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Steven Gould’s Presentation

What Hollywood Taught Me about Prose Fiction

by Steven Gould

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.


Robert Gassaway – Gentleman Author


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
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.

Last Call on 2014 SWW Writing Contest

Need an antidote to discouragement about getting your writing noticed? Enter SouthWest Writers annual writing contest. Past winners all agree that having a winning entry—regardless of first, second or third place—gave them the boost they needed to push ahead and get their work published. If you haven’t already entered this year’s International Writing Contest, you still have time. Entries close at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, May 15. There are 10 categories this year:

  • Mainstream/Literary Novel – enter the first 20 pages plus the synopsis
  • Mystery/Suspense/Thriller/Adventure Novel – enter the first 20 pages plus the synopsis
  • Juvenile/Young Adult Novel  – enter the first 20 pages plus the synopsis
  • Women’s Fiction  – enter the first 20 pages plus the synopsis
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Short Story – any length up to 6,000 words
  • Mainstream/Literary Short Story – any length up to 6,000 words
  • Creative Nonfiction/Memoir – enter the first 20 pages plus the synopsis
  • Essay – any length up to 2,500 words
  • Children’s Picture Book – either fiction or nonfiction up to 500 words (no illustrations)
  • Poetry – one poem up to three pages or three Haiku on one page.

For more information, click here.


Calling All SWW Authors

Who: SWW is organizing FREE booth space at the Moriarty Literary Event on Saturday, April 19. Sponsored by the Moriarty Community Library. All SWW members are welcome.

What: Join this book event and get FREE booth space with other SWW members. We’ll have fun together!

When: Saturday, April 19, 2014, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm (Arrive early!)

Where: Moriarty Civic Center, 202 S. Broadway, Moriarty, NM 87035

FREE booth space. Continental breakfast provided, buy your own lunch on-site.

Why: Promote and sell YOUR BOOKS and The Storyteller’s Anthology.

R.S.V.P. ASAP to Peggy Herrington at

P.S. Wear your cowboy boots!


UNMCE Writers Conference Features SWW


UNM Continuing Education’s 10th Annual Writers Conference takes place on Saturday, April 12, in the Student Union Building (SUB), located north of Popejoy Hall on the University of New Mexico’s main campus. The conference focus, “From Start to Sales,” features an impressive lineup of NYC speakers including authors and agents. Registration is $150.

Conference Coordinator and former SWW board member Sandra Toro’s 9 a.m. address, “Let SouthWest Writers Help You,” promises to be of interest to both current and prospective members. In addition, copies of “The Storyteller’s Anthology” will be available for purchase on the conference book table. Several current and former SWW members including Peggy Herrington, Kirk Hickman, Sherri Burr, Joanne Bodin and Melody Groves are also scheduled to speak.

Conference attendees who enroll by April 1st get a free one-on-one ten minute meeting with the editor or agent of their choice to “pitch” their writing project. After you register, contact Sandra Toro at to sign up for your ten minute pitch.

To register or get more information, go to here or call 505-277-0077. Sandra Toro will hand out conference brochures at the April 5 SWW meeting.

Former SWW Contest Judge To Speak in ABQ

Phong Nguyen, a 2013 SWW Contest Judge (fiction), will be giving a reading from his newly released book Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History in Albuquerque on March 15th, 2014. If interested, here is an event page with all the details. Come show your support!


IMPORTANT: The SouthWest Writers e-lert system is migrating over to a MailChimp account, so we can better keep you informed of SWW activities. It’s insanely easy to do. Simply visit this short link and enter your information:

You’ll only get a few more emails through the current (less than ideal) system, so sign up at MailChimp today!


SWW Launches New Website

We are proud to get a fresh look! We hope you will find the new easier to use and navigate. We are certainly looking forward to a site that’s easier to maintain and update (hopefully!)


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