Tips on Joining Writer's Organizations

Kathy Schuit of SWW created the coloring
book for my picture book, A Packrat's
Holiday: Thistletoe's Gift

Two of the most useful and important organizations I belong to are SouthWest Writers and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, SCBWI. In this post I’d like to sing the praises of Southwest Writers. Next month’s post will delve into some of the many benefits membership in SCBWI offers children’s writers.

SouthWest Writers (SWW) is based in Albuquerque. Membership is open to everyone anywhere. Meetings are offered in person and on Zoom. Examples of workshops are the upcoming “Let’s Make a Scene,” with Charlene Bell Dietz, Saturday, August 12th, 12:30-2:30; SWW members: $20, non-members: $30 and Saturday, September 9th, same time and price, “How to Speak in Public and Live to Tell the Tale,"  offered by Brenda Cole. An additional helpful list of past workshops over the years is offered on subjects helpful to authors. Check the SWW website for additional information. 

The organization is made up of professional writers who are both approachable and helpful. SWW offers classes, such as the upcoming “SHOW Don’t TELL,” by Kathy Louise Schuit, to take place in September; an annual contest; critique groups; the monthly award-winning newletter, SouthWest Sage, and more. Helpful to me is the SWW Pro Services Directory where I discovered the multi-talented Kathy Schuit, a writer/artist/illustrator. Kathy compiled and illustrated the terrific coloring book pictured above to compliment my picture book, A Packrat’s Holiday: Thistletoe’s Gift.

As a member, I was contacted for an interview by KL Wagoner (writing as Cate Macabe), the author of This New Mountain: a memoir of AJ Jackson, private investigator, repossessor, and grandmother. Kat has a speculative fiction blog at and writes about memoir at  The updated interview below appears in the July 2023 edition of Sage. I was delighted when Kathy contacted me again for an update, since in her email she said she was curious how I was able to publish two picture books, Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me (2022) and Cradle in the Wild (2023), in a short amount of time.

I highly recommend this terrific organization for all it has to offer to authors of books for any age.

Here is the updated interview with a link to the original interview:

Q: Waddles the Duck was inspired by a family of mallards that came to live in your swimming pool. Did you also have a personal experience that inspired Cradle in the Wild?

A: My picture book, Cradle in the Wild, was inspired by an idea I found in a craft book that I used when my two daughters were in grade school. The idea is to gather natural materials that birds use to build their nests, such as dried leaves, grass, bird feathers, soft parts of weeds and flowers, small pieces of bark — virtually any type of materials birds might find in the wild. In the spring, we would scatter these natural materials on the grass and watch for the birds to discover them and carry them away. The birds didn’t always discover our materials. I remembered how disappointed we were when they didn’t find our contributions to their nests. The two young sisters in the story were disappointed, too, when the birds didn’t come. So, they brainstormed about what they could use to attract the birds. I love to sew and especially love colorful fabric and sewing incidentals. My collection of ribbon, yarn and lace gave me the idea of adding these colorful snippets to the natural nesting materials, and the story was born.

Q: What topics does Waddles the Duck and Cradle in the Wild touch upon that would make them a perfect fit for the classroom?

A: Waddles: The main message I want readers to come away with is to realize that feeding waterfowl foods that are nutritious for them (such as waterfowl pellets available at pet stores, dandelions, wheatgrass, chopped lettuce leaves, and cracked corn) are far better for them than feeding waterfowl bread. The boy in the story must discover a solution to finding a good home for a mallard duck family that has taken up residence in the family pool. He realizes that the ducks wouldn’t survive for long due to the chemicals in the pool and the lack of natural food that ducks ordinarily find in their natural habitat. I’ve purchased little rubber ducks and plan to have them float in a tub filled with water to demonstrate to students what happens in the story.

Cradle: I’ve presented a program for Cradle that has worked well with students and adults a number of times now. I begin by passing around a collection of about ten bird’s nests that I’ve gathered over the years and discussing birds while the students are feeling the nesting materials, especially the soft fuzzy insides that birds use for protection of their eggs and hatchlings. I show the adults a terrific book — Bird Watch Book for Kids: Introduction to Bird Watching, Colorful Guide to 25 Backyard Birds, and Journal Pages, Dylanna Press, 2022 (Amazon) — which suggests taking water, sunscreen, etc. on bird-watching trips with their children. The book encourages children to keep track of the birds they see in the book’s journal pages. I show the parents a bird guide for adults to keep on hand and tell them about bird-sound apps they can save on their phones. I either read or tell the Cradle story, then give them a craft I’ve put together in a Ziplock bag for them to make a bird nest of their own at home.

Q: Tell us about the journey to choose the evocative and poetic title for Cradle in the Wild.

A: Creating the title Cradle in the Wild was just one of those inspirations that came to me one day. Many times I write title ideas in a notebook over many days and weeks. Sometimes nothing works. Then if I’m lucky the aha moment arrives and I’ve got my title.

Q: You released two books in less than one year. How did you accomplish this?

A: I have to chuckle at this question because, though these book ideas marinated for quite some time before they made it to the page, I wrote both books during COVID when we were all stuck at home. While doing that, I thought I needed a special COVID project, too, so I erected a bird feeder close to my kitchen window. So, while writing the books I enjoyed watching many kinds of birds frequenting my feeders.

 Q: In your last interview for SouthWest Writers, you shared what you wish you’d known when you began your writing/publishing career. What did you learn from publishing Waddles the Duck and Cradle in the Wild?

A: I learned something about marketing from writing these two books. As a self-published author, for a few years I tried to make sales by placing ads on my social media, I wrote blog articles, I became the newsletter editor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and more. Though I enjoyed doing all of that, I made very few sales. Once I accumulated the five books that I’ve published (a chapter book and four picture books), I began selling at book fairs. It’s a lot of work, but I started meeting readers and selling books. Since I don’t have a publisher backing me up and helping to distribute my books, I’ve decided my biggest reward is coming from meeting local readers. This is how I plan to spend my time from now on — sharing my stories with parents, grandparents, and their children in venues where they can also purchase my books.

Q: What writing projects are you working on now?

A: Sometime in 2023, I’m hoping to finish the second book in my chapter book trilogy, Secret in the Mist: An Abi Wunder Mystery, which is a ghost/mystery story. I’m also working on creating a new Tall Boots book which will be a side-by-side Spanish/English bilingual book, and after that making my other picture books bilingual. And for a new project, I want to write a book about turtles/tortoises. The working name of my character is Twiddles.

Here is the link to Kathy Wagoner's original interview of moi in SWW Sage

Sources: If you wish to contact Kathy Schuit, please send her an email:, and visit her website:


Alamo Canyon in
Alamogordo, NM,
with my writing partners
Sweet Pea (l) & Peanut

Linda Wilson is the author of the Abi Wunder Mystery series and other books for children. Her two newest releases are Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me! (2022) and Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere (2023). You’ll find Linda on her Amazon author page, on her website at, and on Facebook.

 Click the links for free coloring pages and a puppet show starring Thistletoe Q. Packrat. While you’re there, get all the latest news by signing up for Linda’s newsletter.  Connect with   Linda: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram


In the Spotlight: An Interview with Author Patricia Bumpass

 by Suzanne Lieurance

Author Patricia Bumpass

Patricia Bumpass is one of the members of my group coaching program, The Monday Morning Shove, and she has been a subscriber of my newsletter, The Morning Nudge, for years. (See below for links.)

Lately, Pat has made some huge strides in her writing career, so I decided to interview her, so other writers can learn from Pat's experiences.

Suzanne Lieurance: Hey, Pat, how and when did you get started as a professional writer?

Patricia Bumpass:  Growing up, I loved to journal. 

I used my journal to write mini stories-known today as short stories-- and poems. 

I loved writing. 

This led me to become the editor of my high school newspaper and I also worked as a teen-columnist for our local newspaper. 

When I graduated, I worked as a reporter for another local newspaper. 

What I made from being a teen-columnist and from working as a reporter for this other newspaper wasn’t a lot, but I was paid to write, which is the definition of a professional writer, someone who is paid to write.

My son was diagnosed with autism and there was a 15-year period when I didn’t write anything other than academic papers – and that was only because they were required to pass a class.

I put everything aside to care for him. 

My love for writing was reawakened when I took an HR job where I oversaw writing the company blog and putting the company newsletter together. 

While I did that, I also picked up one off writing gigs along the way.

That’s when I began thinking of myself as a professional writer.

When I left that HR job, numerous people said to me, “I can’t believe you’re leaving a “good” job to write books.”

Of course, a good job meant one with benefits and what some would consider a decent salary.

I quickly informed them that I was not writing books.

I have done all types of writing – journaling, newsletters, blog posts, course creation.

Some paid. Some not.

In fact, you, Suzanne Lieurance, were instrumental in the development of my writing career.

You gave me my first columnist gig after my love for writing was reawakened, where I wrote a monthly column about journaling for writers. 

 SL:  You write both fiction and nonfiction. How is the process the same or different for each?

PB: Nonfiction lends itself more to planning, for me.

I’ve found I need to spend a few minutes jotting down areas I want to cover in the book I’m writing.

For instance, while I was writing my current book, Yellow Car Bingo, I found it helpful to jot down ideas of what I wanted to cover in that book and pieces of the stories I wanted to tell.

Then I started writing.

I didn’t write in chronological order, start to finish.

I wrote the high school years first, then whichever section spoke to me next, and so on, until the book was finished.

With fiction I am a die-hard pantser.

I don’t plan anything.

The germ of an idea for a story, pops into my head, and I am off.

Content to go wherever the story takes me.

Do I get stuck sometimes? Yes.

During times when the story or characters stop talking to me, I have a “come to Jesus” meeting with myself and them (yes characters are real) and start writing.

The words don’t have to make sense or even go with the story.

The act of putting words down on the page gets my juices flowing again.

Eventually, I pick up a thread that will continue to move my story forward.

Here’s a quick tip: anything you cut from a story during editing, can be used in another story, or article, or blog post - never throw anything away.

SL: Your new book, Yellow Car Bingo, is based on your son and the experiences you had with the education system as he was growing up. Why did you decide to write a book about this? What do you hope this book will do?

PB: My response to a question from a parent in a parenting group on Facebook prompted that parent to comment that I should write a book about my journey through special education with a child blessed with autism.

Even though I had no conscious intent to write this book or any book on this subject matter, if a memory came to me about that point in our journey, I’d jot it down and highlight it in my everyday notebook, which is simply a journal I use to record thoughts and notes, etc.

The tipping point came when I began to realize and remember that parents with special needs kids are overlooked and forgotten.

They tend not to be taken seriously but they also tend not to speak up either.

My experience has been that we, along with our kids, are often treated as if we are an inconvenience and don’t belong.

When my son, T.J., was in school, I didn’t see a lot of the parents of other kids with exceptionalities.

I remember his elementary school held a Fall Festival one year and out of all the other parents in attendance, I was the only parent there who had a child with a disability.

Many parents are happy to accept the placement the school system chooses for their child (i.e., self-contained classrooms, shipping their kid to a school out of their district, etc.)

I wasn’t.

Parenting is difficult all by itself, parenting a child with disabilities even more so.

Further, parenting an African American male on the spectrum adds an extra layer of difficulty.

I hope Yellow Car Bingo will inspire all parents to advocate for their kids with special needs, their typical kids, and themselves. 

Autism was new to me, and I often felt alone.

I knew no other parents who looked like me with children with any type of special needs – especially not autism.

I want parents to know they are not alone.

Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on several IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings and what I have consistently found is that parents tend to be afraid to speak up for what they feel is best for their child or children.

I hope my book will help them find their voice.


“While this is my journey into advocating for my child on the spectrum, I sincerely hope that any special needs parent will gain information, insight, and inspiration from my story. It is also my prayer that you will find hope and reassurance that as a parent it’s okay to speak up for your special needs child and yourself.” ~ Patricia Bumpass, Yellow Car Bingo, A Black Mam’s Journey Through Special Education


SL: Describe your process for writing Yellow Car Bingo? I’m assuming you didn’t plan the book from the start, when your son was a child, which means, in a way, the book took years to write (or at least, years until you were ready to write it).


PB: When T.J. was growing up, writing a book, or doing anything around special needs, especially autism, was the furthest thing from my mind.

I know parents who kept all their child’s records from the day they were diagnosed.

I kept his IEPs from year to year but keeping historical records beyond each year wasn’t my thing.

Although, there were times while I was writing this book that I wished I had at least kept a journal.

I tried to lean into my pantser side while writing Yellow Car Bingo but that didn’t work.

I found I needed to take some time to think about his story and what I wanted to include in the book.

Once I decided that, I opened a Google Doc and did a brief outline.

I already had an Introduction sketched out.

Then I decided the best way to cover material in this book would be chronological order from diagnosis to adulthood.

My rough outline consisted of:  


·      Explanation of title – why are you calling this book yellow car bingo?

·      He was a “Good Baby”

·      Diagnosis

·      Early Intervention

·      Elementary School

·      Middle School

·      High School


Under each heading of this outline, I began making notes of stories I remembered from that time.

My mom and sister filled in bits and pieces I didn’t remember or weren’t clear on.

In fact, my sister sent me several emails saying something along the lines of “Hey did you remember to include this story about the time T.J. attended the Charter School?”

Then she would literally tell me the story in her email.

If I had questions, we’d talk about it and make sure I had the story straight.

That’s how the section about the time he was in the Charter School came to be in the book.  

SL: Do you find it easier to write fiction or nonfiction? Please explain.

PB: I LOVE to write fiction.

When I have the germ of an idea, I get lost in the story.

I can go where my mind and imagination take me and they can take me to some interesting places.

I often tell my sister that if she ever needs to look at my computer history, she shouldn’t be shocked at what she might find there.

In my family, it’s always a given that if they know I am working on a story or anything writing-related they have to make sure I’m looking at them before they tell or ask me anything.

If they don’t, chances are I won’t hear a word they say.

Occasionally, my sister forgets and starts talking to me.

When I don’t respond, scrunched up paper towels or paper clips start flying across my desk - her way of getting my attention.

On the other hand, nonfiction takes more brainpower and planning.

More effort.

Facts need to kept straight and I like to have an inspirational story to go along with what I’m sharing.

I like to capture the points I want to cover as well as the stories in a separate document.

SL: What do you enjoy most about the writing process?  And what do you find most challenging about the writing process?

PB: There is nothing more exhilarating for me than sitting down and creating stories out of thin air.

Anything can serve as inspiration for a story—a news item, a person, a word, something some says, or even a quote.

It’s about taking something raw and rough (your first draft) and shaping it into a story that people will want to read (your published book).

The most challenging part for me is editing.

Once I’ve completed my first draft, I can do a first-round edit and tighten things up.

After that it becomes tedious for me.

A second-round edit or more is like eating leftovers.

It becomes repetitious, eating (reading) the same thing over and over, and the excitement wanes a bit.

Also, I didn’t realize writing is so business-oriented.

You don’t only write; you have to market, too.

There is so much that goes into the business of writing that if you’re not firmly rooted in becoming a writer or author, it would be easy to throw your hands up and give up.


SL: Tell us about some of your other books that are available for purchase on amazon. How did you come to write them? Are they all nonfiction?

PB: I have a book of quotes and affirmations out entitled: Jump into Positivity: 35 Quotes & Affirmations to Empower Women to Love Themselves.

What I found was that women are superheroes in this world.

They take care of the family, the home, the bills, and loved ones.

Rarely do they include space on their to-do lists for themselves.

Jump into Positivity shares quotes and affirmations that will help women reflect on who they are, who they want to be, and motivate them to “step into their own power.”

I have also participated in several Community Book Projects: 365 Days of Gratitude by Done for You Publishing.

These are a compilation of 200-word essays by a collection of authors celebrating things or people they are grateful for.

Some of the essays I’ve written include:

“Stick Girl”, where I show gratitude for the lessons a friend, who walked around with the help of arm braces.

“Deep Breath Mom” words my son said to me during an IEP meeting where I had become upset.  His way of calming me down.

“Love, Guidance, and Biscuits” where I talk about the special place my grandmother and her biscuits held in my life while I was growing up. 


“A Sister’s Loyalty” in honor of my sister for standing up for me in a situation where I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. 


“Goodbye, Toog” where I give thanks to my granddad for his unconditional love. (Toog was his nickname for me.)


Everything listed above is nonfiction.


For the TAF (Triangle Association of Freelancers) Omnibus I wrote a short fiction piece entitled “Splintered Heart” centered around a couple whose relationship has become stale.

The loss of their unborn child causes them to take stock of their relationship and where it goes from there.

SL: Tell us about your new romance series. I think the first book will be available soon. What is it about? And what will tie the series together from book to book?

PB: A Love Half-Baked Romance is a six-book series centered around the women who work at a bakery, Pound Cake Love (PCL). (My love of baking pound cakes inspired the name.)

Each book follows a different woman from PCL on her journey to find love, intertwined with the men associated with the neighboring restaurant, Sixty-Three (63).

This series serves up a delectable blend of romance, friendship, and captivating love. 

This series came about when I participated in NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month).

It originally started out as one novel focused on a fiercely independent bakery owner, a playboy restaurateur, and their love-hate relationship.

As I was writing, the five other books jumped out at me and instead of one book I now have a series.

Siobhan & Grayson: A Love Half-Baked Romance, Book is available as an e-book now.

SL: What other book plans do you have besides your romance series? Will you write other nonfiction books as well as fiction? Please explain.

PB: In my journey to become a BadA** Romance Novelist, I have several clean, wholesome romance novels planned.

Before the end of this year, I will have three of the six books in my Love Half-Baked romance series complete and published.

Book 2 is well underway, and I already have rough outlines for the remaining four installments.

After this series is published, I’ll work on a novel that revolves around a woman who becomes entangled in an abusive relationship with a man a few years older.

At first, he seems to have all the qualities she desires in a partner—caring, charismatic, and charming.

However, the story takes a dark turn when he begins to harm her physically and mentally.

This novel will follow her journey after she manages to break free from his control.

It explores her efforts to rebuild everything he destroyed, while finding the courage to trust herself again and open her heart to love once more.

There are other nonfiction books in the works for me as well.

I have one outlined that will take various life situations and explore them while living with a person (child) with autism.

I currently have Living with Positivity: 101 Quotes & Affirmations to Keep You Moving Forward with my editor.

This book is designed to be a companion piece to Jump into Positivity I mentioned earlier.

Quotes and affirmations have such a positive effect on your mind and psyche when you use them regularly.

My favorite quote is “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.”

                                                                                                                      ~ Zig Ziglar.

My favorite affirmation is I deserve to love myself.

SL: What are your best writing and publishing tips for other writers?

PB:   I have several — 


1. Believe in yourself even when no one else does. 


There will be times when people who are closest to you will question your sanity. “I can’t believe you want to quit a good job to write books???” 


2.    Write anyway. 


Creatives, especially writers, work when the “muse” strikes. 


Anything can be your muse at any time. 


Your muse will desert you. 


When you catch yourself saying things like ‘I don’t feel like writing today,’ or ‘this is garbage,’ Write. Anyway. 


3.    Don’t be afraid of being messy.


Your first draft isn’t what will go to the publisher. 


Get those words out of your head onto the page. 


Don’t worry about spelling, typos, grammar, punctuation, etc. 

Once you have something rough to work with you can go into edit and rewrite mode to make it pretty enough to be published.


4.    Have on and offline backups of your current work-in-progress.


I live in an area where when there is the slightest atmospheric disturbance (thunderstorm, windstorm, tornado) our power might go out, especially during the summer months. 


This happened twice – once when I was on a deadline for the Community Book Project and again when I was on a deadline for the TAF Omnibus. 


Talk about scrambling to get those stories finished and submitted. Whew


Had I had those stories printed out or on a backup storage device, I could have gone elsewhere to work.


5.    There will be times when you want to give up.




There is no better feeling than holding a book with your name on the front as author in your hands. 


Someone out there needs to read your story as only you can tell it, no matter whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.


6.    Take your writing seriously.


Whether you write full or part time, set a schedule and adhere to it. 


7.    Write between the noise.


Life will toss lots of distractions at you—care for a special needs child, or elderly parents or another loved one. 


A regular full-time job might be the noise in your life. 


If you’re serious about incorporating writing into your life, then there will be times when you will only have a five- or 10-minute window to get a few words on the page. 


If that’s all you have for today that is all you have. 


Don’t try to make up for lost time by doubling or tripling up your writing time tomorrow or the next day. 


That never works. 


Use the time you have. 


8.    Choose an editor and cover designer who is familiar with your genre or subject matter.


This will cut down on explanations on your part when they don’t understand something.


9.    Writer’s Block is resistance to either your story, yourself, or the writing process.


Change your focus. 


Write-in your journal or in a black document. 


Free write. 


Start another story. 


What you do doesn’t matter. 


Keep writing. 

SL: What time of day is your best writing time? 

PB: I may get up at 3 a.m. and crank out several thousand words, while the house is quiet.

But this isn’t a time I want to commit to every day.

5 p.m. to 7 p.m. is another time where I find I’m able to get in the zone and write.

This seems to be when things settle down in my household and I can focus as well as minimize distractions more effectively.

Figure out what works best for you and set it as an appointment in your calendar.

If you must reschedule this appointment, be sure you do so for a different time on that same day.

SL: What is your best writing tool?

PB: My best writing tool is my cell phone.

It’s always with me.

If my work-in-progress is saved in Google Docs, I have something to work on wherever I am.

I don’t have to stray too far from my bed when I have my phone either next to me or across the room.

I also use it to capture thoughts, ideas, and inspirations that strike when I’m away from my computer. 

Please note: This interview includes some affiliate links to Pat's books, which means I earn a commission if you purchase any of them using that link. This doesn't cost you anything more, however.

For more author interviews and writing tips, subscribe to Coaching Monthly Magazine

Suzanne Lieurance is a writing coach and the author of over 40 published books. Get your free subscription to her newsletter, The Morning Nudge at


Don't forget to check out The Morning Shove and The Morning Nudge.








A Call for Writers to Find Balance

By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Within the publishing world, I’ve often heard it is harder to sign with a literary agent than to locate a publ...