What would be your perfect writer’s group?
For me it’s all about having a small bunch of talented people who I also happen to like and respect. The level of ability should be close to mine or better. And we should all be working on novels. I’m so fortunate to belong to The Rebel Writers, a group of 6 amazing people who have been meeting once a month for 10 years now!
How did I end up so fortunate? Well, sometimes you have to lend your fortune a hand. It started out when a number of us were in a very large writing group. Folks in that group met every other week, and up to 4 submissions were read each time. This meant a lot of short stories. It also meant a long delay between when you would be read next. And if you were subbing chapters for a novel, well you’d have to wait months for your next chapter to come up. No way were people going to able to comment on things like arc or character development, etc.
So I and a few hand-picked writers from that group who were all working on novels formed a secret group (hence the name The Rebel Writers) and we met secretly for about 2 years! The reason? Honestly, we didn’t want to hurt feelings, because we didn’t open it to everyone. The joy of our group is that it’s limited to six, that we meet once a month, and that we cover novels. Huge chunks of novels. We only read two authors a meeting, and sometimes only one…we can have an entire novel read in a month and discussed for a full two hours. Beyond excellent!
If you’re interested in forming your own version of The Rebel Writers, I’ve written an article that shows how we run this and what our guidelines for critiquing are, which you can find in Writer’s Digest Magazine’s Feb. ’08 issue and in its 2009 Yearbook issue…click here to order a copy through them.
Our group of unpublished novelists now has four who are published! Our most recent is Jeanne Denault, who has just launched her stunning memoir Sucking Up Yellow Jackets (O Books). It’s about what it was like to raise an Asperger’s son before Asperger’s was a known condition. Add in her son’s obsession with explosives and mix this with Jeanne’s wry sense of humor, and you can see why this book is a winner!
We’re thrilled for Jeanne, and can’t wait to see who’s going to have the next book launch.
Other Rebs who have been published? Well, our first one out of the gate is the wonderful literary author Damian McNicholl.
Damian’s moving novel A Son Called Gabriel (CDS Books) is a coming of age story about a boy discovering he’s gay while growing up in Catholic Ireland. We knew Damian’s book would be a smash when we’d critiqued it, and weren’t at all surprised when Publisher’s Weekly said, “McNicholl is a graceful writer, and his is a worthy debut.”
After Damian’s success, I broke out of the gates with my YA novel What I Meant…, and I owe so much to the Rebs for their wonderful manuscript critiques and continuing support for my writing.
The next one up was Chris Bauer with his hair-raising novel Scars on the Face of God (Drollerie Press). It involves the Devil’s Bible, some truly haunting supernatural elements, and, best of all, Chris’ amazing twist of phrase. He adds a literary feel to the most terrifying of tales. Bestselling author Scott Nicholson says it’s “hotter than the flames of hell,” and he’s right!
So, happy 10th anniversary to The Rebel Writers! I’m sure much more success is coming to them all soon.