FRIENDSHIP - it's so much more than just a 'support network' - by Hywela Lyn

When my first novel 'Starquest' was published by the American publisher The Wild Rose Press,  in 2008, I knew nothing about 'promotion'.  Come to that, I knew nothing about E-publishing either, but I was soon to learn about both as my novel would be available both in print and electronic format.

I'd decided to try my luck with an American publisher, since I felt my particular genre 'futuristic romance' had little chance of being published in the UK.  (Four years ago there weren't the same opportunities for self publishing as there are now, and there weren't so many sub genres over here in the romance market. Things have moved on quite a lot since then!)

I learnt that I had to join Author loops and 'make myself known', participate in groups and comment on Blogs.  Before long I found I found other authors were generously offering to interview me on their blogs, mentioning my book and generally helping me to 'learn the ropes.' As time passed, some became real and lasting friends, and we emailed every day, shared successes and disappointments, telephoned across the pond and generally got to know each other. Being published in the US, of course most of my author friends were American, but I also had many good and supportive friends here in the UK - and was lucky enough to meet some at The Festival Of Romance last year.  It was wonderful to meet people I'd only previously talked to by Email, and I was thrilled that the Festival was so close to home, since I don't do a lot of travelling.

One thing I never dreamed of, was that I'd get an invitation to travel to America.
View from the restaurant window.

Two other US romance authors, Mary Ricksen and Patsy Parker and myself, together with an amazing, courageous and inspiring blind author who was battling Type 1 diabetes, Sharon Donovan, collaborated on a  'Fun Blog', The Author Roast and Toast', to help promote other authors ('What goes around, comes around,' as they say, and it's our way of repaying authors who've helped us get our names 'out there' or to help those just starting out.) We became such close friends it's as if we've known each other for ever. Mary  (who lives in Florida) suggested I travel to Pennsylvania with her to meet Sharon.  Unfortunately Patsy wasn't able to make it, but Mary, Sharon and I started making plans, although I'd never been further than France in my life, so the prospect was both thrilling and a little scary.
Sharon's dad, mum, Mary Beth and me

Tragically, a month before I was due to leave for America, Sharon, who'd been admitted to hospital in January for a second major heart operation, suffered a series of setbacks and sadly died after putting up a tremendous fight. Mary and I  were heartbroken, but decided to go ahead and make the trip to Pittsburgh (me from the UK and Mary from Florida)  to meet Sharon's parents, and her sister, Mary Beth, who had been keeping in close contact with us to update us of Sharon's progress after her surgery.

They were just as lovely as we imagined them to be, like Sharon herself,  and we visited the places Sharon had loved with Mary Beth.  It was bitter sweet and we were so sad that Sharon had not made it, to share in our dream of meeting up, but we all felt her presence and felt that somehow she was there with us, sharing our experiences and conversations and helping us make wonderful memories. We went to one of her favourite restaurants, saw the 'spaceship' at Mars where Mary Beth lives, and visited the peaceful cemetary where Sharon was laid to rest, looking towards the trees and mountains, and the beautiful Church where she used to worship.

Mary and me with 'Ascha'
After five days in Pennsylvania, Mary and I spent a very relaxing few days at a lovely guest house, called 'Dream Horse'  in Ohio, in the heart of Amish country.  The owner of the Guest House breeds Hafflinger horses - and guess what, she has written a book about the house and its guests illustrated with the most beautiful photographs and paintings also done by herself.  Writers are naturally drawn to each other it seems, because we had no idea when Mary booked our reservation there that we would make yet another writer friend!

An Amish buggy in Ohio.

 So, from a Conference just half an hour's journey from where I live, to the other side of the world, I have been hugely blessed in being able to meet some of my dearest friends who, although we'd only previously been in contact by telephone and email, feel as though we've known each other for ever.

The writing community must surely be the most supportive and generous in the world, and this Blog, Author's Electric, is evidence of that.  I feel truly priviledged to be part of such a wonderful community.

(Hywela Lyn)

You can find out more about Lyn and her books on her  WEBSITE
She also blogs at her own BLOG, and THE AUTHOR ROAST AND TOAST


Dan Holloway said…
What a moving story. It is, indeed, a wonderful community to be part of. I have met so many wonderful people through writing that even if I never sold another book or had never sold a book it would have been worth taking up the pen just to have met them
Hywela Lyn said…
Thanks Dan - I absolutely agree, writers are a breed apart and the friendships forged are unique and priceless.
Bill Kirton said…
So much for those who say the online, 'virtual' world isn't real. A touching and very real story, Lyn.
Hywela Lyn said…
Thanks Bill - and you're so right. We're all people, and the internet has made it possible for real and lasting friendships to be formed wherever we may live!
Alana Lorens said…
What a nice story...I'm so sorry you didn't get to meet Sharon when you came. But her family surely found it comforting that she had such good friends. Thank you for sharing.
Sarah Tranter said…
A lovely and touching post Lyn. Having first met you online, I too can vouch for the real and lasting friendships that can be formed and how incredibly suportive and generous the writing community is. Hugs. Sx
Paula Martin said…
So glad you had such a wonderful time, Lyn. I'm sure Sharon was there with you both. How wonderful to meet her parents and sister too, they must have been so thrilled to meet you, knowing how much Sharon meant to you both.
And you are right about the writing community and the mutual support. I have made some wonderful friends via the internet - you included, of course ;-)
Miss Mae said…
So thankful that you and Mary were able to meet at last, and that you met Sharon's family. What wonderful memories to treasure forever! :)
Hywela Lyn said…
Hi Alana

Thanks so much stopping by and for your kind comment.

Yes, sad though it was not to have been able to meet Sharon in person, she will always live in the hearts of those who knew her, and it was wondeful to meet her family, and feel the strong connection to her through them.
Hywela Lyn said…
Hi Sarah,

Thanks so much for stopping by.

I am so happy to be able to include you as one of my wonderful friends, who I've not only got to know via emails, but was able to meet at the Festival Of Romance last year.
Big hugs back.
L x
Hywela Lyn said…
Hi Paula

Thank you - it was an amazing experience to not only visit a country completely new to me, which I'd only read about before, but to meet Mary in person, as well as Sharon's famil, and to make new friends. I am truly blessed to have such good and supportive friends, such as yourself. Even if we never meet in person, it's amazing how well folk can get to know each other in the writing community!
Hywela Lyn said…
Hello Miss Mae -

You were one of my very first on-line friends, and have been so supportive, including becoming my crit partner, and not only doing the cover art for 'Dancing With Fate,' but guiding me through the whole process of getting it published myself, on-line. I don't think I could have managed it without you.

It would be wonderful if one day we too could meet in person - but with our shared love of books and four legged critters, we already know each other so well, that it would just be the icing on the cake!

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