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Imagining the Future

This past week I had the pleasure of working an author event for someone I really admire. Rachel Lynn Solomon is a romance and YA writer and she's written some of my favorite YA books. She is on tour now promoting her newest book, "Past, Present, Future" and my bookstore held one of her stops. At this event, I was able to attend her discussion and work the signing desk. While working, I felt incredibly inspired. I started to imagine what it might be like someday when I publish my own book.

During the discussion, Rachel was in conversation with Alicia Thompson (another romance writer) and I learned that they were long-time friends. Though this was the first time they had met in person. Years ago Alicia participated in Pitch Wars, which was an online event to help promising authors be paired up with a mentor who might help them get published. Alicia wasn't selected to be a mentee, but Rachel reached out to her and, having loved her pitch, put her in contact with Rachel's agent. She helped jump-start Alicia's career. It was such a touching story and showed the genuine affection between writers of a certain genre. (Or it just showed what an amazing person Rachel is, either way, it made me tear up.)

The thought that someone out there might help me in the same way Rachel helped Alicia is tantalizing to me. Of course, for someone to help me it means I'll have to put myself and my story ideas out there, but I'm working on that part. It also made me think about the kind of person I want to be if (when) I get published. Through this blog and the writing group I run, plus teaching writing at UNF, I've realized I really love being able to help beginning writers find their love in the craft. I want to be the kind of author who helps lift up everyone around me, breaking down the competitive walls that the publishing industry has created.

After the discussion, Rachel and Alicia signed books for everyone. I worked the table, opening up stacks of books to the title page so Rachel could sign faster. I also got to stand and listen to her talking to all her fans. This isn't my first time working an event like this, but it was the first time I was also a fan of the author. I was nervous standing there, worried I would put my foot in my mouth, or overstep by inserting myself in a conversation with her fans, but it was honestly a really great experience. Some people were near tears getting to meet her. Some people came with stacks of all of her books in several different versions. It was such a pure kind of joy watching readers get to meet the creator of their favorite books. And clearly, Rachel loved every single person who came to the event. She gave everyone personal attention, took photos, and asked questions. She handled the overwhelmingly long line with absolute grace.

Again, I started to imagine an author event where people were coming to see me. Of course, I've been to plenty of author events where only 20 people show up, most of them family and friends. That's more than likely going to be what my first few events look like. Maybe a tour with only two or three stops all in Florida at bookstores where I have connections. I hope though, as my stack of publications grows, I might have an event where there's a twisting line of people waiting to tell me what my words meant to them.

I'm so close to finishing my manuscript and starting to look for an agent. I'm hoping that as I continue to work these store events I might find an author in my genre that will be as generous as Rachel was to Alicia and help me on the way. Finding a writing community is so important, but I think finding a mentor is too. It's obviously harder, and not something that can be forced. Some mentors are just in passing like my grad school teachers, but I'm holding out hope I might find that eventual mentor, or even friend, that might help make my publishing dreams a reality.

The bookstore girls with Rachel and Alicia (second and third from the right)

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