Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It Takes a Village to Write a Book!

It truly is a pleasure to have award winning romance author, Anna Campbell, as a guest with us Over Coffee. What impresses me about Anna, aside from her stories, is her generosity of spirit towards helping other authors and writers. I must say she has been a great source of encouragement and help to me. :-)

I knew it had taken Anna some time to get published, but had no idea how long. Her topic struck a cord with me; how alone a new writer can feel without support, encouragement, and feedback from other writers.

Anna, I’m so glad to finally have you here, Over Coffee.

Hi, everyone! Hi Sia! Thanks so much for inviting me to talk about something writerly over coffee.

I’m eagerly counting down the days until my fourth historical romance hits the stands on 27th October. CAPTIVE OF SIN is a marriage of convenience story with a Regency noir twist. You can read the blurb and an excerpt here. And here’s a really lovely trailer that Vanessa Barneveld, a friend of mine, made for the book: Captive Sin.

In the meantime, I want to talk about how no writer is an island. The title is a slight exaggeration – if the village is going to write this book for me, I wish it would turn up a bit more often and take over the hard work! But nonetheless, it’s not that much of an exaggeration.

I recently handed in the final version of my latest story, which Avon will release next June as My Reckless Surrender. Cool title, huh? Part of that process was writing my dedication and acknowledgments page. That’s something I always enjoy doing. I started to think about how the people around me, who support me in this crazy and often difficult journey, are one of the best bits of the writers’ life.

I spent many, many years unpublished. And for a lot of that time, I was completely on my own. I didn’t know anyone writing romance. Heck, I hardly knew anyone who even read romance! So I spent a lot of time reinventing the wheel or going off on completely false tangents.

Then around 2000, I joined Romance Writers of Australia and in 2001, I went to my first RWOz conference. Well, my life changed at that moment and at last I started making some real progress towards getting published. Not only that, I met people who now number among my best friends. They understand my passion for romance fiction. They understand the wild ups and downs of life as a pre-published author (and now as a published author – the rollercoaster ride is still as crazy!). We cheered each other’s successes, commiserated with each other’s disappointments, encouraged each other through the slumps.

So suddenly I wasn’t Robinson Crusoe anymore! And what an amazing feeling that was.

Since then, I’ve joined Romance Writers of America and Romance Writers of New Zealand. I’ve met an enormous number of wonderful people through the Internet. And I can’t express how grateful I am for the friendships I’ve made.

When you set out to be a published writer, there’s very little you can control, apart from the quality of your writing. You can’t control the market, you can’t control whether an editor or agent will like your work, you can’t control whether you’ll final in a contest. You might be one of the (very few) lucky ones who publishes their first or second manuscript. You might be like me and take 27 years before you get a publishing contract. So the journey could be arduously long. But however long the journey is, I think one thing you can control is how to make that journey rewarding. The friends I made along the way certainly did that for me. I thank each and every one of you.

These days, I often do workshops for aspiring writers. One piece of advice I always give them is to join a romance writer’s organization. There are so many pluses to interacting with people who understand what you want and what you’re going through to achieve it.

Of course, there’s all the other stuff you learn from these organizations. There’s market information and writing skills and professional tips, not to mention they run contests that help you improve your skills and might just get you a sale.

But the best bit by far is the friends you make. They’re worth their weight in RITA awards!

I’m sure I’m speaking to the converted here, but just in case you want the websites:

So do you belong to a writing organization or group? How have you benefited? What would be the one piece of advice you gave an aspiring writer?

My favorite comment wins a signed copy of my new release, CAPTIVE OF SIN! Good luck!
Anna Campbell decided to become a writer shortly after she learned to walk. Then she discovered romance novels and realized she just had to be a romance writer and tell stories about love and hope and triumph through adversity, not forgetting gorgeous, passionate men. After various jobs and as much travel as she could afford, including a stay of several years in the United Kingdom, Anna has now settled near the sea on the east coast of Australia.
Anna's Website.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Anna, welcome to Over Coffee. I'm so glad you could make it.

Something you said, in your article, totally resonated with me, is being a Robinson Caruso, in our writing. I have to agree. It's amazing the support you get from RWA, and being part of writing organizations/groups.

One of my joys, is my group The Writin' Wombats. Their support and encouragement has been invaluable and the friendships forged, precious to me. Through them, and several RWA members, I've since joined RWA and attended workshops and conferences. I absolutely recommend joining and attending, or join an online group.

Joan said...

Hiya Anna! Wave...the cabana boys are all hanging out the window....

When I decided to pursue publication I knew from previous experience through my job as a nurse that belonging to a professional organization would be beneficial. My internet search turned up Romance Writers of America. I would never have gotten this far without the education, networking and insights they provide.

And the friends, the writers who "get me" especially one electic group called..oh, what is it...oh yes The Banditas!!! :-)

Can't wait for Captive to come out next week!

Bronwyn said...

Hi Anna and Sia,

Anna, I promise I'll get a life once you give me one of your books! Signed please =))

On a serious note, Romance Writers of Australia are awesome and it was my first conference this year. The friends I made and the networking opportunities in the bar over cocktails made the whole experience even better. (The speakers and sessions were good too). I'm also part of South Australian Romance Authors (SARA) and the gals are the best you'll find anywhere! We are made up of pubbed and unpubbed, romance- contemp and historical, literary, fantasy, adventure, you name it we got it. In fact I'm going to get my stiletto boots ready once I've posted for our monthly meeting. (The only time I ever get to get dressed up these days). I'll come home tonight refreshed and remotivated to get moving on the MS. Sometimes we toss around ideas, titles, help, whatever people need when they need it. It really is invaluable! RWNZ is my next stop I reckon =)

Anyway all this stalking is taking away precious writing time so I'll get back to it! I'll have a cocktail for you when the matchsticks holding up your eyelids make it hard to think your next thought... (You are one helluva woman on this PR machine!)


~Sia McKye~ said...

Hey Bron. Good to see some of you lovely down under writers!

I agree, the chat leaves you refreshed and charged up to write!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Joan, great point on professional organizations. If writing is to be your proffession then so should those things that help you succeed!

I still hear writers talk about them being too pricey and not worth the effort. wtf? As a counselor I was part of several professional organizations. Invaluable!

Ps, I love The Banditas!

Kayla said...

Hi Anna!!
I love the cover of Captive of Sin!! I've read a few of your books, and, of course they are all wonderful. I'm addicited to reading period, but I absolutly adore Highlanders and the link from the past (so exciting!). I can't wait to read your book, but, unfortunitly I will have to wait until I'm not broke (I just went on another book shopping spree). *sighs*. Books are a very expensive addicition! Hahaha anyways, just wanted to tell you how much I really enjoy your books Anna, and thank you for writing them. There is nothing better, for me, than picking up a great book and getting lost in another world, so thank you.

Kayla said...

Oops, forgot to add my email addy!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Sia, thanks so much for inviting me to visit here and for that gorgeous introduction! I love the fact that you belong to a group called the Writin' Wombats. How did you get that name? I've always been very fond of wombats although they can be very cranky! It's amazing what a world opens up to you when you join a writing organization, isn't it?

Anna Campbell said...

JT, my Bandita sister! Lovely to see you here. Actually the Banditas are sort of a writing organization to the power of a million. You girls have been such a wonderful, enriching influence on my life. So glad we all got together in the Golden Heart in 2006. I keep kicking myself that I was too stupid to join RWA until I'd been struggling for all those years. Seems absolutely crazy in hindsight!

Anna Campbell said...

Snort, Bronwyn! Is there money involved in this bribery and corruption? Because, I mean, seeing you on all my blogs isn't exactly incentive to pick you, ya know? I think you need to rethink this strategy, my dear! It was such a hoot to meet you at the RWA conference this year. Hope we get together at many more. SARA are so impressive - and the prizes you girls win speak for themselves. Laughed at the matchsticks. I'm only on the beginning of the long and winding promo road. Actually maybe you should keep stalking me - you can tell me if I'm still making sense. I suspect towards the end, I'll be blathering about pink elephants coming in through the louvres!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, thanks, Sia. The Banditas are way cool!

Actually I've had people tell me writing organizations are pricey too and I look at them with extreme shock. RWOz is about $80 a year for 12 newsletters, crit groups, internet courses, access to a conference, contests, an email loop, and more help and advice and support than you can poke a stick at. $80 a year works out to 22 cents a day or $1.54 a week (yeah, I just found my calculator and I intend to use it!). You can't even buy a coffee for $1.54! RWAmerica is $115 a year for Australians and I think $80 for Americans. Again, such great value!

Anna Campbell said...

Kayla, thanks for swinging by. I'm so glad you liked the earlier books! I hope you enjoy meeting the gorgeous Gideon! I agree with you about there's nothing better than being swept away into a different world by a great romance. And a really good historical does that better than anything, I think. Yeah, I know, that's just my opinion! ;-)

Tawny said...

Sia, you have the best guests :-)

Anna!!!! Its so cool to see you here. I'm anxiously waiting to read your book - its a deadline treat for me next month.

I do belong to a few groups that I know have made an incredible difference for me as a writer. RWA first and foremost. It opened so many doors and through this organization I've learned SOOO much. Writers at Play is a group of fabulous gals I've been hanging out with since I first started writing. The Romance Bandits is one of the most amazingly awesome groups I've ever encountered and has been one of the biggest inspirations I have. And then there's the Blaze Babes. I was so warmly welcomed there, and am always blown away to realize I'm in a group with some of my all-time favorite authors.

Advice? Never give up.

Christine Wells said...

Anna, lovely post and thank you, Sia, for having Anna with you today.

I must say also that Anna is a wonderful example of the 'pay it forward' tradition that makes organizations like RWA so strong. She has been an inspiration to many budding writers and long may it continue!

Now, as everyone knows, I'm not one to gloat (!) BUT I've read Captive of Sin in manuscript form and readers are in for such a treat with the handsome but tortured Gideon. He is truly a delicious hero and COS is such a romantic story. Sigh!

Helen said...

Hi Sia and Anna
What a great post and I am eternally grateful that you joined Romance Writers of Australia and never gave up you have given me hours of reading pleasure and I know there are many many more to come.
I am not a writer but an avid reader and I belong to The Australia Romance Readers Association and I love it, I have met so many people that love reading as much as I do and my TBR pile and must have list just grows everyday (but you can never have too many books).
Thank you again Anna for some wonderful adventures

Have Fun

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Hello, Sia and Anna!

I agree with Christine in that Anna has always been so generous in giving her time to writing organisations (and to me!!!).

Anna, I'm thrilled to see your star rise in publishing. I was so honoured to receive an acknowledgment in your first three books. I hope I'm lucky enough to return the favour some day!

Oh, and to answer your question, I'm in RWAmerica, RWAustralia, and I've joined their many email offshoot loops. No more lonely writer nights for me!

Anna Sugden said...

So true, Anna, my friend and fellow Bandita. So true. Hia Sia!

I joined the groups via an odd route. I had just moved over to the US after 9/11 and there was a huge backlog for me to get my work permit. Plus, they wanted me to recertify for teaching (I'm too old for that!). So, I was stuck with nothing to do.

Lovely hubby found a romance writing course on B& and suggested I give it a try, as I'd always dabbled in writing. So, I checked it out and it was part of the Gotham Writers Workshop, so I joined. That led me to eharlequin and RWA.

But, I still felt like I wasn't 'serious' enough to justify joining anything. In fact, when RWA had their conference in NY, I went to the signing and saw all those writers and envied them!

Then, a friend suggested going to the NJ conference, just for the heck of it. Luckily, one of my eharlequin pals, Janice Lynn was also going, so I arranged to meet up with her. I met her pals and joined From The Heart, an online chapter. From there, the bad girls formed Writers at Play *g*. The rest, as they say, is history.

Without writing organisations like eharlequin and RWA, I'd never have had the courage to take my writing seriously or to learn and learn and learn by benefiting from the advice of the best in the Biz.

And I wouldn't have the best group of friends ever in Writers at Play and the awesome Romance Bandits!

Christie Kelley said...

Great blog, Anna! I cannot recommend RWA enough to aspiring writers. Without the guidance and friends I made through my local and online chapters I never would have become published.

As far as advice to aspiring writers, Never Give Up! Once you do, it's all over. I had a critique partner and friend who read my unpubblished version of my first book (after reading 4 other manuscripts), and she told me not to give up on this book. And she was right.

Tonya Kappes said...

Thanks for the great interview. It's always uplifting to hear published writer's story! When I decided to take my writing to another level, I joined my local RWA chapter, an online chapter specific to my genre and became emmersed in all the writers around my area. I began going to local conference and this year I am going to a writers conference. I visited blogs and was invited to become a weekly blogger with a group of great writers.
Once I felt comfortable with my local chapter, I decided to hold an elected office and have really learned more than just the craft. Ultimately it will be my story that sales, but I love being around people who think like me and understand me!
Thanks again for being here!

Caren Crane said...

Sia, my darling, the Banditas love YOU! (As an aside, I met Sia in the romance writing contest that was sponsored by Pocket books a couple of years ago. Sia was one of the keepers from the contest! *g*)

Anna, you know how conference-mad I am. I love getting together with fellow writers and talking about the crazy business, the quirky nature of the writer's life and the constant challenges in the face of the years of rejection. Many, many years...

I would never have stayed in and kept trying but for my writer friends. I have great local writer friends and many long-distance ones, like the Romance Bandits and our lovely hostess, Sia!

For those just beginning to beat their heads against the writing wall, I recommend doing whatever feels right with the piles of rejections. Some people hoard them, some burn them. Personally, I usually toss them in the trash with the junk mail. Really, I don't need the reminder around to pull out when I'm depressed so I can become even more depressed. *g* There is no "right" way to write nor is there is right way to handle rejection. Do whatever works for you in each circumstance and bugger the rest!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Anna, I knew how to write before I joined both Romance Writers of Australia and then Romance Writers of America.
But I didn't know anything about agents and editors and marketing the novels I wrote. Everything I learned I learned from these marvelous organizations and from the friends I made through my membership of them
Where else do we meet people who "get" so well what we do?
I can't wait to read CAPTIVE OF SIN and I love the title of the novel that will follow it.

Kat Sheridan said...

OMG, ANNA!! This is total serendipity. Sia, you posted the perfect author at the JUST the perfect moment for me!!!

Anna, just two days ago I was checking out the Amazon romance chat forums, and there was a raging debate going on about Tempt the Devil and Claiming the Courtesan. Someone was having a hissy because it's too dark. My brain almost exploded with joy. I write dark romance (classic gothic)!!! My MS is set in Cornwall!! My hero is dark and tortured!!! My first and only thought was "I MUST get my hands on this Anna Campbell and study how she does it!!" And here you are, offering a chance for me to do that!!

Will it help my cause if I say that I'm also a member of the Writin' Wombats? (The first member, actually, right behind the group owner). It's a group at, formed by a group of writers after Pocket's First Chapter contest. At the time, I was simply an avid reader, awed by people who actually wrote novels. The name is because we were joking about how a book should be categorized, and someone suggested a book title of "Wombats in Spaaaaace!", which would be categorized as something like, paranomal science fiction, marsupials.

Those fabulous folks saw something in me I didn't know existed, that I'd never dreamed of, and encourgad (well, more like dared) me to write a novel. I haven't sold yet. And I've been horribly discouraged lately, thinking no one wanted dark, tortured, brooding castles on the cliff and their equally dark masters. Then I found you!! And now I'm uplifted again! Dark romance! Doing exceedingly well!! Oh JOY!!

Here's what I've found about romance writers--they are the most encouraging, supportive folks in the world, always paying it forward by offering crits, help, and a kick in the pants when it's needed. All unknowing, halfway across the world, you just helped one more aspiring author. Thank you.

Sia, I'm on the road today, so I'll take that coffee and lemon poppyseed muffin to go, thanks. And WHAT a timely blog! You'll never know.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Anna!

I'll echo Anna's comment about joining a writer's group. Not only do you learn about craft and the publishing biz, but you develop a network of people who understand what a rejection feels like and the absolute joy of getting a "good" rejection as opposed to a standard reply. Persistence and determination are the keys to publication, and it's a lot easier to be persistent when you have folks urging you forward. Great blog, Anna! Good Luck Sia with your writing endeavors!

Elle J Rossi said...

Hi Anna,

Great post! I joined RWA and my local chapter of WisRWA last year. I find both to be extremely helpful. More so with the local chapter since every month we have to give an update on our writing. There is no chance that I would go in there without having made some forward progress!

I am still in search of a critique partner/group and not entirely sure how to go about that. I've jotted down a couple of comments made today in hopes that I can connect with the right people.

My sisters are wonderful and supportive but they may be a little bias! Ya know? So, I'm on a mission and anyone who can offer up some suggestions to help me find/form a critique group, I'd very much appreciate it!

Ms. Sia,

The coffee is delicious as usual!


readwriteandedit said...

Anna, your persistence for so many years says much about you. How wonderful that you never gave up. But you would either have been miserable or come back to writing. If you're a writer, you have to write to be satisfied.

I can highly recommend writing organizations and conferences and small groups of friends who share interests. In addition to the need for practical advice, writers need to be able to talk about their passions with others of like mind and heart. Sometimes that shared passion is a spark to a new story. Or, as Kat pointed out, it can spark a dream that might have burned out.

Continued success to you, Anna. And Sia, another great chat. You do an awesome job Over Coffee.

(In full disclosure, I too am a Writin' Wombat.)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Morning (for me!) Anna! Hi Sia! Another Romance Bandit dropping off the chandelier-swing to say howdy. Great blog post and timely, as I have my coffee right here. I'd take a muffin though, thanks! :>

What a difference a professional organization makes! You're so right about that Anna. I see most agree, by the comments. I'll second Kat's comment too, that I've found Romance writers to be the most generous, pay-it-forward group. Really great and really admirable.

As to the dues, I admit that while some find the cost high at $85 US, my economic development professional association dues were $365 last year and I don't get near as much from it as I do from RWA. Heck, WRW is $35 and I get a ton from that too. I guess it's perspective, but the value for the money? To me? Outstanding!

And conference? Again, I know some find it onerous, but compared to econ dev conferences that start at $1945 US for the weeklong conference where, again, I don't get NEAR the return on investment, I'll take RWA. I know it's far more for y'all who come from Oz for it, but I'll bet it's still worth it! Besides, we so love having you Anna!

Advice for new writers? Best advice I got, don't stop writing because when you sell, the first thing your agent or editor will say is "what else do you have?" You need to "have" something with which to answer that question! Oh, and enter the Golden Heart only when your ready, but when you are, enter. Best thing I ever did. Ha!

Sia, we love it when you drop in on the Romance Bandits! Pop in again soon! Oh and lovely to see another Scot's clan on a site. I'm a Ferguson. :> Dulcius ex asperis (Sweeter out of difficulties)

Back to the cave for me...the deadline loometh...

~Sia McKye~ said...

Kat, I knew you'd love Anna. See, dark and tortured does sell!

Caren, and Jeanne, the last couple of months have been insane with repairs and remodeling. I've been remiss in my Banditas visits. Life is settling down some and I should be around a bit more.

Beth, thank you for the kind words. I've worked hard with Over Coffee and having the best guests.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Tawny, I do have the best guests, sometimes more than once, lol!

JEANNE: I like the point you made about professional dues and conference prices. When I was a counselor, the professional organizations I had to be a part of and conferences I had to attend were usually budgeted in yearly at $3000 and more. It's the price of being a professional. Being a success in that profession.

The benefit, in my experience, outweighs the price. The contacts made—the networking—were invaluable. The meetings I attended provided me with the latest trends, future trends, the “how to” business end of my profession.

If you're serious about a career in writing, then you must look at it as a profession. It’s creative, yes, but to sell those creative works, you have to know your market. How do you learn that being, as Anna put it, Robinson Caruso? Why waste time “reinventing the wheel”?

Journalists, scriptwriters, Ad writers, tech writers all belong to professional organizations. Agents do too. Writers should as well.

Annie West said...

Hi Sia! Hi Anna! Great to have you both online.

Just popping in very briefly but so glad I did. Anna, you've raised an important topic. Writing is such a lonely job and we spend so much time drawing on our internal resources (imagination, discipline, energy, technical ability etc) that we sometimes don't think about the support that's available beyond us.

I'm so glad to say that I've now got a network of friends and acquaintances who can provide information, support and encouragement and it makes a HUGE difference! It's a wonderful feeling to know you're part of a community of writers, even if you alone are responsible for the book you submit and the final career decisions you make.

Unlike you, Anna, I didn't finish a ms till after I joined RWAustralia. During that time I began to learn about submission processes, word count and all sorts of other things I hadn't realised I had to understand. What a lifesaver. Now, like you, many of my best friends are writers I've met along the way. Isn't it great? One of my dear friends is a fellow Harleqin author who lives on another continent. We'd emailed and spoken on the phone and only finally met in person on a recent overseas trip. What a meeting that was! I'm not sure if we stopped talking all weekend.

I just wanted to add for anyone who hasn't read Anna's books or is wondering whether to lash out and buy 'Captive of Sin' - I read it as a ms (Anna and I are critique buddies) and it's a faaaantastic story. One of my faves so far. Brilliant hero, a heroine who just won't give up, a touch of mystery, stacks of emotional tension and a story line that just keeps you turning the pages. Definitely not one to be missed. I know several people here who are going to get it for Christmas!


Anna Campbell said...

Tawny, that's fabulous advice!

Thanks so much for swinging by. And you keep writing - I want another wonderful Tawny Weber to read! I loved Feels Like the First Time! Actually I still pinch myself when I have a perfectly normal conversation with someone who was once just a name on my bookcase. And I still get embarrassingly squealy when I meet someone whose work I absolutely love. I think I frightened poor Linda Howard at the last conference - she's going to hide away from Aussies forever now!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Miss Christine, the check's in the mail ;-) Actually all jokes aside, thank you so much for your support for this manuscript. It's wonderful to have a champion like you!

And what a lovely compliment about pay it forward. I love the way these organizations really do set up to be mutual support structures.

Thanks so much for swinging by. And if a woman who can write a hero as delicious as Vane thinks Gideon's delicious, well, I'll just smile and accept the wonderful compliment!

Anna Campbell said...

Helen, ARRA is great, isn't it? I'm a member too and I had an absolute ball at the inaugural convention in Melbourne this year. Can't wait for the next one! I think an organization like this in Australia is well overdue. I know what you mean about the TBR pile! You should see mine - it's like the Himalayas! Thanks for swinging by, Helen, and saying such lovey things. I can't wait for you to meet Gideon!

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Vanessa, I still remember how cool it was when you started work with me at the Caption Centre and I discovered that you wrote romance. It was like having a sister in the dorm! And honestly, if I've been any help, you've more than repaid me with friendship and support and advice and laughter and all the rest of it! Hey, so glad you got a kick out of being mentioned in the acknowledgments!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Anna, I always find your story amazing - it's so different from the path so many of us took. And I'm so glad you chose that path otherwise I doubt I'd ever have met you and my life would be so much the poorer for that. Yeah, I know, I'm getting sentimental but it's TROOOOOOOO! I love the Writers at Play girls - I don't think it's coincidental that a couple of them are also Banditas. Actually another thing I love about the romance community is that people are so generous about sharing their friends. I've met such a lot of fabulous people as a result of knowing one fabulous person who just introduces me to a whole stack more!

Anna Campbell said...

Christie, your friend was so right - and the rest was history! Thanks for swinging by. Honestly, joining RWOz or some equivalent is the first piece of advice I give aspiring writers when they ask me. That and actually sit down and write the book! And I keep thinking how much poor my life would be without all my writing friends who I made through those organizations. I mean, of course you learn a lot of professional stuff, but it's the personal stuff that's the solid gold.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Tonya, sounds like I'm speaking to the converted when it comes to giving you my advice. Good on your for volunteering. Actually I firmly believe in karma - so you're getting points left, right and center for that. Friends I've known who volunteered ended up accessing a whole stack of opportunities that they wouldn't have otherwise - I mean, I know that's not why you do it but it's nice to know that the universe rewards people who stick their hands up to help, isn't it? I'm having a ball here! Sia, thanks again for having me as your guest! I hope your writers' conference is a blast, Tonya!

VA said...

Sia, I think we're sharing a psychic connection. I was just pondering Anna Campbell for the last month, when I got sidetracked by other issues. COS is on my to buy list when I toddle over to the bookstore again.

People to share and get advice from are a blessing. Still getting my nerve up and my wips finished before diving in RWA. I know it's counterproductive, but a necessity as I have other irons in the fire right now.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Miss Caren! Another Bandita zooming out of the lair to say hello. I didn't know about your link with Sia. I think we hooked up over Facebook, didn't we, Sia? I spend far too much time on FB!

Caren, I still smile to remember the first conference I met you at. Do you remember? We were on the same floor and you were sharing a room with some people who I'd only ever met as part of my bookcase before. And you dragged me in and made me so welcome and I spent a stack of time with you girls - including a really uproarious champagne party on the Saturday night after the awards. Oh, what fun that was! And you looked fabulous in your shalwar kameez. Is that how you spell it?

I think you've really hit the nail on the fact that your writing friends are the ones who will help you get through all those many years of rejection. It's tough to keep putting yourself out there like that - the cheer squad makes it bearable!

Love your bugger the rejections attitude! More power to your right arm, girlfriend! Mine are filed away somewhere in boxes, probably being eaten by cockroaches. A suitable fate!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Kandy, great to see you here. Isn't this a great blog? Sia's created a really warm atmosphere here.

I knew how to write before I joined RWA in that I could put a sentence together. I certainly needed to learn to write a really compelling romance. And part of that learning was joining Turramurra Romance Writers which is where I was lucky enough to meet you. And my writing friends certainly inspired me to be braver! I think you need to be brave in this business!

Excellent plug for my summer book next year, by the way ;-) It's called MY RECKLESS SURRENDER and at the moment is slated for a June release.

Helen Ginger said...

I'm not a Romance writer, but have friends who are and have been to a meeting. They are, indeed, the most helpful organization and the friendliest folks I've met.

Straight From Hel

Anna Campbell said...

Ha ha, Kat! There must have been strange vibrations in the universe when I did my post!

I'm a huge fan of classic gothic. I absolutely devoured Victoria Holt when I was growing up and one of the really fun things about writing Captive of Sin was using some of those tropes. You know, the brooding house on the clifftops, the moors, the wild sea, the smugglers' tunnels. Actually the house is my Manderley! I was a huge Rebecca fan when I was a teenager. Must have read it ten times. And it's a classic gothic!

I'm still intrigued why you came up with the wombat name! Love the story!

Hang in there. I know it's really tough when you feel like you're knocking on that door and nobody's answerin'. But with every word you write, you're getting better and closer to that publishing contract. And as I said, try and enjoy the journey as much as you can and wonderful friends are the best way to do that. Love the sound of your book - good luck! I like all sorts of romance - I certainly love a good romp when I read one. But I'm so happy that these days there's a variety of romance to choose from. I mean, yeah, I love chocolate mousse but occasionally I want roast beef too, if you know what I mean.

Hope to meet you at a writing conference one day. Maybe even Nashville! We can drool over dark, brooding heroes ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Donna, more great writing advice from one of the best in the business and one of my Bandita Buddies to boot! Yay, you! Actually once I finally joined RWA, I can't tell you how my heart just expanded when people GOT what I was doing, got the ups and downs of the writing life. People who don't write just don't, even if they try really hard. It's inevitable, really. I'm sure plumbers have a similar feeling when they meet other plumbers!

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Elle! You're right - Sia does make a killer cup of coffee! And I ate that apple Danish right up. Are there any more?

Good on you, joining your local chapter. Actually my experience with a critique partner is that we were friends first and so had a level of trust before we started working on our writing together. It takes a bit of time, though. Are there any people you really connect with at WisRWA (by the way, they ran the first American contest I ever placed in and I always hold them dear in my heart)? A bad crit group or partner can do more harm than good so be a bit cautious when you enter into the relationship. Perhaps do a few sessions on approval with no harm, no foul if it doesn't work out. Your work can be a fragile plant - and I've seen people give up writing after a few bad crit group experiences. I always think that's so sad!

I know a lot of great crit relationships were established through a contest Avon ran in 2006 called FanLit. It was a writing contest with a really active bulletin board and a lot of like-minded people hooked up. That's resulted in a lot of people being published including Tessa Dare and Courtney Milan, among others. So the pedigree is great. The Wombats got together through the Gather contest too!Maybe start hanging around a few bulletin boards if you can't find a similar contest opportunity. There's active bulletin boards at Romantic Times and Julia Quinn and Eloisa James and the Season is a new site for historical writers that's just started up a bulletin board.

As I said, though, dip your toe in the water before you dive in headfirst. Or at least that's my feeling!

Good luck with your writing!

Anna Campbell said...

Hello, Readwriteand edit! Thanks so much for popping by. Actually I did give up at one stage - I was about 17 years in and I decided it would never happen and it was about time I got a REAL job and forgot about my childhood dreams. I lasted about 18 months and it was AWFUL!!!! But giving up taught me a lot about why I wrote and made me determined to do things differently and better when I went back to it. And my new strategies eventually led me to a publishing contract so giving up was a GOOD thing in the long run.

You're right about discussion with writers sparking new ideas - or even a way to solve a problem in the manuscript we're working on. Nothing can beat it!

Thanks for the good wishes! Enjoy that coffee.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Miss Jeanne, another Bandita leaps onto the stage! Thanks for sharing your wisdom, you wonderful writer, you!

I'm always so impressed with the generosity of romance writers. I love the way the people who have established their careers are happy to offer themselves as mentors to people still coming up. I can't tell you how many writers I owe an enormous debt to - if I started mentioning them I'd be here all day. But a couple of wonderful Aussies really can't go without thanks - people like Anne Gracie and Annie West and Stephanie Laurens and Sara Bennett and Amy Andrews and Helen Bianchin and... Yep, I think even with the Aussies, I'm going to be here all day!

Jeanne, interesting comment about the dues. Actually I also think you get out of writing organizations what you're willing to put into them. If all you do is get the newsletter, it's still great value at $85. But if you throw in everything else that a writing organization offers, you're really heading for the MasterCard priceless category! Definitely cheap at $85!

Clearly coming to the RWA conference every year from Australia is an expensive business. But well worth it - and it's a chance for me to experience the U.S. market firsthand which again is priceless for someone outside the country. Apart from which, I couldn't live without seeing my Banditas and my other writing friends! Conference is hard work but it's also a big party!

Great advice, Jeanne. Would you believe I got caught in this bind? When I wrote Claiming the Courtesan, it was a major departure for me. So in spite of having all those books under the bed, none of them fitted the new me. Sigh! I definitely think if you're placing in other contests and you've finished the book and you're coming close to publication standard, the Golden Heart is the contest for you. Personally, I don't think it's a contest for beginners. For a start, the standard is astronomically high. Also it's expensive and there's no feedback. Hone your skills on smaller contests and make your way up to the Golden Heart. But when you're read - seize that opportunity and go for it!

Good luck in the cave and thanks for peeping out to talk to us!

Anna Campbell said...

Sia, seconding Jeanne's and Caren's (well, thirding I suppose!) encouragement to come back to the Bandits! We love seeing you there.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Anna, we did meet through FB, (what a fortuitous day)back when TEMPT THE DEVIL (yum) was first starting to gear up for the American market. Through you I got involved with the Banditas and *met* a couple of special people like Annie and Tawny. Let's see, Christie and Christine, and a few others. Only the best, lol!

Wombats can be sweet, but oh yes, they can be tenacious and cranky too. It fits the group.

Caren and I do go back a few years. It's a mutual admiration.

I'm planning on Nashville this year, so here's hoping I will meet up with more *from* my bookshelf, lol!

Hey Viv, good to see you pop in. I think you'll enjoy COS.

Sharon Archer said...

Hi Anna and Sia
I'm so late to this party but I'd like to say, YES, to all your wonderful advice about joining romance writing organisations, Anna! And for really shy fringe-dwellers like I used to be, I'll go a step further and say - join AND really leap in and get involved! There are fabulous friends just waiting for you to meet them.

I know what I'm talking about - I met one of my best friends at an RWA conference. Yes, that would be you, Ms Campbell! ;)

I love the kilt-wearing hunk, Sia! Must be my Scottish ancestry!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Sharon, I love my Scots. I collect pics when I can find them.

Someone else mentioned my Clan Badge. What can I say, I'm Celtic, lolol!

Kat Sheridan said...

Anna, anyone who knows me knows Rebecca is my all time favorite novel, and I adore Victoria Holt! Looks like you have a brand new fan! Hope to run into you some day (I'll be the squealing fangirl!

mariska said...

Hi Anna,
i'm a totally Book Eater. So be in where ever site that has you in it, and of course your book giveaway, it's my priority as a reader :)
cuniquas at gmail dot com

jo robertson said...

Hi, Anna! I've read all of your books, and they just get better and better. Can't wait for Captive of Sin's release this month.

Writing is such an extraordinary profession. It's largely a job completed alone, but never in a vacuum.

Anonymous said...

Anna, So many of us think we know how to play the publishing game, but much of getting published and then getting recognized is out of our hands. The truth of the matter is that, as you say, about all we can control is how well we write. And how long we persevere.

Elle J Rossi said...


Thanks so much for the great advice. You are absolutely right! I really want to take my time and make sure it's someone or a group I click with.


Anna Campbell said...

Hi Annie! I know you've been a very popular guest with Sia.

You're so right about writers having to dredge so much out of their guts. Having a great outside support group is absolutely essential for our mental health!

Annie, I think the fact that you were smart enough to join RWA so early in your career is one of the reasons it took you considerably less time than 27 years to publish! That and amazing talent, of course!

Hey, cool about COS appearing in a few stockings near you at Christmas. I hope Santa doesn't get tied up reading it - I'd hate him to muck up his schedule ;-) Seriously, thank you so much for those lovely compliments!

Anna Campbell said...

Sia, here's hoping for Nashville!

Anna Campbell said...

Sharon, don't pretend it's Scottish ancestry that makes you admire a man in a kilt! Sheesh, next you'll be telling me it's purely for research purposes! I met so many wonderful people through RWOz and you're one, Miss Archer! And I've always admired how you volunteer to help out! Truly, you're an example to all of us!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Kat, sounds like we'll have HEAPS to talk about when we meet! Hope it's soon. So glad you liked the blog and that it hit the right note for you on the right day. It's great when that happens sometimes, isn't it?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Mariska, thank you so much! And thank you for being such a great supporter of my blog tour! I'm going to be all over the shop in the next month or so - I'll keep posting on Facebook. I hope I get to see you again!

Anna Campbell said...

Jo, what a fantastic way to put it - a job you do alone but not in a vacuum. Exactly. Actually one of the things that's odd about this job is it's either full-on solitude or full-on out there promoting. At least it is these days. Thank you for those lovely words about the books!

Anna Campbell said...

Pat, lovely to see you! Actually I'm a Virgo so I tend to want to control things but seirously that will drive you completely mad when you're a writer. As you say, there's so little that's actually within your control!

Anna Campbell said...

Elle, good luck! I hope to meet you at a romance writing conference one day!

Other Lisa said...

Wow, I totally missed a great conversation here!

I'm not a romance writer, but I am a Writin' Wombat. Er, I am Queen Wombat, actually (it was an accident! I swear!). The Wombats and my little writing group (the fabulous Lurking Novelists) were what got me through a very tough time, working on a book that got me my wonderful agent and eventually sold. I'm not really that much of a sharer in many ways, but I don't know how I would have managed the whole journey without my writing friends.

Anna Campbell said...

Other Lisa (great name!), great to meet you. Or perhaps I should call you Her Majesty! Actually I don't think the "seek out your writing sisters" advice is really that different, whatever you write. Although I think romance writers really emphasize this element of the writing journey. Congratulations on selling your book!

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Sia and Wombats and everyone, thanks for a fabulous day here over coffee. No wonder I can't sleep - I had WAAAAAY too much caffeine today ;-)

Don't forget to check back to see who won the signed copy of CAPTIVE OF SIN! Good luck!

SueO said...

What an interesting (and convincing) article about the moment of conversion and blossoming! Thanks, Anna!

I do have a question, if I may ask it. You say you wrote for 27 years; were you trying to get published all those years? I've been writing since I was 12 (er...yeah, I'm 29. That's it. Uhmm...29 minus 12 plus...can I borrow your calculator? Thanks.) but for only 2 of these past 33 years have I seriously considered submitting anything. And an obvious statement is just because you join the RWA or attend conferences doesn't guarantee you'll find an agent/editor/publisher/audience/big fat check/little fuzzy check. Part of it does seem to be intent and drive. Of course, you're an excellent writer, so we won't even go into talent. If you don't have the combination of drive, belief and talent, eighty-five dollar when your income is zilch is an awful lot of greenbacks to explain to a significant other when he/she glances over the checkbook to see how things are going.

No doubt Sia rolls her eyes when she sees I've left a comment, since I tend to leave comments that butt heads with people or concepts. It's that bitter 29-year-old in me, no doubt trying to get out!

Thanks for the blog entry. I enjoyed it as much as those I've read on your own blog. Good luck with Captive of Sin!