Saturday, August 28, 2021

Many Thanks to Authors Who Pay It Forward by Dari LaRoche

I have kept a gratitude journal for years. It is full of so many wonderful things that bring a smile when I reread them—family, friends, butterflies, the doe that brings her twin fawns to my pond, hummingbirds, good food, good books, my health—so very much.

But the thing that keeps popping up in one way or another is all the writing groups that I am a part of and the author friends I treasure who have been willing to share their time and knowledge with those of us just starting out—me being one. 

When I first took up creative writing seriously in December 2015, my instructor introduced us to The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. We all actively wrote our “Morning Pages” between class sessions and met each other for Artists’ Dates that expanded our creative minds. I joined the local romance chapter in Florida where I lived and Romance Writers of America (RWA) and even managed to take a writing workshop on a three-day cruise to the Bahamas. My first book, which I plan to publish late this fall, had its beginnings in that initial creative writing class.

I took a break of several months to pack up and sell my home on the west coast of Florida and move back to southwest Washington state, where I returned to writing in February 2017. Trust me, that was an endeavor and will make it into a book one of these years.

Finding My Writing Tribe

Here, I found my writing home and the generous friends and authors who have helped me along the
way. I joined Rose City Romance Writers in Portland, OR when I first got here. The following year, I joined Willamette Writers, also in Portland, and most recently, Wordcrafters in Eugene, OR. Each of these groups has helped me along my journey and, for that, I am humbly grateful.

Author friends have shared their contacts for cover artists, editors, great classes that are offered, writing craft books that are “must haves.” They have invited me onto email loops focused on encouraging us all to complete projects and to set and track our writing goals. One special group is a professional writers’ workshop called WORDOS WORDOS is a short-story sci-fi/fantasy/horror group, that began over thirty years ago and continues today with a goal of helping members produce fiction that sells. We critique each other’s work and discuss the craft and business of writing.

Instructors with Major Impact on Me

There are three current instructors in my life for whom I am especially grateful. The first is Eric 
Witchey, an award-winning author, who teaches a year-long course based out of Wordcrafters. It is called Fiction Fluency, which is exactly what it sounds like. Learning and practice until the doing becomes subconscious and the results are a product that affects the readers emotions, like all good writing should. This is my second year to take it, and I am absorbing more this year than I did the first year, when it was all new to me. His classes have truly changed what I do and how I do it—for the better, I hasten to say.

The second teacher is Nina Kiriki Hoffman who has given me the gift of a newfound love of writing short fiction—from flash to novellas. She teaches out of Wordcrafters and Fairfield County Writers’ Studio Nina is an award-winning author who is willing to share her time, knowledge, and resources to teach writing Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror. Her classes are small, fun, interactive workshops. Her feedback critiques, as well as those of other class members, are infinitely valuable.

The third is Maggie Lynch of POV Author Services She teaches courses in Foundations necessary for running a writing business, SEO for writers, Social Media for writers, and Building an Email List, along with other classes. Maggie is a talented writer, very knowledgeable, and always willing to share.

All three are gems in my writing world. This blog, Romancing the Genres, is another. So many authors, instructors, and groups that have become a regular part of my life have enriched it and helped me grow to the point that this is the year I will publish my first book and perhaps even the second. The drafts are written and are in the editing process as I write this. Someday I hope to be one of the authors who will be paying it forward to other writers coming up behind me. That will truly be a joyous day.

Last, but not least, I am thankful for my sister, Kat, who always encourages me in all things creative, and is a writer herself. She urged me to explore creative outlets in Florida in an effort to help me recover from a traumatic loss in my life. Kat always believes I can do anything that I commit to, and I intend to prove her right!

My Writing and Contacts

I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense. My Rescue Series will launch this fall with the first book, When the Night Comes, which takes place on the island of St. Eustatius in the Caribbean. I have been diving in the crystalline waters there and have walked the cobblestone streets up to Fort Oranje. From the ramparts, one can look up at The Quill, a dormant volcano with a rainforest in the crater at the bottom, or down to the harbor below Oranjestad, the only town on the island. St. Eustatius played an important part in our own history on November 16, 1776, a fact I suspect very few Americans know. If you are curious, check out

For writers: What little known facts have you come across in your research that provided glowing nuggets in your own writing?

For readers: Do you find that these morsels of knowledge in whatever books you read, if not overdone, enrich your reading pleasure? They certainly do for me.

I would love to hear from you, either below in the comments, or on Facebook or Instagram.



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Diana McCollum said...

What a lovely tribute to all the people and groups you are grateful for. Thank you for including all the links. So many times bloggers forget how important the links are to the reader.

One of the nuggets I came across for my book 'The Witch with the Trident Tattoo", was that the type of whiskey bottle matters if you are having it roll across the deck of a boat. The whiskey I used was a square bottle. Luckily my reader (husband) caught the mistake. And now I know all whiskey bottles are not created the same!

I love the cover of your book.

Dari said...

Thanks so much, Diana. I am grateful to many who share their knowledge.
That is a great factoid on the whiskey bottles. Good catch on your reader (husband's) part. There have been a number of things I have changed in this book simply from checking and double checking info bits.
Glad you like my cover. I love the it too. It speaks to my story, like yours does on "The Witch with the Trident Tattoo."

Judith Ashley said...

Dari, you have done something I see too little of in many parts of my life and that is paying tribute to those who showed you the path and then supported your journey along it. Well done!!!

I know when I first started reading Regency and even Victorian romances, I was struck by how little had changed in the view of women between then and when I was growing up. I'm grateful I've lived long enough to see women seen as something more than an appendage of a man's arm, business, home, etc. My granddaughters had protections against sexual harassment and bullying in school and in the work place that did Not exist when I was their age. Hurrah for progress!!!

Dari LaRoche said...

Thank you, Judith. It is humbling to have so many people willing to share, not just in my author life but in my personal one as well. Whenever I question the world or something negative that may happen, it helps to go back and reread all the many things in my gratitude journal that have made me happy and helped me along the way.

You are right about how different the world is now. Things that are brought to light now as happening to women always did in one way or another, but there was no venue or acceptable cultural norm to bring it to light. Women now have many far more acceptable options and that's a very good thing.

Eric Witchey said...

You have a heart that gives. Those are the hearts worth giving to. All luck and skill to you on this journey.

SusanD said...

Love your tributes to those who have helped you along the way. Love the cover of your new book and its fascinating origin. The cover really invokes the Caribbean.
Is this story a romantic suspense?
My books are set in South Louisiana and New Orleans and because I lived there so long, there aren't many interesting, unknown facts about either place I don't know. But something most people don't know is the contributions of the WPA Artists program as seen at City Park (mentioned in my latest Big Easy story: CASTING THE DICE. w/a Sue Ward Drake

Kathleen Colvin said...

Dari, what a lovely tribute to those on your writing journey! I too study with the great Eric Witchey, and he teaches me new things about writing that I've found from no one else.

I'm grateful that writing connected us and helped us grow our friendship. You're a special person, Dari.

I look forward to your book!

Dari LaRoche said...

Eric, Thanks so much for all your generosity and care for those of us seeking to learn and create.

Susan, Yes, I think it is important to acknowledge those who help us along our journeys in life.
My book is romantic suspense as well. I just looked up the WPA Artists Program in the City Park in New Orleans. What a massive, beautiful park. I have just added it to my MUST TRAVEL TO list which continues to grow!

Dari LaRoche said...

Kathleen, I agree with you. We are both lucky to study with Eric. And for me, with Nina as well.

One of the nicest things about the writers life is the valuable friends we meet along the way. And you are one of mine.

Deb N said...

Dari - I am so excited about your new book and LOVE the cover. Also can't wait to see the new website.

You are such a giving person to other authors, so here's my tribute to you, as an author who has always buoyed me.

A lovely post! I hope we will see you at RTG more often!

Deb (w/a Delsora Lowe)

Marcia King-Gamble said...

What a beautiful cover. I'm guessing you were once a member of FRW- Florida Romance Writers and cruised with us at our annual conference. Writers are a supportive group. I am so glad that you have such a talented group watching your back.

Dari LaRoche said...

Deb, Thanks so much for stopping here. Glad you like the cover as I do too. Thanks for the good words as you do the same for me, and have always been generous sharing info with me and others. This was an easy subject for me. We will see if there are others that are too, so I guess that's a "maybe?"

Hi Marcia, I was a member of SWFRW in Bonita Springs and Gulf Coast Writers in Fort Myers. The cruise was three days to the Bahamas and the presenter was Kim Weitkamp who is an incredible storyteller. I never did your conference, but will put it on my list as I return to Florida from time to time. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Jody W. and Meankitty said...

I like the idea of a gratitude journal! But you know me, I'll have to keep a crap journal, too, LOL. Gratitude is wholesome but crap is funny.

Dari LaRoche said...

What makes you think that on some days they can't be one and the same, Jody? But for the most part not. See you made me laugh there.

Paty Jager said...

Dari, Love the cover! The book sounds like a great read. I have been humbled for 30 years over the giving of other authors to those who are starting out and becoming peers. I wouldn't be writing today if not for RWA. Back when I started it was hard to find anyone who was willing to help you. I learned about RWA and joined them and they taught me all I needed to know to get published and then how to be an Indie author. Eric Witchey is a good instructor. I work with him about 10 years ago. Can't wait to read your book.

Dari LaRoche said...

Paty, Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for the comment on the cover and the book. Being humbled by the generosity of the writing community is the reason why I felt like I had to write about this aspect on the subject of Thankful.

Happy to know you worked with Eric Witchey as well. He teaches master classes sometimes at the Willamette Writers Conferences and workshops on the off years when he doesn't. He has been a big influence for me in this journey.

Maggie Lynch said...

Dari, I am simultaneously happy to know I have helped you in some small way and ecstatic that your cover is gorgeous and that means your book will be released sometime this year. I agree with Erik's comment that a good heart makes all the difference.

Each of the people you mentioned are such an amazing resource. Though I haven't taken the fluency class from Erik I have listened to him many times. Some early on through a group of people I knew on the coast who taught classes, and others when he has spoken at Willamette Writers. A truly brilliant mind and someone who is able to teach well. Often brilliant minds cannot explain how they know or do what they do.

Nina is another person I had the joy of meeting very early in my career because of the people on the coast (Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch). I started reading her short stories in the 1980s in SF magazines. What a talent and a truly down-to-earth woman in spite of the fact that she writes out-of-this-world stories.

I didn't know you started writing in Florida and was part of an RWA Chapter there. Some of the first women I critiqued my romance with are/were part of a chapter that I don't think exists anymore. I met Kristen Painter on Romance Divas (a writer discussion site with critique partners and a lot more) way back in 2004 when she and Jax started the site and we were critique partners with three other people for five years. That group, along with the group on the Oregon Coast, really formed me as a writer. In the days when I traveled a lot, I would visit Kristen once a year, and had the chance to meet people in her chapter. In fact that's how I got to know Roxanne St. Claire who offered a quote on my first trad published book.

You are so right about writers who support each other. Though I had people here in Oregon, it was those women in Florida who were most of my day-to-day support in writing my first novels. An the people on the coast who gave me the larger picture of writing and the business side of writing. We are fortunate to live in a time now where we can gather support from all around the world so easily. Finding that right group or few people can make all the difference not only in our success, but in our ability to persevere.

Dari LaRoche said...

Maggie, Thanks so much for stopping here and your comments. I have grown so much as a writer with all the interconnection with other writers and writers' groups. I cannot even imagine what it would have been without--and the length of the learning curve would have been overwhelming. You, certainly, with your help and your classes have helped lessen that curve exponentially.

I will always appreciate the Florida groups and especially being introduced early on to Julia Cameron and The Artists Way. Her book emphasizes how the creative life is not just one small part of our lives, but rather extends into the way we live as well.