Updated: Jun 29, 2019
In episode 6, Jeni and Melissa discuss creating a writing community with author K.J. Harrowick. Listen in...EPISODE 6 Writing Community.
Welcome to the Indie Chicks show! I’m Melissa Koberlein, an author and professor of publishing, and she’s Jeni Chappelle, a freelance novel editor.
Indie Chicks celebrates and supports independent women in publishing. We’re a place for writers at all stages of the publishing process. So, whether you’re on the traditional route to publication or self-publishing, you’ve come to the right place for advice.
On this episode:
We’re talking about creating a writing community
End with an author tip of the week
This week we’re joined by K.J. Harrowick. K.J. Harrowick is a freelance web developer and graphic designer with more than a decade on industry experience. As a child, she fell in love with fantasy worlds like those found in the books of Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey, which continued well into adulthood with the worlds of Ivan Cat, Rand & Robin Miller, Terry Brooks, Orson Scott Card, and E. R. Mason. She began to world build and create fantasy languages in 2004, and in 2014 it became a full-blown passion to write and publish her own books. Currently she resides in the rainy Pacific Northwest where she works with a broad range of client projects, plots how to destroy her characters’ lives, and occasionally falls down rabbit holes.
Jeni met K.J. through a pitch contest on Twitter and was immediately drawn to how encouraging and supportive she was of the other participants. They are currently working together on collaborative writing project to showcase how the revision process transforms a rough draft.
Here's the Q & A:
I see on Twitter that you talk about dragons a lot. Please tell me dragons feature heavily in your writing.
They do, actually. I love dragon lore, which first bled onto the page in 2013 with a story I wrote called Dragon Spirit about a young woman trying to recapture her father’s soul. Instead she saves a dying dragon and sets a spark to help reunite their species. From there other stories followed in the same universe, a system of portal worlds filled with more dragon species than humanoid ones. My most polished story in this universe is Blood & Fire, Ash & Bone, where a young mother bonds a dragon to save her dying son. In the process she finds she can have both life and love after years filled with trauma, and that even the smallest decision to do something good can reverberate back in harmful ways. The portal between these two stories hasn’t been opened yet, but my goal is to eventually write the saga that will unite their realms.
The one really cool feature of this universe is that magic doesn’t just exist, it has to be created, and it takes both humans and dragons binding together as one to light the spark.
You know I’m a big fan of Rewrite It Club. I’d love if you could tell us a little more that community and how that got started.
Rewrite it Club is an online community to support writers in the revision trenches. The idea had been percolating for months inside a writer group Jen [Davenport, the co-creator of Rewrite It Club] and I are both involved in. We wanted to give back to the community but couldn’t seem to find the right space. Then the starships aligned one day when Jen and I were both so frustrated with our books we weren’t sure how to move forward. We were working on deep, developmental revisions but most of the writer craft articles were targeting line edits, word choices, or how to write a story—at least the ones we kept finding. But we needed help with the space between, how to tie together story structure, plot arcs, world building and character goals into a single, cohesive unit.
We saw the space we needed for ourselves and our research didn’t turn up any similar communities. Plus, we figured if we needed this platform to grow, others likely did too. It wasn’t long before we held our first chat, and the community expanded from there. Other writers found us, and we discovered an even larger gap out there than we anticipated.
We’ve been active for six months now and our favorite thing to ask other writers is why? Why does the character ride a horse and not a bike? Why this horse? How does it affect the character and their journey? As a community, we’re asking the hard questions of ourselves and our stories, and it’s amazing to see the collection of answers and methodologies each writer employs.
What have the biggest benefits been of forming your own writing community?
The people who have found our little corner of the world are amazing. They’re all such talented writers and hard workers. Engaging in conversation with them is by far the largest benefit. Their insight and crafting ideas echo back to Jen and I in a way that helps us grow as writers. It also helps us understand the uniqueness of each person and how they approach their stories, build their worlds, or even the style they employ with each line to create a strong, vivid picture.
Jeni met K.J. through the RevPit community . How has being involved in other writing communities like RevPit informed your thoughts about what to do with Rewrite It Club?
Writing communities are fantastic, and I would honestly love to see such spaces in other careers. I’ve been influenced by several corners of the writing world, and one of my favorite things is to see the love and excitement writers express when they talk about their books. Whether it’s chatting about pitches, sharing aesthetics, or finding that perfect gif, there’s an energy each person shares with the community. We wanted to bring that excitement into a learning space. So one week we might talk about structure, but instead of laying down dos and don’ts (because all writer mileage varies), we ask questions to get writers problem solving trouble areas while they share the beauty of their stories. The two ideas melded together result in a more positive, engaging environment to grow as storytellers.
What advice do you have for writers out there who feel isolated and want to find a home in a writing community?
Write without limits, edit with purpose.
Someone out there put zombies in a Jane Austin movie and it was beautiful. Someone else threw cowboys in space and it has become a cult classic. If it’s crazy enough to work . . . throw the rule book out and write it. Be free in your ideas.
Tip of the week
Take a deep breath. Don’t get overwhelmed by author platform and networking. Most successful authors talk about platform as a marathon, not a sprint. Building your career as a successful author takes time. Jeni? Thoughts?
On our next podcast, editor Carly Hayward will be joining us. We will also have another Tip of the Week. And don’t forget where to find us! Find our podcast at indiechicks.net or follow us on Spotify or subscribe to Indie Chicks on iTunes. Please rate us! You can follow us on Twitter @Indie_Chicks or Facebook.com/TheIndieChicks.
So, remember, we’re all part of a publishing community, be kind and review your fellow authors’ books. Thanks for listening!
Indie Chicks out.