I first met author Mary Camarillo (The Lockhart Women and Those People Behind Us) in the Summer of 2014 at the Community of Writers Conference. We found each other crying in a corner of the dinner patio following what seemed like too-intense manuscript scrutiny.

In a somewhat critical environment, I tend to gravitate to the kindest person in the crowd. In fact, the very best thing about that Sierra Nevada literary conference, and all the others I’ve attended, is the real friendship I’ve found with the kind writers hovering around the edge of the stage. I met Sue Staats at that conference and Dorothy Rice at the Napa Conference, which led to our working together for Stories on Stage Sacramento for years. I met Amanda McTigue and Joyce Salter as my roommates at the Community of Writers, and now, nine years later, we meet regularly on Zoom to test ideas and cheer each other on.

Mary and I continued to meet up in the years between 2014 and now at several other workshops and conferences, and the conversations we had there led us both to be published by She Writes Press, with books that launched in the same seasons. We have leaned on each other’s experience for quite a while now, in matters big and small.

Most of the writer-friends I talk to regularly agonize over the non-writing aspects of a writing life, including whether they ought to attend non-required conferences. But mainly the worrying is over the role of promotional events—launch parties, bookstore readings, blog tours… I know plenty of people who just don’t want their hours going to activities that take a lot of energy, energy that could go to writing itself. Especially when the time spent offers no guaranteed, measurable return on investment (book sales). I get it. Believe me, I get it.

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