On the evening of December 10, the San Angelo Writers Club (SAWC) held their 2019 Holiday party. As in previous years, the club kicked off the evening with socializing and a potluck dinner. Shortly after seven p.m., member presentations commenced. SAWC members were allotted five minutes to read a selection of their choice. Most of the members present chose to present. The presentations were lively and often funny. If you are a writer, come join us in the new year for advice, demonstrations, how-to presentations, and fun.
The San Angelo Writers Club (SAWC) Authors Fair 2019 was held Saturday, September 7, from 1-4 pm in the Sugg Community Room (third floor) of the Stephens Central Library. Thirteen published authors from the SAWC participated. Each author presented one or more books, thirty-four books in total. A dozen authors made short presentations to an appreciative audience.
Thanks to everyone who helped make the Authors Fair a great success. Thanks especially to the authors whose books and enthusiasm made this a truly special event.
The May 14th meeting of the San Angelo Writers Club was dedicated to readings by the members. Each member was allotted five or so minutes to present new writing, old writing, or just magnificent writing. After our usual snacks and chat, the festivities got started right on time. Laurel Scott served as the master of ceremonies for the evening.
Ava Mills led off and read from an article of hers in Old West Magazine. Martha Saucelo is a new writer who has been thinking about Mexican-Hispanic culture and traditions. She read some heartfelt poems about being a woman and her relationship to Hispanic culture. John Osterhout read a scene from his book-in-progress, Mack Alpha Nine, a science fiction tale about an agent of the Galactic Enforcement Agency. Mattie McKee read from her book about her time working for members of congress. This story involved a stolen, misnamed pecan tree planted on the capital grounds. If it has to do with Texas, it has got to be bigger than life.
Pam Baklund was asked to produce a family history and rather than make villains out of family members, used the “Nobody” and “Somebody” constructs to make an exciting tale. (This comes from a popular cartoon: Who broke this vase? Nobody.) Stan Denny read three short poems: Spring Waxwing, Sounds, and Edges. Sally Fuller read poetry. The first poem envisioned the separation between life and death as an old metal fence and noted that you could love on either side. She also read Ouija board, which was more about love and closure than a child getting into trouble for using the board. Brenda Baranowski read three poems: Depressed at Breakfast, My Drinking Fire, and Let’s Have Sex and the Grammar Lesson. Lucian Czarnecki read a story about his pack out when he left Taiwan. It involved two counterfeit bills, the Taiwanese police, a small gun, and a disappearing colonel.
On April 17, Dana Glossbrenner, member of the San Angelo Writers Club, talked about her book, Women Behind Stained Glass: West Texas Pioneers, at the Fort Concho Spring Speaker Series. She spoke surrounded by the cool stone and soft lighting of the Commissary Building.
The First Christian Church in San Angelo, Texas has stained-glass windows that are over a century old. These windows are dedicated to three women: Annie Tankersley, Mary Jane Metcalfe, and Ellen Osmer Farr. Women Behind Stained Glass tells the stories of these women.
Annie Tankersley was a Concho Valley pioneer. The Tankersley family, including six children, moved to the headwaters of the South Concho River in about 1864, the first Anglo-American family to settle in the Concho river basin. Mary Jane Metcalfe left her husband in an asylum and made her way south to Texas. Ellen Osmer Farr became the first female postmaster in San Angelo. The three women embodied the very spirit of the pioneer Texas woman.
Glossbrenner’s animated and entertaining presentation was well received by the crowd. She stayed afterward to sell copies of Women Behind Stained Glass and her other book, The Lark, a heartwarming story about Charlie Bristow, the most sought-after hairdresser in five counties.
Bruce Partain, President and CEO of the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, spoke on “Writing About San Angelo for Traditional Publications and Other Media” at the April 9 meeting of the San Angelo Writers Club. He discussed writing for traditional media as well as for blogs and social media. According to Partain, his motivation was to get more well-written stories about San Angelo into publications across the state and world.
Partain gave examples of writing assignments from his own experience and that of others. He discussed various types of writing: general features, travel features, profiles, and industrial news and updates. Noting the the Chamber of Commerce was a resource for writing examples and stock photos of San Angelo, he encouraged our membership to work on the on line presence. Finally, he discussed a set of electronic tools that he found useful for interviewing and organizing materials.
Partain provided two handouts, which are available below.
Dr. John Osterhout, recently retired from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Angelo State University, spoke on “Writing the Schnoz of the Rings” at the March 12 meeting of the San Angelo Writers Club. Osterhout discussed various aspects of writing parody including checking out the competition, length considerations, funny names, and pop cultural references.
Osterhout began by talking about his reasons for writing “The Schnoz of the Rings” which were more personal than related to monetary gain. “Desire for fame and fortune are not good reasons to undertake writing a book.”
Osterhout read several passages from his book to illustrate various aspect of humor in parody. He gave examples of pop cultural references from Start Trek, The Wizard of Oz, and the Beverly Hillbillies.
After his presentation, Osterhout signed copies of his book, which is available in paperback on Amazon and from Barnes and Noble. It is available for the Kindle and through Kindle Unlimited. The Schnoz can also be checked out at the Angelo State University Porter Henderson Library and the Tom Green County Library.
Dr. Terry Dalrymple of Angelo State University’s English department, spoke on “The Long and Short of Short Story Writing” at the Feb. 12 meeting of the San Angelo Writers Club. He discussed the wide variety of writing that can fall within the description “short story,” from “flash fiction,” stories as no longer than 1,000 words, to the novella, which can be as long as 50,000 words. The standard short story is defined as 1,500 to 30,000 words in length by Writers Digest. But Dalrymple said not to focus on length. “I don’t think it makes much difference. If it’s a good story, it’s a good story.” He said flash fiction is very popular currently in literary magazines and journals but said, “It’s so much harder to write an 800-word story.”
He also talked about inspiration and what fiction is and is not. He and two other authors, Jerry Craven and Andrew Geyer, did what is known as a short story cycle of four stories by each writer, for a total of 12, that had to connect in some way. Titled “Dancing on Barbed Wire.”
“It was an interesting thing to do and it inspired me.” He said he “hears voices,” pieces of dialogue or description that can turn into a short story. One example he gave was writing a story just from the word on a car license plate. He emphasized, though, that ideas don’t make a story, characters do. And he said fiction is not about creating, it’s about re-creating.
“We don’t create out of nothing, like God created light. We re-create. Fiction is like counterfeit money, it is supposed to look like the real thing even though it’s not.” He emphasized that the elements of fiction — character, plot, point of view and setting — also includes believe-ability.
He concluded with one piece of “major advice”: at least one character has to be a complex human being and quoted the phrase “friction equals fiction.”
At the January 8th meeting, Dr. Laurence Musgrove, author of books of poetry and chair of the Angelo State University Department of English, presented “The Five Sources of Beauty in Poetry.”
Musgrove began by listing the five sources: shape, line, voice, repetition, and analogy. It is usually easy to spot poetry on the page: it is not a solid block of text like prose. Poetry on the page takes different shapes: long lines that extend almost across the page or skinny lines snaking down the page or lining the edges. The shape of the poem often hints at its style. Long lines implying perhaps description or observation, short lines providing contrast or emotion.
On December 11 the San Angelo Writers Club held its 2018 Holiday Party. Club members contributed dishes and desserts for a potluck spread. Everyone filled their plates and the evening commenced with munching and socializing.
After everyone was settled with their plates, the club members began their tradition of letting each member read a short bit of their year’s work. Several members read from their work. The contributions ranged from poetry to prayer, from serious and heart-felt to humorous.
The evening ended with more munching and more socializing before we broke to reconvene in the new year.
On November 13, Preston Lewis, the Spur Award-winning author of more than 30 western, juvenile and historical novels on the Old West, spoke to the San Angelo Writers Club about historical research and how he uses his findings to incorporate humor into his novels of the Old West.
The San Angelo Writers Club meets the second Tuesday of every month at First Place, 14 Harris Street, San Angelo, Texas. Coffee and snacks are served at 6:30 pm and the presentations begin at 7:00 pm. Membership is $20.00 per year.