Tennessee Mountain Writers, Inc.
Holiday Newsletter


As the holiday season descends upon us, I have one reminder for you: Don’t forget to register for January Jumpstart!  The Poetry track (to be led by Bill Brown) is nearly full, but last I heard there are still slots available.  And at this point there’s still room in the Fiction track (to be led by Ed Francisco), but that could change quickly.  If you wait until after the holidays, Jumpstart will be just two weeks away—so don’t delay and find yourself frozen out in January!  Put “Jumpstart Registration” at the top of your December to-do list -- get 2010 off to a good start with a fun weekend of writing and fellowship.  (See registration details in the body of this newsletter.)

In my last Chairman’s Message I described our plans for the 2009 Fall Workshop, which was geared to high school students in Anderson, Loudon, Morgan and Roane counties.  I’m happy to say the workshop was a great success!  Fifteen students showed up bright and early on  September 26 to participate in an all-day event (a morning of writing poetry and an afternoon of writing fiction) led by poet and novelist Jane Hicks.  The students worked hard all day, and their evaluations of the workshop were glowing.  Our thanks to Jane Hicks for leading the workshop, and my special thanks to the ad hoc committee—chairman Jane Sasser, with Connie Green, Wanda Grooms, Joy Margrave, and Sue Orr—who put a lot of thought and hard work into this event.  The students’ interest and enthusiasm was gratifying.

Brochures for our 2010 conference will be going in the mail in early December, so when yours shows up, don’t let it get lost in the holiday shuffle!   (But if it does, all the information plus the registration form is posted on our website, www.tmwi.org.)  The deadline for contest entries will be February 1; deadline for manuscript evaluations is March 1.  I’d like to thank K’Cindra Cavin for her hard work on the brochure layout and coordination of printing, as well as her ongoing work in updating and maintaining the website.

May each and every one of you have a happy and blessed holiday season.

Carol Grametbauer



It’s hard to imagine a time when people didn’t have novels.  Though novels are ubiquitous these days, the form has been a part of western cultures for only about three hundred years.  Reading a book on your own, curled up on wet day, in warm house, didn’t take hold until the 18th century.

Of course, storytelling goes back much further to gatherings round campfires.  The Iliad, and its description of the Trojan War, is ten thousand years old.  The Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf dates from sometime between the 8th and 11th centuries.  Both are poems that tell stories, though they passed as historical truth.  I read, somewhere in the distant past, that before paper became readily available, and stories were mostly passed from person to person, it was easier to memorize verse.  In this way cultural histories survived many generations, through communal activity. 

The first novels contained not histories, or what were seen as histories, but were peopled with characters, who lived fictional lives, in believable settings.  The change was gradual, but now, we take this kind of intimate reading experience for granted and many TMW members are novelists.

True, there are still plenty of examples of communal story telling.  When my mother lost most of her sight due to cataracts, I would read to her.  I enjoyed using different voices for the various characters, such as when I read Rudyard Kipling’s The Elephant’s Child to my class of thirty-four ten-year-olds.  Like many of you, I read to my own children, not only when they were small, but when they were studying Hamlet for high school English. 

Now, there is a new writing form.  It’s called a blog.  Already, I am finding it hard to recall when I didn’t spend too much of my day reading blogs.  The word is short for weblog, as it can be found on the World Wide Web.  I doubt there are few of you who haven’t read at least one blog.  (This site claims to list the top 10 blogs for writers, http://www.writingwhitepapers.com/blog/2006/12/05/top-10-blogs-for-writers/.)  Perhaps some of you have written one.

Many blogs started out as personal journals, but now there is a wide array to suit many tastes, including some by qualified experts and some by people with strong opinions.

The online journal of a woman called Julie Powell, who blogged about her experiences cooking from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, became a hard cover book, Julie and Julia, and then a movie, starring Meryl Streep, but few reach this level of attention. The blogger will often include internet links, as Carol and I did above, to other articles or websites, photos and videos, in support of the subject.  So the reader can be linked to important statistics, speeches, artwork, or videos of cats riding Roombas®.

There is jargon associated with blogs.  The blogger writes “above the line.” Those who comment on the article are “below the line,” and described as posters.  Often, they have names other than their own, and sometimes icons known as avatars. Some of the best contributions are very well argued.  Some lead to a rolling chain of delightful silliness and laughter. Those who arrive at a blog roiling with indignation and unsubstantiated counterclaims to the article are called trolls; these are very common on blogs about climate change and politics.  There’s even a name for people like me, who read but don’t comment.  We’re called lurkers.   The whole narrative is referred to as a thread.

 My lurking in the past few days included a site written by an oncologist about the new guidelines for breast cancer screening, two on the influence of religion in state funded British schools, and one with a strong bias for my favorite tennis player, Roger Federer.  This last is usually a collection of similarly minded fans, who thank the blogger for the information, share joy about Federer’s wins and sorrow over his losses.  Occasionally, a few of his rivals’ fans show up and say how misguided we are, and how he will be thrashed into obscurity by (fill in the name of their favorite tennis player), so eat our hearts out. 

This is what makes blogs a new form of writing.  The barrier between the original author of the article and the readers has been broken. You may complain loudly to a novel’s author, but you’re unlikely to be heard. It seems so different from the days of newspapers, when the journalist would pontificate, and, maybe, receive a few comments in return through “Letters to the Editor.”  On some sites, the comments are polite, but on others civility sometimes breaks down to the point of insult; that’s when moderators step in and remove comments considered personal attacks, even going so far as to ban some posters.  The blogosphere can be a tough environment, and many feel the anonymity of the posters allows the kind of behavior few would commit face to face.

My son, Jeremy, is an expert on all sorts of modern media and has been cajoling me for the past year to write a blog.  He has one himself, which is about much of the new media and what it signifies.  You can connect to it here. http://semanticfidelity.wordpress.com/

This seems to me to be a purposeful blog, providing information to the curious public.  What would be the purpose of my blog?  Mostly, I suspect the kind of things I talk to myself about.  (Yes, I do, even though my mother used to warn I’d be taken away for doing so.)  Whatever it is, two things hold me back.  One is wondering why anyone would want to read about what causes me to shout back at NPR, and the other is, am I brave enough open my opinion to a yowling mob?  Can I stand to see someone write in response to my article, “Hey, Pennycook, this article’s a load of rubbish. Call yourself a writer. I hope no one’s paying you for this.”

Writing this has me thinking that maybe blogging, for all its technological wonders, isn’t so far from those people round the campfires, or the Vikings telling sagas in the halls.  It’s back to the tradition of community-shared story telling.  I’ll bet it didn’t all go well then either.  I suspect there were a few horned-helmet wearing folks, who hurled insults from the shadows, much as people do on blogs today.  I can hear them.  Just as the storyteller reaches the part about the long ships landing on a foreign beach,

“Hey, Bjorn, this saga’s a load of rubbish. You call yourself a poet? Are they paying you to tell this?”

Maybe blogging isn’t so new after all.


Margaret Pennycook



Tennessee Mountain Writers and Tennessee Writers Alliance present

It's never too early to mark your calendars for January Jumpstart X on January 15 - 17, 2010, at the Magnuson Hotel (formerly Best Western) in Sweetwater, TN, at exit 60 off I-75. Our Fiction workshop leader will be Eddie Francisco and Bill Brown will lead Poetry. Saturday sessions will run 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 and 1:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m., Sunday 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Edward Francisco is the author of nine books, including two novels, four volumes of poetry, a study in bibliotherapy, and a collection of essays focusing on cognitive science and semiotics. His novel, The Dealmaker, and his collection of verse, Death, Child, and Love, were both nominees for the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book of poems, The Alchemy of Words, was one of the Small Press Review's Top Picks for 2008. In addition to his essays on the relationships between language and consciousness, Francisco has published work on religion in such venues as Our Sunday Visitor, Inspirit, Sisters Today, and Soundings. He is Professor of English and Writer in Residence at Pellissippi State College in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Bill Brown is the author of three chapbooks, four collections of poetry and a writing textbook. His most recent titles are Late Winter (Iris Press 2008) and Tatters (March Street, 2007). During the past twenty years, he has published hundreds of poems and articles in college journals, magazines and anthologies. In 1999 Brown wrote and co-produced the Instructional Television Series, Student Centered Learning, for Nashville Public Television. He holds a degree in history from Bethel College and graduate degrees in English from the Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College and George Peabody College. For twenty years, Brown directed an award winning writing program at an academic magnet school in Nashville.  He retired in 2003 and accepted a part-time lecturer position at Vanderbilt University. In 1995 the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts awarded him The 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, and a two-time recipient of Fellowships in poetry from the Tennessee Arts Commission. He and his wife Suzanne live in the hills north of Nashville with a tribe of cats.

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 snacks before the morning sessions and Saturday lunch are included.
Participants will be limited to 20 per workshop. DEADLINE for registration is Jan. 7, 2010
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 - tear off and mail in with check.
   TMW/TWA JANUARY JUMPSTART X   Fri, Jan 15 - Sun, Jan 17, 2010
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 2010
P.O. Box 5435
Oak Ridge, TN  37831-5435


Tennessee Mountain Writers, Inc.

22nd Annual Conference

“Tennessee Wordsmiths”
March 25-27, 2010

DoubleTree Hotel, Oak Ridge, TN



Check www.tmwi.org to find out who are the Tennessee Wordsmiths, sign up for the conference, and start preparing contest entries and manuscript evaluations.


Learning Events presents
Darnell Arnoult's Extended Novel Course
A Novel Process: Six Weekends to a First Draft

Okay, that title is a little misleading!  Learning Events, in conjunction with novelist, poet, and long-time writing coach and instructor Darnell Arnoult, has put together an 18-month course based on the Arnoult Method and her Sublime Fiction Triangle.  The course is made up of six two day weekend workshops spread out over 18 months. Each workshop will focus on key steps from character development to scene construction to divining a plot, a structure, and identifying  themes organically present in the characters' experience. Each workshop will be hands on. Participants will receive method materials, instruction, and will also be asked to write and read and perform creative and evaluative assignments regarding their work and the writing process.  Each weekend, participants will be sent home with assignments and resources to use between workshops to take the manuscript from inception to a finished draft.  The instructor will be available for encouragement and questions in the interim.  Manuscript critique will be confined to discussion of process and discovery on the part of the writer and the limited laboratory and workshop readings during the six weekends. The instructor will not read manuscripts as part of the course. The goal is for participants to have a completed "learning draft" or first draft by the end of 18 months, or be well on the way to such a draft. However, reaching this goal will be dependent on the students' attendance at the workshops coupled with their follow through in the intervening weeks! Students will not be allowed to come into the course series after the first weekend, so we ask that those participants who wish to give this method a go make an informal but genuine commitment to the course for the long haul for their benefit and that of the other participants. The course is limited to 14 participants. It's like signing on for a cruise around the Cape of Good Hope.  You won't reach home if you get off early!

Darnell Arnoult is the author of the award-winning poetry collection What Travels With Us, published by LSU Press, and Sufficient Grace, a novel published in hardcover and paperback by Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.  Sufficient Grace is also available in unabridged audio from Recorded Books. Her short works have appeared in a variety of literary journals. She has been teaching writing for over 18 years at workshops and conferences including the Duke Writers Workshop and Duke Short Course Program.  She teaches workshops and coaches students from all over the Southeast.  Many students have written novel drafts based on her process, and some have gone on to attend the prestigious Sewanee Writers Workshop, been accepted to MFA programs, and began careers as published writers. 

Each workshop listed below will be conducted with the three legs of the Sublime Fiction Triangle in mind: character, action, language.

Weekend #1: WHO ARE YOUR PEOPLE? This weekend we use photographs and questions as well as some short assignments to develop characters and get at their experience.  Participants learn how to build a character from scratch or take a real person across the bridge to fictional character.  Participants come to a better understanding of the artist's need to collect and to contain for later use, how to manipulate real events to shape art, how to give away pieces of experience and observation to generate a new world, and the use of "quick writes" to find the path to a larger story.  We also cover the concept of writing toward a novel or story under the rubric of a "learning draft" and the role research plays in this process.

Weekend #2: WHERE THE HECK ARE WE? This weekend is a level two character development workshop, with the focus on characters and place, characters and community, and what impact place has on character and story.  As we come to further understand our characters and discover new ones, we also define the space the character moves out from and the environment of the possible story. We examine the roll of dialogue and setting as a means to create an illusion of existence-verisimilitude.

Weekend #3: WARNING! SCENE STORM APPROACHING!  This weekend we will hammer home the philosophies already articulated in previous workshops in this series: 1) You must write badly to write well. 2) The value of and commitment to short assignments and ugly first drafts (paraphrased from Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird) is crucial. 3) Writing is an act of faith.  4) No part of this process is a waste of time, whether it ends up in your book or not.

Weekend #4: CORRAL CRITICAL MASS (OR MESS)!  This weekend will be about evaluating your collected scenes and the tools related to this process.  Using a mapping system to identify and organize elements within the body of the work to-date, we look for the best possible plot points, structures, and themes organically present in the work. We employ a piece of the method to identify scene purpose, value, and strength. We explore possible revelations and epiphanies. Whose story is it, really?  Who should tell it, or how should it be told? Why is it important? Why does the story need to be told now?  Why do the characters do what they do? We identify holes that need filling and fat and suckers that need to be cut away. In essence, we will be searching for the beating heart of a book in a partially written, very rough semblance of a novel manuscript. At this point we will also discuss the individual writers' needs regarding linier and global mapping.

Weekend #5: SUPER CHARGE YOUR MUSCLE CAR.      This weekend's focus is revision at a deep level. This is not correction, but rather it is further development, deeper writing, layering of experience, adding new elements to take the work to a richer place. We are not looking under the hood to repair so much as to increase power and performance of character, action, language, plot, structure, voice, story, beginnings, endings, middles and so on.

Weekend #6: CIRCLE UP IN THE LOCKER ROOM.  This weekend focuses on what is required of a writer who wants to be published, on what to do now that you have a novel draft, or are close to a novel draft.  What does it mean to say you are a writer? What place does publication have in the life of a writer, if any? What is the role of rejection and revision for the writer who wants to be published? How must a writer think of revision and multiple revisions? How do you get helpful feedback? When do you know it's time to try for a public life for your work? What is a synopsis?  How should it appear on the page? What should a cover letter say?  How do you find an agent or an editor/publisher? What is the agent's role?  Why do you need one? What can you do to collect a few planks for your platform? How does publication affect your work?  How can you best approach working with an editor who has paid you for your book and now wants you to change it?  How will the possible market place affect your book and your life as a writer-or just your life in general?  What does it mean to be a writer as opposed to an "author"? What is a writing life, really? What happens if this novel doesn't get an agent or doesn't get published? What happens if it does get published but doesn't sell? In this final workshop, we talk about what to embrace, what to steer clear of, what to let roll off your back, and how to happily let an advanced manuscript do its job while you get back to yours.


March 20 - 21, 2010   Weekend #1: WHO ARE YOUR PEOPLE?

July 24 - 25, 2010        Weekend #2: WHERE THE HECK ARE WE?

Nov 13 - 14, 2010     Weekend #3: WARNING! SCENE STORM APPROACHING! 

Feb 12 - 13, 2011 Weekend #4: CORRAL CRITICAL MASS (OR MESS)!    

May 21 - 22, 2011       Weekend #5: SUPER CHARGE YOUR MUSCLE CAR.

Aug 20 - 21, 2011      Weekend #6: CIRCLE UP IN THE LOCKER ROOM. 

The cost of the workshop will be $225.00 per weekend due two weeks before each workshop. All workshops will be held in the former Orr Mountain Winery building between Sweetwater and Madisonville, Tenn.  Sessions will run 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 - 3:30 Sunday.  Morning snacks, coffee, hot tea, etc., will be available.  We will break for lunch from 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Saturday, 11:30 - 12:30 Sunday.  Soft drinks, water and lunch will be provided both days.  Saturday night dinner will be on your own, with a suggested restaurant of the day for those who want to eat with group members. 

The Magnuson Hotel, exit 60 off I-75, is offering a special rate of $58.00 per night for 1 - 2 people for course participants.  Extra people are $8.00 each.  Rooms at the Magnuson are equipped with refrigerators, microwaves, and wireless internet.  There is an indoor pool, a hot tub and free breakfast bar.  Mention Learning Events/Sue Richardson Orr when making reservations. Phone number is 423-337-3541.

Attendees will be asked to purchase The Glimmer Train Guide to Writing Fiction. 
Learning Events will work to have copies available for purchase at the first session if participants need them.

  ** Please e-mail Sue at theorrs@usit.net or call 423-420-1152 if you want to register. **
Workshop group is limited to 16.


REGISTRATION FORM for Extended Novel Workshop 6 week-end series:
First Session Date  - March 20 - 21, 2010                  Cost $225.00

Name_____________________________   e-mail __________________________

Address___________________________     phone __________________________

Check to Sue Richardson Orr enclosed for _____________

Mail to:
Sue Richardson Orr                
359 Pumpkin Hollow Rd
Madisonville, TN 37354
Sue Richardson Orr


Learning Events presents
                      Darnell Arnoult's Memoir TWO Workshop Series

                            "Taking Measure: A Course in Memoir"

What is memory?  How many stories does it take to tell a life?  Who wants to hear it?  In four weekend
sessions over twelve months, participants will explore the possibilities and limitations of memory, the exponential power of deliberate recall and the variety of forms memoir may take.

Weekend #1      Jan 23 - 24, 2010          
Weekend #2      Apr 10 - 11, 2010          
Weekend #3      Jul 17 - 18, 2010           
Weekend #4      Oct 23 - 24, 2010          
The cost of the workshop will be $225.00 per weekend, due two weeks before each workshop. All workshops will be held in the former Orr Mountain Winery building between Sweetwater and Madisonville, Tenn.  Sessions will run 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 - 3:00 Sunday.  Morning snacks, coffee, hot tea, soft drinks, water and lunch will be provided both days.  Lunch will be from 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Saturday, 11:30 - 12:30 Sunday.   Saturday night dinner will be on your own, with a suggested restaurant of the day for those who want to eat with group members. 
The Magnuson Hotel, exit 60 off I-75, is offering a special rate of $58.00 per night for 1 - 2 people for course participants.  Extra people are $8.00 each.  Rooms at the Magnuson are
equipped with refrigerators, microwaves, and wireless internet.  There is an indoor pool, a hot
tub and free breakfast bar.  Mention Learning Events/Sue Richardson Orr when making reservations. Phone number is 423-337-3541.

  ** Please e-mail Sue Richardson Orr at theorrs@usit.net or call 423-420-1152 if you need more information or want to register. **      

Workshop group is limited to 16.


REGISTRATION FORM for Memoir TWO Workshop Series
First Session Date  - Jan 23 - 24, 2010       Cost $225.00

Name_____________________________   e-mail __________________________
Address___________________________     phone __________________________

Check to Sue Richardson Orr enclosed for _____________
Mail to: Sue Richardson Orr                     
 359 Pumpkin Hollow Rd
 Madisonville, TN 37354    


Sue Richardson Orr





Judy DiGregorio is appearing in "Willy Wonka" at the Oak Ridge Playhouse. It opened November 20th and closes December 6th.  She describes the show as “wild, wacky, and wonderful. I am playing Grandma Georgina. I spend the entire show in bed with the other grandparents. It's a hoot!”

Jane Sasser’s latest book of poetry, Itinerant, is published by Finishing Line Books and is available at finishingline.com or at amazon.com.  It sells for $14. Jane says, “The whole idea behind the book is a "where I'm from, where I'm going" concept--hence the title.”

Please send news of your successes to me at mspenners@mac.com.

And finally… 

Welcome to the fifty-nine new members, who are receiving this newsletter for the first time.  We’re sorry it’s taken so long to connect to you, but now we have, we hope you’ll stay.