Currently reading - Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange
I'm blessed to have published friends looking out for me. Before I continue, please remember two things:
a) Don't EVER expect people to do things for you.
b) I knew most of these gals before they got famous.
Back in 2004 at the first RWA chapter meeting I attended, I met two interesting ladies. The first one was short, wore a funky hat, and had an accent more southern-fried deep than my Aunt Des's. The other was such a cute pixie I swear I expected to see wings pop out of her back at any minute. Through these two, I met a quiet, demure, pearl-wearing lady who has a wicked talent for practical jokes (yeah, looks ARE deceiving) and another gal who is a unusual combination of Southern friendliness and NY f*** you attitude.
At first glance, you'd wonder how this motley crew functions as a crit group (especially after we've had one too many celebratory chocolate martinis), but we do.
Christie and Faye had some publishing success in the '90's before hitting a little dry spell. This is not an easy industry to find success, and both ladies are perfect examples of the moxy needed to forge ahead when you smack head-first into a roadblock. Teri leads the pack in e-book frontier, willing to take chances in what was a very new medium just a few short years ago. Jody and I have magazine credits but are forging up that full-length published novel mountain.
When I hit what appears to the casual observer to be a set-back recently, these gals jumped in with support: analytical phone calls, suggesting alternative markets, and "screw the man" e-mails. (Mind you, Jody's typing these e-mails with a broken arm while her husband's still in the CCU with encephalitis.) You can't beat this type of support system.
So here's my advice: if you're looking for a critique group, don't look for someone published to pull you up. It doesn't quite work that way.
Instead, find folks with similar goals who'll give you chocolate to soothe those rejection, martinis for the successes, and a kick in the pants when you need it. And you do the same for them because that's what friends are for.