Sunday, March 23, 2008

Aspiring writers bind support, critique in club

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

When writers want to fine-tune their work, they often turn to readers who can apply a critical eye - or simply said, they turn to other writers.
'Review, advice and input from other writers makes your work stronger,' said Suanne Stroup of Killeen, author of 'Living and Dying Across the I-35 Corridor.'
That's why she's so excited about the recent formation of the Temple Writers Meetup Group. 'My calendar is open for meetings,' Mrs. Stroup said March 4 at the club's organizational meeting. 'I'm just glad there's something like this available in the area.'
Club founder is Diana Tierney, 27, a student pursuing a graduate degree in creative writing. She had the idea for the club last December.
'I wanted to meet new people. I don't have a lot of friends around here,' Mrs. Tierney said, explaining that her husband's career with the military uprooted her from California and planted her in Temple.
Her passion for reading and writing told her that forming writers' club would be the way to go.
'I had to start it,' Mrs. Tierney said. 'The town didn't have a club like that.'
She used the Web site www.meetup.com to express interest in forming a Central Texas writers' club. Her query won her about 15 responses from local writers.
'I knew about the Web site from being a member of the Central Texas Renaissance and Wenches Guild,' Mrs. Tierney said. 'It's a neat way to find people in your area with the same interests.'
There is no fee to access the site.
Mrs. Tierney held her first meeting in February but because of scheduling conflicts she said not much was accomplished.
Meeting times and curricula weren't established until the organizational meeting on March 4 at Wings N' Things. Members decided that the meetings will be times for critique and editing.
Besides Mrs. Tierney and Mrs. Stroup, attendees were Donna Johnston, Kris Equels and Candice Amos, all of Temple.
Mrs. Johnston, a 61-year-old retired teacher, said she was eager to get involved in the group.
'I just can't get enough books, so I thought I'd try my hand at writing,' Mrs. Johnston said. 'I've had an excellent life. I'd like to write a memoir, and a self-help book and about different countries.'
She also wants to write her neighbor's biography.
'She's Indian and black and knows a lot about her ancestry,' Mrs. Johnston said. 'It's wonderful to sit and listen to her. It needs to be in a book.'
Whenever Mrs. Johnston has an idea for a book, story or poem, she said she says it aloud to herself so that she can tape it on the recorder she carries in her purse.
'I've got to have that recorder,' she said. 'My hand doesn't write as fast as I can think. I'm always afraid I'll forget the good idea.'
Equels, a playwright and novelist, shares Mrs. Johnston's need of cataloguing ideas.
He says he carries a pocket-sized spiral notebook with him at all times.
'Basically, it's just anything I think about,' he said to the group. 'I never know if I'm going to write about it, but if I do, I've got the original idea here in this book.'
The pages he discussed contained philosophical musings, some sketches, the layout of his den and some poetry.
Equels, 35, hasn't yet published anything, but he's completed four movie scripts and book.
'One script is an urban drama, and three are science fiction,' he said. 'The book is about politics.'
And Mrs. Amos, 23, was the only writer of the group to call herself a poet. In high school, she said several of her pieces were published in literary magazines.
'I haven't done anything lately, except what I have in my own spiral,' she said, grinning at Equels. 'That's why I'm here. I want to get back at it. I'm hoping to find help and encouragement.'
As for Mrs. Tierney and Mrs. Stroup, they're seeking the same kind of input for their own projects.
Mrs. Tierney's working on a novel about a daughter who returns home to cope with the death of her mother and a changing relationship with her sister.
Mrs. Stroup's novel in progress is about Woodstock. The first line of her third chapter: 'You could taste sex in the air intermingled with pot and cheap wine.'

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