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?