Maryland, a Bakery, and Me

Posted by on March 21, 2014 in business of writing | 2 comments

Yesterday was the monthly meeting of the Maryland Romance Writers, of which I am a member.

What’s that, you say? I don’t live in Maryland? In fact, I live over an hour away from where the group meets — and that’s without traffic on some of the most congested roads in our country?

But I love MRW — the chapter is welcoming, the members are overwhelmingly supportive of each other, and the meetings are well-structured.  (My other RWA chapter, Washington Romance Writers, has some great programming, but meetings last *all* day one Saturday a month, and that can be difficult to schedule!)

Several months ago, I hit upon a traffic-defying option for getting to the MRW meetings: I head up mid-day and meet with friends who live relatively close to the meeting spot.  Usually, this entails having a late lunch with the incomparable Stephanie Dray in a suburb north and west of the MRW meeting.  Yesterday, though, Ms. Dray had a meeting of her own, close to the MRW meeting.

And that’s how I found myself in Atwater’s bakery, in Catonsville, Maryland.

Carrot Cupcake

My arrival was a bit fraught, because Maryland’s governor was speaking in the postage stamp of a parking lot behind the bakery.  That meant that I got to cruise the mean streets of Catonsville, looking for a parking space.  (Ultimately, I found one, about three blocks from the bakery, on a quiet residential street, where the snow had just melted enough for me to park my car half-in a ditch :-) )

Whatever parking frustrations I might have had, they were dissipated almost immediately by Atwater’s.  Over the course of the afternoon, I enjoyed a grilled portabello sandwich (on sunflower flax bread to *die* for!), cheddar cheese stamps (like straws, but shorter), and a carrot cake cupcake, along with a couple of lovely cups of tea.  Of course, all those food treats were secondary to talking, talking, talking with Stephanie (and, later, with two other MRW members who wandered in — Denny S. Bryce and Joy Daniels.)

The chapter has a “pre-meeting” gathering at a little Italian restaurant, so I sauntered down there for socializing — it’s always great to catch up with folks outside of the formal structure of the meeting.  (It’s also always great to hear what crazy TV shows *some* people watch — I’m looking at *you* Eliza Knight!)

And then there was our meeting…  Terri Brisbin talked about plotting, which was quite amusing because Terri doesn’t plot.  In fact, I don’t know how Terri gets any book done — she writes nearly 75% of each book in the last 10 days before deadline, and over 75 pages of that is written on the last night.  (For the record, that’s just about the opposite of how I work!)  Terri was entertaining and well-prepared, even (especially!) to deliver a “do as I say, not as I do” type speech.

Traffic was non-existent for the ride home — I actually made it door to door in a little under 45 minutes (unheard of!)  My visits to MRW take a bite out of writing time, but they’re *so* worth it, for the socializing, the energizing, and the sprinkling of new ideas!

What about you?  Do you socialize with writers or readers who inspire you to write or read more?  Or differently?


  1. And we’re sooo glad you make the trek! I honestly feel the socializing is imperative. It is how you find critique partners, beta readers, and they are the only people in the world whom we can vent to about the intricacies of the publishing world. I belong to two chapters, and glom onto every opportunity to spend time with those smart, funny and talented women!

    • ::grin:: It’s so easy to huddle in our own little corners, tip-tapping away at the keyboards… Of course, MRW under your more-than-able leadership is one of the best ways to break free!

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