Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Writer's Community

My name is Megan O’Russell, and I am thrilled to join the YATopia team! I couldn’t be happier to be added the ranks of the wonderful authors and editors who contribute to this blog.

Since I’ve never posted on this blog before, let me tell you a little bit about me. I am the author of the young adult fantast series The Tethering. The first and second books in the series, The Tethering and The Siren’s Realm, are both currently available from Silence in the Library Publishing. On the adult side of writing, I have a Christmas sweet romance novella Nuttycracker Sweet coming out December 8th from Fiery Seas Publishing. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of being included in some really fun anthologies and even got to be the video spokeswoman for Athena’s Daughters II, an anthology that focused on women in speculative fiction.

Aside from spending loads of time clacking away on my keyboard writing stories, I am also a professional musical theatre performer and as of this year even a lyricist! I love writing, and I love being onstage. I basically spend my work time either pretending to be other people or creating other people. It’s amazing.

But writing and acting don’t always go hand in hand. Being a writer, my actual time at the keyboard can be very flexible. If I have rehearsals for a show, I can rearrange my writing time, and no one but the characters in my stories and my conscience will ever know. But being a writer is a lot easier if you have writer friends. Networking is hugely useful, not only for staying in touch with what the latest trends to embrace or avoid are, but also for super important things like finding a literary agent or meeting up with people who might have an anthology you could contribute to.

As an actor, the only time I have a weekend off is when I’m between shows. Since I do short run productions, things like asking for a weekend off to go to a writer’s conference isn’t really a thing. And luckily I’m employed consistently enough that I’ve never actually made it to a writer’s conference, though, believe me, I would jump if I found one on a Monday! When I realized that in-person networking was fairly out of reach, I was devastated. I was the lonely kid at the junior high dance hiding in the shadows while everyone else took selfies with their friends to be their new profile picture.

But then I discovered a wonderful online community of writers, editors, artists, and publishers who welcomed me into their groups with open arms. Now granted, actually getting to sit down and have a cup of coffee with someone isn’t nearly as good as participating in a tweet chat with them, but it’s something.

I started out in a Facebook group with people from my first, and tragically failed, publisher. But the friends I made in that group led me to both of my current publishers and even to this blog! Participating in online author chats and even volunteering for cover reveals and street teams can be a great way to start up a conversation with fellow authors. And who knows where those conversations could lead?

I’m not saying that all Facebooks groups for authors are great. I’ve been in a few that have self-imploded in ways that even Jerry Springer would find hard to believe. But if you, like me, can’t make it to the RT conference this year, or go to one of those super cool learn how cop things work weekends that always make me green with envy when I see tweets of, reach out to the online community of writers. You might be surprised how many people will greet you with open cyber arms.

Here are a few hashtags to check out and groups to look up. Just because authors work alone with their computers doesn’t mean we don’t need a community.

Check out #WO2016. This is for authors who are Waiting On 2016 for their books to come out. It’s a great way to remember that you are not alone in you pre-release stress, freak outs, and joys.

The #Awethors is a great Indie group that loves to do write storms, beta read for each other, and just provide authorly companionship.

This YATopia blog has great information for authors and even a section on agents who are accepting submissions.

Find a group that isn’t looking to only sell you their books. Be a consistent member, and see how many friends you can make.

It’s amazing the wonderful writers you can meet from right in your living room.  

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