I've been writing (with the purpose of someday being published) for eight years. And for that entire time I've been a solitary writer with the exception of my amazing writing group. After LTUE, I started to network with other writers I'd met and authors I had connected with from their panels. This was relatively easy to do thanks to social media and my addiction to Facebook. One of my new author friends joined a Facebook group that intrigued me. It wasn't one with thousands of members who didn't actually interact but rather just promoted their own things and would junk up my news feed. There are tons of those out there but I have nothing to promote yet and really wanted something that had a personal element to it. This group had rules like you had to live in Utah and either it was relatively new or very select in its membership since there were under fifty members. It sounded like everything I could want so I asked to join.
And then they had to vet me... like they do for the supreme court or something. Apparently the Facebook group is just the online presence for an in-person group. Even cooler! One of the rules were that you had to write with the purpose of being published or already be published. And when I got the email asking for validation of my writing credentials before my membership could be approved, I got just as nervous as I do when I'm applying for a job. And also disappointed figuring there was little chance I would be qualified without actually having any publishing credentials. But to my delight, I did get approved. Apparently my humble blog here and finishing two novels is credit enough which I hadn't even given myself. Fodder for another post perhaps?
I am now a proud member of Utah Fantasy Authors!
Which brings us to the confessions part of this post... Because the minute I joined I felt like I was cheating on my writing group. I was very secretive about my involvement until well after I'd attended my first monthly meeting. Partly because I didn't know what to expect or if it was going to fulfill the needs that I had joined for in the first place (plus what if I didn't like anyone?), and partly because let's face it I was kind of cheating on them. However, as I went from new girl to full group member, I realized it is completely different. My writing group only focuses on the craft of writing and critique for each other so we can improve. Utah Fantasy Authors is more about banding together to market our books and giving back to other writers who are just starting out. It is actually no different than belonging to a professional organization in my corporate life - which I do - only for writers. I have since confessed to my writing group and they have forgiven me for my indiscretion - even though they all agree it wasn't really cheating. My writing group buddy who has a book coming out this summer is a member too now which also helps alleviate my personal conflict.
This group is full of fabulous writers who are also very cool people. We're planning local author signings, will have a booth at Salt Lake ComicCon in September, and I will be on my first panel as a writer for a presentation at a public library sometime in October. And I will be having guests here on my blog when I get to read and review advanced copies of books that are getting ready to release. Stay tuned - it's going to be a ton of fun... if I can keep up with all of it, that is!