Raising a Book Baby
What I’m listening to: Play with Fire (feat. Yacht Money): Sam Tinnesz
Writing is a solitary profession, but it isn’t. Neither is publishing. Something I don’t think new writers realize.
Getting published, getting an agent, getting into a contest––each time it takes a village. You can lock yourself in your writing cave, but if you don’t develop a competent and talented core of friends it’s a much harder journey. My journey begins with my mom.
My mom, Deena: The first person in my toolbox. She’s the one who encouraged me to write and told me I didn’t suck when I did. To keep working at it and hustle to get what I wanted. For a long time, she’s the only one who knew I was writing, but when I didn’t think I could finish my first book, she was there to tell me I could and would.
My girlfriends: It was hard telling Angie and Missy that I was writing a book when I thought I might fail. What if it sucked, or I didn’t finish? Well, they’re your friends. They love you whether you suck or not. They give you wine and call you to tell you how much they want to read the next section and encourage you to find the people you need to improve further.
My Writing Community: I realized eventually that if I really want to make a go of being an author, I needed other writers like me. I found the Twitter writing community and it was scary not knowing what all the lingo meant and feeling a bit like an outsider. And that’s coming from an extrovert. I can imagine how much harder it is to get involved when you’re introverted. But that’s what you have to do. Ask your questions no matter how silly you feel they are and you will not be disappointed by the answers, or acceptance from other writers, (see the following paragraph).
At this point, I’d started making friends in publishing through writing prompts and had one encourage me to enter a contest. She told me I needed to enter because she was a mentor and she wanted to read what I had to offer. She suggested I find a Critique Partner and make the most of what I’d written.
“I was no longer alone in my journey. I had the beginnings of the ‘village’ it takes to raise a book baby with an inner circle of three and a growing outer circle.”
My Critique Partner: Good writing doesn’t happen alone. My critique partner (CP), Maxym, is the reason I made into the contest Michelle suggested. No one has more profoundly affected the quality of my writing as she has. But more than that, she’s become a key person in my inner-circle, one I would never have met if I hadn’t put my fear of judgment aside and opened myself to the possibility. Because she, too, is a writer, she pushes me in a way that my inner protective circle doesn’t and understood the ups and downs of publishing. Hence, she’s one of my best friends.
The Romance Community: I got lucky. I made it into the contest and found a dedicated community around it to surround myself with. The romance community within the contest community stepped forward and taught me tons about craft and the industry. At the same time, I was becoming part of other writer’s circles. Forming the protective shell around them that they would need just as much as I did. It was immensely rewarding for me, and I learned you get out of it what you put into it––much like writing itself. My contest mentor, my friends who had signed with agents and negotiated contracts––they all helped me to better understand the business side of publishing.
My Agent: Sure enough, with a lot of hard work, opening myself to taking the risks, and absorbing everything I could––funneling it into the manuscript––I found a champion. Someone who believed the world needed a book like mine and wanted to see it become a reality. Saritza loved the characters and story, helped me tweak my manuscript even more. She’s taught me about the business side of seeing my dream realized. The ups and downs of being on submission to publishers, and she held my hand (thank God) through it.
Boom. Inner circle.
My Editor: When the offer came on Moonlight & Whiskey and I spoke with Sue, I had no doubt this was where I was meant to be. Sue and the Loveswept crew show the same passion and dedication to my book as my mom and my agent. She was also now a part of the inner circle. I signed the contract, flabbergasted that it was actually me signing it. Because it was never just me writing the book.
You may not need this circle of people to write a book if you’re Stephen King. However, as a new author with a story to tell and no idea how to tell it, I needed all of them. In fact, I’m not sure I would have finished it at all without putting the fear of being judged aside and sharing my words.
Without risk, there’s no reward. Take the risk. Get out of your head and build your circles.
Writing is a solitary endeavor, but it isn’t. And I didn’t write this book alone. I needed every person in my inner and outer circle to help me realize the birth of this book baby. Truth. No less than twelve people helped me write Moonlight & Whiskey. Now up for presale at all major eBook retailers.