Writing groups for me break down into the ways I communicate: face-to-face, by telephone and/or email, and social media, the cybersphere. All provide invaluable support to me as a writer.
1) The "live" group is a once-a-month face-to-face writers association, Central Coast Writers (CCW) (www.centralcoastwriters.org), part of the state organization California Writers Club. Purportedly started by the renowned Jack London, CCW has become my go-to writers support group for helping to set goals, troubleshoot and network before and after a guest speaker's presentation. We've had speakers discuss "transforming real people into fictional characters" and "fictionalizing historical personalities". (Our own Brooke Warner was a presenter last year on the subject of hybrid publishing.) We’ve had opportunities to sell our books at the annual Booktoberfest, and we’ve listened to members read from their work at open mic. In addition we have writers' workshops on social media, blogging, and "dating your character". CCW also fosters a sense of community and energy among its wide range of members, who vary in terms of age, experience and writing genre as well as indie, traditional, and self-published authors. Self-promotion is not allowed, but the CCW newsletter "Scribbles" announces members' publications and ongoing writing projects.
2. My second writers group is my beta readers who give me feedback online (usually via email) and by telephone. We are a few dedicated writers who have similar genre and exchange critiques on each other's work. I have found some of them through CCW and others through social media (usually other bloggers who are also authors). This is an extremely valuable experience for me to see how my first readers will react to what I have written so I can make crucial changes before moving to the next stage. I really value feedback from a fellow writer and therefore I return their help by giving constructive suggestions as best I can (See my article, "Beta Readers--A Novelist's Best Friend" on my author website, and in the January 2, 2016 San Diego Book Review).
3. What I call my third "writers group" are social media and online writing sites which have fine-tuned advice for fellow writers. If you’re looking for less of a participatory experience and more of a compendium of all things writing, some of these online sites can be a useful source of writers' tips and industry insider information. She Writes Press, the publisher of my debut novel, has an invitation-only writers group on Facebook where we share recommendations for ad agencies, publicists, blog review sites and much more. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is essential for those planning of writing and wish to manage their writers' block by committing to write a minimum of 50,000 words to be completed in one month (November). That is how I kick-started badly needed momentum for my second novel, A Perfect Match, while still promoting my debut novel. In addition to forcing me to move forward with my second project, having company in this undertaking online is a welcome relief. Knowing there are other writers out there who share similar experiences makes these Facebook and other social media sites a fantastic way to connect. Other groups which are essential for me are: The Write Life (check out there 100 Best Websites list), Writers Digest (their 101 Best Websites list), and the Facebook groups Women's Writers Women's Books, Bookworms Anonymous, Talking Fiction, and Vicky Abelson's Women Who Write, and Publishing Circle. There are too many to name but other general sites with specialized subgroups are Goodreads, LinkedIn, and Reddit.
I spend a lot of time in cyberspace, from blogs to social networks to writers' tutorials online and they have all been a lifesaver in so many ways: asking to exhange book reviews, "liking" each other's pages, and just being there as a community of writers who share the same struggles and rewards. Together with my face-to-face CCW association and my beta readers, I value all those who are in my community "behind the book"! Please visit my website www.dianaypaul.com.
Diana Y. Paul is the author of the award-winning novel Things Unsaid l: a 2016 USA Best Book Awards Finalist in two categories (Best New Fiction and Best Literary Fiction), 2016 Beverly Hills Book Awards Winner for Best New Adult Fiction, Readers Favorite Silver Award Winner for Best Drama and has been listed as #2 on Brit.co's "14 Books about Families Crazier than Yours". She is also the author of three books on Buddhism, one of which has been translated into Japanese and German. Her short stories have appeared in a number of literary journals. She lives in Carmel, CA with her husband and calico cat, Mao. Diana is currently completing a second novel, A Perfect Match, and when not writing creates mixed media art. Her art has been featured in museums and galleries in California, Hawaii, and Japan. Visit her blog on movies and art at: www.unhealedwound.com and her author website at: www.dianaypaul.com. Twitter: @DianaPaul10