This week we discuss writers’ groups. When I first started writing, I wrote in a vacuum. No one even knew I was writing. Eventually, I realized I needed to learn more in order to write publishable fiction, and that led me to join some writing organizations which in turn led me to a critique partner. That partnership lasted a couple of years.
In 2000 I began an online critiquing relationship with three other women. Over the next seven years I developed a very strong friendship with one woman in particular from that group. In all that time we never met in person; an ocean separated us. She lived in Germany where her husband ran one of the American schools. But thanks to the Internet we became as close as sisters.
Until Karen entered my life (that's her on the left on a Turkish street,) I never had a friend who was so much like me in so many ways. We shared many of the same life experiences, the same talents, the same likes and dislikes. We thought so much alike that it seemed we had to have been twins separated at birth.
Eventually, the two other women in the group left, one because she was writing category romance and needed to be in a group of category romance writers. The other because she only wanted a group that would rubber stamp her writing.
Karen became the yin to my writing yang and I to hers. There was something intuitive about the way we worked together, zeroing in on problem areas and offering each other the perfect solutions every time. When one of us wrote ourselves into a corner, the other always had the buzz saw handy to cut an escape route in the manuscript.
In September of 2007 Karen and her husband were moving back to the states, and we were making plans to meet in person for the first time. However, right before Labor Day, Karen died quite suddenly. I not only lost a fabulous critique partner, I lost an amazing friend. I felt cheated. My grief overwhelmed me. Eventually, I realized that I’d been blessed to have nearly eight years of this extraordinary woman’s intellect, humor, and compassion. Many people will live their entire lives without being touched by someone like Karen.
I now occasionally swap manuscripts with another published author when one of us needs advice, but it’s not the same. I doubt I’ll ever again find someone I’ll click with the way I clicked with Karen. ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN, my latest release, was Karen’s favorite of all my manuscripts. The dedication in the book reads: In memory of Karen Davenport, amazing critique partner, friend, and Anastasia’s biggest fan.
Lois Winston writes the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. DEATH BY KILLER MOP DOLL, the second book in the series will debut in January 2012. Visit Lois at http://www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at http://anastasiapollack.blogspot.com