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

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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.

DISCOVER THE PROMISE


DISCOVER THE PROMISE

by Sharon Stevens

I don’t know what I feel each time I watch the viral video of Karen Klein being bullied on the school bus. There are no words. None! Of course there is disgust and there is anger, and there is dismay, and there is outrage, and there are tears, so many, many tears.

It was so hard to distance myself from the words of horror I had witnessed so I approached it from a different angle. I decided to Google Greece Town New York, the city where the incident occurred. It seemed like such a pleasant place filled with a cross section of humanity. Who knew the town with the motto of “discover the promise” would harbor families that raised such ugliness. Sort of like our own Tulia Texas who faced a tragedy of its own a few years ago.

Still there were no words.

I can only imagine the pain Karen went through listening as they taunted her. What gave her the grace to not lash out at the kids? How many times did she face this in the past? What words did she carry in her heart and soul that brought her peace with each mile she rode?

No one knows, no one can fathom…ever, forever!

And then there is Sandusky!

Everyone needs inspiration! We face unspeakable horrors, pain, and tragedies, but also tremendous joys and celebrations. No matter the media we still need to discover the words that keep us whole and sane and center our soul.

Those of us who love to write try to find words in everything that crosses our path. When I put pen to paper or fingers to computer I want to set down all thoughts and every feeling. It is important for me to make sure each and every person understands what I am trying to say whether they want to or not. I know I need to focus, and tighten. There is no question I have a problem, but I need this. I live for this. I cherish this. In all the terrible destruction in the world with writing I can find a solace in my soul.

And I think this is why attending writing conferences like Frontiers in Writing matter so much to me. As I sit in a room with others I soak up inspiration from not only the speaker, but each person in the room. The questions they ask and even the way they frame their queries gives me a glimmer of hope. At the very least I find a quote phrased in-between the ideas. I can study the characters around me at the same time. Names, plots, settings, emotions, all find their way into my psyche and my notes.

But you don’t always need to share just with written words. Take for example Delbert Trew’s column in the Amarillo Globe News about his family’s mercantile store. When I read the article I knew the words would be perfect for Biffle and Cross Mercantile for the opening of the new Pioneer Town at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum. I made copies and carried them over and placed them in the store. On the way back to the Buffalo Bookstore I just had to stop under the shadow of the American and Texas Flag at the entrance to the museum and take pictures of the flowers planted there. Sunflowers are always special as they bring up memories of my daughter. Her words are that you always have to smile whenever you see sunflowers. There are no bad memories associated when you share the beauty of these bright, yellow treasures.

This weekend hosts many different events in our area. The Frontiers in Writing Conference will be held at Amarillo College and sponsored by Panhandle Professional Writers hosted with PPW president Matt Sherley, and chaired by Natalie Bright with guest speakers of Candace Havens, Jodi Thomas, John Erickson, Jeff Campbell, Hilary Sares, Craig and Nancy Keel, Chris Stewart, Mary Lou Cheatham, Joe Trent, and so many others. Jim Gleason at Barnes and Nobles also will give a presentation about publishing.

And the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum will be hosting the grand opening of Pioneer Town-a long awaited celebration. WTAMU will be sharing along with the English Department, The Legacy with selected readings and open mic at the Palace Coffee House on the courthouse square in Canyon Texas.  The musical drama TEXAS continues in Palo Duro Canyon, and Canyon is gearing up for July 4th.

How can anyone choose?

I urge everyone to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities in our community. We have so much facing us in the future and need to take these moments to heart. Don’t miss a single moment to celebrate the rich legacy and heritage that surrounds us. As a writer, Frontiers in Writing meets every need for those who love to write and share.

Just as in the case of Karen Klein, it will help us to find the write words.

Sharon Stevens