Last year I was invited to join a closed Facebook support group for Cozy Mystery authors and didn't think too much about it to be honest. I simply clicked 'accept' then got on with my life, barely giving the group a second glance.
Today it's the first page I turn to on the web and the last one I check out before I go to sleep at night.
Like a bright orange life raft bobbing about in a sea of grey debris it really has been a lifesaver for my writing and a buoy for my books. I couldn't live without it, or at least, my writing career couldn't.
One hundred and fifty strong, the group is made up of an eclectic range of bestsellers and wannabes, some with dozens of novels soaring up the echarts (and numbers in the low hundreds on the Amazon Bestseller lists), others with just one book and a dream to sell to someone other than their Mum.
Yet it doesn't matter a jot. Whenever a member posts a comment, adds a link, or asks for advice, the group are ready to throw in their 'two bob's worth'. Some wax lyrical on how their digital promotions are doing (it's intriguing what works and what doesn't), others pose questions or upload their latest cover and ask what we think.
And the advice is consistently kind without being disingenuous, constructive without any malice.
One member recently reviewed one of my Ghostwriter Mysteries on her popular Italophiles blog without being asked and with such words of kindness, it brought tears to my eyes, others have suggested ways I could sell more, or reposted links to my ebook sales to help me along.
It's just a really useful and supportive bunch.As a stay-at-home writer, this kind of group is not just invigorating, it's essential for my mental health. Whenever I feel stuck or alone or as flat as a pancake, I just tune into the group's conversation and I am reinflated. I learn something new each and every time, and am reminded I am not alone, that there are 149 other mystery writers doing exactly what I'm doing, and succeeding in their own small ways.
Whether you're an artist, a parent, a performer, a pet lover or a person with your own unique outlook on life, if you don't belong to a supportive group like this, I think you're missing out.
I was lucky this group reached out to me and embraced me with their kindness, but there's nothing to stop you from starting your own support network if you simply can't find one.
Go on, give it a go! Find your own special tribe.Trawl the net, look at the people around you, post a request in a likeminded chatsite. Just make sure you hook up with people who are as enthusiastic about your beloved hobby/career/pasttime as you are and will always have your back.
You will not regret the effort that it takes, and it will make your life feel a little easier afterwards.
So a big THANK YOU to my sweet Cozy Mystery group. Without you I'd still be wondering what the best promo sites are, giving books away to dodgy operators, and thinking I was all alone, standing flummoxed, while the world rushed on without me. You've grabbed my hand and you've taken me along for the ride, and I can not thank you enough.
Happy social networking everybody and may you find your own life raft.