Find your literary tribe with hsbWriters
The organization is hsbWriters. The “hsb” is intentionally written in lower case. “Club” is not part of the name — also intentional.
And, although hsb stands for Horseshoe Bay, the group’s name is pronounced h-s-b writers and includes authors from across the Highland Lakes.
At its heart, hsbWriters is a community of Hill Country storytellers who banded together to bolster each other’s creative pursuits. Paloma Guerrero lit the spark and ignited the group in 2020. It quickly grew from a crew of enthusiastic scribes into a tribe of driven authors on a mission to see their work shared with the world.
“Who are the published authors of Horseshoe Bay?”
Guerrero shot that question out into the Wild West of Nextdoor.com after visiting the Horseshoe Bay post office to ship copies of her book “Building Lacy Oaks, a love story.” The postal worker behind the counter told her that others in the area were doing exactly the same thing: sending their books out into the world.
“It was basically monkey-level curiosity that caused me to go on to Nextdoor.com and ask the question,” Guerrero said.
Her query ignited a discussion that led to a face-to-face meeting in the fall of 2020 with more than 50 writers gathering to swap stories, ideas, and dreams.
“When I found the writers’ group, when all these people were there, I felt like I had found my tribe,” Guerrero said.
They weren’t the hsbWriters yet. They were a group of like-minded people professing passion for the written word.
“We operated as a band of pirates,” Guerrero said. “Every meeting began with, ‘Hello, pirates! How are you doing?’”
As the writers continued to meet and discuss their projects, the same questions came up again and again. How do I get published? What is the editing process like? How do I write a screenplay? Should I self-publish or try the traditional route with an agent and publisher? How do I even start writing? What’s my next book?
In seeking answers to these questions, the group began to change. The pirates steered their ship toward a new horizon, on a mission to build a community that could legitimately make a difference in all of their lives.
Guerrero had written her book on her own, translating a personal tragedy into a cathartic conquest. A devastating flash flood on Halloween 2013 in Onion Creek, south of Austin, left her home of 22 years in shambles.
In the wake of that disaster, she and her husband were faced with the difficult prospect of starting over. Her book follows their struggle to recover, the manifestation of their dreams, and the healing that came with building a new home in Horseshoe Bay.
“Publishing this book was a thank-you to all of the people who helped us during that time,” Guerrero said. “I had a lot of people I needed to say thank you to.”
Guerrero self-published her book and was able to pass on the lessons she learned in that process to other members of the tribe.
Offering knowledge and supporting the projects of fellow writers have become the bread-and-butter of the organization since it officially formed in 2021. Members have varied interests and backgrounds, routinely sharing what they can to lift each other up. Some have backgrounds in publishing, some have marketing expertise, others have popular blogs. hsbWriters represents an array of authors from different genres and styles.
Member and marketing expert Sarah Thompson helps cultivate the group’s outreach and voice. She also has years of experience in education and a life story that spans at least three continents. Her desire to tell that story, which includes her husband’s adventures at sea, led her to hsbWriters.
“Paloma made me believe that I might actually be able to do something and meet some friends in the process,” Thompson said.
Dr. Bill Reid, another member, is a published author and a renowned psychiatrist who gave a seminar in January on traditional publishing. His 2018 book, “A Dark Night in Aurora: Inside James Holmes and the Colorado Mass Shootings,” was published by Skyhorse Publishing in New York City, giving him valuable insight into the industry’s mechanics.
Other workshops have been on building an online presence, presented by social media strategist Danielle Stoltz, and writing a book proposal, which was led by thriller writer Donna Joppie of Horseshoe Bay.
Joppie was also the subject of a two-week-long social media experiment. Fellow group members Lisa Laird and Sarah Thompson, both experts in social media, audited her author page on Facebook and then launched a #donnajoppie campaign from the hsbWriters page to garner more followers. They wore T-shirts when about town that read “We follow #donnajoppie” to further promote her.
“Typical results of a campaign like this would be 5.2 percent increase in reach and a 0.07 percent increase in engagement,” Laird said. “What we ended up having was a 3,056 percent increase in reach and a 509 percent increase in engagement.”
Joppie’s Facebook page experienced a big bump in followers over the two-week period. That number has continued to rise, which is important in the publishing business.
“Publishers want your social media platform to be substantial,” Laird said. “Donna is continuing to grow without having to put money behind her posts.”
Joppie is just one of the many members of hsbWriters who has benefited from the group’s expertise and dedication. The spark Guerrero ignited on Nextdoor.com has become a bright flame, lighting the way for a writers’ community that is growing by the day.
“We didn’t get here with just me,” Guerrero said. “It was everyone, all the pirates who participated along the way.”
hsbWriters meets on the first Thursday of each month and also regularly holds informal meetings. Visit hsbwriters.com and sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date on events, workshops, meetings, and more.