We connected for the first time at the 2009 NESCBWI conference--and even then we didn't all meet each other in person. Ansha and I knew each other and we met Jen in a session. Jen knew Laura from her hometown. We were in the right (write?) place at the right time and all admitted we needed a crit group. A dynamic and energetic group of friends was born.
We all had partially completed novels at the time and immediately set up a schedule of bi-weekly submissions. Laura and I subbed one week, Jen and Ansha subbed the next. We met in a chat room weekly to share anecdotes, family stories, and encouragement.
Now, a year and a half later, we've all completed the works we had started. Some of us are in revision mode, some are working on new things. We've all queried and received positive feedback from agents and/or editors. We're all still on the path toward being agented, but Jen's book TO FIND A WONDER was released last fall. Her book launch was one of the most exciting moments our group has shared so far!
The critique process itself can be difficult. It's not always easy to put your words out there. We all have different writing styles and strengths--but that's the best part of our group. I know Laura's going ask me questions about my protag's character and whether her behavior is realistic. Ansha looks at the big picture. Jen is stellar on detail and world building. Without each of them, my novel would not be what it is today--getting good feedback and nibbles from agents.
We're now in our sophomore year--we still meet weekly in a chat room. We've come together to see Jen's book turned into a successful musical. Laura has become a successful and prolific blogger. Ansha spearheaded a successful blog series this summer. And I've had a few more nonfiction projects assigned by my publisher.
It's not always easy to be a writer. Not everyone understands the trials and tribulations. But my crit group understands. They're often the first ones who hear about my recent rejections--because they get it. Sometimes cheerleaders, sometimes task masters, sometimes psychologists. My crit group! Love you guys!