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Writing Thoughts

Book people are the best people

By June 22, 2023No Comments

Oh, did you know my young adult novel, FAIR GAME, about a girls’ basketball team that challenges the boys to a high stakes game, is coming out NEXT WEEK? Well, it is. It’d be awesome if you could pre-order it now, wherever you buy your books. Read to the end for details about a giveaway!

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Last week, I read a post in Jennifer Savran Kelly’s newsletter, First Draft, which so resonated with my own experiences as a writer. Speaking about attending events related to the publication of her novel, Endpapers, Jennifer says, “Before I published a book, I had this idea that a book would increase my confidence, cure my imposter syndrome, and make me feel more like a member of the writing community.”

Spoiler—it did not for Jennifer. Spoiler—it didn’t for me, either. Spoiler—maybe it doesn’t for anyone? I can’t say for sure about that last one. I know that I’m still waiting for that card or certificate to show up in my mailbox announcing my official status as a member of the Writing Community. I’m still waiting to feel like part of the clique of cool-kid writers, who, it seems at least from social media, all know each other and hang out together, usually in New York. Usually looking much more fashionable than me. Usually triggering all my junior high never-one-of-the-popular-kids trauma.

What I know is that when I do meet book people, they are almost universally some of the very best people. Take my friend Ellen Airgood. I ‘met’ Ellen in 2011 when I got an advanced review copy of her book in a box of books sent to me by college friend and then bookseller, Emily Crowe. I wrote a review on my blog, also called You Think Too Much. Ellen saw the review and got in touch to say thank you.1

When I finished the first draft of my first novel a year later,2 I e-mailed Ellen and asked if she would read it. In what I now fully appreciate as an amazing act of generosity, she said yes. When I asked her what I could possibly do to return the favor, she said I could be her writer friend. And so I am.

In addition to her beautiful adult novels (South of Superior and Tin Camp Road), Ellen has also written two gorgeous middle grade novels (Prairie Evers and The Education of Ivy Blake). Of course I asked her to read my young adult novel—FAIR GAME—and then to blurb it for the back cover.

I met Amber Smith at my first ever book festival—The Kentucky Book Festival (I’ll be going again this year, so mark your calendars for October 21 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers). This was pre-pandemic and the festival was held in Lexington at the Kentucky Horse Park. I was at the festival for the release of She/He/They/Me. Amber was there for her new young adult novel, Something Like Gravity—a moving romance that features a transgender character. I stopped at her table and chatted. I bought her book and told her about mine, which she bought later. I remember being very impressed by her Sharpies and book-signing game. She had come prepared with multiple Sharpies in different colors, perhaps even a glittery option? I’m not sure if I even remembered to bring a pen.

Amber and I followed each other on social media and I was happy to see her young adult novel about the aftermath of a sexual assault, The Way I Used To Be, hit The New York Times bestseller list and stay there for weeks at a time. In fact, it’s #4 on the bestseller list right now and the follow-up book, The Way I Am Now, is out in November of this year.

When I decided to self-publish FAIR GAME, I thought, why not send Amber an e-mail and see if she’d write a blurb? What do I have to lose? I was blown away when she said yes and thrilled beyond belief with the beautiful blurb she sent me (full version below). There is absolutely no reason a busy and successful author needs to show such generosity to someone’s self-published book, but I’m so thankful that Amber did.

Three books later, I still have impostor syndrome. I’m still waiting for that writing confidence to show up.3 I know for certain that I’ll never live in New York, so there are probably no selfies of me dressed fashionably and having brunch with the literary elite in my future. Maybe I’ll never be part of the cool-writer clique.

Or maybe there is no such thing in the first place. Maybe all those writers in all those social media posts feel like as much of an outsider as I do. Maybe we only ever get glimmers of that confidence—that sense that we truly belong.

More than that, maybe I already am part of a writing community, even if it doesn’t look the way I imagined in my head. No, we’re not all sitting around a café table in Paris like Hemingway. We’re not having brunch in Brooklyn. The people in my writing community mostly don’t live in the same place, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have my back. That doesn’t mean they’re not there to lend a helping hand. That doesn’t mean that they’re not truly some of the best people.


Amber’s full blurb (we had to edit for space on the cover):

“Robyn Ryle has created a gift of a novel that tells the story of three girls from different walks of life, all coming together to use their collective passion and power to raise each other up. Emotional and empowering, FAIR GAME is full of the kind of heart and humor that will have you cheering for the girls from the first page to the very last – I cannot recommend this book highly enough!”

If by some chance, you haven’t pre-ordered a copy of FAIR GAME yet, there’s a giveaway going on through the end of this week over on my Instagram account (@robynrryle). You can also now pre-order FAIR GAME at your favorite local indie bookstore. Pre-ordering the book there increases the chances of the book getting in the store on their shelves, which is especially helpful to getting the book out into the world.

Next Monday, I’ll be talking about why I wrote this book in the first place.

Thanks as always for reading!



I remember at the time thinking, how did Ellen find my review? It’s not like my blog was a big deal or anything. That was before I became personally acquainted with the endless and potentially dangerous googling of your book title that happens after it’s released into the world.


The novel was called The Carthage Speaker’s Bureau. The opening line was, “Margie Cook stood, silent and unmoving, on Cora Dale’s front porch, exactly halfway between the steps that led up from the sidewalk and Cora’s front door.” I cannot describe to you the nostalgia I feel for that period of my life, sitting in the window of the coffee shop, on sabbatical for much of the time, or getting a morning cappuccino from the 605 Grille, constructing that story word by word, realizing that I could—why not—and with none of the disappointments and defeats and, I don’t know, fatigue, I carry around as writing baggage now. To be that naïve again…


In fact, at least three times just in the writing of this post I’ve thought to myself, “No one cares what you have to say.” Then like

would advise, I’ve gently thanked that voice for its input, however unhelpful it may be to me in the moment, and kept on writing.


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