Sometimes something you looked forward too with a lot of anticipation turns out not as expected. That pretty much describes the past two weeks.

My Writing Westerns Classmates

It wasn’t my best year at the West Texas Writers Academy. I took a class about writing westerns thinking it would cover how to include historic events, what was realistic in those days, how they spoke, and stuff like that. It turned out to be a one-sentence definition followed by writing a lot and critiquing, in my case, my first draft (they’re always raw and bare bones; that’s why I edit it so many times). The instructor said in writing westerns, the setting has to become a character. That was it. The whole of the instruction part of class. The rest of the time was spent mostly listening to one person and the instructor praise each other while the other four of us sat. Out of three days of writing, I wrote one sentence the instructor liked. The rest he had nothing good to say about it. I was thankful the class was only three days long. I got a start on my South Dakota historical fiction, but it will be a while before I go back to it. That’s how discouraged I left the class.

The rest of the WTWA wasn’t too bad. We learned a lot about book copyrights and infringement issues which is always useful. Candace Havens, a very successful author, film critic, and editor for one of the big five publishers, offered a lot of good advice on how to succeed. I even sat and visited with her a while and she bought one of my books! I hope she finds time to read it. Then I finally got to meet Teri Wilson, of Hallmark Channel movie fame (Unleashing Mr. Darcy, Marrying Mr. Darcy). She gave a talk on making settings in your book sparkle. I also had a chance to personally thank Jodi Thomas for establishing WTWA that changed my life. If it weren’t for her, I would still be searching who I was and not following a dream.

I was most anticipating the day and a half of a writing retreat, time spent working on my own books. We do sprints (write for a certain amount of time) and then talk about it and get ideas from other writers. I love writing retreats. It’s where creativity seems to flow like a river from person to person and so much progress is made.

Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out. The day before the retreat, I got a call from my siblings that my mom was gravely ill, and I needed to come. I packed up everything and went to an Abilene hospital where my mom was diagnosed with a blood clot in her lung. She’s a tough lady and recovered enough to go home after four days. I helped her at home for a couple of days, just long enough for her to get back on her feet. She doesn’t like being fussed over or waited on, and when she started getting grumpy about it, I felt like I could leave for home. Her short-term memory seems worse but otherwise seems to have suffered no long-lasting effects.

I made it back home with three-days of driving. It usually takes two, but safety and caution made it necessary. To say the least, I was tired. Tired from WTWA. Tired of sitting up all night with Mom in the hospital. Tired of stress.

Sometimes, there’s little time to rest. The grandsons come this week.

Maybe I’ll get to rest and write in July.

Being with other writers, especially successful ones like Harlequin author Kit Hawthorne, is inspiring.

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