Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Mark Your Calendars for the Next Conference!

Photos courtesy Doris McCraw

 Editor's Note: This is the first of a series of posts about the upcoming conference in Redmond, OR. We will feature an article the first week of the month until the October 8-11 event.

by Shanna Hatfield
What is a conference?

The dictionary defines a conference as:
 a meeting for consultation or discussion
the act of conferring or consulting together
• an assembly to discuss a particular topic

A conference is so much more than that, though.

It’s an opportunity to meet new friends and connect with those already dear to our hearts.

It’s the privilege of listening to those with vast and varied experience share their thoughts and ideas.

It’s the unique moment when the combined excitement and energy of the attendees comes together to create a wonderful synergistic atmosphere that you’ll wish you could bottle up and bring home.

Once a year, Women Writing the West offers you the opportunity to be a part of this amazing exchange of ideas, information, networking, and friendship.

Plan now to immerse yourself in Distinctions of the West: Writers Explore the Northwest during the 21st annual conference of Women Writing the West Oct. 8-11, 2015, in the beautiful high desert country of Redmond, Oregon, at the Eagle Crest Resort.  

Attendees will have the opportunity to attend workshops for fiction, nonfiction, celebrating poetry, research and story as well as meet with agents and editors, network, and be inspired to write. (Details coming soon.)
Experience the history, culture and spectacular landscapes of the area with a Friday morning tour to the High Desert Museum, A6 Print Shop and Gallery, and the Old Mill District, as well as an exciting excursion Sunday to one of the oldest working ranches in Oregon. 

Winners and finalists in the LAURA Short Story contest and the WILLA Literary awards will receive recognition.
Molly Gloss
Keynote speakers are Molly Gloss and Anna Keesey, both internationally known and awarded distinctive writers from Oregon, who write about women in the West.

A special screening of Heathens and Thieves will be shown Friday evening with co-director Megan Peterson present to provide historical background and take questions. The film earned six Best Feature awards at various independent film festivals across the country, and a Special Jury Award at its international premiere at Houston WorldFest. It has also garnered two Best Actress awards for lead actress, Gwendoline Yeo. Join us in seeing how an award-winning film makes a distinctive story statement.                      

One lucky winner will go home with a beautiful “Female Storm” blanket donated by the Pendleton Woolen Mills. The silent auction will have many distinctive items to help the WILLA fund and make this conference memorable.

If you haven’t yet, like the Women Writing the West 2015 Conference page on Facebook to get the latest conference news.

Registration forms will be available soon!

For questions about the conference, contact Jane Kirkpatrick or Shanna Hatfield.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

February Member News

Amy Hale Auker, The Story is the Thing "Uncle Bill" Morgan knew about love and loss. He had watched over the land and the people at the Benson Ranch for decades. Julia was a free spirit, quirky and fun, trapped in a marriage with hospital corners and traditional expectations. Charlie was trapped as well, but by something more sinister than tradition and, in the end, realized that it is okay to love more. Cody Jack needed more — more of everything that soothed and comforted and numbed — but he stood to lose the only good thing he'd ever known and he would hurt anyone to keep it. The old cowboy is gone, but he left his story behind. It is a story of love, loss and life lessons, of confession and absolution, a story of poetry and rescue, a story of loneliness and a story of coming together. And, after all, the story is the thing. 

J.D. Squires, Desperate Straits Hermit's Rest in the Arizona Territory is the meeting place of Irish immigrant, Sarah Ryan and veteran lawman, L.T. McAllister -- two people with nothing in common but loyalty to their newly orphaned nephew, Will. When that loyalty puts the reluctant partners squarely between Sheriff Grant Simpson and his quest for the Lost Adams Gold, L.T. and Sarah are forced into a battle for justice...and their lives. 

No good deed goes unpunished. In a place outside of time, the magic keeping a ghost town alive is beginning to alter. Bringing two newcomers in has caused a welcome renewal of life here. But every action has a reaction, and the consequences are far beyond what Conconully’s accidental magician ever expected. 

Sharman Russell, Teresa of the New World is a young adult novel about the fictional daughter of the Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and a Capoque mother from the coastal tribes of Texas. Set in the dreamscape of the American Southwest in the sixteenth century, the story explores the turbulence of First Contact as Teresa struggles to find herself in the New World.

Articles and Podcasts
Susan Wittig Albert ,WILLA finalist for her book, A Wilder Rose, is featured in the February Writer's Digest. Susan shares interesting and helpful information in the article "Success Stories in Self-Promotion." 

C.M. Mayo's "Conversations with Other Writers" occasional podcast series features "Making Connectionswith Literature and Art: A Conversation with Rose Mary Salum." Based in Houston, Texas, Mexican writer Rose Mary Salum is founding editor of the bilingual magazine Literal: Latin American Voices. Also C.M. Mayo at the UCSD Center for US-Mexican Studies: Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, FranciscoI. Madero's Secret Book.

 Jane Kirkpatrick’s article, "Writing - and reading - stories as soul medicine" about mental health in
the west, appears in WWA's February issue of Roundup Magazine.

Congratulations to you all! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cowboys and Cowgirls do Exist in Today’s World

By Natalie Bright
This was first posted on Natalie's blog.

Business associates from Pennsylvania were touring the Texas Panhandle with my husband. They asked, “Are there cowboys today that do what cowboys used to do. Are they real?” He explained that they exist and still carry on the age old traditions of working cattle ranches, just as they did a century ago.

One of those real cowboys was buried Saturday.

Even though he was only 54 years young, the impact he had was evidenced by the showing of family and neighbors (I heard over 500). The sanctuary and the fellowship hall were full, leaving some standing when the chairs were filled. He’d dedicated his whole life to ranch work, with outfits from Texas to Colorado to Arizona. He had a boundless work ethic, and he was a testament to the meaning of an unshakable faith in God.

Family and friends shared their stories of his quick wit and love for life, and I was surprised to learn that this rough and tough cowboy had penned several poems. I’m glad they were read at the service, and one man shared a poem written in memory of the deceased. I paraphrase; if you need a fence mended, if you need a horse rode that’s a little rank, if you need hay hauled – call Roy Don.

We don’t claim to be perfect in this part of the USA, and yet I studied the faces at this funeral and found my belief in mankind restored. No matter the mistakes, one humble, hard-working cowboy’s days were done, yet the influence of his life had brought hundreds of us together. The power of one person can—and did—make a difference.

Some parts of the world may find it hard to believe that men like Roy Don Creacy exist. There remain places where folks care deeply for the land and animals, where cowboys (and girls) give a day’s work with honesty, loyalty and integrity, and where a man’s word is his bond.

After a lifetime of effort on this planet, the most any one can hope is that our sendoff will involve an overflowing sanctuary and a fellowship hall with standing room only.

Natalie Bright is an author, blogger, and enjoys speaking about history and story craft. Her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications. She holds a BBA from WTSU, her husband is a geologist and cattle rancher, and they have two teenaged boys. She’s on the web at Facebook/Natalie-Bright-Author, Twitter @natNKB, Amazon Author Pages, Pinterest/natbright, and she blogs every Monday at