Looking Back, Reaching Forward

It was after 1 a.m on this day several decades ago when I woke my husband to say, “It’s time.”

After getting the two other children to the sitter and a comedy fit for the Keystone Cops (Hubble sent my suitcase flying across the parking lot when I couldn’t get out of the car.  He tried to carry me, but only got one leg up before, realizing he’d thrown the suitcase, he dropped me (thank heaven for the car door!) and ran to fetch it.  My purse broke as two young interns tried to get me onto the gurney—walking or sitting were no longer options.  And the shortest nurse on staff ran on her toes trying to tie Hubble’s sterile gown and mask because (for some hormonal reason I have yet to fathom) I refused to cooperate without him there), I delivered youngest daughter—in my street clothes—at 2:45 a.m.

Around four a.m., unable to sleep, I went to the smoking lounge (yes, hospitals used to have those) to relax and read.  Two gals, both walking like they’d spent a week astride a Clydesdale, arrived and, spotting me, hurriedly shuffled over.  Without so much as a simple hello, they pounced.  “Did you hear about the woman that almost gave birth in the elevator?”

They were zealots on a mission, and while I gave a brief thought to playing with them a bit, being no fan of gossip, I just hit them where it hurt.  “That was me.”

They gaped, frowned, and stuttered at first, but heaven forbid something so minor as a repressive attitude should stop them.  “What are you doing in here?” they asked (in unison, mind you—like two puppets worked by one rather dim-witted ventriloquist).

Well, duh.  I have a cigarette and a book.  I’m certainly not tap dancing.  I held up the book, the cigarette, and went back to reading Jude Devereuax (so much more interesting) as they quickly toddled from the room—to spread this latest tidbit, no doubt.

Why am I telling you this?  One, because recalling Baby Girl’s birth still elicits a chuckle.  Two, because Oldest Daughter celebrated her birthday on 2 August, so more memories clamor for attention.   Three, because any kind of birth leaves something behind to color your thinking, your perceptions, even your actions.  This is true whether you birth a child, an idea, a book, a career—

—or a Sisterhood.

This September the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog will celebrate four years.  It’s difficult to believe we didn’t know each other until March 2009, and rather like youngest’s birth, becoming a sisterhood, while quick, took some unusual turns that, only in retrospect, are amusing.

We’ve had our share of missteps, miscommunications, misadventures, and plain old mistakes.  We’ve shared births, deaths, cancers and other illnesses, victories and defeats, We’ve even had the gossipy naysayers just looking for something to exploit to make themselves appear wise and all-knowing at our expense.  Like I did in those pre-dawn hours, we ignore them, let them go their way, knowing many of them envy the speed of our ‘delivery’ while unaware of the trials, frustrations, and hard work it took to get where we are today.

Since 2009, Rubies have published over 200 books.  No, we’re not all published yet, but that doesn’t matter.  In my family, mine is the only dark head.  That doesn’t make me any less a part of the family than not yet being published makes me any less a Ruby.  Our bond is amazing.  The sisterhood is a unique amalgamation of diverse talents and giving, caring hearts working together for the good of all—including our readers—and I count myself blessed to be one of them.

I gave some thought to including my memories of our beginnings in this blog, but I’ve remenisced enough for now.  Instead, the floor is open to both sisters and readers to share their memories and hopes for the future.  A favorite quote of mine is “Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, and I’d just as soon not, thank you; we want to improve, not slog through the same old trenches.

To make it easier to get started, here are a couple of questions, but don’t let them limit you.  It’s time to look back, to gather insight into our successes and stumbles so we can move forward with confidence.

Sisters, what is your first memory of our loop?  When did you realize the Rubies were more than a group of writers?  What brought that realization to the fore?  What’s your favorite Ruby memory?  What do you hope the blog can accomplish in the future?  Are there any goals you’d like to see us strive to reach? 

Readers, what brought you to our blog?  What is your favorite thing about the Rubies?  Any suggestions for future blogs or ways we can continue to serve you?


21 responses to “Looking Back, Reaching Forward”

  1. Elizabeth Langston says:

    My favorite memory: I got really mad at my mother-in-law once upon a time (like that ever happens) and I just needed to unload my frustrations somewhere safe. Somewhere I knew that I’d get the right kind of sympathy. And the first place I thought of was this loop. I knew then that the Rubies were real friends.

    I’ve also noticed, whenever I go to an RWA conference and meet a Ruby face-to-face for the first time, how surprising it is to think—wow, I know you so well. Is this really the first time we’re seeing each other?

    Yep, we’re the best of friends. Distance doesn’t matter.


    • Gwyn says:

      Isn’t that amazing, Elizabeth? It’s some unusual alchemy that flourishes here as we share, commiserate, pray, and cheer for each other. And you’re correct; Rubies care for Rubies, so our loop is always a safe place to vent confident whatever set you off will go no further. Rubies Rock!


  2. Jenn! says:

    For me, I knew there was something different about the Rubies and our loop when the enthusiasm didn’t die. There was an immediate culture, a bonding, and a shared purpose. Not just for ourselves, but for all Rubies. And then when just expanded from there.

    Let me add, meeting so many wonderful ladies for my first time at conference in 2009, 8 months pregnant and ready to burst, it solidified how special these gals were to me.

    Big hugs to the Rubies. I love you one and all!



    • I’ve often shared the seredipitous moments that herded me back to RWA, so the seredipity of the perfect mix of personalities within our ranks, while it still awes me, didn’t really surprise me. Sometimes providence is kind, providing exactly what we need, and I believe the Rubies’ diversity allows us to fill needs unique to each individual while maintaining the group’s inherent cohesiveness.

      P.S. Even ready to burst, you were beautiful.


  3. Diana Layne says:

    I remember the debate on deciding on our name. Ha, that was fun! Ruby-Slippered Shanghai Sisters? LOL. Agents would’ve been trembling everywhere.


    • Gwyn says:

      I remember, Diana. The scenerios we painted of stopped elevators as we pitched to stunned and quaking publishing pros had me laughing like a loon! It still makes me smile. Thanks for reminding me.


  4. Tamara Hogan says:

    –> I knew there was something different about the Rubies and our loop when the enthusiasm didn’t die.

    I have to agree wholeheartedly with Jenn’s comment. Like other GH classes, we created our Yahoo loop, debating the merits of long gowns vs. cocktail dresses for the awards ceremony, congratulating each other for requests for full manuscripts and sales, commiserating when agents or editors passed. But the debate, sharing, and commiseration continued long after the winners were named and the awards ceremony was over…beyond writing and into other areas of daily life, large and small, delightful and devastating, and every emotion in between.

    In the Acknowledgement section of every book I write, I thank the Rubies for their friendship, wise counsel, and for always having my back. I thank the universe for every single one of you.


    • Gwyn says:

      Amen, Tammy. I’ve ‘disappeared’ so often when life became overwhelming, yet have never doubted my sisters would welcome me back with open arms. We’ve created a haven for each other, a safe place where we can be real without fear of rejection or judgement. Who’d have thought a blessing would arrive in red shoes? Even I, Red Shoe Queen, would never have imagined that one!


  5. I was 8 weeks pregnant when we attended Nationals in 2009 and had our first Ruby gatherings. Feeling sick and tired and stressed because there were other things going on at the time, I didn’t make it to many of those early meetings. Boy, what I missed! I’m so glad I’ve caught up since then via the loop, and like Elizabeth said above, when I meet a ruby for the first time face-to-face, I feel like I already know them so well. It’s wonderful. I didn’t make it to Nationals this year, but can’t wait for the next one!!


    • Gwyn says:

      We’re glad, too, Anne Marie. Isn’t it wonderful to feel so accepted without condition? Perhaps therein lies the ‘secret’ to our group.

      Looking forward to seeing you in San Antonio!


  6. Rita Henuber says:

    There are too many things to mention. Don’t think it was any one thing but a combination of many. I’ve always felt lucky to be here. We ‘talk’ daily and get to see one another occasionally. We share pictures, stories and support each other through the sucky parts. I’m made stronger and better by my sisters.
    Ruby sisters rock.


    • Gwyn says:

      And you’re a big part of the reason we do, Rita. Your rollicking (and often irreverent) sense of humor, sage advice, and unique perspective are a big part of who we are. We’re so lucky to have you!


  7. Anne Barton says:

    Oh, great post, Gwyn! I love how we can get together every year at RWA and pick up right where we left off. I love all the BIG personalities and the quiet ones. I love that Rubies share their knowledge of business *and* their personal struggles and triumphs.

    I have a feeling the next 4 years will be even more exciting than the last! 🙂


    • Thanks, Anne, and I agree 100%. Whatever the mix, it works. No green monsters, no snide asides, just unconditional support. We disagree sometimes (we’re sisters, after all, and wouldn’t want the universe to tilt), but love our way through it, past it, and beyond.

      Raising a (soda) glass to the next four years!


  8. I agree with everyone, Gwynlyn. The times I’ve gone quiet for whatever reason, I’ve never had any doubt that I’d be able to come back.

    And I vividly remember those first several hours as more and more Rubies joined the loop. At the time, I had no idea that finaling in the Golden Heart would bring things far more precious than a paper certificate and a name on a list. Love you guys!


    • Gwyn says:

      At the time, I had no idea that finaling in the Golden Heart would bring things far more precious than a paper certificate and a name on a list.
      I don’t think any of us did, Tina. Only a small percentage of us could actually walk off with the Golden Heart, but every one of us came away with something more valuable than gold to cherish.


  9. I’ve been part of SIX different GH classes. I knew the Rubies were a special group of authors the first time someone asked for help doing something and the loop exploded with offers rather than going DEAD QUIET. When one of the sisters says, “I need . . .” the sisterhood leaps to help.


  10. Maybe that’s it, Laurie; it’s easy to become self-involved while writing, but somehow, we managed to avoid a pitfall that claimed so many before and after us. I know, personally, that things began to fall apart in another group once some grabbed the brass ring and had deadlines and such. That didn’t happen here. Good hearts reach out even when they’re already laden. Rubies (IMNSHO)have large, generous hearts.


  11. Life has given me a pretty rough road to travel over the last four years, but I’m so very grateful for everything the Rubies have done for me and will always love and appreciate you guys so much.


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