Monday, November 21, 2011

Today's Special -- Joan Swan

Everyone know that The Romance Dish loves, loves, LOVES debut authors. There something special about being with an author from her very first published book. And we Dishes love to support, encourage and promote debut authors. Today we welcome debut author Joan Swan. Joan's debut book, FEVER, will be out on February 28, 2012. Joan tells us a little bit about the journey of a debut author and also interviews New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak. Please give a warm welcome to Joan Swan.

Building an author network is one of my favorite topics on the tour for so many reasons, but it all boils down to this: without them, I wouldn’t be here.

We all have support networks in our lives. If you’re not an author, but a reader, all these concepts still apply, and we’re giving away 2 copies of the first book in Brenda Novak’s newest series The Bulletproof Trilogy, Inside! Simply leave a comment to enter. Open international.

Anyone who has traveled this road, attempted to travel this road, watched anyone travel this road or listened to enough of us bitch about traveling this road knows it’s got a few divots. Times a few divots by a few years and those of us who’ve been on it long enough are missing a few vertebrae. Authors help authors fill in those rough spots so they don’t jar our teeth loose. I’ve been on this road for a decade now. If it weren’t for the wonderful friends I’ve developed in this business I’d either be wearing premature dentures, or I’d have jumped on the freeway years back.

If I’d have known from the beginning how powerful friends could be in this business – both personally and professionally – I would have started building friendships from day one. Luckily, I figured it out a couple of years before I sold. And between then and now, each and every author I’ve met has either aided me or taught me something.

Here is my best advice to writers related to building their network:

Start Early - The earlier, the better. Even if you’re just starting out, it’s not too soon to meet people and make connections. That said, let me stress this: don’t force relationships. Tense or uncomfortable relationships will only drain you when you need energy the most. Stay open, keep the idea in mind and friendships with occur naturally. Writers are friendly people who gravitate toward others who understand their unique need to create.

Remember, cream floats to the top. Solid, trusted relationships are not built overnight. Traveling this road with someone builds a bond that will see you through the rough times, be there to celebrate your achievements and aid you when you need it most.

Branch out - Keep an open mind when developing relationships. Screenwriters, teachers, attorneys, physicians…you’d be surprised how many people have always wanted to write, and who may be writing in private on the side. If they’re not writing, they would probably be thrilled to help an author, because living vicariously is the next best thing.

  • Genre

    Socialize outside your genre. You’d be surprised how many people may tell you they read romance, but love to pick up the latest YA when their kid goes to bed. And something I learned a very long time ago that still holds true—good writing crosses all genre; writing craft can be shared equally throughout fiction and is one element that brings all fiction writers together. Craft is a fabulous way to meet and build friendships outside your main writing genre.

  • Media

    Today’s writers have amazing social tools at their fingertips. There is absolutely no reason every writer can’t be out there meeting both writers and readers. With so many options, there are several alternative for every personality types, from the shyest introvert to the boldest extrovert. You don’t have to do them all, in fact, I don’t recommend it. I suggest trying a few out, finding what suits your personality and build from there. The information available through these channels is limitless. The support amazing. I would be lost without my blog buddies and my Twitterverse. I’m still on the fence about Facebook – but it’s a must for others. Everyone is different – find what works for you.

Give - This may lean toward personality or personal preference. I will readily admit that giving is part of my genetic makeup and I would give regardless of what I received in return. It’s not always a good thing. I can and often do hinder myself when I can’t balance this characteristic. But what I gain on the flip side is beyond expectations. In a practical sense, if you help someone and that person helps you in return, you are leveraging resources and getting ahead simultaneously. In a theoretical sense, like attracts like, so by giving you create a spirit of generosity toward yourself and the universe gives back.

Giving can be generosity in any form: information, aid, financial support, emotional support, camaraderie, friendship, promotional help…the list goes on. And giving can benefit more than one person at a time – it’s called a win-win, and the more you look for those winning opportunities, the more they appear.

Here are just a few ways my network of author friends have benefited me over the years:

My author friends have brought me:

The blurbs for my debut novel.
A heartfelt thank you to Larissa Ione, Stephanie Tyler, Elisabeth Naughton and Bonnie Hearn Hill.

  • This fabulous Tour: Journey of a Debut Author. Deep appreciation to the wonderful Lauren Dane, Kat Martin, Pamela Palmer, Suzanne Brockmann, Carly Phillips, Brenda Novak, Sharon Sala, Cindy Gerard, Christina Dodd, Marjorie Liu, Anne Stuart and Lara Adrian and my blog tour coordinator Ashley March!

  • Joint Reader Meet & Greet Conference Ops: Thanks to uber-authors for including me: Cynthia Eden, Caridad PeƱiero, Lisa Renee Jones, Donna Grant and Elisabeth Naughton.

  • Conference Workshop Panel Ops

  • Multiple joint promotional ops

  • Book review swap ops

  • Cross promotional ops

  • Group blog tour ops

  • Shared print ad ops

  • Emotional support, professional advice, friendship of more fantabulous authors than I could name.

Here are some of the locations I found best for connecting with other writers:

  • Craft courses

  • Conferences

  • Book Signings

  • Critique Groups

  • Writing Organizations

  • Online (as noted above)

This topic feels very appropriate for my guest today, Brenda Novak. Brenda is well known for her longtime generous effort to the search for a cure for Diabetes. She is, of course, also a New York Times Bestseller, with more than 35 books written and over 3 million copies sold. She is also a two-time RITA nominee. You can find Brenda at her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Her most recent series, The Bulletproof Trilogy, Inside 6/11, In Seconds 8/11, and In Close 10/11 are all available now and we’ll be giving away 2 copies of Inside today! Serendipitously, her own debut novel, Of Nobel Birth, is currently one sale in e-format.

Now, Brenda will give us her take on developing an author network.

Brenda, did you have an author network of friends before your publication?

Brenda: No. None. Those friends I did have looked down on romance and considered me a "sell out." I remember my "best friend" coming to my first book signing. Not only did she not buy the book--she wouldn't even touch it.

How did you develop your author support network? Where did you find them?

Brenda: I joined RWA, which I didn't know existed until after I'd finished my first book and was ready to start marketing it. Then someone who worked for a non-fiction publishing house in Sacramento mentioned the organization and suggested I attend the annual conference. I owe that person a lot because I credit RWA with providing all the tools I needed in order to get published.

How did you and your author network support each other early in your careers?

Brenda: At first, we critiqued for each other, shared hotel rooms at conferences, celebrated our successes as a group. Sharing information is key in this business, so there was that, too.

How has your support network changes as your career has grown?

Brenda: I've been lucky enough to have a lot of the writing community support my efforts to raise money for diabetes research and consider them all family. I think joining forces in this way has really enhanced my life (more than just my career). I'm not sure the network has changed significantly in other ways. It's sort of like writers join with their own "graduating" class. I'm still friends with those who were trying to break in when I was and we still give support and share information.

How has your friendship with other authors benefited your career?

Brenda: This is huge. It makes what I do so much more fun. I would never want to be an island. I enjoy going to speak at conferences because it puts me in touch with a whole new group of like-minded people, people who love to talk books and writing as much as I do.

What would you suggest new authors do to develop their own network?

Brenda: I think it's imperative to join a writing organization and to get and stay active in it. I think a new writer should also get a web page and start gathering a mailing list.

Have you found social media or conferences more advantageous to developing a supportive author network?

Brenda: Conferences have been a lot more effective for me. There's just no way to replace that one-on-one contact and face time.

If you’re a writer, share one of your favorite ways to build your network of friends.
If you're a reader, tell us about one of the helpful networks in your life and how you keep it going.

All comments enter you to win 1 of 2 copies of the first book in Brenda Novak’s newest series The Bulletproof Trilogy, Inside! Open Internationally.


Joan Swan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist, and a double Kiss of Death Daphne Du Maurier finalist. She writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist, and her first novel with Kensington Brava debuts April, 2012. Currently, she works as a sonographer at a one of the top ten medical facilities in the nation, and lives in magnificent wine country on the central coast of California with her husband and two daughters. You can find Joan on her website, Twitter and Facebook.


  1. As an aspiring writer, this was a very insightful interview. Thank you so much for the information and what a wonderful giveaway.


  2. i think the one of the helpful networks in our life and keep it going is kept fixed to mantain communication with people around us and always take care with them

    so interesting with your book ;)

  3. You're welcome, Jennifer. Thanks for joining us!

  4. Hi Eli--

    Great point, Eli. It's not about having your network support you as much as it is doing your part. It doesn't work unless it's a symbiotic relationship.

  5. Welcome, everyone! Joan, it's wonderful to have you with us today. Congrats on your debut book! How very exciting!

    Buffie is already at work and I'm leaving in a few minutes so we won't be able to comment until later this afternoon. Please make yourselves comfy and have a good time. We'll "see" you later!

  6. What a wonderful post, Joan and Brenda. I think all too often, people think of networking as a negative thing, when the reality is that meeting new people who share a common interest can be incredibly rewarding and very, very positive.

    I think of the amazing people I've met since I began my journey in publishing and can't imagine not having them as a part of my life.


  7. Best wishes Joan!
    I'm glad that you were embraced by such a fun loving romance community!!

    I've been reading your books for a long, long time. I loved your Enchantment series. Also your books set in Dundee, Idaho.

    Best wishes for continued success with THE BASTARD!

  8. Welcome, Joan! Huge congratulations on your debut novel. As Buffie said, we love debut authors! :-)

    Networks are key in life. RWA is one of the best organizations around. To me, the romance community is the most generous, open groups I have ever seen.

  9. Jennifer, thank you for stopping by.

  10. Eli, you are so right about communication. It is essential to any network. :-)

  11. Addison said: I think all too often, people think of networking as a negative thing, when the reality is that meeting new people who share a common interest can be incredibly rewarding and very, very positive.

    Addison, that is so true, and even more so when it comes to the romance community.

  12. Hi Joan! Happy release party!

    I have to say I am an accidental fan of Brenda's. I got one of your books in a bundle special offer and had to go buy the other two in that trilogy.

    I love one on one meetings to grow my social networks, but online often leads to those face to face meets. RWA is a wonderful source, but also my crit group often introduces me to new friends.

    Great post/interview!

  13. Hi Jennifer, so glad it was helpful! Good luck with your writing and thanks for stopping by!

  14. Eli, Very true, those around us, no matter whether family, friends, neighbors, or even strangers, if you care for them, you're setting things right. Thanks for coming out!

  15. Addison, I am one of those people! I heard the word "networking" and envisioned people "selling" themselves to each other.

    The way I've developed my network of authors is to help others--help them promote, help them write, help them locate resources, help them feel up when they're down, help them move forward when they feel stuck...

    And in turn, I've found a lot of help when I need it. The "sales" part of networking comes out of mutual respect and caring -- far more heartfelt than from a "selling" perspective.

  16. Laurie,

    The romance community is truly fun and loving and inclusive. A wonderful, loving group of women (and a few great guys as well) :) Thank you!

  17. Thank you Gannon! Agreed on the romance community!!

  18. Calisa, (what a pretty name!)

    I've found so many of my friend on the internet first, then met them in person (usually at conferences).

    Thanks for the release congrats! Hope to meet you at a conference sometime soon!

  19. Congrats, Joan, and thanks for sharing. With my debut title fast approaching release, I'm amazed at the talented, caring, intelligent, generous, and a lot of times, really funny women I've met so far. It seems romance draws the best.

  20. Mackenzie,

    I agree! Romance does draw the best -- writing wise and personality wise! :)

    Good luck with your debut! And congrats! When do you release? When is your follow up? My second is out in October. You're welcome on my blog anytime. You can email me at joan @

  21. Addison, love your name! I agree that networking can come off as too self-serving, but that's not the type of networking I believe in. The whole is always greater than the sum of its individual parts so the more we band together, the better and stronger we will be as a group. Everyone has to get what they need--not just one-half of the equation, you know?

  22. MacKenzie, I agree with you! I've never met kinder, more generous people than in the romance genre.

  23. Hi Gannon! Wow, you have a cool name, too! :-) Love it!

  24. Thanks, Laurie. Sounds like you enjoy small town contemporary! You might be glad to know that I have a new small town contemporary series like the Dundee series coming out next year. It's set in the fictional town of Whiskey Creek, which is right in the heart of gold country here in Cali. The first book is titled WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES and will be released from MIRA Books in September. WHEN SNOW FALLS will be out in November and WHEN SUMMER COMES will be out in February. :-)

  25. Thanks, Calisa. So you got one of the latest trilogy in some sort of bundle? Interesting. Was that something I donated to an RWA chapter or was it something my publisher did?

  26. Networks are great because they give you such a wide variety of peopl to communicate with

  27. What a great post. I'm in New Zealand so it's not as easy with conferences etc, but I have met some wonderful people online, both writers and readers. The thing to remember is that support and networking is a two-way thing. Give freely and you will receive help in spades.

    All the best with your debut book, Joan.

  28. The most helpful network I have is my church community. I keep it going through multiple volunteer activities.

    Thanks for a good column!

  29. Might sound silly but sharing a room with other writers at cons is the BEST networking! It's fun, sure, but I've also heard some of the most honest and heartfelt talk about writing. I suppose that's because of the fuzzy pajamas :) I wonder if guy writers have the same sort of fun.

  30. Hey Rachel, Well many people I wouldn't ordinarily meet in my day to day world I can chat with in other networks I've developed.

  31. Hi Shelley! Good to see you here. I know Brenda has been huge into the two-way thing (and I meant that in the bes possible way :)) for a very long time, and once I stopped trying so hard to market the way everyone "told" me to or the way I thought I "should" and started networking the way it felt "right", everything fell into place and I found my comfort zone in that two-way niche.

  32. Hi LSU,

    Church is a wonderful community networking opportunity and a fabulous place for volunteer work. I'm so happy you've found such a rewarding location for your work.

  33. Hi Jessa! I's those adjoining rooms where you can leave the door open and run in and out of each other's rooms borrowing blow driers and makeup and pinning each others's bonding.

    Oh, wait...did you mention writing? I guess there is a little talk of writing...amoung talk of hot guys and sex scenes and a lot of laughing and vodka and cranberry juice stashed under the sink...

    Yep, that sharing room stuff is the best ;)

    (And no, the guys NEVER have as much fun as we do)

  34. Thanks for the wonderful post. Great information.

  35. Joan, a big welcome to you! As you can tell, we just love debut authors here at The Romance Dish!! Especially when they bring author friends like Brenda Novak. A big hello there to you, Brenda :-)

  36. Jennifer, even though I am not an aspiring author I found the interview very insightful too. I always like to see the behind the scenes stuff.

    Eli, it usually comes back to communication doesn't it?

  37. I think of the amazing people I've met since I began my journey in publishing and can't imagine not having them as a part of my life

    Great comment, Addison! Networking is a most in this world, no matter what your occupation or dream may be.

  38. I'm glad that you were embraced by such a fun loving romance community!!

    Laurie, the romance community is like no other. Every person is such sweet and welcoming.

  39. As Buffie said, we love debut authors! :-)

    Ahhh, we sure do, Gannon ;-)

  40. I love one on one meetings to grow my social networks, but online often leads to those face to face meets.

    So true, Calisa. I love it when I finally meet a online friend in person. So many smiles and laughs.

  41. It seems romance draws the best.

    Mackenzie, that statement is SO true. Congrats on your upcoming debut!

  42. Raonaid, thanks for stopping by today!

    Shelley, you know, online buddies are just wonderful. The four of us Dishes were online buddies for years before we finally met up ... and it's been nothing but fun (and dancing!) ever since.

    LSUReader, my church community is very important to me too. BTW, my youngest son is cheering for LSU this football season ;-)

    Jessa, great tip! And don't get us Dishes started on pajama parties -- we tend to stay up really late, giggling over some of the strangest things.

  43. Hi, Joan and Brenda! Welcome to you both! I really enjoyed this interview. I have to agree with many of the others and give a shout-out to how supportive the romance community is. I'm not an aspiring writer, but I love to spread the "romance love"!

    Btw, GREAT cover, Joan! Yummy!

  44. Buffie said: And don't get us Dishes started on pajama parties -- we tend to stay up really late, giggling over some of the strangest things.

    LOLOLOL!!! Do we ever. ;-)

  45. I can't say I am into any networks but I am a reader and visit a lot of blogs and it helps me keep up with books and such. I love book blogs.

  46. Congratulations, Joan, on your book. This has to be a very exciting time for you and the icing on the cake after all of your hard work. I admire you for your determination to reach your goal. All the best and I look forward to reading your new book.

  47. Great post and great interview!

    Congratulations, Joan, on your debut! That cover is enticement enough alone for me to want to read your book. WOWZA!

    I have been so very lucky on my writing journey. Not published yet, but still working steadily toward that goal. I have met so many people on this journey via blogs, critique groups, RWA - both at national conferences and at my local chapter. I have two fabulous published mentors who have been so very generous with their time and encouragement and advice - Diane Gaston and Anna Campbell, you are two of the most amazing women I know! AND I met my very best friend in the world through an online writing group.

    Writing is such a solitary endeavor at times. I think the most valuable thing about a network is the idea you are NOT alone on this journey. Sometimes that makes all the difference in the world.

  48. LOL, Thanks Buffie! Great to be here!

  49. Andrea, thanks so much for the welcome and the cover love. Kensington did a nice job with those abs, yes?

  50. Hi Virginia,

    I believe book blogs are a network of sorts. I've been hopping around the blogsphere a lot lately and not only do I see familiar faces, but I find a similar type of person out here, enthusiastic, energetic, positive and welcoming. This is a great environment.

  51. Connie, Sweet, sweet words, my friend! Thank you so much!

  52. Hi Louisa,

    With mentors like Diane and Anna, I'd venture to say you're not far off from that published future.

    Thanks so much for you comments on the cover *vbg*

    You are right on with the lonliness of the writing endeavor and the need for a close network! Good luck with your writing! Won't be long now, darlin'

  53. Welcome Joan! Got here a little late... Good luck with your upcoming book I wish you great luck and hope to see loads of your books in print soon. Great article...


  54. Hi Joan and Brenda! Joan, congragulations on your debut! I am a reader and I visit a lot of blogs. They are so great in helping me find new authors and new books. The romance community is wonderful.

  55. What a terrific blog this has been. I'm sorry for being so late to the party. The only thing I would like to add is that I, as a reader who has not seriously considered writing, I am asked often by friends why I don't try to write. I think they are responding to my enthusiasm when I speak about the books I love so much. One thing I have to say is that all of the writers I have had the honor of meeting have been universally warm and approachable.

    I thank both of you for sharing your advice and experiences today. Maybe one day I WILL try writing!