The Writer’s Life – From Brooklyn to Motown-Style

A few years back when I was living in Brooklyn, a writer and friend in my coop building named Tim Sheard suggested we start a local writer’s group. Although working full-time in the medical industry, (he calls himself “a veteran nurse”), Tim was already prolifically turning out an amazing series of mystery novels set in a fictional Philadelphia hospital and featuring Lenny Moss, a janitor, shop steward and working man hero extraordinaire. Today, Tim’s Hard Ball Press is also publishing other new authors at  Tim introduced me to the National Writers Union (NWU) and I soon was inspired by so many talented writers in many genres.   When I recently moved back to Michigan, I joined the local NWU Chapter, (NWU-SEM) but focused my life around my late brother’s struggle against AML leukemia.   It was only this fall, a few months after his heroic battle ended, that I was able to really focus on the metropolitan Detroit area’s writing scene.  And what an amazing scene is unfolding.

I first noticed that the Warren Civic Center Library was starting an invitation only writer’s group this fall.  I sent in a writing sample and was accepted into the group led by Michigan author, editor and writing consultant Gloria Nixon-John, PhD, whose latest work is the fictionalized story of an incredible murder trial in the south—based-on-a-true-story

This workshop gave me a chance to start writing about the last miraculous year with my brother and channel the grief into a tribute to his courage.  When first given the diagnosis, Gil refused to consider the strenuous program of chemo and white cell transplants. He had gone through so many tests already and was so weak, he just wanted to be left alone. However when Doctors warned him he had only six weeks to live without some form of medication – and that there was a clinical trial that had a good chance of extending his life without the side effects of the traditional program — he agreed to try it.  The result was an unforgettable year where, until the final weeks, my brother regained his independence and his hope for the future.  As a family, we rejoiced over the suspended final verdict and made every day count.  It’s a story I now want to share with others, because it is ultimately about embracing your illness and turning it into a shared challenge and celebration with family and friends.

After starting the Warren Library workshop, I learned that NWU-SEM was supporting the Motown Writers Network and was staffing a table at the group’s November 8-9th event, “The Essence of Motown Conference & Literary Jam!”  I volunteered for the morning sessions on the 9th, and got there at 7am, which meant I had a chance to work with founder Sylvia Hubbard and her remarkable team.  Sylvia has an astounding story that you can read about on Amazon, where she has her own page at  The single mother of three not only works full time, but writes romance novels prolifically and created the Motown Writers Network in 2000 to fill the lack of education and networking for Michigan authors online and offline.  When she became frustrated in 2004 that all the literary conferences had moved too far away from the city, she co-created The Essence of Motown Literary Jam Conference held only in the City of Detroit annually

Besides witnessing the tireless energy and enthusiasm that makes Sylvia such a success, I also met the inspiring facilitators for three workshops, and I also got to talk with Alecia Goodlow Young, an officer of NWU-SEM, as well as other local members. That day I came away with an appreciation for the vibrancy of the writing scene in the Motor City and was particularly excited to find out more about the theatrical scene.  If you are a writer, I encourage you to reach out to groups like the National Writer’s Union or Motown Writers Network — or your local library — and get inspired!


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