Why Connect with Other Writers?

We all know that writing is a solitary activity, and that most writers are introverts.  That is why we, writers, have to push ourselves to step out of our comfort zones and connect with other writers?

“Why?” You may ask.  “I’m happy in my little corner of the world.” You may say.

Well, writers are a great group of people.  They enjoy talking about writing with other writers.  They like to help on another along the writing journey.  I have found this to be true with every writer I have ever met.

If you’re truly happy hiding away in your little corner of the world, you can connect with other writers without stepping outside that little corner by use of the internet.

Let’s face it, as writers, we sometimes get stuck, frustrated, and feel like giving up.  That’s when it’s great to have at least one other writer we can connect with, either in person or on the internet.

In addition, we can learn from one another’s experiences.  Brainstorming with others is a lot more fun than brainstorming alone.  Critiquing one another’s work is invaluably helpful.

I have been blessed to find writers’ groups in my community that I can meet with face to face.  I have also been blessed to connect with some wonderful writers through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and an online writers’ group.

So, don’t hide alone in your corner.  Reach out and see what a bright spot you will find by connecting with at least one other writer either in your community or on the worldwide web.

Are any of you part of a writers’ group?  Is it a community group or an internet group?

A Thursday Tribute

I have never done this before, but I really feel like I need to do this.  I want to pay tribute to two people who mean a lot to me because of their support and/or contributions to my writing life.

First of all, my husband.  I just have to say how much I appreciate the way that he shows his support for my writing.  How does he do this?

He never complains about my attending all of the monthly LCW (Lancaster Christian Writers) meetings that I want to attend, which is all of them, (smile).  In reality, I usually end up having to miss one or two because of family things that come up that take priority.  He also never complains when I find a free or inexpensive one-day writing event that I want to attend, and he doesn’t mind when I leave two, sometimes three evenings a week for two or three hours to get together with other writers for critique group or to write, brainstorm and encourage each other along our writing paths.  He doesn’t complain that I spend so much time writing and participating in writing related things and yet am still not adding to the family income.  He understands that it is a long process.  I am blessed to have a husband who quietly supports me and I greatly appreciate him.

The second person I want to pay tribute to is a fellow writer who has become a very dear friend and is moving to the other side of the country, Laura Zimmerman.  I met her at LCW but our bond of friendship began when she and I both attended a one day writing workshop in the private home of a complete stranger.  We were surrounded by strangers, and I think, because we recognized each other’s faces and knew we were both part of LCW, we both felt more comfortable and we sat together for the workshop and had some time to talk a bit and start to really get to know each other.

Then when I started the weekly writing group for those of us homeschool moms who often struggle with finding time to write without interruptions in our own homes, Laura soon became a regular part of that writing group, Scribes Oasis.  She has rarely missed a night of Scribes.  Laura also encouraged me in my ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) membership, as I was debating renewing my membership.  You see, ACFW is a national organization, and though we have a local chapter, most of the best resources of ACFW happen online, and for the first entire year, I didn’t really get involved in that online community.  Again, lack of time, as family takes priority.  Laura encouraged me because she was involved in a couple of the things that the online ACFW community offered.  So, I renewed my membership and have jumped into getting involved with both feet, and I’m loving it!

Through all of these wonderful writing groups, Laura has also encouraged me in my writing.  She has offered me great advice on my writing.  She has gotten excited about stories I have written or am writing.  She has helped me talk through some issues that came up in my writing that I wasn’t sure how to improve or write well.  Laura is a little bit ahead of me in the writing world, as this year, she obtained an agent and she has submitted three story proposals to this agent already.  He has already gone over the first one and told her what she needed to do to edit the story and improve it, and she literally pulled her story apart and put it back together again, and she believes it is better than the original.  It broke my heart to see her go through that, but her positive attitude through the whole thing and the happiness she shared about the finished edited product was quite an inspiration to me.  Also, the fact that she is a homeschool mom who still homeschools three children and still finds time to crank out stories, and now, devotionals and articles, amazes and inspires me and makes me believe that I can obtain those things too.  I just need to keep working.

So, when Laura leaves after Memorial Day weekend, I will miss her so much, but I am so thankful for today’s technology which will help us to be able to remain close friends who will still be able to encourage and help each other in our writing.  Thanks Laura for your friendship and your encouragement and support in my writing.  I know God has good things in store for you and your family wherever He leads you.

How about you?  Who is a big support and encouragement to you in your writing journey?

Upcoming Writers’ Conference in Lancaster County

PRESS RELEASE: LANCASTER CHRISTIAN WRITERS HOSTS ONE-DAY CONFERENCE ON APRIL 16, 2016, AT LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE

Are you an aspiring writer seeking to hone skills, become market savvy, consult personally with editors/authors—all on a budget? Then join us at Lancaster Christian WritersSuper Saturday 2016!! April 16th, 2016, from 8:30am-4:30pm at Lancaster Bible College, 901 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA, 17601. This one-day writers conference offers a dual track of workshops in fiction and non-fiction. Early registration price of $50 is due by Wednesday, April 13, and includes soup/sandwich buffet lunch and LCW membership. Registrations after April 13 and walk-ins day of the conference are $60.

Non-fiction faculty include writers conference director and author Marsha Hubler, professional writer/editor Hana Haatainen Caye, transformational speaker and novelist Tracy Higley, and award-winning Toastmaster speaker and author Michele Chynoweth. A fiction track will be taught by award-winning novelists Gayle Roper, Mike Dellosso, and Dwight Kopp.

Workshops cover such topics as:

  • Can You Say Satisfying? Creating the Inspiring Moment.
  • Keep ‘Em Wide-Eyed! Sure-Fire Techniques for Writing Hi-Octane Suspense
  • From Book to Bestseller: You Are Your Own Best Publicist
  • The Delicate Art of Creating Villains
  • Non-fiction That Sells: Making Your Article or Book Irresistible to Editors
  • Style: Uncovering Voice and the Power of Identity.
  • The Business of Writing: Making Money as a Freelance Writer.
  • Impactivity: Pursuing Your Writing Dream with Passion, Balance, and Joy

A conference bookstore will offer a wide variety of writer resources and faculty titles. Personal consultations with faculty are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Author/editor/conference director Marlene Bagnull and award-winning novelist/collaborative writer Jeanette Windle are among auxiliary faculty offering personal consultations.

More information, including the Super Saturday 2016 Flyer/Registration Form and Press Release can be found at Lancaster Christian Writers Today (http://lancasterchristianwriterstoday.blogspot.com/) OR email LCW president Jeanette Windle at jeanette@jeanettewindle.com.

Mail Super Saturday 2016 registration form (or relevant info) and check or money order payable to: Lancaster Christian Writers, c/o Jeanette Windle, 1776 Euclid Drive, Lancaster, PA 17601. For credit card/PayPal payment, request invoice at jeanette@jeanettewindle.com (preferred) or call 717-209-0011 after 4 PM.

I have attended LCW’s Super Saturday conferences for the past three years and am already registered to attend this one!  I always learn something helpful or make a valuable new contact or make a new friend, and I have heard all but one of these speakers before and they do an excellent job!  So, if you write or want to write and live in or near Lancaster County, plan to join us for this Super Saturday Writers’ Conference!

Winter Writers’ Retreat

Several months ago, I received an email from my writing friend, Lisa at Lisa’s Musings, talking about the possibility of having a Winter Writers’ Retreat.  She asked me for ideas and she shared her ideas with me.  Then we talked about what the schedule might look like and how we could keep it very low cost by simply having a simple lunch of sandwiches and salads and a dessert, with drinks and snacks available throughout the day, and the lunch would be all that each person would have to pay for.  Lisa also ran the idea by our friend, Donna at Donna L. H. Smith, who helped with some activity planning, getting the word out and registration.

So, this past Saturday, February 27th, seven (counting Lisa) of us got together at Lisa’s house for this retreat.  Donna asked us to introduce ourselves and share what type of writing we do and how long we’ve been married and how many children we have.  Then she opened with a devotion and prayer.

Lisa had asked me, during the planning, if I would be willing to lead an activity.  She gave me two choices and I chose the one I felt was the less daunting of the two.  🙂

Therefore, after the opening devotion and prayer, I led a creative writing exercise.  I was relieved when everyone found the exercise to be so much fun.

After the creative exercise, Lisa gave us two characterization exercises and two setting exercises and we spread out around the downstairs of Lisa’s beautiful home to spend some time writing, using at least one of these exercises.  I actually used a combination of one of the characterization and one of the setting exercises and I applied them to my current work in progress.  I think the creative writing exercise we started with helped to get my brain into writing mode.  (Of course that was the purpose.)

The next thing we did was break into two groups and we each shared about something we are currently struggling with in our work in progress, whether it was a plot problem, problem with a character or with the setting, or something else.  Then the others in the group helped to brainstorm to come up with ideas to work the problem out.

During lunch we had conversation about upcoming writers’ conferences, what we thought of the retreat up to that point, self-publishing and the possible challenges that would include, flash fiction and blog writing.

After lunch we had a critique group, where Lisa shared the critiquing process — a way to help and encourage the writer, not rip their work to shreds — to begin with a positive, then point out something that could use some work or fixing up with an idea or suggestion for that, and concluding with another positive.  These things need to be specific to be of any real help to the writer and the people doing the critiquing need to consider the Big Picture.

We ended with another prayer and an excerpt from a book that Lisa recommended for encouragement.

I cannot speak for any of the other ladies, but I found this day so very helpful.  I was able to leave there with a fresh excitement about writing, especially working on my work in progress.  I had been struggling with something before that and so the brainstorming for story problems was a huge help with that.  I also really enjoy being able to share with other writers because they understand me and I understand them.  We can help and encourage one another and that is so valuable.

Everyone left with a desire to do another retreat in the future.

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This was the great group of ladies who attended, minus Donna, who took the photo.

I encourage all of you who write to find a group of writers you can spend time with talking, sharing, brainstorming, problem solving, and encouraging one another.  You may even want to consider starting your own small writers’ group or hold your own small simple retreat like the one we just had.  Writing is a solitary activity and can be stressful.  It’s good to step out of your writing closet and breathe some fresh air and spend time with others who understand your struggles and the way your mind works (you know, that you talk to your characters and stuff).

Have you been to a writers’ retreat?  Do you belong to a writers’ group?

A Writers’ Conference!

I am preparing and getting geared up and exciting for the American Christian Fiction Writers PA Chapter’s first one-day writers’ conference, known as the Keystone Christian Fiction Writers’ Conference!  You can find all of the details here.  If you are interested in writing Christian Fiction and are anywhere near State College, PA, I encourage you to sign up.  You can even still register at the door.

I am super excited about the seminars and I have two appointments — one with an agent and one with an editor.  I’m going to try pitching my first book.  I’m both nervous and excited about this.

I won’t be traveling to the conference alone.  I will be traveling with three other writers, so the trip should be fun.

Sharing with Other Writers is so Rewarding

So much going on!

We’ve added another writer to our weekly writing group.  Meet Laura at Caffeinated Fiction Caffeinated Fiction.  We are so happy to have her.

Our weekly writing group has created an email chain that we are using to help keep each other accountable and to encourage one another.  We use this email chain to post our monthly writing word count goals, which we post daily or weekly.  We encourage each other to press on toward those goals.  We lift each other up if we don’t quite hit the mark.  We also share prayer requests so that we can pray for each other’s needs.  I really love having this group of ladies to meet with and to rely on.

I also enjoyed speaking with a fellow writer at church on Sunday.  She’s been writing for a long time and has reached a higher level of success than I have yet managed.  She has written much more nonfiction than fiction, but she has done some fiction as well.  We shared a bit about our writing experiences and our upcoming writing plans. She asked me about my current work in progress (WIP), and it was quite fun for me to talk to her about it because she asked for some specific details no one else has asked yet.  (i.e.  She asked how many characters are in my book.)

How are things going in your writing world?  I’d really love to hear about it.  I would really enjoy getting some comments in the comment box, telling me about your writing journey, whether it be successes or struggles.  I’d be happy to encourage you in your journey as I continue to travel mine.

Meet My Writing Friends

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I thought that since I posted about our weekly evening writing group, you might like to take a look at what my friends are writing.  They each have a blog where they write, in addition to the other things they write when we meet weekly.

First, there is my “Random” friend, you can see the fruits of her talent at Random Stories Under a Blue Moon.

Next, there is the amazing poet in our group, and you can read some of her poetry at The Dance of Life.

Finally, there’s the politically minded, non-fiction light of truth of the group, and you can read her truths at The Truth Expedition.

I hope you enjoy visiting my friends.  I certainly enjoy my weekly evening with them.