Thursday, August 25, 2011

Support Your Local Writer (Guest Post with Giveaway!)

Please welcome debut author Cathy Pegau, "all the way" from Alaska! (I know where she is isn't relevant, but I'm dying to visit Alaska some day, so I'm jealous that's where she lives. :) )

I remember when I told my husband I was writing a novel. Our first child was about two years old. We were both working, doing well for a young(ish) couple. His response: Sounds great. (That is, by the way, rousing enthusiasm from my laid-back spouse.) He’d ask how it was going from time to time, and I discussed plotting or character issues now and again, but generally he left me alone to do my thing.

Throughout the past dozen or so years, as I told friends and family what I was doing, I received responses from “Oh, that’s nice” and a change of subject to “Oh, cool! What’s the story about? When can I buy it?” All the important people in my life said the thing that kept me going even when the rejection letters came in bunches or the story was giving me fits. They all said, in one way or another, we’re proud of you, and if you’re happy doing this, we’re happy for you.

My best friend, Sharron, who had sold her first novel, also became my first critique partner, offering advice and allowing me to learn from her experience. My husband took over in the evening with the kids while I went to a nearby cafĂ© for a few hours or met with my weekly writers’ critique group. My in-laws watched the kids when I traveled to my first RWA National Conference. My critique group expanded. I met a writer through a loop who offered to read pages then invited me into her small critique group. The group eventually disbanded, but that writer became a friend who still is one of the first to read my stuff. (Hi, Jody!)

And through the years, both writers and non-writers in my life all said the same thing: We’re happy if you’re happy. They listened when I lamented about yet another rejection. They rejoiced when I did well in a contest or got a request. Not all of them read the sort of fiction I wrote—fantasy with some romance, for the most part—but they shared my enthusiasm.

When I started to write Rulebreaker, however, I worried how my friends and family would take it. This was a story unlike any other I’d written, a coupling that many wouldn’t expect from me. My critique partners got to read it first, of course. I think they were a little surprised, but that didn’t deter them from tearing into the plot and telling me my characterization was off. My husband read the synopsis (I’d learned long ago that having him critique the manuscript was not the way to keep our marriage healthy :). He said nothing of the relationship but suggested killing off one of the secondary characters (See? That’s why he’s not an early reader for me).

I admit I skirted around the f/f aspect of the novel for a long time, getting the feel for how certain people in my life might react. I shouldn’t have worried so much. They may have been surprised at the content in Rulebreaker, but they were no less enthusiastic. And when I announced the sale to Carina Press, they cheered.

Writing is an individual endeavor, a personal journey of getting thought onto page, but we need a support system. People to tell us our efforts are worthwhile, to pat us on the back when things go well or pat us on the hand when we feel like throwing it all in the trash. Someone who’ll take the kids for the afternoon so we can finish a scene or a chapter. Someone to kick us in the pants and tell us to stop acting like a diva and just write. I can’t thank my friends, family and critique partners enough for that. You have made this potentially lonely journey into a group effort, and for that I will always be grateful.

Thanks for having me over, Natalie. I certainly appreciate all of YOUR support : )

Tell me about your support system, or how you’ve supported writers. Leave a comment and I’ll pick a random winner of a copy of Rulebreaker sometime Monday August 29.

About Rulebreaker
Liv Braxton's Felon Rule #1: Don't get emotionally involved.

Smash-and-grab thieving doesn't lend itself to getting chummy with the victims, and Liv hasn't met anyone on the mining colony of Nevarro worth knowing, anyway. So it's easy to follow her Rules.

Until her ex, Tonio, shows up with an invitation to join him on the job of a lifetime.

Until Zia Talbot, the woman she's supposed to deceive, turns Liv's expectations upside down in a way no woman ever has.

Until corporate secrets turn deadly.

But to make things work with Zia, Liv has to do more than break her Rules, and the stakes are higher than just a broken heart…

Rulebreaker is available at Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other ebook sellers.

Visit Cathy at her blog, her website, on Facebook or on Twitter.


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I'll start! (Though of course I'm not eligible for the giveaway. :) )

My writing relationships have evolved much like Cathy described. I love how one leads to another—like, I met Jody through the FF&P chapter, when someone else said we'd like each other and hooked us up via e-mail. Then I "met" Cathy through Jody, and though we've been acquaintances until recently, I knew her well enough to be thrilled when she sold to Carina. And now we're becoming friends!

Listing all the people who've ever helped me would take a year. This is the hardest, but most supportive industry there is, I think.

Thanks, Cathy, for being my guest today!

Commenters, Cathy and I will be popping in to chat with you around our day jobs. So post away!

Misty said...

I'm eligible, so I'll post :) Seriously, I started out completely alone over in CA where I didn't know anyone who wrote. I didn't even know what a critique partner was, much less have one. And then we moved to PA where I found a local RWA group that clicked like buttah and bagels! And inside that local chapter I found a set of friends who are absolutely priceless (they're crit partners with me too- can't beat that!) There have been many times when I wanted to drop it all and become an accountant or something but these gals make that near impossible.

Great post, Cathy! You're books looks very intriguing :)

Cathy in AK said...

Natalie, it's been great getting to know you too : )

I agree that I've found a huge sense of community in the publishing industry. Everyone wants everyone else to do well.

Thanks again for having me : )

Misty: Moving can be such a challenge to your sense of belonging. I'm glad you found folks in PA to get you through some bumpy times : )

Jen B. said...

I am a pushy reader. I support my favorite authors by following them online, reviewing their books, liking them on websites and generally just following their posts. At bookstores, I request their books, make sure their books are visible on the shelves, recommend them to everyone... Yep, I am pretty loud about my love of reading! Thanks for the giveaway.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Jen, pushy readers are the BEST! :) Thanks for commenting!

Cathy in AK said...

Jen, you can push me any time : ) Thanks!