I always think it’s fascinating how critique partners and co-bloggers happen to cross paths and form alliances that may last a lifetime. My other three IPs (Indispensable Peers), Barbara Elsborg, DL Jackson and Arlene Webb all met through the Critique Circle writers’ site. Our critique partnership initially formed out of a love of each others’ work and grew to become a true friendship where our triumphs are gleefully shared and our struggles—both writing related and life in general--are met with supportive words and helpful suggestions. I’ve yet to meet any of them face-to-face, but we’ve chatted almost daily for over four years.
When it comes to our “SFR Support Group,” there’s one saying that fits us perfectly:
Friends are like the stars.
You don’t always see them, but you always know they are there.
But sometimes, you do get the privilege of meeting your peers face-to-face. Sharon Lynn Fisher, Donna S. Frelick and myself—Laurie A. Green—all have a story to tell on how we came to be co-bloggers on Spacefreighters Lounge.
Geographically, we come from very different worlds. One hails from the lush Pacific Northwest, one from the sunny and dry Southwest, and the third from the colonial East. So how did we, three individuals with decidedly different lifestyles and environments, come to be critique partners and co-bloggers? Actually, our planes of existence intersected at one particular point in space and time—the 2009 RWA National Conference in Washington DC. The catalysts? A Golden Heart nomination, an online interview, and a tote bag. Yes, really!
Here’s the story in three parts from all three POVs.
At that time, I was one of the Skiffy Rommer crowd that glommed onto The Galaxy Express blog, the brainchild of Heather Massey, which was evolving into the Grand Central Spaceport of SFR enthusiasts everywhere. (Skiffy Rommer being the humorous slang term for “a writer or fan of Science Fiction Romance.”) Heather commented on my post to say, “I wonder if that Ghost Planet for the GH is SFR?” What’s this? My favorite subgenre might be up for a win in the fairy godmother of all contests? Hold the press! Then Sharon Lynn Fisher, the author herself, commented that, yes indeed, Ghost Planet was an SFR.
I didn’t waste any time ferreting out her email address in the world wide web soup to ask if she’d consider doing an interview for Spacefreighters Lounge. She graciously agreed. She later confided that it was her first interview ever. (But it certainly wouldn’t be her last!)
We started chatting online over the next three months, and during that time Sharon also decided to make the trip to DC for RWA. It would be a first for both of us. We made tentative plans to look for each other at the first-timers Orientation. I wore a little sticker on my lapel with a planet on it that said “Skiffy Rommer.” Since Sharon had designed the badge, another of her talents, she had no trouble spotting me. I don’t know what Sharon’s first impression was (I’m sure she’ll tell you) but when this wild-haired blonde with a big smile tapped my arm, I knew it had to be her. After the orientation, we met outside in the hall to gab for hours, and ended up hanging out for most of the conference.
During a break, we happened to grab a couple of chairs in the cavernous obelisk-dominated lobby (you’d have to see it to understand that’s really an understatement), when I noticed someone sitting near us had an RWA ID and tote bag with a gorgeous image of a galaxy on it and the words Unchained Memory. Thinking she might be another of The Galaxy Express fans, I turned to her and said, “Are you a Skiffy Rommer?” When the short-haired brunette owner-of-the-galaxy-bag gave me a look that said she had no idea what I was talking about, I quickly amended, “Do you write Science Fiction Romance?”
“Yes,” she answered. I motioned to Sharon and myself and said, “So do we!” Call it karma. Skiffy Rommer found! From there we three had successive rounds of meals and drinks and learned more about each other’s work, how it was alike, how it was different, and how we’d all come to write that often unpluggable subgenre that so captured our imaginations. After RWA we continued our discussions and exchanged critiques online, and Sharon and Donna became new additions to my merry and talented band of IPs. A few months later, I emailed Sharon and Donna to ask if they’d like to be co-bloggers on my (still neglected) blog. Both accepted.
And that’s how we came to be the Three Laserteers of Spacefreighters Lounge. Sharon has since finaled for a second time in the Golden Heart, and both Sharon and Donna have won other writing competitions. There’s a saying that one of the best ways to become successful is to associate with success-bound peers. I think I hit the jackpot.
-Laurie A. Green
You see, that conference in D.C. was my first RWA National conference, my first writers’ conference of any kind. And I’m the type that needs a kick in the thrusters to avoid standing in a corner looking like Spock’s less-intelligent relative. So I devised a shrewd ploy—uh, I mean, conversation piece—that I hoped would serve as an ice-breaker. If people asked me about it, I could talk a little about my book and meet someone new at the same time. I had tee-shirts made up with a great NASA-generated graphic, my book title and a logline for my book on them and used one to make the tote.
Then, of course, there was Sharon, a real-live member of the Golden Heart sisterhood. Nominated for a science fiction romance. Jaw-droppingly impressive. (And just too damn nice to be a nominee for a major award. Twice. Aren’t those kinds of people supposed to be snooty?)
Under the influence of the magic tote bag—and some alcohol—the three of us just clicked. Once we scattered to our far-flung homes, the emails flew back and forth, making sure we stayed connected. Not long afterwards, Laurie, our never-failing font of ideas, asked us to sit in regularly at the bar in the Spacefreighters Lounge, where we hold forth on all sorts of things.
The association doesn’t end there, either. We’re friends. Critique partners, too. And I’m proud to say Sharon and I were there at the birth of Laurie’s greatest brainchild, the SFR Brigade.
So, the bag (and the tee-shirts) worked great! Now if I could only sell the dang book . . .
--Donna S. Frelick
I timidly posted a reply, and that was the beginning spark of both an amazing friendship and critique partner relationship. I too was headed for my very first RWA, knowing not a soul. Funny that in that sardine-packed first-timer orientation I looked up to find Laurie standing not six feet away. Sort of like just happening to plop down next to another SFR writer in the busy hotel lobby!
We spent hours discussing our novels and our plans for them, but what I most remember is the free exchange of support, and how hard we all laughed. When we reunited at RWA 2010 in Orlando, it was like we’d never been apart. I'd never have made it through the glitzy awards ceremony without Laurie's soothing presence, or the wind-down afterward without Donna's affectionate humor.
I have not been the most active blogger among the three of us, but I feel honored to be a part of Spacefreighters, and have truly benefited from the insights and creativity of my SFR cohorts.
--Sharon Lynn Fisher
Since we're kicking off a new series next week (details tomorrow), we thought this was a great time to revisit how we all met and formed our blog partnership. We hope you'll stop back for tomorrow's post--and we may also have some very big news for you soon, too. *wink, wink*