Central Texas Creativity & Writing Classes & Workshops

Why I Write

Long ago when I first fledged to adulthood, I would have told you that I write in order to express my individuality. But now, decades later, I know it's a need to connect to something greater than myself that pushes me to the pen. 

I keep pushing that pen because writing helps me organize life's chaos, make sense of fate, and unscramble the interrelatedness of it all.  Us all.

My pieces vary a quite bit, but, without doing it consciously,  I regularly repeat certain themes:   the push-pull that comes from balancing individuality with community, and how, as part of the natural world, we respond.     

I Love Language

I have an intuitive and intimate relationship with words and the way they play, work, and groove together.  

Language allows me to bridge worlds both concrete and abstract.   When I enter the land of language and lose “self” to writing, I experience the sort of peace many never find.

Does such tranquility always exist when I sit to write?

Absolutely not!  But when I hit "flow" nothing compares to its feeling of rightness. 

My Teaching Philosophy

Threatening environments trigger our “affective filters,” an emotional response that shuts down our openness to learning.

Therefore, creating community in my classes and workshops comes first.  Where there's a strong sense of community, individuals feel safe to express their uniqueness and creativity. 

I believe we can all learn from one another.  A non-competitive environment based upon mutual respect is key in order for individuals to creatively thrive.  In such environments we're more apt to be receptive to honest feedback and the sort of constructive criticism that can truly bring our work forward. 

I often hold class outdoors where birdsong and breeze and oaks and nature's other troubadours provide simple, yet solid, reassurance that the creative learning community we've created also belongs to something larger than itself.

My Teaching Philosophy

About Mary

I'm a writer whose experiences run the gamut.   Consequently, the subjects that pique my pen also run the gamut. I love lifting rocks, uncovering ordinary nuance, undressing the sky.   I write articles, fiction, and creative non-fiction on a variety of topics.

In June 2016, I released Explore Texas -- A Nature Travel Guide through Texas A&M University Press with my husband, professional nature photographer, Jeff Parker. The book is for nature lovers who love to travel and travelers who love nature.™ (Folks like Jeff and me!)   


I once proudly owned two bookstores.  After graduate school,  my heart tugged at me to teach so I became a high school teacher.   I've educated others either formally in the classroom or via private lessons since 2002.   I began working as a professional freelance writer while I taught and, eventually, quit teaching to write, give private lessons, and assist my husband with his business.  

** VISIT my website:  http://maryodessaparker.com/


WORKSHOP: Creativity Workshop 

Ready to live a more creative life? Well, come on then!

We'll play while we explore what creativity is all about (including what gets in the way of you acting more creatively more often). And we’ll do this in a peaceful, springtime country setting at my Red Belly Ranch.

I'm offering two full-day creativity workshops in a row during the same weekend. The second day builds on the first.

Sign up for just Saturday or do both days—your choice. (Sorry -- a Sunday-only workshop is not an option because, as noted above, Sunday’s workshop builds on Saturday’s.)

Both will focus on stimulating your senses toward a fun and joyful approach to self expression while getting to the heart of what's keeping you from fully expressing your truest self.

I created these workshops with all types of "creatives" in mind. This magical weekend is perfect for mudpie makers, sandcastle crafters, leaf-pile jumpers, writers, photographers, painters, dancers, sculptors, jewelry makers, nose-warmer knitters, and any other creative spirits I've neglected to mention (there are just SO many of us!).

We'll learn what stops us from expressing our creativity more often and why it's important that we do so – how it benefits not only ourselves but also the world.

You’ll also leave with a plan of action so your post-workshop life doesn't revert back to its non-creativity status quo. We'll examine issues such as others' resistance to our endeavors, fear, guilt, shame, not feeling good enough to put our true creative spirits “out there” and other "icks" that impede "flow" and expression.

Come and imbibe for one day -- or both days. Devote yourself to yourself, to play, and to a plan of action so that you can live a more fulfilling and creatively fruitful life.

DATE: Saturday and/or Sunday, April 21st & 22nd, 2018 -- 11:00 am ~ 7:00 pm 
PLACE:  Red Belly Ranch, 8 miles SE of Smithville, Texas
COST:   $75.00 for Saturday only; do both Saturday & Sunday for $125.00 (meals & lodging not included)
SIGN UP:   Mail a check or sign up via PayPal


Mary O. Parker
PO Box 203
Smithville, Tx  78957

Just Saturday? ~ or ~ Both Days?

Why "Red Belly"?

Red Bellied Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) give both Red Belly Writing School and its rural home (and mine) – Red Belly Ranch – their names. These quirky birds, native to central-Texas, populate the countryside here in abundance.

These whimsical woodpeckers entertain (and often distract) me on those days when I work outside under the post oaks. They’re quite vociferous, as if they want you to notice them. Yet, once you acknowledge their presence they skedaddle—only to return within minutes!

Red Belly Writing School Mary O Parker

Contact & Location


Click: mary ~  AT ~ maryodessaparker.com

Call:  512.581.1598


Red Belly Writing School makes its home on Red Belly Ranch, which is located 8 miles from historic downtown Smithville, Texas’ first certified Film Friendly Community where “Tree of Life” starring Brad Pitt and at least a dozen other films have been made.

Where’s Smithville?

On a map, connect the dots for the cities of Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. Smithville sits about in the middle of the triangle you formed by connecting those dots.

Local Lodging

SMITHVILLE has three B&B's and one budget motel. It takes about 15 minutes to drive to Red Belly from Smithville.

B&B: Katy House B&B
B&B: Smithville Inn
• America’s Best Value Inn

LA GRANGE (17 miles to the EAST of Red Belly) also has lodging. It takes about 25 minutes to drive to Red Belly from La Grange.
Best Western Plus
Hampton Inn

BASTROP (23 miles to the NW of Red Belly) has lots of lodging. It takes about 35 minutes to drive to Red Belly from Bastrop.

Days Inn
Quality Inn
Holiday Inn Express
Hampton Inn & Suites
Comfort Suites
Best Western
Super 8

Travel Time:

FROM HOUSTON: About 1 ¾ hours
FROM SAN ANTONIO: About 1 ½ hours
FROM AUSTIN: About 1 ¼ hours
FROM DALLAS/FT. WORTH: About 4 ½ hours