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The Importance of Writing Community

Last week, I attended an author event in Jamestown, RI—an author chat with Julie Gerstenblatt, author of  Daughters of Nantucket, hosted by Robin Kall at the beautiful bookstore and winebar Curiosity & Co. and was struck by the importance of writing community.

Writing Community Came First

Writing Community Event
Julie’s Book Signing at Curiosity & Co

I met Julie at another author event through Rhode Island’s book maven and a champion of authors everywhere, Robin Kall of Reading with Robin (what was once a radio show and is now a community through events and social media).

I’ve witnessed Julie supporting other authors at many of Robin’s events and working on novel after novel, persistent despite how hard it is to break into fiction.

Julie Gerstenblatt Lisa Tener
With Julie and her fabulous debut novel!

Persistence And Community Were Keys to Success

Julie has had her big break—an amazing historical fiction tale published by Harper Collins and chosen for their book club picks. She’s on a book tour with plenty of support from the publisher.

Throughout that time of writing, and the ups and downs of having an agent but no book deal for several novels and even more years, Julie continued to get support in the form of writing courses, friendships with fellow novelists and aspiring novelists and exchanging manuscript feedback with colleagues.

Julie has made it, and her book is getting high acclaim. But she didn’t do it alone. She did it in community with other writers and she remained persistent.

Reading and Writing Community at Dinner
Dinner after at Beech Restaurant in Jamestown – more community fun – and a birthday celebration (Happy Birthday, Alayne!)

Easier with Nonfiction?

With nonfiction, the path can be a bit easier. And if you’re self-publishing, even easier. However, being part of a vibrant community, knowing you are not alone, getting feedback on your work, having folks to lift your spirits in the event of rejection and celebrate with you during the ultimate triumphs—and then help spread the word as your book (or articles or other writing) travels into the world—this is so important.

About Daughters of Nantucket

Daughters of Nantucket has all the elements of the best historical fiction:

Daughters of Nantucket book cover
  • Complex characters with strong voices
  • Exquisite descriptions that capture the time and place
  • Excellent research
  • Timeless wisdom
  • Plenty of suspense (I read it in two days and am a slow reader!)
  • A story that’s relevant to today’s issues
  • Complex relationships
  • Spot on storytelling
  • A unique setting that is the perfect backdrop for the action and transformation that take place.

From the book description: “Set against Nantucket’s Great Fire of 1846, this sweeping, emotional novel brings together three courageous women battling to save everything they hold dear….

Read more here.

Words of Wisdom

Here are a few words of wisdom from Julie’s interview with Robin:

  • “If you want to be successful, you have to be open to feedback. Try this. Try that.”
  • “When you get feedback, ask yourself, ‘Is this what’s best for the book?'”
  • “To write historical fiction, read a ton and then forget it all.”

How about you?

What does the writing community mean to you?

How do you engage in the community?

Are there some needs that are not currently getting met?

What can you do to meet those needs?

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

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