On belonging to a critique/support group for authors

LAW BadgeOne of my goals in 2013 was to get back to writing full time. To help motivate me toward that endeavor I started a local authors’ group in Lockhart. Although heading one fourth of the way through 2014 it still remains nameless (something that bugs the OCD in me), the group’s weekly meeting has become one of my favorite activities. The members support each other, provide positive, constructive feedback so all of our writing is improved, and the regular meetings are the motivation I needed. Of the five members, four are published and one is soon-to-be published — my cohorts are Gretchen Rix, Phil McBride, Wayne Walther, and Tammy Francis. I couldn’t ask for a better group!

When I wrote my first novel, The Case of a Cold Trail and a Hot Musket, I belonged to Austin Mystery Writers, a wonderful authors’ group in Austin, run by Karen MacInerney (who writes the very entertaining Gray Whale Inn mystery series, among other great books). Every member of AMW wrote in the mystery genre. Our Lockhart group is diverse and includes everything from Civil War era historical fiction to dystopian/science fiction to murder mysteries to historical romance to just plain quirky.

I originally wondered if such a mix would work but it has exceeded my expectations. Each group member has a particular style and favorite genre. Each reads weekly submissions with a different eye and mindset, and therefore catches different points and recommendations vary greatly. The other members, who have all become friends, have helped me improve my writing and broaden my horizons. I would never, for example, have considered reading a historical fiction novel set during the Civil War, it just didn’t attract me, but Phil’s writing has brought that world alive and I cannot wait to read his finished novel. The same goes for the contributions from the other authors.

So to all aspiring writers, find a group in your area and go for it. A good support/critique group is just that… SUPPORTIVE. If you can’t find one, start your own and announce it on Facebook or wherever you can. Feel free to contact me for a list of our group’s guidelines and rules. We don’t attack or tear down. We point out questions and confusion. We note the easy to miss mistakes of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. We highlight paragraphs and phrases we particularly loved. We help each other better authors. If you are a local author we are hoping to add 2-3 more members.

As I approached the end of this week’s blog entry I came up with a potential group name, inspired by a piece of junk mail sitting beside me. I even took the time to play with a logo concept. I will propose a idea to the group this afternoon: Lockhart Area Writers — we can be the LAW!

THIS WEEKEND! Don’t forget — I’ll be at the Luling Meet the Authors event this Saturday, March 22, from 11 to 3 debuting my newest novel, Born Rich. I’ll also have copies of my murder mystery, The Case of a Cold Trail and a Hot Musket. Meet the Authors is at the Central Texas Oil Patch Museum, 421 East Davis St, Luling, TX 78648. It’s free so please stop by and see me!



  1. Tam Francis:

    Wonderful post Janet and thanks for the shout out. It’s one of my faves of the week as well. I agree it is VITAL to find a supportive, yet critical group, to better your writing! I cannot wait to see where the next year takes us! Best of luck in Luling!

    ~ Tam Francis ~


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