Tiffany Yates Martin

Get Out of the Room

“The editor has no place in the room while you’re writing,” says world-class developmental editor, Tiffany Yates Martin.

She enthusiastically encourages you to let your pure creativity flow without your imaginary inner-jerk editor, poking you, asking, “Really?  Is that the best way to say it?”

There’s a time for the editor—but it’s later, helping you tame your draft into submission. 

One way to hush your inner critic is find a book that’s well written. Read it. Enjoy it.  Then go back and read it again, but this time, read it analytically as a writer. Ask questions.  How did the author set this up? What created this tension? How did he/she do that?  Make notes. 

Learning to read analytically will “osmose storycraft into you,” says Martin. Then as you write, “… you’ll subconsciously put what you learned into your writing without trying to.”

What do you look for when analyzing a book?

One important facet is MOMENTUM. At the WWW Conference, Tiffany Yates Martin will share 30 years of her editing knowledge in a special Thursday workshop, How To Find and Fix Middle-Of-The-Book Sag. You’ll learn how to spot what’s derailing your story and how to get it back on track.

Martin works with national publishers and best-selling authors and loads tremendous value, information and inspiration into an afternoon. This is a value-packed workshop regardless of your skill level or genre. 

NaNoWriMo Prep 101

Whether this is your first time tackling a novel or your fifteenth, the NaNo Prep 101 Workshop is ready to help you prepare to reach your goal. During September and October, NaNoWriMo Prep 101 provides activities for you to use. Visit NaNoWriMo Prep 101 for more information.

Are you planning to participate in NaNoWriMo 2021?
Are you a seasoned NaNoWriMo writer?
Is this your first time taking part in NaNoWriMo?

Kate Ristau

What Are You Bad At?

Folklorist, Kate Ristau, will tell you she’s bad at “description.”  Then she’ll encourage you to ponder your own Don’t-Want-To-Admit, Not-So-Good areas of writing.

And you’ll let out a breath of relief when she tells you why it doesn’t matter.
Your awareness is what matters.

Now that you’re aware of your goods and bads, you can focus on picking up tools to make your fragile areas better. “You can learn how to fix it. You don’t have to wallow in your inability … just find the tools you need to do the things you can’t,” Kate says.

Fortunately, Kate will help build those tools. Her WWW Conference workshop, “Between the Quotes” will give writers at any level an effective, polished tool to write dialogue.  You’ll learn to create riveting conversation that reveals the character, drives the plot, sets the mood, and grounds the reader in the story. 

Having taught at University of Oregon and Western Oregon University, her method is affirming and inspirational.  Hermiddle grade series, Clockbreakers, and the young adult series, Shadow Girl, have unforgettable characters in stories that live long in the reader’s memory. Her essays appear in the NYTimes and Washington Post. Visit Kate’s website to see more of her work.

Until you can attend this workshop to build your dialogue toolkit, keep Kate’s words in mind.

“Remember the things you’re good at, as well as the things you’re bad at because ALL of those things, ALL together, they come to define your own unique style.”

The Benefits of Pen Pals

My first thought was that any writing does – emails, social media posts, reports, formal letters. They’re all a way of honing our skills. But the intimacy of writing to pen pals gives you much more freedom of expression — one of the fundamentals of good writing.

Read more about The Benefits of Pen Pals and How They Made Me a Better Writer by Karon Taylor (The Team Write Life)

Frank Weber

Amp up Story Tension: Villains have Their Moments

You know what the villain, brute, or antagonist in your story must do. But is that character believable?  Would he/she actually act that way in the real world?

At the October WWW Conference, we have the unique opportunity to hear from forensic psychologist, Frank Weber.  This award-winning true-crime author and profiler will help you create spine-tingling scenes in his presentation: Creating True to Life Characters, Situations and Tension.

WWW recently asked him, “What’s one mistake writers make about villains?”

His answer will give you plenty of ways to twist your plot…. (and your characters).

Frank Weber says…

“As a forensic psychologist, I’ve interviewed killers. A common mistake is that villains are one-hundred percent bad. Even the worst people I’ve dealt with occasionally say kind or meaningful things. 

“Gary Gillmore was a very antisocial character who had the notoriety of being the first person executed when they reinstated the death penalty.  He murdered two young fathers after robbing them, even though they complied completely with his demands. When Gillmore was on death row he received a letter from and eight-year-old boy stating, ‘I hate you with all the malice in my heart.’

“Gillmore wrote him back, ‘You’re too young to have malice in your heart. I had malice in my heart at your age, and look where I am.’

“Some murderers go for long periods of time undetected simply because they are not always evil. They always do have a moment when their lack of empathy is obvious. It’s often dismissed as, “He’s just having a bad day,” rather than honestly considering his deep psychopathology.”

No matter your genre, every story needs a villain (sometimes it’s the villain within the hero).  Frank Weber will help writers learn about forensic techniques, what they get wrong on TV, and create spine-tingling tension that will have your readers turning pages. 

Melissa Hart

Article Writing—It Benefits You in Ways You’ve Never Dreamed

Need to sell more books?  Need to gain credibility and move to “published” status more quickly? Want to improve your overall writing skills for both fiction and non-fiction?

Writing articles will help you reach all these goals.  It even pays, maybe not a lot, but the compensation can be used to support a research trip or buy a new keyboard.

At the 2021 WWW Conference, Melissa Hart will teach beginning and advanced classes to start growing or polishing your article-writing skills. We asked her to share one short tip to get us ready: 

How to make an opening paragraph irresistible.

Hart says, “In this age of distraction, it’s crucial to command readers’ attention in your very first sentence. I pack my first paragraphs with equal parts conflict and surprise. When readers witness a protagonist immediately engaged in some internal or external struggle, we’re hooked. We want to find out what happens. And when you add surprising details in your description of a character or setting, or in dialogue or a well-crafted metaphor, I dare anyone to stop reading and go back to watching cat videos.

On October 9, Hart will share specific methods gleaned from experience as an award-winning middle-grade author, a journalist, and Master of Fine Arts creative writing instructor. Her well-researched articles and essays have appeared in numerous national publications and have helped thousands of writers.

Her value-packed information is for all writers. Those who have research material will especially find these presentations valuable in helping market their books.

New Release ~ Mercy and Madness by Beverly Lionberger Hodgins

Mercy and Madness: Dr. Mary Archard Latham’s Tragic Fall from Female Physicia

Born among the rolling green hills of New Richmond, Ohio, Mary Archard was a thinker and achiever from the beginning. This can-do attitude must have run through her blood, for several branches of her family living in the villages of New Richmond, Batavia, Amelia, and in the city of Cincinnati, had been significant contributors to the settling of the region. Some became educators, others were abolitionists, and still others, preachers; everyone farmed. 

The third of five daughters of James and Jane Archard, at twenty years of age Mary wed Edward Hempstead Latham, the son of a prominent Columbus, Ohio, family. To wed at twenty was not unusual at the time. They produced three boys, while Edward attended medical college, earning his degree. Also, not very unusual. But before long, the unusual occurred when Mary enrolled in and graduated in 1886 from medical college, earning a license to practice and the title, Dr. Mary A. Latham.

In 1888, Mary travelled to Spokane Falls, Washington Territory, seeking to improve her health and became the first female physician in the village. She led an extraordinary life there, until it wasn’t. She specialized in caring for women and children, though she never turned anyone away, male or female. The “unfortunate girls” of Spokane Falls/Spokane were especially fortunate when Dr. Mary Latham cared for them, sometimes inside her own home. And she found respectable homes for their unwanted infants. While keeping busy in her practice, she also helped establish a public library, travelled, and wrote numerous letters to editors of the various local newspapers. Mary always spoke her mind.

But at the tragic accidental death of a son, followed quickly by a stroke, Mary suffered great turmoil. The traumas took their toll upon her mind, until she battled depression and likely early dementia, once considering suicide. Her declining ability to make wise decisions combined with her proud, feisty nature would bring trouble. She would be taken advantage of by others seeking to profit from her vulnerability. Eventually, Mary finds herself inside the Spokane County Courthouse, accused of arson of her own property. Convicted on circumstantial evidence alone, but with a recommendation for mercy from the jury, Mary is nevertheless sentenced by a judge—one with a possible vendetta toward her—to four years at hard labor in the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. She returns to Spokane for her final decade still caring for others, until she and her final tiny patient succumb in January 1917.

The release date for Mercy and Madness is March 2, 2022. Pre-order is available on Amazon.

As a member of the fourth generation of an Oregon pioneer family, Beverly Lionberger Hodgins has a distinct interest in all things historical regarding the settling and development of the Pacific and Inland Northwest. She lives in Spokane, Washington, and is a distant relative of Dr. Mary Archard Latham.

2021 WILLA Literary Award Winners and Finalists

Women Writing the West® (WWW) is proud to announce the 2021 WILLA Literary Award competition Winners and Finalists, representing the best of 2020 published literature for women’s or girls’ stories set in the North American West. WWW, a nonprofit association of writers and other writing professionals writing and promoting the Women’s West, is the underwriter and annual presenter of this nationally recognized award.

Selected by professional librarians, historians and university affiliated educators, the winning authors and their books will be honored during the Women Writing the West annual conference.

The 2021 honorees are listed with the designation of Winner and Finalist in each of eight categories.
WINNER: Hanging Falls: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery by Margaret Mizushima (Crooked
Lane Books)
FINALIST: The Flying Cutterbucks by Kathleen M. Rodgers (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing)
FINALIST: Creatures: A Novel by Crissy Van Meter (Algonquin Books)
WINNER: Wild Rivers, Wild Rose by Sarah Birdsall (University of Alaska Press)
FINALIST: Answer Creek: A Novel by Ashley E. Sweeney (She Writes Press)
FINALIST: The Streel: A Deadwood Mystery by Mary Logue (University of Minnesota Press)
WINNER: 142 Ostriches by April Dávila (Kensington Books)
FINALIST: Death in the Time of Pancho Villa: A Rose in Old El Paso Mystery by Sandra
Marshall (Level Best Books Historia)
FINALIST: And We Shall Have Snow: A Roxanne Calloway Mystery by Raye Anderson
(Signature Editions)
WINNER: Miracle Country: A Memoir of a Family and a Landscape by Kendra Atleework
(Algonquin Books)
FINALIST: Grand Canyon to Hearst Ranch: One Woman’s Fight to Save Land in the
American West by Elizabeth B. Austin (TwoDot)
FINALIST: Walking the High Desert: Encounters with Rural America along the Oregon
Desert Trail by Ellen Waterston (University of Washington Press)
WINNER: Ours by Every Law of Right and Justice: Women and the Vote in the Prairie
Provinces by Sarah Carter (University of British Columbia Press)
FINALIST: Colorado Women in World War II by Gail M. Beaton (University Press of
FINALIST: From San Francisco Eastward: Victorian Theater in the American West by
Carolyn Grattan Eichin (University of Nevada Press)
WINNER: The Girl who Moved to the Town that Wasn’t There by Suzanne Hovik Fuller,
Illustrated by Emmeline Forrestal (Siouxland Heritage Museums)
FINALIST: Wilmettie by Sue Houser, Illustrated by Johnna Scalia (Texas Tech University
FINALIST: Library’s Most Wanted by Carolyn Leiloglou, Illustrated by Sarah Pogue (Pelican)
WINNER: Taylor Before and After by Jennie Englund (Imprint)
FINALIST: Every Reason We Shouldn’t by Sara Fujimura (Tor Teen)
FINALIST: Reckonings by Daniel Doeden (TouchPoint Press)
WINNER: Second Wind by Patricia Frolander (High Plains Press)
FINALIST: Some Electric Hum by Janice Northerns (Lamar University Literary Press)
FINALIST: Once Upon a Time in Oklahoma by Yvonne Carpenter (Mongrel Empire Press)

The WILLA Literary Award
Celebrating the Diversity of the Women’s West

Women Writing the West (WWW) will begin to accept entries for the 2022 WILLA Literary
Award, honoring books originally published in 2021 that feature women’s or girls’ stories set in
the North American West, beginning November 1, 2021.

The deadline for submission is February 1, 2022.

WWW membership is open to all persons worldwide; membership is not a requirement for
eligibility in The WILLA Literary Award competition.

For more information about The WILLA Literary Award, Women Writing the West, or its
Annual Conference, please send an inquiry to WWW Administrator, Alice Trego, at, or visit the WWW website.

Amy Nowak Swierczek
WWW 2021 WILLA Literary Award Chair

2021 Summer Workshop Round-Up

Julie Zander and I thought we had prepared for everything that might rear its ugly head and come between us and success. We had a workshop leader that was proven to know her stuff when it came to pitches, Julie had 16 agents agree to review the pitches, and we had 28 WWW members who bravely registered for the workshop. I was beyond excited when I found a FREE platform to host our classroom that had great reviews and I learned it inside out. A few days before the workshop was to begin, I entered it to add those registered and write up a welcome message – and my heart sank when I discovered it had crashed! I tried contacting their support but their support did not exist. Sweating, heart pounding I knew I only had a few hours to find a new platform, learn it, set it up and have it ready for Monday morning for class to begin. Dang it, this situation posed problems for the participants and the agents, so I was on troubleshoot duty for two weeks.

Despite the classroom problem, the workshop was a huge success! Laura received rave reviews as an instructor, and from the agent review week, ten, (that is 10!) received requests for more information from agents, one participant received requests from 4 different agents! Congratulations to all who participated!

The even better news? All participants learned, not only from Laura, but from each other, how to Perfect Their Pitch and now all have pitches that are agent quality! We hope to offer this workshop again next summer – stay tuned!

Participants feedback

“The most valuable writing seminar / conference I’ve ever attended.”

“I found it especially helpful, and would love to take the class again.”

“I love how encouraging other students were. I thought Laura’s comments on each of our pitches were VERY insightful and helpful. She had specific ideas for improvement and was able to articulate them in a very encouraging way.”

Kathy Sechrist & Julie Zander
Summer 2021 Workshop Coordinators