey to publication convinced her sister and her 85 year old mother to team up and write a novel of their own. They just recently published their fourth book. Allyn is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, CBI Clubhouse and a member of the Livingston Parish Writer’s Group. Allyn lives in Baton Rouge, LA with her husband, two crazy dogs and one fat cat. For more, visit: www.allynstotz.blogspot.com.


Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Lyn Miller-Lachmann is the former editor-in-chief of MultiCultural Review. Her young adult novel Gringolandia (Curbstone Press/Northwestern University Press, 2009), about a teenage refugee from Chile coming to terms with his father’s imprisonment and torture under the Pinochet dictatorship, was a 2010 ALA Best Book for Young Adults and received an Américas Award Honorable Mention from the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs. Her second novel, Rogue (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books, 2013), a Junior Library Guild selection, portrays an eighth grader with undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome and an X-Men obsession, whose desire for a friend leads her to some difficult and dangerous choices. Her most recent novel is Surviving Santiago (Running Press, 2015), the companion to Gringolandia, which portrays younger sister Tina’s journey to Chile to visit her estranged father and her romance with a motorcycle-riding local boy whose secret threatens them all. Lyn reviews children’s and young adult books on social justice themes for The Pirate Tree (www.thepiratetree.com). Currently, she is writing a young adult novel set in Portugal, where she spends part of each year, and translating children’s books from Portuguese to English. Her first translation, the picture book The World in a Second (Enchanted Lion) received a starred review from Kirkus and was featured in the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, and the Wall Street Journal. For more information, visit Lyn’s website, www.lynmillerlachmann.com.

Vicky Rubin
Vicky Rubin is an author and illustrator. Her books are in prose, and her rhyming poems have appeared in CRICKET and SPIDER magazines. She offers detailed, multi-round critiques and editorial services. In her crits, she looks at voice, language, character, story, plot, pacing, structure and the takeaway. She's glad to answer your questions about the critique process. She has over 20 years of professional experience as a writer, proofreader, and copyeditor. Her goal is to work with you to make your story as strong as possible. Visit her at http://doodlesoop.com. Critiques page:  http://www.doodlesoop.com/picture-book-critique-service/

Pam Calvert
Pam Calvert is an author of children’s picture books, easy readers, and short stories. She has four picture books nationally published that have been translated into Chinese, Korean, Catalan, and Spanish and she has a new character driven series coming in 2017 entitled, Brianna Bright Ballerina Knight. Her Princess Peepers series has won awards and some of her books are Scholastic Book Club titles, including Multiplying Menace: The Revenge of Rumpelstiltskin. She offers a free picture book workshop, Picture Book University, on her blog as well as a highly praised critique service. She is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Jennifer Swanson
Jennifer Swanson’s love of science began when she started a science club in her garage at the age of 9. While no longer working from the garage, Jennifer’s passion for science resonates in the fascinating 20 nonfiction and fiction books she has written for children. She has received an award from the Pennsylvania TriState Young Adult Review Committee and books in the “How Things Work” series by The Child’s World were named to the 2012 Booklist’s Top 10 Books for Youth: Series Nonfiction. Top reviews include a starred review in Booklist, and recommended reviews from School Librarians Workshop, Library Media Connection, School Library Journal, and the National Science Teacher Association. Jennifer’s new books include releases with Rosen Publishing, ABDO Publishing, Britannica, National Geographic Kids (2015), and Charlesbridge (2016). She is also a member of SCBWI and a blogger at The Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors. Read more at JenniferSwansonBooks.com.
Katy Duffield
Katy Duffield LOVES picture books—reading them and writing them. And she has a newfound reason (as if she needs another reason) to overstuff her picture book shelves—her first grandbaby! Katy is the award winning author of more than twenty children’s books including the picture books Farmer McPeepers and His Missing Milk Cows, illustrated by Steve Gray (Rising Moon Children’s Books), Loud Lula, illustrated by Mike Boldt (Two Lions, 2015), and the forthcoming Aliens Get the Sniffles, Too, illustrated by K.G. Campbell (Candlewick Press, tba). Katy has also written many nonfiction books for older readers, both fiction and nonfiction for many children’s magazines, and for several educational publishers. Katy truly enjoys the critiquing process. If you’re interested in an in-depth, professional critique, please email her through the “Contact” page on her website, www.katyduffield.com.

Margot Finke
Margot Finke is an Aussie Transplant who has lived in Oregon for many years. Her 11x published children’s books can be viewed on “Margot’s Magic Carpet.” If you want to HOOK a publisher with writing that is tight and terrific, Margot’s Manuscript Critique Service offers personal guidance.  She focuses on what is vital to the plot plus richly drawn characters. An in-depth critique includes suggestions + examples that are as tight as your granny’s new girdle. ** For self-editing and other writing help, visit Secrets of Writing for Children.

Nancy Stewart
Nancy Stewart is the bestselling and award winning author of the four Bella and Britt Series books for children:  One Pelican at a Time (eighteen weeks on Amazon Bestselling List), Sea Turtle Summer (International Classics Gold Book Award), Bella Saves the Beach and Mystery at Manatee Key. Her book, Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage, is the authorized biography of Katrina Simpkins and her life changing relationship with Winter, the dolphin (International Classics Silver Award, 2013). A frequent speaker and presenter at writing conferences throughout the United States, Nancy conducts many for SCBWI and speaks to school children frequently. Learn more at www.nancystewartbooks.com, read her blog, or visit her on Twitter or Facebook.

Terrie Hope
Terrie Hope grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Africa, and founded Critique Cafe as a way for writers to network, join critique groups, and get help with their manuscripts.  Terrie is as much of a reader as a writer, and has contributed to creative endeavors ranging from puppet plays to church newsletters.  If you're looking for critique partners, visit Critique Cafe or connect with Terrie via her website, www.TerrieHope.com

Katrina DeLallo
Katrina DeLallo is a spiritual, fantasy writer whose work has been published in several eZines, SuperTeacherWorksheets.com, and in print anthologies published by Static Movement.  Her earliest writing memory stems from the age of six, when she wrote her first story into a journal given to her by one of her older sisters. She adores imagining new worlds, new places, new people and characters. Her main draw is to fantasy, because fantasy allows her to create worlds that do not exist. Visit Katrina's blog or request a critique at her website: www.katrinadelallo.blogspot.com

Judy (J.S.) Roberts
Judy (J.S.) Roberts writes middle grade fiction, which she describes as anything between picture books and young adult. Her short story Visions appears in the Baba Yaga edition of Timeless Tales, and her middle grade mystery Delayed was accepted into the 2015 agent round of Pitch Wars. You can learn more about her and on her website http://jsrobertsbooks.weebly.com/.  

Amie Borst
Amie Borst is the author of the Scarily Ever Laughter series for middle-grade readers. Cinderskella and Little Dead Riding Hood are the first in the series, followed by Snow Fright (October 2016). She believes in unicorns, uses glitter whenever possible, and devours chocolate.  Sometimes she gets the three confused which explains the vast shortage of unicorns lately (sorry!). Amie is a founding and contributing member of the group blog, From the Mixed-Up Files…of Middle-Grade Authors. She is also an active member of the SCBWI. You can find her on social networking as well as her blog (www.amieborst.blogspot.com) and her website (www.amieborst.com). 


Want to know what to expect from a professional critique?  Harold Underdown's website has an entire page devoted to what a writer can expect from a professional critique here.