Tennessee Mountain Writers Newsletter

Spring 2010

 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE

On the middle-sized island of the northwest coast of Europe I come from, known as Great Britain, the weather is a constant topic of conversation.  Indeed, George Mikes, a Hungarian visiting journalist, trapped there by the Second World War, noted in his delightfully humorous book, How to be an Alien, that “this is an ever-interesting, even thrilling topic, and you must be good at discussing the weather” to have any chance of blending in.  Forget, he advised, your European youth when wanting to describe someone particularly boring, you would say, “He is the type who would discuss the weather with you.”

But, much as other nations like to have a condescending laugh at the British, they aren’t alone in their obsession with weather.  East Tennesseans have a good line in weather chat too.  I recall being told not long after I arrived here, “If you don’t like the weather, stick around.”  

Perhaps the reasons those other countries think discussing the weather is only for dullards have predictable weather systems that rarely do anything exciting.  Both Britain and East Tennessee have very unpredictable weather, so it’s worth commenting about.  I, for one, in years past, have witnessed snow in June, in Britain, followed by a summer-long heat wave starting the following week.  In my first winter in Oak Ridge, several inches of snow fell in mid-December, to be followed by seventy plus degrees on Christmas Day. Neither place, for the most part, is well prepared for more than a smattering of snow, which leads to traffic difficulties and school closings, dramas people from Montana or Switzerland find puzzling.   

This winter’s accumulations have been quite remarkable, as they have stayed around, not just for an hour or two after lunch, but for weeks.  Many of us have exchanged snow stories, about problems reversing out of steep, ice-laden drives, or just being missed by another vehicle sliding on uphill slope.  I don’t think this qualifies us as dull.

Both in fiction and nonfiction, writers can set a tone with the aid of weather conditions. Bill Bryson does this by giving his book about Australia the title, In a Sunburned Country. What would a Frankenstein story be without a thunderstorm? How would Dorothy get to Oz without a tornado? It’s not surprising, that we all know the first, and only memorable, words of Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s novel, Paul Clifford, even if we don’t recognize either name.  It begins, "It was a dark and stormy night…”  We know that whatever happens next isn’t going to be a friendly cocktail party. A.A. Milne, in Winnie-the-Pooh, included a flood in the Hundred Acre Wood.  The chapter begins with the atmospheric words, “It rained and it rained and it rained…” giving the sense of relentless downpours, and so set up the chance for Pooh to become a hero by saving Piglet from the torrent. 

A snowstorm can be a device to keep characters isolated, or in danger.  Agatha Christie used it in her extremely long running play, The Mousetrap—24,000 performances in London’s West End, and still running.  The inability of the characters to leave a country hotel, knowing a murderer is on his way, and then among them, adds to the tension and terror.

In the movies Twister and The Perfect Storm, the weather events might be seen as characters themselves. Tornadoes and a hurricane are seen as if they are evil villains out to destroy the heroes.

Weather conditions don’t have to presage ferocity. Two poems demonstrate the peace that can settle over the landscape in winter and extend to those inside, warm and safe. Snow in the Suburbs, by Thomas Hardy, describes how the white stuff makes “Every street and pavement mute”, before he takes in a stray cat. In Frost at Midnight, Samuel Taylor Coleridge addresses his sleeping infant, beside the late-night embers.  A beautiful, intimate setting, emphasized by the silence of the frost outside “Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.”

Would Mikes have said all these authors were dull?  Was Robert Frost dull?  After all, he wrote Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.  Was Shakespeare dull?  He wrote a play called The Tempest.  What about the composer Giuseppe Verdi? Was he dull?  He began one of his greatest operas, Otello, with a terrible musical storm.  I have had the privilege of hearing that storm rage, live, under the baton of James Levine at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and on a cassette tape while driving up dark mountains in Italy, heading towards Verdi’s birthplace.  Both times, I expected to see lightening and tumultuous waves crash down on me at any moment. 

Maybe that’s the nub.  Writers—like composers—must show the weather, not just talk about it.  As Verdi used brass, tympani and chorus to make his tempest real, writers must use nouns, verbs and adjectives to do the same.  To say it was a dark and stormy night doesn’t mean anything if the author doesn’t go on to describe the roaring of the wind or the pounding of the rain.

Whatever tales we told about the snow, most of us are happy to start relating to our friends the progress of crocuses opening to the sun, and they seem far from bored.  We’re beginning to believe what Percy Bysshe Shelley posed in his Ode to the West Wind, “If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”

We writers can add, “And Tennessee Mountain Writers Conference.”  If you haven’t registered yet, for the conference, to be held at the DoubleTree Hotel, in Oak Ridge, from March 25th-27th 2010, there’s still time.  Check the website www.tmwi.org/ for details and registration forms.

Margaret Pennycook

_____________________________________

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE

Conference time approaches!  As I write this, our opening reception is just a little more than a month away, and your TMW Board is hard at work finalizing all the arrangements for what we hope will be another great experience for everyone who attends.

As you’re probably aware, this year’s conference, “Tennessee Wordsmiths,” will feature an all-Tennessee faculty, If you haven’t already sent in your registration, now is the time-it must be postmarked by March 17, 2010 to qualify for the reduced rate for full participant or day classes fees.  And if you’ve misplaced your brochure, you can find the registration form and all the conference info on our website, www.tmwi.org.

Our excitement about the conference is tempered this year by sad news: Our dear friend and past TMW Board Chair Joy Margrave passed away February10, 2010.  To say that we will miss Joy is an understatement indeed--she was one of the original East Tennessee Writers, and as such was heavily involved with the formation of TMW and with the conference from its early days more than 20 years ago.  Joy served as Board Chair from 1999 until 2005.  She was a valued mentor to me as I succeeded her in the position, and continued to provide guidance and input until just about a month before her death.  She has left a lasting imprint on this organization and on the conference, and neither will be quite the same without her.*

We hope to see you all at the conference.

Carol Grametbauer

*Extra Editor’s Note
Joy had a terrific sense of humor, and forgave me for subheading one of her Christmas Chairman’s Messages “Joy to the World,” but it so suited her.

 _____________________________________ 

EVENTS 

Tennessee Mountain Writers Conference will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel, in Oak Ridge, from March 25th-27th 2010.  The slate of speakers includes SamVenable, Banquet Speaker, John Egerton, Non Fiction, JT Ellison, Fiction, Katy Koontz, Editing, Candie Moonshower, Writing for Children and Young People, Linda Parsons Marion, Poetry, Matt Bales, Videography, K'Cindra Cavin, Internet Research, Charlie Daniel, Cartooning, Jennie Ivey, Column Writing, and The Gap House Writers, Starting a Critique Group.  More information about speakers, schedules and registration will be found—as you know by now—at our website www.tmwi.org

Board Member Vicki Brumback says if you are coming to the conference remember to bring “used books/magazines to support the Don Scalf Memorial Scholarship Fund.”

 

Learning Events for 2010

ONE DAY WORKSHOPS                    

**NOTE DATE CHANGE FOR INA HUGHS WORKSHOP

Sat, Aug 28 (was May 1) “Putting the right word in the right order…”Ina Hughs

Whether writing fiction, poetry, memoir or personal narrative - this is the trick. We will discuss what this means, and, using examples from other accomplished poets and writers, we will work off specific assignments designed to help make our writing sing off the page.

Sat, June 26            Poetry 101/ The Basics                                       Connie Jordan Green

Villanelle, pantoum, sestina, ghazal -- does this sound like a foreign shopping list? Do you wonder why poets break lines where they do, what constitutes a stanza? Poetry 101 will examine poetic forms and techniques, and will take a quick peek into the mind of a poet. Come spend a day reading, writing, and discussing what makes poetry poetry.

Sat, Aug 14 Poetry/Prompts and Challenges                             Bill Brown

Once more Bill will fill your day with prompts, challenges and writing opportunities.  Participants will receive positive critiques and comments, peer reaction and enough started, partial, or “nearly finished” poems to keep you busy for weeks.  (This class is full.  You may join the waiting list.)

Sat, Sept 11            Point of View                                                                Darnell Arnoult      

In this workshop we will identify all the technical aspects of POV having to do with pronouns, numbers, positions, acumen, as well as the artistic elements, and explore how these facets work with other aspects of craft to create the confident story voice, the voice that calls the reader to the page 

Sun, Sept 12           Lessons on Group Manuscript Critique              Darnell Arnoult

In this workshop we articulate basic goals, employ proven guidelines, and practice effective techniques to help members productively give and receive critique of their manuscripts, whether the works are shared in the traditional workshop format or the works are read and critiqued aloud.

 

All workshops will be held in the former Orr Mountain Winery building between

Sweetwater and Madisonville, Tennessee, 1.3 miles off Hwy 68.

Registration fee is $85.00        Lunch is provided.       Workshop groups are limited to 16.

Coffee, hot tea, soft drinks, water will be available.  Workshops run 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m..

Registration form at the end of this notice

These are writing workshops.  Come with pens, pencils, lots of paper and eager minds!

** Please e-mail Sue at theorrs@usit.net or call 423-420-1152 if you plan to attend.**

REGISTRATION FORM FOR

_________________  WORKSHOP _________ DATE  _____________  WORKSHOP _________ DATE 

_________________  WORKSHOP _________ DATE  _____________  WORKSHOP _________ DATE 

Name_____________________________ e-mail __________________________

Address___________________________                 phone __________________________

____________________________

Check enclosed to Sue Richardson Orr for _____________

Mail to: Sue Richardson Orr

359 Pumpkin Hollow Rd

Madisonville, TN 37354

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: SUPERCHARGE 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.

 

DETAILS:

THIS WILL BE THE FOURTH SESSION OF THE EXTENDED NOVEL WORKSHOPS.

WORKSHOP DATES FOR “NOVEL FOUR:”     

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: SUPERCHARGE 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.

                                           

  PLEASE NOTE:

                        COMMITMENT FOR PAYMENT OF

                 $1350.00 FOR ALL 6 WEEKENDS IS REQUIRED

         

REGISTRATION FORM for Extended Novel Workshop 6 weekend 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

 

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.

April 10 – 11, 2010        Weekend #1

July 17 – 18, 2010         Weekend #2

Oct 23 – 24, 2010 Weekend #3

 Jan 22 - 23, 2011          Weekend#4

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.

 

                                                PLEASE NOTE:

                        COMMITMENT FOR PAYMENT OF $900.00

   FOR ALL 4 WEEKENDS IS REQUIRED

 

REGISTRATION FORM for Memoir TWO Workshop Series

First Session Date  –        April 10 – 11, 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                

 

The Writers Institute, four days of intensive workshops on fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plot and more at the Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College, May 5th-8th, 2010.  More information at www.flcenterlitarts.com.

 

The Tennessee Arts Commission is partnering with CoolPeopleCare, Inc., to present five social media workshops in May. The Commission is making advanced training available for Tennessee arts organizations that are utilizing social media as part of their marketing strategy. Social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, are an effective and affordable method of communication for arts groups.   These workshops are not for beginners.

Workshops are scheduled for:

      Memphis – Germantown Performing Arts Center, May 4

      Chattanooga – CreateHere, May 6 

      Nashville – Nashville Children’s Theater, May 10 

      Knoxville – The Arts & Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville, May 12 

      Kingsport – Renaissance Center, May 13

Time: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Registration: FREE, but limited to 25 participants for each session (only one representative from each organization).

 

This opportunity is limited to nonprofit arts organizations.

 

_____________________________________

 

MEMBER NEWS

 

Cathy Smith Bowers has been the poetry speaker at Tennessee Mountain Writers Conference several times, most recently last year. Governor Beverly E. Perdue has appointed her poet laureate for North Carolina. The ceremony took place at the State Capitol on February 10, 2010.

Cathy teaches in the UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program and in the M.F.A. program at Queens University of Charlotte where she received the 2002 J.B. Fuqua Distinguished Educator Award.  She also received the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Award given by the North Carolina Poetry Society in 2006 and 2007.  All four of Cathy’s collections have been published by Oak Ridge publisher, Robert B Cumming, and his Iris Publishing Group, Inc.