Friday, June 27, 2014


It's common knowledge that a good critique partner is one of the most important things a writer can have.

The hard part is finding one you mesh with.

For me, finding critique partners took a long time. I looked online, mostly emailing other writers on CP match-up blog posts. And out of all the writers I emailed, I think only one emailed me back--but it was to say she already had her share of CPs and wished me luck in my search. When I wasn't having any luck finding an online CP, I looked for a local in-person writing group. But I couldn't find an in-person group that met my needs.

And then one day, the amazing Brenda Drake tweeted about CPSeek. It's exactly what it sounds like--a website dedicated to finding critique partners. I signed up right away and started reading query letters posted by other writers. I was too chicken to post my own, and instead I decided to approach two writers who had posted query letters that sounded interesting. I messaged them, asking if they'd want to trade first chapters. They both agreed!

While they both had different critiquing styles, they were both kind and constructive. Knowing what kind of critique partner you want is important. I'm a tad sensitive, so I prefer CPs who are truthful but kind in their critiquing style. (Or CPs who use HARRY POTTER references in their critiques!)

Contests are another great way to find critique partners. Last year, I found two more awesome critique partners through Brenda Drake's PITCH WARS contest. Twitter pitch parties are also helpful. I haven't found CPs or Beta-readers through pitch parties, but I know people who have. (Plus they are a great way to meet new online writer friends!)

And when you find good CPs, don't let them go!

There's nothing better than having someone you can vent to, brainstorm with, or cheer for. And I know I couldn't get through revising and querying without them. And without them, I wouldn't be obsessed with DOCTOR WHO or REIGN, the sight of Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Oreos wouldn't make me smile, and I wouldn't have had the guts to sign up for a manuscript critique at NESCBWI. I <3 mine and consider them all great friends.

A, have you tried these?!
Hugs and thanks to Ambiguous A, Steph Sessa, Julie Dao, and Katie Bucklein for being the best CPs around!

Also, hugs and thanks to my awesome Pitch Wars mentor, Stephanie Garber! (If you're thinking about entering Pitch Wars this year, you should definitely submit to her. She's the best!)

How about you? Any CP stories? Shout outs to your awesome CPs or Beta readers?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Writing Inspiration

Where do you get your story ideas?

My ideas usually pop out of nowhere. I'll be driving, cleaning, at the gym, or making dinner when I'll get an idea or a feeling for a story. It's totally random. Sometimes I'll get several shiny-new-ideas in a week, and other times I'll go months with no new ideas.

And sometimes I'll get new ideas inspired by something else. The inspiration for THE TREASURE HUNT was a random idea inspired by DOCTOR WHO. This sounds completely strange--my LGBT historical romance being inspired by a British sci-fi show--but it's true. The idea of River Song leaving messages for the Doctor across time and space sparked something for me. (I mean, how cool is that?) Initially, I thought THE TREASURE HUNT was going to involve love letters with some sort of time travel element, but the sci-fi elements eventually fell away, leaving me with a treasure hunt with metal heads set in 1992.

But the inspiration for STRANGE ATTRACTORS came about in a different way. Instead of it popping out of nowhere, I was looking for a new idea. I was out for Mexican food with my husband for our anniversary when I asked him to tell me some interesting science-related topics that I could include in a YA sci-fi. He listed several, like solar flares and and nuclear fallout, but the last idea about someone being able to travel between the multiverse really sparked something for me. I immediately pictured Piper and thought of ways she could travel through universes.

Sometimes these ideas come to me fully-formed and are easy to turn into a story, but other times I really have to think about them. STRANGE ATTRACTORS came together fairly quickly. I almost immediately knew Piper was a teen spy, but her motivation wasn't always the same. THE TREASURE HUNT, on the other hand, took a lot of pondering. I mean, initially it started out as a sci-fi. But when I couldn't think of a way for the characters to send love letters through time, it became a historical romance involving a treasure hunt instead.

What's your craziest story inspiration? Do you involve other people in your brainstorming?