December 2019 Newsletter | “Log of the Trail”

Meeting Announcement: Our December meeting will be held on THURSDAY,  December 19, 2019, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the West Texas National Bank meeting room in Alpine, TX.

Program:  Presentation of Writing Prompt Christmas Cards and Bookie Party.   Christmas Bookie Party for Texas Mountain Trail Writers!  Bring a wrapped book you’d like to give away. It can be new or gently used. Please attach a note telling the genre, and three words that describe it. Bring paper, pencils, or pens for a crazy writing activity. For refreshments, please bring a finger food of your choice to share.

Photo Writing Prompts:  Members’ Photos (See description below)

Moderator:  No Moderator for this meeting

Refreshments:  Our annual Potluck dinner of finger foods

Visitors ALWAYS Welcome!

From the TMTW Steering Committee

December includes the holiday season, a time of festivity, joyfulness, and sharing.  Sending and delivering greeting cards to friends, neighbors, and family is approaching a lost activity in the digital age in which we live.  Rather than just write to the image prompts this month, TMTW members are challenged to compose original words in a story, essay, poem, or script and include them inside a greeting card.

TMTW members may display their cards and read at the December 19th. meeting.  The meeting will occur on Thursday, December 19, 2019 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the West Texas National Bank Community Room in Alpine, Texas.  Please make note of the different date and shortened time.

Pot luck refreshments: 4:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. 

Display and reading of Christmas and holiday creations:   4:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Book Exchange:  4:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

            Writing Activity: 5:15 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Writing Prompts: This month members will choose an image and prepare a composition to create a holiday card or story.  Guidelines remain at 500 words or fewer, Times New Roman, 12-point font.  Six images are offered for members’ inspiration below.

If you are struggling with what to mention in your card, check these online resources: –

American –

Jerri Garza, TMTW Steering Committee            

Our meeting is Thursday, December 19, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the West Texas National Bank in Alpine, TX.  There will not be a program for this meeting.  We will have our finger food potluck, share our Christmas card creation from the writing prompts this month and have a Bookie Party.  Bring a plain-wrapped  book with a card that describes genre and gives a 3-word clue about the book (gently used books are accepted) for our gift exchange.  This will be fun and a big thank you to Reba Seals for this idea!  Look forward to seeing you all!



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Creative Writing Workshop in the Vineyards of Tuscany



Alison MacLeod     May 3 – 9, 2020

Tobias Jones     September 6 – 12, 2020

Writing Retreat     October 11 – 17, 2020

In Vino Veritas is a residential writing workshop in the vineyards of Tuscany featuring personalized encounters with teacher/writers, morning workshops, guided wine tastings, and wonderful Italian cuisine. Limited to a maximum of 15 participants, In Vino Veritas brings together a small group of international writers who work on memoirs, fiction, and poetry, learning about writing in the morning and wine in the evenings. All is accompanied by exquisite food and conversation.
In 2020, we are thrilled to announce three exciting sessions. Alison MacLeod, author of Unexploded, long-listed for the Booker Prize, will lead a Fiction workshop in May. Best-selling author of The Dark Heart of Italy, Tobias Jones will lead a Non-fiction workshop in September. And for those who do not want to attend a morning workshop, a Writer’s Retreat in October affords the opportunity to find inspiration in the landscape and wines of Tuscany, while discussing your day’s writing at mealtimes with the other writer-participants. For more information, see our website:
The backdrop to this exciting week is the Donatella Cinelli Colombini wine estate in Trequanda, between Florence and Siena. The day begins after breakfast with a three-hour workshop. The afternoon is free for writing, reading, swimming (in season!) or wandering through the vineyards. In the evening, wine flows over long Italian dinners that include sommelier-led guided tastings and exquisite food pairings. Some star-filled evenings are dedicated to readings.
Participants stay in superbly comfortable private bedrooms in rustic buildings in the middle of the vineyards. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner feature Tuscan specialties, like the famed Chianina steak, and produce comes from local farms in the Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or the very gardens of the Cinelli Colombini estate itself (vegetarians won’t get bored!).
Please do not hesitate to contact me for an electronic brochure.
Thank you for your attention. Cin-cin! Cheers!
Suzanne Branciforte–

There is a novel one might find interesting at this site:  Submitted by Charles Wood.

Check out :

Lone Star Literary Life Holiday Gift Guide :


Writers’ League of Texas 2020 Manuscript of Texas Contest –

WWA Membership News – Fall 2019

Spur Award Deadline Nears

Entries all categories (films, songs, poems, short stories, short nonfiction and books) for the 2020 Spur Awards should be submitted soon. The deadline to enter is Jan. 15, 2020 for material published, produced or released since Sept. 1. This year for the first time there are staggered entry deadlines. Material produced prior to Sept. 1 had to be entered by Oct. 1. For complete rules and award entry forms visit our website.  Spur Award Rules

WWA Promotes Western Literature

We have been very busy during the summer and fall on promotional activities to further interest in the Literature of the American West with marketing events that included a well-received panel at the National Book Festival featuring Paul Andrew Hutton, Craig Johnson, Johnny D. Boggs, and Anne Hillerman.  WWA President Nancy Plain planned and managed the program.

WWA also took part in the South Dakota Book Festival in Deadwood, SD, and Western History Association Conference in Las Vegas, NV. Assisting with those outreach activities were Bill Markley, Cowboy Mike Searles, and Jack Ravage.

Planning is underway for these future promotional activities: 

Public Library Association 

The Public Library Association meets in Nashville, TN Feb. 26-28, 2020, and WWA will have a booth. The show hosts are Micki Fuhrman (Vonn McKee) and James A. Crutchfield. Promotional materials like book marks and postcards can be sent for distribution. Copies of new books (Published in 2019 or early 2020) may also be sent for display. No materials or books will be returned following the show. Instead the materials will be donated to literacy programs in the Nashville area. Send all materials to: Micki Fuhrman, 316 Vaughn Road, Nashville, TN 34221. Materials must arrive by Feb. 20, 2020

Tucson Book Festival  

We will attend the Tucson Book Festival March 14-15, 2020. As we have done for several years, WWA will present a panel that includes Spur Winners and Finalists. The panelists for 2020 are Johnny D. Boggs, C. J. Box, and Chris Enss. We welcome our members to help out in the booth at the festival. 

WWA Partners with C. M. Russell Museum

Three years ago the WWA Board of Directors adopted a strategic goal to form partnerships with museums. The Board recognizes the common objectives we hold: preserving and promoting both historical and contemporary stories of the American West. 

WWA joined the Mountains and Plains Museum Association and we have attended the annual MPMA Convention for the past two years, promoting the work of our members, letting museums know we have writers who can work on museum exhibit development, present programs, or take part in book promotions.

This year we had a panel at the joint MPMA and New Mexico Museum Association conference in Albuquerque, which was presented by WWA members Steve Friesen, Kellen Cutsforth, and Melody Groves. Ollie Reed and Johnny D. Boggs assisted with the WWA booth we had at that conference where we distributed copies of Roundup Magazine and encouraged museums to sell books written by our members, or have them present programs, book talks, and other activities that enhance museum events. We also have expanded our bookseller display contest to include a contest for museums.

In the Summer of 2018, we were approached by the C. M. Russell Museum with a request that we work cooperatively with the museum to develop a new exhibit. We now have the preliminary planning in place — with an exhibit development team that includes several WWA members who represent all types of work that we do: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, film, and song. 

The exhibit — Storykeepers — is being developed by the WWA team of Chris Enss, Jon Chandler, W. Michael and Kathleen O’Neal Gear, Cowboy Mike Searles, S. D. Nelson, Deanna Dickinson McCall, Candy Moulton and Quackgrass Sally. The writers were selected based on their writing backgrounds, geographic locations, and past work related to C.M. Russell and related subject material.

Overall direction of the project is provided by the staff of the C. M. Russell Museum. 

The exhibit will take two more years in development, but is slated to open at the CMR on June 9, 2022. As many will recognize, we have strategically also planned to hold our annual WWA convention in Great Falls that year, in order to build on this program with the museum.

The exhibit will travel to other museums following its initial showing in Montana.

The Charles M. Russell Museum also partnered with WWA this year in sponsoring the James Ersfeld Symposium in September, which featured presentations by WWA Members Andrew P. Nelson, Kat Martin, L. J. Martin, Chris Enss, and Erin Turner. 

We anticipate the opportunity for future museum education programs and exhibit development projects that will involve other WWA members.

Tony Hillerman Prize Entries Sought

Entries are being accepted now for the Tony Hillerman Prize. The prize is an official award program of Western Writers of America. It is managed and funded by Minotaur Books. The prize is given for Best First Mystery Set in the Southwest. Please read all of the rules and guidelines before submitting your entry. You can find the complete rules and guidelines here:  Tony Hillerman Prize Rules

Dear Texas Mountain Trail Writers,

I am the Founder and Board President of an adult literacy nonprofit

located in Albuquerque, Reading Works. We are sponsoring a writing

contest that may be of interest to you:  Short Short Story Writing


The Challenge:  Write a short story using no more than 30 words.

Five topics:  sushi, pianos, caterpillars, Huck Finn’s mother,


6 cash prizes

Submission deadline: Jan. 10, 2020

Submission Fee: $5 per story.

Not only is the contest great fun, it supports the cause of literacy

You can get more information at:

Thank you for getting the word out to your members about our contest.

Margaret Barker

Reading Works

8005 Pennsylvania Circle NE, Suite C

Albuquerque, New Mexico  87110

(505) 321-9620

Collab Conference is a distinct Christian women’s conference for those longing to live out their God-given calling through writing, blogging, speaking, teaching, and leading. This year we are meeting in Waco, Texas, April 22-24, 2020.

Collab Conference is offering: 

3 days
6 authors
1 social media expert
1 literary agent
An abundance of workshops, breakout sessions, and opportunities for spiritual and practical encouragement and equipping.

Do you want to:

take your writing to the next level?
learn top tips to help you grow your platform and social media influence
pitch your next BIG idea to a literary agent?
learn about self-publishing?
network with other writers?

YES? Then this conference is for YOU!

Early Bird registration is going on NOW through Jan 31, but space is limited so don’t wait . . . sign up TODAY!  Go to for more information or to register.

You can also follow along on Facebook at or Instagram at @collabconference

Hope to see you there!

Let’s Collaborate!

Elizabeth Oates


Inspirational Quotes:

Every writer I know has trouble writing – Joseph Heller

Writing is utter solitude into the cold abyss of oneself – Franze Kafka


Photo Writing Prompts – Members’ Photos

TMTW members are invited to participate in choosing the monthly Photo Writing Prompt by submitting good quality, sharp ORIGINAL (YOUR photo – not someone else’s) images in JPG format to Jerri Garza.  Do not send anything from the Internet as we would be subject to heavy fines.

Send two to four images no later than the 10th of each month to Jerri at .  Jerri will then send four selections to Robbie for inclusion in the newsletter.  Please have images at high resolution for publication. There is no monetary compensation for TMTW use of members’ images.  Images must be received by the deadline for use in the writing prompts.  It is not required to submit images for writing prompts participation.

The writing guidelines remain at 500 words or fewer, Times New Roman, 12-point font.  If you wish, you may read or have your Opportunity read at the monthly meeting.  You can choose to write about one, several, or all images.  If all images are selected for the Writing Opportunity, then attempt to combine the images into one related assignment.

Use these as they are or use anything they might inspire in you.  You can also choose not to read, but whatever your choice you can always submit it for publication in Chaos.  Black and white versions of members photos may be included in the Chaos if anyone chooses their photo as writing inspiration.  Submitting a photo implies permission to reproduce as TMTW chooses and we will credit the photographer in every instance.  Questions? Email Jerri at .

December’s six photo writing prompts are the images below, should you like to use them.

Submitted by Jerri Garza

Submitted by Robbie Burns

Submitted by Pam Breithaupt

Submitted by Reba Seals

Submitted by Marti Stebbins


I’d like to invite all members to view our television series entitled “In Search of the West Texas Wordsmith,” which airs every Saturday at 3:00 P.M. over the Basin PBS station.  Each episode is a 30-minute interview with a West Texas writer.  Hope you’ll join us! – Tom Parks, host

Join or Renew Your TMTW Membership

Membership in the Texas Mountain Trail Writers can help you grow as a writer, whether you write purely for fun or for a living. AND we accept dues payments online at our website! For more information, click here.

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 .