New York Times Bestseller Haywood Smith has long been one of my favorite authors. Heck, I read The Red Hat Club and Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch back before I seriously considered writing fiction of my own. So I was delighted when a friend who knew I was taking an online writing class emailed me to let me know that Haywood would be speaking at a local indie bookstore back in the summer of 2009. The next thing I knew, I was seated in the coffee shop at Books For Less in Buford, Georgia, soaking up every word this wise, witty woman had to say about her personal journey as well as what it takes to tell a great story. She shared resources she had developed for writing workshops she teaches and told us about a group called Georgia Romance Writers that had provided her with invaluable support back when she was first starting out. I went to my first GRW meeting just a few weeks later, on my 50th birthday. The rest, as they say, is history.
Flash forward to this past Saturday, when I attended GRW's monthly meeting in Decatur, Georgia featuring none other than Haywood Smith. My critique partner, Lindy; my Petit Fours and Hot Tamales blog sisters; friends from Twitter and Facebook; even a few people I had never met before - lined up to give me a hug and a few words of advice and encouragement on the heels of my disappointing critique results. I have never felt so much love in one room before. Sandy Elzie gave me a Hostess cupcake with a bright red candle for my birthday; Bee Snow gave me a couple of pocketbook-sized notepads and pens tied in bright ribbon, party favors from a writing event I had to miss. And then Haywood shared her thoughts on How To Take Your Book From Flat To Fabulous. She made it sound so simple. I thought, "I can do this."
In her introduction, she mentioned that GRW is the most supportive professional organization she has ever been a part of. I have to agree. If it weren't for GRW, I would have given up on this crazy notion of writing a book long ago - most recently a week ago. But look at all I would have missed out on.
Thank you, Haywood. Thank you, GRW pals. Thank you, loyal readers. Thank you all for believing in me.