Bella’s Web site: www.BellaAndre.com
As an econ major in college and then a dot-com marketing director years later, I knew all about professional networking. The whole concept reeked of slimy, smarmy, sucking up. How on earth, I often wondered, could anybody go out and network with a straight face?
Five years ago, when I started writing fiction, networking was the furthest thing from my mind. All I knew was that I’d always loved reading romance and it was a lovely surprise to realize that I loved writing it too! Jessica recently did a post about going to a writer’s conference and having the time of her life chatting with other agents and writers and editors about the business. I feel exactly the same way and because, right from the start, I couldn’t get enough of talking about writing and publishing and brainstorming, I joined two local RWA chapters and went to conferences and loved every second that I was surrounded by other writers.
In the past five years, several of the women I met at these early meetings have become some of my closest friends. We have a scheduled lunch once a month and several of us talk on the phone or email pretty much every single day. Lunches are social plus brainstorming plus career counseling plus emotional counseling plus laughing like crazy. These women have been there with me to celebrate my career highs and to listen to me cry and then give me a kick in the butt after the lows. They’ve heeded the call of needing a title within the next thirty minutes, of helping me work through what my next scene should be (or why the current scene isn’t working), of doing crucial eleventh-hour read-throughs, and of helping me ask a big-name writer for a cover quote.
Just for fun, I made a list of a dozen of my writing friends and broke us down by type of book and house. Between the twelve of us, we write romantic suspense, women’s fiction, historical mysteries, YA, thrillers, time travel, Scottish historicals, regency historicals, contemporary erotic, Christian YA, mysteries, and straight contemporaries. We write for Pocket, Kensington, Berkeley, Ballantine, BantamDell, Avon, Harlequin, Grand Central, and Wild Rose Press. Some of us have been writing for five years. Others for twenty-five. Wow, just reading this list is getting me all excited! What a thrill it is to hang out with these women. That’s a hell of a lot of knowledge.
Some might even call it networking.
And you know what? I finally get it. I’ve finally seen the light. Networking isn’t about dragging yourself to a painfully boring dinner or lunch or speech or conference and forcing yourself to shake hands with everyone to try to get ahead. It’s about finding something you love and being unable to stop yourself from talking about it.
In Wild Heat, the first book in Bella Andre’s Hotshots: Men of Fire series, Logan Cain is a firefighter addicted to risk. Maya Jackson is the sultry beauty he never saw coming, targeting him as her number-one suspect in a string of deadly wildfires. But when Maya’s life is threatened, Logan vows to protect the woman sworn to bring him down. And as desire ignites, nothing—not the killer fire or the killer hot on their trail—can douse the flames. . . . Allison Brennan called it “a breathtaking, terrific, hot, hot, hot romantic suspense.” Brenda Novak said, “WILD HEAT has one sexy firefighter—and a love that burns up the pages.” And according to Catherine Coulter the book is “a roller coaster ride. Don’t miss it.”