Blue Sage Writers group uses eclipse for spotlight

Sequestered in a back room at Leo’s Place in Idaho Falls, a dozen or so published and unpublished writers meet every month to share their work and offer encouragement.

But, taking advantage of the Great American Eclipse’s passage through Idaho Falls, members of the Blue Sage Writers group will step out of the shadows to sell their books at the Aug. 19 farmers market in Idaho Falls.

“We thought that very few people really know about our group,” said member Carol Stilz. “And so we wanted to let people know we have a presence in Idaho Falls.”

Stilz said though selling books is “of course” a reason the group has a booth, the main motivation is raising awareness of the group. Eight authors will be present with their publications, and they will sign their books at the booth, member Richard Rice said. Rice said he thinks most authors also will sell their books at discounted prices.

Stilz, a children’s book writer, said she is bringing an activity kit that can be purchased by itself or with her accompanying book “Grandma Buffalo.”

“It’s to engage kids,” Stilz said. “There are two activities that are specifically related to the eclipse.”

Stilz said Rice, who writes science fiction, came up with the idea to sell books during the eclipse.

“We think it’s a one-shot deal,” Rice said.

He said if it goes well, however, they might try selling at the farmers market again in the future.

Karen Finnigan, one of the writing group’s founding members, said it started as an affiliate of Romance Writers of America. She said she and other women in eastern Idaho met periodically for moral support and writing advice. Eventually the group members collectively decided to break away from Romance Writers of America and branch out. They wanted to try other kinds of writing and some local writers had been excluded by the specification of genre.

“We liked getting fresh blood,” Finnigan said. “And to do that you had to really make it open to all types of writing.”

Now, men and women alike bring mystery novels, science fiction, thrillers, children’s books and more to be critiqued by their peers.

“The fun thing about it is you get to read stuff that you wouldn’t normally read,” Rice said.

Stilz said the group also keeps writers accountable for their goals. At their monthly meetings, each writer sets a goal to accomplish by the next meeting, and if they fail to do so they have to contribute a writing tool to “the bucket,” Stilz said.

For information or to join Blue Sage Writers, go to bluesagewriters.com.

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