While I’m blessed with many friends in my ‘real’ life (including one who goes back to my high school years and often reads this blog), my author life means I also have many ‘virtual’ friends—people I’ve connected with via social media who, at the click of a mouse, have been a source of encouragement, inspiration, and support in writing and beyond.
Although there are ‘odd’ people in social media land—and from my Twitter feed to a significant proportion of my Instagram followers and Facebook ‘friend’ requests, I have a daily reminder of the ‘oddities’ of human nature—there are numerous kind and good people too who enrich my life.
A learning community
Twitter, in particular, is where I go to learn not only about writing but also what’s happening in the wider world.
From my solitary desk, I connect with the #writingcommunity and keep abreast of writing and publishing news, including articles, online classes, and #writingtips that help me grow my craft and industry knowledge.
For me, Twitter is like a global water cooler and I dip in and out to post, chat with writer friends, and learn.
I follow some of my readers on Twitter too and it’s a privilege to share in snippets of their lives, travels, and hobbies.
And, not least, Twitter is where I follow news outlets, businesses, heritage organizations, healthcare bodies, public figures and more to connect with people, places, and issues important to me.
Also, in a world where the news is often bleak, Twitter can be good for a daily smile—cue actor Chris Evans as Golden Retrievers!
A community of friends
I launched my Facebook author page in December 2015 and slowly but surely, it’s become a vibrant community of readers, many of whom are also friends.
I once heard Facebook likened to chatting on the porch and that image has stuck with me and is a guiding principle for the interactions I have on my author page.
It’s the place where I share more of my life beyond writing than I do on Twitter (more pictures of Floppy Ears and updates on Tech Guy, English Rose and my small-town life), and it’s where I’ve developed meaningful relationships with readers around the world.
I’m also privileged that members of my Facebook community have shared their lives and challenges with me and are part of the ups and downs in my life.
When ‘virtual’ friends become ‘real’ ones
Amongst many connections I’ve made via social media, some of those virtual friends have also become real-world friends.
I first met historical novelist Susanna Bavin (who also writes as Polly Heron) on Twitter and now count her as one of my closest friends not only in writing, but life.
With Susanna in Wales, and me in Canada, we don’t see each other often, but along with e-mail, social media helps us remain connected and part of each other’s lives despite the geographical distance that separates us.
When I was in England in July, I met other virtual friends in real life too, and did the same in September at the Women’s Fiction Writers Association conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
As such, and in recent months, this kind of friendship community has grown exponentially and is one of the blessings in my life.
And when virtual friends share my writing…
This week, two virtual friends have also shared my writing with their readers.
I connected with Susan B. James when I won a copy of her recent release, Irish Magic, in a giveaway.
Susan kindly invited me to guest on her blog to chat about my new book, The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls, favourite authors (who knew we’d both be L.M. Montgomery fans?), tips for new writers and more.
Read the interview here and if you’re in the US, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a Kindle copy of The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls and signed bookmark.
Like The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls, Susan’s books (and Irish Magic is no exception) have a mystical element. Her writing also focuses on second chances in life and romance, and sometimes older heroines. I loved her first book, Time and Again, for those reasons—not to mention time travel to 1960’s London.
I guested on my friend Maggie Blackbird’s blog this week too, again chatting about The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls, the main characters and my favourite scene, as well as sharing bits about my life. Read that interview here.
Like me, Maggie is Canadian and a dog mom, in her case to two gorgeous Malamutes. Unlike me, though, she is an Ojibway woman and from her home in northwestern Ontario writes contemporary and historical romance about Canada’s Indigenous people.
Not only is Maggie a gifted writer, but her stories shine an important light on people and places that don’t often feature in romance novels. Her newest book, Thanks to You, just came out and is on my TBR list.
We can never have too many friends—or books!
As such, when I’m celebrating virtual friends, I’m also celebrating you, the readers of my blog, because whether we know each other in real life or not, I value what you bring to my life and writing.