Writers seek peers for motivation

Writers yearn to give the world their unique perspective and, in the process, many crave the company and motivation of other writers.

There are many authors and wanna-be's in the Craig area.

"Lots of people wander in who are writers," Linda Booker, owner of On The Shelf book store, said. "Some are published authors who live here, but belong to writer's groups as far away as Denver."

"Writing is a lonely business," Joyce Phillips said. "It's important for writers to meet together and give each other ideas." Phillips, a speech therapist for Moffat County schools, works three-and-a-half days each week at the high school and spends the rest of her time writing mysteries.

For some, writing is a path filled with writer's block, endless distractions, or self-editing ad-nauseam. For many writers, expressing on paper is more addicting than chocolate. Creative writing groups can be powerful support.

Booker, who has her own hankering to one day pen a novel, has been instrumental in launching a new writers' group in Craig. A handful of authors and those aspiring to be published, meet once a month in the back of her store to immerse themselves in the world of writing.

The group is small, and hopes to grow. Booker believes "it's going to build over time." Members include the published and unpublished. Some write fiction and are working on mystery, suspense, romance, science fiction or fantasy - while others write historical non-fiction about this region.

The new group in Craig has given Phillips the incentive to mail a query letter and three chapters of her first book to a publisher.

For the poets in town, Al Romano hosts a regular meeting in his shop, The Used Book Store on Rose St. Four years ago, Booker started a group for readers; they still meet in her shop monthly to read books aloud. But until now, there was no venue for aspiring book writers.

Though the new creative writing group insists on an informal structure, at the core they have a serious aim - helping each other develop and improve their work. The members create writing exercises at the meetings, and take turns reading their works in progress and giving feedback. Sharing experiences, providing support and encouraging their fellow writers go without saying.

The group hosts quarterly speakers. Larry Yoder, a published author from Kansas City, will be in town Oct. 5 to talk to the group about the whole process of getting published. The public is invited to attend his free talk beginning at 7 p.m. at On The Shelf, 519 Yampa Ave.

Yoder works as a book distributor, representing such publishing houses as St. Martins Press, Tor & Forge, and Simon & Schuster. "I stay on top of the publishing trends," he said. "New writers have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. To get published, it's not always about writing a good book - understanding the bottom line is what really counts."

One of Yoder's job responsibilities as a publisher's rep is to scout out new writers for the various editors he represents. He is open to receiving and reading manuscripts from people, and said he likes to read a variety of material but especially enjoys regional themes.

Dalton Carr, a member of the Craig writers' group, writes non-fiction. His first published work, "Tales of A Bear Hunter" (Safari Press) will hit the stands early next spring. He said it's necessary for writers to have a "stimulator" in the form of other writers. He's working on his second book, "Pistol Fighter." Carr is a retired police officer who spent the last eight years of his 30-year law enforcement stint with the Craig police force. "Write what you want, never what the public wants you to write," Carr said.

Chris Craft of Craig has a full time job with an Internet services provider, an opportunity for writers to develop professional relationships - there's not been much opportunity for writers here to do that in the past."

Booker is enthusiastic about the group's beginnings. "Writers just keep coming out of the woodwork around here. I have always felt Craig needed a group like this," she said.

The creative writers' group meets on the second Saturday of every month, from 9 a.m. to noon at On The Shelf book store. The next meeting will be held Saturday, Oct. 14. All writers, published and not, are welcome to participate.

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