What a great time we had at the July meeting of the Hill Country Women of Words! We celebrated our 13th birthday as a group in style with three cakes and eleven members!

Sheila Kale started our meeting by setting up her video camera. One by one, she went around the table and asked each of us what the WOW group has meant to us. It was really heart-warming to hear how encouraging, nurturing, and instructive our group has been to so many writers. I have to say it – we really are something special!! Sheila plans to post the video on YouTube and I will link to it on our web site. I’ll send out the link as soon as she gets it up. Thank you, Sheila!

Valerie Gaumont had a writing prompt for us: “He rendered an invaluable service to the family, although none could admit it.” We stretched that idea in every direction from divorce to an English butler to strange Uncle Fred to a hanging, an Alzheimer’s patient, a black sheep and a dog. We love the variety of all our different ideas and our words.

We were soooo happy that Liz Eberle, http://myprayingchairs.blogspot.com , our founding mother, was with us this month! Truly, this group would not exist if not for her. She began our meetings and welcomed us into her home month after month, year after year, and we will always be grateful for her initiative and her leadership. Liz brought a memoir story she calls “Uncle Charlie’s Stone House,” about the old stone house that used to stand next to their property. The house is gone and the acreage has sold to new owners, so Liz wanted to write something to give to them so they would know something of the colorful history of the place they now call home. It is so fun to know some local history! Thank you, Liz, for everything!

We welcomed a new member (we hope!) in Jeanne Rothberg, a neighbor of Barbara Loyd. Jeanne is a grant writer for MD Anderson and has branched out into fiction, short stories, and poetry. She read us one of her poems that has been published in Grasslands Review, a literary publication of Indiana State University. Her poem is called “Sunday Dinner in Wichita Falls” and it was lovely and visual. I hope Jeanne will return and become a regular WOW. I think we can learn a lot from her.

Barbara Loyd, http://colorfilled.blogspot.com , brought us her story, “Kindness on a DC MetroBus” which has been accepted for publication in the anthology Miracles of Kindness, and is scheduled for publication in the late summer or fall of 2014. This was a memoir of Barbara’s from years past when the kindness of a stranger on a bus made a real difference in her life. Thank you, Barbara and congratulations on your publishing success!

Sheila Kale, www.sheilaspeakshope.com , brought us a continuation of the chapter she started last month of her yet-to-be-named book. Remember the woman who was prowling outside the old, run-down church she used to attend? Well, now a police officer has showed up (are you sure he’s a real police office?) and escorted her off the property. Why? What’s in there he doesn’t want the woman to find? The plot thickens! Bring us more, Sheila!

Linda Colie did not have any writing to share with us, but she did write a longer piece from Valerie’s prompt, and as usual, we all enjoyed her little bit of British humor. We wish Linda would continue writing some of the wonderful pieces she starts, but in her situation, we do understand her challenges. It’s hard to write when you hurt. I’ve found that out first-hand. You bless us every month, Linda, just by being with us.

Alice Kolb, http://pens-or-pins.blogspot.com, brought us a copy of new book, Hard Times, Good Times, and Great Home Cooking (http://www.amazon.com/Hard-Times-Good-Great-Cooking/dp/1627553851/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406076544&sr=8-1&keywords=hard+times%2C+good+times%2C+and+great+home+cooking ). I had the opportunity to read Alice’s book this past month and I thoroughly enjoyed it! This combination memoir/cookbook is full of Alice’s family story, told in honest, vulnerable words and paired with delicious recipes. If I get real energetic, I might try some of them, but I definitely enjoyed reading her memoirs. Alice talked to us at the meeting of the process of how she came to write this book. It all started in Alpine, at the Writers League of Texas Summer Writing Retreat, when an instructor challenged the class to find their passion. When Alice stumbled on her mother’s old recipe box, she knew she had found the answer to the challenge. Alice chose Irie Books to edit and publish her book and she highly recommends them to anybody. Alice said she would love to help anybody who is thinking of self-publishing by sharing her experience with them.  

Betty Murphy said she has been working to write some of her mother’s stories and getting into her family’s genealogy. Betty is also involved in the Gillespie County Republican Women and in 2012, Betty helped put together a Constitutional Scavenger Hunt for their members. She brought us the flyer that challenged teams to go around Fredericksburg and photograph various items and sites, such as a newspaper, a church, thank a law enforcement officer, the jail, and a voter registration card. This would be a great activity for a high school government class. All the photos were tied into historical, Constitutional articles and amendments. Thank you, Betty, for bringing this for us! I really enjoyed it.

Lynn Harris brought us a continuation of the book she is working on, Life with Lupe. The drug dealers are disposed of, a new cast of characters has appeared and now Lynn is writing their story. How will it tie into Lupe’s story? She’s not sure, but Lynn is so faithful to write what her characters tell her to write and she trusts that it will all come together at some point. I’m very intrigued to find out! Lynn has also been coming to TWiG on Tuesdays and we’ve enjoyed her writing there.

Vici Wray is going to attend Christine Granados’ class at TTU this week on “How To Get Your Manuscript Published” and she brought us a portion of her book proposal so we could help her determine the genre of her book, Adventures at Camp Grandma. I was particularly impressed with her proposal at how well Vici managed to list her previous working experience without admitting that she used to work for the IRS.  I’m excited that Vici is going forward with this project. Sheila Kale and I are also going to attend the class this week. We will all learn bunches and share it all with everybody!

Valerie Gaumont, http://valeriegaumont.weebly.com, brought us Chapter Two of Ashka’s Road and we were drawn into the cold stone world of the Ghadastan Temple and Monka, Ashka’s mentor and father-in-law. Why did Monka advise Ashka years ago to hide so many of his old photographs? Slowly, Ashka is beginning to understand. Maybe next month, we will understand more, too. Wonderful reading!

Sally Clark, http://sallyclark.info, brought four books to show the group, SOAR! Follow Your Dreams, Garden Blessings, Worker Write: More Tales From the Cubicle, and Texas Poetry Calendar 2015. All four books feature my poetry. I also brought a new children’s picture book I call Chicken Tenders. I had so much fun writing this book, I want to do more. Thank you, everyone, for your help and suggestions.

News from other WOWs –

Dorothy Leyendecker sent us two magazines from the Florida Writers Guild. Lynn Harris took both of them and today, Tuesday, she told me she has already read one of them and learned so much from it. Thank you, Dorothy, for sharing with us.

Karen Vanek, http://karenvanek.wordpress.com, sent this message: “Happy 12th anniversary, WOW! Y'all have fun. I'm babysitting the grands in OKC. Hope to catch you next time.” 

I ran into Mary Eckert, www.blessingsfortheday.wordpress.com, at HEB. She couldn’t come because she was planning to attend the Teachers Retreat at The Haven River Inn in Comfort that Rebecca McCright and Dayna Haines have put together. I’m so glad Mary is teaching now and that she has this opportunity. Say hello to Rebecca and Dayna for me, Mary!

Kathleen Maxwell, http://themaxwellminutes.blogspot.com, emailed to say: “Just a note to say I try to keep up with everyone and read what you send. Life has not allowed me to come to meetings but I still consider myself a part of the group. I have been asked to speak to the Abilene Writers Guild this Thursday evening. Not sure I feel qualified but I'm saying yes and showing up!”

Sylvia Rogers, http://praise4life.wordpress.com, writes: “I will not be able to attend the anniversary celebration tonight. I hope that you all have a wonderful time and that many members come to celebrate. Even though I am fairly new to the group I am very thankful for the help and inspiration you all have given me. Monday's have become difficult for me to come to Fredericksburg.  This summer I made the decision to return to college after many years. Although I feel it is the right decision for me it has taken more time to study and keep up than I had anticipated. I'm in over my head, but it's great !!! Again, I hope the celebration is wonderful. Congratulations !!!” We admire your determination, Sylvia, and wish you the best success.

I would like to remind everyone that our group has a web site: http://hcwomenofwords.org Under the “Members Only” page, the login is hcwows and the password is fbg78624. Please take a look at it and let me know if you see any corrections or changes that need to be made. If you are new and your name is not listed on the Members list, please email me your information and I’ll get it on there. Many of our members do not have anything listed under “Members Bios” and some are old and need to be updated. I would greatly appreciate it if you would take a look at your own and let me know what I need to update or change. Thanks!

We will have one birthday before our next meeting: Sheila Kale on August 10th.          

Keep cool and keep writing!!!

Love, Sally

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