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.

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THE PERFECT TRACTOR BOOK


THE PERFECT TRACTOR BOOK

By Natalie Bright

It started with a tractor book.  After an endless search I thought I had purchased the perfect one, but my five-year-old son informed me the book had flaws.

“A tractor would never park in a garage,” he said.  My description of a giant, garage-like-barn-like-shed did not fly.  I asked his opinion of what might be in the ideal tractor book.  He told me and then suggested, “You should just write it.”

The spark of desire to write something besides work related pieces was flamed by my son. Armed with a purple gel pen and a blue spiral notebook I found myself sitting in a creative writing class taught by university Writer-in-Residence and New York Times bestselling author, Jodi Thomas. Her comment on the first night of class shocked me to the core. “You are all writers, or you wouldn’t be here,” she said.

A writer!  Me? Personnel policies, ad copy, business correspondence and scrapbook journaling doesn’t make a person a writer, or maybe it does.

That six week, intensive course changed my life, as have all of the writer’s conferences I’ve attended since.  And Jodi’s one piece of advice on the last night of her class still remains; “Always write from the heart.”

Beginning with a search for the perfect book for my son and ending with a passion to learn everything I can about the craft of writing, I realized this journey has just begun.

All the best to you on your writing journey, and thanks for following us on WordsmithSix!

Natalie Bright

GO FOR THE OUTRAGEOUS



GO FOR THE OUTRAGEOUS

By Natalie Bright

Hilary Sares, freelance editor and ghostwriter, spoke at the recent Frontiers in Writing Conference this summer and encouraged us to go for intensity and outrageousness in all of our writing. “Stories can take on a life of their own and don’t be afraid to spin your story into something new without loosing sight of the craft,” Sares told us. The example she gave is a self-pub runaway bestseller by John Locke called SAVING RACHEL, the story of what happens when killers force a man to choose between his wife and his mistress…and the one he rejects must die. It’s different, it’s a new premise and readers loved it. She reminded us that structure must include magic and plot. “Write from your soul, write from your heart, and write your life experience,” Hilary said. If the topic means something to you, you will reach people in a direct way. The trick is to put yourself into it and leave yourself out of it. One of the biggests problems she sees with newbie writers is the intrusion of clever asides. The author must be invisible. In today’s market we see larger story arcs where individual characters can be spun off into their own series. “The writing is tight, fast moving and stripped down,” Hilary said. “You are a pro. Be willing to change and edit.” She encouraged us to work our contacts, be shameless in promoting ourselves, and always keep the magic in mind.

Natalie Bright

www.nataliebright.com

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.

Frontiers in Writing 1st Timer orientation


Frontiers in Writing 1st Timer orientation
Rory Craig Keel will be conducting a special 1st Timer orientation just prior to Frontiers in Writing Conference on Thursday, June 28th. from 7:30 – 8:30 PM  in the Classroom at Barnes and Noble Bookstore, 2415 Soncy Road, Amarillo, TX.
If you’re new to writing and this is your first conference, then let us answer all your questions and concerns. As a multi-award winning author, his writing has been featured in heavensentministries.org, thisspirituallife.com, seedsofhopeonline.com, The Secret Place devotional magazine by Judson Press, and he blogs every week at wordsmithsix.wordpress.com
 Rory C. Keel

Frontiers in Writing 1st Timer orientation


Frontiers in Writing 1st Timer orientation
Rory Craig Keel will be conducting a special 1st Timer orientation just prior to Frontiers in Writing Conference on Thursday, June 28th. from 7:30 – 8:30 PM  in the Classroom at Barnes and Noble Bookstore, 2415 Soncy Road, Amarillo, TX.
If you’re new to writing and this is your first conference, then let us answer all your questions and concerns. As a multi-award winning author, his writing has been featured in heavensentministries.org, thisspirituallife.com, seedsofhopeonline.com, The Secret Place devotional magazine by Judson Press, and he blogs every week at wordsmithsix.wordpress.com

Writers’ Resources


Outtakes 29

Writers’ Resources

My published works are associated with broadcasting. I do have a few fiction pieces out there, but overall, the various television and radio stations I worked with own the rights to my commercials, documentaries, and news reports. Switching to fiction put me back in the newbie ranks. I never enjoyed being a beginner and not knowing all the ropes. I believed there were instructions out there, but where do you start looking for help? I must admit I got lucky when I attended my first conference. I found the direction I needed and met some great people along the way.

Kim Campbell helped me avoid mistakes with my first agent/editor pitch. No one mentioned the agent didn’t want my manuscript. I’d been toting that 400 page book for a day and a half. My shoulders ached from the extra weight. Kim let me know all I needed was my business card and a great pitch. I met with the agent; she requested a synopsis and the first thirty pages. It didn’t lead to a contract, but I did receive valuable information and encouragement from her. Kim began a screenwriting class on-line. She taught me how to format a screenplay, focus the action, and keep the story visual and moving. I’ve had some interest in that first screenplay, but no sale. The truth is that without Kim’s lessons and encouragement, RHYMES would not have been written.

FIW lead me to another wonderful organization. Amarillo College has an excellent continuing education program. The instructor for my first creative writing class was New York Times and USA Today Best Selling Author, Jodi Thomas. We had a great group of writers in that class. We all wrote different genres, had different perspectives, and varying experiences. I truly enjoyed that class. Jodi was a fantastic instructor. A former high school, teacher, she knew how to instruct and encourage us. She was able to bring out the very best in each student. Jodi was the inspiration for the short story RHYMES. The assignment was to write a story about a lone shoe on the side of the road. I was the last to read my story. I sat and listened to hilarious pieces, thought provoking stories, and some sweet romances. Mine was different and I feared my audience would not like the offering. The room was deadly quiet as I read. When I finished, Jodi looked at me and stated, “I would not want to go to your house tonight. I’d be afraid of finding where the bodies were buried.” Wow! That felt great. I still look to Jodi as a mentor. She has befriended many a struggling writer as an honorary member of Panhandle Professional Writers and as the current Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University.

That brings us to writers’ organizations. Panhandle Professional Writers is one of the oldest, continuing writers’ groups in the country. I’ve made good friends through this organization. I treasure their support and encouragement. Through PPW, I joined my first critique group; attended writers’ retreats in Taos, NM. My association with this organization has allowed me to test my abilities and receive correction and instruction. I’d be lost without PPW.

Bottom line is we have resources. Go on line and do a search of writers groups, contests, and conferences. You are sure to find a group or conference in your area. Try entering contests. The critiques are so valuable. Check out your local community college or university for continuing education classes. Read blogs. Attend book signings. As you can see the resources are unlimited.

Cait Collins

Writers’ Conferences


Outtakes 20

Writers’ Conferences

Beginning writers often run into problems jump starting their careers. Questions regarding copyright, contracts, submissions, formatting, genres, and marketing come up and answers are sometimes hard to find. I’ve been there so I understand the frustration. I thought I was the only writer out there who had doubts and questions. I had a novel. I’d submitted it. The agent liked it, but didn’t sign me. So what do you do?

My answer came from a newspaper article for a writer’s conference right here in Amarillo. I read the information, called for the registration packet, and made plans to pick brains, and learn more about getting published. I so enjoyed that weekend. I attended workshops with New York Times Best Selling author Christina Dodd, mystery author Rick Riordan, and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cunningham. The best part was that I was no longer alone. I went to the conference not knowing anyone, and left with a pocketful of business cards from fellow writers. I became friends with some of the folks I met, and ten years later, I still can count on their support and encouragement.

Do I recommend writers’ conferences? Absolutely! The trick is finding the right one for your needs. I prefer smaller conferences (I’m shy), but some of my friends like the larger ones. I recommend Frontiers in Writing in Amarillo. The 2012 conference will be held the weekend of June 29-30 on the Amarillo College campus. This year’s conference will offer workshops for everyone whether you are a beginner or a published author. If Amarillo is a little too far away, run an internet search for a conference in your area. It will cost a little money, but this is an investment in your writing career. The contacts you make are so valuable, and the friendships made are priceless.

Cait Collins