If Only I'd Known: Writing Lesson by Caroline Clemmons

Caroline Clemmons, one of my friends from the Smart Girls Read Romance group blog, is an Amazon bestselling and award winning author of 39 historical and contemporary Western Romance novels and novellas.

A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.

Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets.

When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys family, reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, and getting together with friends.

And other Web Pages
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Click on Caroline's Amazon Author Page for a complete list of her books and follow her there.

Subscribe to Caroline’s newsletter to receive a free novella, Happy Is The Bride, a humorous historical wedding disaster that ends happily—but you knew it would, didn’t you? Caroline loves to hear from her readers so email her: caroline at carolineclemmons dot com.

If Only I'd Known: The Value of Networking
by Caroline Clemmons

One of my mom’s frequent phrases was “If only,” and I believe if she’d won the lottery, she would have said, “If only it was one of the larger amounts.”

We still joke about her glass-half-empty (with a crack down the side and a chip on the rim) attitude. Yet, each of us probably has a long list of things we wish we’d done or known years ago about which we say “If only.”

When Joan invited several of us to submit a post for her new feature, I had trouble choosing which of the many things I wish I’d known at the beginning of my writing career.

One day, my very supportive husband (whom I call Hero) told me he’d learned there was a group of romance writers that met not too far away on one Saturday a month. Over the years, I had been in garden clubs, book clubs, Bible study groups, women’s church groups, bridge groups, and home extension clubs.

I’d worked for a newspaper, and thought I knew how to write, and I already had plenty of friends. Why, I asked Hero, would I want to sit around with a group of women just because they also wrote romance?

Wrong, wrong, wrong! Picture me banging my head against the desk as I recall that foolish remark.

One of the most valuable aids to my writing was joining a local chapter of Romance Writers of America. At the local RWA chapter meeting, women didn’t just sit around talking, although they did network before and afterward.

Monthly programs were presented on a segment of writing. I soon realized I knew nothing about writing a romance—at least not if I ever wanted to sell one. We heard about point of view, pacing, internal and external motivation, conflict, character flaws, dialogue, editing, character arc, and much more.

I drank in every presentation, went to conferences, and formed a critique group. How did I publish my first book? One of the members of that RWA chapter told me the name of an editor who was buying for a new line and suggested I submit my book.

Amazingly, the editor offered me a contract—and major edits.

If only I’d know to join a local RWA chapter before writing my first book! 

Lorraine, Bride Brigade Series, Book 6 by Caroline Clemmons

How to escape marriage to an odious man? Leave the state.

Lorraine Stuart joins a group of women traveling to Tarnation, Texas, a town with numerous bachelors but no marriage-aged single women.

She longs to meet a man who will admire her and the writing ability that has her published in several publications, by a pseudonym of course.

Just her luck, out of all those in Tarnation, she falls for the most stubborn man she’s ever met. But, the handsome newspaper owner is the only one who makes her heart flutter.

Grant Pettigrew has worked hard to establish the Tarnation Gazette. He is intrigued by Lorraine but he won’t let a woman write for his newspaper. Besides, he can’t afford to hire anyone yet. But the redhead is gorgeous and ignites dreams of family, even though he’s never met a more obstinate woman.

Will two immovable forces join to form a forever love?

Click to add Lorraine, Bride Brigade Series, Book 6 to your Romance Library.

Takeaway Truth

Writers, don't isolate yourself. Writing friends and writing organizations have a lot to offer whether you're a beginner or a multi-published pro.


  1. Even if you live out in the middle of nowhere, you can find a writer's group online to belong to. It really helps your writing to have friends who critique it from the point of someone who has been where you are.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Stephanie. Online writing groups are one of the marvelous aspects of the Internet.

      Many authors began pursuing writing careers before the Internet was such a pervasive part of daily life. For those authors, Romance Writers of America was a godsend because it allowed unpublished authors to join.

      With membership in RWA, Authors learned the craft and business of writing from generous published authors, and they also made friends among the published and unpublished that, in many cases, last a lifetime.

  2. I believe in writers' groups. Up until recent years, I've always been in one or two or more. At one point several years ago, I belonged to a large dynamic group. In spite of all the classes on writing I took, all the workshops I attended, all the books I read, that particular group was where I really learned to write.

    1. I know exactly what you mean, Anna. Thanks for your comment. Have a great weekend.

    2. Anna, thank you for your comment. I also belonged to that dynamic group and received invaluable training there. Networking was also helpful.

  3. Wonderful advice, Caroline. Thank you for sharing your opinion and experience. Writing groups are a great resource for writers.

    1. Good morning. Thanks for your comment. The belief that writers are isolated can be true, but a good group can negate that.

    2. Marianne, writers groups are a great resource. As Joan mentioned, now even writers in isolated areas can take part in online groups. The face-to-face groups were more helpful, but I've met very nice people online.

  4. Joan, I love your blog and feel honored to be a guest here. Thank you for having me.

    1. Why, thank you. You're welcome here any time.

  5. I'll jump on the writers' group bandwagon. They are so valuable both as a writing resource and as friends!

    1. Liz, those I attended helped me tremendously. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Saved as a favorite, I really like your blog!

    1. Thank you! I hope you'll drop by often. In August, I have more guest authors with posts about what they wish they'd known when they started. Have a wonderful week.