Why I Love Savvy Authors by Riley Darkes

Savvy Authors 04 - 1.2 Colored SoloWelcome friends and happy Friday. Casey here. Today, I have a special guest from Savvy Authors – Riley Darkes. Writers, if you haven’t hear of Savvy Authors, you are missing out on a valuable resource. I hope you check them out after you read Riley’s post!


What made you decide to be a writer?  Remember the first page you wrote when you decided you were finally gonna do it? You sat down to write that debut novel, sure it would be the next Harry Potter. Was it because of some life-long dream? Maybe it’s something you’ve worked toward all your life?

Or like me, maybe you found a long-lost passion. In middle school I won a writing competition and I decided to be a writer. I’ve always had my nose stuck in a book – just ask my dad, he used to b*$#h because I’d rather read my Harlequins than be social and play outside. Somewhere along the way, I set aside my dream. Although I continued to use journaling and poetry as a means to express myself, it wasn’t until I found the Romantic Times Convention that I had what I like to call the “Why the F$*# Aren’t I Writing a Book?!” moment.

I’ve always considered myself artsy-fartsy. I’m decent at whatever I try; cake decorating, scrapbooking, painting, poetry, driving, etc. I’m SUPER smart and totally pretty, and everyone thinks I’m funny. And I know grammar… just ask my friends, I correct them all the time and they are crazy grateful to have me around.

There’s no way I could fail at writing.


The first words I wrote as an adult were for the Beginning Aspiring Writer’s workshop at RT Con in 2010. Man, I knew I was hot stuff. That author who critiqued my pages would be blown away! She’d run and tell her publisher about these AWESOME pages she’d just read and the next thing you know, I’d be answering to J.K. Riley… because I was sure to be THAT big.  

Not. Even. Close. Honestly, I had no clue what the hell I was doing. My characters were based off of real life people (yeah, don’t ever do that), I developed this weird Sci-Fi background (uhm, WHY? I despise Sci-Fi!), and my POV was all over the place (what do you mean my character can’t see her eyes sparkling?)

Judi McCoy, author of The Dogwalker Mysteries, taught the 2010 Aspiring Writer’s course, and for reals, changed my life. Judi’s mantra was, “finish the damn book.” Oh yeah, that woman spoke my language.  I learned about publishing, agents and editors, genres, POVs, hooking, and more. I met amazing women like Bobbi Smith, Jade Lee, Linnea Sinclair, Stacey Kade, and Mia Marlowe, who are passionate about mentoring aspiring writers.

I was sad to part ways with my new friends, but I discovered many of them were part of a local Romance Writers of America sponsored group, Central Ohio Fiction Writers (COFW), and also an online website called SavvyAuthors.com, created by writers for writers. COFW provided monthly face-to-face interaction that the girl in me craved, and Savvy Authors fed my workshop-slut appetite with *gasp* new workshops starting every week!  (Between you and me, I’ve taken 6 workshops at once!)

When I began volunteering at COFW, I met writers like Suzanne Brockmann and Simone Elkeles, and agents such as Kristin Nelson and Donald Maass (fan girl squeal!). I had a lovely lunch with Barbara Vey from Publisher’s Weekly, and dinner with Brenda Novak. The networking opportunities and experiences I gained through COFW are mind-blowing.

I began volunteering at Savvy Authors soon after RT 2010, moderating workshops and chats, assisting with events and coordinating volunteers. For the last year, I’ve been the Special Events Coordinator at Savvy Authors and I’ve had the pleasure of working with agents and editors, teachers, published authors of a wide range of genres, and hundreds of writers. My favorite events are the Boot Camps, where you team up and compete against other teams to win prizes based on the number of words written throughout the month (think NaNo).

I met my best writer-friend and critique partner in my first Savvy Authors Boot Camp. She’s half a world away in Melbourne Australia, and we meet nearly every day to work on our stories despite the twelve hour or so time difference.

Writing can be a lonely profession. If you’re full-time, you can’t go into the office and hang out at the water cooler with your co-workers rehashing details about your awesome weekend. And even if you could, imagine telling your banker peer that the awesome part of your weekend was finishing the gruesome murder scene in your latest horror novel. Let me know how that works out for you.

Writers need writers. Without RT Con, my local RWA chapter, and SavvyAuthors.com to keep me focused on my goals, I’d have given up by now. Misery loves company and when I’m having a crap writing day and feel like a fraud, I need friends who tell me to shut the hell up, keep writing, and finish the damn scene.  And you better believe I return that favor.

The late Judi McCoy said, “Call yourself a writer. If you want to be a writer, tell people you are a writer, no matter what your day job is.” She went around the room and asked each person, “What do you do?”

I answered then as I answer now. “I’m a writer.”

 Bio: Riley Darkes lives in the Suburbs of Central Ohio where she plays with mortgage laws during the day and plans Savvy Authors Special Events at night. In her copious free time Riley-thumbnailshe writes stories about teenagers, love, mystery, and magic.  She’s a hardcore Savvy Authors fan, a member of the Central Ohio Fiction Writers RWA chapter, and a frequent RT Convention goer. Find Riley posting lolcats on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rileydarkesauthor), retweeting crap on Twitter (@RileyDarkes), or sporadically blogging about lip gloss addictions, stick people drawings, and other random things at www.RileyDarkes.com. 

Join the Savvy Authors admin and volunteers as we tour the blogosphere in anticipation of the launch of our improved and updated website. We are excited to share our love of Savvy, and all writing communities, with each of you during the summer months. Below is a list of stops we’ll be making – please feel free to stop by and say hello! (and definitely check out the new look of our site)

 May 27th – Melinda B. Pierce on Author’s For Life http://authorsforlife.org/under-construction-by-melinda-pierce/

June 10th – Ella Gray on The Speculative Salon http://speculativesalon.blogspot.com/

June 19th – Sharon Pickrel on Pen of the Dreamer http://calisarhose.com/chit-chat/

June 21st Riley Darkes on Writing Secrets of Seven Scribes https://secretsof7scribes.wordpress.com/ ßYou are here!!

June 24th – Angel on The World in My Hands http://angel-leigh.com/blog/

June 25th – Leslie Dow on A Writer’s Musings http://constancephillips.com/blog/

June 28th – Marilyn Muniz on http://www.marilynmuniz.com/ 

July 1st – Lynda K. Frazier on Guelph Write Now http://guelphwritenow.com/

Scribesters – if you have questions about Savvy Authors, please ask. We’d love to hear about how you’ve benefited from a writing group. And if you haven’t joined a group, what’s holding you back?

8 thoughts on “Why I Love Savvy Authors by Riley Darkes”

  1. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Riley. I’d be lost without my writers groups. My only problem is that i belong to too many! My inbox is insane because of the loops that i participate in, but i cna’t get away from them. They are an invaluable resource for me as an indie pubber. I belong to YARWA, Authors Network, marketing for Romance Writers, the WG2E street team, and Indie Romance ink. I do get Savvy Authors newsletter monthly and always find great tips and articles there. You all are doing a fabulous job! Keep up the good work. I haven’t really noticed. Do you offer much for indie authors?

  2. Great post, Riley! Thanks for sharing.

    @PJ, I can answer your question about Indie Authors and Savvy. In the past we’ve held various workshops targeted to Indie Authors, and now with the new site upgrade we are looking at having a section dedicated to resources for Indie Authors that we will be constantly building and updating. If there are specific resources you’d like to see, please let us know so we can get on it and get it right. 🙂

    Thanks! Melinda, Membership Director, Savvy Authros

  3. Thanks Riley! It’s always great to hear about how each of us got our writing start. I’m always amazed at how similar the stories are. I could just imagine a junior high school filled with all of us super smart and super cute writers-to-be just oozing talent and drive. Here’s to the day when we can all *write* for our day jobs!!!

  4. Loved your story Riley. Thank you. So pleased you visited Casey today. What do you mean, I can’t see the sparkle in my eyes? The first time I heard I couldn’t — I fell over. Now I realized I had to learn a new kind of art, writing. Oh no, I wondered, should I move forward to . . . ANOTHER learning curve?The rest is history. I am coming to the finality of my first manuscript. And those sparkly eyes have been left for others to see.

  5. Hiya

    Great post Riley 🙂

    See, told you it wouldn’t be that bad to write, you just have to start first. I love the bit about the sparkles. I thought the same thing… Savvy set me straight.


  6. Riley, thanks so much for being our guest today at the Scribes. And for sharing your journey. For the record, my mother yelled at my every summer to “get out of the house” whenever I spent hours (and hours and hours) reading!

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