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In Which the Ninja Cap'n tells you Why Critique Partners Rock!!

Alex J. Cavanaugh has been amazing blog-friend since April last year, when I met him as one of the hosts of the A To Z Challenge. We’re co-hosts this year  and his warm, friendly presence has been a big source of support for me and the entire team.

He’s now coming out with a new book—CassaFire, the sequel to his first book, CassaStar. Today’s he is a guest on this blog, telling us all about critique partners and his experience with them…visit him and leave a comment during his book tour for a chance to win CassaFire, CassaStar, and a CassaFire tote bag and mug.


Critique partners are important. Maybe not as vital as air, but to a writer, they are definitely in the top ten.

For CassaStar, I had two test readers. They weren’t writers, just readers who enjoyed science fiction. They provided some great feedback, but neither could offer detailed writing tips. (Although one is still my go-to guy for dialogue.)

After completing revisions on my second book, I knew I needed more. (I was really feeling the pressure to make CassaFire better.) I put out a call for help on my blog and eventually selected Rusty, Jeffrey, and Anne. Trust me, it was the best writing decision I ever made. Now I have three critique partners who rock!

What are the advantages? Your critique partners see mistakes you don’t. They notice repetitions of words and phrases. They catch when something seems out of place or awkward. They come to the manuscript fresh, so they don’t read what you meant, only what you wrote. And they’ll be able to suggest how to fix the problems since they are writers as well.

If you’ve never sent work to a critique partner, there is always a sense of fear. What if he hates it? What if I suck? What if he rips it to shreds? Rest assured, if you selected a good critique partner, you’ll be all right. Yes, you could end up with a bad partner. (That’s when you say thanks and find someone else!) But critiques are rarely harsh or demeaning. The comment are meant to make your manuscript better. And you’ll often discover strengths you never knew you possessed.

My three critique partners were awesome and added so much to the quality of my writing. I considered every suggestion and never felt threatened or angry with the comments. Besides, how could one be angry when you see a comment like this:

  “We’ll have to play when you’re not rusty then.” – “Hey! That’s my name! Woo hoo! I’m in your book.”

Now, go find yourself a critique partner or two!

And if you already have critique partners, let me know why they rock. The Ninja Captain wants to know…



by Alex J. Cavanaugh

CassaStar was just the beginning…

The Vindicarn War is a distant memory and Byron’s days of piloting Cosbolt fighters are over. He has kept the promise he made to his fallen mentor and friend – to probe space on an exploration vessel. Shuttle work is dull, but it’s a free and solitary existence. The senior officer is content with his life aboard the Rennather.

The detection of alien ruins sends the exploration ship to the distant planet of Tgren. If their scientists can decipher the language, they can unlock the secrets of this device. Is it a key to the Tgren’s civilization or a weapon of unimaginable power? Tensions mount as their new allies are suspicious of the Cassan’s technology and strange mental abilities.

To complicate matters, the Tgrens are showing signs of mental powers themselves; the strongest of which belongs to a pilot named Athee, a woman whose skills rival Byron’s unique abilities. Forced to train her mind and further develop her flying aptitude, he finds his patience strained. Add a reluctant friendship with a young scientist, and he feels invaded on every level. All Byron wanted was his privacy…

Available now!

Science fiction – space opera/adventure

Print ISBN 978-0-9827139-4-5, $15.95, 6×9 Trade paperback, 240 pages

EBook ISBN 978-0-9827139-6-9, $4.99, available in all formats

CassaFire is the sequel to Cavanaugh’s first book, CassaStar, an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller:

“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” – Library Journal

Visit the author’s site at

Barnes and Noble –

Amazon –

Amazon Kindle –


Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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