Monday, October 20, 2014

Writers Support Writers ... by Carol Strazer

Writing is like kayaking. It takes courage for a writer to shove one’s craft into the icy waters of self-doubt.

Encouraged by a writers group, one’s trust and talent grow. Fears are overcome and the challenges of both giving and receiving critical feed-back are skillfully maneuvered like a Class V rapids. A writer, like a kayaker, deserves support from like-minded adventurers. One need not go it alone.

Writers groups offer connections, structure and skill building for aspiring writers. Seven years ago, the Red Feather Lakes Writers Group in Northern Colorado was formed to encourage writers from surrounding communities to express their talents, to improve their craft and to support other writers.

Since then, various professional writers have driven the steep mountain roads to Red Feather Lakes and shared their talents with the group. In addition to sponsoring classes presented by authors and poets, the RFL Writers’ Group has offered public readings and book signings.

Generally, writers are both passionate about their work and enjoy helping other writers to navigate and succeed in the world of publishing. There is an old saying that to truly learn a skill, one must teach it.

Personally and professionally, I have learned a great deal from my membership in writers groups. In addition to organizing the RFL group, I am a member of Northern Colorado Writers and have attended most of their conferences. During our winter stay in Arizona, I developed the Sun City West Writers Group.

Many readers of this blog may already belong to a writers’ group or maybe their participation in social media already satisfies their artistic needs. If not, I recommend joining or creating a writers association. Key elements to look for in a group are: membership, rules and goals. Like-minded members who are not only committed to their own achievements but to facilitate the group’s and its participants’ successes are to be prized.

To learn more about Northern Colorado Writers, visit the website. For information about Sun City West Writers Group contact RH Johnson Library at (623) 544-6130. Call the RFL Community Library at (970) 881-2664 for more information about the Red Feather Lakes Writers Group. All groups are open to new members.

It took me seven years to publish my first novel. I doubt I would have persevered without other writers’ encouragement. To verify the amazing WWII story of a Prussian Mennonite family forced to flee from the brutal Russian army and who escaped to Denmark, I obtained an out-of-print German book. This book and another were German translations of Danish authors who were the only writers that I could find who wrote about the Danish refugee camps. Since no other information about the camps was available in English, I paid a translator who translated by phone while I typed. The broader, largely untold story was that as a result of the Allies’ Yalta and Potsdam agreements some 12 to 15 million ethnic Germans were expelled from their homes.

My story of Barbed Wire & Daisies is fiction based on fact. As the Russian army advances on war-torn Prussia, part of Germany, at the end of WWII, Marike Wiens gathers her four young children and flees. The family boards an overcrowded, disease-infested ship bound for Denmark. On arriving at the Danish refugee camp, though, Marike’s hopes for a safe haven are dashed. Behind the barbed wire, she and her family face starvation, illness, ill treatment and heart-breaking conditions. Marike struggles to keep her family alive while holding onto their Mennonite faith.

I have published numerous articles in local and regional publications and edited a local newsletter. Four of my stories were in Chicken Soup for the Soul books. My essay was a winner in the Woman’s Day and American Library Association’s contest in 2009 and was published in Woman’s Day. Barbed Wire & Daisies is available in eBook and paperback on and My deepest thanks to Patricia Stoltey for this opportunity to share both my passion for the craft of writing (and kayaking) and for those individuals and groups who support writers.

Carol is giving away one signed paperback copy of Barbed Wire & Daisies to a U.S. or Canada reader who leaves a comment on today's post before midnight Mountain Time, Saturday, October 25th. The winner will be announced here on Sunday.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Must be great to have a group like that in the real world. Fortunately we also have that support here online.

Donna Volkenannt said...

You are so right about the benefit of belonging to a writing group. Encouragement, guidance, and advice are just a few of the benefits I've received from the groups I've belonged to, and the life-long friendships I've made are priceless.

Your book sounds like a great read, and I love the cover!

Dean K Miller said...

Carol: What a wonderful (and unknown) piece of history to base your story on. The writer's world thanks you for your efforts with pulling us together. This is indeed a solitary craft that requires the support of many to be successful.

John Paul McKinney said...

Thanks for the reminder that we need to support one another in our writing, something you do well for the RFL group. If that's your first ever blog, I hope we get to see many more.

teresa funke said...

Great post, Carol! So many writers have benefited from your belief that writers must support each other. You practice what you preach in so many ways! And hopefully this article will encourage others to do the same.

Jennifer Goble said...

Great points Carol....I often think support from other writers is as important and regular writing. Thank you for helping me get involved.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Great post! Your book sounds really good and intense.

LD Masterson said...

Nothing beats a good support group. Glad you have such a strong one. Best of luck with Barbed Wire & Daisies.

Unknown said...

Sherry Griffith
Carol is the dedicated and inspiration force behind the Red Feather Lakes Writers Club. Her book was superb, illuminating a little known chapter of world history.

Eileen Goudge said...

I wouldn't be where I am today if not for my first writers' group. Thanks for the bit of history. I never knew they were Mennonites in Prussia. Learn something new every day.