Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets: Authors describe their friendship journey in new book

Their friendship spans more than two decades. Jackie Collins, left, Diana Kinared and Sally Showalter finished their long journey together with the September 6 publication of their book “Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets.” (Jackie Collins/Submitted)

By Hope Peters

Some want to dance, but these women just want to write.

It’s clear with their website,

Authors Jackie Collins, Diana Kinared and Sally Showalter set off on a journey spanning 24 years, and they published their book “Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets” on September 6 on Atmosphere Press.

“We met at a six-week workshop by Rita Magdaleno, who is a well-known poet here in town,” Showalter says. “The workshop had to do with writing stories from family photos.”

“We would take the photos to class and look at them,” says Kinared, who lives in Oro Valley. “And then we made up stories about them.”

Magdaleno wrote a book of poetry on her research and family photos. 

“At the end of the class, Rita really encouraged us to form a writers group,” Showalter says. 

Magdaleno told them if they wanted to form a writer’s group to give her their contact information to share. 

“That’s how we got each other’s names,” Kinared adds. 

Kinared and Showalter met at the workshop, on November 12, 1997; and that date has since been celebrated annually.

Collins joined the group in 1999, and that kick-started their long, tedious journey to finish the book.

“When we first started (the book) in 2005, I was 45,” Showalter says. “And Diana was 52. When we picked it up again in 2009, I was 58 and Diana was 65.” Collins was 59 years old at that time.

Fast forward to 2017 and the authors, a bit older, continue to write the book with the same passion they had in 2005.

In 2005, the authors worked on the book weekly at each other’s homes. In January 2009, they moved their weekly meetings to the Oro Valley Library. That fall, Collins moved to Colorado, halting the collaboration until 2017, when they could get together on Zoom. Showalter says they really worked their “fingernails off” to get the book finished.

The book starts with how the trio met. 

“The first chapter is how we met and how we got together,” Kinared says. “Because we didn’t have any goals at the time, other than just getting together and writing … and eating.”

They started by giving each other prompts to help those participating in the writers’ group.

“One person in the group would say, ‘This is the prompt for next week,’” Kinared explains. “So, we would all write to that to share next week and also we would write our own stuff. And if we needed feedback, we’d say, ‘This is what I’ve been working on. Can I share this with you?’”

Showalter adds, “Then we would make copies and pass them around for the next week, then next week we would talk about it and say, ‘I like this part. This is what I thought was missing, something I’d like to know more about.’”

The book pulls back the curtain on a quarter-century bond between three women whose first love is writing. In “Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets,” Collins, Kinared and Showalter provide a treasure trove for writers at any stage. This unique collection is at once a how-to guide for conducting a successful writers’ workshop; a meticulously organized catalog of writing prompts, and an exquisite array of stories and essays from each.

They describe it eloquently on their website: 

“Herein is the arc of our journey as a writers’ group. Our narrative is spiced with glimpses of the things we learned as we explored the craft of storytelling, character development, poetry, memoir, and freeing our minds to follow inspiration. We ventured away from our desks to explore diverse styles with teachers in various places throughout the West, from Washington State to Mexico. We attended classes as a group and individually and shared those lessons with each other. We learned the art of critiquing to provide support for each other’s developing ideas. We hope you enjoy our writing journey as much as we enjoyed putting our discoveries on the page.”

Then, chapter two discusses their courage to step it up and their quest in taking semester classes and doing workshops.

“What’s in here is our story, but interwoven are things we learned,” Kinared says. “So, we have prompts in there and then we have what we wrote to those prompts.”

Showalter adds, “We have a narrative that threads the whole story together, in and out. Our narrative, our thoughts, critiquing, our experiences that we have and the different things we have learned from our instructors, so we have a lot. The narrative is the thread to the book that weaves it together. And in between are the prompts, our writing from it, our discussion about it; we discuss our fears and challenges.” 

Collins recounts the book’s journey.

“During COVID, we meet every week on Zoom, once a week, two times a week, even three times a week,” Collins says. 

“And the Zooms would last for a couple hours, because we had to go through the manuscript with each other. So, we would help critique it together, so yes, we did a lot of Zooming.”

Collins made trips down from Colorado to Tucson before the pandemic hit as well.

Their only deadlines were per chapter.

“We would work and work,” Collins says. “You’d think when I came down and I would see them, that we would do something else. We did not. We would be exhausted, maybe go out and get a hamburger.” 

To meet them in person, the authors will have a table/booth set up at the Tucson Festival of Books, Where Words and Imagination Come to Life, held on Saturday, March 4, at the University of Arizona Campus.

“Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets”