18 January 2013

Writing Fora

Neither flora nor fauna, although 'forums' is an acceptable alternative - Let's talk about writer's groups today.

Some of you may know this story, but the day I started writing, I sat down and scribbled out my opening...and it reeked. Just awful. So I decided that even though I'd been a journalist and was already experienced at writing all kinds of articles, I knew diddly squat about writing fiction.

Even back then, I knew how to wield my Google-fu, so I typed in "how to write a romance novel."

What? Being direct works on Google.

One of the first results to pop up linked to e-Harlequin. Now, I knew even then that I didn't write what HQ (or Silhouette, which was still around at the time) really wanted, but I also knew that if anyone knew romance, it was Harlequin.

I lived in England at the time, and a group of us formed in the UK who were all up in the morning, 5 hours before NY even stirred from its bed. We were the Brit Pack and we all learned together. We were guided by women who were Mills & Boon veterans and had been in the business since Betty Neels was in her hey-day and they were an invaluable source of information. The one thing I learned from them that I'll never forget is that in some ways, genre means nothing. Good writing is ALWAYS good writing.

eHq worked beautifully for me until I published with...not Hq. I'd entered a phase of my career where I had a good handle on the mechanics, but I needed help on the business end. Since Harlequin wasn't my target, I needed different information.

Right about that time, I discovered a group that had recently formed called Romance Divas. Women and men who wrote all kinds of romance, and aimed at all kinds of publishers, came together to talk about writing craft, marketing, and the business end of things, as well as get to know each other on a personal level.

Romance Divas is an invaluable resource for me, both personally and professionally. I get to interact with people who are staring in terror at the blinking cursor for the first time, as well as multi-published, award-winning authors...who are doing the same thing some days! We host an annual online writing conference that has drawn amazing talent from all facets of writing. 

Through the years, RD has grown by leaps and bounds and sometimes, it's nice to find smaller groups where it's easier to connect.

Cafemom is a massive website with content geared for moms in general, but within the site, there are hundreds of smaller groups - some with a dozen members, some with hundreds - and a handful of them are geared to writing. Most are of the share and critique variety, but my favorite is the Author's Den, run by women's fiction author Ellen Meister. The Author's Den focuses on the querying, submitting and business end of writing and has proven to be a great resource.

Beyond the wide world of the interwebz, I belong to my local RWA chapter, and a smaller "plotting" group within that. I say "plotting" because half of us plot and half of us don't. Actual face to face time is incredibly valuable for me because I just don't get out much! This way, two to three times a month, I put on real pants instead of stretchy ones, do my hair and makeup, and go talk to other humans who share my interests and goals. They're a great group of people who have really helped motivate me.

However, aside from gleaning information from people who have experience and talents that I absorb like a greedy little sponge, I've also found that these various groups give me the opportunity to pay it forward. As others taught me, now I can teach other writers new to the craft, or new to the business. I'll always be grateful for the lessons I've learned along the way, and the different venues I've explored to learn those lessons.

What are your favorite writing fora?

~~ Sela Carsen
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