Starting last fall, the South Jersey Writers’ Group – SJWG – opened for new members through the end of December. I was pleased and shocked to see that we added around 60 new members. This is testament to the fact that South Jersey has an expanding and prolific writing community and I am glad to not only be a part of it, but to help facilitate the education and networking experiences of local writers.
Each month, the SJWG offers a monthly discussion meeting where participants and/or professional writers (sometimes they are one and the same!) present for approximately one hour on a given topic. Last fall, our speaker lineup included Jon Gibbs, Keith R.A. DeCandido, and Merry Jones. In 2014, at our January meeting, local author Kristin Battestella led the group on a journey through The Toy Box – using props to help writers expand their knowledge of their characters. Marie Gilbert wrote about the meeting here at the South Jersey Writers’ blog. This week, for the February meeting, Kathryn Craft will help “tune our storytelling engines.” Ms. Craft’s debut novel, THE ART OF FALLING, was released late January to rave reviews.
One thing I appreciate about the SJWG is the diversity of meetups we offer – monthly discussion meetings, roundtables, retreats, blogfests, write-ins, author panels, critique groups, and open mic nights. We also have a workshop series on editing coming in April! Whew, that’s a lot of activities! We encourage our members to participate not only in our scheduled meetups, but to suggest and perhaps lead a meeting of their own, to network with other writers. Some of our members have found permanent writing or critique partners, cheerleaders and supporters.
Last Sunday, we met at the Treehouse Cafe – one of our favorite local haunts – for a blogfest. Glenn Walker answered questions from those with blogs already in place on how to promote their blog, as well as other technical questions, while Fearless Leader Amy Hollinger helped several writers start a blog. New and old members came together to socialize and help each other out, which you can read about here. No one denies that writing can be a lonely pastime but with the right support group, it doesn’t have to be quite so lonely all the time.