Monday, February 23

Good times

Photo by Matt Shouse
This morning, I read a review on Back to McGuffey’s (why do I do that to myself?) that said it wasn’t the worst book the reviewer had ever read. Ouch. This week, I got a painful rejection. Ouch. It’s snowing and while it’s very pretty, the truth is I’m over it. Ouch. While I’m at it, I tripped on my back porch step the other day and landed on my knee. Ouch, ouch, ouch!

Anyone feel sorry for me yet? No? Oh, good, because there’s absolutely no reason to.

Also this week, I spoke on characterization to a writers' group at Barnes & Noble in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I am by no means a public speaker, but I love writing, I love characterization, and I love bookstores. I also love coffee shop coffee, and the barista was less than ten feet from me. I like motels (because I don’t have to make the bed) and I spent the night in a nice one with good wi-fi and all-the-time coffee and tea.

There is no way I’m going to make sense in this post, is there? Didn’t think so. But let me keep trying.

The group I spoke to was wonderful. They were engaged, respectful, and friendly. Their chosen
Photo by Matt Shouse
genres ran the gamut from poetry to fantasy to non-fiction freelancing to romance. Not one time during the evening did I hear anyone denigrate a category of writing that someone else loved. Not one time did I hear or sense discomfort between indie and trad and hybrid. Author Kyra Jacobs facilitates the group and even though we’ve “known” each other for a long time, it was the first time we’d met and what fun it was. Fellow writer Cathy Shouse came and her son Matt Shouse took pictures. He didn’t realize he was supposed to make me look 29 and thin, but it was nice of him to come.

To get to the making-sense part...I never thought my life would be like this. That anyone I wasn’t related to would ever want to hear what I had to say. That staying in a motel would be not a big deal. That I would use the word “barista” without giving it a second thought. That I would have written books that people actually reviewed. That I would have the writer friends I have and share the conversations I get to share.

Oh, the good times. They so far outdistance the ouches that it's not even a contest. 


And now for the advice. You knew you wouldn’t escape, didn’t you? It’s about writers’ groups. Or quilting groups. Or just an out-to-lunch-bunch group. They are wonderful things. Being introverted is pretty much the nature of the beast when it comes to writers, but when we’re together, the intro part extras all over the place. When you’re with a group—whichever one—it doesn’t make you exclusive or snooty or any of those things; what it makes you is comfortable. You might not like everybody—that’s fine; no one’s asking you to move in together. You might hate what some of the people do. That’s fine, too—all you have to do is respect their love for it. But it’s still comfortable. It’s belonging. It’s learning. So give it a try. I hope it’s fun.

35 comments:

  1. Thanks for a fun evening, Liz! Most of all, thanks for writing your stories and for persisting despite the "ouches." What you do matters!

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    1. Thanks, Cathy, and thanks again for coming. I hope it was a nice birthday!

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  2. I love writer groups, and I loved Back to McGuffey's.

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    1. Thanks, Jill. Looking forward to April!

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  3. I love my writers' group. Formerly the Maine chapter of RWA, we seceded, reorganized, and gained new members. The monthly dose of friendship, camaraderie and angst-sharing is just what I need. I'm also in a critique group with three fellow romance authors, and their help and advice is invaluable. Plus, we meet in a coffee shop - bonus!

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  4. That reviewer must have been nuts. I loved Back to Mcguffey's. Identify with all the 'ouches'!

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  5. I've now been a part of 3 writer's groups: One in Martinsville, before we moved; one here, which is limping along (we finally followed through on a project and our antho released two weeks ago). I'm the only romance writer and the one with a publisher, so there's some friction from the others who are total 'indie only' and 'write for themselves, not the $$'. Not that I'm knocking that, but I'm all about marketing, ha ha! Finally, I've been participating more with a group out of Evansville, who are more organized, and maybe this is an ego thing, but since I've got 15 published books, they all want to pick my brain and I feel more valued with this one. Does that make sense? With my local one, I was in it 3 years before my books 'took off', so maybe they were tired (jealous??) of the 2011-13 'submit-edit-release' merry-go-round?

    I love being with people who share my interest of reading and writing, and am very supportive of others who dream of seeing their work published, and I'm so glad I got to 'meet' you online several years ago!! I guess I've actually been part of 4, since I 'met' you on the Indiana authors chat loop, which ultimately led to where I am today:)

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    1. Hi, Molly. I'm so glad you came! I hope we get to do the in-person thing one day, too!

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  6. Liz. Remember how many of today's classics were rejected, or badly reviewed. Victoria liked BACK TO MCGUFFY'S as she's the most exacting woman I know. You're a really good writer - insightful and funny and always worth the shelf or e-book price! Always. The trouble for all of us is that the world's full of good writers. But we get to hang out with them and learn stuff and drink coffee (tea, in my case) and be part of the struggling sisterhood (mostly) trying to entertain and educate each other. That's so cool.

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    1. It is cool, isn't it, Muriel. I love being part of that particular sisterhood--and of the Heartwarming one itself. What a great bunch of women!

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  7. What a wonderful post, Liz! It's very telling that your two negative experiences were essentially impersonal and your big positive experience was connecting with others face to face. I miss my writer's group in Minnesota and haven't found one in Carmel. The population here is so much smaller, I'm not sure there is a compatible group. For now I have to settle for online writing friends. Thanks for being one of them!

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    1. I hope you find a new in-person group, Alison, though I love how well we can get to know each other online. And isn't if funny that bad review are, as you said, essentially impersonal, yet some of us continue to take them so personally even after we know better! :-)

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  8. Liz, dang I wish I would have known you were going to be in Ft. Wayne. I would have driven to see you. I love all your books. They are always pre-ordered for my Kindle as soon as I know they are available. If you ever come to Indianapolis to speak please let us know. I would love to meet you in person. (No I am not a stalker just a fan!). I love my craft and quilt groups. Have not found a writers group yet. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Carolyn! The mini-conference will be in Indianapolis in April. I'll be down there and it looks like a great time, too. If you'll email IRWAVicePresident@gmail.com, you'll get the information. Hope to see you there!

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  9. Great post, Liz, and yes, the ouches happen all too frequently, but so do all the good things, so maybe it all evens out? McGuffey's was a fabulous book, so ignore that review and yes a million times to writerly camaraderie being so very important! We need each other!

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  10. Liz, wonderful, inspiring post for me--thank you! I am new to this business and often feel overwhelmed. I love to hear other writer's experiences--good and bad. And I think you're right--the bad makes us appreciate the good! I live very rural and my closest local RWA group is more than an hour away, but I'm feeling like I need to attend and make some connections!

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    1. Oh, Carol, you're who I've always been. I, too, live very rural (which I love and would not change) and my chapter is 80-some miles distant, but the connections really are important--especially if things aren't going so well. :-(

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  11. Great post, Liz, never seems to be enough time for everything. But for some things, you need to make time. I think you nailed it!

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    1. Thanks, Hebby. It's so much easier with an empty nest to make time for things. It definitely brings home to the heart how precious every chapter of life is.

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  12. Thanks Liz, I loved the post. I'm sorry about the ouches, but I think you're right the positives of writing outweighs the negatives.

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  13. It's the coldest February 23rd on record for the Greater Toronto Area, and yet you made me smile and feel warm! I feel privileged to be part of the Harlequin Heartwarming authors' group with you, Liz, and I look forward to the pleasure of meeting you in person!

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  14. (You may end up with two comments from me! It doesn't look like the first one took.) Anyway...we all have our "ouch" moments. It's part of life. I love my writing group and quilting group buddies -- they are a source of wonderful moral support at times, and they also keep me humble at times (oh, okay, all the time)!

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    1. (I knew this would happen...heavy sigh.) And you are a terrific writer, too...and I loved the post.

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    2. Thanks so much, Valley. I think having groups we can be with sometimes keeps us balanced--or at least less obsessive!

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  15. I don't know what I'd do without some of my support groups. They get us through those tough times and they celebrate the good with us as well. Great post, Liz. I'm going to cross my fingers that you find some more reasons to shout hooray rather than ouch real soon!

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    1. Oh, thanks, Amy, and thanks for coming by. I've definitely been blessed with a lot of hoorays! :-)

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  16. Like everyone else, I find my writers' groups invaluable, not only for knowledge but for friendship and support. Loved the post and on those ouches!

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    1. Thanks, Barb--I love my writer friends!

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  17. I miss having a local writer's group. I love my Wrangler buds, but I do miss having a couple of townies to go to.

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