It’s A Book Event


It’s A Book Event

And You’re Invited!

Please help me celebrate the release of our new Anthology

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66

Join me for a book signing event on historic Route 66

Saturday, December 1. — 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Lile Art Gallery

2719 SW 6th Avenue, Amarillo

Lile’s is home of the famous Cadilite jewelry, made from paint chips off the Cadillac ranch.

Scroll down for more about the book.

 

About the Book:

If you’re needing a unique gift or if you’re a fan of Route 66, this new anthology is for you!

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66 tells of good times and bad, Love and heartache, from the past to beyond tomorrow, and all of them connected by one stop, the Tower Station and U-Drop Inn on Route 66.

It started as a dirt path connecting neighbors, communities, states and a nation. Route 66 was an overland route traveled by pioneers, migrant farmers and anyone going west looking for the American dream. From wagon ruts to an asphalt paved highway, it has connected generations of people.

Five unique short stories and novellas set on historic Route 66 in Texas.

A gripping story of family betrayal, deep despair, and a young girl’s courageous triumph. MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL by Natalie Bright

A young soldier leaves his new bride for war sharing their life through letters in this heartfelt story. WAITING by Rory C. Keel

A down-on-his-luck cowboy sees opportunity in a young widow’s neglected ranch in 1944 Texas. SUDDEN TURNS by Joe Nichols

A Cherokee Chief predicts Mora O’Hara’s future as she travels The Mother Road seeking closure after a career related tragedy. SHOWDOWN AT U-DROP INN by Cait Collins

Raylen Dickey learns the difference between her friends, lovers, and enemies. FEAR OF HEIGHTS by Nandy Ekle

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It’s A Book Event


It’s A Book Event

And You’re Invited!

Please help me celebrate the release of our new Anthology

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66

Join me for a book signing event on historic Route 66

Saturday, December 1. — 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Lile Art Gallery

2719 SW 6th Avenue, Amarillo

Lile’s is home of the famous Cadilite jewelry, made from paint chips off the Cadillac ranch.

Scroll down for more about the book.

 

About the Book:

If you’re needing a unique gift or if you’re a fan of Route 66, this new anthology is for you!

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66 tells of good times and bad, Love and heartache, from the past to beyond tomorrow, and all of them connected by one stop, the Tower Station and U-Drop Inn on Route 66.

It started as a dirt path connecting neighbors, communities, states and a nation. Route 66 was an overland route traveled by pioneers, migrant farmers and anyone going west looking for the American dream. From wagon ruts to an asphalt paved highway, it has connected generations of people.

Five unique short stories and novellas set on historic Route 66 in Texas.

A gripping story of family betrayal, deep despair, and a young girl’s courageous triumph. MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL by Natalie Bright

A young soldier leaves his new bride for war sharing their life through letters in this heartfelt story. WAITING by Rory C. Keel

A down-on-his-luck cowboy sees opportunity in a young widow’s neglected ranch in 1944 Texas. SUDDEN TURNS by Joe Nichols

A Cherokee Chief predicts Mora O’Hara’s future as she travels The Mother Road seeking closure after a career related tragedy. SHOWDOWN AT U-DROP INN by Cait Collins

Raylen Dickey learns the difference between her friends, lovers, and enemies. FEAR OF HEIGHTS by Nandy Ekle

It’s A Book Event


It’s A Book Event

And You’re Invited!

Please help me celebrate the release of our new Anthology

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66

Join me for a book signing event on historic Route 66

Saturday, December 1. — 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Lile Art Gallery

2719 SW 6th Avenue, Amarillo

Lile’s is home of the famous Cadilite jewelry, made from paint chips off the Cadillac ranch.

Scroll down for more about the book.

 

About the Book:

If you’re needing a unique gift or if you’re a fan of Route 66, this new anthology is for you!

OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66 tells of good times and bad, Love and heartache, from the past to beyond tomorrow, and all of them connected by one stop, the Tower Station and U-Drop Inn on Route 66.

It started as a dirt path connecting neighbors, communities, states and a nation. Route 66 was an overland route traveled by pioneers, migrant farmers and anyone going west looking for the American dream. From wagon ruts to an asphalt paved highway, it has connected generations of people.

Five unique short stories and novellas set on historic Route 66 in Texas.

A gripping story of family betrayal, deep despair, and a young girl’s courageous triumph. MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL by Natalie Bright

A young soldier leaves his new bride for war sharing their life through letters in this heartfelt story. WAITING by Rory C. Keel

A down-on-his-luck cowboy sees opportunity in a young widow’s neglected ranch in 1944 Texas. SUDDEN TURNS by Joe Nichols

A Cherokee Chief predicts Mora O’Hara’s future as she travels The Mother Road seeking closure after a career related tragedy. SHOWDOWN AT U-DROP INN by Cait Collins

Raylen Dickey learns the difference between her friends, lovers, and enemies. FEAR OF HEIGHTS by Nandy Ekle

Thank you, Craig Johnson


Outtakes 192

Thank you, Craig Johnson

By Cait Collins

 

I met Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire mysteries, when he spoke in Amarillo a couple of years ago. I truly enjoyed listening to his journey as a writer. I’ve known writers who would speak for little money, but he was the first to say he’d meet with a group for a case of Rainier beer. Of course he was kidding, but he got a good laugh at the offer.

After reading my first Longmire novel, The Cold Dish, I was hooked. I’ve read a number of the books and keep looking for the ones I’ve missed. This brings me to a find when I was roaming the bookstore shelves recently. Mr. Johnson has written a wonderful novella.

The Spirit of Steamboat has me captivated. I allow myself 30 minutes each morning to read before going to work. I have come close to clocking in late the last two mornings because I hate to put the book down. Think A Christmas Carol, a Christmas storm, a decrepit B-25 World War II airplane, a Doolittle’s Raiders vet, a helicopter crash survivor, Walt Longmire, and a Christmas guest, and you have the makings of a what-will-happen-next holiday story.

The novella presents a different side of the writer’s talent. I am enjoying this read as much as I have loved his mysteries. I’m looking forward to reading Wait For Signs, a collection of Longmire short stories.

Reunion


Outtakes 188

Reunion

by Cait Collins

 

I’ve been fortunate to be associated with some very talented writers. Many are still trying for the big break, but they continue to work at their craft. Because of schedules, new places in our writing careers, or new locations, we don’t often see each other. It’s sad, but that’s the way of life. Recently we lost one of the talented writers.

I didn’t know DeWanna Pace as well as many of the writers and published authors in the Amarillo, Texas region. My association with her was limited to conferences and writer’s meetings, but I always believed there was something very special about her. She had this way of making you feel important. When she was talking with you, you were the only person in the room with her. She focused on the conversation and listened. Really listened.

DeWanna was unfailingly kind. She put other people first. I remember the day I was released from the hospital and found DeWanna sitting off to the side in the entry. I stopped to speak with her and learned her mother was being admitted. I asked if there was anything I could do. All she wanted was prayers. In return, she asked if I was visiting someone. I explained I had just been released. She offered to help me. If I needed anything all I had to do was call. Her own plate was full and yet she was concerned about me.

She was a great teacher. When she presented classes at writers’ conferences, her sessions were always well attended. She encouraged young writers. Even though her health was not the best, she kept her commitment to speak at the last writers’ conference held in Amarillo. It was important to her to pass on what she had learned.

This past Saturday, we celebrated the release of DeWanna’s latest book, The Daddy List, at a reception at Barnes and Noble. There was no book signing; just a meeting of people who had been touched by her generosity and talent. I found myself hugging my fellow writers and catching up on their lives and work. The passing of years did not matter; we were writers honoring one of our own. I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon.

One Writer Lifting Others


One Writer Lifting Others

By Natalie Bright

Towards the end of the year, I attended the funeral of a bestselling author from Amarillo. Guided by an obsession for the written word, she not only wrote novels and short stories, but worked as a school librarian, taught writing at the community college, and edited stories for those blessed to cross her path.

Her desire to help others was immeasurable and boundless. I was fortunate enough to have heard her speak several times, and her ability to inspire others is unforgettable. On occasion, I’d receive an email or note card from this lady with just the right message that propelled me onward. My bulletin board is dotted with her little pearls of kindness. Seeing myself through her eyes, I could reach my dreams. She not only motivated us, she made us braver.

In addition to the usual eulogy and music, a dear friend and critique partner of 35 years shared the story of her writing journey. Following that, her son-in-law spoke, and that’s when I realized there was much that I didn’t know about this woman. This young man told us about his “white mama”. As a black man married to her only daughter, he shared how his mother-in-law’s love for him had no limits. During one of the lowest points in his life, he treasures their talks about life and how her faith and belief in him made him a better man.

This remarkable young man’s mother spoke next. She shared how grateful she was to this family for accepting and loving her son during a troubling time in his life. She spoke of having a special bond with this white family that can never be broken and had no color boundaries.

Both testimonies were heart wrenching. She was living proof that the power of one loving heart can accept and affect others. The resolve of one writer to keep writing can guide others to do the same. Remembering the life of this talented lady makes me proud to be a part of a special writing community, and to have the ability to live and work in the Texas Panhandle.

Rest in Peace dear Dewanna.

In addition to a lengthy career in education, DeWanna Pace also penned twenty books and six anthologies. One of her life-long dreams was to write for HARLEQUIN. At the time of her sudden passing, she was working on a new series for Harlequin Love Inspired.

Update: A book launch will be held in Dewanna’s honor to introduce her most recent book published by Harlequin; THE DADDY LIST. Please join local authors and friends for a life celebration on March 7, 2:00 to 4:00 PM, at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 2415 Soncy Road, Amarillo.

BARE BONES


BARE BONES

by Sharon Stevens

 

I inherited so many cases of books this past week. A friend with a passion for history and heritage was moving and needed to unload instead of transporting to the new home. We packed them up into boxes and I took them to our Buffalo Bookstore until I could sort them out. The actual number of tomes doesn’t matter. My husband says there are too many, and I think there is never enough. But he didn’t see all the treasures I put in the box.

One of the books in the mix was Don Taylor & Jeanne Smalling Archer’s book, “Up Against The Wal-Marts.” This wonderful book was written by a man who was strong in the Canyon Economic Development Corporation in Canyon Texas, and works toward helping small businesses compete with the mega-giants by simple and basic means. I found an interesting quote in the chapter on survival strategies… “Remember that when you misspend one dollar you really wasted two-the dollar you misspent and the dollar you could have spent well.”

Another gem I found was the 75th Commemorative Edition Special Anniversary Issue of the July 1997 New Mexico magazine. One of the stories was written by Sheila Tryk with photography by Ralph Looney. “O’Keeffe’s World” celebrated thoughts of O’Keeffe with interviews and insight into her life. The story briefly mentioned when she taught in Amarillo, but didn’t mention her time at the college, which is now WTAMU or where she found her passion in Palo Duro Canyon. I found it interesting that later on after she married that she left her husband in New York for months at a time while she pursued her passion at Ghost Ranch.

Each year, when O’Keefe went back into her husband’s orbit, she took mementos of the West. Stones, weathered and worn smooth. Artificial flowers, (“They were popular then, and there were some very lovely ones being sold in the country stores here.”) And desert bleached bones. “To me they are as beautiful as anything I know,” she once wrote. “To me they are strangely more living than the animals walking around—-hair, eyes, and all, with their tails twitching. The bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive on the the desert even tho’ it is vast and empty and untouchable—and knows no kindness with all its beauty….I took back a barrel of bones,” she says now, her eyes amused at the recollection. “I remember it cost me 16 dollars by freight.” One wonders at her husband’s reaction to this delivery.”

O’Keefe was able to find her passion within bleached bones. Anyone who has ever seen her paintings of skulls knows what she sees within. Just like my boxes of books, I can find treasures among the words. Whether its a quote, passage, or sentence…all pull me to a story or memory, a sweet reminder of what touches my heart day in and day out. I take nothing for granted, and never overlook a single moment.

I truly believe that to me if I leave a stone unturned, that it represents a misspent dollar that I could have spent well. As a writer, just like O’Keefe as an artist, I can take an object and use my imagination and creativity to weave it into a story with tangible ties.

Even though O’Keefe used bare bones and stones to express her soul, I just happen to cherish anything I find in a box of books.

Growing Up Friendly


Growing Up Friendly

By N. Bright

 

“Most people that are too nice are either very naive or have a hidden motive.” This comment posted on a blog was very troubling to me and has been on my mind for several weeks.

Seriously? Do people really believe this about kindness and manners?

Hidden Motives

When the coffee barista hands me my latte and says, “Have a wonderful day” with a friendly smile that shines in her eyes, does she have a secret motive? When the bank teller says that he really appreciates my business, obviously he must be naïve about the world. When a friend buys my lunch for no good reason, what secret agenda is she hiding?  And when the waitress tells us to come back again soon, what is she really plotting?

Living in the Texas Panhandle, I have experienced “nice” my whole life.

Good Manners

Good manners are  important in this part of the country. I think back to my grandparents who treated each other with nothing but kindness and respect, and I remember them showering the same over their kids, grandkids and neighbors.

My mother managed the cosmetic counter at Parsons Rexall Drug in my hometown of Dimmitt. I grew up as “Peggy’s daughter”. From her I learned that people love to talk about their life and the things that matter to them, and sometimes they just need someone who’ll listen. She had a steady stream of loyal customers and sold a lot of perfume and jewelry, but I don’t believe this was her hidden motive. I think my mom really cared about other people and their lives. She was a kindhearted, generous person.

I am continually reminded that nice and friendly are not foreign to the Texas Panhandle. When I walked across the campus of West Texas A&M University on my way to a meeting with writers, several young men held the doors for me usually with a friendly “Hello “ma’am”. These young gentlemen might sport a white Stetson and wrangler jeans, typical West Texas attire, and yet  another had a tattooed arm attached to fly-away locks and body piercings. The kindness expressed by these students makes me proud to know that common courtesy can be found even in today’s youth. After my meeting I made a stop at the local Braum’s for milk and eggs, only to be greeted at the door by a young man of about seven who held the door open for his mother and me.

I’ve traveled to numerous places to speak in Texas, as well as to Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Kansas, and I’ve found nice people in all of those places.  I attended a conference in Bakersfield, California and had a blast with several very nice and fun folks who rolled out the red carpet to welcome us.

Friendly People & Talented Writers

I don’t believe that acts of kindness and good manners are entirely absent from the human race, and I don’t think that nice people are stupid to the ways of the world. My heart goes out to the person who wrote that comment above, and to other people who truly believe it. How very sad to live every day in suspicion, cowering in alarm of random smiles or hellos, and wondering at any kindness that might come their way.

A New York City acquiring editor told me that she loves coming to this area to find authors. “People here have a clarity of emotion that is rare. You are sincere in your thoughts and actions, and writers have the ability to arrive at the heart of the story.”

Isn’t that a better way to live?  Growing up friendly and finding the heart of the story.

Or maybe I’m just naïve.

TEACHERS


TEACHERS

by Sharon Stevens

You must live on Mars if you don’t know that public school will begin soon. The season comes around every year and we are still taken aback as we face the crowds filled with desperate parents, school lists in hand and disgruntled children in tow, frantically searching for supplies and clothes.

Teachers have been attending in-services and getting their rooms ready whether they teach little ones or secondary. I imagine the dread and elation is much the same for either or. All wonder where their summer disappeared to, and when it will return again.

I love teachers! I treasure their kindness, their firmness, and the knowledge they share. I love my children’s teachers, my friends that are teachers, and teachers wherever they teach. You find each in all walks of life on every level, and every faith.

When our fellow blogger, Natalie Bright, reminded us that we were celebrating a year of blogging with Wordsmith Six blog I thought back to all of the words written this year by each one of us and I celebrate the stories attached to each. Just think, I may have missed out on all of this if it wasn’t for a teacher.

In the middle of first grade we had to move from Canyon to Amarillo and I had to settle into a new school. For some reason I had struggled in Canyon, but blossomed in a different environment. My mom told me later that I couldn’t read and it was the teacher that helped me to figure out what was wrong. Mom said I couldn’t change simple words like cat, to fat, to mat, to rat etc. But once I figured that out I just flew. I loved to read, and from that day on I read everything, even cereal boxes. The library and I became best friends. Teachers are wonderful everywhere and I am sure if I had stayed in Canyon they would have figured out and worked with me, but it was Mrs. Carmody who showed the way.

So this is my homage to all the teachers everywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you teach in the home, Sunday School, private or public school. Please know we cherish you and wish you the most wonderful year. And even though you may be faced with terrible restrictions, state mandates, and ugliness from every avenue imaginable, we cherish the gifts you share.

And in honor of all I wish to leave you with this quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

Sharon Stevens

GAN


GAN

by Sharon Stevens

“Gan-A contraction of began, or rather the original simple word.”

1890 Webster’s Dictionary

I BEGAN Tuesday morning with the news of the murder of a man in Lubbock with the involvement of a local doctor here in Amarillo. I ended the day with a news interview on Pro News 7 about Dr. Warner at Pioneer Town at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. In between I checked my facebook account, and clicked on the picture of my daughter, Andrea Keller and her friend and colleague Elaine Plybon, both teachers, on their way to a conference in Wichita Kansas for Podstock.

Whew! What a ride!

In words taken from the musical drama TEXAS. “Take good news where you are going, say to the waiting dead that your brothers intend good things.”

The whole day I celebrated good news. Not news of puppies, bunnies and rainbows by any means. I rejoiced in the fact that each of these stories were shared and could be shared on every level and all mediums. As a writer I can write, or share, or click to my heart’s content. Any one of us can read Shakespeare or Edgar Allen Poe, or Harry Potter. Not only that, we could read anything at any hour of the day and night. And just think of it, I only have my husband to tell me to turn out the light and go to bed.

I can sing, even though there are those who wished I wouldn’t. But I can hum and rejoice and worship to any Almighty Power that leads my soul. No one can force me, coerce me, drag me, or guilt me into believing against my beliefs. On the other hand, they can guide me and lead me and stand beside me wherever I go.

To me it is so important for each of us as writers to take a moment every once in a while to give thanks for the Freedom TO write. I believe there is no greater gift we cherish than to be able to put words to paper or into cyberspace with only the worry of rejection to guide us. How rich are we in our society that we don’t face retaliation against all we hold most dear. Not only can we write, but we can read whatever anyone else writes about such things as vampires or murder or ugliness, as well as whatever sugary sweet confection that appeals to some palates, mine included.

Each and every morning as I BEGIN my day I remember the very basic and simple privilege given to me by those who protect that freedom. Celebrating the ability to write means the world. With this good news I am given the universe, all because I write.

Sharon Stevens