Sisters of the Moon - My Critique GroupsYesterday Theresa talked about writing friends. We writers know that some of our best writing friends are our critique partners. I'm lucky to have TWO wonderful critique groups, my Sisters of the Moon and my "Writers Group"
My Writers Group includes my first writing friends. Julie and I met in 1995 in a Creative Writing class at our local community college. After the class ended we formed a small group, not even knowing enough to call it a critique group. Helen joined shortly after. I'd known Helen before because our husbands are coworkers. Everyone else quit and later Helen, Julie, and I added Virginia, another of my husband's coworkers. Together we all joined RWA and Washington Romance Writers. Gradually I became the only one writing regularly (although Julie is writing now and Helen plans to start again) so all the focus was on me! These ladies are skilled writers and widely-read readers. Helen is a professional editor; Virginia, a librarian. They are great editors, very good with words, very good at knowing what in a story works for them and what doesn't, and are good with history. I treasure them.
We are friends who do other things together sometimes, like attend craft fairs, attend the same parties, go to the movies. Every Christmas we wear hats and go out to lunch, as we're pictured here, left to right: Virginia, me, Helen, Julie
Much as I loved my Writers Group, I felt I needed help to push me from unpublished to published. The more I learned about the romance publishing business, the more I understood it was a business. I decided I needed a critique group with a specific focus on being published. I eventually found the perfect group of two published, one unpublished, writers, all writing series romance, which I was targeting at the time. I was invited into the critique group of (left to right in the photo below) Darlene Gardner, (me), Karen Anders, and Lisa Dyson.
One of the original members named the group Sisters of the Moon because of the quote:
Reach for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars.
I joined the group around 1999. Darlene and Karen had both been published by Intimate Moments but were having difficulty selling again. So together, we were all trying to figure out how to break in. And we were all very serious about it. It didn't take long for Darlene to sell again and to find a home at Superromance. Karen broke back into Blaze. I decided to switch to Regency Historicals and sold to Mills & Boon. Lisa has come very close. First to Duets, but the line folded, then to Everlasting, but the line folded. She's sooooo close! Darlene is very smart about what makes a good romance, the elements of story and the business of romance writing. Lisa is a master at discovering inconsistencies or illogical elements. Karen taught me tons about sexual tension and the crafting of a love scene. (see her blog on the subject)
Two years ago, Karen moved to North Carolina and another friend, Elizabeth Holcombe, joined us before her craft business took off like hot cakes. So now it is just Darlene, Lisa, and me, but we are very proud of our skills and know we make each other's work better.
Both my Sisters of the Moon and my Writers Group have helped me hone my writing skills, learn what makes a good story, learn what makes a marketable story, and learn how to sell it. I credit them all with my writing success. They were there for the manuscript that won the Golden Heart and became my first book, and for the one that won the RITA. Most of all, they are there to support me; to celebrate my successes and lament my disappointments.
Each of my critique groups meets about every other week and each read before the meeting. We email our work ahead of time.
Do you have a critique group? How does yours work?
Do they help you land among the stars?
How does yours work?