This is our official birthday, even though you’ll find a few posts dated prior to this. That’s because when we started, several of us moved and back-dated posts from other locations.
So we missed our anniversary last month. But now I wanted to give you a review of Year One at NAF.
How did we start? Where did this come from? Well, it emerged in the aftermath of the infamous Marcher Lord Select Contest held in the fall of 2009. Several of our members are survivors of the contest. Personally, it was that contest that finally brought me out of my shell and into the world of unpublished writers. I began to make friends and see the importance of networking. I also began to see the importance of blogging regularly. There are many great reasons to blog, but that’s a subject for another post.
So I started a blog… again. It wasn’t my first attempt, but I was determined this time. One thing I realized real quick is that it’s very difficult to actually attract readers. So I visited some of the blogs of my new friends to support them. Then I realized they were having the same problem.
That’s when it hit me. We just all need to get together and blog on one site. If we did that, then all our readers would merge together and we’d all have higher traffic. With enough people, that could be pretty beneficial, right?
And so the concept was born. I began to pitch it to a few people who thought it was a great idea. Diane was the first to join. Followed by Paul, Kristen, Ren, and Mauricio. Carol Van Drie helped out by putting up one of the first posts, but never became active. A little later David and Zoë joined and our founding members were complete.
Like any new venture, things don’t always end up the way initially intended. Changes are needed… things evolve. And NAF has gone through several, often painful, changes over the year.
We started with three designations. Author, Alumni, and Junior Author. Authors were supposed to be unpublished authors with a complete manuscript. Alumni were published authors. And Junior Authors were writers who had not yet finished their book. Mauricio, David, and Zoë filled the category of Junior Authors, and Kristen filled the Alumni spot as an honorary Alumni. Carol also was listed under honorary Alumni for a while.
The idea was that a person would transition from Junior to Author to Alumni. But within a few months it became apparent that this was not exactly a practical idea. It could take YEARS for a Junior to move up. We did away with it. Mauricio, David, and Zoë were grandfathered up to Author while they continued to work on their books.
Over the summer of 2010 we overhauled the look of our site for our 6th month anniversary, and prepared to graduate our first real Alumni, Paul. We also started to define ourselves as a group that focused mainly on speculative fiction with a Christian world view.
When Paul’s book was published, we had an open call for a new member. Three candidates stood out, but there was only one slot. Little did we know at the time, that all three would become members by the end of the year. Avily joined us on August 13, Robynn on November 18, and Kat just recently joined on January 7.
Just before Robynn came on board, we saw a few more changes to our structure. In an effort to create consistency in our stated definitions and how we applied them to our members, a few members were reclassified… voluntarily of course, but most everybody saw the wisdom in making such a change. Now a duck was called a duck, and we didn’t have to explain away all our exceptions to our own rules. Kristen, whom we’d been calling an Alumni, was not really an Alumni. Neither were Mauricio, Zoë, and David Authors by our own definition. So we opened up a Contributors designation, that in the future could be used to invite any number of published authors or potential candidates to join us for a short time. Kristen and Mauricio moved first, by choice. Zoë and David stayed as Authors with the anticipation of finishing their books soon. When it became apparent that Zoë wouldn’t make it, she asked to move too. We’re still cheering David on as he pushes forward with his book!
The blog has been received better than any one of us could ever have conceived. In the first month we had a little over 1,800 hits and it has grown steadily to over 4,000 hits this past January. Last fall we introduced Special Guest blogs, where we invite published authors to share with us a glimpse of their journey to publication. We have had Chila Woychik, Sherry Thompson, Kerry Nietz, Tosa Lee, and Alton Gansky so far, with other great authors on the horizon. We have a ton of great interviews and reviews done by our members. By the way, you will ONLY find character interviews here at NAF. It’s one of our little pioneering features. And in case you haven’t noticed, somehow through God’s providence I managed to assemble probably the most talented group of writers ever gathered on one blog.
What’s in store for Year 2 at NAF? You’ll see more reviews, more interviews, and an ever increasing array of guests. I think by the end of the year, being a guest at NAF will become like Dancing With the Stars… you know, the “thing to do” for a published author. At some point we’ll probably do a face-lift to the site, but certainly not as drastic as the overhaul we did at the 6th month anniversary. I think I can also safely predict at least TWO new Alumni this year. Maybe more. So some names will move around, and you’re likely to see a few new faces.
Of course you can expect one thing to remain true, and it will always do so. Our blog is for unpublished authors by unpublished authors. We are here to chronicle our journey to publication, the ups and the downs, the victories and defeats. Our stories include life, faith, humor, sadness, frustration, and anger, with a little creativity thrown in. We won’t tell you how to write. But we will tell how difficult it is to actually be successful. And through that, you can find encouragement in our journeys.
And that, my friends, is what sets the New Authors’ Fellowship apart.