Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Yin and the Yang

My critique partner Tawna Fenske and I are taking part in Candace Ganger's "I Helped Bring Joy" auction, which is raising money to empower the girls and women of Ghana by generating microloans. We're donating a unique critique prize ... wherein you get not one but two crits of a partial.

It was Tawna's idea, but I think it's a great one ... and I'm really glad she suggested it. The two of us "met" on the eHarlequin forums about six years ago when we both thought for about 90 seconds that we'd be editor-sistahs. While that didn't come to pass, I found Tawna's honest, thoughtful critiques to be a wonderful treasure, and her wonderful, infectious zeal for life even more so.

We are so different, she and I. She is a West Coast dedicated recycler/nature-lover/world-traveler with no kids, and I am a South Georgia mom who knew all 99 different rules and rituals regarding the proper funeral. She loves wine-tastings and a risque joke, and I am a Baptist tee-totaler. She had no idea what salad cubes were, and I was just as lost when it came to couscous and quinoa. She is a pantser, and I'm so OCD that I plot EVERYTHING.

But at the same time, we are peas in a pod. Both of us love animals. Both of us see human beings' differences as something to embrace rather than to be feared. Both of us would go crazy if we didn't write. Both of us love a good story. Both of us hate Too Stupid To Live heroines. Tawna is probably the one other person besides my sister that I would call at two in the morning -- unless I was in jail, at which point I'd call Linda Grimes so that she could see, lo, how the mighty have fallen and capture all on video for YouTube. (Easy, Linda, that just ain't gonna happen.)

Over the years, I've taught Tawna how to make grits, fried chicken and corn bread, and she's turned me into a person who takes my own bags to the grocery store and cooks quinoa and couscous. As far as writing, she's taught me how to use my entire arsenal of the five senses in setting scenes and how to create stronger, more admirable heroines. Honestly, she didn't need any improving as far as writing, so I can't say what I've taught her, except that plotting isn't a curse word, and that you don't have to hiss when uttering the word "synopsis."

So when you get the Dynamic Duo critiquing your work, you get the Yin and the Yang, the classic East Coast and West Coast. You get the benefit of what we've taught each other as we've grown in that six years as writers.

Plus, you get to help women and girls who have never, and will never again, have a chance to chase their dreams and shape their destiny -- and I always say that if you want something done right, put a woman in charge, so your winning bid might well be the tipping point that turns Ghana around. Okay, okay, so I indulge in hyperbole. Sue me. I'm a writer.

But seriously, you want this. You really, really want this. So what are you waiting for? Go explore some more on Candace Ganger's blog.


Linda G. said...

Oh, sure. Raise my hopes for the ultimate embarrassing Youtube video, and then dash them a second later. So, so cruel!

(You and Tawna rock. I know you'll get lots of bids!)

Tawna Fenske said...

I had been trying to think of a good way to sum up what we were offering in the auction and why the tag-team critique is a pretty good deal. Now I can just point and say "what she said!"


Susan Kaye Quinn said...

This is WIN on so many levels. I'm hooked. :)

Kelly Breakey said...

I am with Linda. I think the video would be even better if it's you and Tawna both being bailed out of jail. Maybe for killing one of those too stupid to live heroines. Tell Linda I would come and hold the camera for her if she wants to mug in on those shots.

I can see it now...

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a fantastic relationship. I'm in a crit group, but I wouldn't mind a dedicated CP.

Matthew Rush said...

What a great post! That sounds like a wonderful relationship, especially well suited for a critique partnership.

I actually won the dual critique, so this is going to be awesome. I already knew of Tawna, and followed her blog, but she had to introduce me to you, Cynthia.

Needless to say I am now your newest follower.

Nice to meet you!