Hello, I’m Wendy Toliver. I’m a Simon Pulse author with two romantic comedies: The Secret Life of a Teenage Siren, which came out exactly a year ago; and Miss Match, launching Feb. 10, 2009. And I’m pleased to announce that my original title, Lifted, sold just last month (also to Simon Pulse) and is scheduled to be published spring of 2010.
This fall, I was invited to present a luncheon keynote speech at the League of Utah Writers Conference. I chose a topic very near and dear to my heart, and since this is a time of year we like to reflect on what makes us happy and what we’re thankful for, I’d like to discuss it here today.
Many people believe an author lives in a bubble, where she writes, writes, writes and occasionally takes a break to eat or use the restroom or (if she’s lucky) sleep a few hours. This is sometimes unavoidable. However, I don’t enjoy being in my bubble. I long for human interaction.
I’m guilty of being “a social butterfly,” so finding fellow writers was a natural step for me. When I first started writing, about six years ago, I answered an ad placed in our local paper by international columnist Drienie Hattingh. She was searching for people to start a critique group. Since then, the original group grew and branched out, but the two of us remain close and still critique each other’s work and support one another’s careers.
To further grow my writing network, I joined RWA and met wonderful people at their national conferences. One such person, YA author (Sorority 101 series w/a Kate Harmon and the forthcoming Ghost Huntress series) Marley Gibson, not only helped me with my writing and kept me updated on industry news, she introduced me to the fabulous Christina Hogrebe who became my agent and quickly made my dream to be a YA author come true.
Conferences are a great way to build one’s network, and Drienie Hattingh and I partnered up to bring the first annual Eden Writers Fall Conference (http://www.edenwriters.org/) to life last year, with plans of a second conference in 2010. But for the writer who’d rather network from the home or office, the internet offers many options. There are an abundance of social sites, like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. There are also many Yahoo! Groups to join, or you can even start a new one that serves your specific needs. Blogging is another great way to network. (Of course, these options can also help grow one’s audience, which is always a good thing.)
This year in particular, my writing network grew by leaps and bounds. Much of it is due to a blog my friend and author of The Second Virginity of Suzy Green, Sara Hantz, started with a dozen other YA authors. http://www.teenfictioncafe.blogspot.com/. Another way I grew my network was by promoting my first novel within the community, from school visits to book signings, book clubs to TV interviews. I also joined SCBWI and a Yahoo! Group of Utah-based nationally published children’s book authors and illustrators.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to keep growing and nurturing my writing network. I’m so thankful for everybody who’s helped my dream to be an author come true—teachers, parents, siblings, relatives, husband, sons, friends, fellow writers, and the great folks at Jane Rotrosen Agency and Simon and Schuster. Cheers to you all!
YA author Wendy Toliver lives in the Utah mountains with her husband, three little boys, and other various wildlife. Visit her online at http://www.wendytoliver.com, http://www.pulserocom.com, and http://www.teenfictioncafe.blogspot.com.