Back at the end of January 2011 I got an email from a woman named Tina Holland, inviting me to join a local critique group here in Fargo, ND. Boy, was I excited! I’d heard of Tina Holland. She was a romance author with Liquid Silver Books. I was going to meet a real, live romance author!
You see, I felt so alone and isolated from other writers. I had tried to join a local crit group a few years before, but sadly, that group was made of people who sneered at the romance genre. They were “real” writers. So I tucked my tail between my legs and went home. This one, I hoped, would be different. After all, Tina Holland was a romance author, too, and with years more experience in the publishing world than I had.
For the first few meetings, we were a little careful with one another. Some of us had never been in a crit group before and weren’t sure how to critique someone’s work. We didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. There were seven of us, and we wrote in a few different genres, including poetry. We decided to call ourselves Word Weavers.
It wasn’t long before we learned how to critique effectively, but there were a few bumps along the way. We lost our leader due to health problems, and another woman left in a huff because she felt unappreciated. I believe she became increasingly unhappy as we learned to give tough critiques. Instead of just saying how much we loved this or that, we also began pointing out where improvements could be made. I don’t think she liked that.
When you’re a writer, you must learn to accept criticism. You may disagree with a critique, and that’s fine. You can say thank you and ignore it. But arguing and insulting the person who is giving the critique isn’t helpful. It’s taken us a little time, but my Word Weavers Crit Group has settled into a respectful and helpful groove. I really appreciate all their helpful advice. They have put up with my whining about Eddie’s Prize and helped me brainstorm through problems. They are sort of like cheerleaders, and sort of like mothers. They tell me I can do it, and they tell me I better do it.
To have a group of fellow writers to meet with is a great thing. I take my hat off to these ladies, who tell it to me like it is, and give it with a dose of praise.
Tina Holland – Erotic Romance Author
Mary Jean Adams – Historical Romance Author
Michelle Kent – Paranormal Romance Writer
Athena Hill Gracyk – Fantasy Writer/Poet
Kat Smith – Flash Fiction Writer/LARP game writer
Simone James – Contemporary Romance Writer