Saturday, November 8, 2008

Unforeseen Consequences

by Sharon Lathan

I am sure that if you lined up a hundred published authors and asked for their testimony, you would receive a hundred different stories. Some began weaving stories in their cradles while others, like me, were bit by the bug later in life. The decision for when to take those secret scribblings and share them with others would be vastly variable. Then there is the search for the elusive agent and publisher. Maybe you got lucky the first time around or it took years and you amassed enough rejection letters to keep a blaze going for a month straight. But in the end, it seems that the one thing all published authors have in common is, well, being published! Where it goes from there – success vs. failure, marketing strategies, further writing, yada yada – will also flow down unpredictable paths, but more than likely you can find someone out there in our world of easy networking who has been through something similar and can commiserate. Thank God for that!

But, I wanted to take a moment to share the consequences, offshoots, by-products of this road that are not directly tied to the publishing game yet never would have happened if we had not set our feet on the pavement. I am going to focus on positive outcomes, but of course all possibilities exist.

Firstly, I have my own website. Maybe that seems like no big deal to this MySpace generation, but I am 99.9% certain that I would NEVER have sat down to blog about my boring life! The very idea not only gave me the willies but seriously baffled me. I still don’t really get the purpose unless you have a reason to do it, i.e.- a book to sell! And although I really have a great time with my website, I still keep it Regency/Publishing focused because I can’t imagine that there is a person alive out in cyber-world who really cares what I ate for breakfast or what music I am listening to! Nonetheless, this little hobby of writing gave me a logical reason to do something that I am discovering is loads of fun.

In my early days after watching the 2005 movie “Pride and Prejudice” I began haunting the various websites devoted to the flick, which lead me to JAFF and eventually to writing my own. The rest is history, as they say. During those frivolous days of chatting about scenes and comparing it to the book, I started becoming intrigued with Matthew Macfadyen, who played Mr. Darcy. Folks from the UK, where he is very popular, would talk about how great an actor he is, and I was curious. Sure, he is hot, but can he act beyond being surly and lost in love? Well, the answer is: Yes! Over time I have seen just about everything he has done and found them all brilliant, have become an active member of the Topix MM forum, and have turned one of my website photo albums into an official repository of images. In a secondary development, I have learned about some terrific UK programs and period dramas that I surely never would have seen otherwise. I have made friends with other fans of his and in two weeks a group of us will be attending the LA premiere of Matthew’s newest film “Frost/Nixon” where we will have the honor of meeting Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Michael Sheen! I grew up outside of LA but have never been to Beverley Hills, Hollywood, or seen a special movie screening, so I am seriously stoked! Doubt if Matthew will fly over from London, but we are keeping our fingers crossed. Yep, I have turned into a geek!

As cool as the others are, the best outcome for me personally are the friends I have made through this endeavor. I began by posting chapters and short stories on various JAFF sites, finally creating my own, and the wealth of positive feedback not only inspired me to keep writing, but introduced me to dozens of really wonderful people from all corners of the globe, literally. The vast majority of the commenters would never be more than a name, but there have been several who I have corresponded to over the years that have become lifelong friends. I have a dear pal in The Netherlands, another in Australia, one in Scotland (Who is coming to the F/N premiere!), a couple in the UK, and many more from our 50 States! It is fabulous!! Every one of them, whether casual acquaintances or eternal buddies, are precious to me. And now I have my Casa Babe sisters to add to that list of special persons who touch my heart and enhance my life in some way. Having a website is cool, reliving my adolescence by being in an unofficial fan club is fun, but nothing beats the joy of personal interactions with living, breathing individuals.

So, what surprising results have you had along your pathway to the big-time of publishing?


  1. Oooo Sharon, your blog just about gave me shivers. You might find this a stretch, but being a big science fiction and philosophy nerd, I have always been fascinated by the spinning world of cause and effect. You never know what far-reaching results a little action may have. On a less spooky note, I have liked Matthew since I watched MI5. In fact, it's a TV show I reference in my own book . . . coincidence? Hmmmm. Oooo, wait, we're back to spooky again.

  2. For me, the best part of being published has been the CasaBabes (by far) and the other new friends I've made along the way. Glad you're enjoying your journey, Sharon, and do let us know how the premiere goes!

  3. I think the nicest thing is the letters I've received letting me know that my book helped someone get through a difficult period, or gave them a respite from dealing with a physical problem...books have always been a lovely escape for me, but I never gave much thought to the possibility that I would not only be entertaining, but HELPING readers in some small way. It's a wonderful, warm feeling:-)

    Thanks for sharing your story,'re right, we all come to this from our own, different paths, and I think it's fascinating to hear all the ways we've arrived here! Also, that pic of Matthew Macfayden is totally dreamy. He was a perfect Mr. Darcy (that bit at the end, the "I love...I love...I love you," gets me every time).

  4. Kind of like that pebble-in-the-water ripple effect thing, huh Christina? So true! MI5 was soooo good. Another show that I know I never would have seen without interest in Matthew. I quit watching it after he left, but now I am becoming a fan of Rupert Penry-Jones and Richard Armitage (both unknown over here for the most part), so I may have to rent the rest of the series.

    I could have written a whole essay on the friendships alone. I am almost certain that I would have given up on the publishing dream long ago if not for the encouragement of my friends and readers. And like you, Kendra, I have had many people tell me that my story of true-love and happily ever after within a good marriage has given them hope or helped in some way. Even if it is just to brighten their day! That is priceless indeed.

    The picture of Matthew, by the way, is from last month's Red Magazine, a UK production. Isn't he divine? *sigh*

  5. Sharon~

    I've had much the same experience with JA fanfic. I made the most amazing friends who actually met one fabulous weekend in NY. People from all over the world, Australia, Austria, Canada, and the US. It was amazing. They've all stayed close to me and now I have the Casababes, too. It don't get much better than that!

    Robin :)

  6. Surprising results? That there would be so many highs and lows. I'm beginning to feel bipolar, but the CasaBabes keep me going!
    Great post!

  7. Most amazing part? When announced they were running another online contest, I decided: no more. I'd done 2. The original Gather contest was intense and I knew my family and friends were sick of voting for me.

    Then I got over 100 emails on the first day of the announcement alone! And these weren't from family and friends. (We'll many of them are friends now!) These were people who had seen my story in those other 2 contests and wanted me to enter. I had fans. And no published book. THAT was amazing.

    Because of those people, I did enter the contest. I didn't win, but I finalled and that led to my sale.

    You never know how it'll happen.

  8. What a great blog Sharon

    I am not a writer but I am an avid reader and I have made some wonderful friends thru the internet and "met" some absolutley wonderful authors that I feel that I can call friends.

    My collection of Casablanca Source Books is growing and I have loved everyone of them that I have read so far I still have 3 on the TBR pile another expected in the mail and I am adding to my must get list all the time.

    Thanks Ladies for some wonderful adventures and the ones that are still to come.

    Have Fun

  9. I agree with what everyone's said. From romance chapter mates, to our own Casa swingers group, to fans who send me emails saying how much they enjoy the worlds I create, I enjoy every bit of the publishing biz. As an avid reader, I've always escaped into other authors' worlds, and I'm thrilled that readers love to fall into the ones I create now too. :)