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Feb 22nd
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Home People & Lifestyle Western Writers Blog Hats Off to Writing Groups Such As Women Writing the West

Hats Off to Writing Groups Such As Women Writing the West

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Writers often look to writing organizations for support and networking opportunities. They are seeking a community, passionate about the same subjects, as a way to make writing seem not quite so solitary an exercise. So to start my new OldWestNewWest.com blog, I want to highlight one such organization: Women Writing the West (WWW).

The WWW is vibrant, active, and very supportive of its members. The women and men in this organization are creative and committed to their subjects, and they are passionate and knowledgeable about Western history!

www_logoI had the pleasure of attending the 18th annual WWW conference this past October. It was my first time participating, and I enjoyed it immensely.

There were a number of excellent panels and talks with writers, publicists, and authors on a wide range of topics. There also were excellent networking opportunities at the conference, including opportunities for authors to speak with agents, publicists, and editors, as well as other authors. In addition to the panels, talks were given at the Friday dinner, and lunch and dinner on Saturday.

The speakers were excellent; funny, knowledgeable, and passionate about their subjects. It made listening a pleasure. On Friday, Don Bullis gave a pre-dinner talk; a very brief, and funny, overview of the history of New Mexico Politics. On Friday night, Susan J. Tweit gave a talk entitled "Writing with Heart." At lunch on Saturday, Anne Hillerman gave a talk entitled "What I Learned About Women, Writing, and the West from Tony Hillerman," and on Saturday evening Virginia Scharff gave a talk entitled "Why Women Matter." The lunch and dinners also honored the LAURA short fiction award winners and the WILLA award winners and finalists.

Two awards are given by the WWW each year. One is the LAURA award, named in honor of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is a prize for a short story written by a WWW member. The other is the WILLA award, named in honor of Willa Cather. It is a prize awarded to books in seven categories: Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Original Softcover Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Scholarly Nonfiction, Poetry, and Children's/Young Adult Fiction and Nonfiction. This contest is open to books by any author and publisher (including self-published authors) that fit the contest's criteria.

Books published by University of New Mexico Press have been honored many times as finalists or award winners for the WILLA award. In fact this year, Joan Logghe's book The Singing Bowl was a finalist for the poetry category.

The awards ceremonies are the best example I can give of the supportive nature of this organization.

What impressed me was the attention paid to each author, both winners and finalists. Each author was asked to stand while the presenter read snippets of the judges' comments praising the book. The author then came up to the stage to receive her award (this year all the finalists and winners were women) and to say a few words. It was nice to see each author honored in such a significant and celebratory way.

Hats off to this organization and all of its members! For information about Women Writing the West, go to the group's Web site at 

People & Lifestyle