By Larissa Copeland
Writing, whether it’s science fiction or a children’s book, can be a daunting task at the best of times.
The Yukon Writer’s Society is working to help writers from start to finish.
Shayla Raquel has been organizing the YWS since May 2017, when she stepped in for the previous organizer. Since then, the group has grown from a handful of members to a thriving community of fiction writers encouraging and supporting each other through every part of the publishing process.
“Everything just blossomed from there,” she said.
Raquel’s first meeting as organizer drew in four people, she said. Their latest meeting had 19 attendees. But it’s not just the numbers that speak to the society’s success: the group has also introduced a blog and podcast (“The Writers’ Nook”), hosted conferences and published an anthology of thriller and suspense stories. It meets for monthly write-ins at a local coffee shop, and each year there’s a Christmas party for members.
“We really go all out with events to keep members encouraged and motivated, and help them feel like they can make their book a reality,” Raquel said.
The bi-weekly meetings, Raquel said, are broken into critique time, quick grammar lessons, and a lesson. Lessons tend to fall within one of three categories: the craft of writing, marketing and writing exercises.
“We also do some other things,” she said. “We always want to hear what’s been going on with people’s writing, and if they’re stuck, we like to do problem-solving as well.”
To be an active member, participants are asked to come at least once a month to meetings, Raquel said. Active members take part in critiques, which involve presenting up to 2,000 words of material to other members for feedback over a two-week process.
The society embraces writers from all walks of life, all ages and all genres, Raquel added. While the members may be an eclectic group, they all have one thing in common: the desire to help other writers succeed.
“We’ve created a tight-knit community,” Raquel said.
While some may feel self-conscious about their work and have trouble working up the confidence to take the plunge of seeking criticism, Raquel said the society emphasizes encouragement and positivity.
“A lot of these people have been told that they’re not a good writer, or they’ve been told that nobody’s going to read their story. Or they’ve told themselves that. Our first job when you walk into that room is to let you know that we believe in you and want to hear your story.”
And the society’s help doesn’t end with a finished story. The meetings, workshops and services also focus on other aspects of writing, whether it’s lessons on how authors can self-promote through social media or navigating the ins and outs of traditional self-publishing.
“I just want them to leave with information on everything, which I think is one one the things that makes us so unique. It isn’t just the writing – you don’t just learn about that, but you learn other things along the way so you’re prepared for this journey,” she said.
Members have turned their dreams of writing into realities, Raquel added.
“We want to put action behind our words,” Raquel said. “I’ve been able to publish my own novel because of this group.”
Another member has a completed children’s book that they are pitching to agents, Raquel said, and yet another has a middle-grade story set to be published in the next couple months.
“I think what’s amazing is for people to see that there’s proof that this group actually works,” she said. “You have people holding their books in their hands for the first time.”
The group will next meet at 7 p.m. April 4 at Yukon Church, 11715 NW 10th, in Yukon to discuss themes and how to navigate them.
For more information, visit www.yukonwriterssociety.com or visit the society on facebook by searching “Yukon Writers’ Society.”