How My Tribe Made Becoming Josephine Possible

Any seasoned writer knows it takes a tribe to make a novel happen. Mine is no different. But like Deb  Lori, I have to start at the beginning. The most important person in this novel-making process was…


Yep, me. My own sheer will, utter devotion and obsession tunnel vision of focus on the end game, THE BIG GOAL. I scoured the internet to research agents and editors, what’s selling, the industry faux pas. I attended conferences and writer groups to build my tribe. And, of course, I WROTE MY ASS OFF. When all of my friends (family) were off from work or nestled in their beds and I had wrapped a long day of playing mom, I researched, wrote, revised. Without fail. My writing time was non-negotiable. So yes, ME. I made this possible. I did not rest until I had done everything I could to understand this wacky business. I did not rest until I felt I had poured every ounce of hard work and soul into my novel.

But there are so many others that helped along the way…


It goes without saying that my parents supported me. After a lifetime of devouring books, they weren’t surprised when I went down this path. But my biggest thanks in this category go to…

My husband, Chris scraped me off of the floor and strapped me into my office chair when I tumbled into the darkest depths of self-doubt. He took on extra jobs and juggled five million things to keep the children happy and me writing.

My sister, Jennifer is an actor living in Hollywood, fighting for her dreams in a fickle industry. She gets it. And she listened to hours of me rambling about the publishing industry, my strategies, my struggles, my fears and inspired me to see it through.


Believe it or not, many agents made my novel possible—those I met at conferences who probed me with questions to help me find the heart of my story, and most of all, those who wrote little notes in their rejection emails or on my R &Rs (rejection & rewrite) that spurred me on. In particular, Kevan Lyon and Carrie Pestritto come to mind. Both women took their precious time to write me detailed notes about what needed tweaking and they also gave me a hearty push of encouragement. And then of course there’s my own agent…

Michelle Brower has a sharp editing eye and pinpointed exactly what needed fixing in my manuscript. She pats me on the back when I need a little TLC and she’s a warrior in the trenches of publishing, all on my behalf. Most importantly, she believes in BECOMING JOSEPHINE and in me. My book would be NOWHERE without her.


There are at least fifty people I could list in this category. Suffice it to say this collective group of beloved critique partners, writer buddies, and friends cheered me and challenged me every step of the way.

So writers, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Look around you and give thanks to those who support you in your passion. And if you’re a beginner in search of a tribe, look no further. The Debutante Ball welcomes you with open arms, as do I. (Seriously, contact me if you need help.) Because we have to stick together in all this and because no writer can be a success alone.


Author: Heather Webb

Heather Webb is the author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE, her debut historical (Plume/Penguin 2014). A freelance editor and blogger, she spends oodles of time helping writers hone their skills—something she adores. You may find her Twittering @msheatherwebb, hosting contests, or hanging around as a contributor to the Editor's Posts. She is also the Twitter mistress for the popular Writer Unboxed. She loves making new reader and writer friends. Stop on by her website, Between the Sheets!

19 Replies to “How My Tribe Made Becoming Josephine Possible”

  1. You’re right—having a supportive family makes all the difference in the world. But you still have to work your ass off. How sad it it that I’m excited to note agents who give helpful rejections? (Seriously, I’m adding notes to my spreadsheet, lol.) Writing is such a lonely venture—it’s always a nice reminder to read we’re not alone.

    1. Kerry Ann, it’s not sad at all. I think keeping a spreadsheet with notes is REALLY smart. I did the same and it helped me track feedback and when/where to apply it to my novel. Wishing you tons of luck as you move forward!

  2. I am so with you on #3… so many agents, not just my own, gave helpful comments in conference panels, rejections, R&Rs, contest critiques, etc. For every complaint someone has about the publishing industry, I’ve got a story of a generous soul who offered help without remuneration.

  3. I do, too, Susan! I love that we can help shoot down some of that negativity against agents. They give so much of their time for free. As a freelance editor, I totally get that as I do the same, but plenty of writers don’t.

  4. I’m with you on the shout-out to agents. Truthfully they were the reason I joined Twitter in 2009. I knew I wanted to publish my book but had no clue where to start. Then I realized they were all giving tips and advice on Twitter and on blogs…so much of what I learned just started with the #askagent sessions. It’s amazing how much of their time they give.

  5. Hooray for the tribe!!!

    Speaking as the Village Idiot of said tribe, let me say HOORAY for Heather and Becoming Josephine!!

    More seriously – I’m so glad to be part of your tribe, and so glad that I, too, have found such a wonderful, supportive group of writers to share my publishing journey. (Oh, also, my husband rocks – and I’m glad yours does too because I would hate to have to buy a plane ticket to visit you and make him recognize your awesomeness.)

  6. I’m glad you mentioned agents too. I thanked two in my acknowledgments who I never actually signed with…And it’s funny, sometimes it’s easy to forget that, like you wrote, we wrote our asses off! 🙂

  7. Great post, Heather!

    I agree that it does take a tribe and I’m so happy to have found one with the WU folks. I have to give YOU a shout out because you are part of that tribe. I’d probably still be wallowing in self-doubt had you not pointed out the relatively easy fixes I needed to make in my own manuscript.

    I LOVED Becoming Josephine and can’t wait to direct everyone I know to their nearest bookstore to buy it!

  8. I love your list. I tend to leave myself off my own list but only publicly. I attribute my ability to write my novel and have it published, to me. Of course I couldn’t have done it without my agent who sold it to my editor, and the support of friends made the journey seem reasonable. But I know that my own stubbornness (don’t tell me it’s hard to do something, or I’m aaaaall over it) that got me here. Just seems weird to say. So SHH!

  9. LOL, Amy! After wallowing in self-doubt and jumping through so many hoops to get where we are, I think it’s fabulous to pat ourselves on the back on once in awhile. So here’s my pat on your back! *pats prettily* lol. Thanks for your comment as always.

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