Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Whose Story Is It?

By Karen Casey Fitzjerrell

Saturday, March 14, 2015 ForgivingEffie Beck, a novel that took me two years to write, received the EPIC Award for Best Historical Fiction. It was the second award for the book. In October it won the Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award. Since I had written the story without regard to most of the shoulds and shouldn’ts writers are hammered with daily the EPIC announcement left me stuttering with confusion. 

The Will Rogers Award: A fluke? I had to wonder. But a second honor: The EPIC?

I never, ever felt comfortable with anyone reading drafts of my book. I wrote it in a style or voice I’m most comfortable with - like my journal entries about everyday observations. Agents, editors, publishing houses would probably label it “too colloquial.” The characters are far less than perfect, dreamed-up combinations of family members, old friends and past enemies. I put them in a setting familiar to me, then placed them in difficult situations. Words flew off my fingers tips and onto the computer screen. I worried writing it had been too easy, probably not worthy of much. It was too elementary, too simple, entry-level work. Worse, I couldn’t name an age group or audience who’d want to read it. I’d always believed that trying to control reader’s perceptions stifles one’s particular writing voice. But I also believed my real story telling voice wouldn’t hold a novel together.

And yet . . . Awards?

It’s true that authors can never be sure how their work will be read or interpreted, or what readers will glean from it when they’ve read to the last page.

And we’ve all heard “write what you know.” This story is what I know, some of what I’ve lived. I worried most about keeping personal agendas at bay - a point I believe vital to writing decent fiction. Especially if it is to have any universal meaning whatsoever. To guard against having my agendas seep into the story I gave the task of telling Effie Beck’s story to the characters. Characters like down-and-out Mike LeMay, heartbroken Red Kasper, lonely and isolated Effie Beck herself and ostracized Jodean Travis. They told my fingers what they thought, felt, how they perceived troubling events. All I had to do was set them free on the page. The voice, the writing belongs to them.

My Ah-ha moment:  I noticed I most often say, “Forgiving Effie Beck won an award.” Then I wonder why I don’t say, “I won an award for Forgiving Effie Beck.” Of course now I know - it is not my story.
Karen Casey Fitzjerrell’s debut novel, The Dividing Season, won the 2013 EPIC Award for Best Historical Fiction. She is a former journalist who traveled Texas back roads for eight years in search of history mysteries and unique-to-Texas characters to include in her newspaper and magazine articles. She now lives in San Antonio, Texas. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!

How will you travel to the conference this year?
By plane?
In your car with friends?

Maybe you’ll take a scenic train ride and let the peace of the countryside calm your soul as you prepare to immerse yourself in 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.
However you travel to Redmond, we are so looking forward to seeing you there to discover

A mailing has gone out with registration forms or you can find the registration form available online here:

Photo courtesy of Eagle Crest Resort

Make room reservations directly with:  Eagle Crest Resort  (866-806-4921)  The “Women Writing the West” room rate, which you must request, is $99 for double queen rooms or $119 for single king suites (condos are also available at discounted rates). Room rates are guaranteed until 9/8/15.  What a great deal - especially if you split the cost with a roomie!

Those who arrive early can take part in one of three pre-conference sessions geared to get those creative juices flowing.

Photo courtesy of High Desert Museum

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. 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.

Fabulous break-out sessions and some incredible panels are planned to make your time spent at conference well worthwhile.

Photo Courtesy of the Imperial Stock Ranch

In addition, an exciting excursion Sunday to one of the oldest working ranches in Oregon is in the works. 

From the chance to win a special Pendleton Wool blanket to the opportunity to hear Molly Gloss and Anna Keesey speak, you won’t want to miss out on a minute of this years’ conference.

So whether you travel by train, plane, automobile, rickshaw, stagecoach, or bike - we can’t wait to see you in Redmond this October!

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

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

Friday, March 27, 2015

March Member News

Women Writing the West members are awesome, prolific, award-winning, forward looking women! Congratulations to you all for your accomplishments!


Cj Fosdick The Accidental Wife (Wild Rose Press) It is calculated that you have six people in the world who look like you! Chances are less than 10 percent that you will meet one of them in your lifetime. How does a modern day intelligent 30-year old (determined) spinster become an instant mother—and the look-alike wife to an ancestor who lived 130 years ago?


Margaret Gooch, TheWest, The West In a setting where environmentalists clash with ranchers over grazing rights, what are the chances that agency intern Joan Aquero and rancher Zeb Enwright will trust their growing attraction? As a novice but aspiring Westerner, Joan compares herself with Ann Bassett, the “Queen of the Cattle Rustlers” (and a real person), who by feuding with a large-scale cattleman in former times made a name for herself in the region. Ann’s marriage to a man initially allied with her enemies was unsuccessful; should that outcome be a warning to Joan? How will Joan come to understand the grazing rights issue, respond to the threat against her it provokes, and resolve her feelings for Zeb as she strives to make a place for herself in the West?

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


Cynthia Leal Massey has won a 2015 San Antonio Conservation Society Publication Award for her latest book, Death of a Texas Ranger, A True Story of Murder and Vengeance on the Texas Frontier.  The book, set in 1870s Texas, is about Texas Ranger John Green, who was slain in northwest Bexar County in 1873. The killer was alleged to be Cesario Menchaca, one of three Rangers of Mexican descent under Green’s command.

Several WWW members have won Western Writers of America Spur awards: Nancy Oswald winner for Edward Wynkoop:Soldier and Indian Agent,  in Western Juvenile Fiction,  

Finalists Sandra Dallas for Red Berries,White Clouds, Blue Sky in Western Juvenile
Fiction, and Jane Kirkpatrick for ALight in the Wilderness, Western Historical Novel.

Karen Casey Fitzjerrell, Forgiving Effie Beck, has won an EPIC award in Historical fiction. In this Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award-winning work of fiction Mike LeMay, a Federal Writers’ Project interviewer arrives in a small Texas town days before the town eccentric, Effie Beck, is reported missing. While conducting his interviews, Mike learns that the enigmatic, elderly Miss Effie has moved through the lives of the town’s populace "like brown smoke" after having suffered a harsh childhood under the discipline of a cruel father.