Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Who Do You Owe?

Who Do You Owe ?

One of the wildest real rides I ever had was in a New York City taxi from JFK Airport to downtown New York the year I did the Fulbright Auditions. In spite of seeing my life pass before my eyes several times, I was really polite. While I was thinking “Thank you, Jesus! I’ll never take a taxi in this town again!” – I actually said “What do I owe you, sir?” It isn't often I pay somebody fifty bucks to scare the life out of me.

My life has been a wild ride over the last three years or so. My life as a writer, I mean. And I got to thinking about the people along the way who made this wild ride possible. I've stood on the shoulders of giants. And they've only scared me every now and then.

I have been really lucky the last three years. It all started with a couple of chance meetings at readers’ luncheons – one in Wetumpka and one in Birmingham. At the first one I met Dianna Love-Snell. We started talking about writing and how I had always wanted to be a writer, but never really got around to it. Dianna was just so enthusiastic and inspiring. She made me start to think about the possibilities I’d put aside years ago. She made me begin to believe in a very old dream again.
The second luncheon was my first experience with Southern Magic. I met Karen Hawkins – a fun, vivacious smart lady who instead of asking why I wanted to write, asked me why I didn’t. She asked tough questions and inspired me to quit talking and start writing.

Then Tammy Lynn, former owner of The Book Basket, told me about an online writing contest sponsored by Avon Publishing. I decided to give it a shot and I’m so glad I did. I met a lot of great writers who were just like me – burning to write and not quite sure if they had the chops and persistence to try it. This event opened a whole new world to me. I had no idea there was an organization like RWA out there or that it even had a chapter as close to me as Birmingham. I owe my fellow Avon FanLit alums so much! And I actually got feedback from some of my very favorite authors! ME! Teresa Medeiros and Victoria Alexander have no idea how much their words meant to me. I owe them too.

I met my first critique partner and one of my mentors through FanLit. Sherry Leddington lives in Phoenix Arizona and we have been swapping pages for three years now. She has become more than a critique partner. She’s also a friend. I joined a group of fellow FanLit writers in a critique group – Erin, Gillian, Terry Jo and Marianne and they have made a real difference in my writing and my ability to stick to this writing gig even when it gets hard.
I also met one of my mentors, Anna Campbell, through FanLit. Anna has advised, encouraged and supported me every step of the way. I owe her more than I can say for her wisdom, friendship, insight and her testament to persistence. She wrote for thirteen years before she was published.

I owe my other mentor, Diane Gaston, for never failing to be excited about my victories along the way and for holding my hand via the telephone when I had NO CLUE what to do next. She critiqued my first Golden Heart manuscript and more important she has helped me to make smart decisions about the practical side of this business.
I owe my Southern Magic sisters for their friendship and cheer leading. For all of the knowledge and love or romance they have shared with me. I am truly proud to be a member of this talented and classy group.

There are online communities to whom I owe much – the Risky Regencies, the History Hoydens, the Romance Bandits, the Wet Noodle Posse, the Goddess Blogs, the Writing Sluts, The Beau Monde and the Kiss of Death chapters of RWA. I owe RWA for being a source of information and support along this journey. I owe the 2008 Golden Heart Finalists – the Pixie Chicks – for being some of the classiest, most talented and most giving women it has been my privilege to know.

I owe my buddy, Gaill Wills, for being my biggest cheerleader and forcing me to enter the FanLit event with stuff I called “crap.” She’ll never let me live it down that the chapter I called the “worst crap I have ever written” ended up winning round three and was published in the e-novella These Wicked Games. I owe you big time, Gaill.

Last, but not least, I owe my critique partner, Erin, just about everything. She has been a pillar of strength and a pain in my butt. She is the smartest, most savvy and brutally honest reader my work could ever hope to have. She won’t let me get away with ANYTHING and she will stick to her guns no matter how stubborn I am. She pulls no punches and takes no prisoners. Thank God! Everything I write is better because she has looked it over with her hyper-critical, no nonsense, the romance is everything eye. Thanks, sister. I owe you. BIG TIME!

So, who do you owe? Who are the people who helped you on your writing journey? Who are the people who are still helping you and what have they done to make you a better writer?


C.J. Redwine said...

Nice list. :) Here's mine:

1. My husband for believing in my dream so much, he suggested I change my work schedule so I could have all day to write.

2. Author Celeste Bradley who met me in a restaurant when I was only 15 chapters into my first ms and generously offered to critique it. Her invaluable advice set me on the path to publication.

3. My critique partners and friends, K.B. Wagers and Keli Gwyn with some additional input from Kris Kennedy and Courtney Milan, who've provided excellent brainstorming sessions, fantastic feedback, and constant support.

4. My fellow Pixie sister Kay Cassidy for introducing me to her agent (now my agent) Holly Root.

5. Agents Barbara Poelle and Janet Reid for believing Holly and I would be such a great fit that they harangued her daily until she read my stuff.

6. The Pixie Chicks. Always.


Keli Gwyn said...


Wow! What a wonderful group you've had standing behind you. I can see why you're so grateful.

Here's mine:

•My husband and daughter who never say "if you're published," but "when."

•My non-writer friends who have encouraged me to follow my dream.

•My friend and life coach Karin Heyden who helped me find the courage to write that first chapter and declare myself a writer.

•The many contest judges who've read my work and offered valuable feedback.

•My writing friends: my critique partners Anne Barton, CJ Redwine and Melanie Dickerson; the Pixie Chicks; my blog guests and visitors at Romance Writers on the Journey; my chapters mates at the Sacramento Valley Rose; and others too numerous to mention.

Louisa Cornell said...

Hey, CJ !

Wow, Celeste Bradley! How cool is that? And what a great hubby to suggest you change your work schedule so you could write! That's a man who believes in you!

Aren't the Pixie Chicks the best!

Louisa Cornell said...

Hi Keli!

I really have been so fortunate in the people who have helped me out.

I need to thank all those contest judges too. They always make me THINK about what I have written.

And we are all grateful to you for your wonderful blog Romance Writers on the Journey !

Theresa Ragan said...

Gosh, Louisa, what a great post! Inspiring and you gave me chills. You are an amazing writer!

My husband and kids would have to go on top of the list because they believe in me even when I don't.

Then there are my old CP partners, Susan Crosby, Susan Grant, Caroline Fyffe and Brenda Novak. Big inspiration and lots of helpful hints. Lots of laughs, too.

I have to give props to the Wet Noodle Posse and the Pixie chicks just for being there and understanding what writers go through.

Last would be my sister Cathy who has read every single word I have ever written and has pumped me up when I needed it most!

Great idea, Louisa. Fun post!

Louisa Cornell said...

Thanks, Theresa ! Isn't it great to have people in your life who believe in you when you don't? Those are the people who keep you going when you want to pack it in and that is a great gift.

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Louisa, that's some stellar company you've put me in there. And I thought we were just shooting the breeze! ;-) Congratulations on all your success - and I'm sure there's much more to come. Thank goodness you met those people who got you to put pen to paper, that's all I'm sayin'! Oh, and a shout out on behalf of the Banditas too! We love you there! You're an essential part of the lair!

Trish Milburn said...

You are so right about writers owing a lot of people who help them along the path to getting published -- those who give advice, critiques, friendships, a shoulder to cry on, business savvy, etc.

Thanks for the mentions of the Romance Bandits and the Wet Noodle Posse. I'm very fortunate to be a part of both wonderful groups.

Louisa Cornell said...

Ah La Campbell! We DO shoot the breeze, but all that shooting has definitely helped me out on a daily basis as I pursue my dreams. And I just couldn't get through the day without a visit to the Lair!

Louisa Cornell said...

You are so right, Trish. Everyone talks about writing being a solitary pursuit and many times it is, but I don't think any of us would stick with it without the help of all those people on the journey with us. That's what I love about the Posse and the Bandits - they're always willing to listen and to lend a helping hand.

Joan said...

What a wonderful post,Louisa!

I owe so many people. First and foremost my Mom who instilled the love of the written word in me.

Then Renee Halverson w/a Renee Ryan. First mentor. First writing friend, first teacher.

TL Gray who picked up where Renee left off. Encourages, pushes (and pushes and pushes) me to be better.

My other critque partners Lisa and Karen.

The Banditas. There aren't enough words to say how much I owe them!

Oh, and Trish is a member of two of the online communities? Hmmmm..can we play Six Degrees to Trish Milburn? LOL

Louisa Cornell said...

Hello, Joan!

Six Degrees of Trish Milburn sounds like fun!

My Mom is very much like yours. She taught me to read and more important she taught me to LOVE the written word. She's kept everything I wrote for school and even kept my first novel (written at age 9 and HORRIBLE.)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Louisa...er Pam...well you know. We LOVE you over on the Bandit Blog, too! And honey, it was a great honor meeting you last year at Nationals!

jo robertson said...

Hi, Louisa, what a nice tribute to the people who've helped you along your path to writing.

The Romance Bandits have been a strength to me too, as well as my family and friends who always believed more than I could that I could succeed.

Yep, standing on the shoulders of giants!

Louisa Cornell said...

Hey Suzanne! I love the Banditas too! The Lair is the best place in the world to celebrate victories, defeats and all points in between. And it was so much fun to meet you and the other Banditas in San Francisco. Can't wait to see y'all in DC!

Louisa Cornell said...

Jo Mama!

Aren't the Banditas just the best. I have been so fortunate in the people I have met on this journey, starting with the ladies of Southern Magic who really got me started on this journey with their warmth, friendship and support.

The great thing about this business is that more often than not the "giants" of the romance writing world are some of the sweetest and most giving people you'll ever meet.

Christine said...

1. My husband and daughter for believing in my dream.
2. My best friends in the world, my first readers (bless them), who liked my first book ever written and encouraged me to go on.
3. My best friend in Holland who always tells me I will get there one day.
4. My first critique partners, Sharon and Karen, for their passion and for forcing me to keep writing and revising even when I want to give up or toss it into a fire.
5. All the contest judges, the RWA chapters I just joined, the cool blogs with invaluable insight into this crazy life and craft.
6. The teachers of the many on-line courses I've taken who've helped me improve my craft and encouraged me along the way.

Tawny said...

Wow, Louisa! What an inspiring list. I've definitely been blessed to have a huge number of people that I owe and now I want to write them all thank you note LOL. How wonderful that the Romance Bandits are included -thank you so much. I'm honored to think we've had a good effect on people and on the industry.

Louisa Cornell said...

Great list, Christine! It's so great to have family behind you. And you are definitely gathering a great group of people behind you to help you on your way!

Louisa Cornell said...

Hey Tawny! I know what you mean about the thank you notes! I am still working on some of mine from the contests I've entered.

The Romance Bandits are a force to be reckoned with and they have definitely influenced many new writers, myself included!

Not to mention the release parties are the complete extent of my social life since I started writing!

Tawny said...

Not to mention the release parties are the complete extent of my social life since I started writing!

LOL Louisa!!! Then April should be fun. I think we have a few coming up ;-)

Louisa Cornell said...

YAY ! My social calendar is so empty you can hear this horrible echoing noise every time I open it!

Amanda McCabe said...

Great post, Louisa! I could never, ever have stuck with writing (or with the challenges of keeping on with writing) without the great friends I've made along the way. :)

Nancy said...

Hi, Louisa. What a great list!

Who do I owe? Way more people than I can count, from anonymous contest judges who wrote encouraging comments to published authors who provided mentoring and critiques to fellow unpublished authors who gave useful critiques, encouragement, and, when needed, kicks in the pants.

Even if I stick to the people whose names I do know, it's a long list, though, and I'd rather not start it than risk omitting anyone.

Day in and day out, I get fuel in the gas tank from the Romance Bandits and our buddies, like you.

My husband told me a while back that we needed to arrange our lives so I could write more because he wanted me to have a real shot at my dream. That was a huge boost.

BTW, congratulations on finaling again in the GH!

Louisa Cornell said...

I know exactly what you mean, Amanda! I've made so many great friends since I started this journey and every kind word, every 'you can do it' has kept me going.

Louisa Cornell said...

What a great hubby, Nancy! He's a keeper!

Thanks for the congrats. I couldn't have done it without all of the people I listed and so many more I am sure I missed.

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, we at Romance Bandits owe you, girl! You are the life of many of our parties. *g*

Personally, I owe HUGE debts of gratitude to my best writer buddies: Sabrina Jeffries, Liz Carlyle, Claudia Dain and Deb Marlowe. I would owe them even more if I wrote historicals rather than contemporaries. =:-0

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Wow, Louisa, great post! I am late, darn it, but if I were to think of everyone I owed, it'd be a long, long list for sure!

Here's an off the cuff version:

1. Husband. He has always, always believed and never ever begrudged me the time I've spent writing or the years I haven't worked in order to pursue this dream. And I didn't have the excuse of staying home with the kids -- I just stayed home and deprived us of another income in pursuit of the dream. He's my biggest fan and biggest cheerleader and I wouldn't be here without him.

2. RWA for sure. What would I have done had I not found RWA and all the ladies who've helped and inspired me?

3. My first critique partner, Trish, who loved my work from the beginning. We're still friends, though we don't critique anymore. And Tanya, another former critique partner, as well as Eve, a multi-talented woman who reads my work in a pinch now.

4. Linda Howard, Beverly Barton, and Linda Winstead Jones for the sheer inspiration of being who they are and being so giving.

5. The Pixie Chicks!!

6. My mom for always encouraging me to read and telling me I could do anything I wanted to do.

7. My editor, who saw something in my writing and coached me into a selling manuscript. She's a valuable asset, and she loves what I write. I'm still tickled to have that. And amazed.

8. My friends in Heart of Dixie and Southern Magic who inspire and challenge me, and who make me laugh and get it when I talk about my characters. :)

I know I'm leaving people out, but that's a quick list for now. :)

Louisa Cornell said...

Right back at you, Caren! You and the rest of the Banditas keep me sane! (or as sane as I am going to get!)And you keep some stellar company there !

Louisa Cornell said...

Great list, Lynn! And what a terrific hubby. I'm sure he didn't feel deprived. If you are doing what you love then you are happy and a happy wife beats an unhappy one every time. I think your hubby is one smart cookie.

Aren't the Southern Magic gals the best! So inspiring and classy and always willing to help a fellow writer.

M.V.Freeman said...

I'm always late to blogs...but I loved this one.

Who do I owe? Just about everyone.

-My husband, wow, he even cleaned the house Sat so I could finish a chpater!

-Jen, bar none, the only reason I started and am still writing!

-Betty, who got me to HOD and southern magic!

-Carla and Christy--Encouraging, and welcoming! And always a firm "WRITE" if you lag...:)

-Danniele, Kira, Marilyn, Kim, Andrea...the Play Friends! :) They taught me the "fun" of it!

-Lynn Raye Harris (Heck, how many versions of that dreadful synopsis did you review? LOL)

-Kathy Bone, Cathy Stewart, Sherry Werth, Misty, Barb, Rhonda...yes the stories that we started...

RWA, Southern Magic, Heart of Dixie...

The Mavens! :)

To friends far and wide that I have never met who write.

And to my fellow Bloggers, who inspire, challange, and in whom I have the greatest respect.

Ok. Ok. I could go on. You opened up a can of worms...there are SO many people I owe!!!

Louisa Cornell said...

Wow M.V. I think you've covered it. He cleaned the house?? Does he have a brother or a clone? What a great guy!

Isn't it great to look back down the road that got you this far and see all the people who helped you along the way. It is a long chain that stretches from Jane Austen back to those of us who want to write romance for a living!

M.V.Freeman said...

Sorry Louisa,
I got a little carried away. You made me think, truly, who has influenced and helped me along the way.

Geez, I better not ever win an oscar they'll have to drag me out....LOL