VACAVILLE — The tables were joined to form a square with an opening in the middle. However, the ideas from those seated at the tables were definitely outside the box.
The task before the Town Square Writers Group was to put forth a big idea based on eight items: A setting, a fiction genre, a location, a time, a main and secondary character, the talents and motivation of the main character and an event to start the plot.
Deni Harding took the task seriously and ended up with a rib-tickling plot that involved a posse of lemur, a spaceship parked on the other side of Yosemite’s El Capitan and the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.
Warren DeBary’s work resulted in the main character having a talking horse. The pair encounter a UFO.
The Town Square Writers Group was formed about three years ago when Harding and Betty Lucke worked together on Lucke’s “Festival Planning Guide: Creating Community Events with Big Heart and Small Budgets.”
Lucke created Vacaville’s Medieval Fantasy Festival, which ran for seven years. The book was born from her desire to share what she had learned in hopes others could benefit.
Harding, who has a master’s degree in creative writing, taught English as a second language for several years. Retirement opened more time to explore writing.
She concentrates on short stories, many of them with a coming-of-age theme, saying it’s an important and precious time in a person’s life.
Being in the writing group has given Harding the discipline to start seven short stories within the first year of the Town Square Writers Group.
“I keep going back to them,” she said of the stories.
Group members are encouraged to bring their works to meetings and share them.
“You get to work on something you love with other people who love it,” she said. “You get different ideas . . . flights of fantasy.”
Harding is affectionately known as the “The Champion of the Apostrophe for Solano County.”
DeBary is one of the newest members of the group. The Fairfield resident is there to bounce ideas off others. Writing has been a lifelong dream, he said.
Katelyn Reid attended for the first time on Wednesday.
“I’ve started like a million stories,” said the Vacaville Christian School senior. “I hope to finish one this summer.”
The ballet dancer carries a journal with her to jot down inspiring ideas. A fan of Charles Dickens, Reid’s first favorite book was Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
Her choices are much more fluid today.
“I’ve never loved a book for longer than a day,” she said.
Kelly Hess has three books published, but he’s still hesitant to call himself a writer, he said.
The 44-year-old had a stroke six years ago that left him with no peripheral vision in his left eye and decreased manual dexterity in his left hand. He tried to go back to his job in drafting. It didn’t work.
When he began running out of books to read to his then-8-year-old son at bedtime, Hess decided to write his own. He wrote a trilogy where the plot centers on a 12-year-old boy who is thrust into the world of magic.
An average of 10 to 16 people attend the group each week, Lucke said.
She and Harding are known to help others with their publishing needs. Lucke started Spearmint Press to get her book on the market.
The book went through the group’s reading-and-response session.
“The feedback from this group was important,” Lucke said.
Dotty Schenk is working on getting her book, “Bartholomew and the Great Quake: San Francisco 1906,” published. She wrote and illustrated the story, which centers on a feline named Bartholomew.
The group meets from 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Town Square Library, 1 Town Square Place, Vacaville. For more information, email Lucke at email@example.com.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.