Thursday, September 6, 2007

Team Play - It's All Good?

by Caren Crane

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAfter a flurry of guest bloggers this week, it is once again a Bandita day. Some of you may have seen my post from late last Friday night when I shamelessly begged for votes in the Gather First Chapters Romance contest. As I stated in that post, Banditas love a contest. A glance at our Bandit News section on the right tells you that. It also shows that Banditas often do well in contests. We are proud of each other and our collective fabulousness.

But think about it. All that goodness raises the bar. The Romance Bandits have experienced great reviews on first books, collected high praise from well-established writers, won so many Golden Hearts and other awards we would need a vault to store them. Every time we report a new sale, a new contract, a new contest final or win or a guest appearance, the group bar is raised a bit higher.

For those of us still waiting to win, to sell, to receive quotes and reviews, this can be a bit daunting. We each want to do well not only for ourselves but for the group. If we final in a contest and come in last place, if we final in the Golden Heart and do not win, if we expose ourselves to a massive online contest audience and do not perform well, it is a bit hard to take. We have not only disappointed ourselves, but let down the group.

Fortunately, the Banditas are tremendously supportive whether we win or lose. We celebrate and also commiserate together. My Bandita sisters are always there for me and I consider it a privilege to be there for them. Hopefully, I will have wonderful news to report about the Gather contest. But even if I don't, I know I will have Banditas cheering me every step of the way!

Do you have a friend or group of friends who support you no matter what? Are you part of a team where you feel pressure to perform so you all look good? Please share!

And if you get a chance (and a huge THANK YOU to those who have already done so!), please check out my chapter of Kick Start in the Gather contest. I really am shameless!


Sabrina Jeffries said...

I have a fabulous group of friends who support me no matter what (with Caren being one of them), so yes, I have a great support system. I don't know what I'd do without it, frankly, since I tend to worry about everything. Y'all are good enough not to tell me to take a flying leap when I'm being ridiculous. Trust me, no matter how successful you get, you always need that support system. Because none of us feel secure about ourselves all the time.

Crossing my fingers that you win the contest, Caren!

Anonymous said...

Caren, we LOVED Kick Start. Each and every one of us. Of course, it would be nice if you did well in the competition, but that has no bearing on how well you write or how gosh-darn proud your Bandita sisters are of you!!

I think any time you put yourself out there--contest, submission to agent/editor, whatever it might be--you should be proud. They are all little steps along the way. And remember that they are not little steps TO some end point, like publication. As much as we'd like to think all the insecurity and questions are resolved when we hear SOLD, they aren't. Life (and insecurity) goes on. There will always be another goal to set and a bar to raise even higher.

(For example, when Christine's SD hits the Bestseller list! Then we'll all be striving to touch the hem of her dress!)

The important thing is to keep moving, keep trying. You are setting an incredible example to all of us, and I for one don't give a rip what the Gather results might be.

big hugs

Joan said...

Caren, (also affectionately known as Posh T in the lair)your post was right on target...except for one aspect.

If any of us Banditas fail to place in a contest, have low sales etc that Bandita has NOT let the group down.

It is difficult to explain to the non-Bandita crowd the unique and special synergy this group of writers has discovered and are now basking in. You're correct; collectively we've had enourmous success both as newly pubbed and AYU. The bar is raised in this situation (and the reality of that hit me at this past national RWA conference)but we're there together.

True, some Banditas have jumped over the bar but they are keeping an eye on the rest of us ready to swoop out of the lair to celebrate our successes, their hands ready to help us on up.

So, yes. I have a group that encourages me. HOw lucky am I?

Now on a local level I have a fantastic critique group. TL Gray, Lisa and Karen who have been with me through THE PATRICIAN'S DESIRE, THE PATRICIAN'S FORTUNE and now BARBARIAN SOUL. They keep me focused, they challenge me, they raise a pint (or a Godiva) to celebrate with me. It would be a much rockier road without them.

Now, I have a barbarian who needs help finding his soul :-)

Caren Crane said...

Sabrina, you are easy to support! It is impossible, I guess, for any of us to feel secure. I find it most interesting that the insecurity never abates, even when one is as wildly successful as you are!

Or maybe I should be nervous about that. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, thanks so much! As Sabrina's post pointed out, success is no guarantee we will feel like we have arrived. *g*

For me (probably because I'm not normal), the putting myself out there usually isn't a problem. It doesn't bother me on a personal level if I don't place in a contest (or whatever), because I have this towering self-confidence...usually. For some reason, this online business feels different. Not bad, but different. I can't figure out why, though.

Thanks, Bandita sister, for your support!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Joan, I have to say that in addition to my wonderful Bandita brethren, I am blessed with the most fabulous bunch of writer friends and cps possible!

My cps are always there for me and know I like my critiques brutally honest. They try to deliver, though I sometimes feel they left the gloves on. *g*

My local writer friends are always ready to commiserate and celebrate as well! Here's the thing, though. That group of wonderful people includes Sabrina Jeffries, Claudia Dain, Liz Carlyle and Deb Marlowe. No pressure! *g*

Deb Marlowe said...


We've spent a lot of time hanging together on that proverbial edge, so I know how difficult it is for you. I also know it is only a matter of time for you, my dear!

You've shown you have what it takes--your talent is obvious to anyone who reads you! As is your courage--because putting yourself out there in something like the Gather contest is nerve-wracking in the extreme.

All that's left is the wait and the frustration and the tenacity to keep writing in the face of it all. In the meantime, you've got great Bandita friends to support you--and you know that the Biaggi's Bunch is ALWAYS behind you, pushing, pulling, cheering, crying--whatever it takes--come what may.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Caren, the Banditas are a great group of writer friends and you are an integral part of that. (who else gave us terms such as, Pimp the blog and pro-ho tiaras?)

Your Gather chapter, Kick Start was a fabulously written piece and I'd love to read what happens to the intrepid heroine! So don't ever doubt your talent, because we don't.

As for support groups, I have two besides the Bandits. One is my local chapter, DARA (Dallas Area Romance Authors). The whole group from published authors, to AYU's and Pro members have supported me in every endeavor I've tried.

The second group is a small band of friends known as the WriterFoxes. (because we love to go to a local pub called the Fox&Hound). This group consists of Julie Benson, Sandy Blair, Jo Davis, Alice Fairbanks-Burton, Tracy Garrett, Jane Graves, Lorraine Heath, Franny Karoksak, Kay Thomas and me. (Again at the bottom of the alphabetical pile.) Not a bad group of pubs and AYU's. A couple of Waldenbooks and Amazon best sellers, a NYTbestseller and some debut authors. I can say anything to them. Whine to them. Cheer with them. Talk men with them. Have drinks with them. (They introduced me to Buttery Nipples. YUMMO). They push me to write better, submit more, go the distance.

I love them all. And I love being a Bandita.

Caren Crane said...

Thanks, Deb! Yes, the Biaggi's Bunch is a super support group.

Suz, you have a great group of writer friends and also a super chapter!

I forgot to give the love to my own local RWA chapter, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers. Our chapter is the best, bar none! Wonderfully active published authors, caring and knowledgable AYUs, plus the newbies who inspire us all with their thirst to learn more and their zeal for writing. I really lucked out in having HCRW as my local chapter. They have taught me so much and I owe them! (However, I served as President in '05 and '06, so you know they got some of that debt paid in full! *g*)

Suse said...

Oooo, tricky!

I always feel pressured in one way or the other! Not in writing, but in every day life.

Caren, you know you're my bestest friend ever, so yes, with you comes a great support team. I also have my husband, who would kill on my behalf, if necessary, and a great, sweet and cute 17 lb. dog, who would do the same. Though I think my husband's and my dog's definition of "kill" are a bit different!

I also have a great group of U2 buddies (Woot! Hey Cat!) who keep my mind off of all things terrible in my life by their constant distractions.

As far as being in a group of friends, I feel very lucky. And I've tried to support you, Caren, way back in the "Back Porch" days! You're fab and I love you to pieces!

Seriously, Caren, you rock! And you have more talent in your little toe than most people wish for in their entire lives. You just have to wait for the rest of the world to catch up with you...or to be as smart as I am! lol.

jo robertson said...

Great post, Caren. Good luck on the Gather contest. You are an impressive writer and my money's on you!

I think this is a difficult business in which to try to go it alone. Too much battering and bruising of the tender egoes for that!

My three loverly daughters -- Shannon, Kennan, and Megan -- are always my first readers. They enjoy the kind of stuff I write, and they're unflinchingly honest.

I never had a critique partner until I paired up with Bandita Auntie Cindy. Although we both write romantic suspense, the tone of our books is very different. She's a great CP and wonderful rah-rah girl. And I don't dare quit for fear of her whip!

Caren Crane said...

Aw, Suse, I love you too! I also know your U2 buddies provide endless support--not to mention all those hard-to-find pictures of Bono and the boys! *g*

It's great when your buddies share your zeal for something and also have your back. Hey, I took stalker pictures of Bono's NYC apartment for Suse! Too bad I couldn't get closer. I'll have to go back now that I have the super-zoom lens!

Caren Crane said...

Jo, you are so lucky to have three wonderful daughters! I'm looking forward to the day when mine are old enough to read what I write. My son is old enough, but it's not his thing at all! *g*

You were smart to hook up with Aunty Cindy. As frequent Bandita visitors know, AC is not afraid to get out the riding crop when necessary to keep people in line! *g* We love that about her.

Also, AC is currently experiencing montior issues, so we are denied her effervescence. (Trish, that was "effervescence" not "Evanescence" *g*) Hope Aunty C. gets back on the blog soon!

Donna MacMeans said...

This is what I love about the Romance writing community. We are pull for each other - in small groups like the Banditas or my local chapter, Central Ohio Fiction Writers - and in larger venues. I can walk into a group of romance writers and form instant nurturing relationships.
I assure you this does not happen when I walk into a group of accountants.

Persevere Caren. You have the talent. The rest is a matter of time. Soon you will be deemed ineligible to enter these contests due to publishing contracts. Can't wait for the celebration to begin.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Okay, Suz, you need to define "buttery nipples" as YOU are intending, not as my gutter-brain is visualizing. A group of women...butter being involved...Hmmm...bottom of any kind of pile mentionable or unmentionable...

Support? Oh, yeah. I wouldn't survive w/o it. Laughter? Commiseration? A Kick In the Seat of the Pants when needed? Yep. That's my support group. I'm proud to be a Bandita Sister.

Same with my wonderful blood sister and my dh, my friends Donna, Leah, Malena, Neela, PE, and Vasilia. (to keep it alphabetical.)

Then there's m'boyz. They have such shining assurance in thier eyes. Of COURSE I'm a great writer. I'm Mom. I can do anything. :>

I've got a big ego, (no, really!) but I think every writer looks at her work some days and says, "who on earth would buy THIS S#)$(*@#&? Even I hate it." I've even heard Pat Gaffney and Nora, Julia Quinn and Sabrina Jeffries (Hi, Sabrina!) say the same. So no, being NYTimes or simply selling doesn't change it. It is reassuring though, to know that even the best of "us" romance writers have those days. Makes the time at the keyboard less...I don't know...less lonely maybe. (Hey, I'm an extrovert in an introverted world. Give me a break!) Snork.

As to you, Miss Posh T Caren Bestest Tiara-polishing Promo Queen, win or lose at The Gather, you are a superb writer. I want to KNOW what happens next. That's the mark of someone who can capture reader's hearts. You GO girl.

Suzanne Ferrell said...


Buttery Nipples... a cocktail made with Bailey's Irish Cream and Butterscotch Schnopps! Yummmmmmmmmmo!!

And we've learned never to ask the nice twenty-something waiter, "Do you have Buttery Nipples."


And yes your mind was in the gutter!

Cassondra said...

Gosh Caren, nothing like putting your work out there for any-old-body to read and comment upon to bring the old insecurity hag out of her closet is there?

You're so right, the Banditas have raised the bar. The thing I value so much is that (uh...well...other than you all KNOW me...even late at know about the coffin and everything..and still haven't called the police..) that if I get a bad contest judge, a cold, faceless rejection, and later maybe one day a bad review, you'll all be sticking metaphoric pins in metaphoric voodoo dolls on my behalf. And when the news is good, you'll lift a glass or a piece of chocolate with me. There's nothing quite like it. And I have a great critique group--Sandra and Cheryl--and great friends I can count on in local chapters, but nothing has approached the group support I find when I cross the drawbridge into the bandit lair.

Kudos to you--and to the bar being ever raised--and the friends to lift us up to meet it.

Hellie Sinclair said...

*LOL* Yes, I do have a fabulous support group...and yes, they raise a high bar! :) Support groups and friends are like good bras--if you don't have the right support, even the perkiest aspirations can begin to sag.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oh, my, Suz. You DO live the good life. And my mind is quite at home in the gutter...but I'm looking at the stars! Har, har.

Claudia Dain said...

I think the trick is not to compare yourself to anyone else. You're running your own race at your own pace and in that sense you define your own success. Putting yourself out there for the Gather contest is a HUGE success moment, no matter what the final score is. You had the guts to go public. You won, Caren. Just by doing that, you won.

The Biaggi Bunch ROCKS!

Caren Crane said...

Suz, I'm glad Jeanne asked about the Buttery Nipples, because I've meant to ask you since Dallas. Bailey's and Butterscotch Schnapps, huh? Sounds divine! It may become an official drinking of this Bandita!

Caren Crane said...

Donna, you are so right! I can't imagine whining to a group of engineers and getting anything other than eyeball rolls. *g* Plus, they would want to analyze why I hadn't done better and figure out a way to increase the probability of success in the future...all while ignoring my sniffling, of course. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Cassondra, interestingly enough, I had a vision of voodoo doll ceremonies while I was writing the post! You are right, of course. We will gladly torment (in effigy) anyone who has the poor taste not to appreciate your work.

Caren Crane said...

Jeanne, I'm glad I'm not the only extrovert with a towering ego in the Lair. *g* I readily admit, it takes a lot to shake me. That's why this almost-nervousness is so hard, I think. It smells like my worst enemy: failure. I simply don't do failure!

Caren Crane said...

Mshellion, the "perkiest aspirations" slayed me! I do appreciate a good underwire, believe me. Sounds like you have a great support system. May your aspirations ride high! *g*

Suse said...

Aw, Caren, I still have that one picture of Bono's apartment on my refrigerator! You're not only a fantastic writer, you're ace at the stalking. I mean picture-taking. *cough*

It's that kind of observation (plus detailed directions!) that make you such a special writer. You never forget your friends...old, new or otherwise!

"Rats crossing." Who else would have taken that picture?! Okay, maybe it didn't say that, but that's what I call the picture, and it just gave that batch of pictures a special place in my heart.

(Did I already say I luv ya to pieces? Think so!)

Good luck with the contest, btw!!!

Trish Milburn said...

Good luck with the contest, Caren!

I have such great writer friends. I think it's making up for my less-than-popular years in high school. :)

Caren Crane said...

Trish, I'm still not sure any of us believe you were a nerd girl loner in high school. And I know why you posted--you thought I said "Evanescence". Ha! Fooled you!

Caren Crane said...

Suse, don't make me post "trip to NYC" pictures! Though I did love the Rat Crossing--I mean "rodenticide"--picture.

It was the funniest thing. I had been in and out of subways a million times during the trip, mostly midtown and downtown. Well, when I went to stalk Bono's apartment, on a swanky block of Park Avenue West, I popped into *their* subway station for the trip back downtown. There (unlike in every other subway station) was a large poster indicating that rodenticide had been applied beside the tracks.

I guess if you have enough money, they'll try to kill the rats in your subway station. Otherwise, watch your toes! *g*

Joan said...


I've been to NYC three times and have YET to ride the subway.

I did ride one of those bike rickshaws with a scrawny Russian boy whose only English seemed to be "Times Square" and "$20" LOL.

He whipped us around NY traffic like he was in a race.

Caren Crane said...

Joan, when the RWA conference is in NYC again, we are riding the subway! It's the best way to get around up there. Plus, if you get headed in the wrong direction, you simply get off at the next stop, scoot your booty to the other platform, and catch one going in the opposite direction.

That and the transportation systems in Switzerland sort of ruined me. Now I expect to be able to get around anywhere I go. I rode the train from the airport to the hotel in Dallas. It only cost me $1.50!

Helen said...

Everyone needs support and friends and you guys are the best as you all know I am not a writer but an avid reader but I always feel welcome and at home here with you guys. Caren I loved that first chapter at gather and voted I am sure you will do really well the chapter was so well written and drew me in I want to read it all. I am a superviser at work and my team are the best we support each other all the time hence our dept does really well we have fun times and stressfull times but the job always gets done and done well thanks to the team. I loved the post keep up the great work you guys do and I will soon have lots more books to read.
Have Fun

Tawny said...

Did someone say bar!!??

Suz, at least you aren't asking the cute twenty-something waiter to SEE his buttery nipples *beg*

I love the support of the Banditas! I'm blesed to be a part of such a fun, upbeat group focused on success... together! I'm also blessed to belong to the Writers Playground (not to be confused with the Writign Playground) and some fab people in my local chapters.

I've actually never had a problem putting my writing out there - can't jump the bar if you don't play, right? But the competition I feel is with myself. Always to do better, to improve. This was actually nerve-wracking when it came to the Golden Heart after my first final and no sale for another 2 years LOL.

Beth Andrews said...

Okay, Tawny and I have been hanging around together way too long. Now she wants to BE me (and our friend Sheila too) ;-)

Caren, I give you a lot of credit for entering the competition! And your entry Rocked!!

I'm so lucky to be a part of the Banditas and the same Writer's Playground as Tawny (no we don't do EVERYTHING together - it just seems that way)

I'm also friends with some local chaptermates although I don't get to see them as often as I'd like which is why I'm so glad we all have each other here in Bandita Land!!

Tawny said...

Blech... I can't get that to change.

I'm really just me... despite multiple personality issues *ggg*

Kate Carlisle said...

Caren, your Gather chapter is fantastic and it's awesome that you were willing to post it for all the world to see and judge. That makes you very brave and clearly talented, so whether you win or lose, you'll still be brave and talented -- as well as funny and smart and warm and fabulous and posh and chic and a supportive, wonderful friend...and all the other stuff everyone's said about you here! :-)

And hey, you've provided a forum in which the concept of buttery nipples can be discussed and explored in depth. Thank you for that.

Sabrina Jeffries said...

Okay, this buttery nipple thing has me salivating--it sounds SOOOO good. Caren, next time the Biaggi Bunch goes out we have to order one.

And trust me, you never stop looking at your work and worrying that it sucks. But you go on and you keep writing it and eventually it ... sucks less. :-)

Caren Crane said...

Kate, I am always happy to provide a forum for Buttery Nipples. And Sabrina, when we go out, we're having one!