Tennessee Mountain Writers


Winter 2007

Tennessee Mountain Musings

If a week is a long time in politics, how long is twenty years for a writer?  As Tennessee Mountain Writers President, Carol Grametbauer, noted in our last edition, the next TMW conference, to be held March 27-29, 2008 , will be the twentieth.  Though it will only be nineteen years since the first conference, in 1989, it sounds like TMW Conference is about to become a grown up.

When I was twenty years old, two decades comprised my entire existence.  I thought it had taken forever to reach, which it had: my whole life. Once it became a third, a half, or even less a fraction of my past, I understood that any double decade includes memories of all kinds, good, bad, happy and sad.

At the time of the first TMW Conference, I had two young sons and much of my reading consisted of books about dinosaurs, penguins and talking steam engines that behaved like silly schoolboys.  My writing only rarely stretched beyond printing my sons' names on clothes and shoes, words for them to copy, or the stories they made up themselves.

When my older son was a baby, I had agreed to write a weekly column, for The Oak Ridger, on childbirth education.  Using that ancient machine, a manual typewriter, carbon paper, and white-out, I somehow managed the feat, moving the baby from the swing to the floor, form the floor to the walker, but with two at home most of the time, I was too preoccupied to be interested in putting my thoughts on paper. Writing was still a hobby.  It had yet to be who I was.

Yet, two recent events had begun to put pressure on my writer's button.  The death of my father-in-law, on Election Day, 1988, had presented me the task of discussing the natural process of death with a five year old. Three months later my mother died.  Both these events lived in my thoughts in quite different ways, and eventually rose to the point of insisting to be written.

I wrote an essay about my mother's life and death, and entered it in to a competition held by the Oak Ridge YWCA.  It won an honorable mention.  It was also through the YWCA that the second project developed. Through the organization, Raven Parris offered a four-week, evening writing class. Using exercises and suggestions she offered, I reworked a story I had begun about a five-year-old learning of death and its place in nature.  Raven also mentioned a writers' conference to be held at the Garden Plaza Hotel, in Oak Ridge , in a few weeks. As Carol noted, in the last edition of the newsletter, Raven was one of the early volunteers with TMW.

Writers, I attended.

I'm not sure which year that was.  I know it wasn't the first TMW conference, but it might have been the second, or the third, and I've been to most since. From those early days, I remember the friendliness of the TMW family, especially Pat Hope, Connie Green, Sue Ellen Hudson, Jo Stafford and Betty and Mike Roe. One of those years, Becky Lee Weyrich, the Queen of the Supernatural Romance, swept in, and with her kindness, convinced me I was a writer. I learnt much, and received encouragement, from Steve Womack, Eddie Francisco, Sydney Lea, Marilyn Kallet, Cathy Smith Bowers, Katherine Stripling Byers and.  Between them, they offered guidance and inspiration in fiction, lyrical nonfiction and poetry. Some speakers taught mechanics, others business, and some simply inspired. I met friends, too, among my fellow attendees; people with whom I could share the highs and lows of the writing life.  Men and women who came from a huge variety of backgrounds and experiences, but who, like me harbored the spirit of a writer.  In the meantime, I've published some poems, many articles, on subjects ranging from opera to marble production, and won a few more prizes. I've also had the honor of serving on the TMW Board, for three years. I now compose on the computer, most of the time, and often submit through cyberspace; no more rushing to the newspaper office at the last moment, hard copy in hand.

I wonder what you were doing in your writing life, nineteen or twenty years ago.  How has writing changed for you in that time?  Did you attend the first conference?  When was your first TMW conference?  Do you remember the speakers? Did they, or fellow conference attendees, make an impact on your writing life?  If you'd like to share your memories, send them to me, mspenners@mac.com, and I'll mention some of them in the next newsletter.  Don't forget to register for the twentieth TMW Conference and join in the celebration.

Margaret Pennycook
Newsletter Editor


President's Message

As the holidays approach, our to-do lists get longer and longer, but please squeeze in one more item: a reminder to yourself to register for January Jumpstart.  If you've never participated in Jumpstart, let me just say it's a wonderful way to, well, jumpstart your writing agenda for the New Year.  And if you have, it's likely that no additional encouragement is necessary.  (See registration information and an unexpected change in the program, just below.)

Watch your snail-mail boxes for the 2008 Annual Conference brochure, coming soon.  (All the information will also be on our web site, www.tmwi.org.)  We have an outstanding slate of presenters for this conference, featuring award-winning novelist Terry Kay, who will lead our fiction workshops; and Peter Jacobi, former professor and associate dean of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University , who will be our banquet speaker.  This will be TMW's 20th annual conference, and you won't want to miss it.

Until we see each other in 2008, I hope that your holidays are filled with family, friends, and all of the special joys of the season.

-- Carol Grametbauer


Upcoming Events

Tennessee Mountain Writers and Tennessee Writers Alliance


January Jumpstart VIII

Sue Richardson Orr reports an important change to January Jumpstart VIII.  Due to unexpected circumstances, Cecelia Tichi is unable to present the Fiction Workshop. TMW's   She has been replaced by J. T. Ellison.  Bill Brown is still the Poetry Workshop Leader.  TMW apologizes for any inconvenience.

Sue also says the poetry section is filling up, from January 11 - 13, 2008, at the at the Magnuson Hotel, formerly the Best Western Motel, in Sweetwater, TN, at exit 60 off I-75, and to register as soon as possible for either session. Saturday sessions will run 9:00 a.m.-12:00 and 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m., Sunday session 8:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m.
J.T. Ellison was a Presidential Appointee and worked in The White House and the Department of Commerce before moving into the private sector. After moving to Nashville , Ellison began research on a passion, forensics and crime. She spent a great deal of time working with the Metro Nashville Police Department, and utilized these experiences to write her debut novel, ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS.  Her short stories have appeared in several magazines and will be included in the upcoming anthology KILLER YEAR, edited by Lee Child.  Class emphasis will be on characters, setting, and plot.

Bill Brown has published six collections of poems: Holding On By Letting Go, What the Night Told Me, The Art of Dying, The Gods of Little Pleasures, Yesterday's Hay and Tatters, released in March, 2007. During the past twenty years, he has published hundreds of poems and articles in college journals, magazines, and anthologies. In 1995 the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts named him Distinguished Teacher in the Arts. He has been a Scholar in Poetry at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, a Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, a two-time recipient of Fellowships in poetry from the Tennessee Arts Commission.
This project is funded in part under an agreement with the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Registration fees are $100.00 for TMW or TWA members, $110.00 nonmembers. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, and donuts before the morning sessions and Saturday lunch are included.


Participants will be limited to 20 per workshop.  DEADLINE for registration is January 4, 2008 . Room rates are $58.00 + tax for single/double. Call Magnuson Hotel at 423-337-3541 and mention TMW.  For additional information: please check our website: www.tmwi.org
or contact: Sue Richardson Orr - email: theorrs@usit.net

REGISTRATION FORM - print and mail in with check.

   TMW/TWA JANUARY JUMPSTART VIII - Fri, Jan 11 - Sun, Jan 13, 2008
Name ___________________________              Check one: fiction __   poetry __
Street _______________________________________
City/State/zip code____________________________
Phone _______________ e-mail __________________
Please make checks to TMW:  DINNER _______    Workshop ___________
TWA membership $25.00                 TMW membership $10.00   Total amount enclosed ________
Mail to: TMW/January Jumpstart 2008
P.O. Box 5435
Oak Ridge, TN  37831-5435                        

In the past, we have eaten at the nearby Cracker Barrel, but this location is closing, so we are offering an optional catered dinner on Saturday night for $15.50, tip included.  Menu: Barbecue chicken, beef tips with mushroom gravy, 2 cheeses mashed potatoes, fresh vegetable medley, salad, cherry cobbler, coffee, tea, water.  We need advance reservations for the dinner by January 2, 2008 .  Hope you will join us.  It's a good time to get together with fellow writers.

     Sue Richardson Orr
Chair, Special Events Committee


Tennessee Mountain Writers 20th Annual Conference

The conference will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel, in Oak Ridge , Tennessee , and begins with a reception on Thursday evening, March 27, 2008 , at 6:00 PM with a light buffet and oleo preview.  Friday, March 28, 2008 , sessions will run 8:30 AM to 9:00 PM and Saturday, March 29, 2008 , sessions from 8:30 to 9:00 PM , which includes the Awards Banquet.

Terry Kay
is an Award-winning novelist and screenwriter from Athens , Georgia .  He is one of the South's foremost writers.  Kay has received numerous honors, and was named one of the eight best theater critics in America in 1968, by the Sang Jury on Fine Art Criticism.

Peter Jacobi
is professor emeritus and visiting Riley professor at Indiana University's School of Journalism, and former professor and associate dean of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.  His journalistic background spreads across the print and broadcast fields. His work has appeared in numerous publications.

Anne Shelby
, is the author of newspaper columns, plays, essays, and children's books, as well as poetry. Her plays have been widely produced.  She has published five books for children.  Her popular columns have appeared over a number of years in The Lexington Herald-Leader and other Kentucky newspapers.

Maurice Manning
has published three books of poetry.  His poems have been published in numerous journals.  He has held writing fellowships at the Fine Arts Work Center, in Provincetown , and the Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers in Scotland .  He teaches at Indiana University and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College .

Ron Pitkin
is President of Cumberland House Publishing, Nashville , TN.   Ron entered the publishing business with a bang as co-founder of Rutledge Hill Press. Ron then founded Cumberland House, which currently publishes about 32 new fiction and nonfiction titles each year, in a wide range of categories, including biography, humor, self-help, cookbooks, inspirational, thrillers, mysteries, and vampire stories.

Patricia Lee Gauch
is vice president and editor at large of Philomel Books as well as a respected author in her own right. She holds a doctorate in English literature, and has taught children's literature on the college level and reviewed for The New York Times. Patti has edited three Caldecott Medal winning books, and written thirty-nine books for young readers.

Gloria Ballard
enjoyed a 32-year career in journalism as a feature writer and editor at The Tennessean in Nashville , Tennessee where she was Travel Editor from 1998 until 2006. She became a freelance writer, but currently writes travel features, community stories, garden features and a weekly garden column for The Tennessean.  She also writes fiction.

Jimmy Carl Harris
is a retired Marine Corps Sergeant Major with a doctorate from the University of Alabama .  He was an assistant professor at Southeastern Louisiana University .  He has received over forty writing honors. His stories have appeared in numerous journals.  He has published two collections of fiction.  He has taught writing workshops for the several writing conferences.  

Valeria Steele Roberson
is a native Oak Ridger and currently teaches in the Humanities Department at Roane State Community College , in Oak Ridge .  She has written and directed numerous plays.  She became the head writer and later the sole writer of a radio soap opera drama which aired in Nashville , TN , and later in Washington D. C.

Dorothy Senn
is an award-winning journalist whose career has included work as a reporter, feature writer, and editor for newspapers in Oklahoma and Tennessee and as a freelance writer for several other publications. Her newspaper column, The Creative Crowd, has appeared in the Oak Ridger for 31 years. She has taught classes in non-credit courses for the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge Schools .

This project is funded in part under an agreement with the Tennessee Arts Commission and  the National Endowment for the Arts.

Additional information:
please check our website: www.tmwi.org



contest deadline is February 1. 2008.  There are five adult categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, inspirational, and writing for young people.  The Sue Ellen Hudson Award for Excellence in Writing will be chosen from the first place winners of these categories.  There are two student categories: poetry and prose.  Please encourage your local high schools to enter this competition.  It's a great way to encourage budding talent.  See the website-tmwi.org--for more information and RULES.

Don Williams has extended the deadline for his latest competition, at New Millennium Writings to January 31, 2008 New Millennium Writings offers $4,000 in prizes, plus publication in NMW and on the Web.  $1,000 for best Story; $1,000 for best Poem; $1,000 best Nonfiction (Nonfiction includes humor, memoir, creative nonfiction, travel, opinion, essay, interview, features, investigative reporting, etc.) Plus, $1,000 for best Short Short Fiction (1,000-word limit). For more information go to  http://www.newmillenniumwritings.com/awards.php.


Member News

Alex Gabbard
received a phone call, a couple of months ago, from the managing editor of Writer's Digest Magazine, bringing the big news that his book, Gaspee, won the 2007 judging for Mainstream Literary Fiction among thousands of entries and three rounds of judging.  Gaspee is his 17th book and third Book of the Year recipient.  There is full coverage scheduled for the March issue (available in February).

For more information, visit <http://www.alexgabbard.com>www.alexgabbard.com

In the same competition, the 76th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition, Elsie Schmied Knoke received an Honorable Mention, in the Mainstream/Literary Short Story category.  The editor told her that this year's contest attracted over 19,000 entries, and so she feels honored to be among the 100 chosen to receive awards.  Elsie also won first place and first honorable mention for prose in the Grandmother Earth 2007 National Writing Awards.

Marilyn Kallet
will be kept busy with what she calls "a double header," launching two books this weekend, at Carpe Librum books, on Kingston Pike, in Knoxville , Jack the Healing Cat and The Movable Nest: A Mother Daughter Companion.

Jack the Healing Cat, a children's book from Iris Publishing Group, will be launched on Saturday, December 8, 2007 .  There will be a story time" at 11:30 am .

The Movable Nest: A Mother Daughter Companion, a mother/daughter book, edited by Marilyn and former TMW Conference presenter, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Poet Laureate of North Carolina, is a multi-genre, multicultural anthology of nonfiction essays, poetry, stories, and letters.  It focuses on mothers and college-bound daughters saying goodbye to one another.  From Helicon Nine editions, it will be launched on Sunday December 9, 2007 , at 2 pm , and will feature readings by contributors Linda Parsons Marion, Pamela Schoenewaldt, and Jessie Janeshek, as well as by the editors. The book is number one on the KANSAS CITY STAR's list of the top 100 books of 2007.

KB Ballentine's, first collection of poems, Gathering Stones, will be released by Celtic Cat Publishing, in February 2008.  Gathering Stones is a trilogy concerned with the folklore and history of Ireland , and the experience of the Irish immigrant. More information at www.celticcatpublishing.com.

Jane Sasser won first place in the category of "I Really Shouldn't Tell You This" from the Kentucky State Poetry Society for her poem "Getting My Story Straight."  Another of Jane's poems, "Renaissance," has been accepted by Appalachian Heritage for their winter issue.  She is also in the process of publishing a chapbook called Recollecting the Snow, which will be printed by March Street Press, release date to be announced.

Sue Richardson Orr's piece "A Prayer" has been accepted for inclusion in the Knoxville Writer's Guild's A Knoxville Christmas 2007.

Judy DiGregorio's humorous work will also appear in the Knoxville Writers' Guild 2007 Christmas anthology.  Judy has published many articles and stories during the year.  Two of her stories appear in the 2007 Chicken Soup for the Soul Christmas, a follow-up to her inclusion in Chicken Soup for the Beach Lovers' Soul The November issue of ByLine Magazine features an essay that won her 2nd place in the ByLine Short Article Contest.  No wonder The Oak Ridge Observer recently named Judy as Best Local Writer in their Top of the Ridge section.

Connie Green has been speaking these past three weeks at Woodland Elementary School , in Oak Ridge , Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens , and Heritage High School in Maryville .  She will speak at the Knoxville Writers' Guild January 3, 2008 .

What an impressive group of writers belong to the TMW family.  Congratulations to them all, and may they inspire the rest of us to find ways to present our work to the world, not just lurking on files in our computers.  If you have some writing achievements to share, please email me at mspenners@mac.com.