Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Reverse Shelfie

I've had a rough week.

It's hard to talk about, but gosh...sigh. I want to try.

I took picture, a sort of twisted sad reverse shelfie, so you can see what I mean:




Those are all books. Moreover, those are all books that I voluntarily got rid of.

I know what you're thinking: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

I KNOW! I can't believe I did it, either. It was like a fit of madness came over me or something. One minute I'm a normal hoarder book-lover with lovely teetering stacks of books on all my shelves, and the next, I'm some kind of crazed clean-freak with an unreasoning vendetta against biblio-clutter, and a bloodthirsty drive for organization. 

In all seriousness - wait, who am I kidding? I can't be serious; I'm too busy waxing melodramatic over the fate of my books. 

Alas. It sort of did have to be done. We don't have a large space, and our shelves were so overcrowded something really terrible happened: we didn't have room for any new books.

I will admit, though, that it's possible I didn't deal so well with the culling process. I may or may not have cried a little. I also may or may not have had a last-minute panic attack and started grabbing books indiscriminately from the bags in an attempt to 'rescue' them. 

In the end, though, the vast majority made it out of the house and into the donation piles of some local charities, so at least I can hope they're going to good, loving homes. 

And now...we have room for new books

I knew there was a silver lining in there, somewhere,

Do you ever clean out your book piles? Or do you keep every book forever? Have you taken a shelfie?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bookish Thoughts, And Nicki Elson's Vibrizzio!

Hey everyone, I had this great idea for a post today, about books. SHOCKING, right? Me, write about books? I know, but I think it's important to stretch ourselves sometimes, and really step outside of our comfort zones. Be brave. And write about books.

Well, I will write about books (I'm not sure why I feel the need to continue emphasizing that) but not til next week, because this week I am FINALLY getting my butt in gear and featuring my blogging buddy Nicki Elson. I say 'finally,' because her new book has been out for weeks and I missed the official blog tour and I am a lame, lame friend. 

SO, without further ado (although I do like an ado), here's Nicki!

Wait, wait, just kidding. First let me say that you really need to read the excerpt she has here, but please do so without sipping or eating anything while you read. Because you will blow it out of your nose when you start laughing. I am not joking - there may have been a coffee/nose incident when Nicki sent this to me. Maybe. I'm just saying, be careful.

NOW, here's Nicki!


If you read this blog, then I know you've had practice at following trains of thought, yes? Liz is great about letting us know where her brain waves have taken her—which is just one reason I love stopping by. So would you like to know how I arrived at the excerpt I’m going to share with you today?

Well, Liz lives in Boston (her tidbits about living in the city are another thing I enjoy here), and though VIBRIZZIO is set in Chicago, there’s travel involved, including a trip to Boston. So I started thinking about that city … which naturally led me to tea—y’know because of that pah-tee in the haa-bah—and instead of landing in Boston, I plopped right back in Chicago at the Drake Hotel for high tea.

I write love stories, and I know many in the world of romance want 100% of the focus on the heroine and hero, but I write what I want to read, and I like to see how the main character interacts with a variety of people—family, friends, coworkers. Then reviewers make comments like the one below and I know I’m not alone:

“The other characters really bring life to the story. They’re not just background. It becomes clear how Lyssa’s friends and family have shaped and continue to shape her.”

Maybe what I really write is women’s fiction. I love my heroes, but the story I’m really telling is the girl’s.  To truly know her, we need to meet the important people in her life. Today, I introduce you to Lyssa Bates’ mum, Penny, in an excerpt from VIBRIZZIO.


* * *

"Keith and I broke up.”

It was good Penny had already set down her teacup; otherwise, stained water would’ve gone flying with the dramatic rush of her hand to her chest as she gasped loudly enough that the diners in the immediate vicinity glanced in her direction.

“It’s just a breakup, Mom. Calm down.”

“Well, do you think you’ll be getting back together?”

“I … I don’t know. I don’t think so. Look, I know you really liked him, but it became clear that he and I didn’t understand each other, so it seemed best to split.” Penny nodded and her hand slowly made its way down to the table, where she absently ran her fingertips along the rim of her saucer.

“When you say you didn’t understand each other, do you mean sexually?”

Pressing her lips together with pressure so fierce it could form diamonds, Lyssa gave a curt shake of her head. “It was a lot of things, Mom.”

“Oh.” It was one those ohs that came packed with layers of meaning—none of which merely meant oh.

Let it go, Lyssa told herself. Talk about the tea or talk about the weather. Maybe encourage her to go on for an hour about Jessica’s homemaking prowess, but do not give in to her bait. It was a battle Lyssa rarely won. “Why did you automatically assume that sex was the problem?”

Penny’s eyes went wide with feigned innocence. “It was only a question. No need to get shrill.”

Was she shrill? Lyssa looked down and saw her fingers bent like talons, holding her balled-up napkin in a death grip. Willing herself to relax, she released the napkin and spread it across her lap. “I’m sorry, but … why did you immediately go there?”

“No reason.” Penny lifted her porcelain cup to her lips. Before taking a long sip, she murmured, “It’s just that you’ve always been a bit of a prude.”

Lyssa's fingers choked the napkin again. Had any other woman in the entire history of everything ever been accused of being a prude by her own mother? She decided to meet blunt with blunter. “So you’re still disappointed I wouldn’t go with Jess and the other seniors to the suck-off-the-football-team parties?” For effect, she lifted her wrinkled napkin and dabbed at the corners of her mouth.

“That is not what was going on, and maybe if you’d been more social, you would’ve been asked to a prom.”

“You wanted me to social myself out for a date to prom?”

Penny tilted her head in the way that said she’d have none of her daughter’s nonsense. “What I want to express is that I understand what it’s like to be uptight in the bedroom. Your father and I … ”

Oh dear God.

“ … but once I loosened up and agreed to some of the things he’d been asking me to try … ”

Oh God, no! These weren’t random words popping into Lyssa’s mind—she was actually praying. Please, make it stop.

It wasn’t stopping, and Lyssa did her best to block her mother’s words and focus on something—anything—else in the vast room. Her eyes darted about, failing to find purchase anywhere, and the distinct syllables that formed the word “testicles” in her mother’s nasally voice cut through her rising panic. Her eyes stopped on the gleaming flatware resting conveniently on the white linen tablecloth. She momentarily considered stabbing forks into her eardrums, but that’d only stop the noise; she’d still be able to read those lips that didn’t stop moving.

“ … and there’s something very gratifying about causing a man to lose control like that … ”

Lyssa instantly decided on the ultimate superpower Keith had always wanted her to choose. She’d pick telekinesis, and she’d use it to snap off one of the harp strings and levitate it over. Then she’d wrap it around her mother’s throat and squeeze. Squeeze until Mommy turned blue. Squeeze until that larynx could never again spew its torturous revelations.


* * *


I, uh, might have a bit of a latent violent streak that leaks into my writing every once in a while, ehe.

Thank you so much, Liz, for having me over and letting me share a piece of the Vibster w/ your followers. I hope you enjoyed it. Have a fabulous Humpday, everyone!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Milo James Fowler's Captain Quasar

I am DELIGHTED to feature author Milo James Fowler on my blog today! His novel, Captain Quasar and the Space-Time Conundrum, is now available - in serialized form. Which means you can subscribe, and read a little bit at a time, whenever you have time. How perfect is that? If you haven't read any of Milo's Quasar stories yet, you're in for a treat. And now, on to the novel and the author!


Every Day Novels is proud to announce the release of Milo James Fowler's first serialized novel: 


Captain Bartholomew Quasar and the Space-Time Displacement Conundrum

16 weeks of serial chapters every weekday – that's 80 exciting episodes of adventure aboard the Effervescent Magnitude for only $5 USD (includes an eBook edition following serialization). Don't delay – Subscribe today!

Captain Quasar is out of time.

Pursued by vengeful Goobalob toll collectors, savage Arachnoid bounty hunters, and formidable Amazonians, Captain Bartholomew Quasar must do whatever he can to keep the crew of the Effervescent Magnitude out of harm's way. All in a day's work—except time is not on his side.

Torn from the present to relive his past, he vows to keep mistakes from occurring the second time around. But is he doomed to repeat history? Or can he erase his regrets?

Villains will be vanquished. Lives will be lost. Bonds will be betrayed. Heroes will be heroic.

Join the crew of the Effervescent Magnitude for a hilarious time-travel space adventure the likes of which you've never seen!

Now Available from Every Day Novels

Add Captain Quasar to your Goodreads bookshelf



Prologue:

Jaw muscle twitching at untimed intervals, Captain Bartholomew Quasar gripped the armrests of his deluxe-model captain's chair and narrowed his heroic gaze. The main viewscreen on the bridge of the Effervescent Magnitude radiated with white-hot streaks blurring in elongated trajectories as his star cruiser plunged into the depths of space at something near the speed of light.

Quasar could feel the tension in the air. It was palpable and tasted like sweat—mostly his own. The members of his bridge crew remained silent, standing at their stations and staring at the viewscreen. Many forgot to blink as their insides trembled, recoiling with a nameless fear.

They had never moved so fast in their lives.

This was the Magnitude's maiden voyage into deep space utilizing the recently installed cold fusion near-lightspeed reactor—an experimental propulsion system they'd picked up on the planet Carpethria. One thing was readily apparent: it worked. But how long could the ship could maintain this incredible velocity without compromising hull integrity?

Already, the ship was creaking and groaning in protest, and the helmsman—a very hairy, four-armed Carpethrian who resembled something between a sloth and an overweight orangutan—had begun to grumble that the reactor really should have been tested before this full-speed leap into the black.

But there had been no other choice. Their options at the time were either flight (and survival) or fight (and undoubtedly be destroyed). Vicious Arachnoid bounty hunters were on their tail, and Arachnoids tended to be a very hungry lot—often foregoing payment for their illicit services in favor of a fresh kill.

The Magnitude's first officer, Commander Selene Wan, wasn't keen on the idea of allowing a Carpethrian to man the helm of their freshly minted star cruiser. But no one else on board knew how to navigate at near-lightspeed, and it took all four of the alien's hands to do the job—something two humans would have had to coordinate in tandem. And that could have gotten awkward.

"Steady as she goes." Quasar smoothed down his close-cropped blond hair and cringed as the ship released a moan that didn't sound good at all—something akin to a whale giving birth. "How are we doing, Hank?"

"Haven't run into anything yet," grunted the very hairy helmsman, hands flying across the controls.

"Status report?" Quasar half-turned to regard his first officer with a confidently raised eyebrow.

Commander Wan, a tall, slim Eurasian with impeccable posture, kept her attention riveted on her console. "Proximity scanners are offline." She swayed on her feet with the rocking movements of the ship, her sleek black hair swinging across her shoulders. "Artificial gravity is holding. Life support remains functional." A sudden frown creased her usually furrow-free forehead. "But the reactor, sir… We may have a serious problem."

"Elaborate."

"It's overheating, Captain. If we don't decelerate, it may—" She swallowed. "Explode."

That wouldn't be good at all. The folks back home were depending on Captain Quasar and company to bring back loads of quartz necessary for virtually every form of technology and transportation on Earth, not to mention haute vintage time pieces. The Magnitude could not possibly be allowed to blow up.

"Hank?" Quasar faced the shaggy helmsman. "Could we possibly slow down a bit?"

The Carpethrian grunted something intelligible, followed by, "Commencing deceleration sequence."

"Very good." The captain nodded, glancing over his shoulder at his first officer. Everything was under control. "Status?"

She shook her head without a word. Quasar checked the console on his armrest. The Arachnoid ship was nowhere in sight, and the Magnitude had begun to slow down, but only by an infinitesimal fraction of its near-lightspeed velocity.

"Uh-Hank? About that deceleration sequence…" Quasar cleared his throat.

"It will take thirty minutes, Captain. Any sudden downshift in speed would tear the ship apart."

Quasar maintained a brave fa├žade for the sake of his crew. Such was expected from starship captains, after all. Clenching his jaw, he leaned toward Wan and whispered, "Do we have thirty minutes?"
She met his gaze, and he didn't like what he saw in her eyes—something she hadn't shown before when they'd dealt with the horrible Goobalobs or the savage Arachnoids:

Terror.



Get to know the man behind the book:

1. When did you start seriously pursuing writing as a career?

I've been writing since I was 12, but I started submitting my work for publication in the summer of 2009. I'd always thought I would pursue publication at some point—probably after I retired from teaching or turned 40. My first story was published in January 2010, and I've had over a hundred others accepted for publication since then. I won't turn 40 for another year, and I'm still teaching full-time. Doesn't look like I'll be retiring anytime soon!

2. How did you create the character Bartholomew Quasar?

When I came up with Captain Bartholomew Quasar back in the spring of 2010, I was going for a mash-up between William Shatner's James T. Kirk and Dudley Do-Right from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (but in Quasar's case, things seldom ever go right). He's one of those classic pulp heroes with a heart of gold whose narcissistic tendencies often land him in hot water. I hope readers can laugh at Bartholomew Quasar and root for him at the same time. He's ridiculous, but there's something about his fallible nature that most of us can relate to on some level.

3. Are you working on more Captain Quasar stories?

I've written over 20 Captain Quasar tales so far, many of which are out on the submission circuit, looking for good homes. "Captain Quasar and the Ghosts of Space Command" will be published in the next issue of Perihelion Science Fiction. "Captain Quasar and the Carpethrian Call of the Wild" will be included in the B is for Broken anthology, and "Captain Quasar and the Devious Powers of Persuasion" will be in the Geminid Press space opera anthology. I'm in the middle of edits on a novella-length adventure I plan to submit for publication soon. My collection of 15 Quasar tales Starfaring Adentures…in SPACE is available everywhere eBooks are sold—and free for the taking, last time I checked.   



About Milo:

Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day, speculative fictioneer by night, and an active SFWA member. When he's not grading papers, he's imagining what the world might be like in a dozen alternate realities. In the past 5 years, his short fiction has appeared in more than 100 publications, including AE SciFi, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction, Nature, Shimmer, and the Wastelands 2 anthology.

Visit www.milojamesfowler.com and join The Crew for updates about new releases.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Insecure Writers: More TIME, Please!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for The Insecure Writers! The IWSG is an online group created by Alex J. Cavanaugh for writers. You, too, can join us anytime!

I have to give a huge CONGRATULATIONS to all of you who completed the A-Z Challenge this year. It's a huge accomplishment, and I'm sorry I missed a couple of weeks of it! Give yourselves a huge round of applause, and then go sleep for a week.

In fact, I think that's what I did last year. I also shut down my computer, because I couldn't bear to look at the screen for one damn second longer than necessary.

Yes, you can begin to see why I didn't participate this year...

Anyway, I took a slightly longer hiatus there than I planned to. Oops. Sorry about that. Vacation is wonderful but work has this annoying habit of continuing even when you stop for a break, so that you come back from your refreshing travels only to find a mountain of work waiting for you. Isn't that ridiculous? Clearly, everything else should stop when I do. I mean, obviously.

I'm still catching up - I also happen to be taking another writing class right now, which is adding to the mountain of work - so I will attempt to be brief.

I make no promises about my success, but I will attempt.

Most of my insecurity this month is coming from time - as in not having enough of it. Normally, when I take a writing class, I like to really dig in and give as much to it as I possibly can. But life has been extra specially nuts these past few weeks, vacation notwithstanding, so I find myself in a sweating panic the day before my class meets, desperately trying to cram in some writing and finish a piece in time for class. It doesn't help that all of my classmates are really, truly gifted writers, and I keep feeling like I'm not doing my best work and not impressing anyone and need to work harder or better or more originally or with more humor and should perhaps just give up and curl into a ball and disappear.

Whew, that was a whole giant truck-load of insecurity, wasn't it? Sounds a little high-pressure there, doesn't it? Hmm. Maybe I should cut myself a break, shouldn't I?

I should, I think. And so, I think, should all of the other insecure writers out there. We give ourselves a very hard time sometimes.

What are you feeling all IWSG-ish about this month? Are you recovering from the A-Z Challenge?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Vacation!

Update 4/29/15: I know, I'm supposed to be back! I am back, but being on vacation left me with a small mountain of work to get done. So, I'll be on blog hiatus til next week. If I can get around to make my blog visits this week, I will! Otherwise, I'll see you all next week :)

I'm off in lovely British Columbia this week. I'll see you all next Wednesday, as per usual! In the meantime, please go visit Nicki Elson, who has a brand new book out this week!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Finding And Maintaining A Fun And Effective Writing Group

So last week I lamented the lack of writing groups in my life, and asked for help. Because she's amazing, my blogging friend Loni Townsend answered me with such a long, detailed, and helpful email that I asked her to reshape it a bit and make it into a guest post. She did this purely because I asked her to, but I wanted to give her a shout-out, because a) her writing is wonderful, and b) so is she. So if you haven't already, please go buy her books! (And keep reading after her guest post for a look into her most recent novella, This World Bites.)

What follows is Loni's excellent advice on finding, forming, and maintaining a writing group:

Last week, Liz brought up the topic of writing groups, and how much she’d love to find one.

As my buddy Jim mentioned on my blog a few weeks back, I do have one of those groups. In fact, I'm the one that started it because I couldn't find anything that matched what I wanted in a group. I didn't want casual come-if-you-can-and-we'll-do-whatever, which at the time was all the Idaho Writer's Guild offered.

Jim is actually the critique group manager guy for the guild. He keeps track of all of the different groups, so that when someone comes to the guild, he can point them in the right direction. I'm not part of the guild, since I can't justify paying for meetings and conferences that I can't attend because of work and family. But I know enough people on the board to be dangerous. ;) That being said, if you have a local writer's guild, check there first because they may have something you're looking for.

Since the guild didn't have something I wanted, I made my own. It started with NaNoWriMo. Me and a couple of friends met every Friday morning for "write-ins" (drinking coffee and chatting a lot) during November. After November ended, we created a Facebook group that local people could join and stay in contact beyond the NaNo forums. I posted a question to the group to see if anyone would be interested in starting up a critique group. I knew I wanted a limited number of people because big groups are hard to manage when it comes to scheduling, plus you lose some of the intimacy. I got a couple of bites from people I hadn't met yet, and some interest from a few I had.

I ended up limiting it to 12 because the closest library had a meeting room that sat 12 and was free to reserve.

Then I sat down and wrote the expectations and guidelines for what I wanted. Here's a look into those guidelines:

Treasure Valley Critiquers is a group aimed to provide constructive criticism to group participants. It is a community where writers can go to gain honest feedback about a segment of their work.

Expectations:

  • Meetings will take place every two weeks
  • Sharing will take place on a round-robin schedule.
  • One member will share per scheduled 60 minutes. If more than 60 minutes is scheduled, then more than one member will share.
  • The scheduled sharer will email their work to the other members, or place it in the appropriate Dropbox folder, 10-14 days before their scheduled share date and indicate genre.
  • The shared segment will consist of approximately 5,000 words or less.
  • Critiquing members will have feedback compiled prior to meeting start (either physically or electronically).
  • Sharing author will remain silent during the discussion.
  • Critiquing members will discuss the work with the author present, but not directly address the author. 
  • First time attendees must participate in critiquing another member’s work before they are added to the schedule. 
  • Criticism is more than just grammar. 
  • Topics covered will include:
    • Plot/Pacing
    • Characterization
    • Setting/Tone
    • Clarity
    • Dialogue
    • Entertainment Value – If a short story, was it satisfactory? If part of a bigger story, would you continue reading?
    • Other


Guidelines:

  • Be courteous. It is fine to dislike another person’s writing or work and to voice that opinion, but refrain from cruel or mean-spirited feedback. Comments such as “It sucked” are inappropriate. If you come bearing a complaint, be prepared to provide a suggestion on how the piece can be improved.
  • Keep an open mind. People are allowed to have opinions. Whether you are giving feedback or receiving it, not everyone comes from the same background. Some people may and will have different moral foundations. Even if you disagree with someone else’s opinion, discuss your reasons civilly. 
  • If you are the sharing author: once your time has started, you are done talking. Refrain from defending or commenting on or even clarifying any of the details within your work. You are there to listen. Your readers will not have you there to answer all their questions once you publish, so if something is misunderstood, then it may need to be rewritten. 
  • Avoid sidetracking on tangents that don’t relate to the author’s work. This is the time to focus on the author’s writing and not how attractive a particular actor is (even though you would love to see him play this such-and-such character in the segment you’ve just read).
  • Don't share another author's pages with people outside of the group unless you gain the author's explicit permission. They are trusting you with their work. Don't betray that trust. You don't own the rights to their work.

It's been tweaked a few times since the beginning, but mostly it's the same.

Then I figured out a schedule. Every other Wednesday worked best for most people, so that's what I went with.

I manage the critiquing schedule, group vacancies, and location scheduling. We have a closed Facebook group where I post the events of who is going when and where we're meeting. I also keep track of time and prompt topic discussion while we are critiquing, and steer conversation back on track when we get too far off-topic. I've even busted out my mom voice on some of the more excessive talkers.

Not all people understand the finer points of the group's intention. We've had to update our expectations to include a topic list so that we weren't spending twenty minutes on wrongly placed commas. It's helped smooth over some of the frustrations some members have with other members.

We use Dropbox to share our work and feedback. This works, for the most part. :) Some people still struggle with uploading files. They usually just email them to me and I put them in the folder. We used to email our pieces to a group distribution, but then some people were getting missed or lost, and I'd have to re-email.

Sometimes the group plan doesn't always work. One of my members started a separate group specifically for YA/NA (mine is open to all genres, including nonfiction). She based it on our existing structure, and expectations and guidelines. A volatile personality in her group started fracturing the other members' confidence. She came to me asking how I would handle the member. I suggested she talk to him, and if he wasn't willing to be tactful with his feedback, then to cut him off. I don't think she was willing to kick him out, or she didn't convey her message very well (she's not a mom and doesn't have a mom voice). The group crumbled, and disbanded after a few months.

We've had people come and go from my group. Since creating the group nearly two years ago, there are 6 from the original 12, and we've had 8 people join and leave for varying reasons (new babies, new jobs, new apartments in other cities). We still see each other around town and exchange laughs and stories.

Everyone is looking for something slightly different. If you don’t find what you want, try making your own.



This World Bites

It’s her first day on a new world and Cera's already found trouble. Michael, her guardian, has been bitten by a zombie and will soon join the undead ranks.

Everyone tells her there's no cure, but Cera isn't one to be deterred. She’s willing to face off with zombie hordes, demon slavers, and black market informants if it means she’ll find a cure for Michael.

But she’s not the only one hunting for something.

Something is hunting her.

Buy it now:

Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo






By day, she writes code. By predawn darkness, she writes fantasies. All other times, she writes in her head.

People call her peculiar with a twisted sense of fashion, but don't let those understatements fool you. Her behavior is perfectly normal for a squirrel disguised as a human. That's part of being a ninja—blending in.

She makes her home in Idaho with her sadistically clever—yet often thwarted—husband, two frighteningly brilliant children, and three sneaky little shibas.

Find her on her blog or social media.

Contact info:
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Goodreads


Thank you so much, Loni!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Writing Groups And Other Rare Species

Note: Somehow I missed signing up for Alex J. Cavanaugh's release day! I am so bummed, and so sorry, Alex!! So let me take a second to plug his BRAND NEW BOOK, Dragon of the Stars, which is OUT and available to buy. Head on over to Alex's blog for all of the info.

On to today's regular post...

Hey, A-Zers! You're through your first week of the marathon. Congratulations!!! I am wholly impressed by all of you.

Now, for something totally unrelated. Or, well, mostly unrelated.

I am at a loss. Not only that, I am lost. Being lost as well as at a loss is frustrating, not to mention confusing. Sort of like being stranded on a mountain with no idea of how to get home, and no idea of how to figure out how to get home. Maybe you have a compass but don't know how to use it, and you're staring at due north on it and wishing you knew what lay north of you if you walked that way, besides some fragment of Earth's magnetic field.

Before my metaphor gets stretched too thin (I know; too late), what I mean is that I know I am in desperate need of a writing group. Not just CPs or beta readers, although I love and appreciate them beyond words, but an actual, bona fide, official writing group. You know, people who meet up with each other on at least a semi-regular basis and exchange work, trade critiques and advice, inspire each other, and help each other. People who meet up just for writing dates. You know, my people. 

See, I'm working hard on my non-fiction and am producing pieces much more quickly than I could ever produce a novel, and as a result I need other pairs of eyes on them often. Far more often, in fact, than I can ask my CPs and beta readers to do. I also need some face-to-face time, some writing dates, some pushes and inspiration and community. As I said, I need a damn group.

The problem is that I can't seem to find one. I go to some writing classes and I meet some cool people, but I haven't yet met anyone who could form such a group. Some people live too far to meet up; some people are casual, occasional writers who don't need a group; and some...well, in total honesty some I don't want to be in a group with. There, I said it: I'm picky.

This is one of the few times I really regret not going through an MFA program. I think many people form their groups that way, or at least get connected to them through their communities.

Anyway, I am also at a loss as to how find this group. I know I could put out an ad on craig's list or something, but as I said, I'm picky.

So, blogosphere, I put this question out to you: if you have such a group, how on earth did you find it? How did it get started? Do you have any tips you could share with the lost, dazed, and confused?