APRIL 2020 Newsletter | “Log of the Trail”

Meeting Announcement: Our April 25, 2020 meeting is cancelled. Please see the note from the Steering Committee below.  Watch for an email for any updates.

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

Program: None

Moderator:  None

Refreshments:  None

Visitors ALWAYS Welcome!

From the TMTW Steering Committee

The meeting for April 25, 2020 has been cancelled.

     Wow!  We truly had a radical lifestyle change this new year of 2020.  January’s newsletter cautioned us “to be alert, organized, and determined in order to maintain balance.”  Then February brought Valentine’s Day and a 29-day month.  COVID-19 struck hard in March, and our meeting was cancelled.  April’s Easter message of hope will carry us through days of struggle ahead.  Globally, social distancing and quarantines are now the new norm.  How we adjust to these challenges and master them reveals our character and influences strategical choices.

      History is rapidly unrolling before all of us.  Did we view the U.S. Navy hospital ships, Mercy and Comfort, arriving on the east and west coasts?  Have we observed the heroic medical personnel doing their best to save lives during this pandemic?  Were we praising law enforcement for keeping us safe during shelter-in-place?  Americans witnessed the closings of schools and universities, churches, cultural places, sports events, restaurants and businesses, unprecedented and all to keep us safe.  These astounding events motivate writers to express thoughts and concerns. 

     Since April is considered National Poetry month, TMTW members may feel more inclined to express feelings related to current events.  Let’s use this time to extend messages of hope to face the struggles, the testing of ourselves, and working through problems.  TMTW members continue to write together in collective thought and works.  Choices are in process among members in selections for the Chaos annual yearbook.  Finalizing our pending compositions will clear our desks for new works and fresh voices. 

     Below are four images to inspire us in a poem, story, essay, or script.  Relish the part you play in creating healing from this pandemic.

Jerri Garza, for TMTW Steering Committee



Our meeting is cancelled for April 25, 2020. Please see the note from the Steering Committee above.   Watch your email for any new updates.

 Remember our dues are due this month.  Please submit to Robbie Burns, 1503 W. Fort Davis Ave., Alpine, TX  79830 or through the website using PayPal.



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 .

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

Submitted by Robbie Burns


Submitted by Jerri Garza



Inspirational Quotes:

“Most writers write to say something about other people – and it doesn’t last.  Good writers write to find out about themselves – and it lasts forever.” Gloria Steinem

“Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish.  Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps.  Then, when it feels finished, you are always surprised.” John Steinbeck


KUDDOES TO: Our member, Robbie Ann Burns.  Her personal memoir, Life’s Blossoms, was one of 46 selected from close to 160 entries, for the upcoming Kaleidoscopewojo Anthology – A Reflection on Women’s Journeys, which will be published in June/July if all goes well.  



Dianne Goettel –Check out this site – www.blacklawrencepress.com.  They offer critiques of one’s manuscript by different experts.

Twice each year Black Lawrence Press will run the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or prose between 16-36 pages in length. The contest is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner will receive book publication, a $500 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes are awarded on publication.



Hello Texas Mountain Trail Writers!

I want to give people the opportunity to publish their personal journal entries, there are gems in our journals. Most people don’t share their journals and I’m passionate about changing this.

We want to give you money for the journal entries you’ve already written. Gather your journals and submit them to: https://crosshatchpublishing.com

I have been fascinated by my own journaling for a decade now because I love experiencing insights, growth, and transformation. I know there are others who feel the same way about their lives and about their journaling.

Please feel free to share this information with your email list.

Have a beautiful day!

Thanks in advance,
Sarai E. Phegley

Libraries are how many of us fell in love with reading and books. So it makes sense that getting a book into a library is a big deal for many authors.

In this month’s post, we explain how authors can get their eBooks, physical books and audiobooks into libraries.

Read The Post

Marketing Can Be Fun 
 When we conducted a survey of over 1,000 authors last year, marketing was the one area that authors universally found the most challenging.  In this month’s post, we address why marketing can feel so daunting and how to develop a positive marketing framework that plays to your strengths.

Written Word Media + PublishDrive
 We’ve partnered with PublishDrive to make editorial submissions and scheduling promotions easily available to PublishDrive authors. PublishDrive provides free ebook conversion, global distribution and a price promotion scheduling tool to its authors. 

Kinga Jentetics, CEO of Publish Drive, dug into her company’s trove of data and shares best practices when it comes to running effective price promos. 

Promote Your Steamy Romance Audiobook

You can now promote audiobooks on Red Feather Romance. The audiobook feature is a great way to drive Audible credit redemptions as well as audiobook sales on Amazon, Apple, Google Play and more. Now that’s what we call more bang for your book! 

Schedule Your Spring Promos
Promo inventory is now open through June. Book your dates while they are still available!

Book A Freebooksy Promotion

Book A Bargain Booksy Promotion

Book A NewInBooks Promotion

Book A Red Feather Romance Promotion

Book A Reading Stacks Promotion 

Here’s what bestselling Author Ann Omasta had to say about promoting with Written Word Media (Thanks Ann!):

“I can’t recommend Written Word Media enough. My promos with WWM consistently get great results, and they go the extra mile by checking in on ad performance and giving more than expected. Authors, if you haven’t yet promoted a special with WWM, give them a try. You’ll be glad you did!” – Ann Omasta 

What We’re Reading 

Some articles of interest for authors from around the web:

How Authors Can Calculate Series Read Through – Kindlepreneur

The Hottest New Literary Genre is ‘Doomer Lit’ – Wired

4 Reasons to Spend Time With ‘Bad’ Books – Susann Cokal

Coronavirus Reading List – The Guardian 


Can You Share Our Call for Entries?

Now Open: Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2020
Aesthetica Creative Writing Award

I’m getting in touch from the internationally recognised Aesthetica Creative Writing Award to ask if you could share our call for entries with your audiences? The 2020 competition is now open and we’re looking for new writing talent.

Running for over a decade, the Creative Writing Award presents both emerging and established writers with an opportunity to showcase their work to wider audiences.

Open to Poetry and Short Fiction entries from both UK and international writersthe award is supported by some of the biggest names in the literary world, including The Poetry Society, Granta, VINTAGE, Bloodaxe Books and Redhammer Management.

Prizes include: £1,000 awarded to both the Poetry and Short Fiction winners, and publication within the inspiring Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthologywhich is awarded to 60 writers, shortlisted by the prestigious judging panel.

We’re proud to champion new writing talent. We want to make sure as many writers know about the Creative Writing Award as possible. It would be great if you could let your followers know that entries are now open for the 2020 Award. 

    • Suggested copy for Social Media: Further your involvement in the literary world with our friends at @AestheticaMag. The Creative Writing Award is now open for entries. Submit your #Poetry and #ShortFiction work and win £1,000 + publication within an inspiring anthology. Find out more: https://bit.ly/1NBc3Ov 


    • Twitter: @AestheticaMag
    • Instagram: @AestheticaMag
    • Facebook: @AestheticaMagazine


Thank you in advance for sharing. We’d also be happy to send across posters and flyers for free, so that you can help us spread the word even further.

To request CLICK HERE, and simply let us know where to post them.

For more information please visit our website, or feel free to drop me an email if you wish to discuss partnership opportunities.

Warmest Regards,


Kathryn Pearson
Marketing and Administration Assistant

Aesthetica Magazine

PO Box 371


YO23 1WL, UK

(0044) (0)1904 629 137


Dear Program Coordinator,

My name is Andrea Christmas and I am the Summer School Coordinator at The American University of Paris.

I wrote to you last month to share information about our Creative Writing Institute and its corresponding travel stipend competition. We are extending the deadline for this competition to March 15, 2020. I hope you will share this information with interested writers in Texas Mountain Trail Writers.

For more information, please visit our Summer School website, where students can learn more about housing, extracurricular cultural excursions, and how to apply.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me should you, or any of your members, have any questions.

All best,


Winner of the Fall 2018 Black River Chapbook Competition

This house has seen things it won’t let you forget.

When a new family moves in to the house at 25 Trumbulls Road, the narrator’s vivid dreams of a teary-eyed, raw-smelling woman who lives beneath the floor turn chillingly real. Five years later, the house’s new set of inhabitants are visited by the spectral presence of the little girl they lost. In these five tales linked by a single haunted house, the characters move through a world suspended between nightmare and loss, where the unexplainable and disquieting are fueled by ordinary grief and longing. Christopher Locke explores the ways in which our unspoken fears and everyday regrets sustain the darker heart of a home—its doorways and windows, its basements and lights—until it fills those corners of our lives with something close to terror. His stories ask: how does a home feed on this energy, growing stronger with each new, sinister end? As compulsively readable as it is unsettling, 25 Trumbulls Road takes us to the places we’re afraid to go, then leaves us at a destination where we are our most human.

Praise for 25 Trumbulls Road

A haunting, surreal, visceral collection of tales that is lyrical and poetic, while not losing its bite. Christopher Locke has channeled the ghosts of Matt Bell, Denis Johnson, and Jac Jemc, while retaining his own unique voice.

—Richard Thomas, author of Disintegration and Breaker, an ITW Thriller Award finalist

Locke is a master of the slow burn. The events at 25 Trumbulls Road will stick and cycle back through your head for weeks. 

—Richard Peabody, editor of Gargoyle Magazine

In 25 Trumbulls Road, Christopher Locke weaves together a series of eerily gorgeous narratives in which fathers, mothers, children, and dogs stumble into waking nightmares. Each ghostly flash glows with damage, mystery, and inevitability. This enchanting chapbook of tiny horror stories chills and entertains from beginning to end.

—Meg Pokrass, author of Alligators at Night and The Smell of Good Luck

Subject: Re: The Author Event Grid is Live!

I met C.J. Box at a WWA  Conference. Nice guy and a good storyteller. I also like Craig Johnson,a Wyoming author who wrote the Longmire series of books that was filmed as a TV series. My book about the Colorado cannibal, Alferd Packer, was optioned as a TV series for HBO. I helped write the screenplay and worked on the series synopsis with HBO. I thought I had a breakout coming, but after 3 years it was rejected and the option dropped. But I did get a check every six months and after 20 years Lone Survivor is still in print. I found out that out of seven options  only one  gets selected.

Kinky Friedman consoled me by saying every CJ Box’s Joe Pickett series are a good read. Wyoming game warden. Fictionalized location, but sounds like Meetesee area to me. A good read if you haven’t tried him.

 festival event grid

Ken Hodgson

10% off Editing Services for Your Book

Editorial Services of LA

EDITORIAL SERVICES OF LOS ANGELES offers everything from line editing with a detailed and specific critique letter + free query letter edit, to self-publishing edit and book page layout, to ghostwriting, book packaging, and creative and developmental literary consulting.

More Info:  https://workshop-directory.com/writing/10-off-editing-services-for-your-book/

Websites using images to assist with writing:

Thanks to Reba Seal’s submittal:  It’s called Visual Hunt and it finds photos of Creative Commons and public domain images. Hope this info helps you now or in the future.

Teacher Treasures: Picture Quick Writes, Picture Narratives- https://www.teachertreasures.com/2018/1/22/photo-writing-prompts/

Writing Forward: Creative Writing Prompts for Crafting Compelling Imagery- https://www.writingforward.com/writing-prompts/creative-writing-prompts/creative-writing-prompts-for-crafting-compelling-imagery

The Balance Careers: Photographs as Creative Writing Prompts- https://www.thebalancecareers.com/photographs-as-writing-prompts-1277698

Studio Letter No. 47

New writing journey: A Pause for Poetry
Starting April 3, totally online & solitude-friendly!
Offered as a pay-what-you-want workshop,
to help a little in this uncertain season.​

Hello fellow writers,​

There’s so much to possibly say and so much already being said about what’s happening in the world right now. I’ve been writing and rewriting this note. I want to say: I have been thinking of this circle of writers every day. Every single day. I hope you are taking good care, staying as healthy as you can, and finding moments of steadiness. And to those of you who are on the front lines, providing care: thank you, thank you, thank you.​

In hard times, I often need to pause and remember that “before” and “after” are not the only options. There is a third option, where I can pour language into whatever threshold I am standing on.​

This language might be words, it might be silence, it might be song or prayer, it might be grief, it might be fear, it might even be peace in some moments. Whatever form it takes, I know when the threshold-language emerges, because there is something immediate and even intimate about it. It’s the honesty that happens in the absence of order.​

Order can give us many ways to feel safe, but it also offers so many places to hide. Order tidies up the edges. Order says, “Once upon a time…” and carries us, methodically, to “And they lived happily ever after.”​

And so far, this virus is an order-eater. It moves exponentially, more like a bloom or a firework. If it moved in a straight line, we’d already have made sense of it. We’d have stopped it in its tracks, so to speak.​

In the absence of order, the threshold-language keeps nudging me: Maybe the truest thing we can do now is name the parts. Order is not the only way to find or fill out a story. Maybe our language can move exponentially too, can flood the third space between before and after.​

Some days, it might be a flood of worried silence. It might be a flood of songs or prayers or poems. It might be a flood of all the stories we promised to tell and can no longer afford to keep for a better day or an easier way.​

Order tells us to get on the boat, to wait for the clouds to part so we can “get back to normal.” Before/after. Before/after. Before/after. As if the in-between is a vacuum. But our language, our voice in its many forms, is with us in the in-between — so it must be anything but a vacuum.​

I have written with so many of you now… I know your language is here, made for this. I’m not talking about producing something or making this time more useful. I mean something else. I mean an orientation to times like these. I mean the relationship that every writer, in some way, has to the unknown.​

I mean: as writers, you belong to this third space. You can be the namers of the parts. Even if it’s just for yourself, it matters. Even if it’s wordless at times, it can be true.​

More than anything, I want to say: you are not alone. And when I think of all of you out there, and when we write together during the Hummingbird Sessions, I remember that I am not alone. And I’m incredibly grateful for that.​


p.s. The next Hummingbird Session is later today, on Tuesday, March 24. If you’d like to get the dates and details to write with us during these free, 15-minute sessions, just click here to be notified.

​Update on New Workshop

In the last studio letter, I invited folks to respond to a survey about a new workshop. Thank you so much for your generous responses! I promised to choose two winners at random who will receive registration, and those lucky writers are Megan Stubbs and Maureen McCarthy!​

I planned to launch this workshop in March, but as the situation with COVID-19 has evolved, it’s become clear that I need to postpone the launch for the time being. This has been a difficult choice to make. This new workshop has been my pet project for a few months now, and I’m stubborn about letting projects go (even if I know they’re coming back)… but the long and short of it is that it just didn’t feel right for right now.​

Writing with you all through the Hummingbird Sessions and sharing in poetry-making together in April feels more tuned in to this time… I’m trying to listen well to where different writers are at and meet you where you are, while leaving more space for all of us to adapt as things change from day to day. 

celebrating writers​

In tough times, we need celebration even more! What are you celebrating in your writing life? If we’ve written together, I’d love to lift up your work here in the studio letter. Have you published something? Reached a milestone in your creative practice? Drop me a note with a little info so we can celebrate together.​

good reads for your creative life​

A good round-up of the museums, plays, concerts, and more available for watching or exploring at home.

As someone who comes from a very hugging-is-caring kind of family, the limitations on physical touch right now can be tough. So I love these illustrated touches by Sarah Gilman, which she encourages sharing with anyone who needs it. Such a sweet gesture!

Historians are urging folks to keep a record of their thoughts and daily life during the pandemic, to help capture a sense of the experience for future generations.

Wash your hands, recite a poem, everyone wins.

And when you’re not washing your hands, consider writing by hand: “…writing by hand may promote ‘deep encoding’ of new information in ways that keyboard writing does not.”​

“Stories move in circles. They don’t move in straight lines.
So it helps if you listen in circles. There are stories inside stories
and stories between stories, and finding your way through them
is as easy and as hard as finding your way home.
And part of the finding is the getting lost.
And when you’re lost, you start to look around and to listen.”​

Corer Fischer, Albert Greenberg, and Naomi Newman of
A Traveling Jewish Theatre, Coming from a Great Distance

In this time of uncertainty and change, we are more committed than ever to supporting authors. This means that we are rolling out new initiatives to support authors impacted by COVID-19, including offering free promotions to authors in nee d. Read this post for more information about what we’re doing to help authors.

One thing we know is that not everyone has the same needs at this time. In that spirit, we’re asking YOU for your help in determining how we may assist you through this difficult time. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey below, and offer your suggestions on how Written Word Media can support authors. 

Best wishes to you and yours,

The Written Word Media Team 

Dear Literary Advocate,

We would love nothing better than to kickoff the New Year with your consideration in submitting some of your titles or passing along to your authors so they can have a chance at winning a great book award with an even better cause!

The Maxy Awards are dedicated to awarding only excellence for indie and self-published authors. They are unique in that all entrants may submit their book digitally, as a manuscript or published eBook; therefore, the award can be issued prior to an author’s publication. Authors are invited to enter our next competition for qualifying books with a 2018 or future copyright. Enter today, a large part of every entry goes directly to the Home of the Innocents to help those families that need it most, in honor of Maxy (read her full story here). Awards for nine categories and one “Book of the Year” will be announced each year on Maxy’s birthday, May 2nd.

Check out how our last two “Book of the Year’s” are doing on Amazon:

The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B8H8ZVW

Managed Care – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H1GKLPP


Maxy Awards (www.maxyawards.com)

Donate and support reading and helping others

Part of every award entry goes directly to the Home of the Innocents


Check out :

Lone Star Literary Life Holiday Gift Guide : lonestarliterary.com

                       NaNoWriMo: NaNoWriMo.org.

Writers’ League of Texas 2020 Manuscript of Texas Contest – http://www.writersleague.org/

WWA Membership News – Fall 2019  https://westernwriters.org/


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 www.collab-conference.com for more information or to register.

You can also follow along on Facebook at facebook.com/collabconferenceforwriters or Instagram at @collabconference

Hope to see you there!

Let’s Collaborate!

Elizabeth Oates



I have the perfect place for events, and meet-ups.

I offer you a 25 acre farm located in Waelder,Texas about one hour drive from Austin,1 hour and forty five minutes from Houston. 

There is a main house with a working kitchen, 5 beds and 2 bathrooms and rooms for presentations. There are also plenty of areas on the back porch, and on the land for camping. There is a barn and garage, livestock pens and plenty of land with oak and mesquite trees to write under. 

Please check out the ranch at rs.locationshub.com  (go to film location search. Find my place under the search : “Texas Western Farm Ranchita” .

Or simply go to the website:  waelderfarmhouse.weebly.com

We can offer homemade meals for lunch and dinner to be delivered- vegan and vegetarian options are available.

Thank you for reading this and I hope you see potential for some great fun.

I look forward to hearing your feedback. I would love it if someone could help me figure out a way to offer this Victorian home for some sort of writing retreat.

Best Regards,

Genevieve Withers

713 205 2473

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 .










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