HI READERS! I’m at the beach this week with the kids and looking forward to a nice relaxing few days with no schedules, no after school activities, no phone calls, etc… I’m hoping to take some long walks on the beach and start a new story!
Sophie Clarkston is shocked to learn that she isn’t who she thinks. Her birth certificate is forged. Her name—made up. And her widowed “father” is suddenly missing, leaving behind a heartbreaking letter asking forgiveness. Desperate for answers, Sophie turns to private investigator Cain Garrison in tiny Promise, Virginia. But the moment they leave his office, her life is threatened and her home ransacked. Who is after her? And who, exactly, is she? With questions about his own past, Cain vows to help Sophie uncover the truth. Before someone comes out of the shadows to keep it hidden forever.
This is a fun read! Diane did a great job with the story. And since Diane and I are Critique Partners, or CPs, let’s talk about the value of having a GREAT critique partner…
Not familiar with the term CP? A CP is just what it sounds like. It’s another writer whom you partner up with. You trade work, make comments, suggest improvements to his/her story, and send it back to the author and they do the same thing for you. I think having a CP is an invaluable tool for any writer. But you can’t have just ANY other writer for a CP. You need someone who meets your needs as a writer. And sometimes that means saying NO to people. Or just moving on to a new CP. Here, I’ll explain how it’s worked for me…
I have had several different critique partners in the years that I have been writing (5 years). First, I matched up with a lady who was winning every contest under the sun. I’m not kidding. She had WON about 28 of 30 contests she had entered. And yes, she totally had the secret of how to final in a contest. I met her at a my local RWA Chapter Christmas party. And frankly, I was about ready to quit writing. It took up a lot of my time and I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere with it. Anyway, at this party, Donna offered to trade a chapter with me. So, I accepted and without hurting my feelings at all she made about 20-30 suggestions to my WIP. I listened to her, made MOST of the changes, and my story placed in the very next contest I entered. WOW! That would not have happened without her help… Donna and I continued to trade work for a couple of years and she continued to offer career-shaping suggestions to me. The most important being that I should try to write an inspirational romance because, after all, wasn’t that what my characters were doing anyway??? Again, I listened to her and sold my very next manuscript. Sadly, Donna and I do not trade work any more. She has a special needs child and often has to put her writing aside to tend to him. But we are still great friends and if I’m ever in a pinch and need a fresh set of eyes to read something I know I can count on her.
But, I knew I still needed a quick CP and I thought I might do well to find someone who wrote in the same genre. So I joined an inspirational writing critique group. This was a little scary. There were four of us in the group–all members of ACFW and everyone wrote young adult… except for me. But I stuck with the group for about 5 months. It was a lot of work. We posted a new chapter every 3-4 days and had to read everyone else’s work in that time as well. That was both good and bad. Most people were posting something already finished but I was writing it on the fly so it kept me really busy… And, as with most groups, we had our differences of opinions. Sometimes the critiques were a little harsh. Sometimes I think I was a little harsh. I didn’t feel like I knew much about young adult novels and I wasn’t sure the others in the group knew about romance so there was always a bit of tension. On the other hand, everyone in the group could really WRITE! And write really WELL. And we focused on craft and WOW did it help my writing… So, despite the occasional tension, I learned a lot from this group. I also heard about conferences and agents and all kinds of things I knew nothing about. So it was invaluable. It was also very intense and time consuming and we disbanded after the 5 months. And once again I was looking for someone to trade work with.
But things had really changed for me now. I was under contract. I had an agent. I felt like I was through with someone giving me a line to line edit. What I really wanted was someone to just read and tell me where the story had problems. And for that, I needed to find someone who was in about the same place as myself…or even further along.
That’s when I met Diane Burke. She had just won the Daphne du Maurier. I had just one the Golden Heart. I sat next to Diane at an RWA luncheon and we totally hit it off, except that she didn’t really “get” that we hit it off so I had to spell it out for her.
HELLO!!! WOULD YOU READ SOME OF MY WORK AND MAKE COMMENTS?!?! PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE.
And the rest is history. Diane and I write for the same line so we know what our editors like and don’t like. And although we have very different voices I think we both get where the other is coming from. Anyway, so far, (with the exception of me being a little slow sometimes) Diane and I work very well together. And I’m very thankful for her.
I also have another group of lady writers in my life. We call ourselves “Writers and Sisters in Christ.” We aren’t a critique group per se (more of a prayer and support group) but it does happen that we read for each other in a pinch. I have several other very accomplished writer friends who will also read for me. I’m very fortunate…
Bottom line is that having a CP has been so important to my writing career. It would be much slower and harder without Diane to read for me… Her comments save me lots of time and lots of rejection 🙂 And I hope that when my next release comes out in July that Diane knows it’s her book too.