Monday, July 21, 2014

Until Next Year

What a year! We have to thank you all for making the 16th annual Taos Summer Writers' Conference so incredible. It was such an honor to spend another beautiful week in Taos with all of you.

Among the highlights, of which there were many, was the launch of Rananim. If you still haven't watched this video, which was directed by Conference Assistant Director, Eva Lipton-Ormand, please do, and see what Sharon and Eva have been working on for the past few months. And for those of you who want to continue that momentum from the Conference, consider taking one of the classes.

Debra Monroe said during the week that each time she comes to the Conference it just gets better and better. We agree! And it is all because of you. We can't wait until next July!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

RANANIM: It Is Finally Here!

Many of you may know that the Taos Summer Writers' Conference founder and director, Sharon Oard Warner, began the Conference sixteen years ago in order to create a link between the University of New Mexico and the D.H. Lawrence Ranch just outside of beautiful Taos, New Mexico. For years, the Conference has taken loads of participants to the Ranch, had fellows stay in the fellowship cabin before the property fell into disrepair, and created, at least for this magical week in July, that thing that Lawrence so desired: a utopian society where writers and artists of all kinds can go to create and commune.

Rananim—derived from the Hebrew word for rejoice—is the name D. H. Lawrence gave to his dream of a congenial community of writers and artists. The eleven months the novelist spent at the “Kiowa Ranch,” as it was known in his time, were the closest he ever came to establishing his utopian society. In 1955, Frieda Lawrence deeded the property to the University of New Mexico with the provision that the Ranch be used for educational and recreational purposes and that it be open to the public. Unfortunately, the last decade has been a difficult one for the property, which is in need of restoration and renovation.

In keeping with Lawrence’s vision, Sharon determined to begin Rananim - The Online Community of the Taos Summer Writers' Conference, which will seek to create a community of writers from around the world. Rananim will offer non-degree classes, workshops, and facilitated critiques by distinguished writers nationwide. Registration for the eight-week classes is now open and net proceeds will be used to preserve and protect the D.H. Lawrence ranch, and honor Frieda Lawrence’s vision of the ranch as a venue for the arts. Initial net proceeds of the program (projected to exceed $75,000 per annum by year 3) will also be used to fundraise and eventually to launch a proposal to establish National Landmark status for the Ranch.

To learn more about the project and Lawrence's vision for a community of writers, watch this video, directed by Conference Assistant Director, Eva Lipton-Ormand.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Meet the Native Writer Award Winner: Matthew Skeets

Matthew Skeets of the Navajo Indian Reservation from Vanderwagen has been awarded the 2014 Native Writer Award. He is a recent graduate summa cum laude from the University of New Mexico with two Bachelor of art degrees in poetry and Native Studies. During his undergraduate career he worked closely with poets Luci Tapahonso, Lisa Chavez, and Natalie Scenters-Zapico. Currently he is an intern in communications and social media for American Indian Opportunity in Albuquerque.

Skeets began to write poetry when he first read Emily Dickinson. He spent nearly two years of high school emulating her style, line, and meter. Other poets that Skeets admires include Luci Tapahonso, Sherwin Bitsui, Orlando White, Joy Harjo, Natalie Diaz, Eduardo C. Corral, Rigoberto Gonzales, and Tomás Q. Morín. The Native Writer Award was created in memory of Native author and former colleague Louis Owens. It offers paid tuition for one weekend or weeklong workshop, as well paid lodging to any Native American who is a resident of New Mexico. The award recognizes excellence in fiction, poetry, or nonfiction.

When informed about his award Skeets responded, “It’s a small dream of mine to come to the Conference. Thank you.” Matthew will be attending the weeklong workshop with Tomas Q. Morin. In the past recipients like Chee Brossy, Coral Dawn Bernal and Christina M. Castro have been awarded the Native Writer Award, making Skeets even more honored to have been given the award. This will be his first time attending a writing conference and one of Skeets’ goals after this conference is to compile his best work to then apply to graduate creative writing programs in the fall. Skeets also hopes to gain some perspective on how to normalize his writing life, gaining precision in his writing style and learning to be an active writer outside the workshop setting. Finally, Skeets is thankful to the organizers of the conference for giving him this great opportunity.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

On the Ins and Outs of Indie Publishing: A Roundtable with Violet Crown Publishers

Saturday’s roundtable will feature a lively discussion on the indie publishing revolution and what writers can do to capitalize on it. The 1:00 PM event will be in the Sagebrush Inn Conference Center and is free and open to the public.

Lara Reznick and Cynthia J. Stone of Violet Crown Publishers will present their insights on indie publishing in their discussion:

• Why go Indie? Advantages & Disadvantages.

• What is the state of Indie-Publishing today?

• 7 critical things your book must have to achieve success in the indie world.

• What are the costs and timeframe involved?

Violet Crown Publishers is a boutique publishing company in search of quality books of fiction and non-fiction. Our goal is to make writers' dreams come true by guiding them through the complicated maze of indie publishing their books. Co-owners, Cynthia Stone and Lara Reznik, are both successful indie-published authors who bring years of experience in writing, editing, marketing, and I.T.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Meet the Taos Resident Award Winner: Kate Crawford

While working on her memoir about being sexy in one’s sixties, Kate Crawford, the winner of this year’s Taos Resident Award reminds herself to “start looking for all the things she can do, and stop looking for those she couldn’t.”

The list of what Kate has been able to do just in the past year is impressive:  besides entering and winning this contest, she has nearly completed building her house in Taos.   She spent the winter working on “Second Coming” a memoir of “creating a new paradigm for sexy sixties,” and is attending TSWC to “hone her descriptive and humor skills” towards finding an agent and a publisher for her book.   Kate has already put into practice the best this conference has to offer.  She used skills learned in Priscilla Long’s class last year to immediately query her memoir to Allison Hunter and Alexis Hurley, literary agents, during the weekend class that followed.

Kate credits writing with helping her to have a life despite struggling with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.  She began writing professionally after winning a travel writing competition that earned her a trip around the world in 2002 and renewed respect from her doctor, who wondered “how she could go around the world when she couldn’t go around the block.” Kate’s stories have appeared in the “Boston Globe,” the “San Francisco Chronicle,” the “Washington Post,” and “The Best Travel Writing of 2012.”

 “Second Coming”—pun intended—will be a mixture of vignettes and fantasies of Kate’s hilarious and often tragicomic experiences as she conducts hands on research on her subject.  Besides reading on everything there is to know about sex at a certain age, and taking Flamenco, “to get life back in her,”  Kate has practiced research on related subjects, from Kegel exercises to sexy underwear and other intimate accessoires,  to employing the services of a dating advisor.   “You have to get used to being embarrassed,” she says, as when the unthinkable happened while she was laughing hard during her second date.

Kate’s scholarship winning story, Elephant Driving 101, takes place in Anantara, an elephant camp in Thailand where she learned to bathe, mount, ride, and control her sixty five year old elephant.  Her piece is worth reading just for the description of how one catapults oneself onto the back of the twelve foot tall creature.

Kate promises to “tell it like it is” in her memoir, while escorting readers on a trip to interesting locales that include her own journey:  “I am the protagonist, my illness and my age are the antagonist.”   Kate is excited about being in Taos for this new chapter of her writing career, stating, “I have a life, I have a passion in my life—and I take Cymbalta.”