A rite of passage for many authors is finding a critique group—a few like-minded folks who make the isolation of writing a little less lonely, and who are willing to offer feedback on works in progress. Some authors prefer not to open themselves and their writing to others, fearing the exposure and vulnerability. After going it alone for a while I decided to give it a try. I lucked upon a group of generous and talented women who were also writing and interested in support and camaraderie. They invited me to join them. I happily accepted.
The challenges were clear from the start. One, I’d joined an established group. In fact, they’d been together for several years. Two, we were all from vastly different backgrounds. Retirees,baby-boomers, millennials. Straight and not. Jewish, catholic, agnostic and baptist. Doctor, lawyer,social worker, teacher, student, housewife, psychic and professor. The third challenge was, in my opinion, the biggest—Each of us wrote in widely different genres: poetry, nonfiction, memoir, mystery, thriller…and me. I write LGBT Urban Fantasy, extra spicy.
To say my work was not their cup of tea is an understatement. Not one of them had ever read an urban fantasy. They had no idea what an incubus was, that Weres weren’t restricted to wolves, and the notion that supernatural creatures could be good people hadn’t occurred to them. As for the gay romance at the core of my story, well, it wasn’t entirely comfortable for most of them.
You might imagine the group ran as smoothly as a fifteen-car pile-up, and indeed it rode the edge of disaster for a while. How could it not? Our views of the world were too incompatible, our experiences so different. It was bound to fail. But it didn’t.
Instead, we grew to trust and respect each other. I learned how to critique poetry and memoirs, and they fell in love with a sexy, foul mouthed, bisexual, single parent incubus and his children. Our group worked because we assumed good will. We committed to investing time to understand each other and so began to cherish each other.
We also agreed to a few simple guidelines to help us navigate unfamiliar terrain.
▪ We critiqued content, including (for fiction) plot, character, viewpoint, dialog, setting, scene and subplots.
▪ We did not critique subject matter unless requested by the author. We respect each person’s right to imagine his or her own story.
▪ We promised each other that feedback would always be honest, thoughtful, and respectfully given.
The “honest, thoughtful and respectfully given” agreement is particularly important. Don’t put up with being treated badly, bullied or disrespected. You shouldn’t have to have a “thick skin” with a critique partner. You should treat each other with kindness. Trust me, you’ll have enough blows to your ego in rewriting, submission, and review processes.
If you are on the fence about joining a critique group or writing club, give it a try. In fact, give several a try so you can sure you’ve found the group for you. When you find your tribe, your writing will be better for it and you will grow into the author you’re meant to be.
Sex. Rebellion. Rock and roll.
Living After Midnight, Book 1
Cheyenne is a half-human incubus whose star is on the rise in the Unakite City rock scene. His father, the leader of the supernatural races, would prefer he keep a “low profile”, but screw that. Cheyenne has as much music in his veins as royal incubi blood.
Alexander's future is all set—finish law school, join the family firm, and marry someone who'd be good for business. Not that he has a say in any of it. He's barely met the woman his father expects him to marry.
As Cheyenne's musical career takes off, his carefully constructed life begins to unravel, exacerbated by an ex-lover who can't let go, a crotchety barkeeper with a dirty mind and a pure heart, a drag queen who moonlights as a nanny, and Alexander—who's not sure if he's falling for the incubus or the rocker.
Cheyenne denies who he is, while Alexander hides what he wants. Together, they learn that getting what they truly want means being who they truly are.
While waiting for their drinks, Alexander studied the deep grooves carved into the table, trying to ignore the friction of Cheyenne’s thigh rubbing against his as the musician tapped a heel to the thump of the DJ’s music. Once the drinks arrived, Alexander downed half the bottle before he realized Cheyenne’s large green eyes were staring at him.
“So where’s your girl, Prudhomme? I mean, Prune Danish. No, wait...”
“Prudish. Shit, Prudence,” Alexander sputtered.
Cheyenne’s eyes sparkled. “No, you got it right the first time. Where is she?”
He shrugged. “Home, I guess.”
Cheyenne cocked his head. “Oh, really?” He put his hand on Alexander’s leg. “What’s up? You can tell me.”
“It’s not working out.” Alexander dragged his teeth over his lower lip. “It’s my fault.” He couldn’t keep his attraction to Cheyenne out of his voice. “I don’t know what’s happening to me.”
Cheyenne put his thumb to his lip and paused. “It’s like the drink.”
Alexander tilted his head, not sure he heard correctly. “The drink?”
“Yeah, that nasty ass bourbon. I bet your father drinks it. Your uncles. All your friends. Everybody, right?”
He didn’t answer, but waited for Cheyenne to continue.
“It was just expected that you’d drink it too. So you did.” His hand moved up Alexander’s thigh. “But now, maybe it’s okay to drink what you like. A different brand, a better vintage. Because you want it.
Because it tastes better.” Cheyenne licked his lips. “Because it feels right.”
Alexander cleared his throat and brushed his lap, pushing Cheyenne’s hand away. “I can’t.”
“If you change your mind, let me know.”
“You don’t understand. It’s not that easy. My whole life will change.”
“It already has.”
You can find HOUSE OF THE RISING SON AT:
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