I had a fantastic time on Friday at the Rockingham Writers Centre networking night, so I wanted to write a brief overview of what happened. It was the first time I'd been asked to be on an author panel which was exciting in itself. Even though my third book is coming out next week, I still wondered whether I had enough experience and knowledge to help those who'd come to the event. It turned out I needn't have worried because when I started making notes about what to talk about I had plenty!
There were three of us on the panel: Maureen Eppen, who is the pre-published stage of her career. Shona Husk who has published 40 novellas and novels and me. I sit between the other two in terms of career.
Maureen spoke first about her journey so far. She's a journalist and is writing her first novel. She talked about her struggle in getting the first draft completed and finding the time to write. Much of what she said reminded me of my own journey.
Then Shona discussed how she got her first book contract (discovered via the slush pile - it really does happen!) and also emphasised the importance of networking with other authors and industry personnel because she'd got quite a few contracts by being recommended by friends.
Finally it was my turn to speak. I had a bunch of dot points to discuss, starting from when I first decided I wanted to take my writing seriously, up to when I finally got offered my first contract. (You can read about my call story here.) I also offered some suggestions for what the writers should do now to get ahead. The audience had the opportunity to ask us all questions and then we had tea and biscuits and had a chance to chat to each other one on one. It was wonderful to hear about where everyone was on their journey and what their goals were.
One thing I learnt from the night was that everyone is at different stages of their journey and it really doesn't matter what stage you're at, you can always offer someone something - even if it's just support and encouragement. I really enjoyed the networking night and being on a panel, and I look forward to the next opportunity to chat with people who love books and writing. 🙂