Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Networking, Blogging and Other Fluff

(Disclaimer:  I apologize up front for this brutally long post,
but I had a lot to say.)

It’s four in the morning and I can’t sleep.  That’s not to say I didn’t get a couple hours of shut eye early on, because I did, but then I got all hot and rolled over and I let my mind sift through a few things from the day before and wham, there was no going back to dream land.  It wasn’t entirely unexpected.  Yesterday was a big day for me and I was still running on its fumes.  More importantly, three different things happened to me yesterday that, at first, seemed totally unrelated, but when I lay in bed, unable to shut my mind off from yesterday’s excitement, I realized that these three events were all, in fact, closely related.
            I will take these events out of order.  First, I received an email from a friend, someone I met online last year, someone who was like my third or fourth follower back when I was a newb.  I ‘ve gotten to know her relatively well through her blog postings and her comments on my posts.  She even recently asked me to critique some of her first chapters of her WIP, which I consider to be a real honor because she immensely talented.  Anyway, she wrote me and asked if I thought blogging was a waste of time, aside from meeting new people I like.  She said she didn’t quite see the purpose of it.  Well, even though I was in the middle of an important revision, I felt the need to write her a quick note because I do, indeed, think blogging is worth it.
            See, I wrote a book last year and I didn’t know the first thing about writing.  So when I was done with my first draft, I jumped online and started researching all those things we writers research when we’ve written a book, like how to format, how to query, building a platform, and finding critique partners.  This brought me to Nathan Bransford’s website where I garnered all sorts of delicious facts and tidbits on all things writing.  More important, I posted a notice in one of his forums asking for a critique partner.  That’s how I found Lisa Regan. 
            Lisa and I started working closely together, critiquing each other’s manuscripts and a true and wonderful friendship was born.  This was also about the time I started my blog.  I didn’t know the first thing about blogging and, frankly, I found it a real chore, but I kept on finding something new to post about and every time I did, Lisa was there to cheer me on.  Then I managed to sneak a new follower in every once in awhile, which inspired me to keep moving forward.  During all this time, I was trolling the blogosphere and meeting new writer friends.
At times, my motive was not entirely pure.  I was feeling rather unpopular and felt the need to swell my follower army just to feel halfway good about my progress, but I wasn’t always a good follower myself.  So I started focusing on making connections instead of collecting friends.  Once I did that, I stopped being consumed with my stats, how many hits I was getting or followers I was adding.  I must admit, I’m still a comment whore.  I can’t help it.  I simply love to receive comments from people, whether they follow me or not, because it feels like I’m truly connecting with someone.  And that’s what I love most.
Part of the reason I even wrote a book was because I was lonely and bored.  I had moved to a new town, one I didn’t particularly fit in well with, where it was difficult to crack into the established cliques and make friends.  So when I made these connections through the blogs, whether it was through mine or someone else’s, it really felt like I had made a friend.  And while I usually kept my two social networks separate—Blogger and Facebook—I started pulling a few of my Blogger friends into my Facebook realm, which is much more personal.  That meant within Blogger, I had started meeting and connecting with a few folks on a very personal level.  I was feeling rather fulfilled. 
But more than fulfillment, these connections were actually helping me both be a better writer and advancing my career.  While ultimately nothing came of it, Lisa did refer me to her agent so I had a chance at pitching my novel to an honest to God gatekeeper.  Alas, that was probably eight months before my manuscript was really ready to be pitched, but good or bad, I learned a lot.  And I was eternally grateful to Lisa for believing in me and giving me that chance.
I recently met another wonderful writer, (God, I want to say her name, but that might not be cool with her so…) one who was further on her journey than just about anyone else I’d met so far.  She was both agented and under contract with a publisher and her book was just about to hit the shelves.  I was thrilled to have met her.  She was friendly and knowledgeable, and did I mention friendly?  Yeah, I really liked her.  Then I won a copy of her book.  Now this wasn’t the first time I’d won a copy of someone’s book, but I felt a real connection with her since she, like me and Lisa, wrote adult thrillers.  Better yet, she lived only about an hour or so away from me.  And better still, she was relatively new to the area and understood my difficulties with making friends in a community where the weather was so bad, folks just can’t stand out on the street and chat much with their neighbors.
After receiving her book, we emailed a few times and decided to meet in person and have lunch.  That was a bout the best damn lunch date ever!  I loved hearing all about how she wrote and polished her book, how she queried and landed her agent, and all the interesting things that go into obtaining and negotiating a publishing contract.  It was like meeting my idol and I wanted to be just like her, in a professional sense that is.
I dream about little else other than landing an agent and someday being published.  I’m sure she realized this and graciously referred me to her agent, letting me know she was cool with me dropping her name, if need be.  (Boy, did I ever!)  That was another toenail in the door, my second.  So, even though I was on query hiatus until September, with my friend egging me on, I jumped right on that and queried her agent that very day using what I like to call my new and improved Robin Query, aptly named after Robin Weeks, who critiqued my query during a contest in July.
That was Monday, two days ago.  Now, I don’t want to go into all the details, but things are looking up for me, at least today.  While I have no illusions, I am hopeful.
My point to all this is that blogging has put me in touch with some wonderful people, people who have helped me polish my novel, who’ve taught me how to writer better, who’ve inspired me to write a better query, and who’ve helped me make connections that ultimately got my book out there under the noses of those who matter.  Most importantly, I’ve met people who keep me moving forward, even in the face of repeated devastating rejection.  Simply put, I could not do this without my friends and followers here on Blogger.  So is it worth it?  You bet it is!

I did mention three things, didn’t I?  Well, the third was a blog award I received from Nicole Pyles over at The World of My Imagination.  Thank you, Nicole!  This is further proof that blogging is worth the time and effort.  Awards like these introduce bloggers and bring them new followers, always a nice thing! 

This is the third award I’ve received recently and I am most honored.  I must admit though that I feel like I’ve been neglecting my writerly duties since accepting my first award and participating in blogfests and penty memes and such, which is probably why I’m burying this at the end of a way-too-long blog post, but I do want to thank Nicole and do my duty as a recipient.  Having said that, other than supposedly being “versatile,” I’m not quite sure what this award is for, but here are the rules:

1.      Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them (check)
2.      Share seven things about yourself  (ugh!)
3.      Pass this award onto other recently discovered blogs.  (see below)

Seven things, huh?  Okay, here goes:

1.      I live in a town I can’t stand filled with rich snobby people, but it’s so beautiful here I just can’t make myself leave…yet!

2.      I am an interior designer who has no formal training in creative writing, but I love to do it just the same, and I don’t think I’m half bad.  Of, course, I’m probably not half good either. 

3.      I have two dogs, Jack, a Malamute, and Maleah, a Husky, and they are two of my very best friends who manage to keep me sane with their unconditional love.

4.      I miss California, especially San Francisco, since moving here nearly 7 years ago.  

5.      I’ve never actually met my very best friend in person.  She lives nearly 3000 miles away and we “chat” nearly everyday via email, Facebook, or texting.

6.      I’ve been with the same man for over 28 years, married over 20 of those, and have been gifted with an intelligent, articulate, ambitious son who brings me joy every day.

7.      And in one week, my 16 year-old son and I are leaving for a 2-week long College Road Tour Trip back to California.  I’m exhausted already just planning it!        

Now for the passing of the torch:  I’m going to mention some blogs I haven’t awarded or highlighted before since we all need a little recognition to help swell our armies.

1.      McKenzie McCann of The Ubiquitous Perspective because she is a smart, sassy teenager who knows entirely too much.

2.      The East Coaster at Published in a Year because she’s ambitious as hell.  Have you seen how many WIPs she has?  Like five!

3.      An Alleged Author because she’s a great supporter and this is one award she hasn’t received yet!

4.      Robin Weeks because she rocks!  I just love her.  She gives great advice, and did I mention she helped me write a kickass query?  Yeah, baby!

5.       Kimberly Krey at The Write View because I just dig her blog.

Whew, over 1800 words, that’s a record!  Thanks for your patience!  


Ru said...

Wow, that was a long blog post - it was interesting though, so no worries :)

Laila Knight said...

Nancy, thank you for this wonderful post. I love reading about your success in the bloggosphere and in your writing life. That is pretty early to be up and out of bed, but I understand your excitement. I had no idea you met Lisa off of Nathan's blog. You really should meet her in person. I love it that you're a comment whore and that you had lunch with a favorite author. I wish you the best of luck with your query. You're a dedicated trooper, and you deserve it. I'm cheering for you. Congrats on receivig the Versatile Blogger Award! I will check out your fabulous friends that have helped you on your journey. You are an awesome writer. When I first joined your blog I checked out the sample chapters you had on the side. I hope you get published soon so I can buy a copy of your book...I did promise to be the first to buy one. Thank you for sharing all this info about yourself. Too bad I don't have FB so we can chat. You know how much I like chatting. Have a great day! :)

L.G.Smith said...

I completely agree about the whole blogging to make connections and friends thing. There is a pay-it-forward sort of camaraderie in the writing blogosphere that is undeniable and incredible.

Fingers crossed for you.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Blogging is a commitment and can eat up a lot of time, but it is so wonderful to make connections and share information. Thanks for the links and congratulations on the blogging award!

Lisa L. Regan said...

I read a blog post the other day which said all of us writers are using our blogs wrong--we're not targeting readers, we're targeting each other. Although it is an interesting point, I tend to agree with you--that connecting with other writers is very important and definitely worth it. Not just because you're my best friend and I wouldn't have met you without Nathan's blog but because if I had had access to this amazing online community of bloggers in 2006, I would have been able to improve my book so much faster. I think I would have then found an agent much more quickly. I cannot believe how much time in my journey was wasted because I didn't have all these other writers to look to for advice, critiquing and commiseration. And as you know, there is no way in hell I would have made it through the last year of my life without your shoulder to cry on and your words of wisdom! I believe it is worth it too. Congrats on the award! As I've said before, I've got all appendages crossed that you know who will love your book as much as I do!

Valentina Hepburn said...

A long post, yes, but a lovely one. I feel just like you do. Before I began my blog, I didn't know any like minded people who wanted to talk about, moan about, cry about or cheer about their writing aspirations. Since blogging, I've met loads of lovely people, you included, Nancy, who didn't just comment on my blog, but took the time to email me and point me in the right direction. There are some great people out there and even though we writers have to be solitary sometimes, I think it's over-rated. Swapping stories and feelings and receiving encouragement is simply wonderful. I wish you the very best with your novel and congratulations on your award. I hope you sleep well tonight!

Freya Morris said...

Very long post but enjoyable nonetheless. Great story and agree wholeheartly. I have found writing tips through blogging that I just wouldn't have found otherwise.

I think my final edit of my book will just be awesome because of all this help. Blogger writers are great!

Robin Weeks said...


There have been a lot of blog posts lately about this topic--is it worth it? My vote is a resounding YES! No way would we be able to make such helpful friends without them!

Keep us posted on your query! (I want to see how well yours goes before I send mine into the world.) :D

Robin Weeks said...

OH--and thanks for the award! I already have that one, but I still love awards!

Al Penwasser said...

1,800 words? Wow, it only felt like 1,700 (just KIDDING!!).
Seriously, I enjoyed reading of your journeys in the blogosphere (a trite cliche, but one which works).
One of the best things about Blogger is the chance to meet new people. Of course, a downside is that, due to long distances, I'll more than likely never get a chance to meet most of the people I meet.
Sadly, you fall into that category, unless you happen to wander into Philadelphia by accident (which is pretty much how the City of Brotherly Love works).
Even more so, I've met people from other countries. And Arkansas.
I've long since despaired of getting my book published and have much more fun writing here.
Anyway, long comment here, but here's to continued cyber-friendships!
Now, get some sleep! You don't want to end up looking like me.

Nancy Thompson said...

Ru, thank you!

Laila, that was for you, doll! Perhaps you should just post 2 or 3 days a week so you don't feel burned out. Ugh, you read my sample chapters? I've revised those so much, I had to take them down. I'm kind of embarrassed now! If I ever get it published, I'll send you a signed copy!

LG, great, I need all the crossed fingers I can get, thanks!

Cynthia, blogging has a voracious appetite, for sure! Thanks!

Lisa, I read that post, too, and though I understand and agree somewhat, at this stage in my career, targeting other writers is just fine. And if you had had this in 2006, your book would be a bestseller by now.

Valentina, glad you made it through to the end. And thanks for commenting. Like I said, comment whore here!

Freya, Knowing the wonderfully helpful folks I've met on Blogger, I'm sure your final edit will be great. Good luck!

Robin, well, it was an attempt at a shout out for you cuz you deserve it, girl! Thanks for all you've done for me. I did get a request for a full, but I don't know if it was the query or the fact that I dropped my friend's name. Unfortunately, I can't take credit foe either!

Al, hey, my bff, Lisa, lives in Philly! When I finally make it there, I might have to look you up, too!

I love how my long post has generated some long comments. Seems appropriate! Thanks all, you're the best!

Laila Knight said...

I'm way ahead of you. My post for tomorrow will state that starting next week I'm only posting Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. That way I can focus more on my writing. You shouldn't be embarrased about those chapters. You might have revised but they were still a nice read. :)

Nancy Thompson said...

Thanks for saying that!

TaraNator said...

Great post, Nancy! I didn't think it was that long, but I'm pretty wordy myself. ;-)

Congrats on the award & I've still got my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed for you! You are a great writer and it WILL happen.

Nancy Thompson said...

Thanks, Tara! You and Lisa always manage to keep me going! I don't know what I'd do without the two of you, and I never want to find out!

M Pax said...

I was up at 3:30, too, but not for great reasons like you. I wish you all success on your query, Nancy.

the online writing community is great. I've learned so much from fellow bloggers.

The East Coaster said...

Nancy, I'm with you 100%. The writer in me needs this community. Everyday I learn a tip, hear an idea or read a post about someone who understands the ups and downs of this life. There's no price on that.

As for the award, thank you. It means so much that you stop by and read my little section on the net. ((hugs))

Kimberly Krey said...

First off: Thank you for the award, and for the oh-so-kind words! Much appreciated!
Second: You don't look old enough to have been married for 20 years you beautiful little thing, but congrats on that just the same! We just celebrated our seventeen year, so I'm not too far behind you.
Again, thanks for the recognition! Mwha!

Alleged Author said...

Thank you so much! I can't imagine living anywhere else (Cali resident). ;)

Angie Cothran said...

First can I just say you do NOT look old enough to have a 16 year old! I'm not trying to be flattering, but I literally gasped when I read that. You look like you are in your 20's seriously.

Great post and I agree blogging is worth it :)

Jeff King said...

Great post... it was long but worth it!

Nancy Thompson said...

MPax - thanks so much! The query is doing well so far but I don't wanna jinx it.

East Coaster - you're most welcome! Right backatcha!

Kimberly - well, shucks, that's awful nice of ya. I've been with the guy for nearly 30 years! But he's a stud muffin so... And you're welcome, too!

AA - ooh, where in Cali? I'm a Bay Area gurll, myself. And you're welcome.

Angie - gosh, that is just so sweet! I actually have a 26 year old daughter, too! (Actually, 27 in 6 weeks.) You're the second person this week to say that. My head's gonna swell big time! That picture was taken September 11, 2009. I guess I should update it.
Uh, maybe not!

Nancy Thompson said...

Oh, Jeff! You snuck in while I was commenting! Thank you very much. I try not be so long winded.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Haha, poor Robin! It's the price of popularity. I tried to hit her with your unmentionable meme, but she blew off, so check my blog on Friday to see what else I'm throwing her way.


Wonderful post. I've met so many wonderful people by blogging.

Robin Weeks said...

Why, Donna, that sounded a bit like a threat! :)

I love it when people who are more popular than I am call me popular. Mucho thrill. :)

Nancy--yay for the full request! I'm sure it was because you have an inspiring premise. *crosses fingers*

Nancy Thompson said...

Hah! I just realized I had a typo in the first paragraph of page 1 of that full! And the partial I sent today, as well. How stupid can I be?

Please don't answer that! ;-(

Carrie Butler said...

This post hit pretty close to home, Nancy. It was just so raw. I loved it.

Congratulations on your award! I can't believe I didn't follow you sooner. You're so genuine and candid. I can definitely see this as being one of the blogs I "hang out" on. :)

Mike Koch - Protect The Risen said...

It speaks volumes that you held my interest through that long post of yours. I think it was mainly due to the fact that I relate so closely to what you are saying. I am newb blogger myself and love comments too. (As in checking way too often and bordering on stalking my own site. Would that make me a 'comment gigolo?')

Also... Dang, I want to be your friend too. You hand out some great compliments. ;) Have a good day.

Nancy Thompson said...

Thanks, Carrie! I appreciate you following me! I have a lot of great friends here. Welcome!

Hey Mike! Well, I'm glad I kept your interest. I try not to make such long posts. I know exactly what you mean about checking stats all the time. I'm better now, but I used to be obsessive about it. And hey, we're a couple of steetwalkers! Ha ha ha! I do consider us friends, here or anywhere else, Facebook included.

I invite all to friend me on FB!
(Nancy Saling Thompson)

Juliana L. Brandt said...

Thanks for this post, Nancy. I sometimes wonder how worth it Blogging is. I LOVE all of the people I have met and friends I have made, but geeze it can take up a lot of time. This definitely has reminded me to stick with it :)

Joylene Butler said...

Congratulations on the well deserved award. You have such an awesome blog. I love reading about what's happening in your life. Best of success.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Congrats on your award! I agree that the blogging experience is definitely worthwhile! The trick is budgeting your time wisely. That's a skill that many of us would love to learn! Julie

Jenna Blake Morris said...

Good luck with the querying! And the waiting that comes with it; that's the part that drives me crazy. I agree -- blogging's definitely worth it, as long as it doesn't take over the writing. Congrats on the award!

Christy said...

It's so true that connecting with others that you may not ever even meet in person is part of all of this crazy writing business. It's great to meet others who love to write!

Peggy Eddleman said...

I totally agree that the best part of blogging is all the great people you make connections with!

Bryce Daniels said...


You GO, girl. It's been a blast watching your blog explode these last few months. And now I read you have a lead to an agent?

Wow. Simply wow. I sincerely hope things continue to move forward for you! Hey, I think soon YOU will be giving away copies of YOUR book!

Jennifer Hillier said...

I had a great time at lunch, too! Oops, did I just out myself? ;) Bryce just mentioned this post to me. Sorry I missed it last week.

Hope you're having a good weekend!

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

Don't you love it when life begins to get exciting?

I love Robin, too. That woman absorbs knowledge like a sponge and it so helpful with what she knows!

I hope things get even BETTER!

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Oh, wow, Nancy - such an honest post! It was really encouraging for me to read, and I completely agree with everything you said. Making genuine connections through the writing blogosphere can make such a difference. :) Also, can I say what a relief it is to hear you say you don't think your writing is half-bad? SO many authors fret about their writing, that it's secretly horrible, but most of the time it isn't. And then other authors get paranoid! And if your blog is any indication, your writing is fabulous. :)

Admin said...

I can't believe I read the whole thing!
Congrats on the award!

Check out my math blog.

Timothy Bowen said...

great post! I always love finding other writers in the blog world. :)

Nancy Thompson said...

Thank you, thank you, everyone! You've all been so supportive. And to have read the WHOLE post. very commendable of you all! To my newest followers, I will be swinging by soon. Thanks for following me!!

McKenzie McCann said...

Just got back from camp and was looking through all of my comments/emails. Thanks for the shout out! Congrats on the awards. Thanks for sharing your story.

Shakespeare said...

Very good post! Well worth the read. Jeff's blog sent me here, and I'm so glad I visited!