When I was first starting to write Christian fiction, I kept hearing how I needed a critique partner... But how in the world was I going to find someone whose style meshed with mine? I spent a while praying God would bring the right person along and give me direction to find her, and then I decided to join ACFW's Scribes. Pretty soon, Angie Dicken and I were choosing all of each other's chapters to critique! We decided to both leave the big group and become partners. I knew God had given me the critique partner I'd prayed for. What I didn't know is that He'd also given me a best friend who would be there for me through the ups and downs in the writing journey, to cheer me on and hold me up, to laugh at my stories when they're funny and to admit when they still need work, and who would soon become one of my dearest friends even apart from writing.
Next, I prayed for a wiring mentor because I knew how much I needed one ! I felt lost in the vastness of the industry. When I took Cara Putman's first time attendee session prior to my first ACFW, I knew I'd found a hero among the industry. Cara has put everything aside to call me whenever I needed advice, she has read countless proposals, answered emergency texts, introduced me to my agent, and has been such a source of wisdom, friendship, and encouragement to me!
And about my other mentor, Allen Arnold. The one I sort of adopted as a mentor whether he wanted to be or not. ;) I've always loved Thomas Nelson books, and have the utmost of respect for their team. My second ACFW conference, Cara asked me to be in a video, so I gladly agreed, and who walks in the door to also help out but Allen Arnold (who was then the VP of Thomas Nelson.) We started talking while we waited for our turns to be on video, and before I knew it, he was asking me what I write! That conference, he spoke a lot of validation an encouragement into my writing dream, and I still remember how my head spun with the reality of one of my writing heros believing in me. Soon after, Allen left Thomas Nelson to take a job at Ransomed Heart, and he started doing story crafting, which proved to be an incredible opportunity for me to learn from his expertise. If you're looking for help on a macro level with your story, I'd highly recommend his freelancing! (And by the way, Pepper has started doing this too, and she is AMAZING at it. For real. Boggles my mind.) My relationship with a would-be publisher turned into a friendship with the person I respect most out of all of CBA, and I still can't believe how cool God is to bring us just who we need in our particular journey!
So if you are without a critique partner or mentor, pray and trust God to lea your way in this writing ministry. It might not happen overnight, but He will be faithful to bring the right people at the right time. Today, I'm counting my blessings for these three!
Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.