I’ve been meaning to write this blog post since Saturday afternoon, upon my return from the Northwest Arkansas Writers Free Conference. Oddly enough, I intended to title the post “Blessed.” This morning, as I see #Blessed is a trending hashtag on Twitter, I decided I can’t procrastinate any longer.


At Saturday’s conference, I was one of the morning presenters, with my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pen. I discussed two different methods I use to develop and deepen my characters:

  1. Interviewing the character
  2. Describing a photo or painting in the voice of your character

Here’s a copy of the PowerPoint I used in this presentation:Β Memorable Characters.

If you’d like to read an excellent recap of the day, my friend, Staci Troilo wrote about it on her blog. Click here to read her post titled, “Six Speakers, I Mean, Reasons Why Saturday Was So Great.” Thanks to Staci’s summary of the day’s events, I can move on to the reason I wanted to write this post.


I left the conference with a smile on my face and a warm, sated feeling inside. Why? Because as a writer, my primary goal is to affect someone with my writing, to make a difference. Sure, it’s nice to sell books. But I’ve found in the past that what satisfies me most is not selling a book, but hearing from a person who took the time to tell me she liked something I wrote or said, that it made her think differently.

And Saturday, I was blessed enough to hear it about both my presentation and my book.

image9But, that wasn’t what I thought most about as I drove home that day. Instead, I found myself thinking about how blessed I am to be a part of such a giving writing community as the Northwest Arkansas Writers. We are so very lucky that Dusty Richards and Velda Brotherton started this group and, after more than twenty-five years, continue to mentor us each week.image10

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again and again and again. I would not have completed writing The Red Kimono without them. What leaders they are, in so many ways. Their attitude of giving and sharing has trickled down, and many of the authors they have “raised” now give back. I saw it in the faces of all of the volunteers who helped out with Saturday’s conference.

The night — almost seven years ago–that I first visited the critique group I later came to know as the Northwest Arkansas Writers was one of the luckiest (most blessed) days of my life.


NOTE: All photos courtesy of Jim Davis.

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18 Responses to #Blessed

  1. rgayer55 says:

    It was a good conference. I enjoyed the presentations and picked up lots of hints and useful information to help me strengthen my writing. One of the best things about a conference is meeting new people and sharing the joy of our common bond–writing.


  2. patlaster says:

    Good post. Couldn’t access either one of your blue links. “here” or the title of the speech. FYI.


  3. Marsha Davis says:

    Hearing from students and parents when I was teaching, gave me the same warmth and joy. Trust me, it will stay with you forever as a lifelong gift. Pass it on!


  4. Jan Morrill says:

    Reblogged this on Sisterhood of the Traveling Pen and commented:

    Add the Sisterhood to my list of blessings, too.


  5. Jack LaBloom says:

    What a great conference. You said it well, Jan. We are indeed blessed. To the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pen, I would like to say, “You ladies were outstanding, except for that romance writer who didn’t show up.” That Claire Croxton woman better come up with a great blog post to make up for it. And some baked goodies might help as well.


  6. As always, you are such an inspiration. I feel #Blessed just knowing you!


  7. Denton Gay says:

    Well, Jan, you may in for some trouble the first time Kay comes home after a hard day’s work only to discover me half drunk and I respond that I’ve just been drinking with my characters honey. Jan told me too – call her! πŸ™‚

    Seriously, it was a good conference and I agree with your post entirely.



  8. Staci Troilo says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, Jan. And thanks for another great presentation. You’ve been a big help to me in my writing, and I feel truly blessed to know you.


  9. Thanks so much, Jan. As usual I’m a couple of days late getting caught up. I enjoyed your post so much and am so glad that writers like you are working in our writers group. As Dusty and I grow older we’ll count more and more on our “graduates” and hope they don’t leave once they’re published. You’ll be needed there for a long while, I guess you know.


  10. Pingback: Wonder where I’ve browsed this week? 18 linksMadison Woods | Madison Woods

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