Faithfully, every month, I drive to Buckhead, Georgia for an evening workshop with Rosemary Daniell, founder of Zona Rosa. These meetings are long, beginning at 6:00pm and go until midnight sometimes, but well worth my time with the dozen or so women that gather around her. As Rosemary reads our manuscripts aloud, each group member has an opportunity to share her thoughts on ways to improve our work. The rules are simple: Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative when responding to or questioning another’s writing. Listen; don’t talk while others are speaking.
We discuss books on writing craft, such as my dog-eared copy of Rosemary’s Secrets of the Zona Rosa: How Writing (and Sisterhood) Can Change Women’s Lives. We recommend to one another the names of writers or books that may inspire our poetry, essays, articles, memoirs, or fiction. Each session enhances my work in a unique way. Perhaps it’s because we spend so many hours together or because we become intimate when we’re asked how our writing makes us feel. I have formed a special camaraderie with several writers who have offered support for my social media platforms or to seek out one another at the Atlanta Writers Club or other conferences.
I’m always amazed by the line edits Rosemary offers, especially because I’ve worked for hours to make my manuscript the best it can be even after I’ve passed it through my two other critique groups. I’m floored when she brings up a story arc concern many months after reading a first draft, and she’ll remind me that one of my characters had a certain attribute in Chapter Two that I should expand upon in Chapter Twelve. How can she remember that level of detail? She reads scores of documents each month. Maybe it’s because of one of her many credos: Use the F-word – Focus.
In the article I learned many things I didn’t know about Rosemary, such as the awards she has won, famous writer-friends, and eight published works (memoir, fiction, poetry, and essay collections.) She has just finished writing a third memoir, My Beautiful Tigers, about life-lessons from challenges with her children. I’m fascinated when she shares her experiences with this latest book: her writing process, her query letters, finding an agent, and working with possible publishers. My take-away: It never gets easier.
I’m fortunate to have been introduced to Rosemary Daniell through a friend in one of my two book clubs. I came to a Buckhead meeting as a guest and then attended her lecture at the Atlanta Writers Club. At the recommendation of author Righton Willis, I have accepted the challenge of changing my writing life to join this group. When I’m in the company of Zona Rosans, either current members or alumni, I find a wealth of published authors, journalists, and editors who are happy to share their experience and wisdom.
Although predominantly female, Rosemary caters to all authors regardless of gender. Why don’t you attend one of her Atlanta, Savannah (July 22 - 26, 2017 in Tybee Island) or international workshops? How about her annual retreat in the South of France (2017 dates TBD)? Here's the brochure from last year. You’ll be glad you did.