A look at famous authors, Book Review

July Newsletter Book Review: Lewis Grizzard

Screen Shot 2019-07-23 at 2.55.55 PMBook Review by Glenda Bonham ~ Lewis Grizzard

If you’re in the mood for some light reading this summer to rest your brain along with your body, consider picking up one of 25 books by Lewis Grizzard. Born in Georgia, he was first a sport writer, writing for the Atlanta Journal and moved on to become executive sports editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. His career was successful, but he was unhappy living in Illinois and longed to go back to the South. He outlined his personal struggle in “If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I’m Gonna Nail My Feet to the Ground”.

After two failed marriages, he returned to Atlanta to write sports, but found his calling in humor as a columnist. He soon enjoyed enduring popularity across the nation because of the perceived humor, humanity, patriotism, and “old-fashioned” values that permeated his writings. At his peak, he was syndicated in 450 newspapers and was making regular appearances on television and the stand-up comedy circuit. He appeared with famous comedians such as Jerry Clower. In 1988, Grizzard made his television acting debut on the sitcom Designing Women, in the episode ‘Oh Brother’ where he portrayed a half-brother of Julia and Suzanne Sugarbaker.

Some of his humorous books are collections of his newspaper columns “Chili Dogs Always Bark at Night” and “Shoot Low Boys – They’re Riding Shetland Ponies”. Other writings are results of his failed relationships such as “If Love Were Oil, I’d Be About a Quart Low” and “They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat”.

Some of his book titles have become main stream remarks such as “Life Is Like a Dogsled Team; If You’re Not the Lead Dog, the Scenery Never Changes”.

If there was one thing Lewis Grizzard was not, it was being politically correct, even for the time of his popularity. He made relentless fun of Yankees and pointed out flaws as he perceived them in politics and pop culture of the 80’s and 90’s.

Biting Southern humor knows no age limit. Lewis Grizzard’s books stand as testimony of this statement. Screen Shot 2019-07-23 at 2.56.09 PM.png

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July Newsletter: I Just Don’t Have Time to Write by Glenda Bonham

I Just Don’t Have Time to Write

Glenda Bonham

Have you ever said this to yourself? Most of us who write have probably said it at some point. We’ve said things like, “I’d just love to write, but I feel more important things demand my attention.” So, we procrastinate and tell ourselves “Maybe someday I’ll have the time to sit down and write something, but now I have children at home, or I have a job, or I need to do housework, or yardwork, or…” The list goes on and on.

There are in truth two major causes for us not to write. One is lack of self-discipline to sit and do it. The second is a lack of self-confidence and fear of failure. Which is your greater nemesis? If you can identify it, you can start now to overcome it.

Here is one solution to both stumbling blocks for starting to write. Set your alarm clock for one hour earlier than usual. For that one hour, your house is quiet and your brain is rested. Use the one hour as “my time.” When behind the keyboard, or with pen in hand, you have complete privacy and space. You are free of all demands of your daily life.

What you write need never be read by anyone else. These words are your thoughts, your imagination, your venting, your joy, and your reflections. Consider your writing time as your personal guiltless pleasure. There is no failure. You are the only editor, and the only judge of your work. The only failure is not to write at all.

I certainly won’t discourage doing research online, or reading other sources on the topic of creative writing. There is a wealth of information available, but reading about writing will never replace practical experience. If you want to learn to write, you must practice writing. To improve your writing, you must write.

If in time, you want to show your writings to someone else, that is your option. However, don’t try to write to please someone else. Write for yourself. In doing this, you will develop your skills and your own writing style. Be your own voice first. If in time, you get lucky and sell something you’ve written, and need to re-write to please a professional editor, only then be concerned about pleasing someone else. For now, just enjoy your writing time. Yes, you can make time to write. In doing so, you will discover one of life’s simple pleas- ures. You’ll also find a hidden piece of yourself.

News from NaNoLand

July Newsletter: News from NaNoLand

Camp NaNoWriMo by Sarah Shuttleworth

Have you ever thought ‘Someday I’d like to write a novel’? Have you heard of NaNoWriMo and thought that the idea of writing 50,000 words in one month seems daunting? Well I’ve got the perfect thing for you to test those waters and push yourself to write that story! Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writer’s retreat, designed for maximum flexibility and crea- tivity. NaNoWriMo has Camp sessions in both April and July, and they welcome word-count goals between 30 and 1,000,000. Maybe a novel isn’t exactly what you had in mind. Camp NaNoWriMo writers can tackle any project they’d like including new novel drafts, revision, poetry, scripts, and short stories. You set your own goal whether it’s to write a certain number of words, hours, minutes, lines, or pages.

If you would like more information, have questions about how NaNoWriMo works, or would just like to connect with other writers who will be writing with literary abandon this July contact Sarah Shuttleworth at sarahlcsnano@gmail.com.

National Novel Writing Month is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes your story matters. They know that writing makes the world a more crea- tive, vibrant place. Through NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo, and the Young Writers Program, they work hard to empower and encourage that vibrant creativity. And, they can’t do it without writers like you.

NaNoWriMo

  • Encourages you to focus on a novel! Bonus points for 1st drafts.
  • One goal everyone shares: 50,000 words in 30 days.
  • Hundreds of in-person write-ins led by local Municipal Liaisons.
  • A 100% fun writing challenge that believes your story matters… and that you can totally write it.

 

Camp NaNoWriMo

  • Focus on any writing project: novel, short story, cookbook…
  • Set an individual goal! You can even track time instead of words.
  • Join a virtual “cabin” to create your own cohort of up to 20 folks.
  • A 100% fun writing challenge that believes your story matters… and that you can totally write it.

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Fun Tidbits and Facts

July Newsletter: Water Carnival History

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Fort Stockton’s Water Carnival is back after 2018’s cancellation because of necessary repairs. This year’s theme is “The Crystal of Comanche Springs” written and directed by Genna Young, Reba Subia and Taryn Johnson. The date is July 18-20.

 

The early days of the event was the brain child of the Fort Stockton Lions Club in the late 1930s as an effort to bring recognition and tourists to the area. A huge celebration was planned by a large committee with the goal of an event so famous that Fort Stockton would become a resort town.

 

Events included band concerts, golf tournaments, horse racing, a beauty review, swimming, diving, rodeo, and dances. Over the years several celebrities have been included in the event. Local, district, and state candidates were invited to speak. Attorney General Price Daniel and Senator H. L. Winfield crowned the beauty queens in 1949. Movie star Chill Wills crowned Miss Fort Stockton in 1955, and John Ben Sheppard did the honors in 1957. The United States Navy flew two Naval officers to Fort Stockton to serve as judges for the Bathing Review. Country recording star Johnny Rodriguez crowned Miss Fort Stockton in 197
3.

2018 is not the only year the event was cancelled. The show ceased during WWII for 4 years, and again in 1951-53 because of low water levels.

Fort Stockton is proud of its Water Carnival, one of it’s longest standing traditions.

Member Spotlight

July Member Spotlight: Kirby Warnock

Screen Shot 2019-07-23 at 2.33.19 PMMember Spotlight: Kirby Warnock

Kirby Warnock is a 1974 graduate of Baylor University where he earned a degree in history. He wrote for newspapers and magazines before settling in to a 16-year career as a proposal writer for EDS, ACS, Deloitte and Information Services Group. His freelance articles have been published in Texas Monthly, D Magazine, The Dallas Morning News and Southwest Airlines magazine. He is an independent filmmaker who has produced four documentaries, Return to Giant, about the Marfa location filming of Giant, Border Bandits, When Dallas Rocked, and his most recent production, From Nowhere: The Story of the Vaughan Brothers.

He lives in Fort Stockton with his wife, Diann. They are the parents of three children, Travis, Roland and Hallie.

Spotlight Feature Article by Kirby Warnock

Roundup

“We’re burning daylight. Let’s get on our horses and start moving.”

Warren was enjoying his coffee, but Derek had other ideas. They had to ride out through the canyon country to find some missing sheep for shearing. It was February and the shearers would be arriving tomorrow, and Derek wanted the missing ones in the pens so they would be clipped, too.

Warren wasn’t as agitated about it as Derek, mainly because he really did not care about sheep ranching, or sheep in general. “The only thing dumber than a sheep is the man who raises them,” he liked to crack. But Derek was paying him for a day’s work along with a meal or two, so he had headed out in the country to stay the night with Derek and Annie at the old ranch house then get up the next morning to find about 200 sheep and reunite them with the 2,300 others in the pens at the old ranch headquarters.

They were saddling up in the corral with three Mexican workers Derek had hired. Warren tied the “Texas T” knot on his cinch then crawled up into the saddle. Once atop his horse he scanned the Pecos County landscape. “It used to be dangerous to ride a horse out into this country,” he thought. “If the Comanches caught you out in the open, you were a dead man. Now all we worry about is getting back in time for supper.”

Derek and the three Mexicans were riding up behind him as they climbed out of the canyon. In the distance they could see a patch of white, indicating a group of sheep huddled up against the morning chill.

“Typical,” said Warren. “A sheep is born looking for a place to die.”

In many ways he felt a bit sorry for Derek because the man had no choice. He had inherited the sprawling Pecos County sheep ranch back in 1936 when his father, Harley, was thrown from his horse and landed head first on a mesquite grub. His grandfather, Price, had come out here in the 1800s and homesteaded four sections at a time until he amassed a fairly large spread. It was made easier by building a “house” about the size of a phone booth on wooden skids so they could hitch up a mule to it and drag it to another four sections every four years. (The state of Texas required a “dwelling” to be built at the epicenter of the four sections, and you had to “live’ there for four years.) It was a novel approach to the letter of the law.

By now they had approached the missing sheep, several ewes and their lambs, and were pushing them towards the pens. Old Juan and his team of shearers would be driving into the ranch in their converted school bus the next day. They had phoned Annie that the group would be leaving the Puckett ranch that evening.

Warren was always struck by how much dust 2,500 sheep could churn up. Whenever he got home, Lois, his wife, had to turn all of his pockets inside out to get his clothes clean. He headed up to the ranch house to eat the lunch that Annie had pre- pared: Pinto beans with bacon, flour tortillas and some poblano chiles.

As they sat down to eat, Warren was struck by how old Derek looked.

“This country takes a lot out of a man,” Derek said, as if he had read Warren’s mind. “The sun and the dry air cracks your skin, and the isolation is rough on women.” He trailed off as he looked out the window, pulling his iced tea up to his lips.

Pecos County may have been dry and rugged, but it was pretty good sheep country. The old maxim was that a man could make money off of sheep twice, when he sheared them and when he sold them. Now it was 1962, and a lot hadn’t changed much, except the advent of television and better phone service.

And women.

There still weren’t many women west of the Pecos, but there were more than in 1936. Warren had met Lois on a trip to Houston for the 1951 Bluebonnet Bowl. She was waitressing in the restaurant where he dined and he was “struck by the thunder- bolt,” at the sight of her. A long-distance romance went on for only three months until neither of them could stand it any longer, so they got married. She rode in his car to his place outside of Fort Stockton and they settled in, as best they could.

But for an attractive girl from the big city, there were certain things that Pecos County and good Mexican food couldn’t fill, and Lois was getting restless. Warren was going to have a lot more on his plate than just pinto beans in the coming weeks.