Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Write Circles

 by Dina Sleiman

Early in 2009, three years after I started writing seriously, I hit a wall. I knew writers had to deal with rejection, but that day was just too much. I received a rejection letter from the agent, who at the time, I really had my heart set on. I locked myself in my room to pray and cry, and I realized something. If I didn’t get into a community of writers—and quick—I was never going to survive this industry.

How true that is. The writing world is brutal, and in order to make it, you have to be in the “write” circles.

Problem was, other than those super-scary writers conferences I’d heard of, I had no idea where to start. So I emailed two of my favorite authors, and one of them, Siri Mitchell was kind enough to take me under wing. I drove up to Charlottesville, Virginia to meet her at the Festival of the Book, and she pointed me in the right directions. Through her, I got involved in the American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Hiswriters historical fiction loop. Even better, at that festival I met a lady who had been wanting to go to the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference like me, but—like me—was a big weenie .

So we went together!!!

Five Inkies at ACFW in St. Louis
By that summer, Gina Welborn had the idea to form a group blog. She’d seen the effectiveness of the synergy between the ladies at Seekerville, so she gathered up a group of “Contest Divas” (which thanks to discovering Hiswriters in the nick of time before contest season--I was one), and we joined together to form Inkwell Inspirations. At the time, only Jen AlLee was published. Now over half of us are. Why? Because we’re all there cheering and praying each other on. We pick each other up when we’re down. At times we even critique each others work. And perhaps most importantly, we offer each other priceless industry insider tips.

We’ve all come a long way baby.

Other important relationships to come out of those early introductions were my friendships with Roseanna White and Christine Lindsay. Newbie me tentatively approached these two special ladies and asked them to be my critique partners. Not only did I learn tons from each of them, but Christine and I are now published by Roseanna’s WhiteFire Publishing. And because she knows my tastes and editing ability, Roseanna invited me to be an acquisitions editor as well.

Last week I went to the Blue Ridge Christian Writers conference for the fourth time. And because I’m an editor at WhiteFire Publishing, it was my second year on staff. My writing relationships have continued to grow and flourish to the point that I somehow found myself at Denny’s after midnight with four very famous authors. I won’t name drop, but it seems I’m now hanging out with some amazing, award-winning, best-selling authors. And trust me, I’m listening closely and learning all I can. Some might call it networking, but to me, it’s just having a blast.

People often think of writing as a solitary profession, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. It’s all about relationships. So if you plan to be a writer, get-involved. Get yourself into the “write" circles.

Share with us about your writing relationships. What has worked for you and what hasn’t?


  1. Love the pictures, Dina! Reading this was like a trip down memory lane for me. I was so shy you couldn't say "boo" to me or I'd cry. Then I met Sharon Gillenwater (now my best bud) at a book signing and very shyly told her I write. She told me about RWA and a conference they were having on the Peninsula called "Sleepless in Silverdale." I was terrified, but went anyway. Debbie Macomber was the registration chair and she greeted me like a long lost friend and made me feel like I belonged. I've learned lots from Debbie and Sharon. But one thing that stands out is how I felt when I sat down in that conference after being greeted by Debbie: there were a hundred other people in that room just like me. I was no longer alone. There were others just like me. It was very liberating to find a "home" with other writers.

  2. Writing circles/friends/partners are so important. So much of what we do is solitary work--we need each other for support and fellowship!

    I love the pics, too.

  3. Suzie, Jim Rubart actually posted that same picture on Novel Rocket yesterday and said how I loved to hang out with his fellow "crazies." Writers have rare personality types, but we sure fit great together.

  4. I should probably also mention that I've been very active in my local ACFW, and I'm currently the local coordinator. That's a way for me to be a blessing to beginning writers as well as get support and encouragement. Christy Barritt and our own CJ are also part of the group. A few of our ladies have found agents in the last year or two.

  5. Some of my best friends are my writer friends! Boy, so much has happened since that conference last year. I love experiencing every joy and every new achievement with y'all. God sure has blessed us by putting us all together :+)

  6. Some of my best friends are my writer friends! Boy, so much has happened since that conference last year. I love experiencing every joy and every new achievement with y'all. God sure has blessed us by putting us all together :+)

  7. :) I agree, Jen. What would we do without each other?

  8. No name dropping, Dina? But...but...but that's half the fun of reporting after a conference. (Says the lady trying to figure out who's in the photo.)
    You're depriving those poor authors of a promo spot! Just think of all the new readers they could be gaining just by having you mention their names here on the Inkwell! Really.

    That photo reminds me that I have to go conference shopping soon. I've worn the same sparkly outfit to 2 RWA and 2 (or 3) ACFW ones. Time for a new party dress. UGH

    Great post, Dina. This Contest Diva is now going to go and finish her latest wip. You did say we critique each other's work, didn't you? Ahem. Good.


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  10. i enjoyed this post. it's nice to know Dina will be here in Va Beach for me when i finally get around to getting serious about writing. right now i'm still figuring out how to handle a crazy active toddler's energy - and enjoying every minute of it. too bad i've no energy left to write right now *heavy sigh*

    i do wish you would've name dropped. i'm horrible placing names with faces. is it the first or second photo that has the famous authors? *wink*

    thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts. it is good for me to learn these things.

  11. Anita, you can see the picture with names on Jim Rubart's Novel Rocket post from yesterday.

  12. Deb, I'll definitely be here. See my answer to Anita regarding the picture.


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