Writing Critique Groups: The Iron Pen

Last night I went to my writing group. It consists of my long time writing friends Joan Mauch and Wayne Sapp. We’ve been meeting for once a month for YEARS now. And although we’ve had several other people visit for a short time, they end of leaving. The three of us have continued on.

If you are a writer and you aren’t involved in a writing group, I highly recommend it. Writing is a lonely hobby. You sit on a computer stuck in your own head for hours at a time. Without the support of other writing friends, it is easy to give up on dreams–writing has very few rewards. And with a long standing group likes ours, we’ve all been able to grow at similar speeds.

When we first started, Joan and I met at another writing group. We noticed that we were taking the craft of writing much more seriously than others there. So we broke off with a couple of others and started The Iron Pen. Wayne joined us later and was a great addition to our group.

Years went by. Some moved away. Others got illnesses that caused them to not be able to write anymore. However, our goal was to finally get published.

I queried agents and after much searching got one. She subbed to many big houses, including Baen, Tor, etc. After failing at the fantasy houses, she suggested we shop my book as a Young Adult. So we changed the ages and shopped it again. We got a bite at Little Brown. The editor had me do a rewrite and then he ended up rejecting me in the end. It was devastating to get so close to have your dreams fall. Without my writing friends to pull me back up, I might have given up at that point.

I started a few new projects, but never gave up hope on that first book. Without an agent anymore, I started subbing to houses directly. That is when I got picked up by a small press.

Joan and Wayne were also picked up by a different small press during that time. And we all felt pretty accomplished to be 3 published writers in our group. But we are on another journey now, having realized that traditional publication isn’t always the stars and rainbows that we thought.

So now, I’ve gotten my rights back on my book and I’m pursuing self-publishing. There is a lot to figure out doing it on your own. Joan is also giving self publishing a try so once again, our writing friendship is really helpful to bounce ideas and research off each other. It’s great to take this journey with her. (So if you are interested in a good mystery/suspense, talk a look at her new book.)

We were talking last night about how nice it is to feel comfortable ripping each other’s writing apart. We swap and critique pages each month. When you trust your writing partners, you also respect and depend on their advice. And we know each other enough to take our constructive criticisms. Which might be why when a new face shows up, they might get a little intimated. We really don’t hold out anything.

I also have a few online critique partners. They have also been great support over the years. Although, I have only met the one once, I also feel very close to them. (One is self-published and the other, traditionally).

So yeah, this post is a bunch of reflective drabble. But I’ll use it to promote my friends’ writing. I’ll include their names and links to their books.  Check out their books and buy a few if you can.

Iron Pen Writers

Joan Mauch, Mystery/Suspense

Wayne Sapp, Suspense

  • Link to his book: HERE


Online Writing Partners

Michelle Gregory, Fantasy

Michelle McLean, Romance (Also published as Kira Archer)


Why am I Blogging?

For several years I was a part of a group writing blog. When we first started up the blog, it was just an extension of our critique group. We had fun and we started doing mystery agent contests and gaining followers. We were interacting with agents and feeling very professional. It was an exciting time to be a blogger.

We each had an assigned day of the week. And frankly, sometimes it felt like pulling out my eyeballs to come up with helpful material on writing. And as the years went on, our members stopped posting, and a few of us, the stubborn ones, kept the group afloat.

We added members. It helped because we only had to post once every other week. Fourteen members was a lot easier than 7. But even then, after time, people stopped posting. At times if felt like a huge tandem bicycle with only 1 or 2 people pulling the rest a long.

And the drama… oh my the drama. Me and another member butted heads on how things should be done. In the end, my life became too crazy. We recently adopted a little boy from Bulgaria, so real life took priority over a blog I hated.

And with much rejoicing, I quit.

So now, here I am again, starting a new blog. Part of the reason, I think, is because my mind seems to be full of so many things. I am a mom of many hats and my mind is always turning, always creating.

This won’t be a writing blog, although I WILL have lots of writing things on here. It will be a blog of randomness. A blog of my own whims. It will be a blog where I talk about adoption and autism and face painting, and probably some controversial beliefs that I have. And also, it will include my new venture from going from traditionally published to self-published. Oh boy. There is a lot more to it than I’d originally thought… but that can be a topic for another post.

Will people actually visit this and read this blog? I really have no clue. But for now, in the wee hours that I have time to myself with a very active–and frequently naughty toddler–I will post things from time to time.

No set schedules.

No set themes.

And I won’t care if anyone else follows, for now it will be for me.