Tennessee Mountain Writers, Inc.
Late Summer Newsletter


Fans of Jane Austen lament that she only published six books in her life.  Given the attitudes to women in early 19th century England, Janeophiles are lucky to have so many.  I am most impressed by the fact that she could write her witty observations of society by hand, using, no doubt, a quill pen.  Even if Anthony Trollope had used a fountain pen to record his mammoth tomes, later in that century, it could have been a messy experience.

When I was at school, we still used ink-filled fountain pens for our "good" work, which were modern marvels compared to Austen's tool.  (Biros, or ballpoint pens, were signs of a sloppy mind.)  We always had to write our essays and compositions in pencil first, in our "rough" books, before copying them onto the thicker, smoother paper of our exercise books.  Though I can see the educational point, I found this tedious in the extreme.  I thought out my sentences carefully the first time, used an eraser to make alterations, and, in those days, I was a competent speller, so those kind of errors were few.  Then, I had to write out the whole thing-usually several pages-again.  I was a painfully slow writer, and a not particularly elegant one.  My hand could not keep up with the thoughts surging through my head and searching for a way out.  I made errors in the second version because I wasn't handy with the instrument.  (I could hand sew beautifully, so it wasn't a question of dexterity.  The brain process for shaping letters was impaired.) My "good" book carried blotches, crossings out and smudges, where my hand had brushed not yet dry ink.  I always finished my work with an ink-stained forefinger.

I have heard people say that a computer won't make you a better writer.  I disagree.  The lovely light touch needed to press the keys marks an advance on the typewriter, even electric ones, and the ability to add, remove or replace single words and paragraphs, or reorder entire chapters, means the effort goes into honing the syntax and the flow of the story, not the shape of the letters. 

Technology has brought so many changes to the way we write. Though I've always enjoyed research, finding references in a book, or original document, and still do, the incredible access to information the internet has brought is stunning. Dictionaries, encyclopedias and all manner of sources lie at our fingertips. It is so much easier to write about what we would like to know, than just what we know.

What I don't think a computer can do is make you a writer, if you aren't one in the first place.  If you don't have an overwhelming urge to express yourself using words, if you don't pay attention to their meanings, their sounds and even their shapes, perhaps you aren't a writer, just someone who uses a computer.

Having said all that, using my iBook G4, probably for the last time, before I switch to my bright new MacBook Pro, with its newfangled version of Word, I'll make a confession. I compose almost all my prose at the keyboard, but when I set out to write a poem, my preferred materials are a pad of lined paper and a very sharp, really sharp, pencil.  There's something satisfying about the tactile nature of the process. 

Maybe Trollope and Austen had a similar relationship with their quills.  I'm amazed, when I look at old documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, and note it is devoid of blots and scratched words.  Perhaps the writers of the past used long thought processes to take place before they dipped and put nib to paper, and hence produced memorable words and sentences. Ah, but if only Austen had tapped away on her own laptop, maybe she would have had time and energy to complete a few more masterpieces.

Margaret Pennycook


It's amazing how little time elapses between the end of one TMW year in April and the beginning of the planning and preparation for the next!  Your TMW Board of Directors has been hard at work since early May, laying the groundwork for our 2009-10 events.

We're putting a different twist on our Fall Workshop this year.  At the suggestion of a young 2009 conference attendee, we're planning an event on September 26 geared to high school students in Anderson, Loudon, Morgan and Roane counties.  Award-winning poet and novelist (and retired teacher) Jane Hicks will lead the workshop, which will include a morning of writing poetry and an afternoon of writing fiction.  Letters have gone out to English teachers at the high schools in those counties, asking them to recommend students with writing potential; we will then offer places in the workshop to the first 15 students who respond. 

Mark your calendars now for January Jumpstart X, coming up on January 15-17, 2010, at the Magnuson Hotel in Sweetwater!  Our poetry track will be led by Bill Brown, fiction by Ed Francisco.  Warning: several people have already registered, so check out the registration information below and make your plans.  Don't be left out in the cold in January!

An all-Tennessee faculty will be featured at our 22nd Annual Conference, "Tennessee Wordsmiths," scheduled for March 25-27, 2010, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Oak Ridge.  The slate of speakers is nearly complete: see the information below, and watch the web site for schedule and registration information.  Plan to join us for "TN in '10"!

We've welcomed two new members to the TMW board this year.  Melanie Harless, retired librarian for Oak Ridge Schools, was elected to the board at our annual meeting in April.  And author and book reviewer Christy Tillery French was approved by the board in July to fill the unexpired term of Joni Lovegrove, who submitted her resignation in May.  Re-elected to new three-year terms in April were Vicki Brumback, Beverly and Charles Connor, Joyce McDonald, Mona Raridon, Jane Sasser, and myself.  And continuing their terms this year are K'Cindra Cavin, Steve Dekanich, Connie Green, Wanda Grooms, Daniel Leonard, Ruth Ann Maddux, Joy Margrave, Sue Richardson Orr, Dorothy Senn, Wes Sims, and Judy Van Winkle.  Each of these people plays an invaluable role in planning and carrying out our activities, and I so much appreciate all their work.

I would be remiss if I didn't once more express special appreciation also to past board member Margaret Pennycook for continuing to produce and distribute this newsletter.  Thanks, Margaret! 

To each member of our TMW family, enjoy the upcoming Fall, and keep writing!  I hope to see you at Jumpstart in January, and at the conference in March.

Carol Grametbauer



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 27-29, 2010, DoubleTree Hotel, Oak Ridge.

This will be an all-Tennessee faculty.  It will include:
Poetry- Linda Parsons Marion
Non-fiction - John Egerton
Fiction - JT Ellison
Writing for Young People - Candie Moonshower
Editing - Katy Koontz
Special Sessions -Charlie Daniel, Cartooning; Jennie Ivey, Column Writing; Matt Bales, Videography.  We'll also have a Special Session on Starting a Critique Group, to be presented by The Gap House Writers (Sylvia Woods, Denton Loving, Sylvia Lynch, and Donna McClanahan).

There may be another Special Session as well, but it's not finalized yet.

Our banquet speaker will be Knoxville News Sentinel columnist and author Sam Venable.  Check the website tmwi.org for updates.


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



TMW friend, former board member, and 2009 Sue Ellen Hudson Award winner Shannon Collins is received an Outstanding Faculty Award from Tennessee Tech.  And we can say we knew him when!

A creative nonfiction piece by Melanie Harless is being published in Muscadine Lines.

One of Jane Sasser's poems won the Number One poetry contest.  Jane's second chapbook, Itinerant, will be released in October by Finishing Line Press.  She won first place in fiction in the Alabama Writers' Conclave competition.

Judy DiGregorio will be a panelist at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville in October, and will be selling and signing her book Life Among the Lilliputians.

Connie Green, Melanie Harless, and Jane Sasser all recently had pieces printed in Motif.

Mona Raridon's poetry collection, A Touch of Wry, was published in April.  The book was reviewed in Ina Hughs' Knoxville News Sentinel column.

Beverly Connor's newest book is Scattered Graves.  Also recently released were a large-print British edition of Beverly's Dead Guilty, and a hardback German collection that includes One Grave Too Many and Dead Guilty.

Rebecca Carroll recently published a book called Milk Glass Moon.  She says, "It is historical fiction, based on my dad's family's experiences as they had to move out of pre-Oak Ridge to make room for the Manhattan Project."

TMWI member Richard Modlin's recent book, Chasing Wings, Birding Exploits and Encounters, was selected as a Finalist for the ForeWord Magazine  2008 Book of the Year Award in nature writing.  To learn more about the book, please visit <http://www.richardmodlin.com>.

Congratulations to all.  If you have a success you'd like to share with TMW, send me an email at mspenners@mac.com.  I'll try and include it in the next newsletter, later in the fall.  The same is true for information about contests or events connected to writing. Thanks.

While I put together this newsletter, it couldn't be done without the help of Carol Grametbauer, Sue Richardson Orr and Vicki Brumback.

Whether you write your masterpieces with a quill, a ballpoint or a computer, keep writing and get ready to enter our next competition, deadline February 1st, 2010, and encourage those around you to so too, especially high school students.

Keep in touch.