All stories have a beginning. A good one sets the tone of the story to come. It attracts the reader to a protagonist who’s flawed, faces impossible obstacles, yet somehow triumphs in the end. At least that’s the gist of my favorite stories.

True, there’s lots more to come, but a great start helps me as a reader to make a decision. Will I let an imaginary character with a yet untold story carry me on a journey?

A beginning in real life may not come with sirens and billboards. Sometimes it hides in an invitation. Like when Melanie Hemry asked me to help administrate the first Write Well, Sell Well Conference in 2013.

I didn’t think about it, didn’t wonder if I had the right tools. My heart leaped and I said Yes!

Yes? Had I thought this decision through, made sure I could carry out the task before committing?

No. I just knew it was a beginning I wanted to be a part of. I’d loved to write for a long time, ghosting books for ministries, writing a blogand playing with poetry.  

But published? No.

The Write Well, Sell Well team began with a distinct goal. It’s at the core of everything they do. It’s to equip writers with effective tools for their craft AND for getting their work published.

After the 2013 WWSW Conference, I had my first sale to Guideposts. The story I submitted was about Jackie Wilson, who handcrafted rocking horses, and the day one of her creations became our nation’s gift to celebrate Prince George’s birth.

Prince George rides a Wilson Rocking Horse

Prince George rides a Wilson Rocking Horse

It wasn’t because I was a hot-shot writer. I’d learned the story structure Guideposts requires and the right person to submit it to through Write Well, Sell Well.

The story continues. I’ve had other articles published and am pursuing fiction now, which seemed like an impossible dream.

After years of writing non-fiction, with only a few publishing credits, could I learn a new genre? Could I learn the structure of an engaging story, craft multi-layered characters and not get lost in the process?

It’s a larger beginning than I thought! And it’s taking me where I didn’t expect to go.

Just like a great story.  

Sure, there are the normal lows of learning new things. Still, the founders and staff of WWSW have stayed true to their heart, and as a result, I’m learning and getting published. Others are, too.

Join us for the annual WWSW conference and our yearly weekend writing intensive. We believe in a well-told story – inside and out!

A former high school English teacher, Laurel Thomas has written for magazines such as Guideposts, Mysterious Ways and others. In addition to her foray into fiction with her first novel, Laurel has ghosted six books and edited others. In her position as general administrator of Write Well, Sell Well OKC, she heads an amazing staff of volunteers.

Laurel holds degrees in English and Counseling. She is a chaplain for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations, as well as being a lay pastor at Church on the Rock, Oklahoma City, OK.