If it hadn't been for Paul Lamarre, I may have never joined the DFW Writers' Workshop. The first time I visited in 2007, I was nervous. The Workshop seemed so large and everyone already knew each other. No one spoke to me and I was too shy to initiate a conversation. I felt ill at ease. Started to leave. Questioned why I'd visited in the first place.
Then, Paul sat next to me and we chatted. He wrote science fiction, a genre I also enjoyed. We spoke the same 'language' even if he was more of a hard SF guy, while I preferred soft SF. Still, I instantly liked him.
Each week, our friendship grew. When I finally found the courage to read for the first time, Paul was in the room. No one told me beforehand that first-time readers received applause. As everyone clapped, I thought I must be a darned good writer. Then, the applause stopped and I was shredded during the critique. I doubt I would have ever read again if Paul hadn't been there to ease the sting.
In time, we began to critique each others work outside of the Workshop. We texted daily, and celebrated each others successes, including Paul's first short story sale. More importantly, we kept each other motivated when the rejections came in faster than the acceptances did.
Paul and I shared a fondness for SF&F conventions. We always hung out together and made the rounds of the parties. In 2013, we road tripped to the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in San Antonio with our mutual friend, Gabe. By that point, Paul had endured almost a year of chemotherapy for colon cancer. The trip was a celebration of his improving health. He was excited to be at Worldcon and to meet some of his favorite authors such as Kim Stanley Robinson and Ben Bova.
Shortly after we returned, Paul's doctors advised him that the cancer had spread to his abdomen. Paul continued to fight with the support of his loving wife, Sheila. It was one of the bravest battles I've ever seen. His attitude was always pleasant no matter how much pain he suffered. He joked with hospital staff and thanked them for the care they gave him. In fact, he was so cordial I would tease him the nurses kept him in the hospital because he was their favorite patient.
Throughout, Paul never abandoned his love of writing and was eager to start a Middle Grade novel. He also never stopped being supportive of other writers. He always asked about their work in progress whenever they visited him in the hospital.
Paul Lamarre passed away on June 18, 2014. He was a loving husband and the proud father of three wonderful children, Megan Kathleen, Sarah Elizabeth, and Joshua Paul Lamarre. He served in the Navy during Operation Desert Storm as a Nuclear Machinist aboard the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser USS MISSISSIPPI. A graduate of Dallas Baptist University, he worked as a Supply Chain manager for Poly America. He attended Retta Baptist Church in Burleson, and served a term as Treasurer of DFWWW.
But most of all, Paul was my friend. One who I will miss more than any words can ever express.