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
November 2023, Keeping Members in Touch, Kay Talley Newsletter Editor
Reflections of Fall
Even on those days when the temperatures rise a little above what we think they should be during the fall, there seems to be something in the air that promises the coming of a time in the year when creation is preparing for rest, a season of winding down. Not only do I sense it in the air, and even before the leaves begin their transformation to beautiful colors and begin to fall, I feel it in my soul. Almost magically, feelings of nostalgia stir within me.
In my early morning walks, I enjoy the particularly natural aromas of creation associated with the changes being made during this season of transition from summer to winter. It has been known for a long time that smell is intricately linked to emotions and memories. I think that is why nostalgia takes me back to the days of my early school years, when I began to learn of the birth of our nation, the Mayflower, Pilgrims, and the challenges they faced.
Vividly stored in my memory bank are the days of Thanksgiving programs, when each child would memorize a small script, dress like a pilgrim and present what they had learned to proud parents.
Having grown up spending many after school hours in the cotton fields, fall brings to my memory the distinctive smell of cotton sacks made from the heavy, course mingling of brown and dingy white cotton. The fields before frost
were filled with a “green scent”, followed by the after-frost smell of moist decaying leaves. Dragging the cotton sack along behind me would often cause the bag to absorb the musty odor of the damp soil and the decomposing leaves. Although, working in the cotton fields was not my favorite part of fall, I remember the times spent there with my family as pleasant memories.
It isn’t surprising that odor-driven memories give us the sensation of recalling memories of our childhood but can actually transport us back in time to those carefree days of our youth. Childhood is a time we first experience most smells, and what time is filled with greater joy than that of childhood? Often when someone expresses that they love fall, it may not necessarily be the colorful display of the trees or the “smell of fall”, it’s the smell’s ability to take you back into the powerful, sweet memories of childhood that make you feel so captivated by the season.
What better way to immerse yourself in the magical pleasures of fall than to step out into it, to reminisce and make new treasured memories. Splash into the delight of giving your childhood memories an up-grade and celebrate the joy of feeling not too far from those days, regardless of the years between.
Kay Talley-Leach, AWG President
Brags & Sags:
Marguerite Gray: BRAG: New release, October 17, Promise Me Christmas, a Christmas novella.
Mary Berry: BRAG: The Nov/Dec issue of Doll Castle News contains my article about matryoshka dolls (Russian nesting dolls).
Darla McLeod: BRAG: My article: The Lost Daughters of the American Revolution was published in the John Davis‘ Chapter of the DAR newsletter. It is being sent on to the DAR National Publication.
Chuck Webber: BRAG: Finally completed a poem that has been in the crock-pot for a couple years. I will submit it for the annual contest.
What AWG members read:
Marguerite Gray: I am reading Dawn’s Untrodden Green by Carolyn Miller and Rain by Dana McNeely.
Mary Berry: Four Girls from Berlin by Marianne Meyerhoff is the true story of a friendship between a Jewish girl and three gentile friends who bravely stood by her during Hitler's Germany. My First Thirty Years by Edna Gertrude Beasley.
Suanna Davis: Kelly Armstrong’s Rip in Time series.
Carolyn Dycus: The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear. I’m addicted, it seems, to historical fiction!
We’ve spent another year learning together and now let’s share together some results of our labor. Thursday, November 17, is our last meeting this year. Come read some of your writing.
COME LET'S CELEBRATE: It may be difficult for us to think about celebrating without feasting on food, but we have so much to be thankful for and let's share what we've written with each other this month! Always a fun time. SO many different perspectives and ideas!
Count Down to Annual Contest: Don’t let it slip up on you. Work on entries today. Mail them right away! DEADLINE November 30! Rules are on the Contest tab above!
October 2023, Keeping Members in Touch
Entering Writing Contests-Is it Worth It?
With our focus on the AWG Annual writing contest, it might be interesting to explore a little bit about whether writing competitions are worth what is put into them to enter. Each individual competitor could have a different answer. Most writers simply just enjoy writing and expressing themselves by painting word pictures. Creativity is so much a part of a writer and to produce images by using words can just simply be fun and very fulfilling. It is always a good thing for a writer to have the opportunity to exercise their writing abilities. Contests not only give us the opportunity to flex our "writing muscles" but actually motivate us to do so.
Through entering contests, we learn more about ourselves as well as writing techniques. Writing more, whether for contests, working on a novel, or just simply writing for the enjoyment of it, will help us grow and become more confident in our writing abilities. Every time we enter a writing contest there are judges who see our work. Many of these judges are experienced authors, publishers, editors, and agents; people who can be beneficial to our careers because of us exposing our talents. It is possible that through the exposure of our work one who sees it could be impressed with it, develop a relationship with us and become our mentor.
Having a mentor can connect us with people who can help through the process of becoming a bigger writer. As we continue to submit our work, our names/work will become familiar to judges and they will take note. Opportunities to enter contests help us get back to writing and overcoming any writer's block that we might be dealing with. What might begin as an entry to a contest could turn into something really big, or could inspire ideas and build confidence for other contests or writings.
Winning an award is more than "winning an award", which certainly can be fun. Winning can be an award that can be added to our resume when we begin to work on publications, which can be a showcase for us as an author. We all have submitted entries before that didn't win. That doesn't mean that if it isn't chosen as a winner by a particular judge that the next judge won't be impressed by our style. Just as the saying goes, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", so the same holds true for various writings. Judges often offer good critique and helpful suggestions on contest entries. There are so many ways to win; we can't lose by entering writing contests. We can always find various contests to enter and hope that we come away with a blue ribbon or a cash prize for first place. Let's dedicate ourselves to spend the next few weeks working toward being winners by first submitting something wonderful. We can't win unless we enter.
Write On! Kay Talley-Leach AWG President
AWG Brags: Marguerite Gray: Labor of Love (Book One in my Gardens in Time series) is now an audio book. Yay Marguerite Gray:!
What AWG Reads:
Marguerite Gray: Bespoke, a Tiny Christmas Tale, by Amanda, and Tropical Target by Jennifer Pierce.
Linda Gordon: Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster and Peace Like A River", a multiple award winning novel by Leif Enger.
Suanna Davis: Newest book in the April series by Mackey Chandler.
BettyThomason: Astor, by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe. The story covers the rise and fall of an American fortunate made by John Jacob Astor. Astor made his fortune from buying and selling land that eventually became New York City. Astor was the most famous person to go down with the Titanic and sadly he was only in his late 40s.
Rules for AWG's Annual Writing Contest are on the Contest tab on our website. Read them carefully and get those entries ready to be mailed in between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, 2023!
August 2023 Newsletter, Keeping Members in Touch
Thinking Wrong to Write
Writer's block is often a subject of discussion as it is a malady almost all writers face at some point. To overcome the occasional writer's block authors might just begin with a vague idea of a story and quickly find that we have written ourselves into a corner. We begin to wonder "how do we work our way out of this predicament?"
Writing ourselves into a corner forces us to think of an unusual twist or a new character to step into the story and take it into an unexpected direction. It could be an excellent way to keep the author engaged, which, in turn, will capture the interest of the reader. To be successful we must train ourselves to "think the wrong way"-better known by the cliché "think outside the box." To "think outside the box" is a practice that is "easier said than done."
Having just used two popular cliches, I realize how easy it is to do. Cliches are useful because they convey ideas quickly. However, we must be careful not to become dependent on using them as our readers are seeking original content, looking for fresh new ways of expressing age-old sentiments. Readers want writers to do the creative work of giving them a fresh new idea to think about. Out of the box thinkers, always have their minds open to receive fresh new ideas. It becomes a part of everyday life to pull ideas from daily experiences, early morning walks, overheard conversations, or a journey through the internet.
We all have learned that there is no magic equation to getting out of the box. What works for one author will not work for all others. The longer we stay in the box, the higher and stronger the walls of the box become, and we grow more comfortable. The more comfortable we become, the less motivated we are to step outside the box. As we launch into "thinking wrong" we start to grow and the walls of the box begin to close in on us. We begin to experience a great need to step outside the box. It is scary at first to leave the security of the box, but we feel a certain exhilaration to have the freedom to explore all the possibilities, indulge our creative urges, and discover new insights into your own writing process. Start strong and finish stronger. Think about the writings that you consider to have your best paragraph or sentence. Use that paragraph or sentence as a beginning of your next piece then continue, making the rest of the writing better than the beginning. You will soon find yourself expanding your mind into "wrong thinking" yourself "right out of the box."
Write On! Kay Talley-Leach AWG President
BRAGS & SAGS:Mary Berry: BRAG:
I have spent happy hours playing with my dolls - preparing and setting up two displays for the month of August. The one with matryoshka dolls is at Rose Park Senior Center, and the downtown library has some favorite children's books and dolls representing characters from them SAG: I haven't read a good book recently; My reading time has been usurped by crossword puzzles and researching matryoshka dolls.
Marguerite Gray: BRAG: July release of Room for Love, my first contemporary novel.
Julie Frybarger: BRAG: Got 2 letters this week ... one from each grandson, ages 7 and 9... you can't beat their artwork and love! Suanna Davis: SAG: I am not writing anything at all right now., Is that a sag? Only if you wanted to write, which I haven't even considered.
WHAT AWG READS:Marguerite Gray: A Heart Adrift by Laura Frantz and Love Like No Other by Tabitha Bouldin
A Kid from Pittsburgh by Marion Rosen with Morris Rosen. It follows the dangerous missions and misadventures of Morris Rosen in WWII. (Written by his wife.) For a series topic... an enjoyable read.
Kay Talley: Trilogy of the Seven Kingdoms Chronicles. If you enjoy riveting tales of fantastical medieval adventure and love, you will love these stories written by Thomas Williams. The Crown of Eden, The Devil's Mouth, and The Bride of Stone. The author has a marvelous way of telling a story. You will actually fall in love with the main characters-- and right along with them--feel their hurts, fears, disappointments, as well as their ultimate joy and exhilaration.
Also, consider joining AWG for $25 per year. You will receive our very colorful Newsletter via email (or snail mail if you must) a week before each meeting instead of after the fact! Address for mailing membership checks is here on our Home page.
July 2023 Newsletter, Keeping Members in Touch
Write With Vision
“Those were the good old days.” How many times have you heard someone make that statement? Perhaps you have said it yourself. So, why do we often feel that life was better 50 years ago? We enjoy recalling the good memories and find it easier to remember the pleasant ones than those we would like to forget. It isn’t inconceivable to think that the idea has always been part of human history
Could it be that when we don’t have a vision of the future, it’s easier to look back and draw on the past? We seem to find comfort in reflecting on our childhood. It is not absurd to think our past is a part of our future because our past has made us what we are today and what will take us into the future. Many of the things we write about are echoes from former experiences. While it is good to recall the good old days of 50 years ago, without vision, the present doesn’t have much meaning. Lack of vision steals purpose, and the future becomes frightening because of the unknown.
That is why it is so important for us to find our vision. Yesterday is passed and gone and can’t be reclaimed. We can no longer accomplish anything in the days we have already spent. Vision gives us reason to be here, regardless of what we are doing. It causes one to be excited to wake up every day and keep moving forward, making life more meaningful.
Having a vision places a purpose on our goal-setting activities. Without an end goal or destination in mind, one won't have a clear or defined path. Vision provides this. To achieve your vision or goal, you can start by setting small, attainable goals as stepping stones. The Writer’s Guild has provided excellent opportunity to set and attain these small goals in the Monthly Member’s Only Contest, as well as less challenging exercises that can assist in setting a pattern/rhythm for writing.
It is helpful to write a vision statement for your writing career. Just a simple line that condenses your values and ambitions into a practical composition you can live and work by. Every big business has a mission statement that defines its vision and purpose in a brief, simple statement that the whole organization can get behind. Creating your own personal vision about what you dream of becoming as a writer can do the same for you.
All that matters is that you think about it, you identify it, and you see it. Take some time today to sit down for a few minutes, figure out what your vision is, and then visualize yourself doing whatever it is you dream of.
Kay Talley-Leach, AWG President
Brags and Sags:
Mary Berry: BRAG: My article entitled A Century of Madame Alexander Dolls appears in the July/August issue of Doll Castle News Magazine..
Darla McLeod: BRAG: Trying to get an article written for our DRT newsletter about the lost daughters of the American Revolution. The research has been so interesting!
Kay Talley: BRAG: I ran across a story in my files that I had written more than eleven years ago. I didn’t win first place, not even second or third. But I was a winner, because I had some great critique. Today I began working on “cleaning” it up with VISIONS of entering it in the annual contest. I also put in the effort to begin a story in July’s Members Only contest. SAG: I didn’t get the story finished in time, but I’ve got a good start on an entry for another contest.
What AWG Reads:
Chuck Webber: I just finished Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse © 1927. A study of life without love, forgiveness, or participation. Last week I read Ordinary Grace, a novel similar to Stand By Me, but based on a Methodist preacher’s two boys.
Julie Frybarger: I read The Last Prisoners Memoirs, by Dan Gia Pham Imagine being imprisoned in a re-education camp for 17 years…how it could have turned your heart for the worse…yet didn’t and Thanh Lan, A Tumultuous Life Autobiography, by Thanh Lan. She shares her life while she is living the horrible reality of the fall of S. Vietnam, yet maintaining her faith, and nurturing others through her music.
Both authors are overcomers. Both emphasize family, love, and kindness while enduring difficult situations. Both made me step back and again re-evaluate life…what’s truly important like love, gratitude, and hope…and letting go of what’s not...
Linda Gordon: I have been reading Fairest of Heart, Karen Witemeyer's latest book, and Down Where My Love Lives by Charles Martin.
Mary Berry: I have just finished Books 1 and 2 of Ken Follett's Century Trilogy. These fictional sagas follow several families from different countries during the years leading up to the First World War and continuing through the end of the World War II. His well-researched work brings history to life.
Carolyn Dycus: The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear, a post WWII thriller, Hang the Moon, by Jeanette Walls, who wrote The Glass Castle, and now reading Old Babes in the Wood, by Margaret Atwood. All three large-print editions found in our Abilene Public Library.
On June 17th, 2023, Coy D. Roper, 86, of Abilene, Texas, missionary, preacher, Bible class teacher, author, and educator, and beloved Dad and Grandpa, passed away at Hendrick Hospice Care in Abilene, Texas.
Coy left a positive mark on everyone he met and was a great inspiration to those of us who got to know him and spend time with him through AWG. He was one who gave 110% to everything he did. That held true to his membership in AWG, challenging fellow members to write and enter the Members Only Monthly contest by setting the example of giving more than was required. Month after month he submitted three entries to the contest, not only in hopes of a win, but to contribute enough to have a contest, making it possible for others to win.
Coy's main mission in life was to teach preachers and missionaries, who could spread the Gospel throughout the world. As an author, Coy wrote religious commentaries and articles for The Truth for Today World Mission School, and numerous other poems, novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, and autobiographical pieces. Coy ran Sharlotte's House Bed and Breakfast with his beautiful wife and cook, Sharlotte Roper, in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Coy was also an avid actor, director, and playwright, participating in many productions throughout his lifetime.
June 2023 Newsletter, Keeping Members in Touch!
Driving along Texas roads during the spring of any year can bring about exclamations of oohs and aahs as the drab results of winter become the vibrant colors of an artist’s pallet. This year can be classified as nothing short of amazing. Surely it could be described as extraordinary as the roadsides are adorned with wildflowers that have splashes of color ranging from blue to pink to orange to yellow.
Texas opened her springtime story with a fashion show of bluebonnets parading along the roadsides and blanketing the fields and pastures with a sea of blue. It had been forecast that it would likely be an above-average spring, particularly when it came to the state flower of Texas. Regardless of soil and weather conditions, the delicate looking flower is determined to revisit our land year after year, symbolic of the resilient people who are proud to call Texas their home.
The bluebonnets were pleased to honor the forecast, but it didn’t stop there. Bouquets of pink evening primrose began to add to the show, soothing the sadness that would come after the bluebonnet display exited the stage. These pretty pink colonies grouped together to form acres of pink carpets in some areas of pasture land. Pent-up primrose energy had to burst forth in beauty everywhere and their smaller individual colonies brought delight in some of the most unexpected areas.
Not to be outdone by the earlier pageant of floral beauty, the brilliant orange Indian blankets spread their color, breathing energy, positivity and a sense of sunshine into our world, even on the cloudiest days. Indian paintbrushes added more color, variety and various other delights to nature’s roadside garden. The grand finale came when the brown-eyed Susans turned our land into pure gold.
Contributing factors to our spring time delights were fall rains, as seedlings were just beginning to come up. Warmer temperatures through January and February aided in the maturity of the plants. Even the hot dry days of last summer could have been a contributing factor, proving to be advantageous for our state’s most iconic wildflowers. The drought could have caused some of the less desirable plants and grasses to die back, opening up soil space for the abundant exhibition of spring-blooming annuals to grow. Good spring rains have given us an extra measure of time to enjoy the glory of spring-time nature.
There are times when we, as writers, go through “dry spells” that we refer to as writer’s block. On those occasions, take heart! It could be that the “dry spells” are getting rid of some of the things we’ve considered to make room for more useful ideas.
Write On! Kay Talley-Leach, AWG President
Brags and Sags:
Gail McMillan: SAG: I had a fall, resulting in 4 fractured ribs.
Darla McLeod: BRAG: The book Texas Exodus which I was reading for Dr. Stephen Harding has gone to press. University Press will be releasing it in 2024 to celebrate Dr. Harding’s 30th anniversary of books published..
Suanna Davis: BRAG: Have been doing some research into archaeology which will help me flesh out the world building better, if I ever do return to this novel.
Kay Talley: BRAG: I recently visited the gift shop after touring Woody’s Classic Car Museum in Cross Plains. I was delighted to learn that all of the books in the gift shop were free. I tried not to take one of each one they had. I was happy to come home with two.
What AWG reads:
Suanna Davis: I am reading Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Corne
Sharon Ellison: I'm reading The Lighthouse, historical fiction set on the east coast of early America. The story concerns a young man who grows up with a dream: to be an architect and build a lighthouse. He struggles with concerns of slavery, protecting his family and being true to himself.
Kay Talley: I am reading Karla Faye Tucker, Set Free, Life and Faith on Death Row, by Linda Strom, about the first woman executed in Texas in more than 100 years. A very inspiring story of great faith. I am also continuing to read Word Painting.
In Memory of David Dodge, long time member and supporter of AWG and prolific writer!
The story began in 1930 in a time when the land was reeling from the effects of the depression. Things were further crippled by the Dust Bowl. Winds eroded the parched dry land and made life on farms as well as in towns all but impossible. But life continued and one was born; one who had a great influence on those he met throughout the life he lived. David had a love for photography and quickly accepted the opportunity to do it professionally at Wichita Falls KFDX news station. He came to Abilene in 1961 to be Director of Photography for Herald of Truth, which took him many places – Russia, Greece, London and Italy, meeting many interesting people. Regularly filming for Abilene’s local Telethon gave him opportunity to meet Bob Hope, Shari Lewis and Lambchop, Gene Autry, Victor Borge, and many others.
For the last decade or so, David was an inspiration to those of us at AWG. David identified himself during the last years of his life as “just an old man who liked to sit around and write”. He began writing when he was 80 years old and published many books, several of those in the Settling the West Series. For David, all of these experiences were not a struggle for success but a Pursuit of his Passion.
May 2023 Newsletter, Keeping Members in Touch
Take the spade, it is thy pencil;
Take thy seeds, thy plant; they are thy colors.
If there is anything I enjoy as much as I do writing, it would be gardening. Digging in the dirt, watching plants flourish, grow and bloom inspires writing in ways that few other things do. Vegetable gardens produce and feed our physical bodies; flower gardens produce and feed our souls. A soul so filled to overflowing pours out expressions that fall as words on the page in cascades like sunlight through the fresh dressed trees of an early morning spring.
Gardening, like writing, gives a unique sense of being connected to the world and its Creator and a feeling of being an irreplaceable part of it all. To feel alive is to walk through a garden finding inspiration for the next prize-winning submission to a contest or best-selling novel.
So much a part of being a good author, for many, can be in a garden giving birth to intriguing and imaginative writings. The revelations of an exciting novel can be as exhilarating as the unfolding bud of an unfamiliar plant or the peeling back, petal by petal, of a rose, surprising us with greater beauty with each new exposure.
Gardening can train us to see the world differently, to notice the veins on leaves and the moisture of dirt and the sweet aroma of it after a gentle rain. We learn to pay attention to things we would not otherwise notice or care about. It’s a potent form of mindfulness, and forces the mind to be in the moment. A garden, like a good book, can take us away from a world that’s inundated with noise, busy-ness and division to a rare escape.
The wonder of the sun’s warmth against my skin in the freshness of a new day cleanses my mind of those things which seek to crowd out inspiration and creativity. Through the renewal of the mind and the morning I can observe more closely all nature that surrounds me as it teaches me to be confident in my wild imagination, yet to be humble in it.
Regardless of the season, the ever-changing garden is a perpetual source of artistic motivation. Like individual minds, so each garden is individual in its nature; some rocky, others sandy, some subdued and some bright, so is the mind of each individual author. Whether your creativity falls on “soil” that is fertile, ready to receive and produce, or “soil” that needs more patience and nurturing, only you can produce your manuscript.
Write On! Kay Talley-Leach, AWG President
BRAGS & SAGS:
Marguerite Gray: BRAG: Keeping Christmas Vol. 1 received 1st place in Anthology in Christian Indie Awards and Bring Me Near received 2nd place in BookFest 2023 contest.
Mary Berry: BRAG: My article on ballerina dolls was published in the May/June issue of Doll Castle News magazine. SAG: As if severe COPD, diabetes, and conditions associated with a totally sedentary life were not enough, my husband was recently diagnosed with anemia.
Debi Fairchild: BRAG/SAG: Despite all the stress in my life right now I am getting back to working on my novels, one at time of course. I’m hoping to get something in the Monthly Members Only contest this month.
Suanna Davis: BRAG: I wrote a description of Build Better Bones, a class I will be teaching for OLLI. SAG: I have not written anything on my novel.
Kay Talley: BRAG: I wrote a presentation on Silence and Solitude, One of the Spiritual Disciplines and delivered it at a three-day retreat for retired people, held in Pickwick Landing State Park in Tennessee.
WHAT AWG READS:
Marguerite Gray: I am reading As Dawn Breaks by Kate Breslin.
Suanna Davis: I am reading Lee and Miller’s Korval series.
Debbi Fairchild: I'm reading a new Bible I received from a co-worker, that is my favorite book, besides dictionaries of all kinds which help me with my writing. I'm also reading 1st To Die, by James Patterson, The Poet and Writers Complete Guide To Being a Writer, and Posture Makeover by Michelle Joyce.
Mary Berry: I read a couple books by our workshop speaker, Carol Cook, have been revisiting Jane Austen - Emma and Pride and Prejudice, and just completed Calico Bush, a Newberry honor historical fiction for children written by Rachel Field in 1931.
Kay Talley: I am reading with intrigue Word Painting, A Guide to Writing More Descriptively, by Rebecca McClannahan. The examples she uses of good descriptive writings, the suggestions she has of being more observant, and the exercises she sets forth to work through have opened a whole new perspective for me, not only in my writing but in how I view the world around me.
Officers and Board Members serve two-year terms. Nominations took place at the April meeting. The committee (Mary Berry, Darla McCloud and Gail McMillan) nominates the following AWG members for the current offices and executive board positions that will expire May 31, 2023. Their terms will run through May 31, 2025.
Executive Vice President: Chuck Webber
Secretary: Linda Gordon
Treasurer: Mary Berry
Board Member: Gail McMillan
Board Member: Carolyn Dycus
Nominations from the floor will be accepted at the May meeting if there are others interested, and are open to any member in good standing who is an active participant in AWG activities.
April 2023 Newsletter, Keeping Members in Touch
Color Me a Rainbow
Stored in the memory bank of my soul is the splashing sound like strawberry wine being poured into my “mommy glass” coming from the heart of a toddler. Always wanting her life to be one filled with rainbows, she sang her way to the pot of gold as she drifted into dreamland and the land of rainbows.
“Take a pinch of red, a dash of blue,
We’ll color you a rainbow.
Add a yellow glow, and a violet hue,
We’ll color you a rainbow.”
As the third month of the year marched as fierce winds into the calmer days of April, Rainbow Day was celebrated. Scarcely as the month began, vibrant and colorful beginnings set the stage for the remaining days of April to be ones that would hold us captive to the outdoors. The vanishing of a sudden spring shower would launch smokeless fireworks of color into a dismal sky writing God’s perfect message in an arch of living color against a drab and dreary canvas.
At AWG’s annual workshop, I was fortunate enough to win a door prize. How ironic that it would be a book after my heart -Word Painting, A Guide to Writing More Descriptively. For most of my life I have marveled at descriptive writings in the various genres I read and longed to develop such in my own writings. I have a passion for painting word pictures. Even though I have journaled for many years, and have written scores of poems, magazine articles, and devotionals I have struggled with describing the world around me and expressing the depth of my emotions.
The book, by Rebecca McClanahan, is organized around three main concepts: eye, word, and story. Description has so much to do with the story and how it captivates the reader. I am very excited about diving into this pool of information and exercises helping me to become a more descriptive writer that will take my readers into an escape from the ordinary, even if only for a short time, to a world of dreams and extraordinary.
Our world is full of color so let’s learn together to take a “pinch of red”, mix it with a “yellow hue”, and splash it against a big canvas of a new morning violet sky and paint a “new sunrise” in our writing in living color.
Kay Talley-Leach. AWG President
BRAGS & SAGS:
David Dodge: Brag: I finally got my last book published and I have a few chapters of a new one.
Marguerite Gray: Brag: Writing Flames of Faith, Book Four of Gardens in Time. 34,000 out of 90,000 words.
Stewart Caffey: Brag: I have spent five hours over a two-day period being interviewed by an individual from the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University. We covered a wide range of topics, including my 31 years teaching eighth graders. I taught mostly history, which is the reason I have taken classes at 19 universities, which I was able to do because of scholarships I received for the classes at the 14 universities. I served as president of educational organizations Abernathy, Comanche, and Abilene, as well as president of Abilene Writers Guild. I also attended Cal Poly from October to February when a group of us trained for the peace Corps.
Kay Talley: Brag: The completion of this month’s newsletter marks the end of my 3rd year of being the AWG Newsletter editor. I thank you all who have been so encouraging with your kind comments and to those who have helped me along and been very patient with me.
Chuck Webber: Brag: Currently I am expanding into a book a Bible study I composed 13 years ago. I am up to about 60 pages now (book-size pages) with at least 60 to go. It will be called, The Indwelling Jesus.
What AWG Reads:
Marguerite Gray: I'm reading A Match in the Making by Jen Turano and The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark.
Cindy Mims: My fourth-grade class just read Where the Red Fern Grows and George Washington’s Socks. I highly recommend both books.
David Dodge: My library card needs to be renewed. When I get that done, I want to read Killers of the Royal Moon by David Grann. My two granddaughters highly recommend it.
Mary Berry: John Grisham’s Boys from Biloxi is my latest read-aloud-to-my-husband book. A tale of good vs evil represented by two families on opposite sides of the law. It is a more tedious read than I expected but full of regional history and believable characters. I’m just beginning Mariam Toews’ Women Talking, a shocking story based on an actual occurrence in an isolated patriarchal group in Bolivia.
Linda Gordon: I’m reading Becoming Mrs. Lewis, the unlikely friendship turned love story between Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis, by Pattie Callahan.
Chuck Webber: I am reading these days most of the New Testament, The Book of Common Prayer, and a poetry journal named Rattle. I just finished reading The Ministry for Tomorrow and gave it away to a friend.
Carolyn Dycus: I’m reading the Boys From Biloxi, by John Grisham – begins in the 1940’s. Little League Baseball buddies follow diverse livelihoods - law and high crime-stories Grisham tells with gripping intensity.
April Program April 27-7pm Getting to Know You Come prepared to share with fellow writers some of your interests/talents other than writing. “
March Members Only Contest:
1st - Coy Roper – “How I Fell in Love”
2nd - Mary Berry “A Sudden Jolt”
HM-Nancy Frobis-Stokes - “New Heights”
1st – Mary Berry – “Cycles”
2nd - Coy Roper – “An Angel Touched my Heart”
Officers and Board Members serve two-year terms. Nominations take place at the April meeting. with voting in May. The nominating committee (Mary Berry, Darla McCloud and Gail McMillan) offers the following slate of candidates for the offices and executive board positions that will expire in May 31, 2023:
Executive Vice President: Chuck Webber
Secretary: Linda Gordon
Treasurer: Mary Berry
Board Member: Gail McMillan
Board Member: Carolyn Dycus
Nominations from the floor will be accepted at the May meeting if there are others interested. Nominations are open to any member in good standing who is an active participant in AWG activities.
See upcoming programs on our website!
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.
What AWG READS:
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.
Don't forget our Workshop, March 25. See 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
BRAGS & SAGS:
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.
WHAT AWG READS:
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.
Please look at the Workshop tab for information concerning our Annual Workshop in March 2024.