Why I Joined a Local Writers Group

Do you enjoy meeting writers in person?

Would you like to do so on a regular basis?

Last weekend I headed to the Write to Inspire Conference held just an hour from where I live. I spent Friday evening and all day Saturday in the company of some talented writers. Here are four of my special friends.

Marcia Harris Brim and Keli

I met Marcia Harris Brim sixteen years ago. We attended the same church and shared special times in Bible Studies. Our paths diverged, but writing brought us together again. Marcia’s written homeschool curriculum, and she co-founded a small publishing company with her husband. I was delighted when Karen announced Marcia as the second runner-up in the Write to Inspire non-fiction contest Saturday evening.

Chris Pedersen and Keli

Chris Pedersen and I were introduced by a mutual friend three years ago. She writes children’s books and is developing an app for the iBook. She was the first local writer I got to know and is the one who introduced me to the Inspire group. Chris, a former engineer, is bright and quite tech-savvy. I’ve learned a great deal from her. We’ve become good friends and meet to talk writing whenever we can.

Keli with Joanne Kraft

I met Joanne Kraft at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A few months later she joined Toastmasters, where I was privileged to serve as her mentor. She sold her first book soon after and had to leave Toastmasters when publishing deadlines entered her life. We’re literary agency mates now, both represented by Rachelle Gardner.

Joanne’s non-fiction book, Just Too Busy–Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical, released this summer, and she’s been busy with marketing and promotion, traveling across the country and speaking at places such as Focus on the Family and the national M.O.P. S. convention. Now Joanne’s mentoring me as I prepare for the release of my first novel.

Lacie Nezbeth and Keli

Lacie Nezbeth and I are a social media success story. We connected on Twitter. Curiosity led Lacie to check out my blog, and she discovered that we live just twenty minutes apart. She sent me an email, and we met for breakfast. I was taken with Lacie from the start. Talk about a sweetheart! She’s another inspy historical writer, so we have much in common. We’re going to travel to the ACFW conference together where we’ll be roomies. I’m stoked.

• • •

The time with friends was my favorite part of the conference, but we were all inspired by our speakers. Agent Karen Ball served as the main speaker. She gave the opening address and spoke all day Saturday. Novelist Ginny Yttrup, one of Karen’s clients and friends, delivered two workshop sessions Friday evening while Karen heard pitches.

Karen Ball

Karen is a dynamic woman who offered a nice mix of instruction and entertainment. Laughter filled the room on a regular basis as she shared stories from her heart. Not only is she a gifted editor-turned-agent and an engaging speaker, but she possesses many other talents as well. Her singing voice is amazing. She’s a calligrapher, too, and added her artistic touch to the certificates given the winners of the fiction and non-fiction writing contests. And Karen can consume more caffeine than just about anyone I’ve ever met.

Ginny Yttrup

Ginny is soft-spoken and personable. Her warm, gentle approach was just the thing for Friday evening after a busy week. Ginny, whose debut novel, Words, took the inspirational market by storm, shared her journey to publication. She gave us an inside look at what goes into writing a novel, from idea to release, along with marketing pointers

• • •

While it’s great to meet my online friends at annual conferences, I leave craving more face-to-face connections. I treasure the time I’m able to spend with writers who live in my community. I know a few inspy writers and meet with them as often as our schedules allow, but those breakfast or lunch dates happen far less often than I’d like.

Because I had such a great time with the members of the Inspire Christian Writers at the conference, I decided to join the group. I’ll be able to attend workshops and to participate in critique groups. I love to edit and to help other writers, so that appeals to me. An added bonus is that I’ll see my four friends pictured above regularly because they’re all members of the same Inspire small group. Talk about a win-win.

• • •

Are you part of a local writers group? If so, what do you see as the benefits?

Do you have local writer friends that you get together with regularly?

If you’re not a writer, do you have a hobby you share with others?

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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28 Responses to Why I Joined a Local Writers Group

  1. You have a wonderful group! I just joined up with ACFW’s Round Rock Texas group and I think I will be able to attend the meeting on Sept 17th! I am so excited to be with a group again as it has been years that I have!!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Terri, I’m glad to see you jumping right in and getting involved with the ACFW group in your new town in your new state. I’m sure the Texans will go out of their way to shower you with their legendary hospitality.

  2. Keli, you look like you’re having a great time! I belong to a local writer’s group and I love it. They are so supportive and just plain fun to be around. In fact, we meet tomorrow!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Jesse, I’m glad you have a supportive local writers group and hope you have/had a great meeting today. I’m looking forward to my first meeting with mine this coming week.

      I’m a member of my local RWA chapter, but I might be the only one writing for the inspy market. I look forward to the fellowship with other Christian writers.

  3. A local writer’s group found me when my RWA magazine was “divinely” delivered to the wrong address. While I’m the only inspy writer in the group, they’ve been such a blessing to me, as I hope I’ve been to them. I eagerly look forward to every meeting.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Sandra, I belong to my local RWA chapter, too, and think I might be the only member writing for the inspy market. My Sacramento Valley Rosers are a talented and generous group and are very supportive of me, which I appreciate. I attend the SVR meetings as often as my schedule allows and am actually going to be the speaker at our November meeting.

      I put off joining Inspire for some two years, but I want the opportunity to connect with others who write what I do and enjoy the fellowship.

  4. Wendy says:

    Oh man, did I ever miss YOU last weekend. 😉 I love how you found a way to get in touch with me. It looks like you had a blast. I can’t wait to meet Lacie.

    I do meet every so often with local writers. It’s hard to get something regular going with our crazy schedules, but I have two in one group and then two other individuals I connect with from time to time.
    ~ Wendy

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Wendy, I’ve done some serious happy dancing this week on your behalf. I’m thrilled that you’re my agency mate at long last. I loved the story of how that came to be, which you shared in your post yesterday in such beautiful Wendy-esque fashion.

      Lacie Nezbeth is great. I’m looking forward to the blessing of traveling the ACFW conference with her and being roomies. I think she’s a sweetheart who is a dear to put up with an oldie like me. =)

  5. Keli, you’re too sweet! I had such a blast with you…especially watching you crack up when Karen was describing now nit-picky line editors can be. 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Lacie, I had such fun with you, too, and appreciate you putting up with me. 🙂

      Karen is a hoot! I laughed so hard at times I got tears in my eyes. Her line editor quips durn near caused me to go into convulsions. I wonder what she thought when she saw me carrying on like that. Since we were seated front and center and all of 20 feet from her, there was nowhere for me to hide.

  6. I loved my writer’s group in Texas. I thought moving to a larger town might make it easier to find one – since there were so many, but it wasn’t . One of the local churches has a monthly meeting of writers, where I have found myself more at home. I hope a critique group gels from this gathering. This week, I was surprised to have a writer friend knock at my door and chat for a bit. It was great to catch up in person.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Stacy, I’m glad you’re forming new writing connections and hope they lead to a group that works well for you.

      How cool to have a writer buddy show up at your door. Online friendships are great, but a face-to-face friendship is such a blessing.

  7. cynthiaherron says:

    Keli, a new group has recently formed in our area, with the goal of becoming a local ACFW affiliated chapter once we have enough members. The talented Carol Moncado founded the group and acts as group facilitator. Our name is MozArks (for Missouri/Arkansas Ozarks) and we’ve had a fabulous time of fellowship and dishing about the craft we love so much. And of course, meeting at Paneras adds a nice punch to our fun!

    So excited for your new connection! 🙂

  8. Erica Vetsch says:

    We had a local writer’s group here a few years ago, but it sort of fell apart. 😦 I would love to have another group, and I know ACFW is working on getting a Southern MN group started.

    Your conference sounds lovely. I love how you can see God’s hand in all those dear friendships, old and new.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Erica, I hope you’re able to get a Southern MN chapter of ACFW started.

      Here in California, there can be tremendous geographic distances between members, making it tough to form ACFW chapters. We’ve tried to get one started here in my part of the state (the Sierra Foothills/Sacramento), but some of us are as much as three or more hours away from a midpoint meeting site, which would make getting to meetings on a regular basis a challenge.

      My solution was to join Inspire. Even though the group is open to all Christian writers, I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from those who write non-fiction, devotions, Bible Studies, and other things.

      I’ve been so blessed by the friends the Lord’s brought into my life since I began writing. I think writers are some of the most interesting, generous, and supportive people I know.

  9. Keli, I know what you mean! The state where I live is southwestern, sprawling and sparsely populated compared to other regions of the country. This means there are very few writers from the inspirational community in town. I’m used to it now, but when I first joined ACFW it was really hard to get past the feeling of being way out in the boondocks while others had tons of writing friends. Since then I’ve been blessed with your friendship and that of many other wonderful writers. I treasure the opportunity to meet in person.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Rosslyn, I can relate to the challenges of forming a group in a state where potential members live far apart. Before I decided to join Inspire, I met with my local writer friends as often as I could.

      I treasure my online friends, but there’s nothing like a face-to-face meeting. I’ve learned to make use of those extra minutes on my cell phone and call friends who live far away. It’s the next best thing. I’ve got “learn to Skype” on my to-do list and think this will be a great way to connect once I’ve mastered it.

  10. Yippee! I’m so happy you’re joining our Inspire group. We have a great time and all have learned so much from each other’s writing. Plus, it’s really special to be able to say that you’ve read the work that moves from a work in progress (WIP) to a contracted piece with representation. Welcome to Inspire Christian Writers, friend.

  11. Loree Huebner says:

    Looks like you had a great time, Keli!

    It’s wonderful to have a group who understands and supports writing. I love having people who I can really talk to – connect with – who understand where I’m coming from because they have either been there or are wading through the same water that I am. Some are standing where I’ve been, and I see the spark in their eyes when we talk. I always try to encourage them.

    I belong to a local writer’s group, and I learn so much every time I go to a meeting. I’m so inspired that I come home ready to work…

    Nice post.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Loree, my writer friends are gems. As you said, there’s nothing like talking with others who totally get this writing gig and can relate to our challenges and understand our elation when good news comes.

  12. Joanne says:

    Keli,
    What a great Inspire group we have! I can’t wait to get back together this month. There’s definitely power in numbers. Because of so many eyes and helpful input from a bevy of gifted writers, my manuscript was editor-worthy. It’s a great feeling to be able to help others with their dream of publication. InspireWriters.com website is already planning on having online podcasts and workshop teachings for those writers who may not live in our area, but just like us, need to be inspired.
    Looking forward to seeing you WordServe sis!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Joanne, I’m looking forward to my first meeting and to meeting the other members. I love the way the Inspire writers are there for one another, offering instruction, encouragement, and support. What a blessing!

  13. How wonderful you’ve made such happy and beneficial connections! I’ve belonged to a writers’ group for several years but as much as I enjoy the gatherings, it’s not geared to either inspirational writing or novelists. A new group has begun closer to where I live and includes novelists but no inspirational writers. I attend, but keep hoping that somewhere I’ll find a compatible critique partner. In the meantime, I treasure my cyber writing friends. You’re all such a blessing!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Carol, I’m glad you’re able to meet with other writers. Like you, I haven’t found a group of inspirational novelists in my area. I’m learning to take advantage of the opportunities available to me, though. I’ve get my romance writers connection through my local RWA chapter and will now get my inspirational connection with Inspire.

      I’ve trusted the Lord with my desire for face-to-face inspy novelist friends, and He’s bringing them to me. My friend Lacie writes inpsy historical romance like me, and she lives just 20 minutes away. We connected via Twitter.

      While I treasure my face-to-face friends, my online friends mean just as much to me. My two CPs and I live in different parts of the country, and yet we make email critiques and occasional phones calls work for us. I pray the Lord leads you to just the right CP for you.

  14. the writ and the wrote says:

    We don’t have anything like that here in Vegas, although I do attend a poetry workshop and will be taking a class in November about ebooks and self publishing.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      I’m glad you’re able to meet with other writers and to take classes. It can be a challenge to find others in our area that write what we do. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, have you considered asking if any of your friends or followers are in your area. My friend Lacie found me from our connection on Twitter.

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