Monday, October 03, 2016

Guest Post: Radine Trees Nehring on "TRAINING OUR COMPETITION"

I first met Radine at a Hardboiled Heroes and Cozy Cats convention many years ago. With all her stickers, cards, and trinkets promoting her books she made quite an impression. Several books later please welcome Radine to the blog today…..


Late Bloomer? Until I was a mature adult I was unfamiliar with the writing profession. Clueless, I knew only that I loved typing idea-words on paper and reading the results.

Next? I learned about a large writers' club in my home area. After sitting in the back row of the library auditorium during several meetings, I finally overcame lack of confidence and began meeting members. Then I signed up for a writing class taught by one of those members. There were fifteen novices in the class. Teacher sat on a high stool in front of us. Chalk board had drawings of manuscript formats. It was 1987.

Lessons remembered? "(1) Write every day. (2) Buy the prettiest stamps you can find for your query letter or synopsis. Why fancy stamps? Because the boy who distributes the mail at any publishing house may be a stamp collector who will say, 'Miss PooPoo'" (our teacher's name for all editors and agents) "'would you open this one first? I'd like the stamp.' (3) Write every day. (4) Read and follow publishers' guidelines. (5) Write EVERY day." Oh yes, she was strict, but she also encouraged and praised us. 

We laughed a lot. We could do it! Before the class was over we had each mailed our first query letter.

The teacher, Peggy Fielding, a professional writer herself, had us all believing we really could do it. She taught writing classes on about a dozen subjects, from "Writing for Confession Magazines," to "Writing the Non-fiction Book That Sells." I took every single class. My first sale after taking one of her classes was a non-fiction book called DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow. That was in 1993. The book was released in 1995, and is still available.

Eight published books and a number of essays, short stories, and articles later, other people--mostly readers now--are still encouraging me, and I am still writing. 

And, I am training my competition. I've attended dozens of writers' conventions and conferences that instruct and encourage those who write. I have appeared on panels, given talks, and taught classes that encourage budding writers. ("You can do it."  Remember?) Until recently it hadn't occurred to me that the multitude of published authors who encourage budding writers into bloom may be working against their own future success. In 2016, what we are doing could create our future competition in a narrowing field of readers.

But, would I quit encouraging other writers? Have I heard any other published authors say they'd quit? Not a chance. Why? For me, the ability to enjoy a writing career, whether it's the publication of books with my name on them, or selling one poem or essay to a literary magazine, is a gift that's validated most when it's shared. A writer's career is all about sharing. So, helping others learn the profession is like a triumphant shout: "I DID IT, AND SO CAN YOU." 

Radine's latest mystery novel, A Portrait to Die For, about art fraud, is available as an e book and in print at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. It can also be purchased through independent booksellers and, postpaid, from

Radine Trees Nehring ©2016

For more than twenty years, Radine Trees Nehring's magazine features, essays, newspaper articles, and radio broadcasts have shared colorful stories about the people, places, events, and natural world near her Arkansas home.

In 2002, Radine's first mystery novel, A VALLEY TO DIE FOR, was published and, in 2003 became a Macavity Award Nominee.  Since that time she has continued to earn writing awards as she enthralls her original fans and attracts new ones with her signature blend of down-home Arkansas sightseeing and cozy amateur sleuthing by active retirees Henry King and Carrie McCrite King.

Website URL:
Twitter:   @RTNehring

Buy link for Portrait to Die For


Earl Staggs said...

Kevin, like you, I met Radine at a writers conference. I hooked up with her and (and her terrific husband John) at a con several years ago, and we've been email buddies ever since. They're both genuine, down-to-earth people and just downright likeable. That goes for her writing too. Her writing is warm and smooth, polished and professional, and a pleasure to read.

Radine, I agree with your attitude about training our competition, and I know many writers who feel the same way. We get as much as we give from doing it.

All my best wishes to you and John.

Anonymous said...

I was skimming this post when I landed on, 'Because the boy who distributes the mail at any publishing house may be a stamp collector who will say, 'Miss PooPoo'" (our teacher's name for all editors and agents) "'would you open this one first? I'd like the stamp.'" And I was suddenly back nearly twenty years ago at a Saturday workshop Peggy Fielding taught at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. I remember Miss PooPoo well. I also remember Peggy telling us to read a chapter of the King James Bible every morning because it's the most glorious writing in the world and because "it will make your mother happy." Students had been invited to bring samples of our work. I sat beside her while she read my story. First she complimented me on the quality the paper. Then she said, "You can certainly make me laugh." And finally, "This is literary. They won't pay you anything for it, you know." I told her I knew. "You can certainly make me laugh" is one of the treasures this Late Bloomer keeps tucked away to look at on days I'm tempted to give up. Writers are amazingly generous toward the less- and the inexperienced. Peggy was one of the best.