|Back L-R Don, Carole, James, Laura Front me, Mary, Carol, Peggy|
The Trumbull Writers Group I belong to was started over twenty years ago by Nina Pykare Coombs; a published author of many regency romance and historical romance novels. She taught a writing workshop at either the local vocational school or Trumbull’s Kent campus. I took that workshop but missed the last few classes because of teaching commitments so I wasn’t aware many of the students wanted to form a writing group to continue meeting. Nina was no longer with the group when I joined more than ten years ago.
Currently we meet the second Saturday of the month for two hours at the Warren Trumbull County Library. We have thirteen members, although not all come to every meeting. Over the years new members have joined and stayed and others have dropped out or died.
Because I was out of town I missed July’s meeting, then I returned to a meeting a few weeks ago. The group (Don Butler’s idea) had a gift for me in a box signed by everyone who’d been there in July and those who were there this month signed the box, too. I couldn’t figure out why they were giving me a gift in a small box with their signatures on it. No one knew it was my birthday in a few days. Everyone watched and waited for me to open the box with anticipation. When I did, my mouth dropped open and I started laughing and everyone else was laughing, too. In the box was a large patch knife (hunting knife?) and a leather decorated sheath
with Indian beads on it. Don told me to notice the twenty notches on the handle that were representing everyone I’ve murdered so far. I quickly told him I’d murdered another one the previous week. He said I could make my own notches in the future. Needless to say, our meeting was full of merriment and laughter when we weren’t listening to those members who had something to share which was most of us.
|I'll bet not many older women have ever received a gift like this.|
We are an eclectic group of writers. I’m the only one who writes mysteries. I only share my short mysteries as well as my poetry and some of my blogs because we have a reading limit of ten minutes and some of my chapters would take longer.
Laura Byrnes became a member of the group when Nina started it. She is my beta reader as well as a friend and we get together often for lunch or dinner in a restaurant or at my house. She’s been working on a YA novel for years, but mostly what she shares at the meetings is her poetry that often has a twist making us all laugh. She does write the occasional serious poem, too.
Don Butler, the one who thought of this idea of the knife and bought it, is a retired NASA engineer and often shares scientific papers with us – the most recent one was the evolution of electric lights and the colors involved in this. But he writes great essays, too, as well as some poetry and all have an element of humor in them that is so Don. His wife Bev writes the occasional piece, which everyone likes, but she suffers with writer’s block and gets discouraged when she has nothing to share.
Carole Babyak is a most awesome writer. She’s a Civil War buff who writes columns for our newspaper on the Civil War. She’s just finishing up a memoir of an ancestor of hers using all the letters he wrote. But the work that keeps us mesmerized is when she reads a chapter to us of her Civil War Epic novel. Her prose is lyrical and so well done we can imagine being there, hearing the sounds, smelling the smells and seeing the scenes she writes so beautifully. She is truly a gifted writer, but has only in the past year or so gotten serious about getting this work published. We’re all hoping she finds a publisher soon because we want to read the book from start to finish and not spaced out over many years. Carole is also an active birder who is the president, or at least an officer, in our local Audubon Society and writes articles for the newspaper about birds, too.
Carol Stowe is working on a masters in creative writing and a novel she needs for the completion of the course. She recently was accepted for a two week writing retreat at Martha’s Vineyard. She had to send so many pages of her novel before they’d approve her. Most of her work has a touch of humor in it.
Mary Reed is in her nineties. She’s working on her memoir called “The Big D and Me” which is about growing up through the Depression. Her recall of those years fascinates all of us. She also writes philosophical poetry and was a member of the WAC’s in WWII. Mary’s eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, and she’s computer challenged so Laura, who works full time, has taken it upon herself to type all of Mary’s memoir. I know I want a copy of it, and I’ll bet everyone else in the class does, too.
Peggy Byrnes and her son, James Cline, write poetry. Peggy’s are short and very well done. She has hundreds and hundreds of them scribbled in her notebooks with some published. James writes deep, mostly sad, poetry that impresses everyone. Apparently, he inherited the poetry gene that both his mother and his Aunt Laura have.
Steve Force has only been with us for about a year. His cheerful nature and hearty laughter, plus great poetry, most of which makes us laugh out loud, makes him a welcome member.
Nancy Whaley another relatively new writer is a prolific writer of historical romances. At first it was a little shocking to our tender ears; however with much laughter, we settled down and listened. She writes well and even though it’s not anything we care to write, we are impressed with her plotting and character description that keeps us listening. She’s a good sport and laughs along with us when we tease her a little about some earlier scenes. I met her when she came to one of my book signings and when I found out she writes, I told her about our group.
Marianne Nethers writes essays of her early years for a memoir she’s putting together for her kids and grandkids someday. She writes quite well and we’re always happy when she comes with something to share with us.
Jill Karg, Marianne’s daughter, writes fantasy children’s books of novel length. She, too, makes her characters come alive, and is looking for a publisher. Both Marianne and Jill have been with us for a long time.
We’re not a group that does a lot of critiquing. We might mention a word or phrase that doesn’t sound quite right, but most of all we verbally applaud each member who is sharing their work that meeting. Sometimes we go further in our comments if the person seems to want input on how to improve their work in process. The feeling of camaraderie and yes, love, that seems to be a part of this group is what makes it so special. Sometimes, we hate to end the meeting so a few of us go for lunch at a restaurant where we can continue our talking over a meal.
Do you share your writing with a group? If so, how does it operate?