Guest Post by Linda Ulleseit –

In June 2019, I attended the HNS conference in National Harbor, Maryland. As usual, I met fabulous people and heard wonderful speakers. Little did I know that one of those sessions would change my author life.

That year, the Tall Poppy Writers held a session on author collectives, discussing what they are and why they are important. Inspired, I turned to a friend and told her we should also create an author collective. At the time, I had four self-published books and had just signed a contract with a hybrid publisher for the next one. Struggling to build an author platform, I was overwhelmed with social media, blogging, website development, and the demands of trying to write.

At the July 2019 meeting of our Northern California HNS chapter, I stood up and described the Tall Poppy session. I invited interested authors to come to my house to discuss the idea of starting our own marketing group for authors of historical fiction. My house is on the southern tip of the HNS NorCal area, and most of the members live more than an hour away, so having it at my house was a test of level of interest for sure.

Seven people attended that first meeting in August 2019, and two of them drove two hours to be there. Five of the attendees agreed to form Paper Lantern Writers, an author marketing collective. Over the next few months, we came up with the name, started social media accounts, and built our website. In December, we began blogging.

Our official launch date was January 1, 2020. We laugh now that 2020 was hardly the best year to start something new, but banding together helped us all thrive. Two members, including myself, had new releases during the pandemic that would have slid into obscurity had it not been for the virtual platform built by Paper Lantern Writers. Over Zoom we built lasting friendships as we marketed each other’s books.

As of January 2023, Paper Lantern Writers boasts sixteen members in three countries, an active social media presence, twice weekly blog posts, and several free publications available on our website. In November 2022 we also published Unlocked, an anthology of short stories from eight of our members. Not only has marketing become easier, it’s become a lot more fun.

We are bursting with plans for 2023 and beyond, and it all started at an HNS conference.

Linda Ulleseit’s novels feature her female ancestors who were extraordinary but unsung. Under the Almond Trees, a historical novel set in pioneer California, came out in 2014 and was a finalist in the 2013 Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Contest. The Aloha Spirit, set in territorial Hawaii, won the Chanticleer International Book Award Grand Prize as well as a bronze medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards. The next one, The River Remembers, comes out in June 2023 from She  Writes Press. Linda is a founding member of Paper Lantern Writers, and a member of both the Historical Novel Society and the Women Fiction Writers Association. She is a retired elementary school teacher, the mother of two adult sons and a yellow Labrador.

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