Saturday, January 27, 2007

Women In History

March happens to be women in history month.  As fortune would have it, our local community requested a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust for a Western Heritage Gathering in our little town of Moro, population, 300, to celebrate women in history and our local heritage. 

National Book Award nominee (and WWW member) Molly Gloss will present a program about the characterization of women through history in literature.  A woman who helps run the Imperial Stock Ranch, one of the oldest ranches in the Northwest, will talk about how they've diversified through the years and gone "green" and how she designs sheepskin clothing for high end markets, among other things, as ways to stay on the land.  Another woman will talk about researching historical sites and I think she's coming in character; and another, a county commissioner, wrote a book about the place names of our region and why that has fascinated her so.  I'm going to talk about the four versions of a Woman's West that WWW had a glimpse of in Denver in 2001.  That presentation of four women of color and their artwork presenting their view of the west affected me a great deal and I've gotten permission from the curator of that collection (now housed in the Autry Museum in LA) to show the slides and talk about them.  We'll tour the local (and award-winning museum) and have a genuine B-B-Que lunch and it's all for $20. We aren't planning to make money but will be able to cover costs for travel and small honoraria for the women presenters which I always think is great.

I share this because it isn't too late to think about a little presentation in your own town, maybe at the library or at a civic club. Every one of us has something we could offer about women in history and the various roles women have played and continue to play.  Gather up another WWW member (or go it alone!) but it would be a gift you could give to your community and yourself.

And if you happen to be in Moro, Or on March 24th, you all come!  Jane
Jane Kirkpatrick,
Award-winning author of 12 novels and two non-fiction books.  A Clearing in the Wild, Book One of the Change and Cherish Series (WaterBrook Press/Random House) is available now! 
Stories are the sparks that light our ancestors' lives, the embers we blow on to illuminate our own.


Friday, January 19, 2007

True West Train Story

This is my virgin blog. I've never done this before so I hope it turns out okay.

I guess some of the WWW members might think I have fallen off the face of the earth. But alas, I have not. I've just fallen into a sea of publishing deadlines, the holidays, and a 4-day a week job. Not to mention a husband, family, and two cats, one of which is new, and the Senior kitty is not so happy.

Okay, on to writing. I am happy to report that an article I wrote for True West's March 2007 issue was published! This issue (available now) is dedicated to the Iron Horse of the old West - the train. My story tells about life on the rails in the 19th century. I was also pleasantly surprised to see a large ad placed by the University of New Mexico for my new book: Tombstone's Treasure, to be released in April 2007. This Wednesday was a good day!

Happy writing,


Women Writing the West

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Creative Non-Fiction

Creative Non-Fiction is a new genre that has the attention of authors who have traditionally stayed in the safe confines of their own genre, whether it is fiction or non-fiction. Many consider this new genre a hybrid of literature and non-fiction. One might also see reference to Creative Non-Fiction under the labels of Literary Non-Fiction, New Journalism and Literary Journalism.

It is indeed a bold step for non-fiction writers to loosen up their prose and write their tome as if they were writing fiction. And, it is equally challenging for authors of fiction to accomplish serious research and turn this research into an engaging story based on facts. Either way, it is evident that authors are excited about trying their hand at a new genre in which to write their stories. Members of Women Writing the West are exploring the possibilities, and in their discussions they have identified some of the authors who are leading the way in the Creative Non-Fiction field.

Two important books recommended by WWW members are:
In Fact, The Best of Creative Non-Fiction
Lee Gutkind

Gutkind is also editor of the journal, Creative Non-Fiction.

Also insturctive:

The Art of Fact, A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism.

Creative Non-Fiction Books recommended by Women Writing the West members as good studies of the genre are:

Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Greene

Young Men and Fire by Norman McClean

In cold Blood by Turman Capote

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

The Following Members of Women Writing the West write Creative Non-Fiction books.

Velda Brotherton,

Wandering In The Shadows of Time: An Ozarks Odyssey
A view of the Ozarks seen through the eyes of those who lived the hardships told by the author who returned to her home after years of wandering elsewhere.

Velda Brotherton is a native of Arkansas. She was raised in Wichita and lived in New York for a while but returned to Arkansas. Velda and her husband live on acreage in the Ozark National Forest. Velda is current working on a new book entitled, "Fly With The Mourning Dove."

Susan J. Tweit

The San Luis Valley: Sand Dunes and Sandhill Cranes, University of Arizona Press, 2005

Barren, Wild, and Worthless: Living in the Chihuahuan Desert, University of Arizona Press, 2003

Susan Tweit lives in the awe-inspiring San Louis Valley of Central Colorado. Susan’s books reflect her love for nature and the environment.

Sue Schrems

Telling the Stories of Women Aviators

My article, “Born to Fly: A WAFS Pilot in WWII” — the story of Betsy Ferguson’s service to her country — is featured in Kansas Heritage, Winter 2006, Volume 14, Number 4, published quarterly by the Kansas State Historical Society.

Betsy, from Coffeyville, Kansas, was one of The Originals — the subject of my first published book, THE ORIGINALS. The Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) were the first 28 women to fly Army airplanes in WWII. In the 1950s, Betsy also served as a Reserve officer in the U.S. Air Force. Hers was a non-flying commission, as women were not allowed in the cockpits of Army airplanes between 1945 and the mid-1970s. She also worked for Civil Defense through which she witnessed one of the atomic bomb tests in the Nevada desert in 1955.

Betsy’s story is the third biographical article on one of the WAFS that I have had published. The first was “Nancy Batson, Pursuit Pilot Extraordinaire” in Alabama Heritage, published by the University of Alabama (Summer 2002) and the second was “Barbara Erickson: From Rosie the Riveter to B-17 Pilot,” published Summer 2005 in Air Power History magazine. A fourth article, on WAFS Helen Richards, currently is awaiting publication in Aviation History magazine.

My goal is to write individual biographical articles on all 28 of these women, publish as many as possible, and then compile them into a book. To date, I have actually written ten of the articles, though only four have been placed, and I continue my research at every opportunity.

Sarah Byrn Rickman

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

John Grisham, an author to study

JOHN Grisham’s book, The Innocent Man, is the latest in a series of books that have delighted readers for many years. Grisham is one of my favorite authors with whom I feel I have a “relationship"--always waiting to fall into his words and follow the twists and turns of his narrative.

John Grisham

WHEN I finish a Grisham book, I anxiously wait for the next book to be released, and lament the day when Grisham takes his fingers off the keyboard for the last time. I was particularly interested in his latest book because I had heard it was non-fiction and based on a homicide in Oklahoma. Little did I realize until I started reading the book that the murder took place in a town close to where I live, and many of the sights and sounds described in the book were familiar to me. Even the names of the characters involved had a familiar ring. But, my point here is not to review The Innocent Man, but to comment on Grisham’s style of writing.

IN analyzing Grisham’s particular writing style, it made me realize that even though writers may have mastered the mechanics or nuts and bolts of writing, the style or the flow of words is a gift inherent to the author. As much as I would like to emulate Grisham’s style, I don’t think it would be possible. What I like about the author’s prose is his relaxed way of inserting in his narrative a relevant point, often guised in subtle sarcasm, which boarders on humor. The reader gives a knowing little chuckle and then continues on reading. Grisham also is an observer of human nature and uses his observations to build his characters. And, in The Innocent Man real life characters are described in much the same way as fictional characters, which makes this book read like fiction with a carefully crafted plot and gently unfolding story. Grisham’s stories usually center on crime and the law; something he knows about because he is a lawyer. But he is also a talented writer and can move out of his genre and still create a successful story. Skipping Christmas (2004) is a great example and a must read before the holidays.

GRISHAM makes writing look easy; but as a writer I know that writing is a talent and it is one that has to be practiced every day. The more we write the better we are and the easier it is to accomplish our writing goals.

Sue Schrems

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2007 Writer's Goal

Since I spent half the day wearing my sweatpants backwards, I figured I ought to pay more attention as a writer's goal (not so much a new year's resolution).

I finished the galley edits for my 13th novel that will be out in April. It's called A Tendering in the Storm and is the second book in the Change and Cherish series about the life of a woman who came west as the only woman of 9 men sent to find a new site for their Missouri religious colony. I'm working on the third and final book in the series with a current working title of A Mending at the Edge. I've got a few events scheduled that will take me to the Mid-West (Wisconsin) in March and around Oregon before then. Join me if you can!

My schedule and my "monthly memo" is posted at Stay well!

Jane Kirkpatrick

Monday, January 01, 2007

In the Spirit

In the spirit of the new year, my web page has been updated with a new essay and a partial listing of upcoming events. A couple are bookclub readings of What Next, Ms. Elliott? and another pair are workshops, Wade Into Writing, geared toward beginning writers of any age. A new project I'd like to move forward with this year. Jo-Brew