Loretta McCarthy was born in Melbourne, Australia and after training at Frankston Teacher's College taught in Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. A horrifying car accident in 1995 turned the lives of her family upside down. The Bride Price came from the self-searching that followed the trauma, which left Loretta with agoraphobia right up until her visit to Israel in 2003.
What writing group/s do you belong to?
I belong to the Society of Women Writers Tasmania.
What is the structure of this writing group?
It meets on the first Monday of the month and is made up of a president, secretary, financial secretary and of course, all its members.
Does this group have affiliations with peak writing associated bodies?
We are affiliated with state and interstate writing groups and participate in their competitions.
How many members does this writing group have?
I'm not sure how many our membership is, all up, but we seldom have less than sixteen at each meeting, and there are many who are spasmodic in attendance.
Does the writing group have a clearly defined goal in writing?
I would say our goal is one of encouragement. They are such a diverse group of writers, romance, science fiction, fantasy, historic fiction, Christian romance, biographical, poetry, short stories, drama, play-writes etc.
Are there any critiquing guidelines to follow?
There are several forms of inviting constructive criticism. There is a folder sent to as many as want to participate, where your latest piece of writing for assessment and advice, is sent on to each person. if you want instant feedback, you may read your work at the monthly meeting, or if it is too long there are assessors it can be sent to for a minimal fee.
Are there any guidelines for people whose work is being critiqued to follow?
Occasionally individuals or groups are chosen to assess competitions and score the writings sent in. A clear guideline is drawn up to assess the work, be it for age appropriate children's literature, adult short stories or historical papers.
Does the group have set guidelines for behaviour, and a process to remove members who are disruptive to the smooth running of the group?
Our president keeps the momentum of the monthly meeting, allowing each individual a given amount of time to talk about their latest writings and where they're at, and also to read out homework, set the month before. Those who may ramble on a little are invited to finish what they want to say during morning tea break. There has never been anyone rude or obnoxious in our current group.
Does everybody contribute to each meeting, or do you only hear from the same few people?
Everyone is encouraged to participate, no one ever overlooked, even if they have not done set homework. Workshops on certain aspects of writing are held throughout the year, and we also have many guest speakers who share their expertise.
How long have you been a member of this writing group?
I have been a member for about eight years.
What is your role within this group?
I have no set role within the group, but with new nominations coming up, I may agree to president, if no one else wants the role.
What are the benefits to you from attending a writing group?
Personally I find the writing group a great encouragement, from listening to others who are in various stages of success, I am stimulated to get on with my own works.
I wish I had known about writing groups long before I self-published my first book. It would have been a much better read! There is a wealth of knowledge shared within the Launceston writing group, and they are totally generous in letting you know their experiences, re editing, finding an agent, publishers, Ebooks etc.
Why be in a writing group?
This is my first experience of a writing group and I have seen it evolve in the time of been there. Our numbers have grown tremendously, with a certain core of long timers, who do a tremendous amount of work to keep it the stimulating organization it is today.
What do you look for in a writing group?
Our group is so diverse in its writing abilities, each contributes to expand the abilities of others. We have several excellent poets who have won various awards for their works.
Have you had a negative experience in a writing group?
My experience in this writing group has been entirely positive and I would highly recommend anyone with an interest in writing to belong to one.
Is there anything you would like to add?
The Tasmanian Society of Women Writers have a website with all relevant information. They also publish a magazine, Stylus, several times a year and distributed to all members. Participating members can see their poems and short stories published in this magazine, as well as the inclusion of competitions, opportunities, festivals and conferences.
Thank you for participating Loretta