It all started with a post on Next Door and Carrollton Chatter – Anyone interested in joining a writers group? The response was huge! The next step: getting permission from the Carrollton Church of the Nazarene to use their fellowship hall. And then: Marshall’s Bar-B-Que allowing us to reserve their backroom the second Thursday of every month for guest speakers. We had our inaugural meeting on August 9, 2018. The video below chronicles our first year:
From our description:
Carrollton League of Writers exists to help writers in all genres and experience levels to improve their writing skills and to move towards publication if desired. We provide working writing sessions that include read and critique sessions and creative writing exercises. We also provide guest speakers to educate and inform from various facets of the writing industry, networking opportunities, and a chance to socialize and hang out with others who share the grand passion of writing.
The first few meetings we learned about each other and started with a structure that has since evolved to meet the needs of our members. Some of us took on leadership roles in order to facilitate the different interests among our group. Alice heads up our informal table – where anything can happen from creative writing prompts to lively discussions. Tom has taken leadership of our critique group, making sure everyone has a Slack account and keeps the group informed of who is in the queue, as well as moderating each week.
Before breaking into groups, we start with an Info-Talk – as a way to learn something new every meeting. Our members have done a great job taking turns presenting them every week. Our topics have ranged from Backing Up Your Data to Secondary Character Development, Show Not Tell to Guns of the Old West, and everything in-between.
When we first started meeting, everyone was a little bit shy and nervous. It was scary not only meeting new people – but also sharing our writing with each other. Weeks became months, allowing trust to be built and friendships formed. One year later we are now a family and Thursdays are a time to get together to encourage and inspire one another. For many of us, it’s the highlight of our week and we can’t imagine it otherwise.
Early on we decided that improving our craft was important to our culture and to that end we have been blessed with a guest speaker each month when we meet at Marshall’s Barbecue. We owe a special thanks to Blake Kimzey of Writers Workshop Dallas for facilitating contact with so many amazing industry professionals that have been willing to speak to our group. Guest speakers have included:
Tex Thompson, Amber Royer, Blake Atwood, David Eric Tomlinson, Blake Kimzey, Kathleen Baldwin, Amber Helt, Ashley Mag Gabbert, Kathryn McClatchy, William Ledbetter, Becka Oliver, Andra Leigh Watkins, Michelle Schusterman, Keith Goodnight, Jan Morrill Vanek, Ann Rose, and Suzanne Frank.
Our Accomplishments over the last year have been many. In no particular order:
Three day writing retreat at Lake Texoma
Attended Roanoke writers conference
Halloween potluck costume party
NaNoWriMo Weekly Write-Ins at IHOP
Two Group Write-Ins: Phil and Nancy’s house and Scott’s house
Valentine’s Day party/poetry contest
Monthly member spotlights
Field trip to UTD to visit physics professor for science fiction writers
Facebook Group with 157 members
Attended Writers in the Field
WORDfest table and panel participation
Ross got his MFA/ published articles
Critique blunders video
Hosted Summer Writers conference: speakers and literary agent pitches
First Annual Arianne “TEX” Thompson Flash Fiction Contest (Judge Amber Royer) Winners – Jennifer, Artis, Lauren and Tom
Logo Contest – Jackie O’Connor winner
Carrollton League of Writers T-shirts
Board of Directors began in January
Bylaws are in process of being drafted
Attended Comic-con in Arlington
Featured in article in on Pastor Resources.com
Anthology (professionally edited) and will launch this Fall
Hosted our Anthology editor – Christi Martin
Attended Amber Royer’s book launch: Free Chocolate
Literary Agent Ann Rose requested chapters and manuscripts
WORDworks leadership workshop (2) – Attended by Nancy and Jennifer
WORD Historian – Jennifer Crippen
We also wanted to give back to our community, and during our first year we found several ways to do so:
Food pantry donations
Hosted Young Writers Workshop
Rwandan orphan educational fundraising – paid one trimester for five children to attend school
Participated in School Supply Drive
Phil – presented Asssault and Battery class at WORDfest
Solar panels/fans installation for Camp Tonkawa (Phil and Bud)
English Conversation Practice volunteers/Texas Party for class
Carrollton Complete Automotive Community Recognition Award
Wordfest Southwest – Phil, Nancy, Jennifer, Jackie, and John worked as volunteers
Most importantly, we have created a culture of compassion and caring for not only our group members, but for the people around us. Not just in regards to writing, we take a holistic approach, meeting any needs that we can. This fundamental value is integral to what it means to be a part of the Carrollton League of Writers.
We were very excited (and shocked) to receive the WORD Condike award at WORDfest 2019: For Their Extraordinary Contributions to the North Texas Literary Community
I THINK IT’S SAFE TO SAY – WE DID A LOT FOR OUR FIRST YEAR!!!
The criteria for being a founding member is to either have been with us from the beginning or nearly so, or someone having come in later during our inaugural year, but showing a dedication to our group through their participation and contributing to our success through their actions. I want to recognize our founding members by presenting them with a very special commemorative coin.
Team Spirit Recipients:
Above and Beyond Recipients:
Jennifer Crippen (Board Member/Associate Director)
Alice Wooten (Board Member/Secretary)
Tom Smallwood (Board Member/Treasurer)
Sandy Paty (Board Member/Social Event Coordinator)
Nancy Golden (Board Member/Director)
I also want to recognize some of our guest speakers. They have not only poured into Carrollton League of Writers, they are constantly giving of themselves to the writing community at large.
And a special thanks to the folks at Carrollton Church of the Nazarene for allowing us to use their fellowship hall – they have blessed us beyond measure with their generosity.
It’s been a great year and I’m looking forward to another one as we travel this writing journey together – I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else than with the Carrolllton League of Writers!
Friends are the Family You Choose!