First published: Romancing the Genres: 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 “Artist 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 move 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 reader’s 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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