Postcards from Phoenix: Saluting a writingy town in the writingest state

Published in the Tryon Daily Bulletin, September 15, 2016

I didn’t start writing until I was 49. Two years later I moved back to North Carolina after living 27 years in California, not even realizing I had chosen to reside in the writingest state.

While in Tryon, I immersed myself in writeriness, embracing my writerhood, and was happily amazed that Tryon embraced it as well.

I knew very little about Tryon when I moved there, but I quickly learned that it wraps its arms around the arts in a big way.

I knew I had a lot to learn about writing and the world around it, so the first thing I did was join the North Carolina Writers Network and attend one of their fall conferences. I signed up for workshops and watched panel discussions and met writers and editors I’m still friends with today. Let’s face it, I could sit and talk to writers about writing all day long. In fact, I used to do just that at Openroad whenever I could.

After I moved to Phoenix, I started looking for groups to join. I found a great workshop I wanted to take at a conference, but when I went to register online for the class, I learned it was for women writers in Arizona who are Mormon. Um … back to Google for me. I am trying, honestly.

I did join the Phoenix Writers Club, and just entered one of their writing contests. I also received an invitation to join a neighborhood book club through a friend of a Facebook friend, and am looking forward to meeting a new group of book-loving women. (Now I can stop bugging Mary Ann Claud by emailing and asking what our Tryon book club is reading these days–other than her wonderful books, naturally.)

Of course, I’ll continue my quest for ultimate writerization here in Arizona, but I have no doubt I’ll always keep a corner of my keyboard in Tryon’s literary affairs.

Technically, I suppose I’m no longer on the steering committee of Tryon Writers, but I still watch their Facebook feed with great interest, and I occasionally add to it.

Imagine my delight when I saw today there will be a Mystery Day at Lanier Library on October 15! This caused me to jump up from my desk and do the traditional writers’ workshop celebration dance, finally feeling the anticipation every female Mormon writer in Arizona knows.

Yes, that’s right, Mystery Day will include a mystery writing workshop! North Carolina author Mark de Castrique will be teaching the workshop for writers of all levels with a focus on “character, setting, theme and plot.” Mark is the author of 16 mystery novels, 11 of which are set in Asheville or a fictional North Carolina mountain town. Who knows, you just might make an impression on him and find yourself murdered in his next book!

I didn’t think anything could make me love Lanier Library more, but I was wrong. Mystery Day, people!

There is a limit to the number of writers who can take the class, though, so grab your seat while you can.

If you just can’t wait until October 15 to get your fill of literary fun, I have another idea for you. Mark your calendars for October 6 at 4 p.m. That’s when North Carolina author Danny Johnson will be stopping by The Book Shelf for a reading and signing of his debut novel, The Last Road Home. One renowned author called it “gripping, beautifully written, and satisfying.” Actually that was me, but he’s also gotten amazing reviews from real superstar North Carolina authors as well as his quickly amassing following of devoted readers. (Note to self: email Mary Ann with this book club rec.)

In full disclosure, I must tell you that Danny Johnson is one of the writers I met at the North Carolina Writers Network conference way back when I was a new writer and a renewed North Carolinian. I’m so proud of his book, set on a North Carolina tobacco farm in the 60s.

I’ve promised Danny that Tryon loves writers and good books, and that people will come to his Book Shelf signing in droves, so don’t make me look bad. I’m hoping he’ll be so happy with the turnout that he’ll write me into his next novel. I’ll be the smart sultry white-haired, yet still youngish, tobacco farmer that saves the town and possibly the world. Sounds like a bestseller to me.

I also see on Facebook that Tryon now has one of those mini free lending libraries. So if October is a month you don’t have money to spare for writing workshops or books, look no further than St. Luke’s Plaza. Take a book and leave one for the next person. (But make sure you’re supporting Tryon’s bookshops when you can!)

The Facebook photo of our new Little Free Library (Yes, it’s a thing. Look it up!) showed a cute little pot belly stove full of books, just waiting for eager readers to plunder it. Tryon mystery writer extraordinaire Mark Schweitzer built the structure with the same talented hands that penned his super popular liturgical mystery series. (Hey, Mark: The Columnist Wore Culottes. Now get to work!)

If it sounds like I’m just sitting here in Phoenix, crying over my laptop while I scroll through Tryon Facebook pages, well … okay, I kind of am. Don’t feel bad for me though! Get out there and enjoy Tryon. Read and write and explore. You live in a writey spot. Enjoy it.

Click here to buy this book!

Click here to buy this book!


Click here to buy this book!
Click here to buy this book!