Writing Groups

First, the good news: My short story “Girls with Blood in Their Veins” has just been accepted for publication with Bartleby Snopes. Look for it this July!

Second: I’m staying up all night tonight for an early Memorial Day flight to Whidbey Island where my beloved writing group, The Roving Writers, will be waiting for me! Here’s hoping that the acceptance letter is a good omen for the journey.

Now, onward to the meat and potatoes of this post: Because I know a lot of writers out there are hungry for groups, connection, and colleagues, I thought I’d take a moment to share some details about The Roving Writers and what works for us.

The Roving Writers is a small collection of writers scattered all across The United States, and though we meet monthly via phone, about twice a year we manage to get together in-person and there’s just no beating the greatness of that. We first met rather serendipitously at a Master Class event at Hedgebrook, and from there we quickly realized that we would be together for many years to come.

What Works for Us:

  • The first keynote we’ve discovered to a strong working relationship is one that may seem obvious but that is notoriously difficult to achieve: Trust. –Trust requires honesty, openness, confidence, and humility. It requires constant work and an ability to clearly communicate one’s thoughts and feelings to others. Without trust, how could we share our work with one another?–work that is often intensely intimate and deeply connected to our innermost beliefs and desires? Without trust, how could we ever give sincere, useful feedback on each other’s work? Without trust, how could we ever have faith in the comments and critiques we receive from each other?
  • The next major component to a successful writing group is a set of Shared Goals. This doesn’t mean that everyone in the group needs to be working on a novel. This doesn’t even necessarily mean that everyone in the group needs to have the shared goal of eventually being published (though this kind of professional synchronicity can be very useful***). What this really means is that everyone in the group should A) want to become a stronger writer and B) want to receive and provide effective, meaningful feedback on their writing. Sometimes it helps if everyone is also similar in other respects as well (i.e. working in the same genre, working toward a particular publishing goal, etc.). Of course, not all writing groups are going to share the goal of critique/feedback since many writing groups have other purposes all together, such as simply gathering together to write in a shared space. –This latter kind of writing group is especially useful, I’ve found, for those writers looking to meet other artists in their area.
  • And tip number three: Managing Group Size & Meeting Regularity. It is absolutely essential to the health of writing groups that you have a manageably small group (I wouldn’t recommend having more than six or seven people to a group max) that meets at least once a month. Many groups meet weekly, but once a month should probably be the bare minimum. –Without these elements, the group can lack intimacy and the tight bonds necessary to breed trust and understanding. Moreover, having a regular meeting time is vital so that group members can plan their daily writing schedules accordingly.

 

Have any tips from your writing group? All advice is welcome and appreciated!

Happy Writing!

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Spotlight on Melville House

First, I’ve loved Melville House for a long time. Second, I’ll be reviewing Martin Seay’s The Mirror Thief for Cleaver Magazine this month! Dig this review — thanks for sharing, Book People!

BookPeople's Blog

mirror thiefWe post here about book after book, but rarely do we talk about the publishers behind the books. We are gearing up for a great event next week with Martin Seay (Monday, May 16th at 7pm) and his new book, Mirror Thief, which is the new hot release from independent publisher Melville House.


Melville House is a small publisher, relatively speaking, putting out 50-60 books a year, but those books range from timely, topical nonfiction to poetry in translation. There is something on their list for every reader once you start looking.

Mirror Thief is already a favorite at independent bookstores like BookPeople, and you’ll want to check out this graphic to read what booksellers everywhere are saying.

Martin Seay will be here to speak in conversation with Kirk Lynn, whose book Rules for Werewolves was also published by Melville House. Lithub called it, “A unique, engaging way…

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In Conversation With Erica Bauermeister, Author

I love Erica Bauermeister! She’s a tremendous author and I was so thrilled to find this most recent interview with her.

Just as with her novels, please read and enjoy 🙂

As an opener, here’s one of my favorite moments from the interview:

Me: What are the bits of advice you would like to pass on to people who want to be creative in their lives?

Erica: I would ask them what they are waiting for – and I mean that as a real question. If you are waiting because you are scared about failure, then think about what your life would be like if you DON’T do this thing that calls to you. And if there are concrete reasons, or skills you need to acquire, then deal with those, but don’t let them be an excuse.

And more than anything, just try to open yourself up to the joy of it. Forget that myth that art has to be painful, that you have to suffer for it. Nothing makes me happier than time spent writing. So, go make yourself happy!

The Girl Next Door

I simply love Erica Bauermeister’s lyrical way of writing, her unusual characters, and the way she has of depicting sections out of people’s lives in her books, without overly focusing on developing storylines as such. I am a big, big fan of her The School Of Essential Ingredients. I didn’t connect with her Joy For Beginnersas much as I did with The School Of Essential Ingredients, but I still found it quite an enjoyable read. Having read and enjoyed two of her books, I was thrilled when I managed to get in touch with Erica, and she agreed to a little interview for my blog!

Without further ado, here’s presenting to you… Erica!

unnamedMe: You have a unique, flowy, lyrical writing style that is a pleasure to read. Just how do you manage to write like that? Where do you find your writing inspiration?

Erica: My father…

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Don’t Set Yourself Up for Failure

Check out this great article from Anne R. Allen:

Don’t Derail Your Writing Career:

8 Ways New Writers  Sabotage Themselves

Allen provides some very solid, useful advice for the emerging writer. And while it may feel like a lot of commonsense, she actually gets to the heart of many traps and snafus that plenty of young artists often find themselves mired in. I know I’ve fallen victim to some of these issues myself, and I’m grateful to Allen for being so honest, open, and straightforward about them here.

Here’s a teaser:

We all make mistakes. It’s how we learn. But some mistakes have the potential to end a writing career before it starts. Today I’m talking about the things a lot of writers do that can keep them from having a career—or derail it for a long time. How do I know about them? I did a lot of this stuff myself.

1) Writing in a Vacuum

It seems at least half the people I meet are “working on a book.” A lot of them have been working on that same book for years—even decades.

But they never show it to anybody.

These are the people who also never read writing guides or blogs or magazine articles that might improve their writing skills or educate them about the publishing business. This is especially true of nonfiction writers, for some reason. They think a memoir or how-to book is somehow easier to write than a novel.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Nonfiction needs to be even more carefully structured than fiction—especially memoir.

Happy Reading & Writing!

–And a big thank you to Anne R. Allen for sharing her wisdom!

Cease, Cows & The Spyglass

I am so proud that my short story “The Spyglass” has found its home with Cease, Cows. I wrote this short story a long, long time ago and it’s gone through a shocking number of iterations before finally finding its sweet-spot.

Check it out now with Cease, Cows!

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Hungry for a taste? Here’s the teaser:

Mom had once told me that all women had the same parts down there, but Aunt Theo’s were definitely different from mine. Where I was all hairless and smooth and small, she was big and bushy and tangled, like one of the neighbor’s, Mrs. DuPont’s, armpits.

 

Happy Reading and, as always, Happy Writing!