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.

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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 

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A Holiday Break

season-of-promises-cover    Every year, I travel to a small town with friends for a weekend of girl-time (clarification-without husbands). You know the kind—where we hash out our problems, catch up on our families, delve into what’s new, discuss books we’ve read, where we’ve traveled. Life stuff.

But we go to this specific town for the Christmas Candlelight Home Tour. Many of the homes predate the 1850s and are designated historical by the state. The Historical Foundation picks four homes which are decorated with natural elements like cedar, magnolia, fruit, nuts. There’s also period ornaments and decorations, music, and candles. Docents point out items of interest and tell us facts about the homes. Some of the churches present choir performances. The Foundation sells Christmas trees as a img_00000246fundraiser. The trees are set up in the park and decorated.

After our traditional Italian dinner, we tour the homes and debate over which is best. Usually, we find something to like at each one. We return to our B&B, dress in our jammies, and share gifts. There’s lots of laughter and oohs and aahs. The next day, we shop at the various small stores and antique malls. Dinner at a fabulous restaurant follows. This year, we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life,” too.

I have written a lot of Christmas stories. Some were published in the True magazines. Others with another publisher. Over the last three years, my holiday stories have appeared in the Season of Magic, Season of Surprises, and Season of Promises. I’ve been inspired by ribbon candy, Grandmother’s tomato cake (anyone want the recipe?), family ornaments, and the fragrance of Christmas trees. Grumpy Grandpas, klutzy architect, a reformed high schooler turned attorney, a pretend plumber, and scam artists faking their way through a holiday baking contest. I take in the lights, the colors, the sounds, the smells and apply to my work. That makes it real. It’s easy to be inspired when the season surrounds one.

So I’m sharing three photos from the Foundation’s tree display. When you look them over, what do you see? What do you feel? Do you smell the tree’s fragrance? Are you ready for Christmas?

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And don’t forget:

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