FRIENDSHIP - it's so much more than just a 'support network' - by Hywela Lyn
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', http://authorroastandtoast.blogspot.co.uk/ 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'|
|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.
You can find out more about Lyn and her books on her WEBSITE