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.
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I spent many, many years unpublished.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:
- Romance Writers of Australia
- Romance Writers of America
- Romance Writers of New Zealand
- Romantic Novelists’ Association (Great Britain)
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!