Saturday was a tough day. We said goodbye to a good friend,
author Joyce Ward, who also wrote as Linnea Alexis. This was the message I
shared on Saturday, and I wanted to share with all of you:
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Many of you know what I’m
talking about, but for those who don’t,
as writers, plotters are those who plan out their books in detail, and they
know where the story is going long before they actually start to write. Pantsers,
are those who take it as it comes, writing by the seat of their pants. And then
there are I suspect many of us who are somewhere in the middle. We do some
planning and some pantsing as we write. There’s no right or wrong way, it’s
just the process that works best for us as authors to get the story on the
In life it’s much the same. Many are plotters, planning
their life in detail. Where do you want to be in 5 years? In 10? What’s the
best path to reach those goals. Others are pantsers, living life as it comes,
waiting for the surprise plot twist. And most of us fall somewhere in the
middle, because in life, a plot twist isn’t always something that we plan.
Again, there’s no right or wrong.
Joyce Ward and I met when we were at similar places in our
lives. Our kids were grown and we were both reaching for a dream we’d long
waited to attain, being authors. We were new members of the Orange County
Chapter of Romance Writers of America, and in a little bit of a plot twist, the
first time we met we were sharing a hotel room for an author event. There were
three of us sharing the hotel room that weekend, Joyce, Erin Pryor and me. All
of us unpublished authors.
We were instant friends, talking about story plots, the
speakers and what we hoped to learn and achieve in our new endeavors. After that
weekend, Joyce and I roomed together at many writers events. It worked out
well. We both snored, we coordinated our workshop schedules, and at night we
would talk for hours about writing, but also about our families…she loved hers
very much, about our pasts about our lives.
There were many times that Joyce called me and told me she
was quitting, that she was a terrible writer and she was done. She wasn’t going
to write another word, and I would remind her this was her dream, she couldn’t
give up, and she had way too many ideas that needed to be put on paper.
The next time we spoke I’d be the one ready to walk away,
stay home and bake cookies, and Joyce would be the friend at the other end of
the line telling me I couldn’t give up.
In fact, Joyce was the reason that my first book was
published. She had submitted to a boxed set publisher, and called me up to tell
me I needed to submit as well. Her support, her belief in me pushed me to do
what I wanted to do, but sometimes wasn’t sure that I could
Joyce worked tirelessly for our RWA chapter, chairing the
Book Buyers Best Contest for many years. The contest is a lot of work, and at
the time that Joyce started doing it, she had to collect piles of print books,
store them in her home, sort them and mail them out to people, as well as
recruiting all of the judges and collecting ballots. She was good at recruiting
judges. I could never say ‘no’ to her!
My best memories of Joyce are of the conferences and events that
we attended together. We shared a passion, we shared many of the same hopes and
dreams. We could talk about our families, especially our children. I know how
much Joyce appreciated that her children supported her dreams, and believed in
her. We called each other with good news, or to commiserate. We were friends.
And then another plot twist, and here we are today. Saying
goodbye for now.
I miss Joyce. I miss calling her when I want to throw in the
towel. I miss her voice telling me not that I can’t stop writing. I miss
planning our writing trips.
But Joyce will always be in our hearts, her books will keep her alive to everyone who reads them, and memories will keep her story going for all of us who loved her.
I’m sure that Joyce is in heaven right now, plotting and
planning stories to share when we meet her again.
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