By Thonie Hevron
I would still be wandering the authorial stratosphere if I hadn’t found Redwood Writers. I’d written a book—a thriller set in my very own backyard, Sonoma County. By Force or Fear was penned while I lived on the other side of California, missing Sonoma County so much that I set my story there. It was my way of coping with homesickness. When I moved, I lost the manuscript. Luckily, I found the outline on a thumb drive and re-wrote it. It was even better than before!
In 2004, my husband and I finally moved back to SoCo. While reading the newspaper one day, hubby found a writers group called JumpStart that met in our town. It’s leader, Pat Tyler, introduced me to reading my work in a group. She also fostered my scribblings, steering me to the local chapter of the California Writers Club—Redwood Writers. Finding a group of dedicated writers who encourage each other was a huge step forward. Under their superlative leadership, I attended club sponsored classes, workshops, and panels. Each monthly meeting has an hour-long teaching session as well—featuring different topics such as the business of writing, craft tips, promotion, marketing and social media. From all this input, I was able to formulate a plan. Roughly it looked like this: write, write, write, query, learn, write, speak, blog, learn some more. I mapped out my next novel in outline form. After all, I’m a retired law enforcement veteran and structure such as this helps me keep track of all the strands of my story. While I worked on my story, I found a critique group, Thrillerz. After joining Redwood Writers, this was the best thing I could’ve done.
More on critique groups in July.
Over the course of these meetings, I realized that I needed to build a platform. I knew I had to expand my audience, but the term marketing struck terror in my heart. After all, I was a writer—solitary, shy, withdrawn from the general population. But wait, NO, I wasn’t solitary. I had Redwood Writers, then the Public Safety Writers Association, then, Sisters in Crime. Redwood Writers (RW) hosted (still does) bi-monthly salons for authors to read their work to each other. The intent was to dip writers’ toes in the swamp of public speaking. There also were Open Mics held at several different venues (all of which I participated) and an annual member book launch for 10-12 RW authors to debut their books. Above you can see a few of the events RW sponsored. I volunteered to emcee a few of these gatherings and polished my public speaking as well as met some terrific people.
I did those but felt I needed more. So, I volunteered to co-chair a Redwood Writers’ Conference in 2014. The lead up to the event was where the rubber met the road: I attended every monthly club meeting to publicize the conference. Yes, I got up in front of a crowd of 75 or so people and made announcements. I’m by no means OVER my stage fright but I can certainly manage it. I’ve even tackled some other, unrelated fears such as driving over bridges.
Who knew what doors Redwood Writers would open?
How important is your writers club to you? What unique feature does it offer? Check in to Writer’s Notes on Fridays in June to see what other authors have to say. June 8th features Camille Minichino’s penchant for joining clubs. Natasha Yim talks about the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators on June 15th, on June 22, Leeann Betts gives 6 reasons to join a writers’ club, and on June 29th Paty Jager will offer her thoughts on the subject.