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Women Writing the West 2015 Conference

FB_IMG_1444928278204Have you ever wanted to write? Fiction? Non-fiction? Short Stories? Memoir? About women and girls in the west…west of the Mississippi? I recently came back from our WWW conference in Redmond, OR. What a trip! I mean both journey and event.


I met agents and editors, I was the committee chair for this year’s conference, and just got to know those scary people, finding out they are not scary at all, but actually people who want to see writers and authors succeed. Succeed. Isn’t that what we all want? To succeed at our gifts and talents?


The first and basically only workshop I was able to attend was Reader’s Brain, Writer’s Brain: The Science to Connect, by Stephany West Allen. What a fabulous class. We learned about the 7 synapse supporters to deepen synapses so reader will remember what they read and how the writer can hone in their craft and pull in readers from their emotions. How the brain works to connect with words on the page. Ms. Allen talked about the “Big 6” to get the reader’s attention which include: intensity, novelty, scary, interactive, diverting, and emotion. She discussed how we as writers need to trigger the reader’s body for them to mirror the character’s emotions. In essence, to feel what the characters feel. That’s the hook.

Root Diggers
Root Diggers

Then on Friday morning we toured the High Desert Museum. It was like coming home to the Colville reservation. It felt like home. When I saw names of relations to my husband in the Native American Section of the museum that spotlight the Palouse tribes, I knew it was from home. I felt peace and comfort as I studied each Native artifact, taking in the descriptive tags that went with each basket, tipi, regalia, and beaded bag.

On Saturday Jane Kirkpatrick and I presented our workshop entitled: Weaving Life on the Reservation into Fiction. We talked about our experiences with Native Americans: Jane mostly with the Warm Spring Natives of Oregon, and myself with my time on the Colville reservation studying with elders, one in particular––Tima Mugs or Marguerite Ensminger.

Jane Kirkpatrick and me, Weaving Life on the Reservation into Fiction


I shared pictures of tule-mat tipis, cattails, and my coveted language notebook I used with Tima Mugs.

Jane shared stories of working with children and families on the Warm Spring Reservation and how she wove what she’d learning into her stories. She used four threads: landscape, relationships, spirituality, and work.


We both talked about the ceremonies and ties to land and food, about legends, and family.

Dinners were shared with winners from the LUARA Short Story contest and the WILLA finalists and winners. Authors read short excerpts of their winning stories and delighted the audience. What an honor to hear what was written from the heart.

WILLA Awards Banquet


Most of all we were able to fellowship, writer to write. We know that writing is a lonely craft, but worth it when we can all get together and uplift, encourage, applaud. And this is why we are members of Women Writing the West. We’re one big family. Wouldn’t you like to join?

2016 WWW Board
2016 WWW Board
Connect with Carmen

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  1. I was invited to two dinners as the guest of Kathy Moss. I met some wonderful ladies – writers all — I felt right at home and welcomed. I have joined this group and I look forward to meeting more of you.

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Jill, I’m so happy you came with Kathy and I’m so sorry I didn’t get more time to visit with you. I was way to busy, but next year it will be wonderful. I’m so happy you joined our great group of women and men writers. I’m so happy everyone made you feel welcome. Let me know if you need anything and please take use of our WWW Listserv. Blessings!

  2. This is a nice wrap-up of the conference, Carmen. Thank you for the HUGE role you played in it!

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Thank you, Mar! It was busy, but fun. I just wish I couldn’t visited more. Next year! I’m still loving the catalog. I called my dad when I had a quick minute to check on the animals and him, he said I got this beautiful magazine in the mail. He was so impressed. Well, it was the WWW catalog! It takes a village to hold WWW, the conference, and it’s members. We have one heck of a village.

  3. Oh yeah! That’s definitely chuckle-worthy. Good for you for embracing the humor in it… 🙂

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Humor never hurts! 🙂 Thanks, Susan.

  4. Carmen,
    I’m delighted that you got to attend Stephanie’s workshop–I wanted to go, but it was at the same time Dawn and I were presenting, so no dice. I also wanted to go to your and Jane’s workshop, but it was when I had the one bit of work I couldn’t skip during the conference, a call with an editor… Drat! It was a wonderful conference though–thank you for all the work you put into it. Next year, you can just go and enjoy!

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Susan, it is so hard to decide which session to attend. With an abnormal psych degree, I just couldn’t pass this one up. Don’t worry about not coming to ours. It was fun, we talked about our work with Natives and me with my mentor and how we weaved that into fiction. It was fun. Yes, I’m looking forward to going and relaxing. I missed the sessions this year, but I’ll take them in in Santa Fe. Thank you for your kind words. It was a lot of work, but worth every morsel.

      1. Carmen, I know it was a great session, because Stephanie is a voracious researcher and a fascinating thinker! BTW, it gives me a chuckle every time I read the title of your degree–“abnormal psych degree” could be read to mean your degree is abnormal or that it’s a degree in psychology of people who are abnormal. A fun double-entendre… 🙂

        1. Carmen Peone says:

          Susan, she sure is! Incredible woman and what dedication to the brain. What is even funnier in regards to my degree is when I say: I have a B.S. degree in Abnormal Psych…I love saying that one. There is always a chuckle with that one.

  5. Thanks so very much for the kind words about my workshop, Carmen! It was great to meet you and to have you be a part of the seminar. What a terrific group of women—both at “Reader’s Brain, Writer’s Brain” and at the whole excellent WWW conference. I already am looking forward to next year with eager anticipation. How about you?

    1. Carmen Peone says:

      Stephanie, you are welcome! I’m so glad you came. Yes, I am also looking forward to next year. WWW is the greatest group of women I’ve had the pleasure of working with.