Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Critique Group: A Gift from Heaven

Writing used to be a lonely occupation. Not anymore! Networking, giving and receiving reviews, supporting each other and socializing, all these things are important for a writer of the twenty-first century.

I found all this and more five years ago, when I joined my online critique group on, called the YA Novel Workshop. Our group comprised writers from all over the world (US, Australia, New Zealand, England, Egypt, Canada, you name it!), some experienced and some very new, all with a common purpose: turning our manuscripts into publishable novels, ranging from MG to YA to Christian to anything that didn't fit other categories and was rated 13+ or less.

Today, I want to give something back to all the wonderful people in my critique group who've helped me become the writer that I am today. Without their help and support, it would have taken me a lot longer to reach my goal of becoming a published author.

Sadly, our online critique group is no longer active, but with good reason: many of us got published! And that's what we were together for, right? I was curious to find out what everyone is up to now, so I did some research.

Dawné Dominique is an amazing cover designer. Just look at my book! :) You can see more of her covers on her site, DusktilDawn Designs. She is also a multi-published and award-nominated author of Paranormal Erotic Romance and Fantasy. Her latest novel, THE TEARS OF SAN'FERATH, has just been released, under the author name D. Thomas-Jerlo. Dawné was the moderator of our critique group for many years.

Frankie (S.M.) Blooding, author of New Adult Steampunk, Fairytale Romance, and Adult Paranormal Thriller novels, is also the founder of our critique group. She is a multi-published author and wrote more books than I can count. I had the chance to read book one of her Devices of War trilogy, FALL OF SKY CITY, and I can tell you, she is a talented author. Book 2, KNIGHTS OF WAND, has also been published. She offers cover design and editing services, reviews, and interviews on her other site, Frankie's Bookshelf.

Kurt Chambers, MG Fantasy author, self-published two books of his Truth Teller series, TRUTH TELLER and THE WRATH OF SIREN, and is working on the third one, FAVIAN'S LAW. Actually, he's waiting for me to do a round of edits for him, so I'd better get to work!

Rachel Lim (Emerin) is a university student. She's the one who introduced me to the critique group. I can never thank her enough! I'm not sure if she's still writing. Does anyone know?

Hailey Briggs is also a university student. I guess studying takes up so much time and energy that there is not much time left for writing and blogging.

Ralene Burke, Christian writer, became a copyeditor and social media consultant. Ralene was the co-moderator of our critique group with Dawné for several years before handing Kurt and me the baton. She threw awesome Christmas parties every year, organizing contests and games for all of us during the holidays. Ah, good memories!

Mireyah Wolfe is an aspiring author of Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance. In the critique group, she was our YA member who wrote non-YA novels. She is also rumored to be killing puppies. ;)

Jay Eckert self-published his MG Fantasy novel, CHILDREN OF MIDIAN, and his YA Urban Fantasy novel, URBAN MYTHOS. Then he took a two-year break from writing to go to school for an MBA at night and on weekends, which he completed. That was in June 2013, his last blog post. Where is he now? *putting on my Sherlock Holmes hat* To be continued ...

Alex Lidell, YA Fantasy author, published her debut novel, THE CADET OF TILDOR with Penguin, after becoming an ABNA finalist. She is represented by Leigh Feldman.

Desiree Shear ... Where is Dezzie? Has anyone seen Dezzie?

Richard Hartnett (MoW) was an active member, until Kurt posted a little heart on his Facebook page by mistake during the holidays. Then he disappeared! Hmm ... Strange.

Cheree Smith's YA Paranormal novel, SHADOW EMBRACED, has been published. Her next novel, SHINIGAMI EYES, co-authored with her brother, will be released this month.

Tamara Hart Heiner is the author of the Perilous YA Suspense series, PERILOUS, ALTERCATION, and INEVITABLE. She also wrote DELIVERER, a companion novel to the Perilous series. Her nonfiction book about the Joplin tornado, TORNADO WARNING, came out in April 2014.

Kate Larkindale's first book, AN UNSTILL LIFE, is available now from Musa Publishing. She is represented by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary. She has six ideas for new books, but she hasn't decided yet which one she will tackle first. Stay tuned!

Lexa Cain is a Horror and Dark Fantasy author represented by Michelle L. Johnson of Inklings Literary. Her YA Horror/Romance novel, SOUL CUTTER, was published in December 2013 by MuseItUp Publishing.

Tania Walsh writes Fantasy, Paranormal and Steampunk for both young adult and adults. Her debut novel, CLOAKED IN FUR, a Paranormal Romance with strong suspense, is now available from Crimson Romance. She is currently working on the sequel.

Louisa Clarkson self-published the first book of her Master Mind Academy series, THE SILVER STRAND, a MG Fantasy. She is now working on the sequel. She founded the site Indicated (which I'm a member of) to help self-published authors build visibility and exposure.

Chris Denton was also a very active member of our group until Kurt ... okay, I'll stop blaming him for everything. :D But isn't it weird that the very few male members of our forum disappeared one by one? I think Kurt loved all the attention of being the only male member of our group.

Janeal Falor is a YA Fantasy author who recently published her Mine series: MINE TO TARNISH (prequel), YOU ARE MINE, and MINE TO SPELL. She is now working on Book 3.

Vicky Skinner got married! She was known to us as Vicky Blaylock. She's still writing and querying, but no agent yet. *keeping my fingers crossed for her*

I don't know where Bree and Rema (Riham Adley) are. I'll have to do some research.

Lilly the Pink, our fictive member, has not been seen since everyone left.

Did I forget anyone?

Wow, we were quite a group! I miss everyone dearly, but I honestly wouldn't have time to give detailed, chapter-by-chapter reviews like we used to do.

I thank you all for helping me improve my writing skills and develop my novel to the point where I could publish it!

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Emailman said...

hahaha!! Blame me for everything, I don't car :D I hope I get some of the blame for the successes too! :)

It's great to see how well everyone is doing!

Dawné Dominique said...

OMG! All the names. And I remember each and every one of them. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Annie. Going down memory lane brought me to tears (but in a good way). That's when life felt much simpler. ((love you lots))

Ralene said...

Wow! So many memories . . . I owe so much to you guys! I'm so proud to be an alumni of such an amazing group.

Mireyah Wolfe said...

LOL I only kill puppies in books! :P *hugs* I miss you guys! It's so good to see y'all 'round the interwebs! <3<3

Jay said...

Wow, thanks for the memories. Somehow, Kurt never scared me off! Time has certainly gotten away from me.

Annie said...

Good to see everyone here! :) Such good memories. UPDATE: Dezzie has been found!!

Kate Larkindale said...

Wow! When you put it all together like that, we're a pretty accomplished group.

Emailman said...

Thanks, Jay! :D

Unknown said...

thank you so much for re-connecting us!

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