How the Westbank Writers' Group Came To Be ​by Geneva Ensign

In the spring of 2016, Blair Jean had written a manuscript which would later become his book, "Clearwater Memoirs". Meanwhile, Geneva Ensign was working on the manuscript for her book, "Community Healing: A Transcultural Model".

Unknown to each other, they each decided to attend a book launching at the Westbank Library, both of them eager to ask a newly-published author many questions about the publishing process. Unfortunately, they didn’t get the answers that they needed, and, after the launch was over, several people held an informal session and exchanged phone numbers. Soon after, Blair phoned Geneva to see if she would consider reading and providing feedback on his manuscript. That was the beginning of a very productive and cooperative endeavor.

Not being impressed with the cost of help from self-publishing houses, Blair began seriously researching how to be his own publisher and sharing his discoveries with Geneva. One day she asked him if he was writing all this information down. He said, “It’s all up here,” pointing to his head.

Geneva said, “That’s not going to help me when I am ready to get my book ready for publishing! You should write it down.”

So he did, pages and pages! Then Geneva's work started. She re-worked these pages, inserting punctuation, formatting and her own publishing discoveries. The result of this cooperative endeavor was named "The Independent Self-Publishing Guide". They decided not to publish this Guide, but to put it in a three-ring binder. They knew that it was a document that would continue to grow as they learned more about independent self-publishing.

Blair and Geneva began to realize that other budding writers might find this self-publishing guide helpful as well. Blair checked with the head librarian, Elena Doebele, to see if we would be permitted to post a sign, asking all interested writers to meet for the purpose of organizing a writers’ group. The main focus of this group was to be independent self-publishing, using their new Guide as a kind of textbook.

The sign went up; the first meeting was held January 24, 2017. Three people joined them for that initial meeting: Michael Jensen, Ede Schulz, and Donna Bird.

By December of that year, the Westbank Writers’ Group had grown to thirty members, with Blair and Geneva as co-facilitators. The Group celebrated with a Christmas party, gift exchange and, of course, lots of goodies.

Since then, the Writers’ Group continues to evolve and change according to the needs of its members. But, as the Good Book says, “when two or three are gathered together...” something very special happens. We truly have become “family.”

The following decisions were made at the first 2 meetings of the Group:

1.   Focus of the group will be on Independent Self-Publishing, with emphasis on “independent.”

2.  From time to time, bring in speakers and people with various skills to share their experiences

    with us.

3.  Make a list of resource people who might be helpful as we go through the process of getting our

     material published, i.e.: artists, proofreaders, editors.

4. This group will focus specifically on Independent Self-Publishing. The outline Blair has created

     can be added to as we learn more.

5.  We will begin to build a list of resource people who can assist us in the process of Self


6. Geneva suggested that we all use the same Grammar & Punctuation “Cheat Sheet.” They can be

     ordered from Abe Books; Title: "English Grammar Punctuation"; Author is Bar Charts Inc. ISBN


7.  Group will proceed studying Independent Self-Publishing Workshop.