Assembling once a month on a Monday night, the Hill Country Women of Words meet in Fredericksburg, Texas, for three hours of fellowship and critiquing. This encouraging group of women writers has been meeting continuously since July of 2001. They now list 25 members on their roster and average 10 members per meeting. Works represented include a variety of genres including poetry, children's, fiction and non-fiction. No dues are required.

  Each member is invited to bring 10 copies of their writing to share with the group. In turn, each woman is given the opportunity to read her work aloud, followed by 10-15 minutes of critique advice. Writing is reviewed for grammatical accuracy, typos, and readability. Members offer advice as to where a piece might be confusing and sometimes offer suggestions for clarity. Writers who have not brought anything to read are encouraged to participate in all discussions.           

   Criticism is always constructive with special care taken to preserve the author's voice. Member Megan Willome says, "I think our format is a bit unusual in that we take turns reading and then everyone can comment. In one way, it's very free-for-all, and in another, it's very organized. You really can't hide in our group, even when it's big. If you don't bring something, you leave thinking, Wow – people really missed hearing my stuff. Also the group is so encouraging. People seem to notice when someone just needs a kind word."

   In order to provide a more relaxed atmosphere and encourage shy writers, the group is limited to women only. Member Cindy Harper writes: "Every meeting brings meaningful and tactful criticism of my writing. WOW has brought me new friends…inspiration…a safe place to take chances and a nurturing place to grow."

   One distinguishing characteristics of the group is a desire to learn. Member Dorothy Leyendecker testifies: "Because our writers have been willing to share their knowledge and writing skills with me, I have seen my own writing improve. With their encouragement, I found the confidence to have submitted and seen my own stories published."

   In addition to the monthly meeting, a weekly Tuesday critique group has been added for members working to submit material for publication and needing more critique time.

   For more information about our group or problems with this web site, contact Sally Clark at sally@sallyclark.info

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