Forty-eight years of
Follow CWC on KATX 97.7's Good Morning, Texas! with talk show host Michael Cockburn. Mark your calendars for 8:30 AM on the first Thursday of each month. Listen on radio, online at katxradio.com, or with Tune-In app on your smart phone.
When it comes to that important core part of you -- your writing -- you'll find you fit right in at the Cisco Writers Club.
We are friendly, energetic writers determined to improve and achieve. Our monthly meetings, knowledgeable speakers, newsletters, workshops, contests, and other features are great, but our greatest strength is our members.
We believe you'll feel right at home!
Puzzle image by Nethalia Segato on unsplash
On January 4th, 7 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., at the Conrad Hilton Center, 309 Conrad Hilton Blvd, Cisco, TX 76437, we will have our annual planning meeting.
What do YOU want to see from Cisco Writers Club in 2024? Workshops? Guest speakers? Critiques? Something else?
Bring your ideas and join in on the discussion!
Questions? Email email@example.com
Calendar image by Marissa Grootes on unsplash.
Writers gathered at the Myrtle Wilks Center on December 2, 2023, to learn from children’s fiction authors Marilyn Kay Brooks and Marilyn Kay Pineda, together known by their pen name, Marilyn Kay.
After an animated reading of their book, The Train to Make-Believe, Marilyn Kay taught those in attendance how to appeal to different age groups in the same story, explained how to teach children through stories, and encouraged both seasoned and newer writers with lots of tips (and lots of Louis L’Amour quotes!). Marilyn Kay evan sang to us!
Thank you, Marilyn Kay. The workshop was informative and full of laughter!
Photo of Marilyn Kay Brooks and Marilyn Kay Pineda by Priscilla Bettis.
Local entrants of the 2023 Adventures in Writing (the 15-and-under category of our annual Writing Contest) received a fifteen-minute flight around Cisco in a private plane. Plus pizza!
Family members and Cisco Writers Club members joined to celebrate with these young writers. Our thanks goes out to Cisco Aviation, the fixed-based operator at the Gregory Simmons Memorial Airport west of Cisco. Manager Scot Penn works hard to make every visit live up to their motto, “A Better Experience.”
Photo of Aria, Haddie, and Mickell by Ruth York.
At November's meeting of the Cisco Writers Club, members enjoyed a Thanksgiving supper (complete with a smoked turkey and SIX pies!) followed by a presentation from author and Hebrew scholar Michael Neuhaus.
Soon, members were engaged in a lively discussion over Neuhaus’s book, The John 1:1 Factor. Want to see what all the buzz is about? The John 1:1 Factor is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/John-1-Factor-ebook/dp/B0CB1CSL12
Image of author Michael Neuhaus by Ruth York.
At the October meeting of the Cisco Writers Club, author and professional blogger J.V. Lewis gave a presentation on his online advertising business. J.V. hooked his computer to the large screen at the Myrtle Wilks Community Center and showed the group how he posts ads, tracks their expiry, tracks their updates, and categorizes them according to key words. He’s attentive to key words in order to maximize SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.
J.V. explained how he uses a blog site SEO plugin (which is available to any blogger) to maximize his key word usage and readability. “Basically, for readability, don’t use a bunch of big words,” he said.
Members present enjoyed J.V.’s modern take on copywriting.
We are grateful to the Myrtle Wilks Community Center for the cookies and drinks they provided for our meeting.
J.V. Lewis is the author of the nonfiction theology book, Knowing Our Savior, which is available on Amazon.
Here's one of the notes sent to our contest chairperson:
Thank you so much for passing on to me the critique by Markkay Rister! I only entered one anecdote in the contest. Next year I will submit more entries. I say amen to critique being perhaps the most valuable thing gained in a contest.
And this note from Jim W:
If you will send me the name and address to go with the Grateful Texan, I would like to thank them for underwriting the poetry portion of the writer's contest.
CWC has a first rate contest and it is not just because I win sometimes.:-)
More happy words from contestants in the October 2023 Cisco Writers Club newsletter!
See complete list of winners on the Contest page. For those unable to attend, checks and certificates will be mailed shortly.
Start preparing now to enter next year's contest!
Images by Linda Spetter
Cisco Writers Club is indebted to an excellent panel of judges this year.
Adventures in Writing was read by Kelly Smithwick West of Cisco. A retired elementary teacher, UIL writing coach and essay judge, Smithwick spoke highly of this year's imaginative and technically advanced "under sixteen" entries.
The Articles category was judged by Melissa Rawlins of Waxahachie. Rawlins, past editor of multiple city magazines in the Central Texas region, is now teaching.
Eastland's Markay Rister, a retired college professor of English, ranked this year's Publication Briefs category. This category includes short anecdotes and columns of general interest.
Cisco College English professor Bethney Jacobs evaluated a great stack of Poetry entries. This magna cum laude Tarleton Masters grad lives and works in Cisco.
Published novelist Dr. Lance Hawvermale judged the Books category. Hawvermale is Ranger College Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts. He also teaches the college’s Honors courses. His prose and poetry have won numerous awards, including the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation “Poetry Book of the Year.” His poems have appeared in Mid-America Review, ByLine, and The Same, among others. St. Martin’s Press published Hawvermale’s fifth novel, Face Blind, a thriller set in Chile’s Atacama desert. He holds a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Kansas State University.
Short Stories were judged by Kenneth Fenter of Springfield, Oregon. A former teacher of journalism, photography, creative writing, literature, essay writing, mass media and multimedia, Fenter takes great pleasure in sharing the writing craft with others. A novelist with several books to his credit, he established a small publishing company, Arborwood Press, in 2004.
We are indebted to these generous judges, without whom there would be no 47th Annual CWC Contest. They have our sincere thanks.
47th Annual Summer Writing Contest Now Closed
It's a lock for Cisco Writers Club's 47th Annual Summer Contest.
Awards will be announced at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, September 7, 2023, at the Myrtle Wilks Community Center in Cisco. You are invited, and we hope you'll bring your cheering section with you!
Conducted "by writers, for writers," CWC's contest features six key categories, including one for young writers under sixteen. We make it accessible with multiple ways to submit. Fees have remained incredibly low. Various special awards bring total payouts to approximately $1,500 each year.
Join us September 7 to celebrate you, other winning authors, and 47 years of Cisco Writers Club involvement in the craft of writing!
Light refreshments will be served.
An Informative Evening at the August Meeting of the Cisco Writers Club
The August meeting of the Cisco Writers Club opened with a fun ice breaker that helped members learn a little more about each other. Then author, librarian, and CWC Vice President Helen Cozart spoke to the group about how to use technology on the road to publication. She gave everybody a handout that had links for KDP, Goodreads, Grammarly, and so forth in order to find beta readers, do grammar checks, format books, etc.
It was an informative evening, and all the links from Cozart’s handout are now on the CWC website. (See Online Resources for Writers, Compiled by Helen Cozart.)
Thank you, Helen!
Image of Helen Cozart by Ruth York
Online Resources for Writers, Compiled by Helen Cozart
The following images and links are designed to help you figure out what path to take on the road to publication. These are not the only resources. If you have something you already know and trust, share it. Likewise, if you discover something horrible, let us know so we can take it off the list. We are going to post this as a blog on the website, so the links will be active and it can be updated easily.
A. Beta readers: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/50920-beta-reader-group. Keyword search ideas: beta readers; book critique circle; fact checkers; copy editor; proofreader; developmental editor
B. Formatting: https://blog.reedsy.com/guide/book-manuscript-format/. Keyword search ideas: publishing template; ebook template, book formatting; publishing formatting; how to format a book
II. Traditional Publishing
A. Query letters: Keyword search ideas: how to write a query letter; how to write a book blurb; how to write a book synopsis; elevator pitches for books; book proposals
B. Agents: https://blog.reedsy.com/literary-agents/. Keyword search: Literary agent _____ genre; author submission resources; university press.
C. Talking Texas History podcast on Getting Published – This is a series of interviews with representatives of three major university presses about what their needs and goals are from authors - https://www.buzzsprout.com/2030352/12096904-getting-published
D. Formatting manuscript tips - https://blog.reedsy.com/guide/book-manuscript-format/
A. Watch out for predatory publishers.
Predators and editors: https://www.facebook.com/prededitors/
Reedsy blog on Book Publishers to Avoid: https://blog.reedsy.com/guide/publishing-companies-to-avoid/
Know how much you will pay. The full current price list for KDP is at
Blogs and articles about KDP
C. Covers and jackets: Cover design; professional cover creator; typesetting; back cover design; book jacket blurb writing;
E. Advertising: Keywords: book marketing; book promotion sites (just ‘book promotion’ does not get the same results.); book promotion packages; book reviews for authors (if you just put book review it will find a million things for readers.)
Advise and links: https://kindlepreneur.com/list-sites-promote-free-amazon-books/
Places like this offer advertising: https://secure.writtenwordmedia.com/promo-stacks
Amazon promotion packages: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201723090
Information that may be helpful in choosing a promotion site: https://scribemedia.com/book-promotion-sites/
F. Blogs and sites that you may find helpful
G. Reputable self-publishing companies. This does not mean they won’t charge a fortune, only that you will get something you pay for.
H. Other useful sites.
Goodreads has editors, reviewers, author pages, and a lot of other features. https://www.goodreads.com/
NaturalReader can read your manuscript outloud to help you spot (or hear in this case) awkward wording or stilted dialogue.
Image by Dan Dimmock on unsplash.
Dr. Duane Hale Interviews Long-Time Cisco Resident Jim Webb
At the July meeting of the Cisco Writers Club, members and guests were treated to a fascinating interview of long-time Cisco resident Jim Webb. Dr. Duane Hale conducted the interview and explained his effective interview techniques. Webb’s knowledge of the Eastland County area and its history is amazing! The interview was a demonstration of oral research because history isn’t always written in a book or digitized on the internet. Oral history opens new avenues of research for both fiction and non-fiction authors.
Dr. Duane Hale's numberous books include My Heroes Have Always Been Loboes and Lady Loboes and The Santa Clause Bank Robbery and Its Impact on Eye Witnesses. Hale has instituted a decades-long oral history project through Cisco College to preserve the stories of our elders.
Image by CWC member Ruth York.
Karen Witemeyer Shares Laughs at June's Cisco Writers Club Meeting
Karen Witemeyer presented her humor-in-fiction workshop at June's Cisco Writers Club meeting. Club members and visitors learned Witemeyer's favorite way to incorporate humor: narrative voice. She went into detail about books she's written and how the characters' voices and situations provide humor. It was an entertaining and informative presentation.
Bestselling author Karen Witemeyer’s books feature feisty heroines, swoony Texas heroes, and action-packed adventure with a generous dash of humor. Her newest novel, Fairest of Heart, will be released June 6, 2023.
Feature image by CWC member Roma Holley.
Launched by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996, National Poetry Month is a special occasion that celebrates poets’ integral role in our culture and that poetry matters. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K–12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, families, and—of course—poets, marking poetry’s important place in our lives.
CWC Celebrates Kelton, Anniversary
If you would like some ideas to help you begin, just join us each first Thursday of every month at 7:00 p.m. usually at the Hilton Center in Cisco. We’ll be waiting to meet you with a warm handshake, and a big smile. As we say in Texas, “COME ON IN HERE, AND LET US WELCOME YOU WITH A GOOD OLE TEXAS HANDSHAKE!”
See ya then!!
Planning for NaNoWriMo
Dr. Duane Hale Gives Local History Talk
One of the preeminent historians in the state, CWC member Dr. Hale spoke to an attentive crowd July 7, 2022, on "Local Historical Topics That Should Be Remembered."
Born and reared near Cisco, Dr. Hale has long had a deep interest in the tales told by his elders.
Thoughts on Honoring Our Veterans
CWC member Marjorie Moffitt, new to this area, presented our June meeting, looking ahead to Flag Day, June 14, 2022.
"I don't think we give enough thought to the sacrifices made by our veterans," says Marjorie, "but also to the special burdens born by their
famiies. I want to address that."
Marjorie invited area veterans to join us on this special occasion. Several did, and they and Marjorie shared stories from Eastland County service members.
Shann Tajiah: The Importance of an Author Bio
The Cisco Writers Club welcomed author Shann Tajiah on April 7, 2022, to the Hilton Center in Cisco to talk about creating an author bio.
The author bio is the humble brag and elevator pitch combined. It is also the most uncomfortable bit of writing an author can face.
But what if it didn’t have to be as difficult as it seems? Shann shared tips and tricks for writing a bio that
reflects your unique personality and shares the most important bits about your author journey. Participants came away with a completed bio -- and a voucher for a free headshot!
Shann Tajiah is an award-winning author and photographer. She is the author of Scraps of Love: Poetry from the Darkest Night, and the fantasy novella, The Shaloma. Her passion for writing and authors has led her to open the publishing imprint, Ithirial Rising Press, and she is currently studying to become a book and writing coach.
When Shann isn’t writing, you can find her chilling in her hammock, and caring for her furred and feathered menagerie. You can keep up with her at www.shanntajiah.com.
Giving Thanks with Chuckles
by Ruth York
CWC members and friends met on the first Thursday of November for an early Thanksgiving meal. After a feast of smoked chicken, cream potatoes, fancy salad, green beans and carrots, an array of desserts begged for attention -- and got it.
Then came a collection of humorous and political cartoons assembled through the years by member Gloria Kojakanian, compiled into a slideshow. Some were old enough to be obscure; others could have been published yesterday.
Cisco Writers Club was delighted to welcome humorist Carol B. Cook of Granbury. We will meet in the lobby of the Hilton Center, 309 Conrad Hilton Blvd., in Cisco. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.
Carol discussed “Putting the Face on Your Story: Book Covers.” Writers intuitively know this is an important choice, and Carol has made that decision as an author repeatedly.
She is the author of six books of humorous short stories and essays and five books of poetry. She is a member of the Authors Guild, the Texas Marketing Guild, and the Poetry Society of Texas.
Writing since her youth, Carol continued as a young mother raising children, working for a living wage, and during the years she traveled across and lived in twenty-nine states and seven countries, continuing her writing on into retirement.
She honed her writing skills in community colleges, night schools, and writing classes for years without, she says, "ever earning a degree in anything."
45th Annual Celebration of Writing Awards
Carrie Windham Inspires with Blackout Poetry
is an award winning poet, photographer and author of Scraps of Love: Poetry From the Darkest Night 1997-2010.
The Cisco Writers Club thanks Cisco Aviation for the delightful afternoon of flying winners in our Adventures in Writing contest. First, second and third places were entitled to a flight in a private plane, originating in the Gregory Simmons Memorial Airport in Cisco. Sadly, only one of these young people, Haddie Brumley, was close enough to join us for the flight.
Pizza for all, however, still made the evening a time of fun and laughter. Families of all who entered are invited to participate. Obviously geography still exerts its inescapable presence in who shows up.
Our special guest speaker was lawyer, author, and Fox contributor Jenna Ellis Rives. Jenna Ellis Rives has a comprhensive background in litigation and expertise in constitutional law, criminal law, contracts, public policy leadership, and ethics. She is an experienced media personality on multidimensional media, including radio, television, and written journalism, including appearnaces on Fox Business, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and other national media, and contributor to Washington Examiner, Daily Wire, and The Federalist. Her book, The Legal Basis for a Moral Constitution: A Guide for Christians to Understand America's Current Constitutional Crisis, provides insight into the culture war that is being fought in America's legal hierarchy. She is a requested speaker for constitutional literacy, political issues, policy and current events.
Following our tradition, there was no charge for this Thanksgiving meal, but reservations through Eventbrite helped with planning.
The Cisco Writers Club is delighted to welcome a new business to the neighborhood this year. Fresh on the scene is innovative Graph Publishing, LLC. As a source of music as well as books, Graph invests in the arts every day, and we are pleased to have them as the new sponsor of our 2019 Book category.
When Your Very Personal Facebook Post Goes Viral
As writers who work hard to build a fan base, we might sometimes ponder what would it be like to "go viral."
It was Thursday, October 11, at 8:03 a.m., that Mattea Goff, stay-at-home wife and mom of two in Cisco, Texas, posted a simple set of stick-figure cartoons on Facebook. She had sketched the humorous stick family to convey to husband Kris the exhaustion many new moms feel, and why. She thought it might resonate with some of her friends, too.
It did. By evening her post had been shared 500 times. The following morning it had gone viral, with 100,000 shares, 67,000 likes and 41,000 comments. Friend requests poured in, media clamored for interviews, and the humorous explanation meant for her husband was popping up on websites in multiple countries and languages.
Those viral stats have more than doubled. The new page, STICK With Me, has 5,000+ followers chuckling over Mattea’s growing library of
Brian Foster Brings His Black Dog Swamp Humor to Picnic
Almost $1,500 in Prizes Awarded
Cisco Writers Club celebrated all those who submitted manuscripts in our 41st Annual Summer Writing Contest on Thursday, September 7, 2017. Significant cash accompanied several certificates as we handed out almost $1,500 in prize money.
For winners in the Adventures in Writing category, focused entirely on 15-year-olds-and-under, the prize was a flight in a small private plane, followed by a pizza party with the pilot and crew.
Names of winners are posted on the Contest page. Pictured above are Sleepy Gomez, Lucious Taber, Eli Brumley, and Katy Huth Jones.
We thank our distinguished judges and the generous underwriters of our 2017 contest, also noted on the Contest page. Without them, there is no contest.
'Tex' Thompson Workshop a Resounding Success
The lone grammar-ranger, Tex Thompson, saddled her horse and started her long ride west, visiting 9 cities in 17 days. Cisco was one!
As always, she explains the nuts and bolts in a fun, charismatic way. Her premise here:
"It's a truth every interviewee knows: there's nothing more tragic than missing out on your dream job because the interviewer can't see past the stain on your collar. In this high-energy, interactive workshop, we'll tackle the grammar and style mistakes that even experienced writers make, and highlight winning strategies for scrubbing them out of your manuscript. Don't give your reader even one easy reason to toss your work aside: come learn how to put the 'pro' in your prose!"
Cisco Writers Club hosted this FREE class for our community Wednesday, August 16, at the Myrtle Wilks Community Center. We thank Tex for generously sharing her expertise.
This Language Called Poetry
In week seven of the Cisco Writers Club’s WordLaunch Workshop we welcomed author Sheryl L. Nelms to speak about writing poetry for the general market.
Sheryl L. Nelms lives in Clyde, but is originally from Marysville, Kansas. She graduated from South Dakota State University. She has had almost 6,000 articles, stories and poems published, including fourteen individual collections of her poems. She is the fiction/nonfiction editor of The Pen Woman Magazine, the National League of American Pen Women publication, was a contributing editor for Time Of Singing, A Magazine Of Christian Poetry and a four time Pushcart Prize nominee. She is married to songwriter Dan Pennington.
The WordLaunch Workshop series continues through July, covering the nuts and bolts of writing short stories; articles; columns and short shots; and poetry. The July 9 workshop was a newly minted workshop, Adventures in Writing for young writers.
Our first young writer workshop July 9
Cisco Writers Club Sunday held a WordLaunch Workshop July 9 for kids ages 6-15.
The workshop began at 1:30 at the Prosperity Bank community room, 418 Conrad Hilton Avenue in Cisco. It ended at 3:00 with a snack for the kids.
There was a $10 fee for the class, but parents got in free!
The workshop was led by children’s author and educator Nancy Sifford Alana of Granbury. She was eager to meet the young folks of Eastland County, writing, “This workshop will encourage youngsters to put words on paper in any form, but we’ll especially focus on poetry. I like to have fun, and I think the kids will, too.”
Nancy was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas, now living in Hood County. A retired teacher and elementary school principal, she received the Instructional Leadership Award in 2004 from Tarleton State University. She serves on the local school board and in community groups that focus on education and children's issues.
“I love to inspire children and young adults to read by introducing them to books that are entertaining and educational. My books provide the reader with entertaining stories intertwine with history. The characters model good manners, respect, and a love for learning.”
She brought copies of her books, The Lost Treasure of Lincoln County: A Great American Adventure, and Texas: Cowboys and Campfires. Nancy’s writing garnered national attention with the Will Rogers Medallion Award (2015) and the Mame Eisenhower Reading List (2014-15). Both books will be available for purchase.
“Be sure to tell those young folks to get ready, because I want to see some of them in that private plane!” says Nancy.
She was referring to the prize, courtesy of Cisco Aviation, that will be awarded to the top three young writers in this year's Cisco Writers Club 41st Annual Summer Contest. One category, Adventures in Writing, is specifically limited to children ages 6-15. To make it extra sweet, there is no fee to enter that category. Get all the details at www.ciscowritersclub.org/
The WordLaunch Workshop series continues with "Fiction Addiction, Part 2" on writing short stories, by Bokerah Brumley, on July 16. July 23 brings Sheryl Nelms of Clyde with writing poetry.
Love words? Then sharpen your pencil for WordLaunch, a “how to” series of workshops beginning June 11, designed to help you achieve your writing goals.
May found Cisco Writers Club at the Assembly of Yahweh fellowship hall in Romney, Texas, south of Cisco.
After a delicious dinner we were delighted to hear the extraordinary Katy Huth Jones. This humble but accomplished woman can be described thus:
“Katy Huth Jones grew up in a family where creative juices overflowed and made puddles to splash in. A member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), she has published three children's books, one Young Adult (YA) historical fiction, five fantasies (so far), one poetry collection, and over 100 short stories, poems, and magazine articles.
“When not writing, Katy plays piccolo and flute in The Symphony of the Hills. She lives with her husband Keith in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Their two sons, whom she homeschooled, have flown the nest and live creative lives of their own. Best of all, she is a cancer survivor (twice, so far).”
Besides best-loved books, Katy brought examples of articles, poems and stories that have appeared in Cricket, Highlights and a variety of other magazines. Her stack of rejection letters drew attention, too, illustrating the point: Never, ever give up.
by Ruth York
Rob Westman,writer and Abilene ISD videographer, and Kay Walton, painter, presented a stellar program at the Myrtle Wilks Community Center Auditorium Thursday, December 8.
He brought a few paintings by Kay Walton, also of Abilene, that were used extensively in his recent documentary. The movie resulted from research to write a children's book about George Washington's life, his recognition of the "Providence" that had guided and protected him and his fellow patriots throughout his days.
The movie was shown at the Majestic this summer and was well received. CWC helped sponsor this December event.
This was not just a showing of the movie. It is a multi-media presentation about its inspiration, research and compilation. Clips of the documentary were shown.
By Kathy Spencer
It's Turkey Time once again at the November gathering of the CWC. We would like to extend an invitation to anyone interested in becoming a part of our group. Turkey, gravy and potatoes will be served. Bring a dish of your choosing to round out the meal and enjoyable evening of Thanksgiving. We will meet at the Assembly of Yahweh located south of Cisco on 183. The Assembly is located on the east side of the highway.
November 7th will see the soaring event of the "Children Write! Flight," hosted at the Gregory Simmons Memorial Airport in the new FBO (Fixed Base of Operation) building. Cisco Aviation was a sponsor for the Summer Writing Contest and is offering the prize of an airplane ride to the winners of the Children Write! Category of the contest. It looks like a great evening will start at 4:00 PM with the takeoff. Upon touching down a hamburger cook out will be on the menu. Come and join the festivities and celebrate these young writers.
At the October meeting of the CWC officers were elected by acclamation. Here are the officers for 2016-2018; President-Bokerah Brumley, Vice-President-Amber Draeger, Secretary-Kathy Spencer, Treasurer-Ruth York, Publicity Chairman-Kathy Spencer, Contest Chairman-Ruth York, Historian-Gloria Kojakanian. Changes to the CWC Constitution were proposed, and will be discussed at the November meeting. We encourage all members to be present for this vote.
As always, we extend an invitation to those interested in becoming a part of the CWC as members. Our goal is to "help writers were they are".
Show us your pearls!
That was our 2016 challenge to you, and you did! Entries were accepted from eleven states in CWC's 40th Annual Summer Writing Contest that closed July 31, 2016.
A warm, supportive crowd applauded the 2016 winners at the awards ceremony Thursday, September 1. Almost $1,500 in prize money was paid out. We congratulate these talented writers, and thank each of you who entered.
Photos, details and a list of 2016 winners is on our Contest page. Judges' profiles are below.
Without judges willing to give of their time and expertise there would be no CWC 40th Annual Summer Writing Contest. We thank these outstanding professionals:
For Publication Briefs:
Melissa Rawlins is a community editor and copy editor for NOW Magazines in Waxahachie, Texas. Melissa Rawlins develops editorial content for each new month’s publication, writing three of 8 stories in each issue, focused on building community along with business.
Brian Bethel is a senior staff writer for the Abilene Reporter News, writing on a variety of topics for over twenty years. Most recently, Brian writes a variety of weekly and daily stories on topics of religion and higher education, including regular features on the impact of religion and faith and the evolving role of higher education throughout the wider Abilene Community.
Dr. Stace Gaddy holds BA/MA Degrees in Theatre and Dramatic Theory/Playwriting from Texas State University, and the Ph.D. in Speech Communication from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He is currently Director of the Crawford Theatre at Cisco College, Cisco, Texas.
Barbara B. Rollins is a retired judge who began writing while waiting for lawyers. The past president of Abilene Writers Guild, she has written and edited many books while maintaining several websites including those of Silver Boomer Books and Laughing Cactus Press.
For Short Stories:
Recntly awarded Fifth Place in the Children's/Young Adult category for the 85th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, Bokerah Brumley has work featured in Havok magazine, Southern Writers Magazine, and Clarion Call Vol. 2: Echoes of Liberty. She serves as a jury member for the on-going Mash Stories flash fiction competition.
For Children Write!:
Nancy Alana is an author, speaker and educator who inspires children and young adults by introducing them to books that are entertaining and educational. She received the Instructional Leadership Award in 2004 from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. She currently serves on the local school board and is involved in community groups that focus on education and children's issues. Find her at www.authornancyalana.com and www.patrioticchildrensbooks.com.
by Bokerah Brumley
I spend much of my day in comfortable clothes. I am a wife, mom, and writer. I don’t get dressed up to cook dinner or primp just to sit down at my computer for hours and make up lives for imaginary people. I am not compelled to wear a formal dress to the wedding scene or mourning garb to the death scene.
If you see me around town, I probably don’t strike anyone as professional. I resemble a haphazard woman with five children in tow, blinking in confusion at the world outside my writer’s cave. I am always surprised by friendly encounters outside of what I expect. If I seem startled when someone speaks to me or notices me, it’s because I am.
But I’m a stickler about professionalism in my work and online.
I’ve been privy to recent online drama that once again brings this to the forefront of my mind. If you want to be a professional, you must present yourself as a professional in the industry before you are making professional money (which admittedly isn’t very much as a professional author).
In email, to the best of your ability, use good grammar and spelling. Mistakes are made, absolutely, but try your best. One tough round with a line editor or copy editor will teach a lot.
When you make a promise, deliver. And if you cannot deliver, communicate. Lack of communication doesn’t make the problem go away. Publishing houses, editors, proofreaders won’t trust you until they learn that you update as plans must be adjusted.
Above all, when something doesn’t go well, keep it off social media. So often, this outlet is treated like a dump for everything gone wrong.
Don’t complain publically about rejection. Don’t call people or publishing houses names. Don’t whine about bad reviews. Don’t moan because the editor wants you to cut your favorite things or pages read took a nosedive.
Be a cut above the rest, dear writers. Post the good stuff, the important stuff, and be professional.
This first appeared in "Rendezvous With Writing," Eastland County Today, May 19, 2016
by Bokerah Brumley
At the beginning of the New Year, I announced a tongue-in-cheek goal of 250,000 words in 2016. I write daily, usually two or three thousand words, and submit often. Right now, I’m waiting for my sixth and seventh rejections from the remainder of my January submissions.
It’s safe to say that I am familiar with literary rejection.
A few months ago, I was invited to join a panel of judges for an ongoing, worldwide flash fiction competition. At first, I thought it was a joke. I am rejected monthly, often multiple times in a month. The invitation was unexpected, but I love flash fiction, so I agreed.
I spent this morning reading flash fiction submissions, agonizing over the writer on the other side of the work. I want to provide feedback that is both encouraging and insightful. I want to give the writer a direction to go, but wave obnoxiously huge cheerleader pom-poms so they don’t take my evaluation as the final word.
I have been that anxious writer, waiting for a yes or no. I am that writer much of the time.
Here are three true things I’ve learned from my time on the judges’ panel.
1) Your creativity is apparent, but the story did not resonate with me. Your work didn’t speak to me. It may be the greatest thing ever, but it’s my job to judge the work in this situation or market. Keep trying!
2) It’s hard to be an objective judge. I do my best, but sometimes, subjectivity seeps through. I am the sum of my thought processes and life. Subjectivity happens. You will bump into this again and again. Be stubborn. Find new outlets for your work. Keep submitting!
3) On the oh-so-close-but-not-quite-there pieces, I did not enjoy rejecting your work. I wanted to send you, awesome writer, an email filled with all the wonderful things. But the rules are the rules.
Don’t give up because I said ‘no.’ Please! I love your words. They just didn’t make it this time. Keep improving!
It’s been an eye-opening experience, but a good one. It’s also taken much of the sting out of my own rejections. It’s given me more appreciation for those that are saddled with the task of judging. It’s not always easier on the other side of the fence.
Visit the Cisco Writers Club at CiscoWritersClub.org or on Facebook as Cisco Writers Club.
Join the CWC at 7:00 PM on Thursday, April 7, 2016, at the Mobley / Conrad Hilton Center, 309 Conrad Hilton Blvd, Cisco. Call (254) 434-3530 for more information.
by Amber Draeger
This month’s meeting, held on February 4, 2016, was a sequence of surprising events. Our scheduled guest speakers from Y&R PR, Cheryl Letsch and JoAnna Grace, arrived midafternoon only to be forced to return home due to a family emergency.
We were extremely distressed to hear their news and were thankful to learn that they made it home safely. All of us at the CWC wish them and their loved ones many blessings and speedy recoveries. We hope to have them back with us soon.
Before our guests departed, they graciously left handouts on their topic, “Social Media for Your Writing.” It was our intention to put those handouts to use the same night, but another surprise arrived in the form of Dr. Duane Hale’s surprise guest, Chip Drumwright. We shifted quickly into discussion regarding differing schools of thought on learning the craft of writing.
We hope to save the handouts for next meeting or perhaps utilize them when our esteemed speakers are able to return.
In attendance was Anna Albergucci, Gloria Kojakanian, Amber Draeger, Kathy Spencer, Speedy Gomez, Chip Drumwright, Duane Hale, Marsha Vermillion, Ruth Stewart, and Ruth York.