Monday, December 21, 2009

Novel Matters Celebrates!

When our agents contacted us, just over a year ago, to suggest we come together and team blog, I'd never heard of Bonnie Grove, Patti Hill, or Latayne Scott. At first - can you believe it, with each woman so different? - I had trouble remembering which was which. On our first conference call, we had to state our names every time we talked.

Sharon and Debbie I already knew and loved, and Wendy assured us we would all get along extremely well, and that the blog would be a great way to encourage the reading and writing of up-market fiction. It seemed a smart idea.

How little I knew. This blog - my friendships with these ladies, as well as the opportunity to enter into your reading and writing lives and to invite you into ours, has been an extravagant gift.
Today we are looking back on a great year, and looking forward to an even better 2010.

I came to the blogging world kicking and screaming. How in the world did I expect to fit another writing assignment into my already FULL schedule? And honestly, who cared a wit about what I had to say?

Then I met my blogging partners.

Of course, there was room for Debbie, Bonnie, Katy, Sharon,
and Latayne! If my schedule required slicing and dicing--and it did, fine. Anything to make room for these wonderfully talented, gut-splittingly funny, and precious-to-Jesus (and me) ladies.

I need these ladies. They cover for me and teach me things about writing I didn't know I should know. They walk faithfully with the Savior, mimic Him in His love. They pray for me. Encourage me. Love me.

No more kicking and screaming here.

And to all of you who drop by to share, thank you very, VERY much. I've learned so much from you, been challenged to look at writing from a new vantage and been encouraged by your thoughtful observations. You are so generous! I appreciate the precious gift of your time in this world that pulls us all from hither to yon.

As for looking down the road, I'm excited. I have a novel to finish and friendships to cultivate through NovelMatters and SheReads. Coming to this blog on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays is like opening a present. That's 156 presents in 2010! And I like presents.

Merry Christmas, dear readers! Emmanuel! God is near!

~When I began in the world of publishing I quickly learned I was in over my head. I remember saying to my agent, "I need a mentor." I began praying, and God sent me five godly, gifted women. It is a lavish gift (I comfort myself in the knowledge that God is lavish in His giving and not that I have a particularly astounding deficit that requires the faithful attentions of no less than five women in order to tame it). Not a day has gone by that I have not thanked God for the gift of these amazingly talented, intelligent, women.

The blog itself has been a massive blessing. The community built here (and the numbers are growing) has offered so much more to me than I can ever hope to return into it. Help, laughter, a true sense of belonging - I have found it here with you.

A highlight for me was the Audience with an Agent contest we held this fall. We were blessed to read the hearts and hard work of so many writers. You should have seen the flurry of rejoicing e-mails that flew between the six of us when Sharon told us Wendy requested two manuscripts from the top six. I'm looking forward to the next Audience with an Agent Contest (this time Janet Grant is the reading agent!) to be held VERY soon (get those novels polished!).

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy, New Year. Peace.

Like Patti, I was reticent to enter the world of blogging -- for two reasons. One, I was afraid it would take too much time away from writing -- as if blogging weren't writing!
And two, I wondered what I might have to say on a consistent basis that would be of interest to anyone. And yet, when my wonderful agent Wendy ran the idea by me of participating in a group blog with authors she thought I'd have a lot in common with, the idea was more than intriguing. For me, it was a way to enter the blogosphere without having to carry the ball completely on my own.

A few weeks later when Latayne, Patti, Bonnie, Katy, Debbie and I had our first conference call to begin working out the details, I couldn't believe how much fun we had, how much we laughed, and hit it off. It was -- to quote one of my favorite lines from Sleepless in Seattle -- magic! When several of us met at a writers' retreat, I thought, no, this wasn't magic, this was inspired. A week with the six of us together at Mt. Hermon Christian Writers' Conference only confirmed that.

This has been a wonderful year at Novel Matters, not just with my five compatriots, but with all of you. You're the reason we do this. Your contributions make all the difference. We're looking forward to our affiliation with SheReads in the new year, and pray that we will be a blessing to you, as you are to us.

May God bless you richly, may you have the best Christmas EVER, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Thank you for hanging with us!

It's been a wonderful year at Novel Matters getting to know Sharon, Katy, Bonnie, Patti and Latayne. They have become much more than friends - they are mentors, confidants and prayer partners. Each brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, and a humble, willing spirit. I feel honored and blessed to be among them.

The highlight for me was the privilege of being together at the Mount Hermon Writer's Conference last spring. It has also been a privilege to be part of the Audience with an Agent contest, to read the heart of writers and hopefully help someone move toward representation.

I wondered initially about the commitment involved in blogging regularly with seasoned bloggers, but we have a great support system in each other. When one is overwhelmed by deadlines and/or family stuff or forgets to post, someone steps forward with the perfect post. God always provides.

But the best thing about Novel Matters has been connecting with so many wonderful writers and readers. Thank you for the opportunity to get to know you better. Merry Christmas, and keep writing in the new year!

Well, I'm bringing up the rear of this discussion because I posted something previously and the internet dog ate my homework. Really. And it was an A+ post.

In it, I described how reticent I have always been to share anything with other readers and writers about the writing process as I've experienced it. Such a thing felt pretentious to me.

But with this unaccustomed exposure here on NovelMatters has come a commensurate feeling of satisfaction when people who comment on this post say, "I feel that way too," or, "That's the way it works with my writing," or (best of all), "here's a suggestion for that."

This marvelous partnership with our brilliant agents and the extraordinary other authors has been a great gift to my life. And instead of you readers being faceless emails or elusive postings elsewhere, you have become real personalities to me.

It takes a village to raise a writer, I guess. And you've raised this one up to great heights of praise to a God who has brought us all together.


Steena Holmes said...

I for one am blessed and thrilled you all came together! I don't think I've read a post yet that I haven't walked away with a clearer understanding or new appreciation for the blessing of God and my passion for writing.

Thank you girls for taking the time to write such insightful posts, for your prayers and for the caring that shines through so clearly.

Merry Christmas ladies!

Patti Hill said...

You're very kind, Steena. Thank you for being the most important part of NovelMatters. Great writing to you!

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Thank you all for this blog. I've been blessed by it since I discovered Novel Matters in the spring. I'm still striving to write upmarket fiction. Blessed Christmas to each here.

Bonnie Grove said...

Steena: You've been such a fun and inspiring part of the year for me, and for all of us! Merry Christmas, girl!

Pat: Thank you so much. We've loved getting to know you and look forward to more in 2010. And looking forward to hearing of your future writing successes!

Steve G said...

I have had a great time reading this blog. I have had a great time getting to "know" you six ladies through your writing, posts, and comments. I haven't made it through all 27 of your novels (how many are coming out next year for y'all?) but I am working on it.

Y'all have filled voids in places you didn't know existed, and only eternity will reveal the extent of your ministry. You have also taught many of us stuff we didn't know we didn't know.

I have come to the conclusion that relationships (how you deal with others) is really what life is all about; and I appreciate each of you for what you bring to the table here at Novel Matters. You care about people - without prejudice!

I think you ladies should do an anthology this year, each of you contributing 2 or 3 short stories that puts your best writing forward. Use it as a text to refer too on some of your posts - it would be great!

Writing is a unique profession. You sit at home making stuff up. You are composers that use words instead of musical notes, creating Arias and symphonies for all to enjoy. be encouraged, and a s a famous man once said, "Never give up; Never surrender." Keep on writing.

Anonymous said...

Sharon, does this mean you're out of the hospital? Hope you're okay now and can celebrate Christmas at home!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Lynn, I'm out of the hospital, and celebrating the Christmas season with my family once again, hurray!

Steena, thank you for your comment. We're so happy to contribute to the writing life on your behalf, but trust me, you contribute to ours as well.

Pat, remember, iron sharpens iron, and that's what we're all doing here together.

Steve, your presence here is so appreciated. You add so much every time you speak up. I look forward to the day you take up the pen. It's coming, if it hasn't already begun. And you're so right, it's all about relationship. After all, isn't that what Bethlehem is all about?

Word verification: riblent - what Adam did for Eve.

Lori Benton said...

Sharon, so good to hear you are home.

I've been blessed by this blog and all of you writers and readers this past year. And I'm happy to have been there at Mount Hermon last spring to meet you in person, and watch some of you meet each other in person for the first time, and some of you get recognized by awards. I'll always have a picture in my mind of you all lined up in a row on one of the back benches by the door in the auditorium, where I also gravitated to sit during most assemblies. :)

Blogging takes much time and thought, as I've learned this past year, and I thank you all for what you pour into this one. Even when I don't respond I gain much from the discussions here. You have made this a place that stretches my brain, while warming my heart. And always, always encouraging my spirit.

Merry Christmas Sharon, Katy, Debbie, Latayne, Patti and Bonnie!

Judy Gann said...

You ladies have brillant agents. :-)

I, too, have learned much posts. Thank you!

One of the joys of 2009 was meeting all of you in person. I'm blessed to call each of you a friend.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Judy, you're a blessing to us as well. We've gained much from your wisdom, and so appreciate your friendship and your input to NovelMatters.

Carol J. Garvin said...

I've gained so much from your posts this year. Thank you! Blessings to each of you in the coming New Year.