Encouraging Wordsmiths: Rockwall Christian Writers Group

Leadership of the Rockwall Christian Writers Group is provided by three accomplished local writers (from left): D’Ann Mateer, Mary DeMuth, and Leslie Wilson. Photo courtesy of Mary DeMuth.

(ROCKWALL, TX – May 11, 2015) Leslie Wilson is a non-fiction writer with a bent toward humor. But the Rockwall wife and mother of three wasn’t laughing on the long, round-trip drive to attend the Dallas Christian Writers Guild each month. So she decided to establish a local group patterned after that one.

The first meeting of Rockwall Christian Writers Group (RCWG) in 2001 attracted five people. Now, writers from Rockwall and beyond—evenDallas—trek to LakePointe Church once-a-month for critique and community. The group must sometimes divide in half to accommodate the number of members.

Wilson found good writing partners early on when two other Rockwall women, Mary DeMuth and D’Ann Mateer, joined the group. None of them were published writers in those days. But they teamed up to lead RCWG and also helped critique each other’s work. They’ve all published books in the years since, but continue to guide group members through their journeys toward excellence in writing.

Mary DeMuth published her first book in 2005 (Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God; Harvest House). Since then she’s scored big in her pursuit of publishing both fiction and non-fiction, with 24 traditional and 6 self-published books. Her latest book, The Day I Met Jesus (Baker Books; April, 2015) is a collaborative work of both non-fiction and fiction.

“We were all newbie writers in the beginning, making a lot of rookie mistakes,” DeMuth says. “But now we understand the process, the workload, the grammar needs, and the guts it takes to make it as a writer in this volatile publishing climate.”

Though DeMuth may not need the critique group to help her writing career anymore, she continues to mentor others. “I love that we have all sorts of levels of writers. We’re supportive of each other, but also honest—in a kind way,” she says.

D’Ann Mateer had finished a novel but had no idea what to do with it when she joined the group in 2002. “Through having others see my work, I learned to recognize my weaknesses in writing. That is huge!” she says.

RCWG helped Mateer—who writes as Anne Mateer—improve her self-editing ability and focus on learning the craft of writing. By 2010, she sold her first fiction book, Wings of a Dream, to Bethany House. Since then she’s published three more historical novels.

She says writers at any point in their journey should come to RCWG to listen, ask questions or bring work for critique. “But we’re serious about writing. Don’t expect only pats on the back. We definitely give those, but we also provide honest, critical feedback.” 

Seeking validation

Men and women of all ages and stages attend RCWG; and they represent many writing genres. Wilson says, “We have novelists: sci-fi, young adult, romance, historical, contemporary, fantasy—you name it! And we have nonfiction writers: humor, forensics, memoir, Christian living, parenting, how-to books, etc . . . We’ve also had journalists, poets, screenwriters and songwriters cycle through.”

The topics also cover a wide range, not restricted to Christian themes. “We write about everything from adoption to healing from childhood sexual abuse, to overcoming depression,” Wilsonsays. “And everyone who doesn’t give up eventually gets published, whether traditionally or through self-publishing.” Her own success includes two compiled works, both traditionally published: A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts (2008); and A Scrapbook of Motherhood Firsts (2012).

Another successful RCWG member is Darren Sapp, also of Rockwall. The V.P of Operations for a home-health company (by day) watched DeMuth’s writing career take off before he decided to try his hand at fiction. Before joining RCWG in late 2012, his writing credits included two short stories and one thesis for his Masters of History degree.

“I came looking for fellowship of other writers, validation that I had the basics to produce fiction, and the critical eye of others to hone that fiction,” he says.

Last November he self-published his first novel: Fire on the Flight Deck. He relied on his experience in the U.S. Navy to deliver all the sights, sounds and actions of serving on an aircraft carrier. This book is an honest portrayal of military life, which includes offensive language, though Sapp toned it down considerably.

Sapp’s traditionally-published second novel, The Fisher Boy, was released in April by Step Publishers. It tells the story of an orphan inGhana sold into modern-day slavery, which Sapp viewed close-up on multiple mission trips to the country. This book includes the Gospel message in its redemptive theme of social justice.

Writers like Sapp, willing to expose their work to the critical eyes of others, gain more than helpful criticism at the Rockwall Christian Writers Group. They also find fellowship and many examples of perseverance and its reward.

This group currently meets on the second Monday of the month, from 7-9:30 p.m. at Lake Pointe Church—Room W214. For more information, including critique procedures, visit rcwg.blogspot.com. Also, connect through Facebook.com/RockwallCWG.

By Blue Ribbon News contributing writer Patti Richter of Heath, a member of RCWG.

To share your good news and events, email .

Please click here to LIKE our Facebook page, so we can reach more people with good news like this!