Tuesday, November 20, 2007

November Reading Group

The discussion has begun - come join us!

Our selection for November is Preserving Cleo by Women Writing the West member, Jo Brew. The discussion will begin on November 15 and you can join us here.

About the book:

Cleo is the smart and social young wife of a traditional family farmer. Unable to survive in the isolated and limited role she's allowed, she rebels in a silent voice that's heard by her whole family. She wants it all: a challenging future, the man she loves and a tightly knit family. Getting it all won't be easy - the odds are stacked against her.

You can order the book direct from the author's website by clicking here.

To read more of Jo's writing, stop by the Cresswell Chronicle to read her columns.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Another Blog Book Tour

WWW member, Susan Wittig Albert, has a few book tours under her belt. Last week she embarked on her first virtual book tour for the fourth in her Cottage Tales Myteries of Beatrix Potter - The Tale of Hawthorn House.

Fellow WWW member, Dani Greer, will host a blog stop for the author on November 14th to talk about Beatrix's marketing savvy, her relationship with her editor and publishing house, and how a modern author creates a new story.... and picks supporting artwork....when writing about a legend. Visit Blog Book Tours to read this fascinating interview.
You may enter the book drawing any time between Nov. 14 and noon on Nov. 17, when we'll draw three winners. Your name will be automatically entered for the grand prize drawing. Go here to enter.

Author Biography

Susan Wittig Albert is the author of Spanish Dagger, (April, 2007, hardcover), Bleeding Hearts (April, 2007, paperback - a recent Willa Award finalist), and the China Bayles' Book of Days. She has written fourteen other China Bayles novels, and more than a dozen short stories. She is also the author of two non-fiction books: Writing From Life: Telling Your Soul's Story and Work of Her Own: A Woman's Guide to Success off the Career Track.

A former English professor and university administrator, Ms. Albert has been writing full-time since 1985. She and her husband Bill Albert have written over 60 novels for children and young adults, including books in the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series. Writing under the pseudonym of Robin Paige, the Alberts are also the co-authors of twelve Victorian mysteries, the latest of which is titled Death on the Lizard. They live in rural Texas with a varying assortment of dogs, cats, ducks, geese, cows, and sheep. Ms. Albert is a founder and past president of the Story Circle Network, a non-profit organization created to help women explore their life stories.
If you are curious about creating your own Blog Book Tour, Susan has put together a fun and fascinating tour with varying blog stops. Click here for the entire schedule.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Member news from Mara Purl and Donis Casey

Members Mara Purl and Donis Casey "met" through the Women Writing the West members' Yahoo! Group, and planned a joint book signing for their new books, both of which happen to be third in a series.

They met in person for the first time at the conference in Colorado Springs, and a week later did their event at Denver's famed Tattered Cover Book Store. Through discussions about their work and books, they discovered common themes which they shared with a rapt audience in Denver. Expanding on their theme "Western women writing western women's lives," they discussed a range of topics from intensive research to the key role of intuition in their female characters' lives, and from carefully structuring their plots to allowing for serendipitous inspiration.

Donis Casey's first novel "The Old Buzzard Had It Coming" recently won the Arizona Book Award.

Mara Purl's first novel "What the Heart Knows" won the Silver Benjamin Franklin Award and the USA Book News Finalist Award. Both authors are at work on the fourth books in their respective series, and plan to do future events together.

Monday, November 05, 2007

What does women writing the West mean to me?

By V. June Collins

As I reflect—

Women Writing the West, remind me of “Ranch Neighbors,”
Basically, ready and willing to lend us each a helping hand.

Often, survival of the west was under trying conditions.
The importance of Good Neighbors, was well understood—
Nurtured to-do unto others— as you wish to be done by!

Our Western way of life, held Good Neighbors, in priority—
Necessity matured, and was passed down, for generations.

Embedded, “The Lights of the West,” shine down on us,
Strengthened by a feel and need, to help one another—
While in all sincerity, “Western Neighbors” still require us
To be.—The best we can be!

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!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Visit With Marva Dasef

At a local Meet The Author Event last week, I met fellow participant, Marva Dasef and her father. It is her father who becomes the narrator of her book, "Tales of a Texas Boy." The tales are an eleven year old boy's view of life during the depression.
A collection of twenty stories that incorporate the events of family life with an occasional tall tale and provide a slice of history with a few good laughs and a great deal of warmth. See more of my inteview with Marva on my blog at or more about her at P.S. In her interview she adds a special tip about POD publishing. If that's a subject that interest you, check it out on my blog.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

September Reading Group

The book discussion begins on September 15 -

Be sure to join in!!

Our September read features Velda Brotherton's creative non-fiction tome entitled, Fly With the Mourning Dove. You can purchase the book at

You can also read a bit of the book here:


In this, my ninetieth year, I’ve returned once again to the New Mexico ranch I’ll forever call home. To this day, I get a thrill out of topping the hill between the sagebrush flats and the Tusas River valley. In the early light of dawn, the adobe house waits in the shadows far below, and I hurry to reach it, the car’s tires clattering over the wooden bridge that spans the Tusas river. I park, get out and move through the yard. Over the Sangre de Cristos, the sky is splashed with a brilliant glow that spreads crimson over the mountains. In my valley the darkness retreats, stirs a breeze that touches my cheek. If I turn from the rising sun, quickly and without warning, I see those who’ve left me behind—Mom and Pop, my one and only love Calvin and our precious Ann. The shimmering morning light offers them, real and alive, their laughter echoing across the San Juans far to the west. A high desert painting where shades of ochre contrast sharply with dense umbers. The mournful song of the doves and the chatter of swallows swooping in to deposit small dabs of mud beneath the eaves of the stucco house, speak of another time. A time when my world was young and filled with hope. Continue by clicking here.

For more information about Velda and her other books, visit her website and her blog.

Our discussion begins on September 15, so please join us at the Women Writing the West Reading Group. Then click on This Month's Selections.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Conference Count Down is ON!

The 2007 WWW conference — Peak Goals: Pen, Publish, Promote — will be here in a few blinks of the eye. And HAVE WE GOT A SHOW FOR YOU!

Cynthia, Jacque and the rest of the board have put together a rip roarin’ lineup for us. If you’re not comin’, you’re missin’ out big time!

Build better writing skills: plot, characterization, voice. Who among us doesn’t need that?
How to prepare a book proposal, synopsis and submission letter that will get results. Need I say more?
Use the Internet as a promotional tool. Anybody who’s been on the WWW Yahoo Listserv this past year has heard oodles about this, but do you know how to do it? Here’s your chance to find out!

And that’s just for starters.

Colorado Springs has so much to offer. Even if you were there last year, you’ve just scratched the surface. Come glory in Pikes Peak, the Garden of the Gods and the Rampart Range et al.

Best of all, you’ll see all those old friends – the gals you enjoyed at the conference last year – or maybe back in 2004 in Albuquerque. If you’ve never been to a WWW conference, you have NO IDEA what a treat is in store – just meeting the people, let alone what all you learn. Come put faces on those names on your Yahoo posts!

And don’t forget to take part in the Raffle. YOU TOO CAN BE A DONOR and thus help the organization in its most fun fundraiser. We want good stuff, mind you, but that means when YOU hold the winning ticket, what you get is going to be FIRST CLASS.

So throw your best jeans and most comfortable shoes in the suitcase and COME!!! Visit our website to learn more and to register, and contact Cynthia Becker, VP conference, with questions.

Registration deadline is Sept. 21.

See you there!
Posted by Sarah Rickman
President (2005) and WILLA Chair (2006)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Blog Book Tours

Hi All,

Hi All, I'll be doing a blog tour in October, talking about ethnic knitting techniques, showing how to design a sweater from scratch (including yarns, colors, stitches, and sizing), and talking about how to get started in a freelance career as a writer, and how illustrations are created for a book, amongst other things. I will be visiting 21 blogs over a three-week period, so this is a great chance for you to check out a lot of blogs you may not have discovered yet. A list of the blogs I'll be visiting is on my blog.

You'll notice that the Women Writing the West blog is on my tour schedule, as are the blogs of several WWW members.

For full disclosure, the tour is part of a launch of my next book, Ethnic Knitting Discovery, but it's not only for those who might be interested in buying the book. Many of the articles will contain practical information and techniques for knitters and writers. I try to make my blog tours stand alone articles that are full of useful information, instead of just a bunch of book reviews.

I used a blog book tour at the launch of my previous book, Arctic Lace, and it shot up in the rankings at an amazing rate, and the first printing sold out before the official book pubication date. I'll be sharing my experiences in online marketing at the Boulder Writer's Alliance Annual Expo on September 24 in Boulder, Colorado, and will be teaching an in-depth class about blogging and web marketing for writers at the Women Writing the West Conference on October 19-21 in Colorado Springs.

I hope my successes in online marketing inspire you to try out some new techniques to promote your own books.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Pam Munoz Ryan's "Paint the Wind" Fall Tour

Hello, Everyone!

As I put the summer issue of the WWW newsletter together, I was fortunate to communicate with our own Pam Munoz Ryan about her newest release, "Paint the Wind." She told me that she has a fall tour scheduled and she wanted me to share those dates with everyone.

For those in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, this should be a real treat! I know I've marked my calendar for September 17 and I'm excited about and look forward to a good read!

Alice Trego
2007 WWW Newsletter Editor


Pam's Upcoming "Paint the Wind" Schedule:

Monday, Sept. 17th, 7 p.m.
King's English, Salt Lake City, UT

Tues, Sept. 18th (Call store for details)
Deseret Books, Salt Lake City, UT

Wed. Sept. 19th, 5 p.m.
Gardner's Book Services, Phoenix, AZ

Thursday, Sept. 20 (Call store for details)
Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, AZ

Friday, Sept. 21 (Call store for details)
Phoenix Book Company, Phoenix, AZ

Monday, Sept. 24, 7 p.m.
Bookworks, Alburquerque, NM

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ready for the Conference?

Don't forget that the Women Writing the West Conference is next month!

I just heard on the news that teenagers are flocking to knitting like crazy, a new "mini trend" that might be something to weave into stories for teens and young adults. Who knew?

Chances are we might know such details and others as we gear up for the conference. I've had the fun of corresponding with winners and finalists and this year we have firmed five of the 7 Winners attending and many of the finalists. New books to pick up; new people to meet. I'm ready. Now if I can just get this manuscript finished before I fly it'll make that time a whole lot more fun.

Last year at the business meeting we asked what it was people wanted so we could be sure to include those things this year and someone said, "why are you worried? We have to come here, it's where many of us get our vitality for writing, where we find other people to support our efforts and get jazzed." I'm hoping to get jazzed again in Colorado Springs. The list of agents and editors should be going up soon but I know for sure that one of those editors was the editor for a WILLA winner. They know what they're looking for and think our members have it! So get your manuscripts ready, too! I hope you are too.

Jane Kirkpatrick

Award-winning author of 13 novels and two non-fiction books. A Tendering in the Storm, Book Two in the Change and Cherish Series (WaterBrook Press/Random House) is available now! Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sherry Monahan on the History Channel

Hello All!

If you want to know all about Deadwood and the way it was before and after the fire, tune in to the History Channel.

On September 19, 2007 at 9:00 p.m. E.T., Lost Worlds is doing a show called, Sin City of the West. I am one of the investigators who goes all over town in search of clues to find the pre-fire town.

It was tons of fun to film and I want to do more!

This is a photo from the shoot. You can read more about the shoot and my crazy life on my own blog too -

I hope you can watch.

Marj Casswell's "A Place to Come Home To" Articulates the High Cost of Settling

Humans, even nomads, are settlers at heart. We want a place to come home to, a hearth to warm our hands around, and other humans to love us. Marj Casswell in "A Place to Come Home To" tells a story of these ordinary yearnings and the high price they exact from us.

In the opening frame of the novel a 40-year-old woman returns to her father's house where in her girlhood their rich Virginia tobacco farmland stretched in every direction. Time and change have intervened. Her mother and the land are gone, but six diaries from the year she was ten call out to her when she revisits her old room. The ending frame ripples through the years between ten and now, interpreting her life through the insights gained in her reflection the diaries have brought.

While the opening and closing frames give us a sense of context and the passage of time, the guts and heart of the book lie in the 38 chapters between these frames, as all revealing photographs do. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from these diaries written in the summer of 1956 when everything changed and the gravel pit came. The diary excerpts serve as epigrammatic themes for what lies ahead in each chapter. I read the book twice, and on the second reading, I began to title the chapters to keep better track of the ebb and flow of the book's action and interludes.
"A Place to Come Home To" is both a coming of age story for 10-year-old Meredith (Merri) Coopersmith and a losing of an age. On an intimate canvas Casswell paints the sweeping story of the loss of the family farms and the end of an era. No more will there be a time when the small family farm is a viable way of life.

Both within the Coopersmith nuclear family and extended family we see how land exerts its pull on some and how the pleasures of the city call others. Yearning, hard work, and even strategy cannot save the farm or even the innocence of the community. The gravel pit opens its gaping yaw and swallows up farm land that later will, in turn, be swallowed up by housing developments.

Casswell shows the turbulence inside normalcy. As the world around her changes, the rules around her change, curtailing her adventures on the farm. But her curiosity cannot be held in check. I feared something terrible would happen to Merri in the gravel pits.
Instead, we're shown in delicate and realistic detail the emotional and spiritual development of a young girl facing family and community conflict and dissolution of life as previously known. We are let inside the interior world of her imaginative daydreams and fantasies. Her parents love her and take good care of her, yet in spite of that, she feels the tension present in their marriage and wants to make it better for them in order to stabilize her world. She carries an adult sense of responsibility that alters her childhood, in spite of her Aunt Elizabeth's efforts to give her a childhood without cares back to her.

A thread of settling runs through the book--both the positive and negative conations. Merri's ancestors come to the land as settlers and set up a lumber mill. But, in a kind of fall from Eden, the first settling occurs: "they had to sell off most of the land with trees...because they needed money to live. That's when they went to growing tobacco. Everybody around here was [growing] it," her Uncle Lowell (who carries the spirit of the land) explains to her.

This selling off the resources of the land for cash becomes a precursor for the gravel pit contract that brings evil things into a young girl's world. Each generation has struggled with how to make a living off the land. Arguments have sprung up in each generation. There are those who want to husband and steward the land and those who are just desperate to make a go of it. As a result there's a slow decline of the land, and a sense of decay and struggle, despite the wish to restore what's been lost and the honoring of hard times to save a legacy.

The tension in the Coopersmith marriage between Ted and Ellie springs from these differences, as husband and wife want different things. Ted, working a job in town so he can stay on the farm, is sober and focused on labor. Ellie, a good mother, but a city girl at heart yearning for music, dancing, flower gardens, and good times. She's a city girl transplanted to the country, and the transplant didn't take. She's lonely. Ellie finds her husband boring, but has settled down into the marriage, if restlessly, and after a costly error. In this case she settles for a lack of vibrancy in relationship in order to avoid divorce and dies six years later. And Ted settles into his workshop, a world where there are things he can fix and do something about.

Casswell writes of subtle shifts through thematic explorations more than a novel driven by action and plot. This is a quiet, thoughtful and reflective story punctuated by lyrical passages of the workings of nature and a child's delight in the freedom of exploring the outdoors.
"A Place to Come Home To" gives us a big story in a small package. Its over-riding theme is that time moves on and we must change with the times.

Visit Janet Grace Riehl's blog "Riehl Life: Village Wisdom for the 21st Century" at for more thoughts and information about making connections through the arts, across cultures, generations, and within the family. You can also read sample poems and other background information from "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary" on Janet's website.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Review: Paint the Wind, by Pam Muñoz Ryan

One of the real bonuses of WWW membership is meeting and getting to know other author-members. In 2004 at the conference in Albuquerque, YA/Children’s author Pam Muñoz Ryan was our WILLA banquet speaker. I had the pleasure of meeting her and talking with her. Pam, incidentally, is a several-time WILLA winner.

Pam had written a children’s book about Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt — Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride — a story I was familiar with. I wanted an autographed copy for my granddaughter. Pam was interested in my book about women pilots in World War II, THE ORIGINALS, and we agreed to a swap. We have since corresponded off and on via e-mail. At some point, I expressed interest in her next project.

In early June, a package arrived for me containing an advanced reader copy of Paint the Wind. I was thrilled, read it immediately, loved it, and e-mailed Pam that I would love to do a review for WWW. What follows here is that review, along with a Q&A prepared by Pam’s publicist. The Q&A is designed to get you thinking about what you are reading. I would also offer it as a very professional example of a marketing tool from which other WWW authors might learn.

Paint the Wind is due to be released in September 2007. The publisher is Scholastic Press of New York. Here is my review.

Reading WWW member Pam Muñoz Ryan’s latest young adult novel Paint the Wind inevitably took me back to age seven or eight and my discovery of the magic world of horses. I think it was the movie My Friend Flicka that started it all. I know for sure that when I read Walter Farley’s classic The Black Stallion, I was hooked.

I didn’t write stories in my childhood — that would come later — rather I created stories and ran them like movies in my head. I created and dreamed them. I “lived” them in my mind’s eye, in my soul, and sometimes, I think, my body lived them as well.

Like Maya in Paint the Wind, horses changed my life. My desire to ride, to be one with that magnificent animal the horse, led me to attend a Colorado summer camp that specialized in Western riding. It also led me to join a riding club in Denver — these were VERY big in the 1950s — where I learned to ride English style to complement the Western seat I learned at camp. Though I left horses and riding behind when I went to college, the life-blood of the West — horses — had been firmly ingrained in the person I would become.

Talk about life-changing events! That mine spread over ten years just makes it dearer and more vivid.

Paint the Wind is the book I WANTED to read as a young girl. Why? Because it has a HEROINE — a girl protagonist. In all the books I read about horses, a boy was the lead character. I suppose that’s why I had to make up my own stories in order to put the female protagonist — me — into the story. How many of you had similar experiences?
Pam makes the same connection with her own reading as a youngster, but in her author Q&A she adds an element that had not occurred to me.

In those childhood books we both read, the horse in the story wins a race — or some competition — to prove its worth to the owner. Pam’s contention is that she wanted the heroine to bring something to the horse — and thus to all humankind. Thus, her story reaches into that magic realm called universality. It becomes more than just a story of a girl and a horse. It becomes an experience that could be told anytime, anywhere, about anyone, and is understood and meaningful to all people. That’s no easy task, but Pam has achieved it — all in a simple story of a girl and a horse.

What could be better?

Sarah Byrn Rickman is a former WWW president (2005) and author of the forthcoming (March 2008) biography: Nancy Love and the WASP Ferry Pilots of World War II.

Q&A with Author Pam Muñoz Ryan

WWW: Did you ride or spend time around horses when you were a child?
Muñoz Ryan: Only vicariously. As a young girl, I was obsessive about books and I still remember reading Marguerite Henry’s King of the Wind, Misty of Chincoteague, and Justin Morgan Had a Horse. Many of my friends collected Breyer horses, which I loved but couldn't afford. One of my friends owned a horse and I can still remember going out to the corral behind her house to pet it. The horse world fascinated me. But it was so far removed from my everyday (and beyond my family’s financial means), that it never occurred to me to ask for riding lessons. But once, when I was in high school, the Lipizzaner Stallions came to my town on tour. A boy I had no interest in dating asked me to attend the performance. I accepted only because I wanted to see the horses! [Laughing] I still feel a bit guilty about that.

WWW: What classic horse stories did you read (or reread) as you prepared to write Paint the Wind?
Muñoz Ryan: I reread dozens of children’s and adult classic horse stories, and contemporary ones as well. I made a list of over thirty titles and to my surprise, discovered that most featured a boy and a horse: The Red Pony, King of the Wind, The Black Stallion, My Friend Flicka, Seabiscuit, the Billy and Blaze series and many others. That fueled my desire to put a girl protagonist in a unique and character-strengthening situation. I also noticed that many horse stories ended with an inevitable race or competition and that the value of the horse was often depicted through its ability to win something for the owner. I wanted more than that. I wanted reciprocity – for the human to "win" something for the horse, too.

WWW: How did you become interested in wild horses?
Muñoz Ryan: I began researching horses in general, reading nonfiction books about the historical and mythical significance of the species to man. Many world cultures revered the horse and measured a man’s worth by how many horses he owned. That led me to stories about the role of the horse in the development of America: how the country flourished after the advent of horses from Spain via Mexico and the introduction of horses from Europe to the East Coast during Colonial times. Then I read America’s Last Wild Horses by Hope Ryden and became fascinated with the social dynamics in wild herds and harem bands. I learned about the stallion’s role as protector and the mare’s role as leader and the alliances made among “sister mares.” I came to appreciate the equine sense of community. Now I understand why people advocate for the protection of wild horses.

WWW: How did your heroine, Maya, develop?
Muñoz Ryan: After researching the wild horses and going on wilderness rides to see them up close, I began to wonder about a young girl who lived a repressed life: one of confinement and loneliness, with no sense of community, which is the opposite of the wild horse world. Then I imagined what it would be like to thrust Maya into a remote and wild setting similar to that of the wild horses. I questioned how she might grow and change under those circumstances. I wanted Maya to discover a sense of community not only with her new family, but with the horse world, and with the land.

WWW: What affected your decision to learn how to ride, especially now as an adult?
Muñoz Ryan: I kept asking myself, "How can I write a book about this character and this horse and not know how to ride?" Besides, here was my chance to live what I thought was a lost dream. I’d been on a horse before, but only a few times. In each of those instances, I sat placidly on a mount that followed a line of horses, nose-to-tail. I needed a different, more hands-on experience. Two years ago, I approached a trainer, Dana Rullo, in Olivenhain, California, and told her what I needed to accomplish in order to research and write this book. I admitted to her that I’d never had one lesson in my life but that I wanted to learn everything the correct way – no shortcuts. And I asked her to be strict with me. She agreed to train me. She was demanding and thorough and exactly the type of teacher I needed. I took hundreds of private riding lessons from her, sometimes riding three days a week to prepare for the two research rides I'd arranged. I still laugh at all the mistakes I made and how many times Dana said the words, "do-over." Often, if I knew I would be learning a new skill at the next lesson, I’d research it at length beforehand. One day, Dana gave simple, clear instructions on how to side-pass. I struggled and then reiterated the myriad of details I’d read about the technique. She shook her head and said, "Stop thinking so hard and start feeling!" Like my character, Maya, I had to learn that good horsemanship is as much about feeling as it is about thinking.

WWW: Paint the Wind is a departure from your other novels—it’s still your signature storytelling, but the epic Western landscape feels like exciting new terrain for you. What kind of research did you do to get to know your setting?
Muñoz Ryan: I needed to go where my story would be set, or somewhere similar, to see the wild horses in their habitat. So I signed up for two research rides. During the first one (in May 2006, in the eastern Sierra Mountains), the weather turned wet and cold, but our group rode anyway, one day for six hours in freezing rain. I will never forget the moment we finally encountered a harem band: That first sighting was awe-inspiring. The horses’ spirits were self-righteous and noble. And I realized how very seldom I have ever seen a large mammal in the wild, living free within its own defined society. That experience also gave me profound respect for the horses’ ability to withstand the elements and the restraints of man.
On the second ride (in August 2006, in southwestern Wyoming, near the Red Desert), we rode for eight days. I slept in a teepee, was caught on horseback in a swarm of "mean bees," bathed in the Sweetwater River, and spent long days in the saddle. In that part of the country, there is much more sky above than there is earth below, and for me, there was something unsettling and settling about the wide open spaces. At night, the stars came slowly, one by one. The Milky Way emerged as a smear – a giant swipe across the speckled blanket of sky. It was peaceful and comforting. But at the same time, against it, I felt belittled and helpless. I wanted to convey that feeling to the reader.

WWW: In alternating chapters throughout much of the novel, you write from the point of view of a wild horse, Artemisia. Did you always know her story would be such a central part of the book?
Muñoz Ryan: As the story developed, I knew that I wanted to incorporate the horse world from a perspective other than Maya’s. As I researched the herd dynamics of horses in the wild, I became intrigued by the nuances of their society and how it is structured, especially the role of the lead mare. When I needed a horse character to fulfill Maya’s unresolved longings about her mother, a lead mare seemed the right choice.

WWW: Were there any special challenges in writing from the point of view of an animal?
Muñoz Ryan: The biggest challenge was to avoid giving the horses anthropomorphic characteristics. The book would have been much easier to write if I could have given them human emotions! But that wouldn’t have been true to the animal world. A horse’s sensibility is different from a human’s and I wanted to portray it correctly. I tried very hard to depict appropriate equine responses, but I still left a little room for some creative license.

WWW: The horses in the book are named for famous painters. What was your inspiration for this?
Muñoz Ryan: I tried many different approaches to naming the horses. (At one time, I toyed with the idea of naming them after the towns in Wyoming.) While researching, I visited the Gilcrease Museum: The Museum of the Americas, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and was inspired by their collection. There I saw, among others, the works of Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Olaf Seltzer, Charles Banks Wilson, John Singer Sargent, John Audubon, N.C. Wyeth, and Winslow Homer. The artists and their works stayed with me. I realized that many of them were likely unfamiliar to young people, so I saw an opportunity to subtly introduce them. But most importantly, naming the horses after famous painters fit the story. Many are named for painters of the American Southwest because the story is set there. I hoped that if readers searched for their work, they might appreciate the landscape, history, and color of a part of this country that is truly unique. Other horses are named for artists whose personal journeys impressed me, and who had to overcome their family’s or society’s reservations about them becoming artists, such as Mary Cassatt and Artemisia Genteleschi. I also chose a few artists, like N.C. Wyeth, simply because I’m in awe of his work.

WWW: Anything else you’d like to share about your adventures? What was your most surprising discovery?
Muñoz Ryan: The writing of this book was a physical and an emotional challenge. As my character grew in my imagination, I discovered new territories too, away from the safe and familiar. Until I learned how to ride, I had never appreciated a horse’s size and power and how sobering that can feel. Nor could I have imagined how passionately I would fall in love with horses, especially my training horse, Smokey, who knows so much more about riding than I do. The other revelation was how very much I appreciated being in the wilderness. There is something magical in a panoramic landscape. Without the extra-sensory world pressing in, the simplest tasks take on meaning, priorities become clear, relevance is easier to determine. As my character, Aunt Vi, says in the book, "Wide open space does that to people. Slows them down and gives them time and legroom to sort out their thoughts and put them in the right order." It certainly did that for me. Wide open space gave me the chance to slow down so that my story and characters could grow in my imagination.

WWW: The scene in which your main character, Maya, first learns to lope is exhilarating to read. Did you have a similar experience?
Muñoz Ryan: I’ll never forget the time I loped a long distance in Wyoming. We had been out all day for another long ride. Before we headed back to camp, we arrived at a vast grassy plain. We divided into two groups, those who wanted to hold back and those who wanted to move out. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. I moved forward in the saddle. I didn’t have to cue my horse because as soon as one horse started, mine immediately picked up the gait. The remuda horses were amazingly adept at loping over the sagebrush and avoiding holes. We loped faster and faster. It was as if the horses were racing each other in a great arching leaps. I have never ridden so fast or so far in my life. It was frightening and thrilling and invigorating, and…well…I can’t wait to do it again someday. I can’t wait to once more paint the wind.

WWW: Thanks for sharing with us, Pam!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

August Reading Group

We'll start discussing our Monthly Selection around August 15th so get your copy and start reading now! Best price is through Here is information about the book from Rio Nuevo, the publisher's website:

The Wicked West
Boozers, Cruisers, Gamblers, and More
Sherry Monahan
ISBN-13: 978-1-887896-74-0
ISBN-10: 1-887896-74-0
176 pp, 6 x 9, paper, 60 b&w photos and illustrations

The Wicked West takes readers on a sinful journey back to frontier days. Gallop your horse right into a saloon (that often really happened!). Learn how our forefathers—and foremothers—enjoyed life’s wild little pastimes, such as drinking, smoking, gambling, and of course, prostitution. Your guide for this riotous trip through saloons and bordellos all across the Old West is popular historian, Sherry Monahan. She shows you how to mix a mean whiskey cocktail and gives the rules for the high-rolling game of faro. Best of all, she introduces you to a crowd of rough, tough, real-life men and women who tell their unforgettable stories in their own salty words.
Who would have guessed that absinthe was a popular drink? It's now available again in the United States having been banned since 1912. Go to the reading forum link to learn more about the green fairy!

Sign up and join us at the WWW reading group forum.

Buy the book at our link here.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

blog interviews

Today and both have blog interview with me posted. I talk about writing and life and issues of faith as well.
I'm busy working on my quilt and craft book so this will be short. When that book is finished I'm going to figure out how to add photographs to this blog. Then you can see the difference in the landscape from before and after the fire. But for now, I hope your day goes well. Jane

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Willamette Writers Conference

The 38th Annual Willamette Writers Conference is being held, August 3-5 at the Airport Sheraton in Portland, Oregon. The Writers Faire, open to the public, is at the same location on Thursday evening from 6-9pm. Sixty northwest authors will be there to sell and sign books. Jo-Brew http//jo-brew.blogspot www.thecreswellchronicle

Sunday, July 08, 2007


"Unsinkable: The Molly Brown Story" is my fourth biography, and the third I have written for the "Now You Know Bio" series from Filter Press.

Readers enjoy it on many levels. Young people can use these books for reports because of the research involved and the required non-fiction elements included, such as glossary, timeline, bibliography, index, and so on. Adult readers like these biographies because they are a quick, fun, and easy way to learn elements of history in a researched format they can enjoy and trust for historic accuracy.

The book recently received a silver CIPA EVVY award in the 2007 juvenile division. CIPA is the Colorado Independent Publishers' Association. My books are special because I work hard to bring history alive for the reader while incorporating my journalism degree and genealogy background with my intensive research methods. I dig for quotations, so the character can speak in his/her own voice, and I use historic photos and graphics contemporary to the life of the subject. For instance, although the "Unsinkable" topic is not new, this book contains newspaper graphics which have not seen the light of day since the Titanic sank in 1912. It stands out for its non-fiction format, which includes previously overlooked elements of Mrs. Brown's life. Joyce B. Lohse

Contact the author and buy the book here and join us at our reading forum. Discussion is open to the public and for anyone who loves historic writing. ~ Mod.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Creating A Family Farm

Our Willamette Valley is a lush stretch of green running through the northern third of Oregon between the coastal mountains and the Cascades. It is the place where my life is centered. From my home on the outskirts of Eugene, I travel through farm country in any direction. Most often toward the north where I have grown children and grandchildren.

Watching the seasons change on the farms as I passed by began to stimulate interest and questions. One particular farm house, located some distance back from the road intrigued me. There were no neighbors as far as I could see, just fields with changing crops. I seldom saw anybody around, never a woman but the house and small yard appeared well tended. When I returned from a grandchild's band concert or activity after dark, the single light glowing at the end of the long driveway was the only visible landmark on the unlit main road.

It seemed natural when my wondering about life in that house led me to create a story. That story of Cleo, a farm wife, became my first novel.

Never having lived on a farm, I began the framework from conversations with two older friends who had been farm wives. Many of the details of day to day farm life came from the two but the character of Cleo's mother-in-law, Edna, came from experiences in my teen days picking strawberries in a local field.

As the story grew, so did my need of knowledge. I began reading articles in the Country Life magazine, hung around the women at the Lane and Benton County Fairs, went to a few 4H meetings with my grandchildren, a few Grange events and made regular trips to the fruit and vegetable stands along the back roads that connect our farm towns. I talked to the extension service, to the local honey plant and to any of the farmers at the local farm store who were willing to spend time answering questions.

I spent time in each of those nearby farm towns before I decided which would be the center of life for Cleo and her children. I liked several but Harrisburg, about an hour north of my home, had the community feel I wanted.

As Cleo's story developed and my research went on, a secondary and larger theme overtook the tale. From one woman's struggle to survive in a culture she didn't understand, I discovered the need to bring the plight of the family farmer to the attention of readers. Hopefully the women who live and work in the city, buy their processed food at the chain stores and skip over the farmers market and fairs in favor of other entertainments.

I met with teachers who work to support their families and the farm they live on, farmers who work a second job at night, women who work in the neighbor's produce stand and women who spend two or three days a week as salespeople at the farmers market in the city.

Even the farms that set up the roadside markets need to have more than what they've grown. One farming family is partially supported by the nursery business the wife began while the men grew the traditional crops. Down the road from that historic farm, another plans special activities to attract more people. Senior retirement centers bring busses so the residents can shop and have lunch from a portable hot dog stand, finishing with ice cream and homemade pie. All summer children can feed the goats, visit other farm animals and play on the playground. The season ends with a computer planned corn maze, horse drawn wagons to the pumpkin patch and lots of cider. The production of crops is no longer enough. To succeed the farm family must have another source of cash flow and/or learn and practice sharp new business skills.

When my Preserving Cleo and the sequel, Cleo's Slow Dance, were both on the market, I felt like I'd told a tale of a woman's growth and put it in a vehicle that illustrated a major dilemma in our contemporary life style. Were I to do it again, I'd choose to pass on a stronger message as I see more people who are ready to listen. http://jo-brew.blogspot.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Member News Update

Left, Carolyn Wilker, Center, Linda Hall, right, WWW member Jane Kirkpatrick in Guelph, outside of Toronto, during the Write! Canada Conference this past week. Carolyn is a writer and reviewer of many of Jane's books; Linda Hall is an award-winning mystery writer from New Brunswick. She's a favorite writer of WWW member Jane Kirkpatrick, who finally got to meet her face to face. Jane taught a five hour class on writing the Historical Novel and a one hour class called "Putting Duct Tape on the Harpies", about changing the stories we tell ourselves that keep us from writing. Writers make the best conference companions! Come meet some of your favorite writers at the WWW conference in Colorado Springs this fall.

Jane Kirkpatrick

Award-winning author of 13 novels and two non-fiction books. A Tendering in the Storm, Book Two in the Change and Cherish Series (WaterBrook Press/Random House) is available now!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Join our reading group

We've created a reading group that you can join here, and we'll be discussing a WWW author's novel each month. This month we're reading Ann Parker's first novel in the Silver Rush mystery series entitled Silver Lies. Here's a comment from Ann in our ongoing conversation:
"Inez Stannert is my paternal grandmother's maiden name. She came to Leadville as a young child (her father was a blacksmith) until she was about 18, at which time she and her mother (!I cannot find a trace of her father, anywhere, after this time) moved to Denver. Granny never spoke to me about Leadville ... so it was a complete shock to me to find out (long after her death) that she had spent her formative years there. It was this bit of family history that started me on the path to researching Leadville and the creation of the Silver Rush series. The real Inez never set foot in a saloon, bar, or any other such place. But I wanted to name my protagonist after Granny, as a tribute of sorts. I checked with my relatives and they all agreed she would have been quite tickled by it ...A librarian once described the character Inez as "Miss Kitty [from the old TV series 'Gunsmoke'] unchained!" I rather liked that! There were women who ran/managed saloons in Leadville, but not many. Out of 300 or so saloon owners listed in the 1880 census, 3 were women." You can read the prologue to Silver Lies at the author's website. Buy the book at or your local bookstore and join us for a fascinating summer read.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Thanks, Women Writing the West!

Hi everyone. I am very proud to announce that my second book, Arctic Lace has won two awards this month! I'm so thrilled, because this book was very important to me.

Last week I learnd that Arctic Lace had advanced in the 2007 Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) competition from semifinalist to finalist to bronze award winner in the How-to (Crafts/Hobby) category (#46).

Arctic Lace has also won the Foreword Book of the Year Silver Award in the Crafts & Hobbies category and it's the only knitting book that received an award this year!

I want to thank Women Writing the West for supporting me on my journey in researching and writing this book. When I first joined WWW about 5 years ago, Arctic Lace was just a dream in the back of my mind. At every step of they way working on this book I've received support and inspiration from other WWW members, and at each October conference I've been energized to keep moving on with my writing goals. My success with this book is a tribute to Women Writing the West and everyone in the organization who has been so generous sharing their experience with me. Thank you!

I also want to say thank you to Sigrun Robertson and all of the Oomingmak Co-op knitters I met in Alaska, especially Fran, Joyce, and Eliza, who took so much time to talk to me during my research trip. I dedicated the book to all of the co-op's knitters and I am so glad that they so many people appreciate their work and are learning about their unique contribution to the knitting universe as well as the ways they are using knitting to maintain their subsistence lifestyle.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Quilt and Craft Writing Project

Jane Kirkpatrick, author of thirteen award-winning and bestselling historical novels and three non-fiction books has just signed with WaterBrook Press/Random House for a new project combining history, quilts and crafts. Her agency, Hartline Marketing and Literary Services announced the agreement today.
Stitching Stories: The Quilts and Crafts of the Aurora, Oregon Colony will be published in the fall of 2008. Both a gift book of inspiration and a tribute to the longest-surviving communal Christian colony in the western United States, Stitching Stories is set to coincide with renewed interest in the American craft movement as well as the 150th anniversary of Oregon's statehood in 2009. Kirkpatrick's Change and Cherish Historical Series is based on the life of the only woman sent west to help found the western colony in the 1850s. Book three in the fictional series, A Mending at the Edge will be released by WaterBrook/Random House in April, 2008. A Tendering in the Storm, book two, has received critical acclaim since its release in April. (
Settled in 1856 as a German-American Christian community whose members traveled from Pennsylvania and Missouri to Aurora, Oregon, its artisans were known for their weaving of beauty, faith and function through their colorful quilts and fibers, unique basketry, fine music, hand-tooled furniture and the culinary arts that served their neighbors and each other. The colony disbanded in 1884 but the town it founded continues on the historic register as one of the oldest settlements in Oregon and its history is one of a faith community living with relevance to the outside world. A fine museum houses the artifacts including more than 80 original quilts many of which will be highlighted with photographs in this coffee table gift book. Read more about this and other works at and

Member Contract News

WWW friends, I have spent five years of my life making this following announcement happen.

I have been offered a contract for my biography of Nancy Harkness Love, the woman who founded and led the women pilots who ferried airplanes for the U.S. Army in World War II. I began researching and writing this book in the spring of 2002.

On April 30, I completed the lengthy peer review process with the University of North Texas Press in Denton, Texas. — The waiting and responding, always positively, to the critiques, and working to EVER improve on the manuscript, were grueling. Today — May 22, 2007 — the university’s editorial board endorsed my work and approved a contract.

We don’t have the title nailed down yet, but it will be something like Nancy Harkness Love and the WASP Ferry Pilots of World War II. The target publication is in time for the Women In Aviation Conference, to be held mid March 2008 in San Diego. The women and men who attend this conference are my “choir” so to speak — they buy my books about the women who flew in WWII.

This will be the first biography on Love, who died in 1976. It follows my history of Nancy’s group — THE ORIGINALS: The Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron of World War II, published in 2001 by Disc-Us Books Inc. Love recruited 28 women in the fall of 1942 to form the initial women’s ferrying squadron for the Air Transport Command, U.S. Army Air Forces.

Nancy’s “girls”— the group grew from the original 28 to a high of 303 in early 1944 — began ferrying trainers then moved up to twin-engine aircraft and a few, including Love, flew the big four-engine bombers like the B-17. But the biggest job these women did for the Army was to ferry the swift, capricious WWII fighters known as pursuits — the fastest planes the Army had in 1944. The women moved these airplanes from the factories to the docks on both coasts to be shipped abroad to combat.
The women who flew — as civilians — for the Army in World War II became known as the WASP in 1943.

Nancy Love was a true a pioneer — a woman with courage, spirit and vision. More to come on the Nancy Love book as we proceed toward publication.

Posted by Sarah Byrn Rickman
Also the author of THE ORIGINALS: The Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron of World War II — a history —

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Advice for a young writer (or any writer!)

I'm writing an article for a magazine aimed at young artists of all sorts - writers, dancers, actors, visual artists, musicians, and filmmakers. My assignment is to interview noted arts professionals and ask them what they'd say to emerging artists to help them make their work shine, shout out, be noticed.

When I interviewed poet David Lee - Lee was one of the top two candidates for the post of Poet Laureate of the United States the other year and has been called the Mark Twain of humorous poetry - he offered these four nuggets:

1. Believe in yourself. This above all else, to thine own self be true, Polonius from Shakespeare's Hamlet.
2. Have a commitment to what you do. You were probably chosen to be an artist: the words choose the writer.
3. Have an audience in mind. I pick people and write my poems to them. When I think they would like it, it's probably well-written.
4. Be well-read: fifty percent of good writing is good reading.
May the words flow!
Susan J. Tweit
Check out my weekly podcasts on my web site or read more on my blog

Sunday, April 29, 2007

entering the blog age

I finally have a blog in no small part because of the support of Women Writing the West. Why is it that new things tend to increase our anxiety -- or at least they do mine. I'm always wondering how women used to do it, take on new tasks without ever having the certainty of the outcome. Well, the reality is, we're all living in a wilderness at times looking for new information and trying very hard to discover how to take the next steps. In the writing life, blogging is "a step" I've taken and I'm grateful to the women and men who stepped before me who made it possible. Now we'll see what it does for reader connection. That's my hope for this blog, at least, to stay connected to readers as well as to other writers. Come visit my blog It's called Harvests of Starvation Lane and my writing life has surely been a harvest for me. Jane Kirkpatrick,

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Finding Clarice, by Jo-Brew exerpt

Chapter 1

Clarice opened the brief memo folded into the get-well card and read it again, her anger causing her hands to tremble.
All of us hope your recovery is going better. It is difficult to explain your long absence to impatient clients. We will have to discuss making permanent changes if you aren't back soon. There may be other options so let us know when we can expect you.
No word at all from her mother for the last three months, and now this. She crumpled the memo and started to toss it in the wastebasket but changed her mind and stuck it in the pocket of her shorts. Still fuming, she forced herself to continue with her interrupted schedule. She opened the front door to step onto the little porch.
Whistles and cat calls from a crew of roofers working on the house across the street caused her to hesitate, but not for long. She turned and picked up the cane before beginning limping steps toward the street and bike path.
She started the three mile walk slowly but pushed herself to pick up the pace, passing in front of her father's house half a block past her own apartment. She was so frustrated she hoped he wasn't home from work yet, or wouldn't notice her going by. He'd want to talk if he saw her starting her third walk and whe didn't feel like chatting after the note. He could read her like a book. He'd know she was upset.
She heard her father's screen door slam. Dammit. Then she heard the thud of his footsteps as he came after her, nearly at a run. She didn't slow.
"Clarice, wait up. Why so fast?"
"I have to get in my three miles," she called back but still didn't slow.
"Knock this off, Clarice. I need to talk to you."
Hearing the anger in his voice, she slowed. This wasn't his fault. He was only trying to help.
"I'm sorry, Dad. I want to get this done. I need to get back to my own life."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Western Women draw half the Town

WWW members Jane Kirkpatrick (I'm in the green) and Molly Gloss (tall and in the brown) were two of four Western Heritage presenters in little Moro, Oregon (pop 300) that attracted 123 people from around the region to celebrate Women in History month and the heritage of the west. The event was held in the 120 year old Presbyterian Church, the only church in the community and was funded in part from a grant given by the Oregon Historical Trust.

Jeanne Carver (in the leather skirt), co-owner of the Imperial Stock Ranch one of the oldest ranches in the country still in operation and Sherry Kaseberg, a Sherman county Commissioner, rounded out the event that included stories of women homesteaders, how women were portrayed in early western literature, the impact of place and art on stories of pioneers, women of color and the relationships of work and spirituality and landscape on women's stories. Even the chuckwagon lunch included an original 1880s chuckwagon and a story about the role of chuckwagons in settling the American west.

As they say in old Grange secretarial reports "A good time was had by all."

Jane Kirkpatrick,, Award-winning author of 13 novels and two non-fiction books. Look for A Tendering in the Storm, April 17, Book Two in the Change and Cherish Series (WaterBrook Press/Random House).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Join me at a Denver garden book event!

If any of you Denver-area writers are in a gardening mood this Saturday (April 7th), come by Tattered Cover Bookstore in Highlands Ranch (9315 Dorchester Street, between Lucent Drive and Broadway in the Highlands Ranch Town Center) from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m. I'm part of an "expert panel" of garden book writers including Angela Overy (Sex in the Garden) and Dave Wann (The Zen of Gardening in the High and Arid West) there to answer your questions about playing with plants in our challenging environment. The point is to sell books, of course, but I'd be happy to see any and all of you whether you buy books or not.

Speaking of gardening, the spinach and Mesclun lettuce mix I planted in my kitchen garden last fall survived the winter (under row covers and some serious snow) and are now happily producing early greens. And the tomatoes and basil I seeds I started inside three weeks ago are growing apace; they're nearly ready to transplant to larger pots. The daffodils are blooming and we saw the first mountain bluebird today, blue as a chip of sky fallen to earth. Spring is here!

Susan J. Tweit -- check out my blog at

Friday, March 30, 2007

Back To College

Last Friday, March 23, 2007, was my first experience at the Colorado Independent Publishers’ Association CIPA College. It was also the first time their awards annual banquet was scheduled to follow the sessions that day, a good and effective change.
I had a blast at CIPA College, and at the banquet that followed. It helped that my book, published by Filter Press, Unsinkable: The Molly Brown Story, was selected as a CIPA Award Finalist receiving 2nd place in the Juvenile division. Beyond that, I spent a most worthwhile day, soaking up information and networking with some great people in the book world.
I have been a serious author for more than a decade, a pre-press and graphics professional for a quarter of a century, and a writer all my cognitive life. Although I’m fairly road-tested by now, I don’t presume to know it all, nor even know a good portion of it all. From that standpoint, much of what I saw and heard was already familiar, but there were plenty of ideas and bits of wisdom I was pleased to learn and to add to my arsenal.
My biggest thrill was meeting John Kremer. This is THE marketing guru who wrote the book I picked up some 25 years ago entitled, 101 Ways To Market Your Books. The book and Kremer are still going strong, and his latest version is called 1001 Ways to Market Your Books. I am trying to catch up on my reading so I can study the other 900 ways to market my books. CIPA College’s rotating roundtable format allowed me to talk one-on-one with The Man himself. Wow. I hope my rock-star hero worship wasn’t too apparent.
At any rate, I consider my day at CIPA College a huge success and an injection of inspiration, especially in my weak areas of marketing. I appreciate the folks who brought together these professionals so that we could benefit from them. And thanks to them for the recognition of our work with a much appreciated CIPA EVVY finalist award! Check out the rest of my books at .
My great experience at CIPA College made me anticipate the WWW Conference at the Marriott Hotel in Colorado Springs this fall, Oct. 19-21, 2007. It was a huge success last year and promises to be even better this year. Can't wait to see everybody again and to get that surge of inspiration, wisdom, and fun.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

What Wildness Is This

When I got my copy of What Wildness Is This, an anthology of women writing about land and life in the Southwest co-edited by WWW member Susan Wittig Albert, my jaw dropped. It wasn't just the wide range of writers represented, including Barbara Kinsolver, Leslie Marmon Silko, Teresa Jordan, Naomi Shihab Nye, Luci Tapahanso, Denise Chavez, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer - nearly 100 in all. Nor was it the inspiring range of genres and cultures and languages; nor even the fact that it includes an essay of mine. It was the sheer beauty of the words and the design. Anthologies can be throw-away volumes, catchalls of unrelated writing hastily thrown together. Not this one: everything from the cover photo to the paper, ivory and a satisfying weight, with a lovely ragged outside edge, to the order of the voices and the writing itself, is beautifully done and inviting. Inviting readers to take it home and curl up in a favorite reading spot, and let the pages fall open to sample the voices of women speaking eloquently and passionately for land, culture, self, and place.

What Wildness Is This was just released by University of Texas Press. "Land Full of Stories," a writing conference inspired by the book will take place in San Marcos, Texas, June 7-9, 2007.

Monday, March 12, 2007

WHAT NEXT, MS. ELLIOTT? by Jo-Brew excerpt
Late March--

In Seattle, Rachel sat across the desk from Carolyn Page, her counselor. She was nervous as she watched the woman sign off on the final paperwork. Rachel had completed the eighteen-month rehabilitation program the judge had sentenced her to after he'd studied the records from the hospital. He'd asked her if she knew how close to dying she'd come. When she answered she did, he'd told her he was going to give her this one last chance instead of sending her to jail again.

She'd gone through the six month locked down program determined to win this time. Now she'd served the required year of supervised probation in a half way house. She was free to build a new life, as long as she stayed out of trouble and reported in for her urine test every month.

In southern Oregon, Dr. Keith Roberts, M.D., a prominent oncologist, sat facing his patient across his file-covered desk. He hated this part of his job. Especially when it was a patient he respected. This woman had courage and strength. She wouldn't cry. Never had. He'd been treating her for more than ten years, since she'd found the lump in her breast and had the mastectomy. The cancer had come back and he'd told her she was terminal two years ago. She'd put her chin up and let him know she wouldn't accept it, she'd fight tooth and nail.

"Madeline, I'm sorry but you have to know the reports from the new MRI show it's spreading faster. We have things we need to finish. You have to appoint someone to make your health care decisions when you can't. It's way past time." He reached to hand her the form but she didn't take it.

In Eugene, Ruth wondered how she could survive the emptiness of retirement. The only place she counted was in the school. She'd been a good teacher and she knew she'd given the children a strong base. If she let herself think about the unknowns ahead, the feelings of panic almost made her ill. The big question was still unanswered. What Next, Ms. Elliott?

While she walked down the ramp from the administration office, she let herself think about how strange it would be never to come back after all the official visits. This old building was just another part of her past.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Talk about world-class experiences!

Two weeks ago, I attended the 18th annual Women in Aviation International conference, held this year at one of the Disney conference centers in Orlando. WWW’s president Jacque Boyd and I roomed together.
Jacque is part of the volunteer staff for WIA. I went to sell my books. I write about the WASPs – the women pilots of World War II. Nine of those ladies were there – all old friends of mine – and after conference attendees meet them at their booth, they come buy my books. I always sell well at WIA. This year, I sold every copy I took.

I also went to help staff the International Women’s Air and Space Museum booth. I got my start writing about the WASP while doing freelance work for IWASM and take every opportunity to give back by working their booth at WIA.

But my finest reason for being there was to help honor an outstanding lady. Her name is Iris Cummings Critchell. She is one of the WASPs and I am proud to call her my friend. Let me tell you a little about her.

Iris was a member of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team in Berlin in 1936 and reigned as U.S. women’s 200-meter breaststroke champion from 1936 to 1939. She majored in science and math at the University of Southern California and graduated from the first Civilian Pilot Training class there. She then flight instructed CPT classes and Navy Cadets until December 1942 when she became a member of the second WASP class. That makes her a member of an exclusive community of 1102 WWII-era women, of whom about 400 survive.

She flew the hot Army planes known then as pursuits and today as fighters — the P-47, P-51, A-20, P-38 and P-61, and many other single and twin-engine aircraft as well.

Using her education and aviation acumen, she wrote several special aviation curricula that use the airplane as an educational tool to broaden and enhance the education of three age groups of young people: junior high, high school and college level.
She and her WWII pilot husband, Howard, established the Bates Foundation’s college age program at Harvey Mudd College of Science and Engineering at the Claremont Colleges in 1962. Iris served as director of the Bates Aeronautics Program and for 28 years served as Lecturer in Aeronautics on the college faculty.

A 53-year member of the Ninety-Nines (international organization for women pilots), she competed in 15 All Woman Transcontinental Air Races (better known as the Powder Puff Derby). She retains all of her flight ratings, including that of flight instructor, and still flies her own Cessna 172.

On February 16, she was inducted into the Women in Aviation Pioneers Hall of Fame. I had the privilege of sitting next to her at the banquet. I also had the privilege of nominating her for this honor.

A woman of the west – born and bred in southern California – an athlete, an aviator, a teacher, a scholar, and an absolutely incredible human being. Iris is 86 years young.

Sarah Rickman, author of THE ORIGINALS — the story of the first women to fly for the U.S. Army in WWII — and — WILLA Literary Award Finalist, FLIGHT FROM FEAR, a WASP WWII novel.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Writers By The Sea Workshop

Toward the end of January, I participtated in the Writers By The Sea workshop on the Oregon coast. The workshop was put on by John Reed, well known instructor, editor and novelist. He included an excellent review of the elements that should be in every scene. I know them but realized I've let myself get careless as I grew more involved in telling the story. Now I'm doing an extra revision of the novel currently underway, Marge, Back On Track, to strengthen every scene.

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