Tennessee Mountain Writers, Inc.

Fall 2011 Newsletter

Editor’s Note

“The Write Stuff,” proclaim the grey letters on my maroon T-shirt.  It’s from one of Tennessee Mountain Writers, Inc. conferences.  I have a number of others.  A navy blue one that says, “Yeah, Write,” and a beige one with green letters wishing, “Metaphors be with you.”  Many of you will have some of these and more. Next year’s conference slogan is “Write This Minute.” I enjoy such word play. The novels of Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde appeal to me for this very reason. 

I also enjoy browsing catalogues, which offer shirts bearing all sorts of witticisms.  It’s one of the small things that amuse my little brain. Some of my favorites include, “I used to be indecisive.  Now I’m not so sure.” and “Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.”   

Perhaps, like me, you have received gifts of themed shirts from friends because of your interest in writing, such as, “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.”  As writers, many of you love books and so have clothing decorated by Edward Gorey drawings and statements, like, “There’s no such thing…as too many books.”

In recent months, I’ve been attracted to one particular model.  It declares, “There.  Their.  They’re not the same.”  I like the way it combines the comforting chant we often use with the distressed, with a far from soothing message.  It’s more of an exasperated rant.

I promise you, I’ve never been a member of the Grammar Police, nor their subdivisions, the Punctuation and Spelling Units. I was shocked to learn, while studying the history of education, at college, that much so-called English grammar had been imposed on the language by the tutors to sons of the English aristocracy.  They overlaid Latin grammar on the native speech patterns in order to make it easier for these poor boys to learn the ancient ones. 

 Most of us are familiar with Winston Churchill’s supposed remark, that using awkward English to prevent ending a sentence with a preposition was a situation, “up with which I will not put.”   I agree with the sentiment, though, I confess, I do try to avoid ending sentences with prepositions.

Writing dialogue for fictional characters requires relaxing the rules of grammar.  Few of us speak in perfect sentences, like William F. Buckley, Jr., used to do. Off the stage, no one speaks like Shakespeare’s or Chaucer’s characters.  In their times, people did.  Language is fluid.  It adapts through time.  How much longer will people say, “telephone?” 

 For me, language exists to serve us, not for us to be its slave.  Yet, I have found myself, of late, becoming more irritated by poor grammar and the misuse of punctuation.

It’s true; I have been exposed to the writing of those unfiltered by editors, thanks to the internet.  Commenters dashing off quick responses on blogs do not have the advantage of a more reflective process, and typos are easy to make, but not since I used to mark hundreds of pupil essays a week have I seen so many errors.  There, their, and there are sometimes used interchangeably.  A similar complaint could be made about where, were and wear, and your and you’re.

Even worse are those in politics and the media, for whom language usage is part of their jobs.  Mangling the language has become habitual for them.  We’re told we feel something or other “in our heart.”  “Agreement,” I yell.    Or, “Fewer, not less.”  Should a journalist employ the word if and follow it with was, I shake my head with despair.

Perhaps I’m being to hard on those I’ve complained about here.  (And the rule is a comment about mistakes usually contains some howler of its own.)  Perhaps poor usage can be blamed on computers.  Revising a novel this summer, I found the Word Tools, Spelling and Grammar, frequently told me to change things incorrectly.  Such as when I wrote, “it’s” for “it is” or “it has”, the function told me to change it to “its.”  If I wrote, “its”, to imply belonging, I was told to insert an apostrophe. For the word “commenters” above, and here, the program suggests I add an apostrophe before the s.   Its record on agreement isn’t always stellar.  I listed three items, in an earlier draft of this piece, followed by “are”, and was advised to change it to “is.”

Communication is the purpose of language and being grammatically accurate isn’t always necessary, but easing understanding is part of that process.  That‘s where the regulations are useful in providing clarity.  Sometimes, they just add to the variety and beauty of the English language.

It’s possible that talking back to the radio or television is just a sign that I’ve experienced more birthdays than in the past.  I almost swooned recently listening to NPR’s All Things Considered.  Host Robert Siegel has a delicious voice.  He is also a consummate professional, as I have witnessed first hand in the ATC studio.  Neither was the reason I stopped still between my kitchen and dining room.  In the course of an interview, he said, “Prevented, by whom?”

Such a rarity, no wonder I almost fanned myself.  I ought to have his brief, but excellent, question printed on a T-shirt.

Margaret Pennycook


Chairman’s Message

Another autumn is approaching, and your TMW Board has spent the summer organizing a full slate of events for 2011-12.  We’ll kick things off on Saturday, October 29, when TMW member and past board member Judy DiGregorio will present our Fall Workshop, “Finding Your Funny Bone” (see details and registration information below).  If you’re a humor writer, or an aspiring humor writer, this is the workshop for you.  If you’ve never considered writing humor, a morning with Judy might change your mind; at the very least, with Judy as the leader you can count on it being entertaining!

January Jumpstart XII is coming up on January 13-15, 2012, at the Magnuson Hotel in Sweetwater. Cary Holladay, the author of five volumes of fiction and a faculty member at the University of Memphis, will lead our fiction track; poetry will be led by Marianne Worthington, associate professor of Communication at University of the Cumberlands.  With these two great instructors, registration is likely to fill up quickly, so don’t delay in getting your name on the list.

The theme of our 24th annual conference, set for March 29-31, 2012, is “Write This Minute.”  As always, we’ve got a great faculty lined up.  Novelist and essayist Lorraine Lopez will be our general session speaker and banquet speaker; our other principal presenters will include Joseph Bathanti, fiction; Karen McElmurray, nonfiction; Rita Quillen, poetry; Doris Gove, writing for young people; and Katy Koontz, editing.  Our specialty sessions will include social media (Terri Brooks), e-book publishing (Charles Connor), “How to be a Writer without a Publisher” (Dac Crossley), book promotion (Lynda and James O’Connor), and songwriting (Karen Reynolds).  Watch the website (www.tmwi.org) a little later this year for schedule and registration information.  And for those of you who like to mark your calendars well in advance, our 2013 conference is scheduled for April 4-6.

To each and every member of our TMW family, have a wonderful fall, and I hope to see you at one or more of our events over the coming months!

Carol Grametbauer


All sorts of goodies for writers––conference, workshops and more!

Thanks to Sue Richardson Orr for compiling this information about TMW’s Fall Workshop and January Jumpstart.  Sue asked me to stress the change from previous years concerning the motel’s provision for January Jumpstart.  She said, THE MOTEL NO LONGER HAS A BREAKFAST BUFFET AND A DINNER BUFFET. NOTE THE NEW MOTEL RATE- $39.99 + tax.”  Hope that’s loud enough. 



Finding Your Funny Bone


Saturday, October 29, 2011     9:30A.M. – 12:30 P.M.

United Way of Anderson County Office                                                          161 Robertsville Rd, Oak Ridge, TN


Judy DiGregorio will present a workshop that will, through humorous readings and short writing assignments, explore the purpose of humor, review the different types and styles of humor,  help us learn what makes us laugh, and identify possible markets for humor writing.

Judy DiGregorio is a humor columnist whose work has appeared in THE ARMY TIMES, CHICKEN SOUP BOOKS, THE WRITER, BYLINE MAGAZINE, and numerous anthologies and other publications. She is the author of LIFE AMONG THE LILLIPUTIANS and MEMORIES OF A LOOSE WOMAN from Celtic Cat Publishing. Southern Festival of Books invited her as guest speaker in 2009 and 2010.  Judy's new CD, JEST JUDY, with stories from both her books, was recently released by Celtic Cat.

The workshop will run from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.  Coffee, tea, soft drinks, and morning snacks are included.   Registration fee is $40.00.   Participants will be limited to 18.   Send registration form and check to TMWI address below.

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

For additional information: please check our website: www.tmwi.org/events                                     





January 13-15, 2012   

Magnuson Hotel, Sweetwater, TN

What??  Again??  Yep, it’s time…  to mark your calendars for January Jumpstart XII on January 13 - 15, 2012, at the Magnuson Hotel (formerly Best Western) in Sweetwater, TN, at exit 60 off I-75. Our Fiction workshop leader will be Cary Holladay and Marianne Worthington 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.

Cary Holladay is the author of five volumes of fiction: A Fight in the Doctor’s Office (Miami UP 2008); The Quick-Change Artist: Stories (Swallow Press / Ohio UP 2006); Mercury (Shaye Areheart Books / Crown 2002); The Palace of Wasted Footsteps (U Missouri Press 1998); and The People Down South (U of Illinois Press 1989).   Her work has appeared numerous times in New Stories From the South: The Year’s Best.  Her awards include an O. Henry Prize and fellowships from the arts councils of Pennsylvania and Tennessee, and from the National Endowment for the Arts.  A native of Virginia, Cary Holladay teaches creative writing at the University of Memphis, where she is Associate Professor of English, Director of the River City Writers Series, and a First Tennessee Professor.

Marianne Worthington, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, is a poet and educator living in Whitley County, Kentucky, since 1990. Her poetry chapbook, Larger Bodies Than Mine (Finishing Line Press, 2006), won the 2007 Appalachian Book of the Year in Poetry Award. She is editor of Motif 1: Writing By Ear, An Anthology of Writings About Music (2009) and Motif 2: Come What May, An Anthology of Writings About Chance (2010) for MotesBooks in Louisville.  Worthington is poetry editor for Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine and co-founder and poetry editor for the online literary journal Still: The Journal. She is associate professor of Communication and Journalism at University of the Cumberlands. Worthington’s essays, reviews, poetry and feature articles have been published widely and anthologized most recently in The Southern Poetry Anthology: Volume III Contemporary Appalachia, Women.Period, and Cornbread Nation 5. She received the Berea College Appalachian Music Fellowship for 2009, the Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council in 2008, an Individual Artist Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women in 2007, and the Denny C. Plattner Award for Nonfiction in 2007. Recently she was awarded the James Baker Hall Memorial Prize in Poetry, sponsored by New Southerner magazine.

              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. 6, 2012

For additional information: please check our website at www.tmwi.org/events or contact: Sue Richardson Orr - email: “theorrs@usit.net”




March 29-31, 2012   

DoubleTree Hotel, Oak Ridge, TN

Mark it on your computer’s calendar, in your 2012 diary, or in a note on your refrigerator for March 29-31, 2012, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Oak Ridge, TN. 

Here is the list of speakers.

General Session & Banquet Speaker- Lorraine Lopez

Poetry - Rita Quillen

Fiction - Joe Bathanti 

Creative Nonfiction - Karen McElmurray 

Writing for Young People - Doris Gove 

Editing - Katy Koontz 

Special Session on Social Media - Terri Grigsby Brooks

Special Session on Songwriting - Karen Reynolds 

Special Session on Promoting Your Nonfiction Book through Publicity and Marketing - Linda & James O'Connor 

Special Session on E-book Publishing - Charles Connor 

Special Session on How to Be a Writer without a Publisher - Dac Crossley

Banquet speaker - Lorraine Lopez 

Check our website tmwi.org/events for updates on the schedule.

While you are making notes on your calendar, add the submission date for the competition, February 1, 2012.  It’s never to early to plan your entries. For a list of the 2011 winners, go to http://www.tmwi.org/Annual%20Conference/11tmwwinners.html.  Remember to spread the word of our student competition to anyone in the education field you can.




(This MFA Information was sent to TMW by Jason Hill of Spalding University. We’re passing it on, as asked, as a service.)

Spalding University's four-semester, brief-residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing combines superb instruction with unparalleled flexibility and offers studies in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, writing for children and young adults, screenwriting, and playwriting. At the beginning of each semester, students and faculty study together at a 10-day residency (in Louisville or abroad), after which students return home to study independently with a faculty mentor through an exchange of 5 packets of original writing. Semesters begin in spring, summer, and fall.

For more information, email: mfa@spalding.edu<mailto:mfa@spalding.edu>, call: (800) 896-8941, ext 2423, or see our website: www.spalding.edu/mfa<http://www.spalding.edu/mfa>.

Here's a bit of information about us: Spalding University has been around since 1814 and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The MFA Program is a member of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). The MFA program began in 2001 and has 363 alumni and 155 students. Our students and alums have published or produced more than 200 books/plays/films. We offer flexible scheduling where students may begin their studies at different times of the year and take up to 10 years to complete the program. The program includes a summer residency abroad (London/Bath 2008; Barcelona, 2009; Buenos Aires, 2010; Rome/Tuscany, 2011; Paris, 2012; Galway/Dublin 2013 . . .

You can link to our program: http://www.spalding.edu/mfa


“Just thought I would let you know I'm now Editor-at-Large with Southern Writers Magazine http://www.southernwritersmagazine.com and we are a magazine that promotes novelists' books and helps famous authors as well as emerging authors learn how to market and promote their work.

Authors we feature have to be from the South, have lived in the South and moved, or they can write in a southern style and still be considered in the articles on blogging. We will have a contest at some point.

So when you have a chance, check us out.

Some of the authors we have in line for interviews are:

          1) Andy Andrews - with over 20 books and 4 White House invitations by the last 4 presidents  
          2) John J. Koblas - author of 70 books and historian
          3) Agent Terry Burns with 40 books
          4) Natasha Trethewey - a PulitzerPrize winning poet,
                ...and many more in the works.

We'll be discussing issues like publishing traditional or self-publishing and whether or not to publish e-books.

It will be a magazine where authors can announce their upcoming books and will be from Christian and secular authors from the South who will explain how and what they are doing to sell their books in this economy.

We'll soon have an online bookstore as well, a radio author talk show, audio, and much more.

It's also a great spot to place ads for any authors who want the public to know about their books.

If any authors are promoting their books in exceptional ways and being successful while doing it, I want to hear from them.”

Vickie Moss


Member News

Connie Green reports, “I have a poem in the most recent Potomac Review and have 3 poems coming out in the new Knox Writers’ Guild anthology. I also have a poem forthcoming in the next Now & Then, but you may want to hold that until the winter newsletter. I’ll be on a panel at SFOB at 2:00 Friday afternoon, Oct. 14, in the Capitol Library. It would be great to have some of our TMW members there!”

Jane Sasser says, “I won first place in short fiction, second place in novel first chapter, and fourth place in nonfiction in the Alabama Writers' Conclave contest. I won first place in flash fiction and first and second places in poetry in the Knoxville Writers' Guild contest. My students won all the student poetry awards and honorable mentions in KWG. I will be doing the 3rd annual Henrietta Jenkins Poetry reading at Carson Newman College for Homecoming weekend on October 22.”

Carol Grametbauer’s poem, "When the House Came Down," won second place in free-verse poetry in the Alabama Writers Conclave contest. 

Melanie Harless has sold several articles to the magazine Travel through History.

Congratulations to all and particular plaudits to Jane Sasser for encouraging a new generation of writers.

If you have any news about your writing you’d like to share, please send it to me at mspenners@mac.com.