Here are the facts of my critique group.
--I've been in it for 2 1/2 years
--Without them, I never would have finished my first book (Meg's Melody)
--We meet once a month
--We alternate whose house we meet at
--Usually we all bring something to share (1-6 pages)
--We do it at lunchtime so we can eat and critique
--We have a wide range of writers: women's fiction, romance, literary, YA, nonfiction, and middle grade (plus some crossovers: LDS, scifi, historical, etc). I love having the diversity because all of our strengths lie in different areas.
Just this week we decided that we should email our pages to the group before we meet, so that we have time to read and think about them before we get together. I know I have a harder time thinking of critiques right off the top of my head, when everyone is looking at me, expecting me to say something, but if I have time to gather my thoughts, then I can actually give decent feedback.
I also have some online crit partners that I regularly send my work to for "right now" feedback: Jolene Perry (gets the most of my stuff), DeAnn Huff, and recently Kelley Vitollo. All three write YA and are extremely talented women. I have other beta readers that I send my full book to when I am finished and they are amazing (but that will have to be a different post)
So how do you run your crit groups? Do you have any tips? Have they helped you?