Vanessa's here! We're excited to welcome Dish favorite, Vanessa Kelly back to the blog today. The Dishes had the pleasure of being present at this year's Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight & Magnolias Conference when Vanessa was awarded the prestigious Maggie for Best Historical Romance for Sex And The Single Earl. Believe me, there weren't many dry eyes at our table when her name was announced! Vanessa is here today to blog about her journey from beginning writer to Maggie winner. Please give her a warm welcome!
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
But once I wrote the final words to that manuscript, my peaceable little kingdom of one began to expand. I gave it to my husband to read and I sent it to a friend, a romance-loving English prof and book critic, who provided me with editorial feedback. Then I happily stumbled upon the local chapter of the Romance Writers of America, found critique partners, began entering contests, found an agent, and finally found an editor.
Then I encountered the most important element in the writing equation—readers, including the incredible community of romance bloggers and reviewers who do so much to support the genre.
My sophomore effort was a book called Sex And The Single Earl. It quickly dawned on me that writing a book didn’t have to be such a solitary process. This time around I had critique partners and beta readers from the get-go. They critiqued various iterations of the manuscript, and prevented me from making truly stupid mistakes that might have sunk the book. I had the support of my publisher, the gift of a phenomenally beautiful cover (with a wonderful quote from the fab Anna Campbell), and support from the romance blogging community and other authors who let me appear on their blogs to natter on about my book, my research, hot guys, and just about anything else I could think of to interest readers.
|Vanessa & Kim Castillo|
And there were the readers who bought Sex And The Single Earl and took the time to write and tell me they loved it. I also appreciated the readers and reviewers who didn’t like the book, because more than once their feedback clarified something for me about my writing, something I could use when I next faced that lonely blank page.
Still, I hadn’t yet fully realized how much I was now part of a community, one that made a real difference to the quality of my life. But then I got an unexpected and very welcome call informing me that I had finaled in the Maggie Awards, the contest sponsored by the Georgia Romance Writers. In fairly short order, I decided hubby and I should attend the Moonlight & Magnolias Conference, where the Maggies finalists would be honored and the winners announced.
|Vanessa & the Dishes|
|Vanessa wearing her Maggie medallion|
Others, like P.J., Gannon, Andrea, and Buffie had blogged about the book and given me encouragement and support. It was an incredible moment for me, not just because I had won, but because I could share the win with my husband and so many good friends. In that moment, I truly realized I was part of a vibrant community—one that in its generosity had welcomed me with open arms. And how cool is that?
|Vanessa and her wonderful husband|
Who is in your village? How do they make your life better?
Find out more about Vanessa and her books at her website, like her at Facebook and follow her at Twitter and Goodreads.
In addition to the daily Anniversary prize from the Dishes, Vanessa is also giving away a Books & Sweets prize package - some delicious chocolates and all four of Vanessa's books - to one randomly chosen person leaving a comment on today's blog. (U.S. & Canadian addresses only)
**NOTE: We are giving away prizes all week and want everyone to be included. Please put U.S. (if your mailing address is in the United States) or INT (if you live in a country other than the United States.) at the end of each of your comments, so we know which prize drawings to enter you in. The more comments you leave this week, the more chances you'll have to win!**
For today only, please indicate CAN if you live in Canada so we can put your name in the draw for Vanessa's prize.
Don't forget to come back this Saturday when we'll list all the prize winners from our Anniversary Celebration!