I’ve spoken before about how important I think it is to have support groups in our lives. We are drawn to people with common interests, and find inspiration and encouragement in our interactions with them. My husband belongs to two woodworking clubs, one for general woodworking and another specifically for wood turners; they understand his obsession with sharp tools and chunks of wood. My son seeks out other video game enthusiasts, an acquaintance is active in a knitting club. There are gardening clubs and book clubs and photography clubs and hiking clubs, clubs that meet every month, others that “meet” on-line. I’ve actually made a few friends through on-line interest groups that have been an important part of my life for several years, though we’ve never met IRL (in real life).
I’ve just returned from St. Louis, Missouri, where I participated in one of the best writers’ conferences I’ve ever attended (and there have been many). Novelists, Inc. is an organization for multi-published authors of popular fiction. We all share the joy of having seen our books in print, and the fears of the changing publishing landscape. We swapped stories about computer-related aches and pains, aging parents, writing with small children in the home, working with agents and editors, surviving creative dry spells, trying to find affordable health insurance, even exchanged a few recipes. Writing is a lonely and solitary job at times, and it’s nice to get together with friends I’ve made during the past twenty years and get to see so rarely.
Our workshops started at 8:45 each morning and concluded with informal “night owl” sessions from 8 until 10 each night. The “forensics day” workshops were fascinating, with presentations from police, FBI, coroner and trauma nurses. Other guests in the hotel were a bit curious about the “crime scene” set up in one of our rooms — a mannequin with a gun in hand and a knife in the chest lay among scattered furniture while bullet holes and bloody hand-prints were taped to surrounding walls. A detective walked us through that scene, showing us exactly what he would see as he studied it for the first time. Fascinating!
Industry professionals — agents, editors, publicists and publishers — presented workshops on the changing face of the business and tips on how to survive in this new electronic world. We also had several paranormal workshops from St. Louis’ Paranormal Task Force and noted “wizard” Dr. Michael Henry (if you’re ever in the St. Louis/St. Charles area, I highly recommend Dr. Henry’s ghost tour. We had a great time). I really enjoyed the paranormal activities, since I’ve been playing with some story ideas that include what I call “woo-woo elements.” The midnight to almost 3 a.m. ghost tour down Main Street in historic St. Charles, Missouri was one of the highlights of my week. What fun!
Now, I’m back at work, finishing the third book in my Doctors in Training series for Silhouette Special Edition. Interestingly enough, one of the themes for this series is the importance of support groups. Five medical students form a study group in book one and grow closer as they navigate the four years of medical school, finding romance along the way, of course. Each book covers one year of medical school, and it’s not a spoiler to reveal that book four will end with a big celebration! Book one, DIAGNOSIS: DADDY was published in August (and is still available by order from eHarlequin.com). Book two, PRIVATE PARTNERS, will be on the shelves in February, 2010.
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