I spent this past week at the West Texas Writers Academy held on the West Texas A&M University campus in Canyon, Texas. The fact that my daughter helps put this on has no bearing on how I feel about this event. She, Tim Lewis (author of Forever Friday which I recommend), and Jodi Thomas (New York Times best-selling author) work together to put on this quality academy.
This is not a conference; it’s an academy. We don’t pitch to agents or publishers or learn how to write queries. We learn the craft of writing good books. The attendees spend a week with instructors learning the nuts-and-bolts of writing, plotting, and running a writing business. The instructors are top quality and come from around the world to teach and learn.
I’ve attended WTWA for three years. The first year I learned how to deep edit from Margie Lawson. Using her methods, I rewrote the book I’d written 10 years before, turned it into something I’m proud of, and self-published it, The Treasure of Adonis. I made friends during that week that I still keep in touch with and who still give me encouragement. The next year, I learned how to plot a book with Alexandra Sokoloff. I went into her class with a two-sentence plot idea and finished the week with an outlined novel, Blessings From the Wrong Side of Town, which I released earlier this month. I made more friends that I love hearing from. This year I took a class from Bethany Claire (USA TODAY best-selling author) on running a writing business. I was grasping at straws on how to do this and now I have a direction and a path forward. She’s a charming young woman and a great teacher. As a group, our class became very tight-knit over the course of the week. I expect that camaraderie to continue well into the future.
The WTWA changed my life. And my retirement plan. I’m not the only alumni that feels that way. The WTWA has changed a lot of us by giving us the tools to pursue our dreams and passions. It provides us with a writing family like no other. We don’t compete with each other or feel any sense of threat by the other writers. We are each other’s cheerleaders, and we all rejoice when one of us succeeds.
A writer needs a network of supporters. I’ve read a lot of books written by the WTWA Alumni, provided reviews, and cheered them on. I’m happy to see them once a year and hear of their progress. I think they feel the same about me and hope they read my books, review them, and cheer me on. That’s what a writing family is about and there’s none better than the WTWA Alumni. So if you want to be a better writer, come check it out the first part of June 2017 and become part of this incredible family.
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