September Newsletter | “Log of the Trail”

Meeting Announcement: Our September meeting (and first meeting after the summer break) will be held on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, from 6:30 – 9:00 p.m. at the home of Reba and David Seals in Sunny Glen, west of Alpine. (See more information below.)

Program: Fun and Exciting Writing Exercise to Streeeetch Your Writing Chops presented by Reba Seals

Refreshments: Delicious treats from Eleanor and Jackie.

President Ramblings

It has been a hot, dry, summer in west Texas.  To keep my garden alive, I’ve had to do more watering than usual, and even with my best efforts, some of my plants did not make it.  The double whammy of below zero weather during winter and the lack of moisture this spring weakened them and they died.

It seems to me ideas are like that, too.  Some spring into my head and flourish through the first five hundred words on the page, then somehow can’t be encouraged to go any further.  Others don’t make it past the note I make on the yellow pad I keep in the car, and I find them months later, scribbles without substance.

The ones that do live still need love and attention to tease them out, but they survive.  To me that’s the most fun of writing, the turning of a tiny gem of a thought into a story or novel.

I hope the summer has been a good writing time for you and that you are ready to get back to meeting with the Texas Mountain Trail Writers.  The officers are excited and have already met to talk about what we want to do.  Our first group meeting will be Sept. 20, 6:30 p.m. at David and Reba Seals home in Sunny Glen.  Reba has planned an exciting writing experience you won’t want to miss.  For directions, please email

The officers have made a couple of changes to our meeting format so that we can spend more time focusing on writing.  The first will be to hold the business meeting at the end of the meeting, rather than the beginning.  The second will be the minutes.  The secretary will no longer read them at the meeting.  Rather, she/he will send them to the website.  Each member can read them there and then bring corrections or additions to the meeting to be discussed.

We also want local member feedback about plans for this year.  I will be emailing each of you a survey which I hope you will take the time to complete and email back to me.  We have a fantastic group of writers in our club and we want to hear what you want.

I encourage all of you to attend the Denise Chavez performance, September 9, 7 p.m., at the Espino Conference Center, Sul Ross campus.  I have heard her before and she is hilarious! The performance is free.  Come on out and support a regional writer who has spoken at our TMTW conferences in the past.

Last, but not least, if you see Kip Piper or Eleanor Taylor around town, please thank them for doing such great jobs.  Kip keeps our website in good order and Eleanor submits our meeting information to the newspapers on time and with words that make your heart sparkle.

See all of you soon.

President for this year, Jackie Siglin

Denise Chávez Performance – September 9th

Denise Chavez will present “¡Familia!  An Evening of Stories” on Friday, September 9, 2011, at 7 PM on the campus of Sul Ross in Espino Conference Center (Morgan University Center).  The performance is sponsored by the Department of Languages and Literature and the Ira Blanton Folklore Excellence Fund.  The performance is free to the public.

Denise Chavez has been a featured presenter for two TMTW writer’s conferences in years past.  She’s engaging and enthusiastic…a wonderful communicator.

The following information on Denise Chavez was taken from

Denise Chávez was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico on August 15, 1948 to Epifanio and Delfina Chávez. Though her father was absent through much of her childhood, Chávez was influenced by the presence of her mother, who was a schoolteacher, and her two sisters, Faride Conway and Margo Chávez. Las Cruces, which is only forty miles from the Mexican border, lies in a unique region in America, distinguished by its cross-fertilization of Mexican and American cultures. Her household influences included many Mexican women, who not only cooked and cleaned the Chávez residence, but also helped to raise the three Chávez girls.

The bilingual backdrop of the Southern New Mexico town and the presence of Mexican help within the Chávez home helped to forge an appreciation for the art of bilingualism in Chávez. Her childhood was filled with the oral tradition of storytelling, which was a tremendous influence on Chávez, and is the reason that she refers to herself as a “performance writer. ” Her success in writing, she says, “comes from loving a good story, from having heard from the very best storytellers that one could possibly hear stories from” (Wheatwind 6).

She was awarded a drama scholarship to New Mexico State University where she studied with Mark Medoff, author of the play Children of a Lesser God. She received her bachelor’s degree in drama in 1974, and went on to study at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where she received a master of fine arts degree in drama in 1974. She worked in the Dallas Theater Center, and continued her studies in drama and writing until 1984, when she received a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of New Mexico.

Although her poetry, short stories, and novels seem to shift focus from a broad view of the societal and economic issues of Chicano culture to a self-reflective exploration of women and service, Chávez does not cease to embrace her Chicano heritage and her deep rooted appreciation for the bilingual tongue. She integrates bilingualism into her works so completely that she even refuses to italicize Spanish words and phrases, a decision that has caused many an argument with her editors. “It’s time for readers to pick up a little Spanish,” she states. “It’s like a plate of food with salsa, with the Spanish words the salsa. It gives [the writings] flavor” (Moran 3).

Chávez has received many awards for her works, most notably the Puerto del Sol Fiction Award for The Last of the Menu Girls and the American Book Award for Face of an Angel. She continues to surround herself in literature by teaching creative writing in the English department of New Mexico State University. She lives in the house she grew up in and writes from the room in which she was born.

Braggin’ Rights

Frank Carden’s new novel, Billy Bonney aka The Kid, is now available as an ebook at Amazon.   An excerpt: “1875  Wilma, 16, rode out of New Mexico Territory because killing the deputy with her .41 Colt was trouble even though he had assaulted her. She needed to create a new person. Cut her hair and pose as a boy? With her wiry build she looked the part. She needed a man’s name. From Wilma to William was not that far. Her mother said a Bonney was her father. So go with Billy Bonney. Young cowboys were called kid, so they could call her Billy or the kid. The Kid was on his way.”

AND Frank Carden’s (Las Cruces) story, Iwo, an excerpt from his unpublished novel, No Life But This, won first place in the North East Texas Writers Organization short story contest. His published novel of Galveston ’54, The Prostitutes of Post Office Street, is available as a paperback or an ebook at Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Ed. Way to go, Frank!

 Trail Bits

From Reba Cross Seals: Since the newly released movie, The Help, is on screens everywhere, I thought our group of writers would like to hear this info that I read in my new Southern Living. In an interview with the author, Kathryn Stockett, she disclosed that she was rejected by 60 literary agents before it was published! I’ve not seen the movie yet, but read the book and loved it. This interview gives us all hope!

Demystifying Writers’ Demons One at a Time

One by One –  by Joan Upton Hall

Ellipsis or dash for interrupted dialogue

How you show character’s lines of dialogue being unfinished, depends on who does the interrupting.

o An emdash (-) indicates that something or someone interrupted the speaker. Be sure you have no beat or tag in between as in this conversation:

“I’d like to order-”
“They make a great salad plate here.”
“Well, I’d really like a chicken fried-”
“Okay.” She shrugged. “If you don’t care about the calories, it’s your business.”

o An ellipsis (…) indicates the speaker stopped herself or trails off.

“Are you saying I’m fat?”
“No, no, you’re…look, don’t get oversensitive just because…”
“Because what?”
“Personally I don’t like my belt so tight, but if you do…” She waved her hand to dismiss the subject. “Go ahead and order. After all, the important thing is to get acquainted on our first date.”

Do demons bedevil your writing? Similar, confusing words? Grammar, punctuation, or capitalization rules? “The Demystifier” will clear up the mystery (primary reference unless otherwise noted: Garner, Bryan A. Dictionary of Modern American Usage. N.Y.: Oxford University Press). Address questions and comments to freelance editor, Joan Upton Hall at: . More problems like the above are demystified in the booklet, 50 Writers’ Tips. Find more at

Final Note from the Editor:

Have news? Toot your horn, clang your bell, raise your roof! Tell us your news and stories – or writing news in general, such as publications you would recommend, contests, book events, etc. Send your Braggin’ Rights and Trail Bits to .

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