Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December Member News

Congratulations to all our WWW members for their awards and new publications! Head on over to WWW Member News to get the latest scoop on the newly published and the winners.

Monday, December 16, 2013

WWW Honors Books, Authors with its WILLA Awards

 2013 WILLA Winners in Attendance

by Pamela Tartaglio
Women Writing the West honored the recipients of its 15th Annual WILLA Literary Awards at the WWW conference in Kansas City, Missouri. These books, listed below, represent the best of 2012 published literature featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the West and include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children’s/YA.

“Fascinating, excellent, gripping, engaging, wonderful,” are some of the words the professional librarian judges wrote about the Winning and Finalist books. A number of the winning authors traveled to Kansas City to accept their awards at the October 12 Finalist Luncheon and the evening WILLA Banquet, where each Winner was presented with a crystal trophy and $100. The ceremonies, at which every title is recognized with comments written by the librarian judges, are highlights of each year’s WWW conference.

The recipients of the 2013 WILLA Literary Awards are as follows:

WINNER: Theft by BK Loren (Counterpoint Press)
FINALIST: A Growing Season by Sue Boggio and Mare Pearl (University of New Mexico Press)

WINNER: True Sisters by Sandra Dallas (St. Martin’s Press)
FINALIST: Tributary by Barbara K. Richardson (Torrey House Press)
FINALIST: Dance with a Gunfighter by Joanne Pence (Quail Hill Publishing)

WINNER: The Bones and the Book by Jane Isenberg (Oconee Spirit Press)
FINALIST: In Need of a Good Wife by Kelly O’Connor McNees (Berkley/Penguin)
FINALIST: The House on Swiss Avenue by Irene Sandell (Eakin Press)

WINNER: Kissed by a Fox and Other Stories of Friendship in Nature by Priscilla Stuckey (Counterpoint Press)

WINNER: Women in Wonderland: Lives, Legends and Legacies of Yellowstone National Park by Elizabeth A. Watry (Riverbend Publishing)
FINALIST: Divinely Guided: The California Work of the Women’s National Indian Association by Valerie Sherer Mathes (Texas Tech University Press)
FINALIST: Colorado Women: A History by Gail M. Beaton (University Press of Colorado)

WINNER: Steam Laundry by Nicole Stellon O’Donnell (Red Hen Press)
FINALIST: Reluctant Traveler by Laurie Wagner Buyer (Seven Oaks Publishing)

WINNER: Liberty’s Christmas by Randall Platt (Texas Tech University Press)
FINALIST: The Quilt Walk by Sandra Dallas (Sleeping Bear Press)
FINALIST: Outcasts of River Falls by Jacqueline Guest (Coteau Books)

 2013 WILLA Finalists in Attendance and WILLA Chair

 WWW is now seeking entries from authors or publishers for the 2014 WILLA Literary Awards, which will honor books published in 2013. The deadline for submission is February 1, 2014. For 2014 Guidelines and Application, visit or write Women Writing the West, 8547 E. Arapahoe Road #J-541, Greenwood Village, Colorado 80112.

The award is named in honor of Pulitzer Prize-winner Willa Cather, one of the country’s foremost novelists.

Pamela Tartaglio, 2013 WILLA Chair/Past President, was delighted to read aloud the comments from the librarian judges and hand trophies and plaques to the authors.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Finding Gold

by Doris McCraw 

In 1848 gold was found in California. Although there had been some placer gold found in the southeast, this was a game changer. When word arrived back east of the Mississippi the rush was on. Unfortunately many of the thousands who sailed around the southern tip of South America, crossed at Panama or traveled across country in wagons and carts failed to find enduring riches.

Then in 1859 another rush was on. There was gold found in Colorado and many who had missed the first rush headed west across the Great American Desert with Pike's Peak or Bust painted on their wagons. From 1859 on gold was found in most of the Western states, the Dakotas, Nevada, Montana, etc. The last rush was in the 1890′s in the Cripple Creek region of Colorado and in the Alaskan territory. Many people followed one rush after another, most to no avail.

In looking at the pattern, so many rushed over true wealth. In California some of the pristine areas were forever blighted. The Great American Desert was in reality part of the breadbasket of the nation. Forest, mountains, rivers all were all sacrificed to the need for quick wealth.

The quick wealth was another matter altogether. Some miners found gold nuggets just lying around, but most prospectors and miners worked hard, long hours and barely broke even. In the long run it was those who supplied the gold seekers, or processed the gold ore that won the prize.

Perhaps you are wondering why the history lesson. For me it is the lessons learned that make it worthwhile. Many times we search for the quick answer and the bonanza strike of gold in our lives and work. We dream of bestselling books, an easier life and more money. Those dreams can definitely come true. The thing we need to watch for; not rushing by and missing the true gold. Friends,family, home are the true gold. In our rush to find gold, savor the journey and those we share it with. In the end, they will be the ones who help us find our own gold.
written and copyrighted by Doris McCraw

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

A Wilder Rose Goes to the Library

by Susan Wittig Albert

I’ve been writing traditionally-published fiction and nonfiction for nearly three decades. But this year, I decided to publish a stand-alone novel—A Wilder Rose—under my own imprint, Persevero Press. All things considered, I’m glad I chose to take this route, but there have been bumps. A few potholes. Big trees across the road. Getting the book into libraries, for example.

A Wilder Rose is a biographical/historical novel about the collaboration of Rose Wilder Lane and Laura Ingalls Wilder in the writing of the award-winning children’s series, the Little House books. Since most libraries have copies of Little House in the Big Woods and the other seven books in this pioneer series, I had the idea that a book about the Little House books might be a pretty strong candidate for library acquisition. I decided to try to get A Wilder Rose into libraries.

But I ran into a few roadblocks, and I learned that even libraries that might want an author-published book may find it difficult to purchase it. If you’d like to see your book in the libraries, here are some things to consider:

1. Of course, you’ve already seen to it that your book is absolutely the best work you can produce—well-written, edited and copy-edited, and with a professionally-designed cover. It should also have a standard copyright page that lists your publishing information, including the ISBN number. As well, libraries prefer books that have a CIP-data block: a Cataloging-in-Progress data block that makes cataloguing your book easier. The Library of Congress produces this for publishers, but not for self-publishers. However, you can obtain a CIP-data block from a vendor. (I did.) Joel Friedlander has posted a good discussion of this process, along with helpful links.

2. Your hardcover book needs a sturdy binding, but it doesn’t need a dust cover. A case laminate cover is excellent. (Here’s Joel Friedlander again, explaining.) Libraries also buy paperbacks and trade paper editions, which they may rebind. But again, make sure the binding is sturdy.

3. Public libraries almost always prefer to buy from their usual distributors: Baker & Taylor and Ingram. I chose Lightning Source as the print-on-demand (POD) supplier for the library edition of A Wilder Rose, because Lightning Source distributes books through both Baker & Taylor and Ingram. Libraries may be more likely to buy your author-published book if you offer the standard institutional discount, 30-40%.

4. Before libraries can acquire your book, you have to let them know it’s available and entice them to order it. For this, you’ll want a press release (print or digital). It should describe your book in beguiling terms and (of course) feature your cover. Mention appealing extras such as index, photos, resource list and/or bibliography. Describe the book’s binding and be sure to include ordering information. One librarian told me to put all of this all on one side of a 9x12 page, or on a postcard. Several librarians reported that they did not want emailed releases.

5. I bought a mailing list of public libraries that serve populations over 40,000. I mailed postcards advertising the book to the 1284 libraries on that list. I have also taken advantage of the mailing services offered through the Independent Book Publishers Association (As a member of this organization, I have used several of its marketing programs. The staff is very helpful.)

6. Consider placing your book on NetGalley. I’m told that librarians often preview books there. I posted A Wilder Rose on NetGalley in July and the book is still being downloaded by reviewers, including librarians.

7. Librarians would like to see a review of your author-published book in at least one of four major review venues: Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly. Of the four, only Kirkus and Publishers Weekly offer reviews to self-publishers and indie authors—for a fee. Uncertain whether you should pay for a review? Read Susan Gottfried’s helpful post on assessing the value of paid reviews. I took advantage of both the Kirkus and PW indie programs and earned starred reviews from both. The Kirkus starred review led to two feature articles (one in September, the other in November) in Kirkus’ print and online publications—coverage I wouldn’t have had without the review and definitely worth the up-front investment.

8. On your book’s website, offer resources for libraries, to tweak their interest. You can take a look at what I’m offering here.

9. Your local library may be a good place to begin your marketing efforts, with an offer to talk to library patrons or a Friends’ group about your book. And don’t overlook your state library association. I’ve given talks to three groups of Texas librarians since the publication of Rose, and have been invited to talk (and sell books!) at the Texas Library Association conference in April, 2014.

I’ve found a way to measure the success of these efforts: the number of libraries that are acquiring Rose. I’m keeping track via WorldCat, which lists the holdings of more than 10,000 libraries around the world. As of the day I wrote this post, 159 libraries had ordered or already shelved one or more copies of the book. (Some large library systems have ordered a copy for every branch.) And since only about a third of U.S. libraries belong to WorldCat, it’s reasonable to suppose that Rose is already on the shelves of quite a few more libraries—and that the numbers will continue to grow.

These are the strategies that have worked for me—but I’ll bet there are others I haven’t tried. And of course, library technologies are changing as fast as the publishing industry. I haven’t even thought about trying to get the eBook edition of ROSE into libraries, for example. That a whole ‘nother kettle of fish!

If you’ve had experience in getting your books into libraries, please share. The more we know, the easier this will be—or at least, so we hope!

First written by Susan Wittig Albert for Blood Red Pencil 

"If you loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books about her pioneer childhood, you should read A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert. If you are reluctant to believe that Laura’s daughter Rose may have written the books, you must read this novel...." Linda Hasselstrom 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Post-Conference Flowers

After the writers’ conference I sat in the sun in the Kaufmann Memorial gardens off the plaza near the Embassy Suites. It is a private spot for introspection among nature and sculpture. I especially noticed the dahlias and fall reedy plants. When I came home I enjoyed seeing my "cutting" garden in front, the Christmas present from my horticultural daughter last year.

Another day I walked at our local Arboretum. Once again in the beautiful fall splendor, I loved the dahlias.

Today, searching through some family photographs, I ran across one that had a sign on a fence stating "Stover Dahlia Gardens." That was news to me.

My great aunt married into the Stover family in Hagerstown, Maryland. Her four sisters thought it was wonderful to have her banker husband in the family. I inherited some items of their rich life style: monogrammed silver, fine linens, a tatted holder for calling cards, and photo stick pins of both Aunt Ora (Knepper) and Uncle Ira Stover.

I didn't know Uncle Ira’s family also gardened, but my subconscious must have. It took about fifty years for that fact to surface. How many more tidbits of coincidences are waiting up there to be released?

Rubbing elbows with the Wonderful Western Women Writers always releases my creativity...again. I can’t wait for what will be revealed after next year’s conference. Sooner than that, I must remember to put dahlias on my Christmas list!

Whether living on the east coast, along the Rockies, or now in the Heartland, Betty pays attention to life and her surroundings. She observes, notates, remembers, and then writes. Currently she’s publishing Tamika and Friends, a children’s historical fiction book about Ancestral Puebloans in the 13th century.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Treasure of Steamboat Arabia, Post II

Eds note: The tour of the Arabia Steamboat Museum was such a popular and inspiring part of the recent Women Writing the West Conference in Kansas City (MO), that two members wrote about it for the blog. Here's Past-President Pamela Tartaglio's look at the tour. (Author/Member Mary E. Trimble wrote Post I.)

Detail of pitcher from first barrel (Photo by Pamela Tartaglio)
In the film at the Arabia Steamboat Museum, two family members recall their excitement when they unearthed the first barrel, buried for 132 years. Not only did the heavy cask deep below a corn field suggest they had found the steamboat, but the contents dazzled them. It was packed full of china, including Wedgewood, which the Arabia had been known to carry that day.

The cargo included gold-rimmed china as well as everyday items for family kitchens. (Photo by Pamela Tartaglio)
One discoverer recounted in the film how the family went home and stayed up late into the night, thrilled with their find and the promise of the 200 tons of cargo to be retrieved. On that night they decided that they would not sell any of the items because they were a record of life at the edge of the frontier. According to the museum, this is the largest single collection of pre-Civil War artifacts in the world.

The ship carried keys (foreground), hinges, drawer pulls and other hardware. (Photo by Pamela Tartaglio)
More than two tons of metal tools and hardware were recovered. A filled toolbox suggests a skilled worker lost the means of his livelihood when the Arabia sank. The more than 4,000 boots and shoes found on the steamship, lost in 1856, may have created a shortage and hardship at that time.

Bed keys tightened ropes that supported mattresses. (Photo by Pamela Tartaglio)
Some of the items are obsolete.
Trays to hold calling cards. (Photo by Pamela Tartaglio) 
After lunch, the WWW tour bus left the Steamboat Arabia Museum and passed the Central Library’s parking structure, which resembles a shelf of famous books.
A giant bookshelf conceals parking for cars. (Photo by Pamela Tartaglio)
WWW Conference Chair LaDene Morton channels Willa Cather. (Photo by Pamela Tartaglio)
Many thanks to those responsible for the 2013 Women Writing the West Conference!

2013 Past-President Pam Tartaglio served as chair of the WILLA Literary Awards and enjoyed presenting trophies and plaques to the authors of the 2013 Winners and Finalists. She writes about the arts, history and places on her blog.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Treasure of the Steamboat Arabia (Post I)

Eds note: The tour of the Arabia Steamboat Museum was such a popular and inspiring part of the recent Women Writing the West Conference in Kansas City (MO), that two members wrote about it for the blog. Here's author/member Mary E. Trimble's post. We'll also hear from past-President Pamela Tartaglio.

"Family" in period dress getting ready to board the Arabia. (Photo by Mary E. Trimble)
In 1856, the 171-foot-long, side-wheeler steamboat Arabia sank to the bottom of the Missouri River when her hull was pierced by a submerged tree, taking with it 200 tons of brand new store merchandise. The snag ripped open the hull which quickly filled with water. By the next morning, only the smokestacks and pilot house remained visible. Within the next few days, all remaining traces of the boat disappeared from sight. Numerous attempts to salvage the boat and her contents were attempted but, it appeared, all was lost. Although there were no human casualties, a mule that was tied to sawmill equipment went down with the ship.

Museum docent explains the early days of the discovery. (Photo by Mary E. Trimble)
Over time, the Missouri River changed its course, leaving the Arabia buried deep in the mud of a farmer’s field. In 1987, Bob Hawley and his sons Greg and David set out to find the boat. Using old maps and a proton magnetometer to figure out the location, they finally discovered the Arabia half a mile from the current river, under 45 feet of silt and topsoil.

Wagon with goods, ready for shipment (Photo by Mary E. Trimble)
The owners of the farm gave permission for excavation with the provision that the project be completed before spring planting. In November 1988, the Hawleys, along with family friends Jerry Mackery and David Luttrell, began the recovery task while the water table was at its lowest point. Heavy equipment was brought in including a 100-ton crane and 20 irrigation pumps to keep the site from flooding, Within days, goods were recovered, all in remarkably good shape. A wooden crate filled with elegant china was so well preserved even its yellow straw packing material was still intact. Pickles sealed in a wooden barrel were still edible.

Dishes and other goods at “old store” (Photo by Mary E. Trimble)
In February 1989, work ceased at the site and the pumps were turned off. The hole filled with water overnight.

Although the site of the sinking is near present-day Kansas City, Kansas, the cargo and remnants of the ship are now housed in The Arabia Steamboat Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. The museum houses one of the most remarkable collections of pre-Civil War artifacts in the world. Each piece has been carefully cleaned, categorized and attractively displayed. The collection is still a work in progress as preservationists continue to clean remaining artifacts.

Tools on display (Photo by Mary E. Trimble)
The Arabia Steamboat Museum is a fascinating collection of goods including European dishware, jewelry, guns, tools, clothing and food products,. The attractive displays are works of art with items exhibited on furniture replicas, effectively creating a time-capsule of frontier life in the 1800's.

Mary E. Trimble has lived in sub-Saharan Africa in the Peace Corps (the subject of her memoir, Tubob), cruised the South Pacific for two years in a 40-foot sailboat with her husband, Bruce, and written three contemporary Westerns set in the Pacific Northwest, Tenderfoot, McLellan's Bluff, and Rosemount. She and Bruce live on Camano Island, Washington.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Speaking of Clichés: Going to Kansas City was a kick!

Women Writing the West past-President Sheila Wood Foard, author of the WILLA-winning YA novel, Harvey Girl, came back from the WWW conference in Kansas City inspired (and full of fun!).

WWWers tour the Steamboat Arabia Museum. Photo by WWW member Bob Foard
Where else, besides a Women Writing the West conference, can you chat with people of your own kind? People who speak the same language using words like plot, proposal, blog, platform, narrator, setting, writer’s block, rejection, alliteration, and social media while touting the importance of including sensory images in describing the western landscape even as they caution against using –ly adverbs, dangling modifiers, fragments (like the one you are now reading), and clichés when you draft your next story?

Speaking of clichés, Brian Shawver, presenter of the Language of Fiction session, reminded us of the well worn warning we first heard in a middle school English class: Avoid Clichés Like the Plague! Then he kicked it up a notch by discussing examples of clichés from literary works being used effectively. At the moment, I can’t quote any of his examples, but I plan to buy his stylebook on Kindle so I can from now on.

Again speaking of clichés, I recalled Dolly Parton’s song titles and lyrics. Now there’s a woman who writes the South well. Why couldn’t I get rich writing clichés like Dolly? Maybe one reason is I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. But I’ve always admired Dolly’s spunk, if not her use of English.

My fervent hope is that the awesome Kansas City Conference (thanks to LaDene Morton and her WWW sidekicks) will be a kick in the pants for my own writing of the West. I’ve been kicking my next novel down the road for far too many months. Now it’s time to kick my ruby slippers together (the way Dorothy, a.k.a Judy Garland, did to get out of the Emerald City in Oz and travel home to Kansas, which was faster than steaming up the Missouri River on the Steamboat Arabia) and finish the sequel to Harvey Girl. (At least I have a working title: Girl Courier on the Indian Detours.)

Hey, did I mention that many of the Harvey Girls (the real ones, not those of that other Judy Garland musical fame) were hired at the Fred Harvey Company offices at Union Station right there in Kansas City? One way to kick start your writing is to revisit the landscape of your first novel. Right? Write! This is no time to kick back unless it’s in my computer chair.

Photo by Bob Foard
Sheila Wood Foard writes for young readers. Her historical novel Harvey Girl (Texas Tech Press) won a WILLA Literary Award as well as taking First Place in YA Fiction Books in the National Federation of Press Women contest. Past President of WWW, Foard is an e-instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Monday, September 16, 2013

September New Releases from WWW Members

If you're in the mood for a good love story set in the West, head on over to the WWW News page to check out these new releases--and the unusual stories behind some of them--by Women Writing the West member authors.

Lawless Love, by Andrea Downing

Tenderfoot, by Mary E. Trimble
Take a Chance on Love, by Christi Williams
Perilous Promises, by Christi Williams
Congratulations all! 

On a sadder note: Our thoughts go out all affected by the flooding in Colorado and New Mexico, especially WWW members in those areas. Please join us in supporting all those helping out, and everyone involved. Stay safe and dry!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Late August New Releases and Awards

August has been a banner month for Women Writing the West members. Head on over to the WWW News page to read about new and upcoming books and read the award news. Join us in celebrating our community of talented authors and publishing professionals!

A Bushel's Worth: An Ecobiography, by Kayann Short
Winter of Beauty, by Amy Hale Hauker
Log Cabin Christmas Collection, including Jane Kirkpatrick

A Wilder Rose, by Susan Wittig Albert
Liberty's Christmas, by Randall Platt
The Whip, by Karen Kondazian

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

WILLA Award™ Winners!

Pam Tartaglio, 2013 Chair for the WILLA Literary Awards™for Women Writing the West, announces the Winners and Finalists for this year's 15th Annual WILLA Awards™. Drum roll, please!


Historical Fiction

WinnerTrue Sisters by Sandra Dallas (St. Martin’s Press)
FinalistTributary by Barbara K. Richardson (Torrey House Press)
FinalistDance with a Gunfighter by Joanne Pence (Quail Hill Publishing)

Contemporary Fiction

WinnerTheft by BK Loren (Counterpoint Press)
FinalistA Growing Season by Sue Boggio and Mare Pearl (University of New Mexico Press)

Creative Nonfiction

WinnerKissed by a Fox and Other Stories of Friendship in Nature by Priscilla Stuckey (Counterpoint Press)

Childrens/Young Adult Fiction & Nonfiction

WinnerLiberty’s Christmas by Randall Platt (Texas Tech University Press)
FinalistThe Quilt Walk by Sandra Dallas (Sleeping Bear Press)
FinalistOutcasts of River Falls by Jacqueline Guest (Coteau Books)


WinnerSteam Laundry by Nicole Stellon O’Donnell (Red Hen Press) 
FinalistReluctant Traveler by Laurie Wagner Buyer (Seven Oaks Publishing)

Original Softcover Fiction (Trade or Mass Market)

WinnerThe Bones and the Book by Jane Isenberg (Oconee Spirit Press)
FinalistIn Need of a Good Wife by Kelly O’Connor McNees (Berkley/Penguin)
FinalistThe House on Swiss Avenue by Irene Sandell (Eakin Press)

Scholarly Nonfiction

WinnerWomen in Wonderland:  Lives, Legends and Legacies of Yellowstone National Park by Elizabeth A. Watry (Riverbend Publishing)
FinalistDivinely Guided:  The California Work of the Women’s National Indian Association by Valerie Sherer Mathes (Texas Tech University Press)
Finalist Colorado Women:  A History by Gail M. Beaton (University Press of Colorado)

Congratulations all!


What are the WILLA Awards?

The WILLA Literary Awards™ honor the best in literature, featuring women's or girl's stories set in the West that are published each year. Women Writing the West, a non-profit association of writers and other professionals writing and promoting the Women's West, underwrites and presents the nationally recognized awards each year at the WWW Fall Conference. The awards are named in honor of Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist Willa Cather, one of America's foremost writers.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mid-August New Releases and Awards

Women Writing the West members have released a flood of books and won more awards. Here's the latest installment of the member news. Head on over and celebrate with the authors!