Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Newest Newsletter Hits Cyberspace

Have you had a chance to read through the Spring 2008 Women Writing the West Newsletter? It's all there in living color, with a stockpile of articles from Jane Kirkpatrick, Kathleen Ernst, Susan J. Tweit, and many other WWW members.

Sherry Monahan touches on the Ten Tips for Successful Marketing, which covers a range of ideas to get your book out there to the readers. Surprising to most new writers, marketing your own book is a large part of the publication process. Monahan gives ideas on how to get the reader interested, reading and sharing with others.

Anne Schroeder goes on to give us an experienced account of her marketing tactics. From booking radio shows to book signings - which have led to other writing and teaching opportunities - to emailing press kits to various places. This very interesting article is worth reading for both new and experienced writers.

Follow Cynthia Leal Massey as she digs for information about a somewhat hidden cemetery in Helotes, Texas alongside an unusual residence covered with gargoyles and chimney pots. But wait, is it a cemetery? There are headstones, some engraved names...but are there bodies? Are they really there? Massey searches through records, talks to locals and finally gets to the bottom of the mystery. Scroll down through the newsletter and read all about her adventures.

For members, there are several pages of information on getting your books advertised in the 2009 Women Writing the West Catalog, along with information on the upcoming October Women Writing the West Conference.

Be sure to thank Alice Trego, Mary Trimble and Jenny Hancey for a beautiful job of planning, designing and editing the newsletter.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Does the Earth Need Us?

That's the question I'll be exploring in two talks on two successive nights, June 5 & 6th, for the prestigious Collegiate Peaks Forum Series here in Salida, Colorado. I'm honored and a bit intimidated to be the first-ever local to be asked to speak in a series that has included Nobel laureates and the like.

Here's the teaser:

Does the Earth Need People?
June 5: No—unless. . . .
Unless we learn to live more generously. Looking at Earth as a natural system, no species is indispensable, even humans. (Turns out it isn't all about us!) If we aren't essential to life on this unique blue planet—the only home we've ever known, who is? And where do we fit? The pluses and minuses of Homo sapiens as members of this complex global system.

June 6: . . .Getting to Yes
What do we do that no other species does? How can our lives contribute to life on Earth so that we belong in what Aldo Leopold called the "community of the land"? A personal look at an "accidental" land restoration project and what it teaches about staying connected and having a positive impact on the planet we share.

If you're in south-central Colorado June 5 & 6, come to the historic Salida SteamPlant Event Center on the banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Salida at seven each evening. The Series is free, thanks to the foundation that sponsors the talks every summer.

Susan Tweit

Sunday, May 25, 2008

They Came to Kansas

My father, Erwin A. Thompson, became enthralled with a recent discussion on the Women Writing the West listserve concerning the mid-day meal. He discovered and transcribed this story written by Audery Blackburn Johnston,the wife of my great-uncle (on my mother's side), Floren Johnston. A. Schooley,one of the travelers in this story, was Audery Johnston's great grandfather.
Notice that in this account of their journey, they say "nooned" for the noon stop. My father says, "The heritage told of in this story is mine only by marriage, but these were a great, rugged people. Refined, perhaps by the years of so-called progress, but the strain is still alive." Here, then, "They Came to Kansas." --Janet Grace Riehl

by Audery Blackburn Johnston

"June 15, 1865, R. Schooley, Vincent Scott, and James Esters left home in Cumberland County, Illinois, for Kansas, tavelled 17 miles, and camped for the night on the edge of the prairie. Rested good."

Thus begins the saga of over a century ago.
Mr. Schooley begins his account with the actual start of the journey, saying nothing of the work and planning needed for such a trip. Louisa Harmon, future daughter in law of R. Schooley, who came to Kansas three years later, gave a detailed account of the preparation.
"Father made his (wagon) to suit the occasion. He first made the front and back wheels quite a distance apart for a wagon. Then he put a bed on. Besides his own family, Father brought a niece and nephew to Kansas. Altogether, 13 slept in the wagon, and three men slept on the ground.
Of the farewell to his friends and neighbors she says: "Well do I remember the morning that we left. We all met at the corner, and what a crowd there was to tell us goodbye. When we said goodbye then it was almost for good."
One the second day the Schooleys and their friends made better time. "Broke camp at ten o'clock, nooned at Shelbyville, travelled 26 miles, and rested good."
For several days the journey continued uneventfully. Only 15 miles were travelled on Sunday, then: "Camp was made on the south bank of the Sangomon, and we laid over until Monday morning. The country around Springfield is described as rolling, and in some places quite hilly, but fine farming country and in a fine state of cultivation."
Why the route the caravan followed bore so far to the north is unexplained. Possibly it was because of the difficulty of crossing rivers. On the 22nd of June the group reached the Mississippi which they crossed on a ferry at 4 o'clock. They then traveled north up the river bottom which was very level and rich, with corn growing about waist high.
(** Editor's note: This was late June. The old farmer's almanac stated that corn needed to be "knee high by the fourth of July.")
The train travelled southward, through a country "very broken and hilly," but the travellers made steady progress across Missouri through Macon City, Chilacothe, and Saint Joe. By the eighth of July, they reached Kansas after crossing the river at Saint Joe. They "travelled down the west bottom to Atchison where they turned off to Topeka where they crossed the stranger, nooned on a fine prairie, and camped for the night at Grasshopper Falls."
On the ninth of July, R. Schooley wrote: "We crossed the crick on a fine bridge and from there to Topeka on the Kansas River. Topeka stands on a high elevation, and many buildings were of stone. The State House is of rock and is a fine house. Travelled thirty miles today."
On the next day misfortune overtook the travellers: "We camped about two miles south of Topeka, and there came a heavy rain, and we got a fine drenching. Next morning, Monday, the tenth, we started without our breakfast, and travelled 12 miles to Mrs. West's, where we had breakfast about eleven o'clock. On the way we crossed six mile crick and the Waskarusa River. Stopped at Mrs. West's one-and half-days."
After passing through Empora and Burlington and crossing the Weshon, Cottonwood and other rivers and "Cricks", the group finally found what they found what they were seeking: Free Land! In Neosho and Allen Counties they took claims. They had been on the road nearly six weeks.
Food for the journey must have been carried with the travellers, they bought very little on the way. According to Reuben Schooley's account he spent only $4.45 for food. Most of it was for crackers and bread. The only exception being "five cents for onions." "Furridge" across the Mississippi River was $4.70. Hay and corn for the horses was $9..20.
Today, R. Schooley lies just inside the gate of the Seanasa Cemetery in Neosho County. His was the first grave in the plot that he and his friends selected as a suitable burying ground.
Rest in peace, The Pioneers. Our heritage.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sarah Reports: Spring Book Tour a Success

Nancy Love and the WASP Ferry Pilots of World War II, my recently released biography of a pioneering aviatrix, has been gathering praise wherever I’ve taken it this spring.

March 15 —Women In Aviation, International (WAI) in San Diego
Nancy Love was inducted into the WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame. Her daughter, Allie, accepted the plaque and I served as Allie’s escort for the ceremony. It was so fitting to see Nancy’s hard work during those World War II years recognized. Attendees were delighted to see —and purchase — her biography.

April 6-13 — Sun n Fun at Lindner Airport in Lakeland FL:
Sales of the Nancy Love biography were good in the Author’s Corner and my talks drew attentive crowds. I also sold copies of my other two books — THE ORIGINALS: The Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron of World War II and the WASP novel FLIGHT FROM FEAR, a WILLA Finalist in Original Softcover in 2003.

Fellow author CarolAnn Garratt’s Upon Silver Wings caught my attention. She tells of her around-the-world flight in her Mooney — a tribute to her mother who died in 2002 of Lou Gehrig’s disease — ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). CarolAnn’s book is a gem. And she’s planning another flight later this year. HYPERLINK ""

But the highlight at Sun n Fun was my 15-minute flight in a WWII trainer airplane. Look on my Website — — for my blow-by-blow description of the flight along with photos.

April 26, the International Women’s Air & Space Museum (IWASM) — Burke Lakefront Airport (Lake Erie) Cleveland.
Four WASPs and I were part of the Museum’s third annual Family Day. A big crowd — school kids, Girl Scouts, their parents and teachers — turned out. “Women in Uniform” was the theme. Aviation was the big winner that day as the kids learned about the WASP and other women flyers of note and the many opportunities available to boys and girls — men and women — in aviation.

Posted by Sarah Rickman, May 9, 2008

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Blogs, gardening, and optimism

Yesterday, two different friends said things that stuck in my craw. So I let them percolate in the back of my mind while I worked toward my writing deadlines:

"It's easier to deal with crises like this in spring," said a friend when I told her about my husband's recent diagnosis with bladder cancer, "It's such an optimistic time."

"Why do you blog?" asked a former writing student who is now a writing colleague and friend. "I don't have time."

I don't have time to blog either, but after I mulled both comments all day as I wrote, interviewed sources for a magazine article, answered emails, and made some progress on filing and accounts, I took my laptop to the couch, put my feet up, and wrote a new blog entry, "Gardeners: optimists by definition."

As I pondered and typed, read and rewrote, I realized how to respond to the second comment: I blog because it is my way of "composting" what comes at me in life. It allows me to think through the detritus of my life and turn it into something useful--to me as well as to readers. That ability to turn gunk into wisdom is why personal essay and memoir can be so powerful.

As for the first comment, it took the new asparagus sprouts in my garden to show me what my friend meant. Spring is an optimistic time, for all of life. It's a season that writers can use to give our work new energy, and new insight. Here's how my "compost" came out at the end of my blog entry:
The optimism my friend meant, I think, is about believing in the continuing cycle of life. It's not hard to apply that to Richard and his bladder cancer. He's blessed with caring people dealing with him and they're upbeat about his prognosis. So I'll just press my seeds of hope and rejuvenation in the soil of the universe, in the belief that spring will flower for him, time and again.
Writing can change the world, and also our view of it. Isn't that why we do it?

Susan J. Tweit
author of books, articles, and commentaries on the ties that bind us

Friday, May 02, 2008

A Good Day to be an Author

Okay, being an author has many highs and lows. Lows are when you get rejection letters from publishers, bad book reviews, and writer's block. Highs are just the opposite, plus many others.

I had an "author high" two days ago when I was doing research for my next book. I am tracking this particular man and his life in online newspapers. All I have are written words, but then, in one of the papers I found it! There was an actual sketch of the man, and many things associated with the story I am researching.

You just can't beat that!!!

Sherry Monahan-Interview

This is just a little FYI for anyone who wants to read a book review for the new 2008 Taste of Tombstone. The link also includes a 15-minute interview I did on South West Blend radio.