Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It takes a village...

There's an old cliche that says it takes a village to raise a child. And I'm not a mom, so I don't know if that's true--though it does seem to be that most moms could use more help than they have. At least a couple of extra eyes or arms, even though that might make them look like an alien...

*imagines a bunch of women running around with additional appendages*

Um...what was I trying to say?

Oh! Right. Sorry, my brain's a little loopy today--but I do have a point, I swear. And it's that I don't know if it takes a village to raise a child, but I do know that it DEFINITELY takes a village to write a book.

The whole 'reclusive writer' thing is wrong. I'm sure there's a FEW exceptions, but most of the time--even when I look at history--I see writers flocking around each other. Just look at neighborhoods like Saint-Germain-des-Pres in Paris. They had Les Deux Magots. And we have the Blogosphere.

It's where I found all the awesome people I now lean on extensively--and I would be lost without my backup. LOST!!!!!

So I thought I'd take a minute to give them a shout out, and to show the world (or, well, the few thousand of you) just how much help this silly blonde girl needs to make a book happen.

Sara McClung: The Writing Twin 

One of 'The Sara(h)s'--my core CPs. Not only are our blog names thesorized versions of each other (and yes, thesorized is not a word--but Sara and I have decided it should be), but I can't even begin to tell you how many times we'll suggest the same thing within seconds of each other during a brainstorming chat. She's got a sharp eye, is AMAZING at cleaning up my clunky, wordy sentences, and I know she sees my projects the same way I do. So whenever I consider a major change, she's my go to girl. I can always count on her to help me figure out what's right for my book. Bonus: she never complains about reading things multiple times, which is good, because she's now read my drafts about as many times as I have.

Sarah Wylie: The Cheerleader

The other Sara(h)--though certainly not lesser, by ANY stretch of the imagination. I'm not sure anyone puts more happy faces, lols, or compliments in a critique, and I swear she loves my characters more than I do (I've even turned her into a cougar, at 21-years-old, no less). She's also been known to ship special 'revision Twizzlers' all the way from Canada to keep me going. But that's not to say she goes easy on me. She's awesome at spotting mistakes, and it was with her guidance--and repeated reads (when she was in the middle of finals) that I FINALLY nailed the hardest scene in my book. 

C.J. Redwine: The Butt-Kicker

C.J. was the first writer to read my pages and the first person (who wasn't married to me or my parent) to tell me I was 'the real deal.' Then holy wow did she whip me into shape with her yellow-highlighter-of-doom. She is smart and honest and brutal and even though I have needed many deep breaths before reading her notes, they always make my pages better. Her query and synopsis workshops were a Godsend, and I can honestly say I would not have an agent without them--especially since C.J. was also the one who kicked me into the querying pool with her #HitSend Twitter Campaign. She's become the voice of reason, the person I call when I need some honest advice, and a lifeline I probably rely on too much. But I'm a better writer because of her. Even if I've had to make Were-Platypus cupcakes and humiliating vlogs. ;)

Elana Johnson: The Pro

The second I read Elana's blog I thought, yep, this is someone I NEED to know. We'd been in touch before WriteOnCon, but really bonded during the hundreds or thousands of emails it took to put that together, and now she's stuck with me. Muwhahahaha! :) She's an expert on promotion, a force when it comes to blogging, the querying Ninja, and has answered countless questions for me over time. She's also talked me down off the ledge when I needed her to, and has given me some incredibly helpful notes. I love that she never lets anything stop her--something I SO aspire to emulate--and she's one of the most hardworking people I know (in fact, sometimes I wonder if she has a couple extra hours in the day)  :)

Whenever anything goes wrong: a scene isn't working, a character is driving me crazy--or maybe I have to make a big decision and don't know what to do--these are my go to girls. But they're not the only ones I turn to. Lisa and Laura Roecker, Jamie Harrington, Karen Amanda Hooper, Stephanie Perkins, PJ Hoover, Lisa Schroeder, Kimberly Derting and SO many others (Sorry, I know I'm probably forgetting a million of you--my brain is tired today. Please forgive me if I forgot you) have all taken the time to give me a wealth of help and advice along my journey. And I will continue to turn to them as I walk this difficult and confusing path. (Sorry guys--you're stuck with me)

So yeah, it takes a village to write a book, and I think it's important to sometimes take a second and really thank the people who are part of that village. So THANK YOU! Anyone who reads this blog, leaves me comments, follows me on twitter, or reads my emails--thank you!

And now I'll leave the comments section open to you guys, to give shout outs to the people who help you. Who's part of your village? And what makes them so awesome?


  1. I love all my blog friends who inspire me with your posts to keep writing.

    Elana's been helping me with my query. She is so good at it. I'm not.

    I have 2 critique groups--one in person and one with an online friend who lives in town. Both help me in different ways but are essential. I cannot critique my own work that well.

    I didn't know you aren't a mom. Somehow I always thought you were.

  2. I'm not sure how I managed before I started blogging. I didn't tell anyone I was writing for the longest time. I can't imagine not having people to lean on!

  3. Great post, Shannon. Appreciating those around us and saying it out loud makes it more real, huh?? Yeah, I'm eternally grateful for the blogosphere. Living where I live, writers tend to seem sparse and separated. I know I wouldn't be as far ahead as I am if it wasn't for cyberspace.

    Don't get me wrong. I have had a few writers who I could meet with personally. And I adore them. ";-)

  4. Great post and so good that you surround yourself with so many friends. And yeah, Elana IS one of the mostamazing friends anyone could wish for!

  5. This is a great list. I know so many people on it. And yes, they're filled with awesome. :D

  6. This is SO true! I have 4 girls I go to and they all give me something different, but things I need. One of them is brutally honest and I find myself putting off reading her critique, but she knows what she's talking about. Another is my cheerleader and so on. I'm in the middle of my last revisions (yikes!) and now I"m thinking of beta readers. Just curious, did you use a whole different set of betas for your story? If so, how did you find them?

  7. Awww what a lovely village to live in!!! Yay for the blogosphere!

    take care

  8. Natalie Bahm, Denise Jaden, and Weronika Janczuk. I'm lucky!

  9. It's so important to have lots of different types of beta readers. You village is filled with cool people. I wanna join your village. How do I get past the gate keeper? Bribe with chocolate and wacky tee shirts with cool slogans?

  10. My village is still growing, and has room for more! But the girls who are here now are really great and I couldn't write without them!

  11. This is such a sweet post, #1! They are just as lucky to have you, too.

    VALERIE GEARY is my queen CP. I think I would most compare her to your description of C.J. - she's brutal, but she's also encouraging and brilliant. I don't know what I would do without her.

    Then comes YOU! I can honestly say, Shannon, that your friendship, assistance, and encouragement are some of my greatest blogging treasures. You are one of the most generous and thoughtful people I know. THANK YOU!

    And of course, the Queen of Blogland, Elana! Where would any of us be without her?! She is a goddess!


  12. awe, this is so so true and it's wonderful you've got such a tight community of writers to work with and share your ups and downs with. I feel like I've come so far since joining the online community. The information and advice is invaluable- almost as invaluable as the support and motivation writers are capable of. You've got a fantastic group there- lucky girl!

  13. WOW great minds really do thin alike! I just wrote about this very same thing girl! I love my crit partners and my freelance editor, without them I'd be well, nowhere. ;)

  14. What a sweet post!

    My betas deserve massages for all the last minute readings I've put them through!

    It took all of them helping me to finally get an agent's attention, and I hope they know how grateful I am to them.

  15. Lovely post! I'm going to shower thanks on my writing buddies on my blogiversary coming up. They know they rock!

  16. Yeah, I agree. I've met some truly wonderful friends on the blogosphere. Great critters and betas and just darn good friends. :)
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

  17. Awesome post.

    It's true, the blogging community is the best. I thank my lucky stars for being a part of it. :)

  18. Dude, I'm actually tearing up a little at this. Thank you! I have many villagers, and I hope I didn't forget anyone in my acknowledgements. That was the hardest thing on earth to write.

    For now: YOU, LiLa, Jamie, Casey, Christine, Danyelle, Michelle, and all the lovelies who read my blog and let me email them randomly.

  19. I'm the BUTT-KICKER???

    I don't get Queen of Honest Encouragement? Purveyor of Wisdom With A Side of Awesomesauce? Or at the very least Ruler Of All Written Things?

    *le sigh*

    Actually, I think you're super awesome yourself and am privileged to know you as both a friend and a writing partner. You rock, Blondie! ;)

  20. Trust me, moms do need extra arms. I so wish I had at least four, two for my almost two year old and two for my almost eight year old.

    Anyhow, I love my blogger friends. And Lex Valentine for doing my alter ego's website. And Natalie Dae for doing my blog. And Em Epe and Cherie Reich for being my beta readers. The list goes on and on. I smell a blog post coming up

  21. Okay, I feel better knowing Elana teared up because I am tearing up. Dude, your CPs are SAPS. (Please don't tell. ;)

    I think I speak for all of us when I say we're LUCKY we get to read your writing, and can't wait for everyone else to do so too. Which means, yeah, I'll be name dropping. But you already know this, don't you? :)

  22. A village, indeed.

    (I have the best CPs in the world.)

    And by the time a book get on the shelves, you'd need to add agent, publisher, editor, PR and Marketing team, cover artist, booksellers, bloggers, tweeters and friends that help get the word out about release day, family, etc., etc.

    And spouses and children that don't complain (much) about pizza (again).

    A BIG village of good people. :)

  23. No man (or silly but really nice blonde girl) is an island.

    No wonder I was so fed up and ready to quit before I started blogging. I was trying to do it all alone. Man was I being dumb. You're so right. It's all the YOUS out there that make the difference.

  24. All who I follow and all who follow me. Special shoutout to my CP, Laura (ElbieNY) and Weekly Chapter Challenge bud, E.J.


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