Friday, 30 July 2010

Writers groups

     As some of you already know, I am a member of several writers' groups and associations. Some time after starting my first efforts at writing seriously with the correspondence course (see my website for more about that) I subscribed to a Christian writers' newsletter. It is now close to forty years ago so I can't remember the name of it but I think it originated in Victoria. Besides my American tutors of that course, that was my first contact with other Australian writers.
     Then Billy Graham came to Australia and I heard about a day conference for writers sponsored by their Decision magazine and some Sydney Christian writers. Wow, did that day simply blow me away! Any readers remember Sherwood Wirt? He was a well-known, prominent editor from America. Even more thrilling for this nervous writer were the Australian publishers and editors. One the results of that day was becoming a member of the Australian Christian Writers Fellowship. I have been a member most of the years with them ever since, but because we have lived for the most part hundreds of miles from where they hold their monthly meetings in Sydney have rarely been able to share face to face with them.
     And that is what I enjoy the most - face to face encounters with other writers.
     I know that if your are reading this and are a writer also you will understand just why. For those of you who are primarily readers, let me tell you just a few of the reasons.
     Writers are creative people who first of all were readers first before daring to put pen to keyboard to try and put their thoughts, their stories into a form to share with readers. Some of us use our imaginations to create characters, plots, themes and use them to tell stories that we hope will challenge readers and perhaps most of all give them an hour or so of entertainment. Other writers love the use of words and create beautiful poetry, articles to inform, to challenge. I am primarily a "story teller." When I was first challenged to write, my first thought was "what do I write?' The answer to that is one I now still try to encourage other folk thinking of writing to consider. Write what YOU enjoy reading THE MOST!
   But back to these writers' groups.
   While I have always read widely, ever since I can remember my favourite books contain at least some romance. So, perhaps it is no wonder that my first short story had a hint of that when an injured soldier still recovering from the trauma of Vietnam met a blind young girl on his favourite beach. While I called it "Scars" the Woman's Day editor published it way back in 1974 as "Tomorrow is a New Day." When I evolved to writing my first novel, of course it had to be a romance novel.
    It was about eighteen years after that short story was published before I met a group of writers who also wrote romance. I joined the fledgling Romance Writers of Australia and it was wonderful being able to share each month at our meetings with other crazy writers. This is a photo of some of us at our Christmas dinner one year.
     We shared our problems with plots, characterisation,  point of view, how to format a manuscript, who to submit it to, kept informed of market trends and publishers' news for our chosen genre. As well as sharing expertise and the critiquing of our efforts, most important was the fellowship we shared, the tears when we received rejections, the times we cheered a writer with some success. How I missed that monthly group when we moved from that city!
     As well as our RWA, I joined the Romance Writers America and their Faith Hope Love chapter for Christian romance writers. While we lived in England for two years I joined the Association Christian Writers and also the American Christian Fiction Writers when it commenced. When we moved back to Australia from England I was delighted to be able to join the Society Women Writers Tasmania because they held their monthly meetings less than an hour's drive from us. I have been honoured to be the president for them these last couple of years. Recently I have also become a member of another group for Christian writers in Queensland, Omega Writers.
     And that brings me to this last few days. We have our SWWT annual meeting next Monday and I am so thankful another writer has let me nominate her for this position. With releasing my Baragula books in 2008 and 2009 and all the promotion and marketing efforts for them, trying to write the third book in the series and going overseas for several weeks last year, I simply need more time now to concentrate on not only my writing but other responsibilities I know I will have this coming year.
     I am delighted that after missing the last two annual conferences, I am off to the RWAustralia conference in Sydney later in August. Last September Ray and I were in Denver, Colorado, at the ACFW conference. This year once again there will be wonderful opportunities to continue to learn writing skills, but I also will be meeting old friends made over many years who are just as much crazy writers as myself! And I'll let you into this also: I will be meeting a literary agent from the agency in New York who has asked me to send them manuscripts. The big question is, "will they or won't they offer to have me as one of their clients?"
     I continue to be blessed so very, very much by other writers God has brought into my life from all over the world. And don't forget, if you click on the highlighted names of the writers' groups you will go to their websites. On some sites there are great articles about writing for writers - mainly in members only I'm afraid, but if you are interested, RWA also has information about the romance genre .


  1. Always enjoy the peek into your side of the world!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Mary. Writers groups are so important and I value the ones I'm involved in. I will never forget the A2O Conference a few years back, which taught me things and opened doors for my first novel to be published.

  3. Crazy writers are some of the nicest people :) I'm blessed to know them and follow in their footsteps. I shared with a new writing friend about ACFW just this week. I have had a thorough writing education 101 with them during the last 12 months and and look forward to many more writing lessons in the days to come.
    Dorothy :)

  4. It is always great to share with folk who enjoy the same things. So glad you are being blessed by ACFW, Dorothy. I too continue to learn so much by being involved with writers who are targeting similar readership.
    Yes, Amanda, that was a great conference. I must have met you there too. Were you in the workshop I spoke at?