The Weare Area Writers Group

One of the highlights of my sabbatical has been joining the Weare Area Writers Group. The gang meets twice a month on a Friday morning at the Weare Public Library. We workshop our writing and pool our knowledge about the changing world of publishing. This group came about because of the efforts of one woman—our organizer extraordinaire and our biggest cheerleader, Sharon Czarnecki.

Weare Area Writers Group on author Jennifer Hallock webpage of steamy historical romance Sugar Sun series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.
Sharon Czarnecki (right), founder of WAWG, and me at the Dunbarton Arts on the Common this past May.

What the above description does not capture is how much fun we have together. Members of the group share very personal memories—in every format from poetry to prose—which has allowed us to move right on past superficial friendship into something deeper and more meaningful. I cannot believe that I have only known this group a year. It feels like we have been friends for ages. Since I am a relatively new transplant to Weare, New Hampshire, their support has been especially important.

Authors Marjorie Burke Ellen Reed Jennifer Hallock of Weare Area Writers Group
From left to right: authors Marjorie Burke, Ellen H. Reed, and me. Impressive table, no?

There is a social component to what we do, too. So far four of our members are published, in genres ranging from memoir to time travel mystery to historical fiction to my own steamy historical romance series. One of our favorite things to do is to take our show on the road by selling books at craft and book fairs in the area. Our next date on the calendar is Weare Old Home Day on August 26th. Come see us, check out our books, and ask about the group.

Here’s a little about the other published authors and what they will be selling:

Marjorie Donald Burke Melting Ice Shifting Sand Alzheimer's memoir

The Gangster's Gold by Ellen H Reed

Ebenezer Mudgett and the Pine Tree Riot by Connie Evans

Connie and I joined WAWG the very same day, and a year later I was in the room when Connie pressed “publish” on Amazon! It was so exciting. I have no doubt this will be a bestseller at Old Home Day.

The book I have workshopped with the WAWG folks is the upcoming Sugar Moon, small excerpts of which you can read here. But, while I’ve been a part of WAWG, I did publish a new novella in the Sugar Sun series, Tempting Hymn:

Tempting Hymn by author Jennifer Hallock, a novella in the Sugar Sun steamy historical romance series. Serious history. Serious sex. Happily ever after.

These books and more will all be ready for purchase and signing at Old Home Day. We hope to see you there!

The vIRaL Orange Flamingos of Weare

Ice buckets, yellow bracelets, pink bows…there is another viral cause in the town of Weare, New Hampshire: the Orange Flamingos of the #AbbyStrong “Army.”

Shortly before the start of this school year, twelve-year-old Abby Van Dyke was diagnosed with leukemia. Immediately, friends and family went into action. They put together a fundraiser selling plastic lawn flamingos in the color of leukemia awareness. “It was mostly about getting as many out before she came home from the hospital,” one of the organizers said, “so she’d drive through town and see them, and know that everyone was thinking of her and praying for her and her family.”

I first heard about the flamingos at Weare’s Old Home Day on August 27th, when their booth sold out by mid-day. But I was late to the party. By this point, flamingos were everywhere. They still are everywhere—and I mean everywhere. “We have people actually call us from Canada, and Florida, Arizona,” an organizer said. The #AbbyStrong “Army” encourages this migration—they just ask that people post pictures to their Facebook page.

Clockwise from top right: the flock outside Just Like Mom’s Pastries; a flamboyance of dressy flamingos on Dustin Tavern Road; flamingos who have migrated to the Apotheca coffee shop in Goffstown (and who can blame them?); the Flamingos of the Night’s Watch along The Wall…of Flanders Memorial Road; and patriotic flamingos outside the Weare Historical Society and Weare Public Library.
Clockwise from top right: the watering hole outside Just Like Mom’s Pastries; a flamboyance of dressy flamingos on Dustin Tavern Road; flamingos who have migrated to the Apotheca coffee shop in Goffstown (and who can blame them?); the Flamingos of the Night’s Watch along The Wall…of Flanders Memorial Road; and patriotic flamingos outside the Weare Historical Society and Weare Public Library.

In a time when we live too much of our lives online, it is comforting to see a community come together in real life. This is an old fashioned vIRaL campaign—viral IRL.

But this fundraiser has not been without its drama. When a bunch of the flamingos were stolen, the Weare Police Department reported the crime on their Facebook page. Their post was a graphic of a single word: “Really?”

The Weare Police Department’s Facebook page: the reaction to the theft and when the flamingos were returned.
The Weare Police Department’s Facebook page: the reaction to the theft and when the flamingos were returned.

The thieves realized they had done wrong, and they gave back all the flamingos—along with a donation to the #AbbyStrong movement.

Their letter read:

We are truly sorry for our actions and had no idea what the flamingos on Colby Road symbolized. We would have never taken them. Please know that we returned all the flamingos we took. We did not go around town [or] all over the place—they were only taken on Colby Road. If others are missing, that wasn’t us. We have enclosed a small donation hoping this will make a difference. Stay strong—you got this. Again we are truly sorry for our actions and will never do anything like this again.

[Note: I corrected the thieves’ grammar because I’m a teacher and that’s what I do.] The general consensus in town is that—while no one condones stealing the flamingos in the first place—their return, the apology, and the donation were appropriate penance.

Meanwhile, Abby has entered her second round of chemo, which cannot be easy. I have noticed from the family’s Thanksgiving photo (far right) that Abby is not using a hat or bandana (beyond what the weather requires). I wonder how much this is convenience and how much is a result of the support of her friends and community? I would like to think it is both liberating and comfortable!

Three views of Abby from #AbbyStrong’s “Army” Facebook page: before chemo, during, and between treatments.
Three views of Abby from #AbbyStrong’s “Army” Facebook page: before chemo, during, and between treatments.

I am heartened by the statistics on the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s webpage that five-year survival rates among those aged 15 and younger may be as high as 91%, depending on the type of leukemia she has.

And at least the thieves were right on one count: Stay strong, Abby. You got this.