A few years ago, when the company I'd worked with for 11 years went out of business, Sugar and I decided it was time for me to give the writing thing a spin. I'd dreamed of writing and sporadically tried to fit writing into our lives for years without much success. Now it was my turn.
I've been a voracious reader practically from the cradle. I'd write what I loved to read, I thought. What I didn't realize was that my eclectic reading habits were producing a schizophrenic manuscript. It wasn't sure whether it was romantic suspense, a mystery, or women's fiction. I needed a critique group.
My first critique group--and one I still attend when I can--was the Greenville chapter of South Carolina Writers' Workshop. This is a great group--tons of fun--and for the first time I had the chance to talk to other writers about writing. One of the first friends I made was Bob Strother.
Bob is very low key. In fact, he speaks so softly that you'll miss what he says if others are talking in the room. And you want to hear what Bob says, because he's a smart guy and a talented writer. What I didn't know until much later is that Bob is also an ex-Marine (yeah, I know, Marines are Marines for life and all) and he may be soft spoken, but he could kill any of us eight different ways if he took a notion. Bob's a master of critique in that he can tell you what you need to fix without burdening you with how he would write it if it were him.
I've lost track of how many short stories Bob has published, but I've read many of them in our group. Each is well-crafted, and it's fascinating to me how different they all are. Some make me laugh out loud. Others are so creepy they have prompted me to ask his wife, Vicki, how she sleeps next to him at night knowing what goes on in his head. One was nominated for the Small Press Pushcart Prize.
Main Street Rag is publishing a collection of Bob's stories, Scattered, Smothered, and Covered, which comes out in February. It's available for pre-order right now, and I've ordered my copy. You'll want one, too. Just click the title link and it can be yours.