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Posts tagged with: romance community

You Are Not Alone

The following post is actually a blast from the past. On occasion, I look back and see how far I’ve come on this writing journey. Recently, I dug up this post—my first on the Ruby blog, and probably my first blog post ever—which I originally posted waaaaay back on October 6, 2009. That was before I was published, when I was still shopping my Golden Heart manuscript (which was published by Carina Press in September 2011.) I was shiny and new in so many ways, and have learned much on this journey, but I think the message of succeeding through perseverance and finding a supportive community is still relevant.

(And, as an update, I served 4 years as President of my local chapter and don’t regret a moment. During that time I sold three books. My two terms ended eight months ago, but during those years, I grew so much, and made lasting connections I treasure.)

*****

“Lions and tigers and bears!  Oh my!”  No doubt about it, the craft of writing and the world of publishing can be a scary business.  But…

You are not alone.

I can’t tell you how many times I have to remind myself of this.  Daily?  Actually, some days it’s hourly.  Yes, my friends, we’ve chosen a career fraught with rejection, self-doubt, downswings, and loneliness.  But as I travel farther down this yellow brick path – sometimes skipping happily along, and sometimes dragging my feet with every step – I’m meeting all kinds of people.  Their paths may be different, but they intersect or even – at times – run identical to my own.

I am not alone.

I discovered this when I became more involved in my local chapter, setting up a plotting group in my home so that I could get to know people on a more personal level and making friends that I know will always be there for me when I stumble.  I rediscovered this when I finaled in the Golden Heart and found a whole group of sisters I never knew I had.

So what do you do to counteract those down periods when you’ve received a rejection, are immersed – or drowning – in self-doubt, or just feeling isolated?  Just as Dorothy had her traveling companions on her journey, we have friends, critique partners, and organizations to help us out on ours.  So…. What would Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion say about the challenges along our path?

Scarecrow, my brainy friend, scratches his head and looks at the odds.  “There are a lot of writers out there.  But you won’t succeed if you don’t continue to submit.  Persistence is the key.”

“Yes, but how long must I persist?” I ask.  (Okay, it was more of a whine, but still…)

“As long as it takes,” he says simply, that drawn-on smile never faltering.  “You never know when your manuscript will land on the RIGHT desk at the RIGHT time.  In the meantime, keep developing your craft, editing your work, and sending it out.  And listen to your writing friends when they say, ‘Don’t give up!’”

Tin Man, my sensitive friend, smiles at me softly with a sympathetic tilt of his head.  “You have a lot to give as a writer.  It’s a calling, otherwise you’d be able to set it down and walk away.  Besides, you’re writing the book of your heart, right?”

“Psshaw,” I say, jaded.  “That was four manuscripts ago.  Now I’m searching for the book of my dream editor’s heart.”

“But there’s no way of knowing what that will be,” Tin Man points out, taking my hand as we continue down the yellow brick path.  “Don’t lose the love for your craft.  If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, why do it?  And,” he adds, “I suggest you join a writers group, where you can give back to others.  There’s joy in that, and the passion of others is addictive.”

Tin Man was right.  It was in joining my local chapter, and stepping forward to be their president when they needed one, that I found deeper and lasting friendships and found a common passion.  I rediscovered the “heart” of romance writing.  And I started to enjoy my craft again.

“Cowardly Lion, I know you feel my pain,” I say to the next friend along my path.  “Every time I lick that envelope to send away a submission, my heart quakes.  Can I stand the rejection this time?”

He straightens to his full, furry height, hands on his hips and stares me down.  “You know the answer to that.  If you are rejected, you will survive.  You always do.  Be brave.”  He leans down and grins.  “Chocolate helps.  And friends do, too.”

And finally, there’s Toto.  Can’t forget him.  I carry him with me everywhere in my little basket, my constant reminder of the quiet love and comfort that’s waiting for me at home.  Not everyone has a Toto to turn to when times are scary and confusing.  When the people who should love and support you the most step on your dreams, who do you turn to?  It’s my hope that you’ll find a group of like-minded people – writers, critique partners, Ruby Sisters – or that you start one of your own.  Trust me, there are others out there like you, sometimes lost in Kansas, twisting in the wind and just looking for home.

You are not alone.

If you find yourself feeling alone, join your local RWA group (or if you already belong, volunteer for a position to become more active and get to know your fellow chapter mates).  Or, offer to help judge a writing contest.  Cruise the internet for writer resources or loops you can join.  Or, just take your writing with you and get out of your lonely surroundings and into a bustling coffee shop or library, where you can see that other people exist.

One of the best things I ever did was say “yes” when my local chapter asked me to be their next president.  Was I worried about the additional workload and the fact that I’d never (ever!) served on a board before, let alone as president?  Heck, yeah.  At the same time, I’d volunteered to help my online chapter with their annual contest.  I didn’t know what I was in for there, either.  But saying “yes” opened so many doors for me.  I’ve met so many amazing writers, discovered several new resources, and discovered I am not alone.  (And, if you happen to believe in karma, I must say that my career has grown by leaps and bounds this year – my first request for a full from an agent led to signing with that agent, and was followed soon after by a Golden Heart nomination and win.  I’ve been very blessed, and can’t help but wonder if what I put out into the universe is coming back to me in some way.)

You are not alone.  We are on this twisty, winding path together, and the emotions at the peaks and dips are universal.  Am I scared?  Yes. Thrilled?  Yes! Confused?  Oh, yeah, sometimes. But I’m still going forward, one step at a time, and I hope you are, too.

Are you feeling alone on your path?  Who (or what) have you encountered along the way that helps push you to take that next step when you need a gentle shove?  Tell me about your journey, and your traveling companions.

AnneMarieBeckerAnne Marie has always been fascinated by people—inside and out—which led to degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Counseling.  Her passion for understanding the human race is now satisfied by her roles as mother, wife, daughter, sister, and award-winning author of romantic suspense.
She writes to reclaim her sanity.
Anne Marie publishes the Mindhunters series with Carina Press and is currently hard at work on some new projects. Find ways to connect with her at www.AnneMarieBecker.com.

Get Ready for the RSS Winter Writing Festival!!!

The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s Second Annual Winter Writing Festival begins in JUST ONE WEEK!!!

 

Through the bleakest part of winter—January 11, 2012 thru the end of February—the Second Annual Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival will be here to keep your creative fires burning, with support, advice, inspiration, frequent writing sprints in our chat room, fun prizes for participants, and as much virtual hot-chocolate (and virtual cookies!!) as you please.

Unlike NaNoWriMo and other writing challenges that (much as we love them!!) have a one-size-fits-all approach, the Ruby Winter Writing Festival is designed for you.

More Than You Bargained For

I’m a huge fan of getting more than I bargained for when it comes to shopping. I adore a sale. Who doesn’t like the thought of Buy One Get One Free? Or 50% off? In fact, when I’m super-stressed, my favorite way to relax is to head to Target, grab a coffee, and hit the sale endcaps in the back of the store. I’m sure that’s some kind of illness, but whatever works, right?

So, yeah, I love getting more than I bargained for when it comes to good stuff.

Meet 2011 Golden Heart Finalist Erin Kelly

Over the course of the summer, the Ruby-Slippered Sisters are giving the 2011 Golden Heart finalists an opportunity to introduce themselves and share a bit about their writing life. Today’s guest is Erin Kelly, a finalist in the Regency category for MORE THAN A STRANGER. Please join us in congratulating her and welcoming her to the blog!

My, oh my, how things have changed in a year.  Last January, when I finally typed “The End” on the last page of my very first manuscript, I ran around the house screaming with joy, completely uncaring of the fact that it was two o’clock in the morning. Lucky, my west coast sister was awake and, through the miracle of iChat, we laughed and screamed together like ten year old girls at a Justin Bieber concert.

I vaguely remember a cow bell being involved, though I have no idea where her husband found one.  My own husband staggered out to give me a sleepy congratulatory hug before retreating back to bed.

I could hardly believe it.  I had finished a novel! I mean, that was half my bucket list right there!  Visions of Kate Winslet perched on the front of the Titanic flitted through my mind.  I was queen of the world!  I was a rock star. No, even better—I was a writer. [Cue Rocky music]

But the celebration only lasted so long. Before I even opened my eyes the next morning, two words echoed in my mind, effectively neutralizing my giddiness of the night before.

Now what?

I mean, I knew the moment my perfect gem of a novel (I know you’re jealous that the first draft of my first story was perfection, but we can’t all be rock stars, you know) graced the desk of the editors at Avon, they would be overnighting that six figure advance, but how did I go about actually getting it in their eager hands?

I’ll pause here and let you wipe away your tears of laughter at my naivety. No, no, take your time. [whistling patiently]

Better?  Good.  So that night, I sat down at my computer and began Googling.  At some point I stumbled across an interview with Julia Quinn, my favorite author at the time.  She mentioned that she thought every new romance writer should join Romance Writers of America (RWA).  A few clicks later, and I was on the local RWA chapter’s website.  By chance their next meeting was the following day.  Through a rapid fire e-mail exchange with the president, I was soon set up to be an official visitor.

Little did I know how much that meeting would change my life.  I had no idea that on that sunny January day, I would meet the women who would soon become my closest friends, my confidents, and even my critique partners.  The network of support that I have gained since then would have been unthinkable to my former self—the solitary, clueless writer holed up in her house alone day in and day out.

I joined my current online critique group last April, where they very gently broke it to me that my manuscript was full of head-hopping, passive voice, and needless scenes.  After getting over the shock and horror of discovering that my ms maaaay not be so perfect after all, I got to work tearing it apart.  A month later, I entered in my first contest…and finaled!

Through the past year, I have endlessly revised that first draft, written a second story, received enough requests to make me leap for joy, and enough rejections to potty train a puppy with.  I’ve attended conferences, finaled in more contests, cried with frustration, and squealed with delight.  Through it all, I have been blessed to have my ever-expanding circle of writer friends around me, buoying me when I was down, celebrating with me when things were up, and whipping me into shape when I start dragging.

When I signed with the amazing Deidre Knight (The Knight Agency) in January, I felt it was as much a group success as anything.  When that call for the Golden Heart final came, I hardly knew who to tell first since so many had helped to get me there.

I’ve learned in the past sixteen months what the Rubies have known for years—leaning on and supporting our romance writing sisters is second only to . . . well, actually writing.  I’m absolutely convinced that embracing the social side of writing is the key to our success. I’m extremely thankful for finaling in the Golden Heart for many reasons, but one in particular is that it has opened up my world that much more, and I am thrilled at all the new writer friends I have found.

Thanks so much for letting me chat with you all today.  Here’s to many, many more years of shared tears, laughter, triumphs, good news, great books, and, above all, expanding the sisterhood!

Erin will be stopping by throughout the day to respond to comments – please make her feel welcome! You can also find more about her writing life at www.HaveYourCakeAndReadItToo.com.

Friends With Benefits

I have lots of them. Oh, pull your mind out of the gutter. Not *those* kinds of friends with benefits. No, these friends are much, much better because what they bring to the friendship game is so much more valuable than tangled sheets and a post-coital smoke.

Let’s go back in time, shall we? I want to tell you a story…

Sisterhood

Sometimes I feel so incredibly blessed to be a writer during the information age. Can you imagine typing the 561,996-word Atlas Shrugged on a manual typewriter? Or worse, handwriting all 560,391 words of Les Misérables?

But even more than the easy cut-and-paste of modern word processors, I’m thankful for the instant communication and the unexpected camaraderie of the Internet age. I never suspected I’d have so many dear friends I’ve never met in person. It’s like penpals on steroids.

It’s All About the Networking, Baby!

It’s conference season again. For romance writers, as most of you know, the mother of all conferences is looming ever closer. Romance Writer’s of America will be hosting their 30th Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida from July 28th – July 31st.

The buzz about this conference is ever growing. Blogs and magazine articles are countless. Topics may include etiquette, travel, volunteering, navigating workshops, and, of course, shoes.

Another subject that will dominate the conference theme is networking.

Empowering Women

Awhile back I went to the Rose City Reader’s Luncheon in Portland. It was my first unofficial function as a published writer, although I attended as a reader because, well, because by the time I registered that’s all that was left. I won a basket of historical books, which I don’t really read, but I like winning and there were some other cool trinkets and bobbles. Yay me!

Connectivity

So this is my second blog on the subject of Connectivity in the last few months.  The first was in response to the fact I had none (a power outage that kept me from the interwebs for an entire weekend…oh, the horror!!).

This blog, however, is about a different aspect of Connectivity – the joy in connecting with others who share a common passion. 

Getting Some Respect: The Ivory Tower Takes a Serious Look at Romances

Even Jane Austen complained about it: we don’t get no respect.
Austen sketch

Okay, Austen’s actual words were: “Although [novels] have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are as many as our readers” (Northanger Abbey, 1818).

But she meant the same thing.

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The Latest Comments

  • Autumn Jordon: Kudos. Kate. You followed your path and I’m happy you did!
  • Kate Parker: I’ve heard we regret the things we didn’t do much more than the things we do. I didn’t...
  • Autumn Jordon: Ahh. I’m sure your story is the same as many others, as is mine. I’m glad you went to that...
  • Anne Marie Becker: LOL – well at the time I lived far away from relatives. Only my husband knew I was writing,...
  • Autumn Jordon: If I may ask. How did you keep it hidden that you were going to a conference? Wait. You write RS....

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