How I Learned to Write

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This month the Mid-Michigan RWA group met in Grand Rapids.

We have another free week here on the blog, so I decided to write about another one of my many groups. I belong to two different “in person” writing groups, and one of them is my local RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter. The Mid-Michigan chapter covers much of the lower peninsula of the state. Meeting locations rotate between four different cities: Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, and Jackson. I’ve belonged to this group for almost twenty years, and I’ve learned so much from the people here. We have many published authors – several with the major publishing houses – and many who are self-published, along with writers who (like me) have chosen to stick with smaller publishers who focus on putting out ebooks.

I mentioned in my post on May 4 that I got hooked on romances while I was a busy working mom. I read romances to escape into someone else’s world, and when that character overcame her hardships and conflicts and settled into her happily-ever-after, I was able to set aside my the stresses in my life and go to sleep. I became a regular at our local library.

One day I picked up a romance I thought I would enjoy. It was part of a series – one hero from each of the fifty states. I found the book with the hero from Michigan and settled in to read. Three hours later I closed the book, sorely disappointed. Not only was the hero NOT a native Michigander (yes, Chicago is close, but it’s in Illinois!), most of the action took place in Wisconsin (again, just across the border from the northwestern point of the upper peninsula, but not Michigan), and when the heroine was hurt she was flown from northern Wisconsin to a community hospital in a rural part of Michigan’s lower peninsula (if you check a map you’ll see that makes no sense). I was so angry I actually wrote a letter to the publisher asking them to please find an author who was either more familiar with the locale or willing to do the research. Of course I got no reply.

Like many others before me, I figured I could do better. After discovering the national organization (RWA) I went on the internet and found a local chapter. I even found the name and phone number of the president, so I called that person and got meeting information. I started going to the meetings and in between meetings I wrote. And I discovered what a major undertaking it was to write an entire book. But this group has been there, teaching me, challenging me, and cheering my successes. We meet monthly, but thanks to social media and email we can connect regularly – sometimes daily! Some ladies who live near each other meet bi-weekly at a coffee shop and just write.

IMG_1180 Once a year we have a weekend retreat. This year it was at a beautiful resort about a forty-minute drive south of my home. We have a headline speaker (this year it was Rita Clay Estrada, the woman who started RWA!) and we gather in small groups to discuss different issues in writing and publishing. We have fun, and The peaceful lakeside setting, well-planned and superbly led workshops, and the fellowship with other authors always make me leave inspired and eager to get back to my keyboard.

I feel so fortunate to have found a group to help guide me on my path to publication. Romance Writers of America has 145 chapters – both face-to-face and online – so there’s a group for almost anyone who wants to write romance. It’s been almost twenty years since I first said “I could do that.” I really feel this group helped me to change that to “I did that.”

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About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Kiyono/e/B0067PSM5C/
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11 Responses to How I Learned to Write

  1. jeff7salter says:

    I can well imagine your disappointment at that book — purportedly featuring Mich. — which instead dealt harem-scarem with the region. Good for you for contacting the publisher — I wish they’d had the civility of responding to you.
    Your local chapter sounds terrific. I’m not certain I’m cut out for an In-person chapter — partly since I don’t travel well these days — but I certainly have enjoyed my contacts through the on-line RWA chapter that I’ve been a member of since 2010. It was formerly the Chick Lit Writers of the World and has recently been re-designated the Contemporary Romance Chapter. Met many wonderful writers and made many valuable contacts.

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Thanks, Jeff. I too appreciate the online friends I’ve made. Yes, this chapter is fabulous. Lots of talent, and the knowledge is all so freely shared!

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  2. marissoule says:

    So glad you joined us 20 or so years ago, so glad you stuck with us, and so glad we can now celebrate your publishing successes.

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I’m glad, too! When I first joined and found there were so many published authors (like you!) I was a little intimidated – but everyone was so welcoming and helpful. And that’s why we always have so much to celebrate at retreat time!

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  3. How good for you to have so much writer support!
    Nothing drives me more bonkers than a writer, or editor, who does not do their homework.I have written about it many times here.There is no excuse.
    A one-time governor of Colorado invited three huge-name authors to luncheon to discuss tourism to the state.He asked them how much they spent traveling to the locales of their books>Two gave huge sums but one mentioned very little.He read and researched everything he could about any place he wrote about, relying heavily on AAA! The others could not believe it, but he was good and successful just from doing his homework.
    ( I wish I could remember who they were, I believe LaCarre and Michener,[I am sure of the second] .

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    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I’m really thankful for my writing groups. I agree, with so many resources available to us now there’s no excuse for inaccuracy. But I think I was more perturbed by the fact that the hero wasn’t a Michigander and the story didn’t place here, so the book didn’t represent the state at all.

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  4. MMRWA really is a super group and we’re glad you found us! If I wasn’t a member I would certainly want to attend the retreat. It was extra special this year.
    Lucy

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  5. Diane Burton says:

    You found MMRWA the same way I did, all those years ago. Online writing friends are great, but meeting face-to-face I’ve learned so much more from our generous members, yourself included. Best wishes on your career.

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  6. pjharjo says:

    You are very blessed to have found a good fit in an RWA chapter. Mine’s a good fit for me, too (Olympia, WA RWA), but I’ve heard of some that are not such good fits. Congratulations, Patricia!

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  7. This sounds like a wonderful group that you are a part of.

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