Every Saturday morning a small group of area residents gather in Cafe Artista in downtown Moscow to discuss, write and edit novels with the goal of having their work published.

Sonya Bramwell, a full-time massage therapist, said most of the group members work on novels, but short stories and other forms of writing are welcomed.

"Most of the time people are just heads down writing," said Jay Dearien, a manufacturer at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.

Dearien said if writers run into problems, have questions about their work or need suggestions, then others are there for support.

Bramwell said there are no unbreakable rules for the group; the only real requirement is that the members write.

"We do a lot of chatting," Bramwell said. "We do a lot of brainstorming."

She said the group often gets off task, going on a tangent, but Dearien said he tries to reel everyone back in and remind them they are there to write.

While the group does not have an official name, the writers have been meeting on Saturdays over the past several years at the coffee shop and other locations to develop their stories.

Bramwell said the group members act like gym buddies that other writers in the group can rely on to keep them writing.

"That accountability has meant a lot to me," Bramwell said.

While the writers meet on Saturdays throughout most of the year, they meet more often during November, National Novel Writing Month. Dearien said the goal for writers is to write a 50,000 or more word novel during November.

Many people reach that goal but he and most of his Saturday morning crew work to refine their first draft to turn it into a book that others can read.

The goal for most is to find agents and publishers for their work, Dearien said.

Khaliela Wright, who primarily works for the U.S. Census Bureau but is also an economics instructor and creative writing club adviser at Spokane Falls Community College in Pullman, said she was offered a contract by a Norway publisher that focuses mostly on European folklore and history. She said she expects one of her novels, "Klara's Journey," to be published next year. The book would be the first of "The Kenetlon Sagas" trilogy, she said. The title of the novel and trilogy are simply working titles at this point since the publisher has the power to rename them, Wright said.

Bramwell said she gets the majority of her writing done Saturday mornings with the group.

"It's nice having a break from the kids," Bramwell said. "When I'm at home it's focused on them. It's focused on the house and family life and not much brain space for creating, so stepping out of my home environment and coming here is like, 'OK, I don't have anything to do.' "

Leona Ahles, a receptionist at the Latah County Prosecuting Attorney Office, is working on a comedy novel. She got involved with the group about three years ago, and, like Bramwell, she appreciates the structure and accountability the group offers.

"It helps with the structure that I'm able to sit, get in that writing mindset that everyone else in the room has as well, and it almost forces me to write, but I'm still able to do good work," Ahles said.


Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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