March 2023 Newsletter, Keeping Members in Touch


You have brains in your head.
 You have feet in your shoes.
 You can steer yourself any
 direction you choose.

     So says Dr. Seuess

 March is Dr. Seuess month, the month to celebrate the life, works and influence of Dr. Seuess. Theodor Seuess Geisel was born March 2, 1904 and is commonly known by his pen name, Dr. Seuess. Mostly known for the writings of his 46 books written especially for little ones, it may seem a little surprising to us that he also was a poet and cartoonist. His career saw him work as an illustrator for advertising campaigns and a political cartoonist during World War II. 

Dying in 1991, Dr. Seusse used the 87 years he lived to make an incredible impact on all those who were familiar with his writings. The works of this uniquely creative writer have been enjoyed not only by the little ones, but by many of all ages all around the world. Dr. Seusse’s books were so loved that his peculiar and whacky style called for his tales to be translated into more than twenty languages, read and cherished by people all over the world every day.

Although his books became items in so many homes and his name a common household phrase, Dr. Suesse understood some of the same things we all deal with as someone who enjoys writing.  If he were to have attended an AWG meeting, surely he could have shared Sags, as well as Brags.

In the beginning of his career, things were going very well for Dr. Seuess. As a grandchild of German immigrants, he and his sister experienced anti-German prejudice from other children following the outbreak of World War I in 1914. This had an influence on his writing. Overcoming some of the experiences of his childhood, he continued with his passion of writing. He was known to be a perfectionist and is said to have thrown away about 95% of his work before settling on a theme for his next new book, sometimes spending as long as a year writing a single story. His career began when he joined a humor magazine at Dartmouth College, eventually becoming editor-in-chief. It took a turn when he was forced to resign because he was caught drinking. He did not let that stop him. During the Second World War people were entertained by more than 400 political cartoons that appeared in a New York daily newspaper “PM”. 

So why should we let discouragement or disappointment steal our passion for writing? Even the famous deal and have dealt with similar obstacles. Press on, fellow writers, press on. 

                                                                               Kay Talley-Leach, AWG President                         BRAGS & SAGS:   

David Dodge: Brags: I’m a few chapters into my next book. Sags: I had a lot of trouble getting my last book out (on to brag) but I finally made it. 

Marguerite Gray: Brags: Release of Promise of Purity (Gardens in Time Book Two) Starting writing process on Book Four in series, Flames of Faith.

Mary Berry: Brags:  My "A New Born Babe's Story," a tale about a friend's inherited doll, is in the latest issue of Doll Castle News magazine.

Sharon Ellison: Sag: No entries in the 5-word Flash Fiction Spotlight for members only.

 Our Officers:

President: Kay Talley-Leach, (2024); Executive VP: Darla McCloud, (2023)
Program VP: Sharon Ellison, (2024); Secretary: Linda Gordon , (2023)
Treasurer: Gail McMillan, (2023); Board Member: Chuck Weber, (2023)
Board Member: Mary Berry, (2024); Board Member: Ron Davis, (2024)
Alt. Board Member: Carolyn Dycus, (2023) Monthly Contest Coordinator: Linda Gordon

Our Life Members are Stewart Caffey, Nancy Masters, Alice Greenwood, David Dodge, and Betty Thomason. Members gain the status by gift from the membership as a whole, by paying a one-time fee of $600, by receiving the honor as a gift from another, or by reaching the age of 90 while a member of AWG.


Marguerite Gray:  The Escape Game by Marilyn Turk (WWII), Where Treasure Lies by Amanda Tru (Contemporary), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Wiggin (Classic)

 Linda Gordon: Ready for Anything by David Allen and The Book of Hours by T. Davis Bunn

 Carolyn Dycus:  Just now: The Girl from Guernica, by Karen Robards - extended my APL checkout time since extra required reading in two weekly classes! Thankful for unlimited volumes we are free to read.           

Upcoming Programs:

Don't forget our Workshop, March 25See Workshop tab for all pertinent information!

April – All About Me A little time to tell others a little bit about yourself and your non-writing interests. May - Share Your Talent A time of reading a selection from your writings.    

May - members are encouraged to bring some of their writing to read to our group and celebrate AWG's birthday!

June - AWG's own Darla McLeod will share how to develop your own social media presence to sell your writing.  This promises to be a fun, informational program as she shares her successes as well as her failures!

NOTE:  The Newsletter members receive via email each month are clever, creative and colorful, thanks to Kay Talley-Leach!  Join us and see for yourself. 

                       February 2023 Newsletter, Keeping Members in Touch


 If I Were to Write a Fairy Tale

For years February held little special meaning to me. Other than the fact that my mother’s birthdate was 2-22-22, it seemed like maybe it was one of those months we could have skipped and not missed it. But then Valentine’s day is in February and what better way to come back to bright holiday celebrations following Christmas than to celebrate love with long-stemmed red roses and chocolate covered strawberries, or the announcement of the soon arrival of spring days by happy daffodils growing in flower beds?

February has so may special days to celebrate. We normally focus on Ground Hog Day, Valentine’s Day, and President’s Day. Among the many others listed, I was amused to find that February 26 is Fairy Tale Story Telling Day. That made me wonder if I were to write a fairy tale, how would I begin. So, what do we do as writers? We begin with research.

In my research, I learned that what began more than a century ago as oral histories, myths and legends told and retold by the fireside or by travelling storytellers were later written down for their preservation and today they are known the world over.

As is true with many stories that are told over and over, the detail and dramatization grew with each telling. Most traveling storytellers told fairy tales with as much dramatic detail as possible to make children behave or to teach a lesson or simply just to pass the time. Much like ghost stories are told around campfires today.

Regardless of their origins or their growth, many of the fairy tales have some basic truths. For example, the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was inspired by a real royal beauty, Magaretha von Waldeck, the daughter of Philip IV, Count of Waldeck-Wildungen, and his first wife. The family lived in an area of Germany that was known for mining. Children were used to go into the mines where the tunnels were so tight adults were unable to go through. Because the children worked the mines it is said that their growth was stunted and they became like dwarfs. There are others that have fascinating stories of origin and grew into some of our most beloved fairy tales.

Some the tellers of fairy tales have a long and sometimes ancient history, some are more recent like the Grimm brothers. Grimm’s tales could take on a darker cast, while the publication in 1829 of some of them by Hans Christian Andersen were warm and sweet.

Do you have a story to tell or write that could become a fairy tale?

                                                                                    Kay Talley-Leach,  AWG President
 Brags & Sags:
Kay Talley: BRAG: Things must be going well for all of our members as I never received any sags for the Newsletter. 

 SAG: Nor did I receive any brags. Let’s see if we can become more active so I can print all the good things you are accomplishing as you pursue your dreams.

Our Life Members:  Stewart Caffey, Nancy Masters, Alice Greenwood, David Dodge, Betty Thomason Members gain the status by gift from the membership as a whole, by paying a one-time fee of $600, by receiving the honor as a gift from another, or by reaching the age of 90 while a member of AWG]  

 What AWG members read:

 Jo Cox:  The Works of His Hands by Sy Garte, a wonderful testimony of an atheist scientist who found God because of science. Strong recommendation. It made me very emotional. God's Good Earth and The Generations of Heaven and Earth by Jon Garvey, not quiet my theology but good information to know. He needs to use shorter sentences. Regularly using five or six commas to interject emphasis in multiple line sentences is way too many for understanding any kind of concept. The Genealogical Adam & Eve by S. Joshua Swamidass. This book was recommended by Garvey. Again not my theology but good to know. His presentation would be better if he edited 1/2-3/4 of the words because of the frequent overuse of redundant statements.        

 Linda Gordon: Rhona Weaver's Yellowstone FBI mysteries, A Noble Calling and A Sacred Duty.         

 Kay Talley-Leach:  The 5 Love Languages, the Secret to Love that Lasts ,by Gary Chapman.

 Carolyn Dycus:  Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. Mary Berry interested me in this book  through her READING post in last month's AWG Newsletter. A raw and compelling story inspired by David Copperfield but set in today's impoverished Southern Appalachia. I found it in the APL Large Print section. You have to be brave to read this one!

Please visit the Workshop tab for information concerning our Annual Workshop coming up March 25, 2023!

                    January 2023 Newsletter, Keeping members in touch!

Taking Writing Seriously

I like to consider myself to be one who takes writing seriously. I’ve even dreamed about having my writings published and to talk to others with like dreams about how to live out their dreams. Even though I feel that I have always taken writing “seriously”, there was a time in my life when other things I had dreamed about began to be a part of my life, and the dream of writing “seriously” faded some. Yet, there was always a seed within me, though lying dormant, to take “seriously” the art of writing.

     There are times in life when life simply veils dreams. It  becomes ordinary, busy, and rushes by. Bills must be paid, obligations met, and taking writing “seriously” becomes something that will be done in the future.

     But just what does it mean to take writing “seriously”? That is a question I’ve been trying to answer for myself a long time now. For me the “future” became “now” in January 2011. To take writing “seriously” I had to begin taking some steps to do so. All through the busy-ness and obligations of life, I had jotted down notes, filled journals with thoughts and collected ideas to be used when I got to the point I could again take writing seriously. 

    The first step I took to begin rebuilding my passion for writing was to find a group who could help me take the next steps. I began to discover that rebuilding my desire for writing “seriously” didn’t need to look like it did years before. It didn’t have to mean the same things that it meant then.

     I began to understand that taking writing “seriously” meant that I wanted to grow as a writer; to learn how to express those thoughts within me that I wanted to save in written form and to share with others. Being a member of the Abilene Writers Guild has given me what I was looking for. As a member, I have learned how to research, and write in a way that looks at life in different ways. It has given me confidence to submit articles that I have written, even when I thought they weren’t the best I had ever penned. The Guild is a place for me to practice something I love to do, where I can explore various topics and forms of writing and we can together inspire others to take their writing “seriously”.

                                                                                                         Kay Talley-Leach,  AWG President

     Mary Berry: BRAG: I have submitted two articles to Doll Castle News and have two more in progress.

     Stewart Caffey: BRAG: I have just published a small book that includes information about and pictures of the houses and apartments we have called home during our 59 years of marriage.

      Gene Robertson: BRAG: I just received my 1st royalty payment from my book, Characters and Quotes. Gene Allen Robertson.

      Marguerite Gray: BRAG: I am writing a Christmas novella for October publication.


  Carolyn Dycus: checked out a new book at APL. I love a new book no one has ever handled! A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong. It’s already a fun read as I love such Sci-Fi stories historically well-done. Homicide officer and Medical Examiner connect 1869 and 2019, in Scotland.
Mary Berry:  Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See is a beautifully written story of the lifelong friendship and tragic misunderstanding between two girls in nineteen century China. It describes a society that was both beautiful and brutal.  I have just begun Barbara Kingsolver's Demon Copperhead, a tale inspired by David Copperfield but set in the modern-day poverty of Southern Appalachia.

Chuck Webber:  The Ministry for the Future, A book favored by Barack Obama.  It is about the difficulty of cleaning up the planet after decades of ignoring pollution.

David Dodge: Cup of Comfort - for Horse Lovers.

Marguerite Gray:  The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse about spies, Redcoats, and Patriots and The Newton Chronicles: Soldiers, Temples, and Crystals by Terry Overton, a children's book about time travel in search of Luke's father.

Kay Talley-Leach: The Begging Place by Becky Fowler Blackmon, a book about prayer for Christian Women.

                                               Our Officers

President: Kay Talley-Leach, (2024); Executive VP: Darla McCloud, (2023)
Program VP: Sharon Ellison, (2024); Secretary: Linda Gordon, (2023)
Treasurer: Gail McMillan, (2023); Board Member: Chuck Weber, (2023)
Board Member: Mary Berry, (2024); Board Member: Ron Davis, (2024)
Alt. Board Member: Carolyn Dycus, (2023); Monthly Contest Coordinator: Linda Gordon

Our Life Members Stewart Caffey, Nancy Masters Alice Greenwood, David Dodge, Betty Thomason Members gain the status by gift from the membership as a whole, by paying a one-time fee of $600, by receiving the honor as a gift from another, or by reaching the age of 90 while a member of AWG.

Please look at the Workshop tab for information concerning our Annual Workshop in March!

                DECEMBER 2022 Newsletter, Keeping members in touch!

Preserving the Past in Print

Toward the end of November in 1997, I was blessed to realize one of my dreams, that of visiting Germany. How ironic that I got to be there as the German culture had already had all the streets, cottages, and stores decorated and were in full swing of Christmas celebrations.  It was not until that time that I began to realize how much influence the German culture had on my Christmas celebrations growing up. My grandparents immigrated from Germany and what had been instilled in my dad as a child was carried on into the family and home he established.

Each year as Christmas approached the small town 15 miles from our farm would come alive with much color and sparkle as the strings of lights stretched across main street. Shop windows displayed scenes of delightful Christmas cheer adding to sugar plums dancing in our heads.

Christmas Eve always called for a trip into “town”. In my early childhood, my two sisters and I would pile into the 1940’s red pick-up and make the trip into Ballinger where my dad would do his Christmas shopping. My mama would have already had all hers done, wrapped, and hidden beneath the “snow” under the tree.

Not only had she prepared in advance for Santa to visit with his gifts, our house had been filled with the aroma of old-fashioned fudge bubbling slowly over the gas burner to just the right temperature before being poured into the pan to cool and set. Piles of shiny white divinity nuggets were stored, waiting to be offered to any visitor who might appear at our house on Christmas eve, the traditional time for Germans to celebrate Christmas. Rolls of date nut loaf and my mama’s special fruit cake were among the delectables that would appear on the tray of special holiday treats. Daddy would sing Stille Nacht and O Tannenbaum as we celebrated with the goodies and the opening of our gifts.

We would then travel seven miles over the country caliche roads to all the festivities at the home of my uncle and aunt who had become my paternal grandparents. The cedar tree had been brought in from the pasture earlier that day and decorated with popcorn garland and wax candles, their flames dancing to the music of Uncle Otto’s accordion music. No presents rested beneath; the gift of joy and love in the hearts of those around the tree were the greatest gifts.

Writing memoirs preserves the past to be handed down to the next generation. A good challenge for the coming year.

                                                                                                    Kay Talley-Leach, AWG President

Nancy Robinson Masters: BRAG - I was the Bosque Arts Center workshop presenter in November with a great turn out of fellow authors! 

Marguerite Gray: BRAG - Merry Christmas! Book Two in my Gardens in Time Series, Promise of Purity will be released Feb. 14, 2023. It is set in Hampton Court, England in 1661.

Linda Gordon: BRAG  -   I was able to attend a two-day American Christian Fiction Writers online conference and even won a door prize!

Mary Berry: BRAG - My article about Teddy Bears and their 120-year-history was published in the Nov/Dec Doll Castle News magazine complete with photos of bears from my collection.

SAG:  I have not been making time to write - missed the contest deadline, struggling on my latest magazine assignment, and even behind in personal correspondence.  Seems like perhaps a 2023 New Year's Resolution may be in order.

 What AWG Reads

 Marguerite Gray: READING - The Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas and The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street by Karen White.

Linda Gordon: READING - The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa.

CONGRATULATIONS To KAREN WETEMEYER who was recently named this year’s recipient of the Christy Award, the most prestigious award for Christian fiction publishing. The award was established in 1999 to acknowledge the value and impact of the novel of faith in contemporary culture. Karen’s writing career took a huge step forward when she attended a series of AWG workshops several years ago.

Our Life Members Stewart Caffey, Nancy Masters, Alice Greenwood, David Dodge Betty Thomason Members gain the status by gift from the membership as a whole, by paying a one-time fee of $600, by receiving the honor as a gift from another, or by reaching the age of 90 while a member of AWG.


                       February 2023 Newsletter, Keeping Members in Touch


                   Big Country Writers Newsletter

                     of the Abilene Writers Guild


Objectives:   To study methods of writing and research,
      To develop our talents as writers,
          To promote interest in writing, and
                       To encourage our fellow writers at all times