January 18th, 2011

With a little help from my friends

The next meeting of Southern Magic, my local (Birmingham, AL) chapter of Romance Writers of America, is Saturday. Before the program we usually go around the room, introduce ourselves, and tell the group what we've been writing since the last meeting. I have four days to hear from editors before then, but I'm afraid I already know how my report will go:

"My name is Jennifer Echols and I write YA. I have been working very hard! And I have turned in a bunch of stuff! And I keep thinking I will hear something but I have not heard ANYTHING!!!"

If you say this to your husband or your mother or your non-writing BFF, you are whining. Sorry. But if you say this to your writing group, it is cathartic. They actually know how you feel and what you are talking about. Try it! You'll like it! You may think you have a lot of writing friends online, but it's not the same. And pretty much everything I know about the publishing industry, I have learned from RWA.

We have some terrific programs coming up. On Saturday, Paula Graves, who writes for Harlequin, and New York Times bestselling author Christy Reece, who writes for Ballantine, will talk about their experience with their publishers. In February the speaker will be the always entertaining Peggy Webb, who has written in just about every romance genre you can imagine, plus mystery and literary fiction. And I am so excited that in March, my friend Cynthia Eden is coming up from Mobile to talk about writing paranormal.

If you don't live around here, I encourage you to look up your local chapter of RWA and go for a visit. If you do live in Birmingham and write something other than romance, there's lots going on for you too. There's a local chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. The Murder in the Magic City conference for mystery writers is coming up on February 5, and the ImagiCon sci-fi conference will be held May 20-22. Oooh, Erin Gray!

Chances are, if you're a writer, you're also an introvert. Me too. Trust me, it's worth it to go meet some real people once in a while, because knowing that other writers are just as crazy as you are and have just as hard a time will make you feel 50% less nuts. You may even make some dear friends. Promise.