One of the most amazing things about my time in blog land has been the writer's circle I've formed with people I would not have met in the brick and mortar world. Sure, I could have joined or formed a writer's group locally, but that hasn't been a practical thing for my life. My kids are just now getting to the age where I have a bit more mobility and, while I look very forward to getting back to the social realm on a more regular basis, I still feel that some of the contacts and online buddies I've met over the past few years will be an integral part of my life, professionally and personally.
There are, of course, downsides to cyber networking - I have gotten some very bad, even purposely misleading information about publishing... I mention publishing because those are the areas I frequent, but there is ridiculous information out online for every different subject you might think of. On the up side, for every make believe 'expert' out there peddling bad advice, there are at least as many honest and helpful people willing to set the record straight.
The other great thing about this writer's circle is the ease in which most writers, published and still aspiring, seek to bolster and help each other out. I've been on blogs where we've exchanged everything from our own processes and theories on writing to information about publishers and conferences... I've also found so many really good book reviews that my to be read list is virtually unmanageable... but will definitely be tackled at some point.
If you look at the writers in my 'Authors to Watch' section, you'll find two of my all time favorite mentors. I only found Marsha and Anita this year, but they've both been wonderful (I should have taken the time to copy/paste the links, sorry)... agent blogs have been giving me more food for though than I know what to do with - BookEnds is my current favorite even though they don't represent my genre... and, of course, all of my writer friends who will take the time to talk about what works for them, whether or not they outline, what sparks their creativity, and of course the goofy filler for to make me laugh.
How about you? What have you gotten out of the cyber circle? Do you have a favorite mentor or a great piece of advice?