Best Quotes from WWA


 

Best Quotes from WWA

Natalie Bright

The Western Writers of America meeting was held in Billings this year, and I had the chance to attend, as you might have noted from previous blog posts. Here are the best quotes from that four-day meeting.

 

“Write about your passion. Consider it lucky to follow that passion your whole life. Research is the key to everything.” Rob Word, TV writer, producer, host of the YouTube celebrity talk shows A WORD ON ENTERTAINMENT and A WORD ON WESTERNS

“You have to get out from behind your desk.” Toby Thompson, author & creative writing instructor at Penn State University.

“Thank you for coming to Crow country. The land you are standing on is mixed with Crow blood.”Alden BigMan Jr.

“Western writers have a strong sense that place is special.” Linda Jacobs, geologist & award-wining author.

“Just because you know beef, you don’t know buffalo.” M. Michael Gear, archeologist & award-winning author.

“Bison are not worked physically. It’s more like a chess game.” Kathleen O’Neal Gear, archeologist, historian, and author.

“So many different ways to connect with readers. Be findable.” Kirsta Rolfzen Soukup, owner Blue Cottage Agency.

“Be prepared to get on social media and promote the hell out of yourself.” Cherry Weiner, Cherry Weiner Literary Agency.

“Take a moment to consider the breadth of subject matter our organization represents. We have a great group of finalists and winners.” Kirk Ellis, WWA President & television producer.

“I had to remind myself this is not a documentary. It’s art.” Marcus Red Thunder, technical adviser on Longmire.

When your book becomes a television show…”It’s like ranching. You get the very best people you can to work with and leave them alone.” Craig Johnson, WWA board member & best-selling author of the Walt Longmire mystery series.

“I tell kids, get into the books. They are a hell of a lot better than that TV show.” Marcus Red Thunder referring to the Walt Longmire mystery series by Craig Johnson.

“Write good books; the one thing writers have control over. Never underestimate those characters.”Craig Johnson

 

Spending time with other writers reminds me of why I can’t ignore the stories and characters in my head, and why I don’t want to stop no matter what life throws in my path. Listening to someone else tell you about their work and hanging around others who are passionate about stories is very inspiring.

If you are a fan of history, the western genre, or stories set in the American West, you might be interested in these organizations for writers.

Women Writing the West is a group of writers and professionals who promote the contributions made by women to the history, culture, and growth of the American West. For more information, visit http://www.womenwritingthewest.org The 2018 meeting will be held October 25-28 in Walla Walla, Washington, or join us in 2019 in San Antonio, Texas.

Western Writers of America boasts historians, nonfiction authors, young adult, romance writers, songwriters, poets, and screenwriters for film and television within its 650 members. We all have one thing in common—our work in every medium is set in the ever-changing American West. For more information go here  http://westernwriters.org Join us in Tucson, Arizona in June 19-22, 2019.

Natalie Bright is an author, blogger and speaker. The two newest books in her RESCUE ANIMAL SERIES features a Tennessee Walker named Flash and a registered Hackney named Taz. Click on the books tab above for more information, and check the events calendar. For a funny, Wild West adventure, the TROUBLE IN TEXAS series is perfect for middle grades and family read-a-longs. Coming soon for young adults, WOLF’S WAR is a dark adventure set in the Texas frontier about a muleskinner and Comanche brave who reluctantly join forces to fight a ruthless gang of outlaws. Also in the works from NKB Books LLC, tales from an Arkansas Vet and a book for novice cow punchers about the unwritten rules of the cowboy code.

 

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TRUE GRIT TIMES TWO


 

 

TRUE GRIT TIMES TWO

By Natalie Bright

 

Writing Exercise #1.

Develop a new twist on the characterization of an iconic character.

On a cold, foggy Saturday this past weekend, my husband popped in True Grit (TG#2) starring Jeff Bridges. Later that afternoon John Wayne’s True Grit, from 1969, (TG#1) happened to be on television. Over dinner we talked about the differences between the two movies.

My husband made a good point in that Bridges played a meaner, darker version of a crusty, old Marshall, which is why he likes TG#2 better. Directed by the Coen brothers and released in 2010, I agree that TG#2 is more realistic to the old west. It never made sense to me that the Marshall would have walked that far in TG#1. In TG#2 they rode Little Blacky to death first and then Mattie was carried by the Marshall on foot to save her life.

On Sunday afternoon, we introduced my son’s girlfriend to The Cowboys (1972) with John Wayne. If you don’t own the blue-ray version of this movie, you must find it. Filmed on locations in Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico the scenery stands out as a character on its own. TV reruns don’t do these ranches and sweeping landscapes justice. Roscoe Lee Browne is my favorite character as the chuck wagon cookie, and I’ve had a crush on A. Martinez as Cimarron from the moment he defiantly proclaims, “I’m a mistake of nature.” This movie is so good. Tommy Lee Jones is reportedly writing a new screenplay for The Cowboys. I’m happy/sad about that news.

To sum up our weekend, my 18yo likes TG#1 and TG#2 equally as well. His girlfriend loved The Cowboys. Our 14yo tells me he’s not really into John Wayne, but he really likes that new Netflix show Lonesome Dove (What? I thought he only watched Walking Dead). I’m so glad new generations are discovering these “new” western type shows! When’s the last time you watched a good ole’ family western?

Writing Exercise #2.

Using one of your own characters, rework the description into something more… more dark, more funny, more brave. Dig deep into their personality and motives, and see what you can find hiding there.

Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

nat

Most Memorable Books 2015


Most Memorable Books 2015

Natalie Bright

New York Times Bestselling author Jodi Thomas tells her students to set aside time to write every day, and that reading works by other writers is just as important. Just as we can recognize the musical strains of jazz or bluegrass or hip hop, so too must writers be able to recognize and learn from reading brilliant prose.

Here are a few of my most memorable reads of the past year:

RANSOM CANYON by Jodi Thomas. (Harlequin) Not because she’s a local Amarillo author and a friend, but because she’s done it again with this new series set in the heart of Texas. The cast of characters in the world of West Texas ranching makes for good entertainment.

WHITE STALLION OF LIPIZZA by Marguerite Henry. (Aladdin) Engaging story about a boy’s dream to work with the world famous Lipizzaner horses. Many of Marguerite Henry’s books have been reissued for today’s readers. It is my deepest inspiration to be able to write with as much emotion and clarity as Ms. Henry. At first glance they seem like simple stories, but as writers we can appreciate the complexities of her talent.

FIRST BLOOD by David Morrell. (Hachette Book Group) In 1982 Rambo hit the big screen. I have to admit that I was over my crush by Movie #3, but now my boys are huge fans. I heard the “father of Rambo” speak at a writers conference and he signed two copies of FIRST BLOOD for my boys. They were so thrilled with his autograph, they refused to loan me a book to read and I had to settle for an eBook version. The writing blew me away. It’s a vivid, often times violent tale, with a great lesson in how to write suspense. I’m forever more a huge fan of Mr. Morrell.

GIRL ON A WIRE by Gwenda Bond. (Skyscape) Unique twist on the age old Romeo and Juliet scenario set in the fascinating grit of a traveling circus. The tight wire scenes are fantastic writing.

WILD RAN THE RIVERS by James Crownover. (Five Star Publishing) Told in the unique style from the point of view of a young women and her young brother, their story pulls you in from the beginning. The imagery of the old west proves a well-researched historical story. I love books that make we want to learn more about the time period and place. The scenes involving the New Madrid earthquakes (1811-1812) are edge of your seat storytelling. Well-deserved winner of two prestigious SPUR awards from the Western Writers of America for best historical and best first novel.

SAILING WITH IMPUNITY by Mary E. Trimble. (nonfiction, Shelter Graphics) Sailing the Pacific is something I can’t foresee doing in my life-time, so this book is the next best thing. If you’ve ever dreamed about sailing the high seas, you will love this book. Learn about the prefect sail boat, the preparation, maritime regulations. Experience the isolation, details of daily living, the islands, and the people. An unforgettable read.

ALL FALL DOWN by Ally Carter. (Scholastic) If you’ve ever wondered about the young adult genre, start with this one. Set in Embassy Row the main character is the grand-daughter of a powerful ambassador. Filled with a teenaged world-view of complications and angst, there’s also a mystery to be solved.

GEORGE WASHINGTON SECRET SIX by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. (Penguin Group) Another standout nonfiction book for me about “the spy ring that saved the American Revolution”. The book flap indicates that this story is based on extensive research and there’s no doubt. It inspired me to keep writing on my story idea set in pre-revolutionary times and made me realize how much more research I need to do.

TEXAS MAIL ORDER BRIDE by Linda Broday (Bachelors of Battle Creek Series). (Sourcebooks) Also from an Amarillo author and friend, this is a new series about cowboys, the old west, and sweet romance. What more could you possibly want in a story?

We’d love to know about some of your standout reads in the past year.

Thanks for following WordsmithSix!

 

THE BIG WHY


THE BIG WHY

By Natalie Bright

When I added fiction writing to my job related and freelance work about 12 years ago, I had envisioned becoming a romance writer. My goals were to sign with an agent and attend the Romance Writers of America conference every year.  As a member of two critique groups, one which is all romance writers, it stands to reason that I’d be a natural at creating these kind of stories. Easy peasy.

Wrong.

The stories in my head are not of the romantic nature.

The characters that interrupt my dreams are young people, most often from the past. More specifically in the old West. Not only have I spent many, many sleepless nights wondering about these characters and their adventures, I’ve also asked myself, WHY am I doing this? I remember being fascinated with history, the Oregon Trail, and the old West at an early age, but I never imagined I’d be crafting historical novels. I’ve since walked many a mile on the dirt road behind my house, staring into the setting sun, trying to channel a 15-year old Comanche brave. Why this character haunts my head is a mystery.

This summer, my entire mindset has changed regarding my writing journey.

WWA is the West

I attended the Western Writers of America convention in Lubbock, Texas. This is a diverse group, with songwriters, poets, historians, museum archivists, writers of nonfiction and fiction, editors, agents, musicians, and newbies and veteran authors.

As a first-time attendee and new member I didn’t expect to know anyone there, and then a very nice lady from Utah introduced herself and said, “I’ll be your mentor.” (Thank you Rachelle “Rocky” Gibbons, SPUR Award finalist of Big Buckaroo & Moose the Cow Dog.)

Educational Panels and Much More

While there, I listened to a panel of New York City authors share facts about The Alamo that I’d never heard before. Songwriters and talented musicians shared their original music every night in the Roundup Room. A panel on writing about the Comanche Nation included great-grandsons of the great chief Quanah Parker!

At a table over a plate of Texas Bar-B-Que, I listened to the daughter of Don Coldsmith tell how her father gave up a successful medical career as a family practice physician to write stories set in the west. His first book came from the discovery of a valuable bit in an antique bin in Oklahoma, which he bought for a dollar. He penned 40 novels which involved a whole series covering centuries of history. She told us about his writing process and about how he never missed a WWA convention.

The Why Doesn’t Matter

Here’s what I learned during this amazing week: these people don’t worry about the WHY.

WWA members endlessly research the subjects they love. WWA members write about the people and the places that burns a hole in their gutt. My guess is WWA members would pen those stories, songs and poems whether anyone read them or not. A writer writes. From this day forward, I’ll strive to write the very best story I can and leave the why for somebody else to worry about.

WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA NEEDS YOU!

If you’re a fan of history, cowboys, horses, and anything relating to the American West, close to 600 WWA members share your enthusiasm. You will LOVE this group. Check them out at www.westernwriters.org.

Perhaps I’ll meet you June 2016 at the WWA Convention in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Whatever haunts your dreams, stop questioning the why and write on!

Nataliebright.com

THE BIG WHY


THE BIG WHY

By Natalie Bright

When I added fiction writing to my job related and freelance work about 12 years ago, I had envisioned becoming a romance writer. My goals were to sign with an agent and attend the Romance Writers of America conference every year.  As a member of two critique groups, one which is all romance writers, it stands to reason that I’d be a natural at creating these kind of stories. Easy peasy.

Wrong.

The stories in my head are not of the romantic nature.

The characters that interrupt my dreams are young people, most often from the past. More specifically in the old West. Not only have I spent many, many sleepless nights wondering about these characters and their adventures, I’ve also asked myself, WHY am I doing this? I remember being fascinated with history, the Oregon Trail, and the old West at an early age, but I never imagined I’d be crafting historical novels. I’ve since walked many a mile on the dirt road behind my house, staring into the setting sun, trying to channel a 15-year old Comanche brave. Why this character haunts my head is a mystery.

This summer, my entire mindset has changed regarding my writing journey.

WWA is the West

I attended the Western Writers of America convention in Lubbock, Texas. This is a diverse group, with songwriters, poets, historians, museum archivists, writers of nonfiction and fiction, editors, agents, musicians, and newbies and veteran authors.

As a first-time attendee and new member I didn’t expect to know anyone there, and then a very nice lady from Utah introduced herself and said, “I’ll be your mentor.” (Thank you Rachelle “Rocky” Gibbons, SPUR Award finalist of Big Buckaroo & Moose the Cow Dog.)

Educational Panels and Much More

While there, I listened to a panel of New York City authors share facts about The Alamo that I’d never heard before. Songwriters and talented musicians shared their original music every night in the Roundup Room. A panel on writing about the Comanche Nation included great-grandsons of the great chief Quanah Parker!

At a table over a plate of Texas Bar-B-Que, I listened to the daughter of Don Coldsmith tell how her father gave up a successful medical career as a family practice physician to write stories set in the west. His first book came from the discovery of a valuable bit in an antique bin in Oklahoma, which he bought for a dollar. He penned 40 novels which involved a whole series covering centuries of history. She told us about his writing process and about how he never missed a WWA convention.

The Why Doesn’t Matter

Here’s what I learned during this amazing week: these people don’t worry about the WHY.

WWA members endlessly research the subjects they love. WWA members write about the people and the places that burns a hole in their gutt. My guess is WWA members would pen those stories, songs and poems whether anyone read them or not. A writer writes. From this day forward, I’ll strive to write the very best story I can and leave the why for somebody else to worry about.

WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA NEEDS YOU!

If you’re a fan of history, cowboys, horses, and anything relating to the American West, close to 600 WWA members share your enthusiasm. You will LOVE this group. Check them out at www.westernwriters.org.

Perhaps I’ll meet you June 2016 at the WWA Convention in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Whatever haunts your dreams, stop questioning the why and write on!

Nataliebright.com

The Western Genre & Why I Write


The Western Genre & Why I Write

By Natalie Bright

Defined by Wikipedia as: a genre of various arts, such as film, television, radio, fiction and art. Westerns are devoted to telling stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th century in the American Old West, hence the name. Many feature cowboys, bandits, lawmen, soldiers and American Indians, as well as spectacular mountain scenery

Today’s western genre is not the stereotypical shoot ‘em up adventures from the past that you may think of. You can also find modern stories set in big cities, rural towns, or endless plains; not just mountain ranges.

You’ll discover mystery, romance and adventure. You’ll discover essay collections that celebrate the land and open spaces (“West of 98: Living and Writing the New West”). Books by authors who spend years researching historical events. Creative nonfiction articles and memoirs by people who have lived on the range, rode the bucking bulls, or ridden the mountain trails. Cookbooks and plays and songs…

The 650 member strong Western Writers of America includes screenwriters, song writers, historians, performers, poets, novelists, freelance writers, editors, agents—all types of professionals committed to crafting real stories set in the West.

My Inspiration

Being a part of groups like WWA and Women Writing the West are what inspires me to write. Their stories inspire me. I want to help you understand what it means to be a part of this vast land, how a Texas sky can take your breath away, or imagine what it’s like to stare upon an unblocked view that extends further than you can walk in a day.

“Western literature is of the spirit, our spirit, the spirit of America.” WWA

To discover books and speakers relating to the west, go to: www.westernwriters.org

www.womenwritingthewest.com 

Sometimes you can’t ignore the stories of your heart.

What inspires you to write?

Nataliebright.com

Women Writing the West


Women Writing the West

Inspiration for writers can come through a variety of venues, and the truth is we can’t be too picky. We’ll take that flash of brilliance whenever and however it is gifted. 

Hanging out with other writers is one of my favorite ways to ignite a fire under the muse. When you’re passionate about something, who doesn’t love to “talk shop”?

As I mentioned in a previous email, sometimes the group your find yourself a part of doesn’t inspire you, and may in fact start wearing you down. I think professional colleagues should not only be a source of information in regards to your profession, but also a positive influence by offering encouragement and congratulations and ideas. Everyone in the group selflessly promotes each other and are genuinely glad for each others successes. Thankfully, I’ve found that through my Critique Group, WordsmithSix. And recently I’ve stumbled upon that again through an online group: Women Writing the West.

www.womenwritingthewest.org

From their website:  Women Writing the West is a group of writers who set their work in the West, and are creating a literary explosion said to be comparable to the Southern literary renaissance in the 1930s. Women Writing the West is open to all persons worldwide.

History and Heritage

I’m extremely passionate about writing westerns for children and affording today’s kids an exciting way to discover history and their heritage. It’s very inspiring to be involved with a group who loves the same genre as I do. One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is WWW’s active listserv on Yahoo. Questions are asked, multiple answers are given, blog links are shared, book reviews, promo ideas, and personal reflections on story craft. It’s all good. This diverse group has close to 300 members and holds an annual conference.

Women Writing the West: The flavor we wish to recognize and perpetuate is found between the pages of our books. Join us in the adventure of rich conversations and exchanges; information on writing today, western history, and marketing for the future.

Seeking and Joining

I hope for you, dear blog readers, that you find a group whether it be a few or many, that will offer you encouragement, inspire your muse, and feed your soul.

Keep writing!

www.nataliebright.com

 

The Magic of John Wayne


The Magic of John Wayne

By Natalie bright

 

While driving a carload of boys, I listened with interest to my 15yo son and his friends chat about movies. I was shocked to hear one of them say that their favorite movie star was John Wayne. What followed was a surprisingly in-depth discussion of his movies, and if the remake with Jeff Bridges lived up to the original version (they all agreed that both actors owned the part). 

I’d like to say thank you cable television. I guess those John Wayne marathons and boring summer days have a way of coming together in every young man’s life. Did you ever imagine that kids of the 21st century would still be watching John Wayne?

Satellite Dish Enchantment

I realized that the youth of today are exposed to so much more than we were. I really didn’t have control of the television channels until I moved out on my own. My children have a television, iPad, and gaming system, all affording exposure to a wide variety of material. My two boys like westerns and 007 and transformer movies, those ridiculous videos on YouTube, and the history channel. Plus we have horses and cattle and lots of chores. It’s a busy and varied life. 

Books for every Taste

And the same goes with books. I read across all genres, and I’ve come to realize that kids are like most adults.  When I speak at schools, I open discussion to talk about their favorite books. I’m always surprised at the variety of answers, and my kids read a mix of genres too, except it’s not the stories I would have chosen for them.  I’m clueless as to why my youngest refuses to read about Harry Potter and prefers zombies instead. And my oldest went from the Jack and Annie series straight into nonfiction about World War I. 

Editors and agents work hard to produce amazing stories, and thanks to social media and eBooks there’s so many ways for readers to discover them. Opportunities abound for writers too.

Rock Songs of the 70’s

As we drove along, we programmed my sons iPhone to the car so he could play his music. The teenagers sang along with today’s country, but the rock songs were from the 70’s and 80’s; Boston, Journey, Eagles. The same rock songs I used to sing to and the same songs that drove my parents crazy. This younger generation thinks they’re the first ones that came up with everything relating to hip. Does that ring familiar?

More Than a Feeling

As More Than a Feeling blasted through the car, my son asked, “How do you know the words to that song?” 

I smiled. Thanks to me, my children are watching excellent movie stars, expanding their interests, considering all the possibilities and realizing that they can be anything they want to be while being exposed to the technology of a new century.

Now if a cable channel would run a Clint Eastwood marathon and if some teenager would take out the trash, my modern world would be complete.

www.nataliebright.com

For the Love of Horses


Middle Grade Mondays

For the Love of Horses

by Natalie Bright

I love horses, and they rarely even tolerate me.

Horses are hyper-sensitive to everything and everyone around them. They are super-smart, skittish, mystical, magical, and they like things calm. If they have a job to do, they want to do it. They are not fond of dallying around on something that doesn’t make sense to them.

Eating Dirt

Every summer as a kid, I’d visit my cousins and the first thing my dad would say before he left, “do not get on a horse.” Of course we did on occasion. Just so you know, if you’re riding along and you laugh really loud at something your cousin said, you’re eating dirt quicker than you can spit. It happens that fast.

So I learned early on that I’m loud and hyper and spastic and horses do not roll with that kind of person. I also discovered that horses have personalities.

Personality Plus

Many years ago, a friend gave me a tour of his stable and introduced me to all of his horses. He explained how their names are unique to their personalities and physical traits. I feel in love with those beautiful animals, never imagining that I’d write middle grade books where these animals would need to play an important role in the plot.

As a ranch owner, I’ve discovered that ranch horses are highly trained, cowboys are very passionate about what they do, and they have the ability to talk horse all day long. And although I wished to have a horse more than anything when I was younger, I’ve never really had a special connection with these majestic creatures.

Writing the West

As a western writer, there’s no doubt that horses have to be a part of my stories. The challenge is in giving them a personality. I want them to be more than just livestock or  a part of the setting. I want them to be larger than life characters with humorous traits and behavior habits.  I rely on all of you horse people to tell me why you love these amazing animals so much.

Cheers to horses, and thanks to those of you have shared your experiences.

Keep them coming!

www.nataliebright.com

Where do you belong?


Where do you belong?

Where does your writing fit in the world of genre?

A genre is a “category” of literature or other forms of art and culture. Knowing the answer to this question will be a great benefit in every area of your writing.

Here is a list of the major writing genres: children, fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, short fiction, thriller, westerns, young adults, mainstream, nonfiction. Within each of these groups there are multiple sub-genres.

You will find that your thoughts will be more focused when you write if you understand the genre where your project best fits. You will also have a greater chance of success when seeking the proper agent for representation. Remember that not all agents represent every genre. When submitting your work directly, choose a publisher that best fits your writing. Research the company to understand what genre they represent to ensure greater chances of publication.

To help you discover which Genre fits your writing best, we will explore each category in future weekly blog posts.

Rory C. Keel