Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Women Writers on the Publishing Journey




By Kathy Ramsperger

In 2002, I was an aspiring novelist, taking a workshop at The Writer’s Center. Today, I’m the published author of The Shores of Our Souls, which then had another title, characters with no names, and a few chapters that didn’t know where they were leading. A love story with a social justice slant, my soon-to-be-published novel (August 2017, Touchpoint Press) is my answer to the discord and frequent tragedy of a world in conflict. 

I couldn’t have done it alone.

Formed by several women I met in classrooms at The Writer’s Center, my critique group has lasted more than a decade. 

“We met every Thursday for about four years, submitting articles and book chapters for critique, forming enduring friendships. We encouraged each other to keep writing and trying to publish,” says Anne McNulty. “With group encouragement, I wrote a book and then began to write for local magazines, where I found my niche. Without my first critique group, I never would have found the courage to begin my writing career. Thanks to these wonderful women, I can now say ‘I'm a writer.’”

At the beginning, all group members were in transition. Donna Anderson was a former flight attendant. Tami Lewis Brown and Alice Covington were attorneys. Cynthia Campbell was starting her own educational and editing business. Anne was teaching. I was writing and marketing for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent. All of us were straddling the divide of home, work, and creativity. Together, we forged a bridge, then a path to diverse, successful lives full of words.

The Writer’s Center resources offered us much more than support. “I took a creative writing class with Howard Norman (National Book Award nominee) at the University of Maryland,” Donna remembers. “My novel-in-progress Residuum got his attention. I asked for advice, and he told me that his class and others at UM were not sufficient for my level of writing. He suggested I go to The Writer's Center. That was quite the compliment for our old stomping grounds.”

Today, we are far flung, but we still meet to celebrate success in life and writing. Tami, with an M.F.A. from Vermont College, is an award winning children's author with a new contract with Disney. Cynthia went on to edit an award-winning nonfiction book that sparked the interest of three publishers, earned her PhD. and now has a career in adult literacy. When I want inspiration, I think of Donna. She was the adhesive in our group—she's a born storyteller, I know Residuum will someday be on my book shelf. 

Anne is a regional magazine journalist. Alice received her M.F.A and publishes her stories nationally and internationally. Her most recent story was published in The Louisville Review.

Me? I’m a creativity coach, publish nonfiction, and am revising my second novel. 

The Writer’s Center workshops, readings, and critique groups led me and my fiction to where we are today. This special critique group stands out for me; I’ve never found that kind of synergy again.

Cynthia sums it up, “Being part of this writing group contributed greatly to my writing and my confidence. I learned a lot from a great group of writers and friends. They are all my heroes.”

If you’d like to hear more about our journey, we’ll be panelists on June 10 at The Writer’s Center. Come with your questions; we’re thrilled to answer them and to support you.