The Five


Outtakes 49

 The Five

The 2012 Frontiers in Writing conference was a success. Maybe the numbers were down, but the attendees received more one-on-one time with the speakers. We had a number of first time conference attendees, and that’s always good. Seasoned writers need to encourage and support the new blood. I was blessed to have the opportunity to renew acquaintances and catch up with friends. I also picked up some good advice from award winning writers.

  1.  Writing is a business; treat it as such. Most of us have full time jobs, families, personal commitments; yet we manage to get the kids to school on time and clock in by 8. The same rules apply to our writing jobs. Dress for your writing hours. Go into your office and shut the door. Answer your writing email and ignore all other messages. Write until quitting time, and then go home.
  2. Set your writing goals. Not every writer wants to be widely published. If your goal is to write your family history, that’s great. Are stories for your children and grandchildren your dream? Go for it! Just write it correctly. Learn proper grammar and punctuation. Read books on style, structure, and characterization. But if you want to see your books on the shelves, you must work toward that goal. Spend time educating yourself on publishing law, publishing trends, and genres. Find a writer’s group, a critique group, and attend a conference. Write and rewrite to make your work the best it can be. Do your homework before submitting to agents and editors.
  3. Accept the possibility you will be rejected. I hate being negative, but there’s a lot of competition out there. Agents and editors are looking for sales and acquisitions, and there are just not that many spots. DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED. Listen to multi-published authors regarding rejection. They’ve been there and can sympathize. Just remember that you are in good, talented company.
  4. Know when to say no. I listened to John Erickson talk about his HANK THE COWDOG series. He recently released the 59th book in the franchise. With HANK, he has created a character that appeals to children and adults. He will not allow his character to be trashed or turned into something less than it is now. He has turned down good money in order to protect his creation. I applaud his integrity. As a writer, you must decide whether the financial gain is worth compromising your work. You must be sure you can live with the consequences of your choice.
  5. This lesson comes from a bubbly, witty, lady. Talk about someone who juggles writing, her entertainment journalism job, family, and commitments! Candace Havens has more deadlines than I could manage. She’s well qualified to make this statement. “No excuses. Put your butt in the chair, your fingers on the keyboard, and write.” Enough said.

Cait Collins

Frontiers in Writing 2012


2012 Frontiers in Writing Conference

By Natalie Bright

Ladies and gentlemen,

The 2012 Frontiers in Writing Conference is finished, wrapped up, sealed in a box. And what a conference it was! We were graced by such huge names as Phyliss Miranda, Hilary Sares, Candace Havens and Jodi Thomas, as well as local PPW talents such as Jeff Campbell, Joe Trent, and Mary Lou Cheatham. If you missed it, you missed a treasure trove of information, support and inspiration.

It is with great pleasure that we declare the 2012 FiW Conference an absolute success.

Watch panhandleprowriters.org for more information.

The Great Muse Meet


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Great Muse Meet

In one week there will be an epic meeting taking place. The Muse Meet, otherwise known as Frontiers in Writing. Let me tell you about it.

New York Times bestselling authors, editors, writers, bookstore managers, English teachers, and every other type of word-loving person you can think of will be gathering under one roof. There will be learning, sharing, hugging, buying, selling, meeting, talking, yarn spinning, poetry, music, food, and handshakes galore. All genres possible—horror, romance, non-fiction, poetry, western, childrens, and just general main stream—will meet face to face. This will be the show the world has been waiting for.

When this many wordy people and imaginative people and happy people get together, only one thing can happen:  UTTER BLISS!

Don’t miss it! Your muse will pelt you with a shillelagh if you don’t bring her to this bash. And you’ll sit home with a knot on your head while the rest of the writing world has a giant party.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle

Frontiers in Writing 2012


By Natalie Bright

Frontiers in Writing 2012 will open with a Thursday night book signing event held at Barnes and Noble, 2415 Soncy Road., 7:30 – 9:00 PM, June 28. Classes on Friday and Saturday will be held at the CUB on the Amarillo College Washington Campus. The closing event with John Erickson as the keynote speaker, will be held in the Ordway Auditorium.

Just for Newbies! If this is your first writers conference ever, don’t be shy. We’ll have a short orientation in the Barnes and Noble Classroom just for you starting at 7:30 PM. You’ll be done in plenty of time to attend the autographing and meet some of this years faculty.

The Friday night banquet featuring New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jodi Thomas, will be held in the REC Hall at the FORTAMARILLO RV PARK located at 10101 Amarillo Blvd. West, Amarillo. The REC hall is located on the corner of Amarillo Blvd andHelium Road, just behind Gander Mountain.

PPW is having a Book Fair at Barnes and Noble during this weekend. Every purchase made in store or online will benefit the organization. This gives us much needed funds for future conferences allowing us to keep registration fees as affordable as possible.

Print the registration form by going to www.panhandleprowriters.org

Hope to see you all in June!

Natalie Bright


The Great Muse Meet


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Great Muse Meet

In one week there will be an epic meeting taking place. The Muse Meet, otherwise known as Frontiers in Writing. Let me tell you about it.

New York Times bestselling authors, editors, writers, bookstore managers, English teachers, and every other type of word-loving person you can think of will be gathering under one roof. There will be learning, sharing, hugging, buying, selling, meeting, talking, yarn spinning, poetry, music, food, and handshakes galore. All genres possible—horror, romance, non-fiction, poetry, western, childrens, and just general main stream—will meet face to face. This will be the show the world has been waiting for.

When this many wordy people and imaginative people and happy people get together, only one thing can happen:  UTTER BLISS!

Don’t miss it! Your muse will pelt you with a shillelagh if you don’t bring her to this bash. And you’ll sit home with a knot on your head while the rest of the writing world has a giant party.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Nandy Ekle

Frontiers in Writing 2012


By Natalie Bright

Frontiers in Writing 2012 will open with a Thursday night book signing event held at Barnes and Noble, 2415 Soncy Road., 7:30 – 9:00 PM, June 28. Classes on Friday and Saturday will be held at the CUB on the Amarillo College Washington Campus. The closing event with John Erickson as the keynote speaker, will be held in the Ordway Auditorium.

Just for Newbies! If this is your first writers conference ever, don’t be shy. We’ll have a short orientation in the Barnes and Noble Classroom just for you starting at 7:30 PM. You’ll be done in plenty of time to attend the autographing and meet some of this years faculty.

The Friday night banquet featuring New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jodi Thomas, will be held in the REC Hall at the FORTAMARILLO RV PARK located at 10101 Amarillo Blvd. West, Amarillo. The REC hall is located on the corner of Amarillo Blvd andHelium Road, just behind Gander Mountain.

PPW is having a Book Fair at Barnes and Noble during this weekend. Every purchase made in store or online will benefit the organization. This gives us much needed funds for future conferences allowing us to keep registration fees as affordable as possible.

Print the registration form by going to www.panhandleprowriters.org

Hope to see you all in June!

Natalie Bright


Frontiers in Writing 2012


By Natalie Bright

Frontiers in Writing 2012 will open with a Thursday night book signing event held at Barnes and Noble, 2415 Soncy Road., 7:30 – 9:00 PM, June 28. Classes on Friday and Saturday will be held at the CUB on the Amarillo College Washington Campus. The closing event with John Erickson as the keynote speaker, will be held in the Ordway Auditorium.

Just for Newbies! If this is your first writers conference ever, don’t be shy. We’ll have a short orientation in the Barnes and Noble Classroom just for you starting at 7:30 PM. You’ll be done in plenty of time to attend the autographing and meet some of this years faculty.

The Friday night banquet featuring New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jodi Thomas, will be held in the REC Hall at the FORTAMARILLO RV PARK located at 10101 Amarillo Blvd. West, Amarillo. The REC hall is located on the corner of Amarillo Blvd andHelium Road, just behind Gander Mountain.

PPW is having a Book Fair at Barnes and Noble during this weekend. Every purchase made in store or online will benefit the organization. This gives us much needed funds for future conferences allowing us to keep registration fees as affordable as possible.

Print the registration form by going to www.panhandleprowriters.org

Hope to see you all in June!

Natalie Bright


Writing Conference


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Writing Conference

The Panhandle Professional Writers is hosting Frontiers in Writing, an annual writing conference, later this month. I have been to three of these and have learned something new and exciting while enjoying every single one.

So what do I expect to get from a conference? Well, there will be a lot of different successful writers that are willing to share what they have learned in their careers. If this was the only reason I had for going to the conference, it would be enough because I still have a lot to learn about writing .

But that is not the only reason I go to the conference. I also enjoy supporting the local authors that bring their published works to sell. It’s a cool experience to buy a book written by a friend and ask them to autograph it.

But probably the number one reason I have for choosing to go to the writing conference is to meet other writers. There are no people on the earth, except maybe grandchildren, who are more fun to be around than writers. These are the people who transport me to another world with just three or four words. These are the people who introduce me to entire populations that live in the worlds they create. These are the people who never cease to thrill me with a story.

Now how much is that worth!

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

For more information about the Frontiers in Writing, visit  http://www.panhandleprowriters.org/fiw-conference

Nandy Ekle

GEMS


GEMS

by Sharon Stevens

Mary Elizabeth Gordon-Cummings died forty years ago this month. She had fallen down the basement steps of her crumbling home and laid there several days in a heap on the floor, no one hearing her cries before a neighbor came to check on her. Old age and pneumonia then tore her down and she succumbed, her features clawed and withered with severe arthritis. She spent her last days in a clinical environment in a local hospital where everyone saw her as ancient.

We called her Aunt Molly and knew her as neighbor in my years growing up. How many times I wished I had visited with her. What could she have taught me with her stories and her memories. What could she have shared with her artist’s eye and her love of all that surrounded her. We will never know. She carried everything to her grave. She was old, her joints knarled and ugly, pain marring every feature. Nothing is left. She is dead and buried. All is gone.

But wait. I have her picture from a photograph that once hung on the walls of the Randall County Courthouse. There is no notation of when it was taken or where or why. It doesn’t tell the story of when she was born, or her passions, or her pain, but her beauty and the sweet face of youth is captured within.

Phebe Warner had urged her to come to the plains of Texas to apply as an art teacher at Goodnight College. Molly and Charles Goodnight welcomed her with open arms and gave her a glimpse of the empire they had established as the J.A. Ranch. Coming from Dallas and encountering dirt streets of Amarillo and the limited comforts of home must have been an eye opener. But the first meal at their home she remembered how the lemonade looked in the glass pitcher, the tour of the gardens, the bee hives, and of course the ranch itself.

She met Charles Lennox Gordon-Cummings at the Goodnights, and they married and moved to land west of Canyon on the Tierra Blanco Creek. Later they built a magnificent home and raised three daughters out here on the Texas plains. Mr. Gordon-Cummings died in the 1940’s and Molly lived out her life alone except for her brother that lived with her until his death in a train accident. You can read the story of her life in “The Randall County Story” by Grace Warwick.  We became her neighbors in 1952 when my dad bought land and moved us out to the country in the hottest year in recorded history.

I was reminded of Aunt Molly at this year’s annual “Night At The Museum” at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. I volunteered at the kit house in my role player costume. Armed with my picture of Molly in her youth, a glass picture filled with colored stones, and with my storytelling patchwork hat perched on my head I shared the story of Mary Elizabeth Gordon-Cummings and hoped I made her come alive.

I chose the bright gems in the pitcher because my mother had shared with me that Aunt Molly used to take broken pieces of glass and paint the images that flooded through from the sunlight. What rainbows she must have seen. What colors and prisms must have shown through. What beauty she must have witnessed among the shades of dirt and shadow.

And this brings me to this week’s blog on writing. On the season finale of “Castle” his daughter is agonizing over her valedictory speech after researching speeches by the famous such as Steve Jobs, and presidents, and historical figures and famous celebrities. Castle advises her (and I will never forget his words), “write whats true to you”.

In my writings I could pen about how Mary Elizabeth died a horrible death, abandoned, without neighbors to care whether she lived or died. I could write a horror story about how arthritis had turned her body into a mass of ugliness with her hands so gnarled she couldn’t even pick up a spoon to feed herself, much less a brush to paint. But I CHOOSE to write of her beauty, and imagine the sunrises and the sunsets she must have seen from the top floor of her great home. My heart CHOOSES to remember the smell of the lilacs that lined the walk, and the massive, shimmering cottonwoods that shaded her memories.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to read all kinds of stories from “Chicken Soup for the Soul” all the way to zombies, murder and mayhem. I have troubles with “Flowers in the Attic” but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate good writing. I don’t mind being led to an author I haven’t read before such as Harlan Coban and I absolutely fell in love with Stephen King’s, “Dorothy Claiborne”.  I will always treasure stories like “E.T.” and “The Goonies” (celebrating 25 years), “Toy Story” and any story that encompasses good versus evil. “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” is just one of my favorites with the connection to being filmed in Palo Duro Canyon on the Christian Ranch. And don’t get me started on the musical drama TEXAS. More importantly, I remember those who struggled and faced adversity, but found strength within because they were surrounded by friends. I treasure community and neighbors and family, those that touch our lives on the level of all that is good and honest. My passion is to share of heritage, legacy, the pioneer spirit, beauty, patriotism, and freedom. OH sweet freedom. I feel that there is always room for that

I will always treasure the spirit of Aunt Molly and the artistry she shared. And even though I read anything and everything in sight, I just want to write what is true to me, myself and I.  To me each word and every memory is a gem.

By the way this week celebrates the Queens Diamond Jubilee and since Charles Lennox-Gordon-Cummings was titled nobility from Scotland I am sure he would have received an invitation to the festivities. This week also marks the anniversary of D-Day during World War II and may we stop to remember not only June 6 but also each and every day past, present and future that we honor not only those in service, but those on the home front and the veterans and their families that share this common bond that ties us all to conflict and peace.

Last but not least…WTAMU is hosting the SUMMER STORYTELLING CONFERENCE on campus June 8-10, 2012 at the Sybil Harrington Fine Arts Complex. Friday and Saturday there will be concerts in the FAC Recital Hall at 7pm with a Sacred Story Concert Sunday from 9-10:30 a.m. at the Joseph Hill Chapel. Dr. Trudy Hanson has all the registration information and Eldrina Douma has been instrumental in sharing her stories. The guest speakers are from around the country and our own Jodi Thomas will be front and center speaking on creative storytelling.

And don’t forget the Frontiers in Writing Conference June 28 with the best guest speakers ever, Natalie Bright is the conference chair. And then also we celebrate the Writing Academy at WTAMU with Jodi Thomas and Tim Lewis. WHEW what a lineup!

Sharon Stevens

TEACHING CREATIVITY


TEACHING CREATIVITY

by Sharon Stevens

“Teach kids to understand everything but to fear nothing.”

Kevin Honeycutt

Almost twenty years ago I sat next to Kathy Gist at the Frontiers in Writing Conference at Amarillo College. She had submitted a story for the contest and all of us in attendance were waiting for the results. Kathy won in not only her category, but the best of all the writings that year. The judges for her wrote magazine articles and their talk was about getting your work published. They loved her story! She had taken a sweet memory of her father, and after his death she had taken fabric from his old shirts and quilted them into a wall hanging for her and her family. She wrote that she gathered them up and buried herself within the folds and grieved with each cut but healed with each stitch.

The look on Kathy’s face was priceless as the presenters listed all the publications and magazines that would be interested to carry her story. They told her to submit it now, as quick as she could and to as many as she dared. And she did. She sent her work to Guidepost and Country magazine among others. It was published in Country and then she found out she had won the Guidepost Short Story Award. The prize for this was a week in New York City with five other winners who would spend their time visiting with agents, publishers, other writers, and teachers of the craft of writing.

I thought of Kathy today as I watched Natalie Bright finish up power points for her own presentation. How blessed I was to be beside her as she went over each graphic chosen especially for this talk. Our daughter, Andrea Keller, a teacher at the Sally B. Elliott Elementary School in Irving Texas, had invited Kevin Honeycutt to Skype, and Natalie to speak at their special author’s event. Natalie teaches creative writing for children at various workshops in Canyon and Amarillo, Texas, She is also the Program Chair for the Frontier in Writing Conference and a blogger for Wordsmith Six Blog. Natalie and Jodi Thomas would be traveling to Dallas for the Dallas/Fort Worth Writers Conference this weekend and had graciously consented to give a talk to the kids over writing and a connection to oil. Natalie and her husband Chris have Sunlight Exploration, as a geologist with an oil and gas business, and she had written the book “Oil People” as a middle reader.

My husband, Joe Stevens was the photographer for the book. He has such a gift in photography, where did he tap into this talent?

Jodi Thomas is a guest speaker at the DFW Writers Conference and her topic is, “To Teach Creativity, Writing Deeper.” And this brings me to the inspiration for this blog.

How do you teach creativity, how do you ingrain writing? To inspire, sure, to instruct, ditto. You can do all of these things. But to be able to take those lessons and create a story is something that comes from within. As I watched Natalie I was overwhelmed with all the emotions exploding in my heart. The colors, the graphics, the whole kit and caboodle came alive and sang to my soul.

I felt the same way when I took Creative Writing classes from Jodi Thomas and DeWanna Pace at the urging of my good friend Connie Hirsch. Jodi taught each of us in the class to write from our own heart. They taught us the craft of writing and the mechanics, but it went so much deeper than that or higher above. They inspired us to tap into ourselves and find a way to transfer that onto print. I also am touched in so many ways with each guest speaker at Panhandle Professional Writers like Barbara Brannon from Texas Tech University Press as they share their passion and gifts. In just a couple of hours they take a simple subject and weave a connection that we can use to our own benefit.

And then again my heart is so full as I watch my daughter gather ideas using all she learned with her Master’s Degree in Educational Technology, but also with Podstock, Follett Higher Education, Destination Imagination, BrainPop, Girl Scouts and on and on. And then there are the people who have touched her life such as Dr. Alice Owen, Dr. Elaine Roberts, and Elaine Plybon. Who was their teacher that gave them their gifts? Andrea has volunteered for years every which way she can, and stores tidbits everywhere she goes. Teaching children with Autism keeps her sharp in all the ways she can give them a voice. Her creativity knows no bounds. Where did she find this spark? How does she transfer it to others? It boggles the mind. My husband and I may have given her life, but the extras she created on her own.

Each and every person connected together share the essence of their creativity. Some exude through their very soul. The definition in my 1890 Webster’s dictionary only describes creativity as related to creation as in birth. And maybe it is nothing more than that. But I believe creativity is what takes a scene or an idea and gives it life, and helps it to explode with vivid colors bright with everything that gives us spirit.

I won’t be there to watch Andrea shine, or as Natalie gives her talk or Kevin Skypes, but I will be blessed to hear them as they share their excitement when they return home, or watch their postings on facebook or email. As God and John Wayne are my witness I know with their creativity they will touch the life of a child, or a parent, or a teacher. And each of those will return to their own homes and their own families and pass these moments on to their siblings and to their friends, AND this will perpetuate an endless cycle of heritage and legacy for eternity. What a treasure!

I think words taken from the musical drama “TEXAS” says it best. “Take good news where you are going, say to the waiting dead that your brothers intend good things. And here where you once followed the Buffalo, a kind and happy people will build their homes and cities in joy and Thanksgiving-trusting in one another, friends to one another. Yes, that’s what I mean, honored warrior and chief. And we will remember your suffering and the suffering and sacrifice of your people and of my own Mother who sleeps in this ground where you will sleep, and so will the better and more beautiful make this land because of you. And our children, and children’s children will remember. WILL REMEMBER!”

Sharon Stevens