Love at First Sight by Talia

I'm a hopeless romantic.  I don't know how it happened, because most of the time I'm jaded, analytical and aloof.  But I'm a sucker for love.  And that's how I ended up in the YA Muses.

By way of introduction, Donna, Katy, Veronica and I are all writers of young adult or middle grade fiction.  We  met at the Big Sur Children's Writers Workshop in December 2009.  At the time, only Donna had an agent.  I had finished my first novel, and had my very first queries out the week before the conference.  Katy and Veronica were both working on new projects with the plan to start querying by summer.  The four of us were placed in the same critique group, led by the wonderful Ellen Hopkins.

I was nervous.  I'd never read my work aloud to anyone.  Thankfully, Veronica went first.  As she read her pages, the first chapter in a dystopian YA romance, my stomach twisted into a knot.  The prose was so perfect, catching the mood of the scene and transporting me into a world I could never have imagined on my own.  It was commercial yet lyrical.

I wanted to die.

But maybe my piece could be the funny one.

Katy read from her piece, a historical YA that was so full of voice and plot that it sucked me in from the first sentence.  Damn.  This was a historical book for readers who don't like historical books.  It was that good.

I started to feel sick.

Still, maybe they'd see the humor in my scene. 

Donna read from her middle grade mystery.  She read a scene that was hysterical, but that resonated with emotional heart.  I was awed by her ability to mine the eccentricities of rural Texas, while maintaining a respect and a love for her characters that showed on the page.

That's when I knew I wasn't ready.

And then it was my turn.  I read from my manuscript.

And they laughed.  At all the right places.  And for ten minutes, the hundreds of hours I'd poured into this manuscript meant something more than I could've ever imagined.  Earning the respect of these three talented writers was a gift.

I was not alone.

It was the turning point in my career as a writer.  Connecting with other writers whose work I adored.  Sharing my work with people I could trust to be honest, brutally so, but also kind.  And sharing the highs and lows of this crazy writing life with people who actually understood what I was feeling, because they were going through it too.

The four of us continued our relationship.  We chat nearly everyday on line, sharing our works in progress, our agent quests (we have all since signed!) and the ups and down of this writing life.  And after months and months of online discussions, we've realized we've learned a lot, and also that we have a long way to go.

So whether you are a writer, publisher, reader, or just someone who loves book, please join us as we feel our way through this crazy writing thing.

You are not alone.

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