Tag Archives: community

Your Support Net (Work)

A writing community is made up of lots of different people with different life experiences, different skills, and different connections.  If we were all the same, maybe community wouldn’t be so important.  If writers were all interchangeable, we might only need community for social time.

But because we’re all different, our community can offer so much more.   Nobody can be an expert on everything, and sometimes hours of research can’t make a character or plot point as realistic as a conversation with someone who’s been there.

I’m a pilot.  I’ve been contacted by writers wanting to know how airplanes work, whether the maneuvers they were describing would be possible, whether their story “felt real.”

I’m not a doctor, but my husband is.  If I’ve got a character with a brain injury or a medical student who wants to date his former patient without breaking professional boundaries, I’m going to run my story by him.  And he’s not only my personal resource, either.  He’s had a long conversation over coffee with another friend of mine, discussing the physiology of werewolves for her novel-in-progress.

These connections aren’t limited to stories, either.  When I said I wanted to do a launch party for some of the anthologies I had stories in, I’d never done a launch before.  But Marie Bilodeau had.  And using her contacts in the Ottawa sci-fi community, my desire for a launch party turned into On the Brink, a series (that’s right, more than one) of launches for up and coming new authors in the Ottawa area.

When I first started submitting my stories for publication, I felt a little nervous.  Much to my surprise, an editor I knew from my fandom days was taking submissions for an anthology.  Had I not submitted a story that was of equal quality to the others she selected, I wouldn’t have gotten in.  But if I hadn’t known the editor–if I hadn’t kept in contact with her via Facebook–I would never have known that she was taking submissions.  (I discovered the Open Call facebook groups, Duotrope, and other market listings, later on!)

In fact, the only reason I went to Superstars–and met the Tribe, became a Fictorian, and appeared in the Purple Unicorn anthology (and upcoming Red Unicorn anthology) was because another writer friend of mine–not a Superstars instructor–posted about it on her blog.

And what goes around comes around–when the same person really needed to talk to a police department in Maine to get correct information for her recent novel, I was able to use my personal contacts to make that introduction happen.

Writers share information.  Opportunities.  Feedback.  Advice.  Maybe you don’t know how to do something, but someone else you know does.  Or maybe someone else has a main character who’s about to climb Mount Everest, but he doesn’t know a lot about mountain climbing.  If that’s what your mom does for a living, you can help that person out.

As with all things, moderation is key.  You won’t win yourself long-term support if you’re the person who’s always demanding help without ever giving anything in return.  Equally, you won’t build yourself a career as a writer if you spend all your writing time helping other writers instead of writing your own stuff.  But when everyone contributes fairly, the writing community becomes a big support net(work), and it lifts us all up.

You Are Not Alone: One-Star Reviews for Everyone!

When a writer friend or fellow Fictorian tells me they just got a one-star review on Goodreads or Amazon, my teeth clinch and I wince. Getting a one-star review isn’t quite like being hit in the stomach with a baseball bat, but more so pounded in the chest with a meat tenderizer.

There is one glimmer of respite: you’re not alone in that ridiculous one-star review that didn’t even get the name of your characters right. You’re not the only one who asked yourself if the reviewer actually saw the words on the page, because it says right there on page 13 that Mary’s mother was an ex-CIA agent bomb specialist, hinting that she could have prior knowledge of how to deactivate bombs. Just saying. It’s on page 13. Not even 20 pages into the book. But, you know, maybe the reviewer couldn’t see words.

Even veteran writers get one-star reviews that are ridiculous or extremely rude, or both (it’s like a crap sandwich).

WARNING: Language. These authors use language.

And more:

WARNING: Language. These authors use more language.

But Children’s books. Those are safe, right?

And if you think there are still some sacred texts free from scathing reviews, I’d urge you to look up reviews for The Holy Bible. “Badly edited, poor continuity and internal consistency. Authors seem to change between books. Plot is cliched and thin, with virtually no character development save for Judas Iscariot,” says one reviewer. While some of these reviews are clearly written in jest, just remember, no work is safe from other people’s opinions.

But you as the author can past these scathing reviews by reminding yourself that you aren’t alone. Rant to your friends if you must, but keep it private. Don’t add any fuel to the fire. Your friends and other writers can help you through some of the personal attacks, and help bolster you up against the attacks on your book. Remember, what you see online are opinions. Everyone’s got them, and they don’t really matter. But your happiness DOES matter. Protect it, and keep close friends nearby who also want you to be happy.


Don’t forget to enter to win one of the prizes we’ve got up-for-grabs this week. Click here for rules and giveaway details.

Women in Practical Armor

One of the great things about the writing community is that no matter what you write, there’s probably a group of like-minded people out there.

For decades, fantasy stories have been filled with willowy warrior babes in chainmail bikinis and dragon-hide loincloths…the kind of armor that might stop traffic, but wouldn’t stop arrows.  Some of us have wished for the opportunity to read about the sort of warrior women who’d wear practical armor.  The sort of characters who are less concerned with what they look like and more concerned with getting a bloody job done.

Wishing is one thing, but now the writing community has stepped forward to make this happen.

The name of the anthology is “Women in Practical Armor.”  The contributors are people (both women and men) who wanted to write about the kind of warrior women who don’t grace pinup posters.

If you’re one of the people who’ve wished that you could read a fantasy story about women like that, then you can get in on the ground floor.  Evil Girlfriend Media is running a Kickstarter with all kinds of great rewards for Women in Practical Armor.

My contribution to this anthology is called “The Blood Axe” and it stars two women who aren’t the typical female leads.  One is an elder; the other was designated a boy when she was born.   After a lifetime of war, career warrior Agrona wants a legacy beyond just enemy corpses in her wake.  Young Niall just wants to be accepted as the woman she knows she is.  Together, they will challenge both the traditions inside their village and the enemies at their gates.

If you’re tight on money now, the anticipated launch date of the book is April 2016.  But if you’re one of the people in the speculative fiction community who’ve been wishing for fewer cover girls and more badass ladies with real grit, then this anthology is for you!  You can show your support at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1054836899/women-in-practical-armor and reserve your copy as well as some awesome perks.

Let the battle be joined!