Friday, March 8, 2013

Writing is a Team Sport


by Kim Van Sickler

In today's Celebrate the Small Things blogfest post, I'm celebrating every single vote I get on manuscript #63: Muleskinner, for a chance to win a scholarship to the Backspace Writers Conference in NYC in May. If you could add your vote too, I'll celebrate YOU! See below to see how.

Writing is a team sport

I never imagined that sitting at my computer writing stories would turn out to be such a collaborative effort. But it is. Take my current book: Muleskinner. A story set in 1844 on the Ohio Canal, about a 12-year-old mule driver's world turned upside down when a mysterious dog uncovers a box of secrets that lead the orphan to discover his past, escape indentured servitude, and find a sister he never knew he had. So many people are involved in helping me bring this work to life.


There is my local critique group: Tiffany Laufer, Vicki Selvaggio, Jean Daigneau, Judith Leisenring, Mary Ryan, Alison DeBroux and Eric Steinberg, the writing pal who first told me about the Backspace Writers Conference, who have encouraged me with this story, telling me it's my best one yet. There are my fellow writers like Jon Egan, Melissa Kline and Kathy Wiechman who helped me work out kinks in my outline. There is my canal expert Terry K. Woods, and author Marilyn Seguin whose writings about the Ohio and Erie Canal and whose advice and criticisms have strengthened my own story. There are my beta readers: 14-year-old critiquing phenom Nicole Fiorelli, Kathy Wiechman (again!), Marilyn Seguin (again!), Marcia Hoehne, and their incredibly insightful suggestions that I gleefully incorporated into my story, seeing how much stronger my final product became.

But I've only mentioned the people who've helped me write Muleskinner. Next comes the outside-the-comfort-zone part where you put your labor of love out there for people to judge. As I'm sure every published author knows, but I'm just beginning to find out, there's an entire network of people needed to SPREAD THE WORD about your book! 

I'm taking a big chance with this, my third book. My first two books are still tucked safely away on my computer, awaiting life after creation. But Muleskinner, well, this book is special. I've felt from the beginning that this novel IS THE ONE. So I've decided to shake things up a little and travel to my first big NYC writing conference. The conference offers three scholarships for worthy stories. I entered Muleskinner in the contest. Of course it would be nice to win the scholarship, but the real draw is the chance to stand out in the minds of the agents who will select the scholarship winners. Obviously I want this opportunity very badly. So, I've got to get the votes.

I'm cajoling family, friends, acquaintances, begging on social media. Many wonderful people re-posted, voted, and spread the word. I even contacted a couple of canal organizations to see if they could mobilize their members to vote for it. The Ohio and Erie Canalway featured Muleskinner on its FB page, and plans to send out an e-mail blast to its mailing list next week. Metro Parks Serving Summit County tweeted its followers and plans to retweet periodically. I hope all this helps...

It's exhilarating watching the numbers go your way and agonizing watching the other entries pass yours. Every message I get from someone telling me they voted makes my heart swell with gratitude. My resulting roller coaster of emotions leaves me feeling drained. But putting my work out there is the right thing for me to do, now, with this story. There is nothing currently on the market like Muleskinner. So, I humbly ask for you to vote. Here's how you can help.

Go here. Click on the polling feature and vote for #63 Muleskinner through March 15, 2013. And thank you for joining me on this crazy journey.  You are an integral part of the process.

26 comments:

  1. Did it! Good luck :) And yes, they say it takes a small village to write a book.

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  2. Guess what I just finished beta reading? I'm sending Like a River back to you now. I still love the story and the tweaks you made. Can't wait to see it published too!

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    1. Thanks, Kim. And thanks for the helpful suggestions.

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  3. That sounds like an awesome team!!!

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  4. Voted! Great celebrations, it takes a lot of us to write a book ;)

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    1. So true! Thank you. Let me know when I can return the favor.

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  5. Hi, Kim. I'm here through the A to Z Challenge.
    I know exactly what you mean -- writing is a team sport. I'd be a mess without my critique group and writing friends.
    Best,
    Silvia.

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    1. Ahhhh! A to Z Challenge. I've got some posts to write. I'm lucky to have Kathy Wiechman writing half of them (there's that teamwork thing going again.) Look forward to reading your posts!

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  6. I'm happy to help. I voted, and you're now at 151 votes. That "Zebra" memoir thing seems to be doing very well. Who'd vote for a memoir? Do those even sell?
    Anyway - wishing you very good luck! :-)

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    1. Ha! And it's a Hollywood movie memoir to boot. It might sell but don't we already have plenty of those? Thanks for the vote!!!

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  7. I voted! That takes you to 152 votes. Good luck Kim!

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  8. Hi, Kim. I voted. I love how your topic guides your specific promo. And you're so right -- the big thing is who really gets to see your book in this process. Best of wishes!

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  9. I agree. You can't get anywhere without your writing team. Not only do they challenge you to become a better writer. They give you the support you need not to give up. Good luck on winning the scholarship, Kim! :D

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    1. Coaches and cheerleaders. Thanks, Stina.

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  10. So agree we need our team to help with the writing. Good luck on the scholarship. I just added my vote for you. Fingers crossed for you.

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  11. we are all paddling together in this sea of creative writing!
    good luck! those results are rocking your boat!

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  12. Have a great time at the conference and good luck with the scholarship, I'll be happy to help out with a vote! And you're right, if we want to get anywhere with our writing then we have to do it together as a team. (:

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    1. Thanks Tara and Elise! You made my day!

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  13. Thanks for the shoot out. I do think that Muleskinner is THE ONE. Good luck with the scholarship!

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