January 2020 New Years Goals


Who isn’t making New Year’s Goals or Resolutions? Most people are, including this writer. One thing that’s always at the bottom of the list is reading. I usually include “Read (an unrealistic number) books.”

As a writer, teacher, and librarian, you’d think it would be more of a priority. The benefits of reading are well-documented:

  • It exercises our brains.
  • Reading teaches us about the world around us.
  • Improves vocabulary and language skills.
  • Develops imagination
  • Great form of entertainment and relaxation.

I’m resolving to read more for pleasure this year, and not only for research or for reviews. Someone in our writers’ group is going through the 100 Best Classics. I may find a list like that and dive in. Or maybe just go from one random interest to another.

Reading is why I became an author, and it’s high time I got back to it. Maybe I’ll join a book club. It might be best to start with the “To Read” stacks of books I have on my nightstand.

Stephen King, as well as many other authors of note, have stated that if you want to write, you must read, read, read.

War and Peace, anyone?




Sarah Shuttleworth: To continue to be creative, learn, and grow as a writer.

Vea Anna Hooker: My goal is to finish the first draft of “Are There Ghosts in my Attic or Just Bats in my Belfrey”.

Frances Gomez Armstrong: Mine is to go back to last year’s Nano’s story and work on finishing it.

Glenda Bonham: Do editing on novel already written.

Jodi Martin: YEESH!

Jody Day: To stick with a writing schedule and daily word count goal.

Fun Tidbits and Facts

December 2019 Fun Tidbits and Facts

First Sentences

Here are some first sentences of National Novel Writers Month participants:

“The parliamentarian droned on, and Tavin didn’t bother to hide his yawn.” Renee Gaylor

“I just made it home before the sun began to rise.” Sarah Shuttleworth

“Thomas raised his eyebrows when he saw them in the same vehicle and Tori’s sitting where it had obviously spent the night, but refrained from making a comment.” Vea Anna Hooker

“It was here that my condition didn’t matter.” Sarah Hamilton

“Ayala looked around the forest and wondered what was happening.” Frances Armstrong

(In homage to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s one sentence first paragraph in Anne of Green Gables…)

“Janalyn Renee Brooks lived just where the north Kirbyville highway widened from one lane to two, framed in tall pine trees tangled with yellow jasmine, and graced by a pond that had its source from an underground spring that ran beneath the pasture between her house and the old Harrison place; it was famous for sustaining the brambles of dewberry bushes that formed an intricate maze that extended into the woods, with shady hiding places for rabbits, children, and sometimes snakes, depending on the time of year; but by the time the bushes reached Brooks’ Repose, they were an orderly, well-trimmed and maintained source of jams and jellies, for not even a dewberry bush could grow on Mrs. Brooks’ three acres without proper respect and reverence; they probably knew that Mrs. Janalyn was sitting at her window, keenly observing the activities that occurred, from ponds and dewberry bushes and children irregardless, and that if she decided anything was out of order, she would not settle for it until she had sorted out the reasons and rhymes thereof.” Jody Bailey Day

“Reality can be a different experience for everyone.” Rachel Nix



Things Heard at Meeting

“I’m an old man but I still have a lot to learn.

“Nobody has any time in November.”

“I’m not even old and it’s happening to me!”

A look at famous authors

December 2019 – A Christmas Classic

A Christmas Classic Saved a Writer Glenda Bonham

It’s just not Christmas without a telling of the classic tale of ‘A Christmas Carol’. We all know the names of Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and Ebenezer Scrooge. Over 150 years and 150 Christmas Eves have passed since Charles Dickens penned the famous tale.

Few readers know Charles Dickens was dead broke, in debt, and on the verge of eviction at the time he wrote it. He had already gained popularity for his other works, but also donated his earnings flamboyantly to charity organizations and to beggars on the streets of London. He was the father of four children and his wife was expecting with a fifth.

Dickens had grown up bitterly poor, for his father and older brother had been cast into ‘debtors’ jail’ when Charles was only 12. He went to work at a blackening factory to support the family. After grueling months of labor in child slavery conditions, Charles understood wanton poverty and loathed it. He later wrote himself out of poverty. This was a rare feat for an author in 1843.

The short story took six weeks to write and he borrowed money to self-publish and get it into print. He could only afford to print 6,000 copies, but it went on sale on December 3 ahead of the Christmas season, which started on December 15th. By Christmas Eve all 6,000 copies had been sold.

‘A Christmas Carol’ became a play and Dickens toured with the show, gaining more fame and a share of the profit from ticket sales. His story of a rich man who became generous, helped a poor man to once more claw his way out of poverty. That is a special kind of Christmas story. So, be generous to the less fortunate this Christmas season, for if nothing else, you might help salvage the future of another writer.

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News from NaNoLand

December 2019 NaNoWriMo Recap

NaNoWriMo 2019 has come to a close. This year Fort Stockton had 10 participants, 5 of which were winners, and collectively wrote 358,899 words.

We had 10 events throughout the month ranging from short write ins to a weekend re-treat. We had a traveling write in where we checked out several local spots and restaurants throughout the day. Another fun event was an entire afternoon of writing where we all brought food potluck style and enjoyed lots of goodies while we wrote.

This years newest event that will have to become a tradition was a writers retreat. 4 writers shared a cabin in Alpine for the final two days of NaNo. We wrote, ate, wrote, ex- plored, wrote, shopped, and wrote some more. The scenery was gorgeous and provide a much needed peaceful and inspirational environment. An added bonus was several in the group getting to pet a deer. Collectively the writers that attended wrote 53,856 words between arrival Friday afternoon and midnight on Saturday night. A definite highlight was cheering for 3 writers as they each crossed their goal.

Now as the month is over your local writer friends will be coming down off of their over caffeinated states and rejoining society, after they get a full nights sleep of course. We have one final event for the year, the Thank Goodness It’s Over party, and then it’s back to our regular lives. Though hopefully with a more solid writing habit having been established and sleeves pushed up to edit those November words!

~Sarah Shuttleworth~

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December 2019 Writers and Readers Quick Snack: Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark Submitted by Glenda Bonham

1 lb. Vanilla or Almond Bark
1 cup crushed peppermint candy canes

Cover a cookie sheet with foil.
Place candy canes in a heavy duty plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or meat mallet. Set aside.
Melt bark in a glass bowl in the microwave at 30 second intervals stirred between heatings until smooth and creamy. Pour melted bark onto cookie sheet and spread out evenly. Sprinkle crushed candy canes on top and press in lightly. Allow to cool and break into pieces. Store at room temperature in an air-tight container.

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