Thinking of Starting a Writers Group? Do it!

Thinking of Starting a Writers Group? Do it!

In September 2011, I vowed to join a writers group to help me get serious about the business of writing and finish my book. Finding no groups near me, I started one. I named it “The Mitchellville (Bowie) Writers Group.” And I used the social platform because it was established and provided easy management tools.

Five years and 100 meet ups later, my group is still going strong. We had a great anniversary-themed meet up last night. A few of the folks who moved on came back to celebrate the occasion with us.

My writers’ group has gone from five passionate writers (my husband, author JM Brown, author RJ Crayton, author Michelle Arnold, and me) to 206 members today. I’m proud to say that the core original members remain active with the group. I’m also proud of all the diversity that transpired all on it’s own.

Here’s a picture of us, the “best writers’ group in the world.” Seriously, there’s a lot of talent and experience pictured below.

writers-group-photoAre you interested in starting a writers group? I’m in the midst of drafting a “How-To Start and Run a Successful Writers Group” book now. That’s just the working title but it’s coming!

In the meantime, here are a few thoughts:

1) If you can’t find a local writers group, start your own. Rest assured, the writers will come. And don’t get discouraged if the writers join your group more slowly than you’d like. A group of 10 to 14 people is ideal.

2) Find a location that’s free or inexpensive to meet. I’m surprised that a lot of libraries charge for meeting space. I was fortunate to discover a grocery store in my neighborhood that has a free and open cafe area.

3) Establish ground rules. You’ll need structure and critique guidelines to keep everyone in your group on track. People tend to want to develop their own agendas from time to time. 🙂

Have immediate questions about how to start a writers’ group? Talk to me on email, Facebook, or Twitter!

Write on!

3 Books Changed my Life in 3 Months

3 Books Changed my Life in 3 Months

I’m not exaggerating.

The first book to impact my life was Stephen King’s book titled, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I’m sure every writer or wannabe writer says this book inspires them. But I wager that few writing lives and habits changed as dramatically and irrevocably as mine after reading it. The crux is, King’s personal journey and his writing habits became habits I needed to emulate.

The second book is titled, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. In it, Currey gives us 161 mini-biographies; snapshots, about the habits and rituals of writers, poets, painters, dancers, etc. Artists! I was spellbound by how fellow artists worked. All different, yet I found three common threads among most of them. 1) They wrote every day, mostly in the morning, 2) they took long walks for exercise and/or inspiration, and 3) they maintained their schedules unapologetically and without compromise.

The On Writing memoir and the mini-biographies in Daily Rituals put me on a solid path. I went from writing anywhere from zero to 179 words a day to cranking out 1700 to 2200 words a day. I told you! I got serious. I not only say I’m a writer these days, but I KNOW I’m a writer.

The third book is my own novel of course, Born of SinIMG_9709. My debut novel. My launch baby. My first entry into the world of authorship. I’m proud of it.

I’ve just reached the 100-pages point in the sequel, titled Born by Fire. With my current writing pace, I intend to finish the first draft by mid-March. That gets me to publishing it in August or September, if all goes according to plan. I’ll keep you posted.

My goal is to write at least one novel or non-fiction piece per year, for the rest of my life. I want to have a career like Stephen King’s. I’m doing my level best to write as close to 2,000 words per day as possible, and even walk four miles a day like he does.

My recommendation to you is to read all three of these books, for obvious reasons. I pray they inspire you and impact your life just as they’ve done for me.

Steady. Surely. Unapologetically and God willing, I intend to stay on the path, with my eyes on the prize.

Write on!

A FREE Download.

A FREE Download.

Get the updated Born of Sin ebook FREE on January 18th and 19th, 2016


I updated Born of Sin. Just a bit. Because I made small but necessary changes, I’m offering the ebook version to world for free today and tomorrow, January 18th and 19th.

Even if you downloaded it earlier, I encourage you to download it again from Amazon to get the newest version.

Or download Born of Sin for the first time! What did I update? Subscribe to my newsletter and I’ll give you the inside scoop.

In other news, the audiobook version of Born of Sin is currently in production. It’s due for release in early March.

On the heels of a successful book signing event in mid-December and a television newscast appearance in Meridian, Mississippi just days before Christmas, my next event is in my hometown, Aliquippa, PA.

I’ll be at the eQuip Bookstore on Tuesday, January 26th from 2-4 p.m. to sign books and chat with my wonderful family, friends and fans. I’m so very thankful to the owners and staff at eQuip Books for hosting me!

Regarding other pending events, I’ll soon appear at the Pitt Bookstore (mine and Jacob’s alma mater), the Post Exchange (PX) on Joint Bases Andrews (Maryland) and Bolling (Washington, DC), and be one of the featured authors at a Book Signing and Luncheon Event sponsored by an organization called ASALH, the founders of Black History Month.

But download book, again. Hurry! 🙂

Write on!


Writing Without Exercise is Bad for the Booty

Writing Without Exercise is Bad for the Booty

I wasn’t physically active during the latter part of 2015. I spent most of my time writing, editing and promoting my debut novel. When I wasn’t sitting in my office chair, I was eating. I ate with wild abandon. Portion sizes meant nothing. If I wanted it, I ate it.

Me on Thanksgiving Day, eating with wild abandon!

I didn’t resolve to start working out in the New Year. I just quietly told myself to do better.

One morning, I clicked on Mary In Manhattan’s blog. She recently posted about her Pure Barre fitness experience. She made it sound worthwhile. I commented and told Mary I was going to try it, too. Striving to be a woman of my word, I was suddenly committed to finding a Pure Barre studio near me.

Two days later, I registered for my first class.

My Pure Barre instructor was encouraging and helpful. She was an adorable ultra-fit former gymnast named Betsey. Her ability to move as she did, fascinated me. From the sitting position, she could whisk her leg straight into the air, the sole of her foot facing the ceiling. I could barely point my knee toward the ceiling.

The students around me knew all the movements. They were fluid and synchronized, easily keeping up with Betsey. The Pure Barre moves and vocabulary were foreign to me. Unnatural. I felt so awkward. I was a hot mess. So very different from the other students in many ways:

  • Most of the students were slim and extra slim. My body is not fit yet. I’ve been near sedentary for months.
  • Everyone wore black yoga leggings or capris. I had on yoga pants, with a slight tear in the knee, no less. At least they were black.
  • Everyone had on bright neon-colored layered tank tops. I wore a white t-shirt.
  • Everyone was outfitted in black non-slip socks. Mine were tan. They were the only non-slip socks I had, left over from a former hospital stay.

Thankfully, the 55-minute session went by quickly. As much as I suffered, I decided to go back. Betsey convinced me to try again with the studio’s new member special discount.

But I have to admit, the thing that got me though the tough parts was thinking about the pancakes and turkey bacon I was going to make as soon as I got home.

And right after breakfast and a shower, I knew I’d be sitting comfortably back in my chair, doing my favorite thing:  Writing!

Write on!  Visit me at:

How I got on TV to Promote my Novel

How I got on TV to Promote my Novel

I was on a live morning news segment last week. I sat with news anchor Andrea Williams to promote Born of Sin on Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at 6:30 a.m. on the WTOK-TV NBC affiliate station in Meridian, Mississippi.


How did I get to appear on a major television morning news program?

Well, you know I’m a public relations professional. Ahh-hem. I know how these things are done. 😉

But seriously, landing a television appearance can be quite a lengthy and deliberate process. You have to research the right reporters, form relationships with them in subtle ways so they don’t know you’re sucking-up, feed them information they can use over time, and then, when they least expect it, hit them with your news event, hoping they’ll bite. Beyond anything, you must have something newsworthy to say. I was there to promote my book signing event later that afternoon. In a smaller market, on a slow news day, thankfully a book signing event counted as news.

But here’s the insider secret for how I really got on TV: My sister-in-law. Relationships are important. If you don’t have your own relationship with an influential person, do your best to leverage someone else’s.

Since we were traveling to my husband’s family home in Alabama for Christmas week, my sister-in-law called to say, “You should promote your book on TV while you’re down here.” I said, “Yes, I should.” I wasn’t 100% positive she could make it happen but I was touched by her enthusiasm. I then became impressed with her persuasive pitching powers. The next thing I knew, the newscaster was emailing me with preliminary questions about the book for the upcoming morning segment. #sistersinlawrock

Being on TV was a great experience. I wasn’t terribly nervous because, you know I’m a public relations professional. 🙂 My mother-in-law said I looked, “…so pretty on the TV.” I don’t remember if I hit all my talking points, and no one can tell me, but does it matter? I was on TV. I got to tell that whole viewing area about my book. What a Christmas blessing!

I requested a link to the three-minute segment. I promise to post it when it becomes available. In the meantime, here are pictures of me promoting the book in Alabama and Mississippi.

Write on!