Saturday, October 20, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

October Reading Group

Our discussion has started and continues until the end of October.... please join in!

Our selection for October is A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick. The discussion begins on October 15th so be sure and join in with questions for the author, who will periodically chime in with brilliant and entertaining commentary. :)
Young Emma Wagner chafes at the constraints of Bethel colony, an 1850s religious community in Missouri that is determined to remain untainted by the concerns of the world. A passionate and independent thinker, she resents the limitations placed on women, who are expected to serve in quiet submission. In a community where dissent of any form is discouraged, Emma finds it difficult to rein in her tongue–and often doesn’t even try to do so, fueling the animosity between her and the colony’s charismatic and increasingly autocratic leader, Wilhelm Keil.
You can read more here by clicking on the link to the excerpt. We will also use questions from the Readers Guide provided by the publisher.

Jane Kirkpatrick is the award-winning, best-selling author of two nonfiction books and eleven novels, including A Name of Her Own and the acclaimed Kinship and Courage series. Jane is a winner of the coveted Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center and National Cowboy Hall of Fame. A licensed clinical social worker as well as an inspirational retreat leader and speaker, she lives with her husband on 160 acres in eastern Oregon. Visit Jane's website at!
Go to the WWW Reading Group and click on Monthly Selections to join in.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in Anchorage

I was planning to attend the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in Anchorage anyway when I heard about the "Authors to Schools" program being planned by conference organizers. Authors who volunteered to participate would be paired with a school somewhere in Alaska, giving students there the opportunity to hear from a writer. What a great idea!

I was sent to the community of Delta Junction. I was advised it would be a six hour trip, but it took me eight--partly because of rain and clouds and some light snow, mostly because I kept stopping to get out of the car and take in the amazing scenery.

I spent a day each at the local elementary school, middle school, and high school. I met an interesting mixture of kids. Some lived on Fort Greely and had traveled extensively. A few lived far from town and rarely traveled farther than Fairbanks. About 40% of the students were fairly recent immigrants from Russia or the Ukraine. And mixed in were a few Athabascan and African-American students.

Highlights include guiding second graders through a descriptive writing activity that led to some amazing poems, hearing students read their work describing the first snowfall, and facilitating brain-storming sessions that led teens from "I never have any ideas" to a solid outline for a mystery.

But there were so many other highlights as well: walking in the tundra, finding a burly chef in a rural roadhouse who was delighted to make a tofu salad for a visiting vegetarian (me), being taken into the local museum by the mayor, watching swans, driving for hours through such vast was a marvelous trip.

Ann Parker and me, taken at Bouchercon World Mystery Convention.

Katleen Ernst
WWW President Elect

Friday, October 05, 2007

Ethnic Knitting Discovery by Donna Druchunas

Hello Women Writing the West and thank you for letting me stop by on my blog book tour. I'll be speaking about using blogs to market your books at the Women Writing the West conference later this month. It's a fun way to get people to learn about your book at the same time that you learn about other blogs and authors. I'm visiting 26 blogs during the first 26 days of October. It's the culmination of a long stretch of hard work!

The last couple of years I've been busy working on my newest book, Ethnic Knitting Discovery. Because the book includes information about knitting techniques from four different countries, I had quite a bit of research to do. I would have loved to visit all of the places I wrote about in this book, but then I'd still be working on my research! Because this book is more about knitting techniques and less about the locales that inspire the knitting, I was able to do my research as an armchair traveler. Since I love books, I dind't find this to be problematic.

I grew up learning many different crafts from my mother and grandmothers including knitting, crochet, rug-hooking, embroidery, and sewing. But I didn't stick with crafts as I grew up. I started knitting again in my late 30s, and also learned to spin and dye wool with natural dyes.

Before I returned to knitting, I spent almost 20 years working in corporate cubicles as a technical writer, designer, and creative services manager. My cubes were in military training facilities, small businesses, and large corporations. During that time, I wrote and designed marketing materials, training courses and technical manuals for many types of hardware and software products.

After all that time, I rebelled and left my cubicle behind to combine my interest in knitting with my skill at writing easy-to-follow instructions. Since then, my designs and articles have been featured in Family Circle Easy Knitting, Knitters, Piecework, Interweave Knits, Fibre Focus, and INKnitters magazines, and I design patterns for several yarn companies.

All of my work in technical writing and marketing communications has been very useful in developing my freelance career. That said, it still took almost ten years from when I started writing in notebooks until my first magazine article was published, and several more years until I was being published regularly and got a contract for my first book.

I actually never thought about writing knitting books until one day, when I was complaining about my job, a friend asked me, "If you can write a book about how to install hard drives, why can't you write a book about how to knit sweaters? Wouldn't you enjoy that more?"

Becoming a freelance writer is not easy, and you may always need a part-time day job to help make the bills, but it's well worth the effort if you love words and language and you have stories that you want to share with the world!