Do you have a community the supports your dreams and passions?
Writing can be a solitary endeavor. We delve into our own minds to find that creativity, that imagination, that muse. It is our art. But we don’t have to do it alone! Some writers find critique groups. Some writers host writing sprints and brainstorming sessions. In today’s episode, Storm and I talk about our own groups and how creating community can help the writing process.
Create your own community. In the mid-1800s, there was a movement that changed how the world would forever look at and judge art. Impressionism was incubated at Café Guerbois.
How did a small group of people accomplish this fete? By meeting together regularly, challenging and debating with each other on the idea of art and what makes it art.
They had heated disagreements over the “rules” of art. Artists such as Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cezanne and Degas made up this group, and their creative energy paved the way for generations of modern artists.
Steve Jobs said collaboration works best when ideas are met with brutal honesty and are forced to explore a deeper purpose. I doubt Degas ever patted Manet on the back and said he had pretty pictures. They didn’t just dream of being artists, they wanted to set the world on fire with their passion despite what the established art world told them. They were told they were impostors and needed to stop trying to be an artist.
It seems I spend many days telling myself that I’m not an impostor…my friends help with this too. We need those kinds of people in our life.
Ten years ago I made the resolution to try and write for commercial publication. I went online and found SARA (San Antonio Romance Authors), and my writing greatly improved because of their questioning and tough critique. I also learned about the realities of being published. Like selling one book doesn’t mean you will be guaranteed to sell another.
I’m published today because of them. They also introduced me to others that changed my life.
In June, for last several years, I have made my way to West Texas A&M for a writer’s summer camp. This is where I met Jodi Thomas and now count her as a friend. The first year I made the five hour trip alone and it was worth it.
For five days, a small group of us met for almost five hours a day in a class going over our own stories. It’s magical. It was a full week of brainstorming and being pushed by this small group to find that twist in my story to make it unique. I learned that the ideas are there, the details buried deep within my brain.
A few ladies from my writing group.
Side benefit? Lifelong friends that “get me” in a way no one else ever will. And most of all, urge me to get it written and put it out into the world.
I also have created friendships with the woman of Love Inspired. We share a publisher and at times need to cheer each other on or just talk about the industry. I love that they are all over the country and in Canada.
My daughter, Storm and I started a podcast in January 2021.Today our third podcast went live. This has been so fun having these conversations with my daughter. Join us and let me know what you think.
In 2020 I wrote three books and one short. The Texan’s Unexpected Holiday (Damien De La Rosa’s story) was out in Nov. 2020 and the short The Cowboys Seaside Christmas (Sammie Bergmann and Joaquin) is free on the Harlequin blog. I’ll put the link at the bottom of the post.
Being busy is fun and I hope you enjoy my endeavors.
My April release of The Texan’s Secret Daughter.
Cover reveal! There’s a new cover for my May 2021 release.
Title reveal! I have a title my October 2021 release.
In April, The Texan’s Secret Daughter will make it’s return to the world, so if you missed it, here’s your change to grab it. It’s in the Western Collection Duets. I’m paired with the fabulous author and friend Jessica Keller. How fun is that? Spoiler – VERY FUN! LOL
Now for the most exciting part. THE NEW COVER! It spotlights the hero Bridges Espinoza and his dog Big Mac. It is up for peorder. 🙂
He’s always been a loner.
Coming home can change everything…
Returning to his hometown, Bridges Espinoza’s surprised to find his cousin’s widow, Lilianna—the woman he once secretly loved—there as well. But even more stunning is the child who shows up claiming to be his son. Certain he can’t be a father, Bridges works with Lilianna to find the truth. But a shocking discovery about Cooper’s parentage could tear their makeshift family apart…
And finally I have a new title for my October 2021 release.
HER HOLIDAY SECRET.
Sigh. I loved writing this book. Here are a few inspirational pictures.
I promised the link for the free short read, The Cowboys Seaside Christmas. Here it is.
2009 I decided to stop dreaming about being a published author and actually pursue a career as a romance novelist. In 2013 my first completed story, Lone Star Holiday, hit the shelves with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Line. (faith based fiction)
Today I’m excited to announce that two more stories of Clear Water, Texas will be in stores in 2017.
Book five in the series is single dad, Adrian De La Cruz. He has been helping out in the background throughout all the books and now he gets his own happy ending with the oldest Bergmann sister, Nikki. Book six is another Bergmann sister, Danica. Boy, is she in for a surprise.
But before you get to meet them, I hope you fall in love with book four. It will be in stores Aug 23. It is already available for preorders and today I get to reveal the cover!!!!! (Shh… it hasn’t been made public so you get to see it first)
I’m proud to introduce you to Garrett Kincaid, Anjelica Ortega-Garza and Garrett’s son Rio. They are sitting on the porch of Anjelica’s old family farmhouse. Don’t you want to join them and watch the sunset over the hill country of Texas?
Garrett and Anjelica’s story is a touching tale about letting go of the past and moving boldly into your future.
Here is the backcover blurb:
Texas state trooper Garrett Kincaid is a lone wolf—until he becomes an instant father of two young children. The former solider never knew he had a son…or that his little boy has a baby sister with nowhere to go. His landlady, lovely widow Anjelica Ortega-Garza, offers to help, and suddenly Garrett’s life is all about nap schedules and baby bottles and trying to make his traumatized son smile. Falling for Anjelica isn’t part of the plan. Yet even Garrett can’t deny that love has begun building a family of four right around him.
I can’t wait until they arrive in the real world. To preorder you can use the links below. The other three are also available online.
Starting in April, I will share my new obsession with you. I will explore the wonderful world of food, God given food that grows from the earth and nourishes our bodies. All the colors and textures create their own unique art work.
We’ll talk about everything from avocados to ugli fruit. Any excuse to take pictures. LOL
Why has this become an obsession? In the middle of February I made a commitment to myself that I would live a healthier life. Sitting in front of the computer and sitting in the car has taken a toll on my body and as I approach 50 I realized I had to make some changes. Some things happen to us beyond our control, but I can control what I put in my body and how I use the body God gave me.
Last season of Dancing with the Stars, I fell in love with Noah Galloway. (the inspirational kind of love) I wanted that kind of determination in my life.
I knew I had it. It took will power to finish my master’s degree at forty. To find ways to inspire students, To write a 60k word novel. To work until I got my story published. To keep writing in order to get more writing contracts. It wasn’t easy with a language disability (dysgraphia). With hard work and focus I accomplished my dreams and reached my goals.
Unfortunately at the expense of my health. I now need that drive and focus in order to reach my health goals. In doing so I have discovered the world of smoothies and the wonderful fruits and veggies that can go in them. Arranging the colors and selecting the flavors to combine have fired the creative side of my brain.
Do you have a favorite food that nourishes you, heart, mind and body?
As the sun sets on March I hope you walk along with me through my April journey.
Over time, a memory can take on a new meaning. Sometimes you don’t get to cherish and enjoy a marking of time, because you don’t know it will be the last time you go there, do that, or talk to them.
Going into 2016, I have classmates that lost their fathers, the world has lost some of our most creative entertainers, and I lost my friend, Marilyn Tucker. Below is a picture of a table that I have posted many times. It’s at a house on Canyon Lake in the Texas Hill Country. I often joke about it being my favorite office, my favorite place to write. It looks out over the water and in the early morning I would sit there and watch the sun rise from behind the hills.
Early morning view
It was more than the beautiful view, it was the people that were there with me. The fellow writers that understood the creative process. The moments of silence that are needed when creating a fictional world that is real in your head. Marilyn Tucker gave this gift to me, not just the place, but a tribe. When I sat there in November I didn’t know it would be the last time. The last weekend with our tribal leader.
This has been a year of many blessings, joys, and wonderful accomplishments. But as tragedy often does, I was blindsided. In my fifty years, (it might only be forty eight, but I lose track), I have had unexpected losses, but the depth of this one caught me by surprise. She was not my mother, my sister, or my child. She was my friend, my tribal leader.
Almost three years ago, Marilyn Tucker invited me to be part of her tribe. A tribe that truly loves, supports, and understands each other, even our flaws and scars. We were very protective of this small group.
Let me back up a moment and tell you about my experience in being a writer.
Every writer needs a tribe, and not just any tribe, but one that is drama free. Not free from the ups and downs of life. Not an everything-is-good-all-the-time type of crap, but free of the self-created drama, of not knowing the difference between pride and truth. Drama brought on by jealousy, envy and bitterness. It can swallow you whole before you’re even aware it has snuck up behind you.
There are times it seems as if everyone is doing better than you, finishing their stories, selling their stories, multi-book contracts, making more sells, going to bigger events, making more money, better marketing, winning awards and getting better reviews. We create illusions for a living and sometimes the best illusion is our own life.
Every writer needs a drama free zone were we can laugh at petty insecurities and self-doubt. The business of writing is exciting, thrilling and soul sucking.
You have people in your head that have stories to tell. You create a world from bits and pieces of who you are. If you’re truly honest and authentic you get to create characters that no one else can create. Your secret thoughts, desires, wishes and dreams are given life. Your view of the world and the people in it shape your story. You take the real and create a fantasy.
Eventually you will get brave enough to send it out for others to read, to strangers that have no care for your heart.
You want people to love your baby, to tell you and everyone they know that you have the most beautiful, creative, poignant story. You can’t wait to hear how the characters made them laugh…made them cry. You want them to see your baby as special and unique. You want the world to accept your baby and lift her up, to celebrate her.
Your story is the best part of your secrets, your heart. Sometimes it’s the part you hide and keep buried, and when you bring it to light, you want people to understand.
Some will, but others won’t. They might even call your baby names: unpolished, not worth reading, unbelievable, unmarketable, predictable or worse, boring. Yes, there will be people for whatever reason that don’t understand and they will let the public know.
If you let them, they will make you doubt yourself – Like we need any help in that area, right?
You tell yourself it will be better when you….get published, have more followers, get more books out, make the bestseller list, win awards or get that multi-book deal.
But the pressure gets worse, then you move into feeling like a fraud…what happens when they find out the truth? You aren’t really smart or creative – it was a fluke. The voices turn the self-doubt to a new level. I’ll never write another story anyone wants.
This, my friend, is where the tribe comes in, where they chase away the bad voices and get to the truth. My tribe leader, Marilyn Tucker, created a safe haven where we could create, brainstorm and vent. A group that spent time laughing at our own insecurities and looked honestly at our goals.
A group that reminds you of the joy of writing, the excitement of creating a new world. The emotion you create on the page becomes real and you remember why you write. What do you do when you lose your leader?
You go adrift for a second. You come across a problem that you would have called her for and stumble when you remember she’s not available anymore.
What do you do? You move forward in her honor. You reach out to her other friends and together you build a new tribe. You take every encouraging word she said to you and plant it in your heart until it has roots and you harvest those words when you need them. You tell stories and you laugh. Marilyn lived to make others laugh. When she was reading her work out loud, she would count the times people laughed, that was how she knew if she succeeded in her goal. We remember her stories and laugh in her honor.
And we remember most of all, we are story tellers – we tell stories. We have the power to look at life, to take the joys and the sorrow and create a world that we can share with others. Our stories are not for those that don’t understand. They are for the ones that want to understand, that want to be reminded that even in our darkest moments, there is love. In the midst of a storm, we can find peace. For a moment, we can connect to others through words. Marilyn Tucker, you will be missed every day. Thank you for making me a better writer and more importantly, a better person.
In one of my literature classes in college I read A Room of Ones Own, by Virginia Woolf. I loved that short book, somehow it called to me, even before I thought I could be a professional writer. Before my brain could fathom making money as a writer. I mean come on those people were truly gifted, talented and mysterious and I bet they could spell. A shudder goes up my spine, they never failed a high school test because they spelled the answers wrong.
Anyway, I digress. Even back then, over twenty years ago, my heart loved the idea of being a writer. This little book touched that heart. Made me think of the women that were more servants than wives, women who never had the opportunity to read let alone write.
It a long essay that reads more like a letter to all women writers, well maybe society as a whole. Even thought by today standards I’m not sure I’m a feminist, but I believe every child has right to grow into the adult and fulfill a purpose only they can do.
A Room of One’s Own, covers her thoughts on society and art and sexism. Woolf, English writer and one of the foremost modernists and critics of the twentieth century, has an utterly entertaining conversational with us as she walks through the European history of women in writing. With humor and tongue in cheek she smoothly points out the success of the likes of William Shakespeare while lampooning the chauvinistic state of university education in the England of her day.
When she made the claim that to achieve their full greatness as writers women will need a solid income and privacy, Woolf pretty much invented modern feminist criticism.
There are a few things I need in order to write:
At times my quiet corner has been in my car as I wait in the pick up line or for volleyball, football or basketball practice to finish. I’ll write as I wait for a track event or a meeting to start. During my thirty minute lunch break I write dialogue. I make notes on my smart phone as I shop or drive. I have learned to create my own room wherever I am.
At home I do have an office I could write in, but I prefer to be close to the family. So I have made a creative corner at the end of my dining table. With my Beats and storyboard I’m good to go. The view is nice too.
I would also say that a writer needs a supportive community that understands the writing demons. I’ve been blessed to have a few of those too.
Do you have a corner or room that is just yours or a group that supports your dream?