An Opportunity for WWW Members

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Here’s a bonus for Women Writing the West membership!

WWW member Linda Wommack has been a contributing writer to the Tombstone Epitaph for 22 years. Recently, she received a new assignment with the publication: book reviewer. Congratulations, Linda!

This is also a great opportunity for our members. Wommack would like to shine the spotlight on our WWW members when she can. Books, fiction and nonfiction, must be set in the West. Sorry, no poetry.

To see if your book might be reviewed in the Tombstone Epitaph, contact Wommack at

(As this offer is for members only, and Linda would prefer to keep her personal email off of public forums, please keep the sharing of this particular post off public social media.)

Thank you Linda for offering this to our WWW members!

Changing Your Name When Switching Genres

By WWW Member Mary Hagen

At the present, I write all my genres under my name, but I questioned whether or not I should. With that in mind, I went online to sites of romance writers since I write romance. What did I discover? Answers were divided. Some use pen names, some do not. I’ll list my findings here and let you decide. {Most gave me permission to use their name if I quoted them. Some did not respond.}

Two editors, one from Desert Breeze Publishing, Gail Delany, does not think it hurts to switch genres, and the other from Soul Mate, Debora Gilbert, suggests writers stay with the same genre. Most romance authors I contacted do write several genres. As one said, “I get bored staying with just one.” Amanda Cabot, Christian Fiction Writer said when she switched genres she assumed her readers would switch with her, but they did not.

The authors who do use the same name have had different results. Beate Boeker believes readers want to know what they are getting. “Presently, I write sweet romances and cozy mysteries, but if I should switch to sexy books, I think I’m obligated to warn my readers and I would consider a pen name,” she says.

Other authors, such as Roni Denholtz, write everything from sweet to sexier (not hot) romances and uses her own name. “Cowgirl” Lorretta Rogers is a multi-genre writer under her own name and has been told by her readers they like her different genres. Carmen Peone agrees and added, “It helps to build my reader base.” In the same vein, C.E. Lootens wants to gain a broad base of readers and gain their trust by using the same name. Christy King agrees.

Nonfiction and multi-genre fiction writer Amy Hale Auker and author Tami Dee believe changing names confuses readers. Amy reminded, “Amazon lists books by author.” Remember, you may have to start over if you do change names between genres. That may make more work for you. Some authors like multi-genre Vyaya Schartz, do not think readers cross over. “Readers are very specific about the genre they read. I have my author name on my author website so I divide my time when I promote my books.”

And then there’s those who don’t use pen names. Rosemarie Naramore is a multi-genre author using her own name. “I regret I did not start out with a pen name for each [genre]. I confused my readers with my approach.” She added, “I do think the problem could be remedy by putting out books in close succession.”

In the same vein, author Janis Patterson writes romance and mysteries under Janis Susan May and Janis Patterson. On her website she uses one name, but has two sides to her site, one for each name she uses. “I hope Janis Patterson will be listed next to James Patterson,” she explains.

From the feedback I received, it boils down to personal choice with excellent points of view on both sides. I decided I would continue using my own name for my western romances and my contemporaries although I seem to do better with contemporary sales. Ideas I gained will be used by me on my website necessitating a change in the listing of my books. I want to thank the authors for their responses.

Find Mary’s books here:

About Mary

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 11.09.47 AMMary grew up writing and riding horses, where her imagination went wild. While teaching school, she continued to write for national newspapers and magazines. Mary lives on a trout farm in Colorado near the Wyoming border and loves to hike in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Learn more about Mary and her books at her website:

Why should you think about proposing a workshop for the conference?

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos
The deadline is fast approaching to submit a proposal for the 2018 Women Writing the West Conference.
Anyone interested in submitting a proposal has through February 20 to send in the quick paperwork to the program co-chairs, Jane Kirkpatrick and Gail Jenner.
Have you considered the value you could bring to the conference with your particular area of expertise? We hope you will.
Maybe you’ve done extensive research about researching historical figures. Perhaps your skill set includes the best or latest social media practices.
Teaching a workshop is more than just sharing information with others. There’s benefits for you, too.
Consider what teaching a workshop might give back to you:
  • Professional development.
  • Digging deeper into what you already know and gaining additional knowledge.
  • Meeting people you might otherwise not have the opportunity to interact with at conference.
  • Stretching the boundaries of your comfort zone (especially for introverts!).
  • The feeling of accomplishment from joining forces to create the best possible conference for attendees.
  •  If you are planning to sell books at the conference, people are more likely to pay attention to your title if they’ve had the privilege of hearing you present and know you took the time to prepare a presentation.
If you’re interested in submitting a proposal for a workshop, you’ll find the form on the Women Writing the West website here.

New Release: WIDOW 1881 by Sara Dahmen

1372701500WWW member Sara Dahmen’s novel, Widow 1881, releases on Wednesday, February 14th from publisher SillanPaceBrown.

Proper Boston widow Jane Weber moves to the Dakota Territories to reinvent herself and to hide under layers of lies. Stirring up controversy, and going against the grain of her curated sense of propriety, Jane rooms with the last Blackfoot Sioux in Flats Junction. Navigating a mercurial friendship with the fiercely independent grocer, she finds everyone has an untold story, including her unpredictable employer, the town doctor.

Set against a backdrop of the prairie, Widow 1881 is the first of six books in the Flats Junction Series, which focuses on the overarching theme of womanhood: how does the torch pass from wise matriarchs to the next generation? Who were the millions of regular woman who really settled the last frontier? And how do they learn to work together to glue civilization into the heart of the west?


About Sara

Sara DahmenSara lives along the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, but visits the Dakotas often. She is a cookware manufacturer and metalsmith apprentice, and spoke at TEDx Rapid City. Sara’s non-fiction book on the history and science of cookware is due out at the end of 2018. When she’s not writing, she’s working on her House Copper line, or spending time with her husband and three children. Visit to learn more.

New Release: THE TRIALS OF NELLIE BELLE by Sydney Avey

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WWW member Sydney Avey’s latest novel, The Trials of Nellie Belle, releases tomorrow, on Tuesday, February 6th!

When her parents marry Kansas-born Nellie Belle to the ranch’s foreman, she never questions that motherhood will follow. Yearning to achieve a sense of self-worth, Nellie later leaves behind her husband and son and takes her two daughters to the Northwest. She becomes the first woman court reporter to travel the circuit in the region. But on her journey, and as she meets people from all walks of life, she loses her daughters, one to death, and one to vaudeville.

Nellie finds fulfillment in the hard-won respect of a tight legal community that metes out early twentieth-century justice. But when her prodigal youngest returns home with a babe in arms, she must do what she can to pull together what remains of her scattered family. Can Nellie rescue her broken-hearted daughter, and give direction to her headstrong granddaughter, who is on a path to disaster?


About Sydney

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 9.35.38 AMSydney lives half her time in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Yosemite, CA and the rest of the year in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Her background includes a degree in English from Berkeley and writing news stories for non-profits and large corporations and many of her pieces have appeared in magazines across the country. You can find her writing her blog or just more about Sydney, at

Straddling the Hybrid World

By Sara Dahmen {blog coordinator}

In light of the many wonderful suggestions from our membership about what kind of blog posts might be interesting, one question put out was the following: what is it like being a hybrid author – both publishing indie and traditionally at the same time – and how is it possible to successfully navigate those worlds?

Answer? Not a clue.

But I know I’d personally absolutely love to hear the stories of the WWW membership who swim in such waters. There are many of us, as well as many aspiring writers out there who may be independently published (self or even small press) who might look at WWW members as a bit more career savvy in this department. I hope to hear from many of you in the coming weeks about your story – here (email me at as I’d love to compile a blog post on tips and experiences for posterity and widespread reading!) or on the social threads.

While I certainly don’t consider myself to personally be savvy as a hybrid author, I’m happy to start the conversation off. And it wasn’t until one of our members posed the question that I realized the definition of hybrid author applied to me!

I self-published in 2014 under my husband’s urges. I’d long planned to simply write for my own personal enjoyment and to never let anyone see the manuscripts on my desktop until I’d been dead for years (and then I hoped to enjoy an amazing postmortem celebrity status…well, a girl can dream). With Amazon’s platform growing, I thought…why not?

Several awards later, the self-published book has been pulled, prodded, and almost completely redone under the watchful eyes of a west-coast publishing house. The single book I’d created as a form of therapy has now become a series (which is painfully harder to do than I’d ever imagined), and instead of my own eyes and a few others who read for spelling errors, the editing process is painstakingly overwhelming (“let’s change character names! Hair color! Heck, let’s have your main character sleep with her brother-in-law!”) though in the end it created a better novel.

I still self-publish some books on the side now, under pseudonyms or within a different genre. And you know what I think? Both processes have their own set of pros and cons.

Truly, I can’t wait to hear what others have experienced, but in the meantime, here’s my short list:

Indie: You control your timeline, your marketing, your cover, your creative content, and your plots. You decide how fast to write, you manage how you want to invest in your business, and you can try anything. Downsides? It can be expensive, marketing yourself and books is a full-time gig in itself, and the distribution is tough to nail down. And it’s really hard to take your book to the next level (international rights, media, etc).

Traditional: You have the backing of a big name, a horde of editors to help you polish, professional designers, gigantic distribution models, and a team of people invested in your success. Downsides? You have less creative control, there’s still some investment of your time and dollars if you do it right, and you still have to do a lot of your own platform building and marketing unless you’re like…James Patterson.

So, you all tell me. Is the hybrid experience tricky? Easy?

A bit like having your cake and eating it too?

WWW Member Penny Hamilton to be featured on PBS Documentary

Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 12.12.59 PMWWW member Penny Hamilton will be featured in the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame Great Colorado Women documentary airing on Rocky Mountain PBS on Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 8PM MT. If you miss it, the episode will be re-broadcast on February 16th at 1:30PM MT.

A 30-minute broadcast titled “Penny Hamilton – Penny the Pilot” will focus on Penny’s contributions to aviation research, writing, and education throughout her career. In addition to aviation textbook contributions to Absent Aviators: Gender Issues in Aviation, Penny is the winner of the National Association of State Aviation Official’s National Aviation Journalism award, and is a Laureate of both Colorado Women’s and Aviation Halls of Fame.

The debut, five-episode, broadcast series begins airing on February 1, and will focus on historic or contemporary Colorado women and their little known and under-reported achievements. Each episode of Great Colorado Women meets Colorado Academic Standards for K-12 and can easily be integrated into classroom studies through PBS Learning.

To discover some of Penny’s books, visit her Books Page.

About Penny

Screen Shot 2018-01-22 at 12.10.27 PMPenny Hamilton has been a general aviation pilot for over 25 years.  She co-holds, with her husband, a World Aviation Record, set October 22, 1991. In 1994, the Federal Aviation Administration named a new holding intersection west of Corona Pass (at an altitude of 15,500 feet) after her. Penny is the director of Teaching Women to Fly Research Project, has written several books on aviation, and teaches preschoolers and elementary children about the history of women in aviation with her “Penny the Pilot” program. Learn more at:

Save the Date: WWW’s 2018 Conference in Walla Walla, Washington!

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It’s not too early to begin thinking about attending the 2018 Women Writing the West Conference Oct. 25-28 in Walla Walla, Washington. The conference will take place at the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel located downtown, just one block off Main Street.
If you haven’t watched it yet, check out the conference video that offers a glimpse of the town’s history.

To stay up-to-date on plans, details, and fun facts, join the 2018 WWW Conference group on Facebook.

While the committee diligently works on plans, there are a few upcoming deadlines to keep in mind.

February 1 is the deadline to enter The WILLA Literary Awards.

WILLA awardThe WILLA Literary Awards honors the best in literature, featuring women’s or girls’ stories set in the West that are published each year. Women Writing the West (WWW) underwrites and presents the nationally recognized award annually at the WWW Fall Conference. The award is named in honor of Pulitzer Prize winner Willa Cather, one of the country’s foremost novelists.

In addition, the 2018 WILLA competition will have a new reward for two lucky winners of a drawing. We have received notice of two 2-week residencies at the PLAYA at Summer Lake in Oregon, from the PLAYA Executive Director, WILLA Winner, and Women Writing the West member Ellen Waterston. As there are seven categories in the WILLA Awards and all winners are considered equal, the two residencies will be awarded by a drawing at the WILLA awards dinner in Walla Walla. For more information about the residency, go to
For more information or to fill out the application for the 2018 WILLA Literary Award, go to the Women Writing the West website:

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Those interested in submitting a workshop proposal will find a form available online with complete instructions. Go to the Women Writing the West website to download the form or click here. Forms should submitted no later than Feb. 20, 2018 to Jane Kirkpatrick or Gail Jenner (Program Chairs) at: as an attachment with WWW Workshop Proposal in the subject line.

We hope wherever this year’s trails lead you, they’ll find you in Walla Walla in October for the conference!


Remembering the 2017 Conference one more time…

This week, member Vicky Ramakka takes us down memory lane in this post recalling her experience on the 2017 WWW Tuscon conference’s nature walk.

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            This is a very late follow-up to the Tucson conference. (No one can accuse me of rushing into things, but I do have the excuse of traveling to Botswana in the interim.) All the workshops, networking and events were wonderful, but I especially enjoyed the morning nature walk with Carolyn Niethammer, author of Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants. She shared a wealth of native plant uses with our group.

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            Starting with a gnarly old Prickly Pear cactus next to the lodge, Carolyn pointed out the cochineal insect that produces a unique red dye and lives only on Opuntia cactus.

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She reached into her big basket, brought out a jar of Prickly Pear juice, and poured a taste for all of us. Along the trail to the waterfall, we sniffed, rubbed, and chewed all kinds of plants. What a great teacher and memorable experience.

            Thanks, Carolyn. And thanks to all the officers and organizers who put on a great conference. 

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Walla Walla…THIS year!


New Release: WRITE TO ME, by WWW Member Cynthia Grady

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 8.59.03 PMOne of our new WWW members, Cynthia Grady, will have a children’s book out on January 9th: Write to Me: Letters from Japanese American Children to the Librarian They Left Behind. Set in the 1940’s, Write to Me tackles the difficult subject of Executive Order 9066, when Japanese Americans were imprisoned in the desert.

The story involves a children’s librarian, Clara Breed, and her Japanese American patrons, who promise to write Miss Breed letters while she, in turn, gives them books to read during their imprisonment. Throughout the three-year internment, the children correspond with Miss Breed, sharing stories, feedback on books, and creating a written record of this snapshot of history. Using excerpts from children’s letters of real-life Japanese prisoners from the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, this Booklist starred children’s book is a touching tale of hope and encouragement amid dark times.

Link to Pre-Order:

About Cynthia

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Born on Whidbey Island, Washington as the 6th of 9 children, Cynthia grew up near San Francisco and now lives in New Mexico after a teaching career in Washington DC. When not writing, Cynthia gardens, sews and plays music. To learn more about Cynthia and her books, visit