Today is my critique group day, so I thought I’d write about them. We’re called the Tarts because we meet at a La Madeleine restaurant (we occupy a large table at the back and try not to talk too loudly about each other’s sex scenes) and one time the restaurant had a promotion along the lines of Try our delicious little French tarts. So naturally we had to adopt the name.

We’re all published now but when I joined the group ten years ago (aargh! ten years!) none of us were. Our numbers have fluctuated over the years but now we’re down to the basic foursome. We know a lot about each other and a lot about each other’s writing and we’ve cheered each other on as we negotiated the path of bumps and turns, luck, and skill that led to publication. And we write different subgenres so it’s interesting that we function well as a critique group. But let me introduce you (in alphabetical order):

Kate Dolan. Kate is an awesome powerwriting force. She writes Regencies for Cerridwen, mysteries as K.D. Hays, kids’ books, you name it. She’s also a living history interpreter and something of an expert on colonial Maryland history.

Christie Kelley. Chris writes Regencies for Kensington although when I first joined the group she was writing Westerns. She’s smart and productive and the best plotter I know.

Kathy Love. Yes, it’s really her name. She was writing vamps when no one else was and now her urban fantasy series depict paranormal creatures living side by side with unwitting mortals.

Kate Poole. Kate, sorry, I can’t find your website (did it get eaten?), whose debut historical The Anchor and the Storm came out a couple of years ago and she has another Ellora’s Cave book coming out… soon.

So how do we function as a critique group? First, friendship does not conflict with our opinions on each other’s work. We’re not so used to each other’s writing that we don’t have anything to say about it or can’t view it with a critical eye, which I think is great. (My rule of thumb has always been that if the majority of the group says something doesn’t work, I change it. Usually.) We make a lot of jokes. Halfway through we stop to eat, of course, some delicious French tarts. So we’re not all business but we do get a lot of work done. If we’re not talking about our current mss. we talk about future plots. We have various areas of expertise, within and outside writing.

Do you have a community that’s related to writing, or reading, or any other interest? Tell us about it! And what do you think its Regency equivalent would be?

Visit a great new blog by HarperCollins paranormal authors, Supernatural Underground (and on Facebook too). Check us out! We’re having our official launch June 1 with giveaways and fun stuff.