When I received an e-mail on April 22, 2010 asking, would you like to trade first chapters?, little did I know that the one chapter would turn into hundreds, and that in less than two years I would become very good friends with the sender.
After having an amazing time at the SCBWI conference in New York, I trekked farther north that I've ever been to meet my critique partner, Diane Magras, and her husband who is also a writer, Michael Magras, and their sweet five year old. I almost didn't make it because I fell asleep at the gate at JFK, waking up by sheer luck when they made the last call for passengers.
The northern land where the Magras family lives was blanketed in snow and absolutely picturesque. This place looked like winter. Dark black, leafless trees, bodies of water covered with ice, snow boots, and frosted windshields. Not at all like Alabama where one day it can be seventy degrees and the next day thirty five. Winter had a permanent beautiful hold in these northern parts.
Before I left to meet the Magras clan, I told my aunts that I was heading north to meet my critique partner. They exchanged worried looks.
"You're going to someone's home that you met on the internet? Are you sure that's safe?"
I explained the best that I could that Diane wasn't some internet stalker, but that I truly knew her, and considered her my friend. When you share your writing with someone, you get to know that person on a level that you don't get to know the average person on.
I didn't just feel at home with the Magras family because they are honest, sincere, lovable people, or because Diane is an awesome cook and always kept my tummy full just like my Mom does when I'm at home, but because I suppose (I can't quite find the word for it) it felt right being around people that enjoyed writing and books like I do. We talked about our current projects, future projects, assembled legos, read a book about dinosaurs (let me tell you there are way more species than the basic T-rex, triceratops, stegosaurus, and brontosaurus that I knew as a child) and drank plenty of British tea.
It was a short but memorable visit and I left wishing we didn't live so far apart. But, five year old is eager to meet my cats, so I know I will be seeing the Magras clan later this weekend via skype.
Here's a picture of Diane and me, all bundled up for winter, saying good-bye at the bus station.
When I started blogging three years ago, I had no clue how awesome the writing community truly is, and how much it would change my life.