Member Spotlight by Dodie Cross
Member Spotlight on: Guild President, Jim McFarlin
If it hadn’t been for one of our past presidents, we might never have met our current president, Jim McFarlin. Dolores Carruthers was Guild President at the time and asked newly joined member, Jim, if he’d like to volunteer for the guild. What a great day for our guild!
Born in Ada Oklahoma, Jim was raised in Northern California. He received his BS at San Jose State College in Industrial Management, and received an MBA at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. After spending four years as an Air Force officer, he then went on to work for Ross Perot at EDS for ten years. He left EDS to join a smaller firm in the software business. In 1980 he was one of the founders of a high tech consulting firm in the Silicon Valley, implementing mainframe financial and manufacturing systems for Fortune 500 companies, where he rose to CEO. He sold the company in 1997, retiring with the idea of writing. He told me that throughout his career he’d written business journals, which when published “…whetted my appetite to write more and see it in print.”
Jim’s first novel was a cyber thriller he finished in three months. “I paid a professional editor to review. She said I certainly had the background to write about the subject matter, and it was a good story, but the problem was: my writing.” After that shocker he did a reality check. He hired a writing coach who worked with him ten hours a day, five days a week for two years: “I could have earned an MFA for the money I’d spent on coaching.” Jim also attended the Maui Writers Conference six times. I’d say this guy was serious about his writing.
Two years after he retired, Jim moved to Lake Tahoe where he lived the good life; skiing in the winter and tennis in the summer. He came to Palm Desert in 2002 for the Paribas Open Tennis Tournament. He loved the desert so much that he returned in 2004 to purchase a home, and moved here permanently in 2005.
I asked Jim how he found our guild: “I saw a flyer about the guild at the Rancho Mirage Library and thought I could find someone there to relate to and get my writing batteries recharged. I felt I could learn from these people.” When he first attended, he said, he was shocked to see so many people. “In Lake Tahoe, maybe there were ten members.”
In 2003, after putting his first novel aside, he began work on his second. He says it was hit or miss, until he finally felt he had a good version. He had the manuscript professionally edited, did a 50% rewrite, and sent our queries for a year. Nothing! “I felt flat-lined.”
After attending the guild for a while, Jim felt he wasn’t getting much out of it, and that’s when Dolores asked him if he was interested in volunteering. “She talked about a board position, which I felt I might like.” Jim met with Mark Anderson, our 2010-2011 past president, and was voted in for president shortly thereafter.
Upon seeing the great potential within the guild, Jim jumped into his new role with a vision and started taking ACTION! Selflessly giving his time and energy, aided by his incredible background and working with a fairly new team of enthusiastic PSWG Board Members, Jim steamrolled the Guild onto an all new level. With a record number of new member registrations prior to the season start date, and the continual positive feedback (and renewals) by our long-standing members, Jim certainly made his mark before the season even started.
He says his new book has re-energized him, so he’s back in the saddle again.
Welcome back, Jim.