Have you ever had something good come way out of left field? Something far beyond your expectations?
When I think of the things that came out of left field in the past, they were really more in the “horrible shock” category. But as of yesterday, there are now two occurrences in my life that were totally unexpected and totally awesome.
One was meeting my Nude Spanish Guitarist, who turned out to be that soul mate I didn’t really believe existed until I stumbled onto him.
The second happened last night.
After a miserable day in migraine hell, I finally felt good enough to check my emails on my iPhone. A Google alert pointed me to the USA Today Best-selling Book list, and my latest novella Training Tessa was on it.
Bewildered, I showed it to my NSG.
“Is this the real USA Today list?” I asked.
NSG is an avid reader who devours books faster than anyone I’ve ever seen. He read through the listings, then made the pronouncement, “You’re a USA Today best-selling author.”
As I sat there, stunned, he started frantically tapping on his iPhone. Then he made the second pronouncement: “You’re on the New York Times Best-selling Ebook list, too!”
I sat there quietly for a while, pretending to watch whatever we’d been watching.
It’s always been hard for me to process positive things when they happen, so accepting that something good I never imagined had happened was harder than you might think. Ten minutes later, I turned to my NSG and said, “I’m a freaking USA Today best-selling author!” The rest of the night, I enjoyed being full of myself. We were watching a TV show that wasn’t as good as it could have been.
I kept saying things like, “Well, as a USA Today best-selling author, I can tell you that this show has pacing problems,” or “As a New York Times best-selling author, I’m sure the writer and director are responsible for this.”
But this morning, my friend—author Suzan Harden—called to congratulate me, and I remembered that I couldn’t take 100% of the credit for this (or any) writing success. I suppose there are exceptions to any rule, but for the published authors I know (whether traditionally published or self-published), it takes a village to get a book out. When I was young, and I thought of writing as a solitary occupation. And it is…unless you are actually planning to publish the book, and you don’t want to make a complete ass of yourself. That’s where your writer posse comes in. I have a fabulous romance writers group I’ve been a member of for years. They are the ones who got me started, patiently teaching me all the things newbies don’t know.
Now that I’m not a newbie anymore, these writers still read for me—critiquing, proofreading, encouraging, passing on useful information, consoling, celebrating…
Okay, yes, I’ll say it: They are the wind beneath my wings. Over the years, I’ve also been part of some on-line author groups and they’ve been very helpful too.
Some of the people who’ve become extremely valuable to me since I started publishing my books—we’ll call them my “uber-posse”—are authors Suzan Harden, Debra Glass, Onne Andrews, and author/editor Jennifer Bray-Weber. (Notice I put links in so you could check out their work. You just might like it.)
I expect a lot out from my uber-posse members, such as a highly developed sense of humor, the ability to give a well-thought-out, yet funny-snarky critique without crossing the line into bitchy, and the patience to deal with whatever I’m whining about that day. Sometimes I think they hang in there because writers are fascinated by oddities, but whatever the reason, I’m grateful.
There are a lot of people who cross your path on the road to having your work on public display. One who was vital to my career as an erotic romance author is Ellora’s Cave Editor-in-Chief Kelli Collins.
Before Kelli, I told everyone I couldn’t write hot scenes. But when my non-erotic stories weren’t being snapped up by publishers, I decided to make a stab at a genre that was selling better, never expecting to get a contract.
Kelli plucked me from the slush pile and convinced me I could do this. She is awesome at what she does for a living—if she’s reading this, I guarantee she’s already mentally rewritten some of my sentences and found a couple of typos—while simultaneously reigning as Queen of All Social Media.
I’ve also been helped by authors I’ve never even met, who were kind enough to write informative blogs. Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Katheryn Rusch, and J.A. Konrath laid out enough helpful information so that I was able to start self-publishing, which enabled me to make an actual living at writing.
And then there’s that Nude Spanish Guitarist I mentioned. I can count on him for endless validation, but also for lots of practical help. He’s my way overqualified technical guru. Other people pay hundreds of dollars an hour for his expertise. I get him in exchange for sexual favors I would have given him anyway. (Shhh! Don’t tell him!)
He also reads through my books to reassure me that they’re hot. I won’t tell you about his ratings system, except that it doesn’t involve thumbs.
If I traced back every nugget of information I received that led me to my current success as an author, there would be hundreds of people to thank.
Fortunately for anyone reading this, I didn’t keep a detailed list or this would be like one of those Academy Awards speeches—“I’d like to thank my agent Sal, the director John, my stylist Brent, my aroma therapist Sunshine…”
But when it comes down to it, the ultimate group of people I need to thank are my readers. The thousands of people who actually paid money to read something I wrote and are paying for the tostadas we’re having for dinner tonight. (And thanks for that box of Kellogg's thingies that are like strawberry Pop-Tarts, only thinner. They go great with tea. Oh, also thanks for the tea.)
So that means there are now thousands of people who are part of my village, and if you’re reading this, you are probably one of them.
You are the village people.
Thank you village people.