Sunday, May 2, 2010

critters and such

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have mastered, you will never grow. ~CR Lawton

I'm sure my dear friend, Lori Benton, will do a double take once she stumbles onto today's post. That's her blog banner at left and here's her picture to the right. She might very well shoot me as I didn't ask permission to post this but wanted to honor her for being such a good friend and the best ever critique partner, or critter! We've both been writing since childhood and love history, particularly the 18th-century with all its drama and romance and bloodshed:) Lori has quite a personal story of her own but I won't include any spoilers here. Sometimes she posts excerpts from her WIP's on her blog. Her writing is amazing! I've had more than a few, "OH, I WISH I'D WRITTEN THAT!" moments when I read her work. And I'm confident you'll be reading her books one day, too. We need more 18th-century fiction out there. So write on, Lori B:)

I've never had a critter before and feel blessed to have Lori to exchange work with. She recently finished reading The Colonel's Lady which is due to my editor August 1st. I'm currently reading her WIP entitled, Willa, which she sends me chapter by chapter. Reading her work makes me a better writer and editor plus I always learn new historical info along the way. She has a wonderful ability to create multi-dimensional characters that linger in your mind once you disengage from her story, which is hard to do. She also has a lovely knack for being fresh and original when describing the natural world or the faces and emotions of her characters. It's such a blessing to know her. I'm really excited as we get to meet for the first time at a writer's conference this fall. I think the Lord brought us together. Writing friends are such an important part of the journey.

In my mailbox:
The Family Greene by Ann Rinaldi
The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed
Tailor Made, Trail Worn by Robert J. Moore, Jr. and Michael Haynes

Scripture of the moment:
I am not worthy of the least of all Thy mercies. ~Genesis 32:10


  1. Hmm. I'm jealous. :) A great critique partnership must be a great thing! I don't have one yet, but hopefully someday I will connect with the right one.

  2. Yes indeed. I did a double take when I clicked over here to read your new post! Bless you and thank you, my friend (and I don't mind at all, our "coming out" ha!). I can and do say the same back at you, it's been a JOY and a privilege to read your writing and give you feedback. Who'd have thought such a thing would develop from that first giddy email I sent after reading The Frontiersman's Daughter and falling in love with your writing and your characters? I knew I'd found a "kindred" spirit! :-) I can't wait to meet you face-to-face in Sept!!

  3. Laura, I'm delighted to hear that God has blessed you with such a wonderful critique partner. Congratulations to you both. And thanks for the introduction to Lori.

  4. Casey, It is really neat to have a crit partner at last. I know He'll bring you the right one at the right time. It only took me 40 plus years to find mine:) But i think you're probably going to have better timing than I!

    I've been thinking about your WIP and pray it's going very well and you're finding lots of inspiration!

  5. Isn't it funny, Lori, that we live side by side (well, as far as WA is from OR) and we have to go to Indy to meet? Thanks for stopping by (and not swatting me:)

    What a weekend, huh? We were at church 6 hours today. Not in the game plan so now I'm back online, violating my no Sunday policy. I hope you're rested up from your busy Sat. The book signing sounded great!

  6. Keli, I think you were the one who showed me the value of a crit partner (unbeknownst to you). You have such a wonderful working relationship and friendship with yours. I think her name is Ann Barton (am not good with names sometimes). It's always a joy to read about her on your blog as you exchange work. It blesses me vicariously!

  7. What a nice surprise to see Lori's lovely face here, almost as nice as her "Whoa, how did he get here?" LOL!

    I'm so glad that you introduced Lori and let us know you are kindred critters! I suspected as much!:) It's wonderful how the Lord brought you two together for his purposes.

    I love Lori's blog. She, like you, always have such fascinating post - historical and inspirational.

    Love to you both!

  8. Laura, Anne is indeed a blessing! We met when we were both Golden Heart finalists in 2008. I got to meet her in person at RWA Nationals in San Francisco that year. I'll be in Nationals at Nashville this year, and the thing I'm most looking forward to at the conference is spending time with Anne, who will be my roommate.

    I look forward to meeting you at ACFW. Perhaps I can meet Lori too. :)

  9. Keli, It's neat to know how you and Anne met. Your conference in Nashville looks wonderful - I was admiring the layout/schedule in RT magazine recently. Wish I could be there as that's my neck of the woods. But I'm so happy we get to meet in Indy!

  10. Thanks so much, Carla:) I know you have a pretty close writing group/critters of your own so you understand how very valuable it is. I don't know what I would do without you, either!! You are one of my best online friends! Praying you have a wonderful week.

  11. I need a critter! How did you find the *perfect* one? I'm glad God has blessed both of you with each other. I'm off to visit Lori's blog...Can't wait to read one of her books soon!

  12. Critters are the best thing a writer can have. It is amazing when God brings writers together, and what I love about my group is that we not only share writing, but our lives. being vulnerable in our writing also translates into being vulnerable with what is going on in our lives and it is a most blessed relationship.
    thanks for letting us know about yours, Laura!! good to meet you, Lori:)

  13. Kristen, The only thing better than one critter would be a whole group of them:) I'm so glad you're in with a great bunch - I've picked up as much from your blog posts. If I was closer to Vancouver I'd tag along. You are such a dear!

  14. Hi Mary, I came across Lori's blog a couple of years ago and left an occasional comment as we were reading and writing the same type stories. Then she read my book after reading a review on Ruth's blog. See how small cyberspace really is?! And then she liked TFD enough to write and tell me which I love. You did that, too, remember:) As did dear Kristen!!

    Lori knows lots of writers/authors like Francine Rivers and Karen Ball and such so I didn't think she'd really want to hang out with me. But she was in need of a crit partner and so it kind of evolved. We've been exchanging work since the beginning of this year.

    I've heard there are folks who are looking for crit partners just like you - some find them on the ACFW loop. Oh my, I've written a novel here and you don't want that! Bless you, Mary, and please let me know if you look and find one!

  15. Thanks, Laura! You are such a dear. :)

  16. I just love that you and Lori are crit partners now! :)

  17. I do believe I like the term critter. ;)

    And thank you for introducing me, as a reader, to Lori. I've glanced at her blog a little, and will shortly be going to give it a more in depth glance. I do believe I'll be adding it to my favorites shortly.

    I believe you'll enjoy the Annette Gordon-Reed book. I read it awhile back and liked it.

    Now off to Lori's blog!

  18. Laura, I credit Julie Lessman for directing me to you and I credit you for directing me to Lori Benton! What a blessing how the Lord works! You never know who you're gonna bless when you leave a comment somewhere ;) Now I wait with great anticipation for Lori's books!! I LOVE historical novels and the 18th century produces some of the best :) I pray for all of you authors on here- that the Lord will encourage your hearts, bless and direct every word that flows from your finger tips and strengthen your spirits as you glorify Him with your talents. I can't wait to check out all of your books when they become available! Ladies, the Lord's richest blessing on every last one of you :)

    And, Laura you truly are such an encouragement! It's a gift from above that very few possess, but you have it in spades! Like I said, my only claim to writing is my church newsletter but reading your writings, well, it makes me want to be the best I can be! Whether your work is read by many or a few, we write for the praise, honor, and glory of Almighty God! He will bring your work before the eyes of those that need it! Thank you friend :) I'm off to go highlight that beautifully humbling scripture, I loved it and it's so very true!!

    Amanda Stanley

  19. Ruth, I am forever in your debt. It was your review of TFD that led to the critter connection:) Bless you for that, dear friend and most awesome reviewer!

  20. Hi Michelle, Hope you've recovered from all that Derby fun:) Even if our horse didn't win!

    Lori's blog is neat in that she deals far more with writing than I do. She's also an avid reader and shares so many good books she's come across.

    I've started the Hemings book and it is GREAT. Now I'm hankering to go to Monticello more than ever:)

  21. Yes, it's all Ruth's fault! :) She is one the best book reviewers I've ever come across. If you haven't checked out her Booktalk & More blog, you really should. I think Laura's got it on her blog role. I do too.

    Cyberspace is truly a small world, and I find it hard to imagine how lonely writing must have been before we were able to connect so easily this way. Well, come to think of it, I shouldn't have to imagine. I'm old enough to well remember since I began writing before I'd ever heard of that strange thing called email! Seems like another lifetime ago.

  22. YAY! Amanda's here:) You really have to meet Casey as the two of you could be sisters in encouragement/exclamation points!! She has a blog in my sidebar called Encourage an Author as well as a personal one of her writing/reading journey. Just this week or so she's begun a group blog at For some reason you two seem like kindred spirits.

    I can't thank Julie enough for linking me to you! She went way out of her way to post that review of TFD everywhere as she is so very busy. I loved being a guest at Seekerville in March. What a blog!

    Cyberspace really is a small place when it comes to writing and reading though I'm coming across inspiring blogs every week. I wish you'd think of starting a blog. I'd sure follow!

  23. Amanda said this: And, Laura you truly are such an encouragement! It's a gift from above that very few possess, but you have it in spades!

    And I just want to underscore it. I can't count the many times I've peeked over your shoulder when you've responded to someone, Laura, and marveled at the gracious way you encourage writers, readers, everyone. We are all gifted in diverse ways, but just like rain and sunshine are both needful blessings, most times I'd rather stand in the sunshine. That's what encouragement feels like.

    Thanks to everyone who have visited my wee cyberspace corner. :)

  24. Oh Lori, you are using your gift of words without even realizing it, I bet. Love the sunshine and encouragement analogy:) I felt some of that warmth when you said it. Isn't it amazing how words can be used to heal and help? They truly are a gift.

    I sure appreciate your encouragement about my being encouraging. And it is a gift like you said so I can't take a lick of credit for it, as Lael would say:)

  25. How very lucky you both are for finding each other! it is a rare thing indeed to find a good writing partner, and even rarer to find one that becomes such a good friend~ I'll have to go check out her blog!~

  26. Thanks, Heather! Lori is terrific and I can't wait till we meet. Wish I could swing by Oklahoma and the gallery and meet you, as well! Now off to your blog:)