I'm late getting this post up, but I have an excuse. It doesn't even involve naked men with greased abs and jumper cables (which is unfortunate, but I digress).
I flew home very, very late last night after a week spent roaming Georgia, Florida, and Virginia in what was probably an overly ambitious writer meet-up.
|(left to right) authors Elizabeth Flora Ross,|
Cynthia Reese, and Tawna Fenske
Things snowballed from there. When I realized several other writer pals resided in the same region, I cobbled together a series of three-legged flights and long layovers that allowed me to meet up with Harley May and Elizabeth Flora Ross (both of whom I know from Twitter) and the hilarous Linda Grimes (my "agency sistah" who's also represented by the amazing Michelle Wolfson).
I'm too jet-lagged and exhausted to give you a blow-by-blow account of the trip, and that would probably be boring anyway. What I will say is that I hear a lot of writers lamenting the difficulty of connecting with critique partners and beta readers. How do I find them? Does it matter if we're in the same geographic realm or the same place in our careers?
I can tell you from experience that the answer to the second question is a resounding no. I have a collection of critique partners and beta readers I've worked with for years, and I very rarely see any of them. Until last week, I couldn't have even told you with 100% certainty that Cynthia was not a martian.
|Agency Sistahs Linda Grimes (left) and Tawna Fenke|
As for how to find them, you could try standing on a street corner holding a cardboard sign, but I don’t recommend it. One of the best online resources for finding critique partners and beta readers is the forum at Absolute Write devoted to this purpose.
Another great option is trolling online discussion forums for your specific genre. I met Cynthia in the eHarlequin discussion forums when we were both newbie writers learning the ropes. Check out blogs and chat loops for your genre to find other authors in your shoes (which is a little gross, so spray some Lysol before putting your feet back in them).
Organized writing groups are another good resource. If you write romance, your RWA chapter can help connect you with other writers in your genre. Sisters in Crime (SINC) offers an online group for new authors called The Guppies.
As for beta readers, all three of mine are former co-workers. It’s a perk of 10+ years working in marketing & corporate communications that I’ve connected with smart, savvy folks who like words, but you can find good betas in many places. Belong to a book club? Search it for betas. Got a co-worker with his nose in a book on lunch breaks? Maybe he’d like to help an aspiring author.
Bottom line, don't let a few miles keep you from meeting some really great writing pals. I'm glad I didn't!
Tawna Fenske writes romantic comedy. Her debut novel, Making Waves, is the first of three books scheduled for release with Sourcebooks Casablanca starting August 2011. She’s the author of the popular daily blog Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing and a member of Romance Writers of America. She was honored to be chosen to blog weekly at The Debutante Ball, a group blog now in its fifth season that chronicles the debut year of five authors from different genres. Tawna lives in Central Oregon with her husband and traveling companion, whom she married at center court during a Portland Trailblazer game in front of 21,000 screaming sports fans (who, sadly, did not bring gifts).