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Steven Gould’s Presentation

What Hollywood taught me about Prose Fiction

by Steven Gouldstevengould

Steven Gould is the author of Jumper, Wildside, Helm, Blind Waves, Reflex, Jumper: Griffin’s Story, 7th Sigma, Impulse, and Exo, as well as short fiction published in numerous magazines and anthologies.

 Jumper was made into a 2008 feature film with Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Bell, Rachel Bilson, and Hayden Christensen. In 2013 Steve was hired to help develop four movie sequels to James Cameron’s Avatar, as well as write five novels based on the films. Impulse is currently being made into a TV pilot for YouTube Red

The recipient of the Hal Clement YA Award for SF, Steve has been a Hugo, Nebula, Prometheus, and Compton Crook finalist, but his favorite distinction was being on the ALA’s list of Top 100 Banned Books 1990-1999. Right there at #94 between Steven King’s Christine and a non-fiction book on sex education. Then Harry Potter came along and bumped him off the bottom of the  list.

The presentation is available on YouTube HERE.

 

 

 




Self Publishing Presentations are Online!

If you attended the recent Self Publishing Conference you will be delighted to have access to some of the presentation materials brought by our roster of award winning speakers.   Some of the speakers from the recent Self-Publishing Conference have posted their powerpoint presentations online.   We are also proud to announce that many elements of the conference were recorded and released to YouTube.

Rose Marie Kern shared her insights as to how to determine if self publishing is right for you by posting her presentation on the Pros and Cons of Self Publishing.

Sarah Baker has also donated her insights on what printing companies are good for individuals to partner with in the production of a self-published work.   Her powerpoint  entitled Now What?  is available to you on the conference page as well.

If you would like to access these presentations and recordings, go to the Self Publishing Conference page.

 




The Writing Life: Researching History

by Sherri Burr


SherriBurr

Researching people and events can be one of a writer’s greatest challenges. The further back you travel in time, the less likely you are to find people with direct connections to interview about the lives of particular individuals. Writers are thus left to forage out documentary information to compile their stories and analysis from multiple sources.

In 2015, I was blessed to receive a fellowship at Monticello, the home of President Thomas Jefferson, which is now run by a foundation dedicated to preserving his role in history. If Jefferson once owned 200 slaves who labored for his happiness, as he once proclaimed, his Monticello estate now employs 300 individuals who toil for his immortality. Fellows are provided housing on the grounds Jefferson once owned, and given a badge granting after-hours access to a shared office within the Jefferson Library.

After receiving a tour of the library I immediately researched their collection and found thirty books related to my topic on the Free Blacks of Virginia. My fellowship goal was to find enough material to support my book and the chapter I envisioned dedicating to Jefferson’s connections to Free Blacks.

What I knew before arriving at Monticello could be described in three general categories. First, as a lawyer Jefferson had represented individuals seeking freedom. Second, as someone who was frequently cash strapped, Jefferson had borrowed money from Free Blacks and some of his slaves. And third, he had formally or informally freed ten individuals either during his lifetime or by the codicil to his will, and that all of these individuals had connections to Sally Hemings. My goal was to document what I previously knew and create an analytic framework.

The documentation came more easily than expected as I listened to the full audiobook version of The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed. This Harvard professor had won a Pulitzer Prize for her exhaustive research about one family whose lives intersected with Jefferson in ways that were good and bad. Many times he repaid the money he borrowed from his Hemings slaves. And he informally freed two of Sally Hemings’ children, and then formally freed her last two sons and arranged for Sally to go live with them. The discussion of one freedom suit Jefferson lost as an attorney was illustrative of his personality because he then gave the client money, instead of collecting fees, and the client freed himself by running away.

Gordon-Reed’s book presented these issues so well that I decided to expand my topic. After talking to another Monticello fellow from The Netherlands, who was studying Jefferson’s intellectual life, I contemplated Jefferson’s cognitive dissonance about blacks, particularly how he said and wrote one thing (“slavery is an abomination”) while doing another (owning and purchasing slaves). I shared my idea with a Jefferson Librarian whose face dropped as I spoke. “We all know T.J. was wrong,” she said, and encouraged me to expand.

I visited the Library of Virginia in Richmond to peruse documents on microfiche, and the archives of Virginia State University in Petersburg. In between conducting this detailed study work, which involved long hours reviewing manuscripts in cursive writing, I toured Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and the homes of Virginia presidents. It was the slavery tours at the homes of Presidents Madison and Monroe that led to the formation of another idea. I decided to expand the chapter originally planned to focus on Jefferson to include Washington, Madison, Monroe and John Tyler, all of whom were born and raised in Virginia.

Virginia gave our country five of its first ten presidents, all of whom had declared slavery evil while owning slaves. As I drove into the parking lot at Sherwood Forrest, the home of the country’s tenth president, John Tyler, I noticed my car was alone. An hour and forty-five minutes into the conversation with the guide, I asked if he had to prepare for his next tour and he replied, “That’s next week.” While Jefferson’s Monticello receives approximately 700,000 visitors a year, Tyler’s Sherwood Forest was explored by very few. It was then I realized that I had found a history topic to research and write about that was in less-charted territory.

I urge writers to think of researching history as the equivalent of working on a jigsaw puzzle with neither a picture nor boundary pieces. Begin with an idea of what the chapter or book might become. As you acquire more data, be open to expanding your idea until you find what finally clicks.


A Short and Happy Guide to Financial Well BeingSherri Burr is the Regents’ Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law where she teaches Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property Law, and Art Law. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Princeton University, and the Yale Law School, she has authored or co-authored 20 books, including A Short and Happy Guide to Financial Well-Being (West Academic, 2014). Sherri is a long-time member of SouthWest Writers as well as the New Mexico Press Women’s Association.




Robert Gassaway – Gentleman Author

Gassaway

Bob Gassaway was a journalist for more than 20 years. After earning a Ph.D. in sociology, focusing on human communication, he began teaching journalism and conducting research as a sociologist. He is co-editor of a non-fiction book called Dirty Work and later in life wrote murder mysteries, drawing on many memories of crime scenes.

After a long illness, Bob passed away in May.  A SWW member and board member, many of us remember him as soft spoken and unfailingly polite, always noticing the efforts of others and encouraging positive interactions.   Before the SWW Memoir Conference in 2015, Bob wrote the following article, and in doing so exposed many of his own experiences and memories for us to enjoy.

 

The Many Faces of Memoir

The memoir is a curious kind of writing. It has many faces because it has a different style and tells a different story for every person who creates one.
Bookstores tend to lump biographies and memoirs together, but they actually are very different beasts. A biography tells the story of a person’s life from childhood up until the time the story is written. But a memoir is a narrower take on a person’s life-just a segment of the life that the writer deems interesting and worth recounting.
One writing teacher uses a kitchen metaphor to distinguish between them. She says a biography is the whole pie. But a memoir is a slice of the pie. It should be an interesting slice with characters and probably conflict that will hold the reader’s attention, but it’s just a piece of the life, covering a particular time period in the writer’s life.
One thing is clear: Biographies and memoirs are shelved in the nonfiction section of the bookstore. Indeed, the memoir is expected to be a true account. If you plan to write fiction, write a novel, not a memoir.
Gassaway 2.jpg   Nonetheless, the writer can take some reasonable liberties with a memoir. Memoir, after all, derives from a French word meaning memory. So you’re drawing on your memories when you write a memoir. Yet many memoirs reproduce conversations of years gone by. Are they verbatim transcriptions that the writer is reproducing? Not likely. The reader should understand that the writer has reconstructed the events as he or she remembers them. In fact, a note early in the book might remind the reader that the writer is depending on memories to tell the story.
One of my friends, Fred Bales, has used a variety of approaches to telling stories from various parts of his life. He published one book, mostly for friends and family, using the letters he and his wife, Jan, wrote to their parents when Fred and Jan were serving in the Peace Corps in Chile.
In another project, Fred created a novella based on boyhood memories of a scandalous sex triangle in his hometown. He also produced a short nonfiction book on his experiences during an attempted coup in the Philippines. He was in Manila as a Fulbright lecturer, teaching at two universities, when some members of the Filipino military tried to overthrow then-President Corazon Aquino in December of 1989. Fred holed up in his small apartment, but often could hear gunfire not far away.
Bright journalist that he was, he cranked paper into his typewriter and began keeping a log of his daily life, describing what he could see and hear, plus what he learned about the attempted coup d’état from television news and from people at the U.S. embassy. Last year, when he decided to write about his coup experiences, that log provided the facts he needed.
He used memories in a more traditional approach to memoir to produce an account of his work as a volunteer for a homeless shelter in Albuquerque. The residents in the shelter are men with medical problems, some of them quite serious.
That book, called Our Sheltered Lives, actually sort of sneaked up on Fred. He had been volunteering at the shelter for about three years, he says, when he decided that he could write a book about his experiences. At that point he began making some notes after each day of volunteer work to describe his more interesting experiences.
In the book, Fred recounts conversations with the men as he drove them to medical appointments and on errands around town. He disguised the identities of the men to protect their privacy.
Fred is a former journalist and a retired journalism professor who taught at the University of New Mexico (UNM). After he retired from UNM, he taught for several years in New Orleans and later in Brownsville, Texas, before he returned to Albuquerque to settle down and start writing.
“I think everybody ought to have something to look forward to, and for writers, that is writing,” he says. “I do if for my own self. It has its own rewards. I’m not in it for the money.” (But he does have four books for sale on Amazon.com)
Jim Tritten, a member of the board of directors of SouthWest Writers, is a retired Navy pilot and draws on those experiences in some of his writing. He has 3,345 hours of pilot time in 24 military airplane types to his credit. And he has made 320 landings on nine aircraft carriers-one of the most difficult things a naval aviator will ever do.
A modern aircraft carrier is a huge ship when you go aboard one or see it tied up at a dock. But it looks like little more than Gassaway 1a speck in the ocean when you are flying thousands of feet above it and planning to land on the flight deck below. The carrier is not parked at sea when a pilot is trying to land. The ship is underway, rolling and pitching with the waves and the actions of the sea, plus it is steaming into the wind to grant the airplane extra lift as it makes its precarious landing.
If you are able to touch down on this moving target, a tailhook under the plane is supposed to grab a steel cable strung across the deck. An aircraft traveling 120 miles an hour is jerked to a stop in just two seconds.
Jim has penned a few short nonfiction stories about his years of flying, the close calls, the tall tales the pilots tell each other, his visits to foreign ports and his other adventures. And he has written a novel, not yet published, that includes a fictional chapter that is based on a real-life crash that Jim experienced firsthand.
But we all have stories that will interest others. For instance, I spent a year in Vietnam as a war correspondent for The Associated Press. (Actually it was one year, two weeks, five hours and 18 minutes-but who’s keeping track?) I spent most of my time with the U.S. Marines in the northern part of South Vietnam-and I made a very large target at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds. I’ve started writing a book about covering the war.Gassaway 3
Beyond that, I’ve been a journalist, a firefighter, a paramedic, and a sociologist. Along the way, I’ve been to dozens of murder scenes. Now my primary writing interest is mystery novels based on what I’ve learned about the work of crime scene investigators.
Naturally you don’t have to go to a war or make a habit of landing on aircraft carriers or see lots of dead people or work with the homeless to have an interesting tale. The trick is to pick out the pieces of your life that are the most interesting and find a narrative structure that you can use to knit those together into an intriguing story. And that makes a memoir.
With some thought and effort, you can turn your story into a memoir that your family will cherish-and it might just find a publisher who will spread the word far and wide.

Thank you, Bob, for your wisdom, your friendship and the sense of adventure you gave in everything your wrote.




2016 Novel Conference Report by Conference Manager Joanne Bodin

Novel Conference Slider Sm 3

2016 Novel Conference Report

According to all the feedback received, the Novel Conference was a success on all counts.  All attendees who wished to pitch their novels to an editor or agent were able to do so, the speakers were both knowledgeable and entertaining and the proceeds exceeded the cost.

Novel Conference staff

Pictured right are Novel Conference Volunteers:  L-R:  Joanne Bodin, Dino Leyba, Jeanne Shannon, Ernie Leggett, Edith Greenly, Kimberly Mitchell, and Sam Moorman.

We couldn’t have put together such a great conference without the help of our wonderful SWW volunteers. A big thank you goes to the following people for their help and flexibility in putting this conference together.

Kathy Wagoner, Bobbi Adams, Melody Groves, Dennis Kastendiek, Ernie Leggett, Sam Moorman, Don Morgan, Rose Marie Kern, Don DeNoon, Dino Leyba, Kimberly Mitchell, Larry Greenly, Edith Greenly, Jeanne Shannon, and Rob Speigel.

A special thank you to Bookworks for setting up a table during the con-ference. Also to Jason’s Deli for providing the delicious box lunches. Thank you to Rob Spiegel for making cookies for our afternoon snack. Thank you to the Hilton Garden Inn Albuquerque Uptown for housing our keynote speakers and finally thank you to Chez Axel Restaurant for opening up exclusively to SWW on Friday evening.




Riding a New Roller Coaster

rose headshot 5What can I say? This is my first attempt to do anything at all with a blog on a website. I’ve always wanted to, but haven’t had the time to learn. Suddenly I find I’ve accepted the challenge to learn how to make this work. My biggest fear is hitting the wrong button and screwing up entirely

Writing a blog is the easy part, just putting words down about whatever is on my mind. Whether someone wants to read it or not kind of depends on whether or not they find you amusing, droll, informative, deep, creative or just plain nuts.

This is made very difficult because I am wearing my old glasses—the ones that don’t work really well anymore. The “new” ones developed a scratch so they are back at the optical shop getting the lenses replaced. Whenever you change spectacles you go through an adjustment period where the floor looks slanted or things are not as in focus as you are accustomed to. With this old pair my left eye can see the computer screen just fine but the right eye reminds me of the aftereffects of a New Year’s eve party—fuzzy and colorful. So as I sit here I am typing with one eye closed.

But if I want to relax for a moment I close the left eye and open the right one and look at the Christmas lights…glowy balls dancing across the dark background. How fun!

I did not get glasses until I was about 12 years old—neither my parents or I realized that I was legally blind…I made do pretty well and was the bookish sort anyway. I could see really well 2 inches from my nose. Then the nun who taught 7th grade called Mom and raised hell because I told her I could not see the blackboard from the back of the room. The eye doctor confirmed I had 700/20 vision. About a week later Dad drove up in the old tan station wagon with the fake wood siding. I ran down the hill in front of our house and he handed me the glasses.

To this day thrills expand my soul outwards when I remember putting them on for the first time. I could see individual blades of grass…while standing up! I could see leaves on the trees way over in the neighbor’s yard! That night for the first time I saw that there were hundreds of stars in the sky, not just a few blurry white spots. Wow.

Of course, I had already fallen deeply in love with the written word by that time, something that has never changed even though I could now see what other people wrote about. So I write.

And now I blog.

And now I get to figure out how to make these words appear on a screen for you to see. As my old friend Bob used to say, “It’s a piss poor day when you don’t learn something new.”




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