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  • Midwest Romance Writers

My First Impression of MRW

Thinking back to my first time amongst the ladies of this writing group...

It was by invitation from Sally Berneathy, a lady I’d met at a local book club meeting when we read one of her books.

“Do you write?” she asked.

“Well, sort of,” I said. I didn’t think my journaling, poetry and short stories were anything to write home about. I figured she’d say, “That’s nice,” and shrug off my comment politely. Instead she surprised me.

“You should come to my writers’ group.”

Could I do that? Was I a real writer? I had published a book myself, mainly to get my stories down and give out to family members back in 2015. But secretly, I wanted to write the story on my heart.

“I do have a novel I’m working on,” I confessed.

“Send me what you have. I’d love to take a look and see what I can do to help.”

This statement changed my life. I slowly began the process of sending Sally two or three chapters at a time and seeing what a real editor’s critique was about. It was hard to see all the mistakes and issues I had as a novice. But Sally was patient and encouraging. “You have a wonderful beginning.” She kept insisting on more and within the year I had finished the first draft.

In the meantime I worked nights, slept days, and rarely went anywhere else. I did know I felt more like myself when I was sitting at the keyboard pounding out my emotions onto a screen.

I eventually went to two open MRW meetings at the library in Kansas. I was welcomed with open arms. Other writers kept asking me questions, genuinely interested in what I had to say. When the chance came at work I promptly gave up 10% of my salary to transfer to the day shift. This allowed me to attend MRW’s annual writers’ weekend retreat. It was there I first shared orally an excerpt from my current WIP. Angels Within.

I was so nervous Sally had to read my first ten pages to the group. When she finished, the silence made me want to crawl under the sofa as I waited for their critiques.

“Wow, this is your first try?” was one of the first comments.

“Is this done?” asked another.

“Keep going!”

I won the booby award that year for the longest time taken to write a novel.

Fast forward to April 2024. When three new people came to our meeting this month, I remembered the feelings I had at those two sessions I originally attended. People were talking in a different language. I had no idea what they were talking about, but I knew I was in the right place to learn about writing.

What was a WIP? (Work In Progress—your manuscript)

They referenced the Hero’s journey and needing more GMC? (Goal/Motivation/Conflict)

What’s the inciting incident? (The OMG moment that begins the story)

Back then, there were others even greener than I was as well as the more experienced who ended up mentoring me. This group of like-minded people became a second family to me. I have laughed and cried with them through the years. Getting close with many personally and losing some because of life and circumstances. The support of these ladies has blessed my life in many ways. I couldn’t have become who I am today without them.

MRW may stand for Midwest Romance Writers, to me it’s also My Real Woman heroes.




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