by Narelle Atkins
Over the years I’ve been blessed by the friendship and critiques from a number of romance writers. I’ve discovered some critique relationships are for a season, and others evolve into long term friendships.
I met Suzie Johnson (aka Susan Diane Johnson) through the Faith, Hope and Love (FHL) Chapter of RWA. Suzie came second in the 2007 Touched by Love Contest short contemporary category and I placed third. When Suzie joined the FHL email group, I sent her a welcome email and our friendship was born. The following year we met in person at the RWA Conference in San Francisco, and we stayed in touch via email. Suzie lives in Washington and I live in Australia.
In 2010 I started critiquing with Suzie and her friend, Stacy Monson, from Minnesota. I knew Stacy from the FHL email groups, and the three of us started exchanging chapters for critique. Stacy and I write contemporary romance. Suzie writes contemporary and historical romance. We discovered we each had different strengths in terms of what we picked up in our critiques. We were honest and tried to highlight both strengths and weaknesses in our stories.
We have shared each other’s trials, frustrations and triumphs. Suzie and Stacy are dear friends, and our critiquing relationship has evolved over time. We brainstorm proposals and plot points when we’re stuck. We are now reading each other’s mss and looking at higher level editing and writing craft issues rather than line by line critiquing.
Last year Suzie and I travelled together to the ACFW conference in Indy. I spent a few days in Washington with Suzie before we caught The Empire Builder train from Seattle to Chicago. A highlight of the train trip was meeting Stacy for the first time on the train station platform in St Paul, Minneapolis. We only had ten minutes together because the train was running late, but I treasure those precious minutes when the three of us were together in person.
2014 is an exciting year for us. We have 7 new books releasing this year, including debut books from Stacy and I.
Suzie’s second book, True North, is releasing this week. I’m so excited to see this story in print, having watched it evolve over the last few years. And, Suzie also has her first historical romance, Sweet Mountain Music, releasing in May 2014. I love this story, and I was delighted to see the setting in real life during our train trip to Chicago.
Stacy’s debut book, One of Me, releases in June 2014. I’m thrilled for Stacy, and I’ve loved watching this story develop over the last couple of years.
Stacy and I are also blogging together with ICFW member Valerie Comer on the new Inspy Romance group blog. http://www.inspyromance.com/ If you’re a fan of contemporary romance, please stop by and visit with us.
Have you been blessed by critique partners? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Her debut book, Falling for the Farmer, will be released next week on February, 4 2014, followed by The Nurse's Perfect Match in May 2014, The Doctor's Return in August 2014, and an untitled release in November 2014.
Narelle blogs regularly with Australasian Christian Writers. http://australasianchristianwriters.blogspot.com/
She is also a co-founder of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA). http://acrba.blogspot.com/
The new Inspy Romance blog officially launches next week on February 3. A pre-launch Q&A and giveaway is starting this week on Wednesday. http://www.inspyromance.com/
Twitter: @NarelleAtkins https://twitter.com/NarelleAtkins