One of my goals for this year is to establish myself in a community of writers. I found my way to Verla Kay's Blue Boards, a fantastic online forum for children's writers and illustrators. On the Blue Boards, I've found wonderful help with critiques and established a few relationships that I hope will be long term in the "reading each other's work" sense.
Locally I'm doing two things. I begin a class in two weeks through the Great Smokies Writing Program, a part of the UNC Asheville campus. Joy Neaves is the instructor and I've heard she's wonderful. She also worked as an editor for a small publishing house so knows both sides of the business. It is geared specifically for kidlit so I hope to meet some local critiquing partners.
The other thing is our local women's writer's group. Eve's Night Out was established many years ago when we still had an area book store (we have a used book store, but no longer a book store with new releases). This group of women gathers once a month to read either things they've written, or things they've read that they love. It is not a critique group. ENO prides itself on often being the first place a woman stands at the podium to read her work aloud.
Last night was the second time I went, part of my resolution as a writer, and once again I was scared and wrongfully so. All of these women are talented and supportive. Currently, I'm the only children's writer among them, most are poets, a few are working on adult fiction, but it's fun. They understand how huge it was that I recently got a personalized rejection. They got it.
Next month is the Valentine's version and the tradition in ENO is to make a hand-made valentine either with writing or without to share with another woman in the group. Names are drawn out of a hat, and it is supposed to big fun. I may just have to try my hand at a poem.