If you want to be a writer, you must study your craft. Take advantage of opportunities to learn about writing from experts. Those of us in the Fort Wayne area have unique opportunities to learn about writing from seasoned author Shirley Jump. Each month she offers a free workshop at a Barnes & Noble bookstore. This is just one way to learn. Books, conferences, and online articles are other means. If you’ve attended a workshop on writing that was meaningful to you, please mention it in the comment section.
A 120-mile round trip for a 2-hour meeting may not be something most people would deem worth the money or time to participate in. Cathy Shouse of Fairmount believes the free monthly writing workshop, led by Fort Wayne author Shirley Jump at Barnes & Noble at Jefferson Point on the third Tuesday night of each month, makes the drive worth it.
Shouse began attending Jump’s meetings in 2005 after meeting Jump at a book signing in Kokomo. “Shirley invited me to the group,” she said. “Even though it’s a long drive, those trips are a big reason why I continue to progress on my publishing journey.” Shouse is a freelance writer with the News-Sentinel newspaper. Her first book, Images of America: Fairmount (Arcadia Publishing), was released in 2010.
Shirley Jump (www.shirleyjump.com) is well-known in the Fort Wayne area, having written for several area publications before transitioning to writing romance and other novels. Thus far, she has had 34 books published; eleven others are scheduled to be released in the future.
Jump, a former high school Latin and math teacher, began hosting the free monthly writing workshops at Barnes & Noble in 2004 after a book signing for her first novel, The Virgin’s Proposal. Her motivation was simple. “I like to teach and wanted to offer what I knew to people interested in writing,” she said. “It also recharges my writing batteries when I’m around people who speak the language of writers.”
Jump conducts the writing workshop at Barnes & Noble 10 times a year; the group does not meet in July and December. While some people have attended every meeting since she began, other people show up for the first time at most meetings. As many as 35 people have attended, although a group size of 12-18 people is more typical.
Each month Jump teaches on a different subject. These include finding an agent, plotting, and writing believable dialog. Selecting subjects to discuss is decided by the group, according to Jump. “I don’t want this to be a Shirley-fest where we just talk about me,” she said. Jump often distributes print-outs of the night’s topic at no charge to attendees and occasionally offers critiques. “People wanted help with hands-on exercises so I agreed to help,” she said. “Part of being a writer is developing a thick hide and that’s what critiques are about.” Jump lists the topics and schedule for each meeting at yahoo groups (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bnwritersgroup/). Anyone can join.
Like Shouse, Karen Lenfestey, first-time author of an e-book, A Sister’s Promise, met Jump at a writing event outside of Fort Wayne. “In 2009 Shirley spoke at the Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, which I attended,” said Lenfestey. “Her workshop is close to my home in Fort Wayne, so I decided to attend. Shirley has helped me plot a novel that will sell.”
(Lenfestey’s book can be found at www.tinyurl.com/sisterspromise and at Nook book).
Shouse also credited Jump with helping her publish the Fairmount book. “Shirley makes us feel we can get published if we work incredibly hard like she does,” she said. “I’ve learned how to stay motivated, increase production and promote my books. I don’t know of any other internationally published, award-winning author who offers 10 free workshops each year. A Chicago friend I met through Shirley’s online writing group is envious of our opportunity.”
Reprinted with permission www.news-sentinel.com