Tennessee Mountain Writers
Newsletter - March 2012

Editor’s Note
Margaret Pennycook

Would you like to know how to write the best opening line in the world? I confess, I once won an honorable mention in a “Worst opening paragraph” competition, and had much fun doing so.  The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/) is famous—or infamous—for encouraging such outrageous behavior.  By drawing attention to intentionally poor writing—often so poor, it is hilarious—these contests actually celebrate the importance of first lines. We all need good opening lines, whether we write fiction or nonfiction, plays or poetry.  Every piece needs to grab the reader, or listener, at the beginning, just like the hook it is named after.

The late Queen of the Paranormal Romance, Becky Lee Weyrich, stated at one workshop that, in her opinion, one of the best opening lines ever belonged to Ken Follett.  He begins his 1980 novel, The Key to Rebecca, with a six-word sentence.  “The last camel died at noon.”  Becky argued that Follett conveyed both setting and dilemma in those few words, drawing the reader into the story immediately, and thus earning her vote.  Others would plump for Charles Dickens’, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” from A Tale of Two Cities, since that is a universal truth of the human condition, expressed so succinctly.

News articles usually have headlines as hooks.  “Opposition, to Its Surprise, Wins a Bit of Power in Moscow,” a New York Times headline from March 8, 2012, is a little longer than Follett’s opening line, but carries both setting and intrigue.  Of course, the article writer does not provide the headline, so Michael Schwirtz should be grateful to the editor who did. 

Poets write the titles for their own poems, and sometimes, these hooks are also first lines in disguise.  Former Tennessee Mountain Writers conference speaker, Cathy Smith Bowers, has several fascinating titles in her poetry collection, A Book of Minutes, among them, “By the Time We Get to Athens, I’m Going to Look Like a Greek God.”  In Billy Collins book, Sailing Alone Around the Room, one poem is called “Reading an Anthology of Chinese Poems of the Sung Dynasty, I Pause to Admire the Length and Clarity of Their Titles.”  Brevity is not the virtue here in either case, yet both have appeal.

Plays have a different dynamic, given an audience has made some kind of commitment to give the drama a chance, before walking out, but the writer still has to make the case for the audience to stay from the beginning.

Of course, the beginning is just that.  It must be followed by a narrative that keeps the reader engaged, for the rest of the poem, the article or the novel.

I can’t promise you will learn how to write the best opening line ever at TMW Annual Conference in the last days of March, but I can guarantee there will be all sorts of opportunities to improve a variety of skills, as well as the delightful experience of conversations with other writers.  I hope to see you there.  If you do create the best opening line ever as a result of your attendance, I’d love to hear about it.

Chairman’s Message
Carol Grametbauer

We’re coming into the home stretch, with the 2012 conference just a couple of weeks away!  We have a strong lineup of presenters this year and are looking forward to kicking things off at the opening reception March 29.  If you haven’t already sent in your registration form, don’t delay—it must be postmarked by March 15 to qualify for the reduced rate for full participant or one-day fees.  If you didn’t get a conference brochure in the mail, or if you’ve misplaced yours, all the details plus registration form are here on our web site, www.tmwi.org.  

We had another well-attended and successful January Jumpstart this year, with Cary Holladay leading the fiction track and Marianne Worthington leading poetry.  Thanks go to Special Events Chair Sue Orr and her committee—Vicki Brumback, Joyce McDonald, and Ron Lands—for their hard work in keeping things running smoothly.  They’ve already laid the plans for next year: Our Jumpstart XIII fiction leader will be Darnell Arnoult, novelist, Writer-in-Residence at Lincoln Memorial University, and a TMW board member; TMW Advisory Board member Bill Brown, author of numerous chapbooks and poetry collections, will be back to lead the poetry track.  Jumpstart XIII is set for January 11-13, 2013.

For our Fall Workshop this year, Knoxville News Sentinel columnist Ina Hughs will lead an all-day session on “Right Word – Any Genre” on Saturday, November 10, at the United Way offices in Oak Ridge.  Registration will be limited to 20, so reserve your place soon!  Registration forms for both the Fall Workshop and for Jumpstart XIII will be included in your conference registration packets.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the 2012 conference.  In the meantime, keep writing!

TMW Events

"Write This Minute!"
Tennessee Mountain Writers' 24th Annual Conference
March 29 - 31, 2012
Held at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Oak Ridge, TN

Banquet and General Session Speaker - Lorraine Lopez

Sessions: fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, writing for young people, editing, e-book publishing, writing without a publisher, promotion, social media and songwriting.

Session leaders: Rita Quillen, Karen McElmurray, Doris Gove, Katy Koontz, Karen Reynolds, Lynda O'Connor and Jim O'Connor, Terry Grigsby Brooks, Charles Connor, Karen E. Reynolds and Dac Crossley.

For information on faculty, registration and competitions go to the Events page at www.tmwi.org

Early registration ends March 15, 2012.

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

Other Writing Events and Competitions
Signing and Reading
from Pat Hope On Sunday, March 18th, the Friends of the Oak Ridge Library will host an author signing and reading. The function is to try and bring some recognition to local writers. Come out and support this great effort. Activities begin at 2:30 in the auditorium of Oak Ridge Public Library. Refreshments will be served.

Readings will include some from the collection inspired and edited by Pat, Remember September Prompted Poetry.

Learning Events From Ideas to Chapbook: Four Weekends of Poetry

The 12-month course requires a commitment from participants to attend the scheduled weekend workshops; to keep an image/idea notebook; to write a new poem each week during the time period between workshops; to share the new, though rough, poems through email with assigned partners; to work toward revising drafts created for the weekly assignments and during the weekend workshops; to share for work-shopping purposes about sixty lines of poetry at Weekend 2 and 3; to deal positively with the work of other participants; to write and revise sufficient poems (20 to 26) by Weekend 4 to form a chapbook

APRIL 21 – 22, 2012 Weekend 1: Finding the Poems

In this first workshop, we write poems from prompts and we explore ideas about what makes a poem. We examine poems that effectively use imagery, figurative language, rhythm, and meter. We discuss keeping a poetry idea journal, reading well-wrought poems on a regular basis, and other methods to keep ourselves writing.

AUGUST 4 – 5, 2012 Weekend 2: Forming the Poems

The second workshop continues with prompts and writing of poems. We study examples of closed form (sonnets, villanelles, sestinas, pantoums, and others) and open form, examining particularly successful uses of line breaks. We discuss strategies for revision. Each participant brings a worksheet (sufficient copies to distribute to all participants) of two of his or her own poems, not to exceed a total of 60 lines, for group review.

OCTOBER 27 – 28, 2012 Weekend 3: Looking for Threads and Themes

In the third workshop we continue to write from prompts. Each participant again brings a worksheet of two poems for critique/discussion, and as well a body of poems for his or her own use. The latter poems should be reasonably polished, probably at least fourth or fifth drafts (maybe fiftieth!), and should number at least twenty and perhaps much more. Previously published poems (in journals, anthologies, online) may be included with work created during the course. We examine published chapbooks for examples of organization and cohesion.

JANUARY 26 – 27, 2013 Weekend 4: Presenting the Chapbook

In the fourth and final workshop, we again write from prompts (time to begin planning that second chapbook!). Participants share results of research into possible chapbook markets (contests, open submissions, self-publishing opportunities). Each person presents his or her completed chapbook and reads for ten or fifteen minutes from the work.

Connie Jordan Green lives on a farm in East Tennessee where she writes and gardens.  She is the author of two award-winning novels for young people (The War at Home and Emmy) and two books of poetry (Slow Children Playing and Regret Comes to Tea). Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She taught literature and creative writing for the University of Tennessee, and continues to lead writing workshops. She and her husband have three grown children and seven grandchildren.

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, Eastern Time.  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 $39.99 per night for 1 – 2 people for course participants.  Rooms at the Magnuson are equipped with refrigerators, microwaves, and wireless internet.  There is an indoor pool AND a hot tub.  Mention Learning Events/Sue Richardson Orr when making reservations. Phone number is 423-337-3541.  There are various other motels at that exit.

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

Workshop group is limited to 14.


REGISTRATION FORM for From Ideas to Chapbook 4 week-end series

Cost $225.00 per week-end                            Date/dates paid for_______________

Name_____________________________        e-mail __________________________

Address___________________________        phone __________________________

             ___________________________        cell phone _______________________

Check to Sue Richardson Orr enclosed for _____________

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

The 37th Annual Southeastern Writers Workshop

The Southeastern Writers Workshop will be held at the conference center, Epworth by the Sea, St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, from Friday, June 15 to Wednesday, June 20 and welcomes novelist Brian Jay Corrigan, author Jimmy Carl Harris, C. Hope Clark, founder of Funds for Writers and other top writers from throughout the Southeast to its faculty. 

In addition to four days packed with classes and seminars, the Workshop offers manuscript evaluations and nearly a dozen contests free to its attendees in the genres of nonfiction, novel and short diction, juvenile writing poetry and more! CASH PRIZES!!! The manuscript submission deadline is May 1. 

Tuition is $395 for the entire workshop, $125/daily rate. Walk-ins welcome.  Full information, including faculty bios and submission guidelines are on our website: http://southeasternwriters.com/writers-workshop/.

Hurry! The Southeastern Writers Workshop is limited to 100 attendees!

~Supplied by Co-President Amy Munnell

New Millennium Writings
from Don Williams

We are NOW accepting submissions for our Summer Contest, with a deadline of June 17, 2012. Visit www.writingawards.com to enter online.

$4,000 in Prizes, plus publication in NMW and on the Web at www.NewMillenniumWritings.com (Read the Winners).

$1,000 for best Fiction; $1,000 best Short-short Story; $1,000 for best Poem; $1,000 for best Nonfiction (includes memoir, creative nonfiction, travel, opinion, true humor, essay, interview, features, investigative reporting, etc.)

Winners of NMW Awards are showcased along with interviews, profiles and tributes to writers past and present, such as Nikki Giovanni, J. D. Salinger, Cormac McCarthy, Lucille Clifton, Allen Wier, Pamela Uschuk, Julia Glass, Kurt Vonnegut, Shel Silverstein, Khaled Hosseini, George Garrett, Ken Kesey, John Updike, Lee Smith, Shelby Foote, Norman Mailer, Sharyn McCrumb, William Kennedy, Walker Percy, Robert Penn Warren and many others. Also, prize-winning stories, poems & articles, humor, graphic arts & more.

Winners will be announced beginning in September and October. All who enter will receive a free copy of our 2013 Journal, next winter.

Judges include  prize-winning novelist and all-around man of letters, David Madden and NMW founding editor Don Williams. 

To Enter, follow these Guidelines, or enter on-line at www.writingawards.com

1. No restrictions as to style, content or number of submissions. Enter as often as you like.

2. Winners and selected finalists--including all poetry finalists--will be published in our 2013 issue and/or on-line at www.NewMillenniumWritings.com.

3. Send between now and midnight of June 17, 2012. This deadline may be extended, once only.

4. Simultaneous & multiple submissions welcome.

5. Each fiction or nonfiction piece is counted as a separate entry, and should total no more than 6,000 words except Short-short Fiction (no more than 1,000 words).

6. Each poetry entry may include up to three poems, not to exceed five pages total per entry. All 20 poetry finalists will be published.

7. Include name, phone, address, email & category on cover page with your submission.

8. Manuscripts not returned. Include email address or SASE for list of winners.

9. Include $17 check drawn on an American bank, payable to NMW with each submission.

10. Enter online at www.writingawards.com or send by U.S. Mail or other carrier to: ‘NMW’ Room EM, PO Box 2463, Knoxville, TN, 37901. To order a sample issue, add $10.

Member News
Barbara Bates Smith sent information about her latest production From Agate Hill to Appotomattox, Home Front Tales by Lee Smith, Ron Rash and Allan Gurgannus.  For more information go to www.barbarabatessmith.com

I’ve heard very little about your writing successes lately, but I’d love to do so. 
If you’d like to share them, send them to me, mspenners@mac.com