Writing Family

Saturday, I went to my writing chapter holiday party. We wore our crazy Christmas sweaters, and did a White Elephant Gift Exchange using “ugly” ornaments. I’d found an ornament that was a small green sweater with snowflakes on the sleeves. Seemed appropriate. We’ve met in the La Hacienda Restaurant for many years now. It takes me 30 minutes to get there. Before we moved to the lake, it took 45 minutes.IMG_6433

I’ve been a member of NTRWA for almost 10 years. I’m a published writer because of the women in this group and the people they connected me to. From the woman who set me up with my first critique partners who I spent three years exchanging twenty pages each week with to the judges who gave me invaluable input on those first chapters in my first books, like maybe I should take a course in GMC, when I didn’t know what those letters stood for. LOL The chapter also introduced me to Margie Lawson who I credit with getting my writing to the place where a publisher wanted it.IMG_6426

In the beginning years I served on various committees, ultimately becoming the president of the group. That’s the year I nearly gave up writing. But because I was president of NTRWA, I had this obligation to write an article for each month’s newsletter. My theme was “Keep On, Keeping On.” I wrote the articles for all writers, but I wrote them especially to myself. I’m so grateful for that year and for the chapter expecting me to keep on keeping on.


Writers all around me were selling their books. I had accumulated enough rejections to paper a room. And then there were all the ones that just never got back to me. Don’t you hate when that happens? Both my critique partners had sold, and something changes when that happens. Your goals change. Your obligations change. And so you move on. One of the things I’ve learned is everyone must find their own way in this business. We learn from others, but ultimately we have to write to find our voice and to make it happen.

If you’re like me, its hard to find time to write during the holidays. The wonderful thing is whenever we make time to get to the computer or laptop or you few amazing folks who still pick up a pencil to write, we can find that joy of spewing out words, telling our tales of murder, suspense, and romance. And what a joy and what a privilege it is to say “I am a writer.”  “I am an author.” “People read my books.”IMG_6427

Pretty amazing, huh?

As grateful as I am to be apart of NTRWA, I’m also thankful to be a part of this blog. Writing is a solitary business. My writing chapter and you in Sisterhood of Suspense connect me to real people who share my dreams and aspirations. I am blessed to be a part of you all.

Readers, don’t forget to participate in our contest and to sign up for our members’ individual newsletters, follow us on FB, check out our websites, and of course, leave a review after you read one of our books. Besides each other, we need you readers, too.

Whatever you are celebrating at this time of year, I wish you joy and peace, love and family.

marsha@marsharwest.com  http://www.marsharwest.com 

https://authormarsharwest.wordpress.com/ Blog


http://www.twitter.com/Marsharwest  @Marsharwest



The Sisterhood of Suspense's


Rushing here. Rushing there. Where’s my list? Who gets what? How can we afford it? Will everyone have a good time at the party? Will they like the punch? Will we have enough food? Are my decorations as good as my neighbors?

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And on and on, the questions plague those of us caught up in the holidaze.

In reality, this was me as a young mom. Not so much now as a retired elementary school principal and romantic suspense author. In the past, I found the holidays stressful beyond belief. I wish my younger self had been not so much a perfectionist. I wish I’d been able to just let go and enjoy the family and friends without all the stress of getting it perfect.

Here’s my mother’s Champagne Punch Recipe.


1 Batch

1 6 oz can frozen orange juice

1 cup lemon juice

2 ½ cups cranberry juice

2 ½ cups pineapple juice

1 cup Sugar. (I omit)

Mix and put in frig for a few hours

Just before serving, add:

1 Qt. Gingerale

3/5ths Champagne (think that’s one bottle)

I usually double the recipe.  (You can serve it without the Champagne.)

It’s only through maturity I’ve learned the value of “good enough.” That doesn’t mean you slack off and give only partial effort at the task. But it means learning that most things will not be perfect. They may be nice, wonderful, exciting without being perfect, and that is good enough.

It’s kind of like with our books. I don’t believe there are any published books that don’t have “errors” either of the grammar or spacing kind. Then we all know one more swipe through will improve it. But tweaking it just one more time may just be our reaching for a perfection that doesn’t exist.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in editing. I want lots of people’s eyes on my work before it gets “born.” And it’s frustrating when each time a pair of eyes look at my words, something else appears. Maybe it’s only tiny, but still. You have to come to a “good enough.” Let the darling go and begin the next book.

If you’re feeling really frazzled this season, look at the things you’re expecting yourself to do. Just because your mother baked that cake, do you need to? Just because you’ve always had the big Christmas Day dinner at your house, maybe you could change it up? Do a buffet where everyone brings something. Draw names instead of getting something for everyone.

One of my good friends who I always buy a Santa for, said this year let’s not give gifts. We really don’t need any more stuff. I was glad to do that. So far, I hadn’t been able to find the Santa that was “perfect.” But I do have a small jar of scrumptious Wild Maine Blueberry Jam for many friends including her this year. Made in America. Not expensive. You can eat it and recycle the jar. No accumulation of more stuff. The perfect gift.  img_4807

LOL Okay, so it’s a little backslide.

For many of us, we’re at the point we’re able to get what we need, when we need it, throughout the year. If you know people who aren’t like that, lend a helping hand. This is a great time to send money to your favorite charity or two. Generally, this holiday is all about family and friends. If you’re not near loved ones, consider volunteering at a soup kitchen or shelter.

However you celebrate, I hope you’ll slow down, cut yourself some slack, and make it a Good Enough Holiday.