October Newsletter | “Log of the Trail”

Meeting Announcement: Our October meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 16, 2012, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Fort Davis Public Library in Fort Davis, TX. If you wish to carpool from Alpine, meet us in the Big Bend Telephone parking lot before we depart at 6:30 pm.

Program: Bob Miles, a local historian, writer, and member of our group. He is consistently published in the Cenizo literary magazine.

Writing “Opportunity”: Write 500 words on one of the following suggested topics:

The Knot-Hole in the Fence
The Magic Summer
Yet Looking Back

Refreshments:  A volunteer is needed to bring refreshments to the meeting in Fort Davis. If you would be willing to do this, please contact Reba at . The organization will furnish the coffee and paper goods.

President Chat

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

Doesn’t that make you want to continue into the story? What on earth could this be about? Where is it leading? (You may know: George Orwell, 1984.) This is a sample of opening lines the Texas Mountain Trail Writers are collecting this year for a special prize. We’ve all read the first lines must draw in the reader to make them want to investigate why they should spend their time with us.

Start examining every book and article you read to see if you would classify it as the best, worst, or ho-hum first line you’ve read. (Deep six the ho-hums.) But send us your best and worst. Below are the submissions for this month. And if you’ve already submitted, no rule says you cannot submit more that you find interesting.

An interesting conundrum is that with some first lines I had a hard time deciding if they were the worst or best. How about you? Happy reading!

The Beginning With a Bang writing party at our house (David & Reba) was fun and delicious. We enjoyed having a guest, Dave Pawlak, and look forward to seeing him again.

If you were unable to attend the retreat, you may not have remembered to renew membership for the 2012-13 year. If that is you, please send $15 to our new treasurer, Anne VanLoon, 705 W. Uvalde, Alpine, TX 79830 so you won’t miss out on a thing this year.

Our next meeting will be in Fort Davis at the library on Tuesday, October 16 at 7 p.m.. Our presenter will be Bob Miles, a local historian, writer, and member of our group. He is consistently published in the Cenizo literary magazine. If you wish to car pool to Fort Davis, please meet in the parking lot of Big Bend Telephone Co. by 6:30.

A volunteer is needed to bring refreshments to the meeting in Fort Davis. If you would be willing to do this, please contact me. The organization will furnish the coffee and paper goods.

This promises to be a fantastic year of writing and learning. Writing can be a solitary business, so let’s get away from the computer and support one another.


1st Line Contest — 2012-2013

Best First Lines:

submitted by: Cindy Symington, Austin, TX

“When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special significance, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.”
source: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

submitted by: Frank Carden, Las Cruces, NM

“In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it anymore.”
source: Ernest Hemingway, “The Fir,” In Another Country

submitted by: Kip Piper, Alpine, TX

“He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.”
source: Rafel Sabatini, Scaramouch

submitted by: Reba Cross Seals, Alpine, TX

“Nat Greco felt like an A cup in a double-D bra.”
source: Lisa Scottoline, Daddy’s Girl

Worst First Lines:

submitted by: Cindy Symington

“My suffering left me sad and gloomy.”
source: Yann Martel, The Life of Pi

submitted by: Reba Cross Seals

“The winter rains were over.”
source: Anne Lamott, Joe Jones, A Novel

 Alpine resident achieves highest telephony honor in the state

ALPINE –  – The Neville Haynes Award, the highest honor that can be achieved in the Texas telephone industry, was awarded to West Texas native Joan Johnson, CFO of Big Bend Telephone Company in Alpine. The award is given out annually by the Texas Telephone Association (TTA) to someone who exemplifies the highest possible standards as part of the telecommunications industry.

Awarded to Ms. Johnson at the TTA annual convention on August 28, it was especially fitting considering the award was established in 1984 in honor of the late Neville Haynes of Alpine, who started Big Bend Telephone Company in 1960. Justin Haynes, grandson of Neville Haynes and current CEO of Big Bend Telephone said, “Joan has been working tirelessly not only on her normal duties at the home office, but on numerous federal and state committees working to change policies that could negatively affect rural carriers. There was no one more deserving of this award, and I am proud to say that it was given to one of our own!”

Ms. Johnson began her storied career in the telecommunications industry with GTE-Southwest in San Angelo, Texas, and has been with Big Bend Telephone since the early 1980s, helping guide the company through nearly three decades of tremendous growth and significant regulatory changes within the industry.

A benefitting recipient, Ms. Johnson has served the telecommunications industry with distinction, serving on almost every possible committee, including the TTA Regulatory and Legislative Committee, the Texas Statewide Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (TSTCI), Regulatory, Legislative and Accounting Committees, the TTA Foundation Scholarship Board, and the US Telecom Leadership Committee. In 2008 she was awarded the TTA Outstanding Achievement Award.

Also an invaluable member of the community, Ms. Johnson is an active member of the West of the Pecos Republican Women, the West of the Pecos Cattlewomen, the Sul Ross State University ANRS Exes Board of Directors, the Big Bend Livestock Show Association, and the Texas Mountain Trail-Writers Literary Association.

Big Bend Telephone Company is a rural telecommunications provider established in 1960 in Alpine, Texas, serving the Big Bend region of Texas with high-quality voice and broadband service.

Texas Mountain Trail Writers Publish

Joy Nord’s long awaited anthology, Haunted Texas Highways, was just published and first copies were received in Alpine. Several local members have stories of legend and lore of Texas highways included. They are Cecelia Elaine Davenport, “The Ghost on U.S. Highway 67;” Jackie Siglin, “Haunting the Trans-Mountain Highway;” and Reba Cross Seals, “Ghostly Lights of Marfa,” and “Naked Lady on Hwy. 385.” Stories are also included from former retreat presenter L.C. Hayden, “Ghosts of Ascencion Boulevard;” former retreat presenter Joan Upton Hall, “It Comes from ‘The Damp-Llano’s Six-Mile Light;” as well as two legends from the editor Joy Nord, “Unsolved UFO Sightings at Levelland” and “Brit Bailey’s Prairie.”

The book is an exciting collection of stories ranging from unexplained lights in the sky, haunted bridges, murdered children, vanishing hitchhikers to a naked lady beside the highway. The unique collection has been in the works for several years. It is published by Atriad Press, 2112 Homestead Drive, Mesquite, TX 75181, 972-222-0900, AtriadPress.com The book retails for $18.95.

Texas Mountain Trail Writers congratulates member Joy Nord on her publication launch as well as the talented authors whose contributions are included in the anthology.

Braggin’ Rights

Frank Carden’s short story, “When Billy Changed Sides in Lincoln Town”, was published in the
2012 Annual West Texas Writers’ Anthology. The story is an excerpt from his novel, Billy Bonney aka The Kid which is available as an ebook from Amazon.

West Texas Authors Day

The Tom Green Country Library and the San Angelo Writers’ Club are
co-sponsering a day in which we are hoping to introduce and honor all of our many
published West Texas authors. This is in connection with, although not an
actual part of, the San Angelo Art Walk on October 18.

If our plans work out, it will be a great way to advertise our work. These
plans depend on several things; primarily is the interest shown by the
published authors that would participate.

We will have tables available in order to display our books for sale. Also,
we are contacting various media forms so the function will be well

What I need from you, ASAP, is a list of published authors in your
organization — or that you know that live anywhere in West Texas — that could be
included in this endeavor. In addition to their names, we need e-mail
addresses (preferred) or snail mail addresses to send a letter with all the

Authors can be published by traditional publishers, self-published or
e-published. Genre doesn’t matter.

We’re hoping to get as many authors as possible to attend so this is
successful and may be something we can do annually to promote our talented

Please send any names/addresses you have to Judie Oberheuser at as soon
as possible.

Trail Bits

Submitted by Kip Piper

In working with my clients, I’ve come across this website that offers a variety of self-publishing book formats. I thought the group might be interested!



Hello All!

I wanted to share what one author just said in an interview about writing and about Nanowrimo. I think he really has solid points about writing in general and I liked how he phrased it all.

“All the stuff I learned and relearned was the stuff that NaNoWriMo participants are familiar with—that you should just write it now and polish it later, that a writer’s search for perfection can be self-defeating, and that waiting for a brilliant idea gets you nowhere; that you have to seize the day, and if you have a problem, to think of a quick solution and keep going; that your audience wants you to succeed, to entertain and transport them, and they’re not always as worried about holes and coincidences as you are; that the most humdrum idea written down beats the most sublime idea in your head, every time… you want me to go on?   “

So, who’s joining me in November for Nano? It’s crazy, but it doesn’t have to be “good” writing either. Plus there are prizes and bragging rights!

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is or want to look into it a bit, check it out at www.nanowrimo.org.

Feel free to pass this along to anyone.

^_^ Anne VanLoon

TMTW Minutes of September Meeting

Texas Mountain Trail Writers
Sept.  18, 2012

The meeting was called to order at 6:30 pm at the home of Reba and David Seals.  Our first event was a welcome-back potluck – good friends and good food.

Officers for the year (Sept. 2012 – Sept. 2013) began their terms at this meeting.  They were elected unanimously by the members at the May 22, 2012 meeting.  They are:  Reba Cross Seals, President, Darrell White, Vice-President, Anne VanLoon, Treasurer, Jackie Siglin, Secretary.  Conference co-chairs:  Janith Stephenson and Aleta Belcher.  Chaos editor:  Marian Frueh.  Kip Piper:  webmaster/editor Log of the Trail.

The usual business meeting was suspended so members could have time to participate in a round robin writing exercise.  Reba divided us into groups and we tried our hands at flash fiction in four genres:  Western, Romance, Mystery, and Sci-Fi using a list of special words.  It was a challenge for all and a great deal of fun.  After each round, one person from each group was chosen to read their writing.  Thanks was given by all to Reba.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 pm.

Respectfully submitted,
Jackie Siglin, Secretary, TMTW

As Seen on Facebook

Submitted by Reba Cross Seals



Demystifying Writers’ Demons One at a Time

One by One –  by Joan Upton Hall

Epitaph & epithet confusion

Confusing these words can cause serious miscommunication

• An epitaph is an inscription (as on a gravestone) in memory of a deceased person.

• An epithet is term used to characterize a person or thing; an abusive word or phrase.

When a hard-of-hearing widow bought a fancy tombstone for her deceased husband, the stonecutter asked, “Shall I carve an epitaph on it?”
“Heavens, no!” she answered. “Just because I called him some choice epithets when he made me mad doesn’t mean I want ’em in print throughout eternity!”

A bigot spray-painted ugly epithets about Joe on his house. After an uneducated friend called the local newspaper to report “epitaphs” all over Joe’s walls, the evening headlines reported the event as a murder.

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: moc.loa@llaHumj. More problems like the above are demystified in the booklet, 50 Writers’ Tips. Find more at http://www.JoanUptonHall.com/books.htm.

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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