Christine Evans, Vicky Fang, and Faith Kazmi met at the 2017 Golden Gate Conference at Asilomar. They’ve been critique partners and friends ever since.
How did you become critique partners?
Faith – By chance we met as first time attendees at the 2017 SCBWI Golden Gate Conference at Asilomar. After going to orientation and sessions together, and sharing a few meals, we all just clicked. I really enjoyed meeting Vicky and Christine and hearing about their stories. At the end of the conference we asked each other if we wanted to share our work as critique partners, and the rest is history. It was splendidly serendipitous.
Christine – I can’t believe we’re about to head to our third Asilomar together!
Vicky – It’s been such an amazing friendship and partnership that all started from striking up a conversation at Asilomar! I feel incredibly lucky to have found such wonderful partners.
What’s your favorite thing about Asilomar?
Faith – It’s hard to narrow it down, but I really like the intimate atmosphere and the amazing faculty. I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing and the publishing industry. Being near the beach in a beautiful setting is an added bonus!
Christine – The beach is definitely a bonus! I always feel so invigorated after our conference and ready to jump back into creating.
Vicky – I agree that the size makes it feel really approachable. One of my favorite things is at the very beginning of the conference when we chat in small groups about where we are in our journeys. It’s a really nice way to meet people right away and to celebrate ourselves as writers.
Any tips for maintaining a critique group?
Faith – Our group doesn’t have official rules, (though I know that works for others). We have a great rapport, and reach out whenever we need an extra set of eyes on something. One thing that I think has really helped overall is that we try and meet up to connect (about our writing journeys, life, and more). Also, having grace for one another when life gets busy has been something I really appreciate about our group.
Christine – I love how we have developed in our critiquing skills as well as our writing skills over the years. Sometimes we have lots of work to share, sometimes we need a quick read through, and sometimes we need to say if we think something isn’t working. Honesty, flexibility, and friendship are definitely the keys to our group’s success.
Vicky – I do think honesty is really key—in our critiques so that we become better writers and in also our friendship so that we can help each other through the highs and lows. Writing has a lot of ups and downs, so having supportive partners has been incredibly important.
What’s happened since you first met?
Faith – In exciting news, all three of us have agents! Both of my amazing critique partners have debut picture books on the way (2019 and 2020), and I’m currently out on submission with mine. We’ve continued to attend the Golden Gate Conference, and have also been part of different writing communities online.
Christine – What an amazing couple of years we’ve had! I love how we’ve celebrated successes together and supported each other through disappointments. My debut picture book, EVELYN THE ADVENTUROUS ENTOMOLOGIST, is being published in September this year by Innovation Press and EMILY’S IDEA is coming from Sounds True in March 2020.
Vicky – Yes! So much wonderful news, with mini celebrations along the way. Beyond the writing itself, we’ve helped each other navigate querying and agents too. My debut picture book, INVENT-A-PET, is being published by Sterling in 2020 (and I have more happy news that I can’t talk about yet!)
What’s surprised you?
Faith – It has been amazing to see how kind and generous the writing community can be. Writers help other writers from sharing best practices to creating incredible platforms to help each other along and this has been one of my most favorite things.
Christine – I think I’m surprised at how much we’ve learned and developed in just two years and a lot of that is definitely down to the generosity of the writing community—and Vicky and Faith’s fabulous critiquing and support!
Vicky – You know what the most surprising thing is? I never thought I’d use Twitter as much as I do now! Seriously though, the writing community is truly amazing and I’m so grateful for the open and supportive nature of my peers and mentors.
What’s next for you all in your writing careers?
Faith – In an unexpected twist, I’m starting to explore writing chapter books and middle grade books. Stay tuned!
Christine – Oh that’s exciting, Faith! I’m also writing longer work and delving into the world of book marketing and promotion ready for my Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 releases.
Vicky – I’m hoping to learn from Christine’s debut launch! Beyond that, I’m working on my unannounced project and talking to my agent about what ideas to tackle next.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Faith – I feel like I hit the CP jackpot, and have a great amount of respect and admiration for Christine and Vicky. I really appreciate that we all have distinct voices/povs/interests, and I continue to learn from each of them through each interaction. I began writing quite a while ago, to no avail. My biggest block was being nervous to share my work with anyone. Now I honestly can’t imagine being on this journey of writing children’s books without my CPs both for the technical guidance and the moral support.
Christine – I agree, this would be a much lonelier process without Vicky and Faith in my corner. I would definitely say meeting them at Asilomar had a massive impact on my career—I don’t think I’d be where I am now without them.
Vicky – Aw, so many warm fuzzies! I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be here without my critique partners. From a wide-eyed beginning to writing polished work to finding agents to working with editors, these two have been supportive, thoughtful, wise, fun, and inspiring. I can’t imagine better CPs and am excited to see where our journey takes us.