Hello. Let me introduce Debra R. Borys, a fellow author at New Libri Press.
She has written the Street Stories Suspense Novels; Painted Black and Bend Me, Shape Me. 
In this guest post she gives interesting advice about writers groups.

We all want to meet our soul mate when we think of romance and our love life. 
But shouldn’t we seek that same sort of connectedness when we envision
other aspects of our lives? When I decided I wanted to move to the big city and
volunteer with the homeless, I looked at the many agencies that offered services
before selecting one,
The Night Ministry, which best fit my goals and views. 
When the main character in my
STREET STORIES suspense series
gets caught up in the life of a street kid, it’s because Jo sees something in
that person that calls out to who she is and reflects the fears that lie within
her own soul as well. I used that same instinct when I looked for a compatible writing group after I moved to Seattle. 
I’d been lucky enough back in Illinois to meet a group of women at a
writer’s conference who just clicked in their goals and personalities. 
We formed a monthly writing group that became instrumental in the success of my
first published novel,
Painted Black.
I knew no one in Seattle when I first moved here, however, and soul mate-like
lightning does not apparently strike twice in one lifetime. 
So I had to work at it. In a big city, there are many writers groups
to choose from and various places to find them.  Local libraries and community
centers often have notices posted.  Onlinesites like
Craigslist.org and
Meetup.com post invitations to join various groups.  There are,
in fact, too many options, making it difficult to choose.  Even if you
narrow down the list to ones that specifically invite writers for your
particular genre and then select those that are within easy reach of you. 
I attended several groups that sounded right based on those criteria, but there
really is no way to know if a writing group will meet your needs until you attend
one or two or their meetings.The main criteria for selecting a compatible
writing group should be based on genre, format, purpose and personality.
Selecting a group that includes writers who write in or at least familiar with
the genre you prefer is just common sense and is easiest to determine.  If you
write poetry, chances are a group of people who read and write sci-fi novels is
not going to be much help.  Groups composed of writers with cross-genre interests
can be helpful to just about anyone, but if you can find a group focused on the type of writing you prefer, you will get the most bang for your time-buck.

There are three meeting formats I’ve experienced:
1) send work to everyone ahead of time and bring your comments to
the meeting to duscuss; 2) read your work aloud while others only listen and
write notes before commenting; and 3) hand out copies of your work at the
meeting and read your work aloud. If you like structure there are other formats
that include things like lists of questions that need to be answered by
everyone. Likewise, lovers of chaos might prefer groups with a no-holds barred,
say what you want, when you want attitude.

For me, the third option was my favorite.  I caught many problems
by hearing my work out loud, loved the discussion after I was finished,
and was glad for the corrections and comments people penciled in as they
followed along.  My current group uses the end ahead method, which takes
more time, but provides opportunity for a more thoughtful, detailed critique. 
Listening only and taking notes did not work for me at all. 
When I’m critiquing, I need to see the words to take them in, not just
hear them, and the notes people handed to me after the discussion were
sometimes confusing to match to the text I’d just read to them.

The purpose of a writer’s group should match your needs.  If you are tentative
about whether you can write well or not and shy about what people might think
of your words, you won’t want a group that is trying to help you make the work
publishable by offering blunt, honest criticism.  Yet there is nothing more
frustrating than hearing “I love it, keep going, you’re a great writer” when you know
 there is something not working in what you’ve just presented but no one to help you
figure out exactly what.

People are drawn to certain genres, formats and purpose based on their
personalities. A stable group that matches your criteria in these areas is almost
certainly going to be a match temperament-wise.  If there is a person or two that
rubs you the wrong way, give it time.  Usually that person ends up leaving anyway,
or you grow accustomed to the facets that annoy you or decide the benefits you
receive are worth the friction.   

What was my writers group soul mate in Seattle? 
I found a group writing commercial and literary fiction with an ultimate goal of
eventual publication.  They are critical thinkers who aren’t afraid to express their
opinion but understand opinion is not the same thing as proven and irrefutable fact. 
They appreciate a structure that allows each person to have their say yet
doesn’t freak out over an occasional freeform discussion.

The Seattle Fiction Writers has been as crucial to the excellence of my second
published novel,
Bend Me, Shape Me, as my original group so many years ago. 
I am going to miss them when I move next month back to small town
Illinois.  But I’m hopeful that somewhere on the vast Midwestern prairie, I will find a
bolt of inspirational lightening to run toward, my next novel tightly clutched in my hand.



Debra R. Borys is the author of the STREET STORIES suspense novel series.
A freelance writer and editor, she spent four years volunteering with Emmaus
Ministries and the Night Ministry in Chicago, and eight years doing similar work at
Teen Feed, New Horizons and Street Links in Seattle. The STREET STORIES series
reflects the reality of throw away youth striving to survive. The first book in the series is Painted Black. Her publication credits include short fiction in Red Herring
Mystery Magazine, Downstate Story and City Slab.

Debra R. Borys







Author of the
STREET STORIES Suspense Novels 

Painted Black 

Bend Me, Shape Me