Tag Archives: writing in community

It Inspired Me

Another month has come and gone, another month of varied posts from varied writers. I knew well in advance how this month’s theme would impact me—spoiler alert: it inspired me—which is a large part of why I proposed it in the first place. The simple truth is that when writers work alone, they usually fail. Or burn out. And when it looks like writers are going it alone, they probably aren’t.

As per usual when a month wraps up, I wanted to provide both a retrospective and quick index of our recent posts. I encourage you to take some time to dig through these. There are some real gems! Some highlights for me include Travis Heermann’s and Nathan Barra’s dueling examinations of critique groups and the benefits they offer (and how bad critique groups can be escaped/troubleshooted), and Kristin Luna’s post about reader reviews probably hit close to home for a lot of us.

Evan Braun—We All Live in Community
Guy Anthony de Marco—Collectives Collecting Collectible Creatives
Rachel Ann Nunes—Is Google Play Going Crazy or Is Fate Finally Smiling on Me?
Sherry Peters—My Peeps. My Tribe.
Kristin Luna—You Are Not Alone: One-Star Reviews for Everyone!
Evan Braun—Post 1000: How on Earth Did We Get Here?
Colette Black—Growing Community
Leigh Galbreath—This Ain’t No Fortress of Solitude
Frank Morin—What Goes Around
Kim May—Help! I’ve Written Myself into a Corner and I Can’t Get Out
Jace Killan—How to Tribe
Nathan Barra—Getting the Most Out of Group
Ace Jordyn—Turning Milestones into Stepping Stones: Why Accountability Groups Work
Scott Eder—Travelling in Packs: Partnering with Multiple Authors at Cons
Petra Klarbrunn—The Importance of Author Mentors
Mary Pletsch—Your Support Net(Work)
Travis Heermann—The Critique Group Waltz: Is Yours in Step?
Brandon Plaster—Community
Gregory D. Little—A Little Healthy Envy

Come back tomorrow for an extended look at our con experiences. Take it away, Scott Eder!

Evan BraunEvan Braun is an author and editor who has been writing books for more than ten years. He is the author of The Watchers Chronicle, whose third volume, The Law of Radiance, has just been released. He specializes in both hard and soft science fiction and lives in the vicinity of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The Importance of Author Mentors

A guest post by Petra Klarbrunn.

Most beginning authors I know think that a mentor is someone who will look over your latest screed and give you feedback and editing suggestions. While it is something that a mentor may do for you, that’s actually the job of an editor and/or critique group.

So what does an author mentor provide? I’m glad you asked.

  1. Questions at all stages. As mentioned, you might be lucky enough to have a mentor who has enough time to read over your epic novel. The majority of mentors are working professionals, so they’re busy working on their own epic space opera trilogy. They don’t have time to line edit your work. They do make time to answer specific questions for you. Say you’re having a problem with your opening hook. You can ask your mentor to look at a couple of paragraphs and get feedback from someone who knows how to write opening lines that propel the reader forward. Even better, they can provide a couple of different takes and have them go over why one is better than the other.
  1. Contracts. Mentors can give you some feedback on contracts, explaining what the egregious portions are and what they actually mean. They may suggest contract modifications or recommend that you take the contract to a specialist lawyer, especially if the contract is from one of the Big 5 publishers.
  1. Plotting. Some mentors can go over your plot outline and make suggestions. One of my mentors found a serious flaw in a novella that would have had me spinning my wheels for weeks until I discovered it. Don’t send a forty-page plot outline to your mentor. Send a bullet-point list so they can see how you build up towards the third act.
  1. Networking. Often overlooked, having someone who can provide introductions within your genre can give you a leg-up on your peers. One of the complaints about writing is “it’s about who you know that counts.” While exceptional writing can do your introductions for you, getting introduced to a busy editor at a convention or via email can at least give your work a better chance at getting looked over by a publisher. Introductions can also provide opportunities to get into anthologies or to work on collaborations.
  1. Blurbs. Receiving a blurb from a bestselling author or a celebrity can push your work to the top of the shopping cart. Stephen King gave a relatively unknown author named Jack Ketchum a glowing blurb and recommendation. Now Mr. Ketchum is a bestselling author and screenwriter.
  1. Giving back. Most mentors say that the main reason they choose to be a mentor is to give back to the community. Because most authors are genuinely nice individuals, they want others to succeed. Sometimes mentors didn’t have anyone they could ask questions of, and they want to help new authors with the craft. And who knows? Perhaps one day they will ask their mentee for a blurb or two.

Petra Klarbrunn Bio: Petra battles with her four cats daily for the use of her laptop. She writes in the romance, erotica, bizarro, horror, and academic fields using multiple pseudonyms. Her diet consists mainly of tofu and espresso.

Travelling in Packs: Partnering with Multiple Authors at Cons

Hernecroe I am, the lone wolf…er…author in one of my happy places—a small local Con. Surrounded by my Knight of Flame regalia, I’m ready to greet the horde of potential readers. I’m a newbie though, with only a small number of titles to my name. Still, I love to get out there and mix it up with fandom and authors.

Regardless of how awesome the cover and how friendly my smile, there is a sameness to the display, a lack of variety. Some readers will be drawn to Develor Quinteele’s intensity on the banner behind me, others not so much. And, before I’ve had a chance to talk about the story, to tell them it’s like King Arthur meets Agents of Shield, they’re gone. Poof. A missed opportunity.

I don’t like missed opportunities.

I’m writing, more titles are coming, but I cannot change the laws of physics or of time. For now, I’ve got what I got. But that doesn’t mean I have to suck it up and deal with those missed opportunities. Nuh-uh. Ain’t gonna do it.

I’m fortunate to count several local authors among my close friends. We trust each other. Our titles span several Fantasy readerships (YA, Contempory, Urban, Epic, Dark). And, most important of all, we enjoy spending time together talking about our craft with anyone who’ll listen. As it turns out, they like Cons.

See where this is going?


We banded together, growing a one-author army to three and displaying eight titles along with corresponding marketing swag instead of just mine. More genre variety equals more interest, more readers at the table, more chances to talk about our stories. And, yes, it leads to more sales. We (Maria DeVivo, Dora Machado, and I) know the bottom line is to match the reader with the right book at the right time. We are not in competition. There are plenty of readers to go around. We discuss and sell each other’s books with equal zeal. We want happy readers. Happy readers become fans. Happy readers write reviews. Happy readers talk about the really cool book they just read and about the time they met the author at the Con.

It’s all about scale. I did the same thing as a lone wolf author—talked, sold, created happy readers—but in much smaller numbers. By having a table with author partners, I sell on average three to four times as many books as going it alone. Again, variety piques interest, which sparks more visits to your table/booth, which delivers the chance to make a reader’s day. Take it.

To see this approach done to perfection on a much bigger scale, check out the WordFire Press booth at most major Cons.

While I’ve focused on generating more interest by partnering with authors, there are additional benefits to sitting at a Con for hours with a fellow creative individual. Think of the ideas, think of the potential for future joint-projects, think of the opportunity to have someone watch your table so you can go to the bathroom. Don’t underestimate the power of that last point. Whew!

In addition to building variety to attract interest, there are two key points to take away from this post. The author partnering approach will only work if we live by the number one rule in the Universe—don’t be a jerk. Be nice to everyone. There is no downside to being nice and a tremendous upside. The other is that we are not in competition. There are plenty of readers to go around. Let’s introduce them to our stories.

Post 1000: How on Earth Did We Get Here?

The Westin with arrowAs near as I can recall, the Fictorian blog was birthed—at least in idea form—on March 20, 2010 in the lounge of the Westin Hotel in Pasadena. (See photo to pinpoint more or less the exact spot.) A group of writers had assembled for the first annual Superstars Writing Seminar to learn about the ins and outs of the publishing business. We were a big group of strangers with a whole lot of high-flying ideals.

I’d like to think those ideals haven’t gone anywhere, but that big group of strangers doesn’t exist anymore. Alas, we are currently a big group of friends and trusted colleagues.

Of course, none of us went home from that seminar ready to start blogging. It took just over a year to get organized. Our first blog post, “The Benefits of Holding Hands,” went live on March 30, 2011—and it goes like this, courtesy of Fictorian alumnus Nancy DiMauro:

Writers help you stay motivated and hold you accountable. It’s like having an exercise or diet buddy. After all, who can understand the ups and downs of writing better? Writers need to network, commiserate and, well, get honest feedback about what they write from others who are wrestling with the same questions…

I don’t know if Nancy set out to write a mission statement, but this one would certainly do the trick. Four and a half years later, and one thousand posts, it still holds true. The Fictorians is about writers holding other writers accountable, keeping them motivated during the many and varied troughs of the writing life, and helping them to network.

All of these years later, the names and faces have changed, but none of the original Fictorians are at the same place in their writing careers than when they started. Without question, this blog has helped us to grow and stay connected with our tribe.

So, one thousand posts. Four digits. A really big part of me can’t believe we’re here. I’ve read somewhere that the average blog lasts two years or less. If that’s true, we’re beating the odds—and that’s largely due to the fact that we’re doing it together. Holding hands, so to speak. It’s not easy to keep an online presence going day after grueling day. With the Fictorians, it’s pretty effortless. When everyone makes a small commitment (one post month, loosely), it’s not hard to fill up the calendar with great content.

Well, perhaps you’ve noticed that we’re really very extremely excited about our 1000th post. It’s a big deal, a big milestone, so we figured, why not throw a little party? That’s why we’ve been giving away books all month. Seven last week, seven this week (it’s actually thirteen, since one of the prizes this week is a seven-book bundle), and fourteen more as the month rolls on. These are books we’ve written, books that our friends and guest bloggers have written, and even books that our mentors have written. There’s a lot of good stuff. For more details, click here, or simply log in to the Rafflecopter interface to your right.

Our celebration isn’t all about the giveaways, though. For over a year, we’ve been working behind the scenes to bring you this upgraded site interface. It was ready just in time for this month, the most pivotal of months. We hope you’re enjoying it so far!

If you’re a writer and you’re looking for a tribe, consider us in your corner. Read and comment on our articles. Get in touch with us. And if you’re really serious about doubling down on your writing career (and we’re all hoping the answer is yes), then consider signing up for the Superstars Writing Seminar. That’s right; the Fictorians are still around, and so is Superstars, going strong into its sixth year. There’s no better place to fulfill the above mission statement.

Evan BraunEvan Braun is an author and editor who has been writing books for more than ten years. He is the author of The Watchers Chronicle, whose third volume, The Law of Radiance, has just been released. He specializes in both hard and soft science fiction and lives in the vicinity of Winnipeg, Manitoba.