When I first signed a contract with the publishing house, Champagne Books, I was totally clueless about their process and procedures. After asking enough questions to annoy the poor author liaison half to death, I was offered to be set up with a mentor to answer all the silly stuff. I accepted, of course, and was introduced to the lovely Nan D. Arnold (author of HITTING THE HIGH NOTES, PESTO PACKIN’ MAMA, and MERRY ACRES WIDOWS WALTZ).
Thus, whenever I flipped out about something, worried I was doing it all wrong, Nan was there to calm me down with her entertaining wit and soothing presence. Alas, my little chick, patience is the key, she'd usually say something to that extent. I would slowly began to breathe again, and everything then worked out exactly as she said it would.
I fully believe everyone should have a mentor so wonderful.
But I felt all selfish for just taking, taking, taking, and never giving anything back to the writing world, until...
Six months ago, there was a little article about my writing in my local newspaper, which caught the attention of one of my classmates way back from high school. She got in contact with me, and confessed she'd become interested in writing too.
Well, I wrote back and encouraged it because, well, every writer should be encouraged. At least, I hope I encouraged. She didn't seem to mind my mad ravings, because she responded to my huge, long letter. We corresponded for a while until I offered to read some of her story and throw out some advice (not that I had that much advice, but heck, every little bit helps, right?). So, she sent me some sample chapters, and that is when I began to panic.
Oh, no. This was the first time someone outside her family would read any of her work. What if I was too critical? What if I wasn't critical enough? What if I discouraged her so much, she gave up the story completely? I was so not qualified for this. AHHHHH!
I desperately wanted to thrust the task off on some of the people that had helped me with my writing in the past, but then I still wouldn't be giving anything back to the writing world. So I gritted my teeth, opened the document despite my fears, and began to read.
The heroine was sweet with a horrible knack for saying the very wrong thing at the very wrong time, entangling herself in some really fun yet embarrassing scenes, which made me relate to her and like her. The hero was melt-your-mouth amazing. And the progressing plot really caught my attention. I decided to list the things I liked about that story, hopefully letting the author know those were her strong writing points.
When I came to a place where the author would say something like "was talking" instead of just plain "talked", I was like, "hey, I've gotten in trouble for doing that before, maybe I can explain this little writing rule/guideline." So, that's what I did.
And I guess I didn't totally tick her off, because she bought me cookies in thanks and sent me more to read. So, I guess I survived my first attempt at helping a new author. What's even better, I hear she's finished that first story, which I'm going to have to read, by the way, because I'm hooked on the idea of the plot. AND...she's started her own blog, over at Megan Baker Blogspot.
So, pop over and show her some love. She's got a great post about how she came up with the title for her story. I hope she goes far with her writing.
Have you had people help you along with your writing process, whether in writing the actual story, getting published, or working on promotions? Have you had the opportunity to pay it forward yet? Feels cool, doesn't it?! It's one of the things I love best about the romance writing industry; we host a great community and network of helpful people.