Benefits of a Writing Group


Eight years ago, even though I had never attempted any sort of creative writing, I signed up for a writing class at the Arthur Johnson Memorial Library here in Raton, New Mexico. The class, which met once a week for nine weeks, was taught by veteran southwest mystery writer, Steven Havill.   Writing a required number of pages each week and critiquing other writers  was some of the hardest work I had done for a long time. I loved it and learned so much about writing after attending two more of these workshops that I felt ready to test my wings and fly with my first novel, A Cipher in the Sand which I self-published in 2011.


Thre takeaways from those workshops that I have found to be extremely helpful are (1) the creation of a timeline in a separate file and (2) a character list. It is also helpful to have (3) a brief statement of what is happening in each chapter. I do all of these in a separate file so they can be pulled up while I work. It may seem like additional work at the time, but it can save you hours of hair-pulling anxiety later on as you are trying to remember what day it is or what so and so’s name was.

When Steven Havill moved away, a few of us were not ready to give up on the regular meetings, so three of us, Pat Walsh, Steven Anderson, and I formed the original writing group.  Eight years later, we still meet on a regular basis to critique each other’s work. A few new members have come and gone, and one other person, John Johnson, stayed with us. It’s no exaggeration when I say that I could never have completed three novels and be working on a fourth without the continued support of this wonderful group of people. My second novel, Key Witness was published by Thomas and Mercer in 2014, and Abducted Innocence (second in the series) will be released in January of 2017. I have been exceedingly lucky and amazed to discover this exciting new lease on life at the ripe age of 75. Remember writers, you are never too old to tell a good story. If you haven’t read Key Witness yet, why not pick up a copy so you will be ready for the second.



I’m equally proud to say that all of our members of our group have published, both fiction and non-fiction, and yesterday I attended a book signing for Pat Walsh’s A Prairie Mourning  which can also be found in both paperback and Kindle version on Amazon.


In fact,  my writing group is wonderfully talented and offers a wide assortment of reading material. Whether you like a good mystery or a thought-provoking philosophical read, I believe you can find something you like by visiting these author sites: Rapid Transient by Steve Anderson; Time Sutra by John Johnson; The Soul’s Critical Path by John Davidson; and more to come. Happy reading!

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Sandra Bolton

Sandra Bolton is the author of two novels: A Cipher in the Sand and Key Witness, A Southwest Mystery. She lives in Raton, New Mexico with her big black dog, Sam and fat cat, Fidel. Writing is her passion, along with hiking, gardening, cooking, eating and laughing whenever possible. Her goal in life is to do no harm to any living thing or to our beautiful earth.