Share Your Novel Ideas with Canyon Lake Area Writers Club
by Jackie De Hon, Ph.D.
Freelance Writer/De Hon Communications
Canyon Lake Area Writers Club
My husband and I moved to Canyon Lake in 2006. The library is always the first place I visit when we move to a new area. In Canyon Lake, we hit the jackpot!
There was a lovely library in downtown Sattler. The women’s Pilot Club had started the library and it had grown into a wonderful place. It was the hub of our Canyon Lake area communities. Roxanna Deane was librarian and she was wonderful at including the community in the library’s activities. Brenda Coulter was Adult Services coordinator.
In 2010 a lovely new library was built on the Dam Road across from the CRRC Gym and Senior Center.
I’m sure I discussed my interest in writing with both of these wonderful women when I donated a copy of my book, Prisms: Refracting Light of Women’s Lives. At some point Brenda asked if I would teach a writing course at the library “as a public service.” I agreed and I set the class to meet one day a week for a month. I called it “Writing Our Memories,” and I had a pretty good turnout…around a dozen I think.
The first question I asked was, “Which of your family stories would be lost if you didn’t write them?” My students were enthusiastic. The following year I was asked to teach the course again and I did.
By that time I was asking writers and potential writers whether they’d be interested in joining a writing group. At the final class I asked interested people to remain to discuss the idea. Two had already told me of their interest: Evelyn Ashley and Sharon Kay. About six others stayed and we decided to start a group.
In 2011 we set the meeting date—first and third Tuesdays of each month—and we set two different times. One was early afternoon for retired people and one was late afternoon for those who were still employed. After a year or so we realized the same people were attending both meetings so we consolidated the times and began meeting from 4:30-6:30 on both Tuesdays.
We discussed a name for the group. A flamboyant road runner regularly attended right outside of most of our meetings and displayed his beautiful feathers to the handsome bird he saw in the glass door. Another member Bobbie Councilman and I named him ‘Narcissus.” We later learned the library called him Reed (for read). I took a wonderful picture of his display.
Meet Successful Authors
Member Michael Varhola, a full-time writer, created the name CLAW for Canyon Lake Area Writers, paying tribute to our honorary member. The vote was unanimous. Then I created a bookmark with Narcissus’ photograph and a logo of a bird’s claw holding a pen superimposed over an abstract of our lake.
The agenda I set at that organizational meeting was to have a brief business meeting, then a program—a creative writing exercise or a speaker. Afterwards each person could read five minutes’ of her/his writings. Members could “share only”—or they could ask for gentle critiques and suggestions. Those who needed more time were given 10 minutes.
As the group grew and matured over the years, members’ writings improved and more people published. Those who wrote only for their own satisfaction—and to preserve family history—expressed their appreciation at our meetings.
Over the years writers of all skill levels and of many genres have come and gone, and the group is richer for their input. I offer this sampling of victories members have shared. To list all would require I write a book. Here is a sampling:
- Dennis Slattery has published and edited 26 books and published more than 200 articles. He is an emeritus faculty member in Mytholgical Studies Program at Pacifica Graduate Institute in California. He offers “talks and riteing retreats” all over the world. Dennis held a Saturday workshop (in year) to help inspire us to “write from within.”
- Rodney Smith, has published five action packed e-books through Kindle since joining CLAW. He says he had a book in mind when he retired. He’s written that and more!
- Carolyn Taylor published her first guest editorial in the San Antonio Express this year—at the age of 80+! We all felt it was “our success” as well as hers.
Read CLAW’s Anthology
And our 2016 anthology, Check it 0ut! Tales of Canyon Lake, offered all the opportunity to publish. Victories are too numerous to name them all—it’s enough to know that we are a successful and happy group of writers!
Over the years we added a constitution listing purposes, increased the dues to $10 a year, and continued to help each other with our writing. In 2016 we published our anthology, donating the proceeds to the Friends of Tye Preston Memorial Library in gratitude for their providing support and our meeting place.
Today we continue to encourage each other, but—for me—the most important thing remains sharing our ideas and our work!
If you’re interested in “checking us out,” visit our meetings. You may just learn you have found your group! All are welcome!
We meet from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at Tye Preston Memorial Library in Canyon Lake. We hope to see you there.
About De Hon: “I hold a doctorate in Communications from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. I have taught interpersonal communication, public speaking, and other classes in several universities. When I retired from teaching, I became a freelance writer. De Hon Communications is the name of my professional persona. I have one published book, Prisms: Refracting Light of Women’s Lives, and I contribute regularly to the Huffington Post Blog. I have been published in several magazines over the years including Woodcarving, Make it with Leather (arts/crafts work), Louisiana Life (events in Louisiana), many newspapers (human interest stories and editorials), and others.”
Regarding CLAW – Canyon Lake Area Writers – I am honored to be included in Jackie DeHon’s article. There are many more who have more reason to be included. I have a story or two in each of the anthologies we’ve published, ‘Hill Country Tales of Hill Country Tails’, and ‘Check It Out’. The Opinion piece of December 21, 2018 in the San Antonio Express/News – ‘Ruffles and Flourishes’ was most exciting and would not have happened without the urging and technical assistance from Jackie and the CLAW group.