The Divine Secrets of the Writing Sisterhood would like to welcome Western author and SouthWest Writers' president Melody Groves!
New Mexico native Melody Groves has a deep love for anything cowboy and Old West. As a member of New Mexico Gunfighters, she “shoots” sheriffs and outlaws every other Sunday in Albuquerque’s Old Town.
Winner of two first-place writing awards, Groves is President of SouthWest Writers and publicity chairman for Western Writers of America. She writes for American Cowboy, True West and New Mexico magazines. Her non-fiction book, Ropes, Reins, and Rawhide: All About Rodeo, is a guide to understanding the sport. Additionally, Hoist a Cold One! Historic Bars of the Southwest, a look at the history and beauty of 26 front and back bars, launched in mid-July.
She is also author of the Colton Family Saga series, Border Ambush, Sonoran Rage, and Arizona War. Recently, her essay about living in New Mexico was published in Voices of New Mexico.
|Border Ambush |
by Melody Groves
A small press has tons of advantages and disadvantages. The publisher knows you and you know him/her. It’s usually easier to get him on the phone than a larger publisher. They’ll also keep your book in print longer than the Big Six. The down side is: they’re small, which means even more of the marketing burden is on you and if they have a personal crisis (I know one small publisher who had pneumonia and then hip surgery, so was out for almost a year), the work pretty much stops.
A larger press has a staff to handle everything that needs to be done to get a book published. It’s a bit more impersonal, but their books could have a wider distribution range. The down side: if your book doesn’t perform well, it’s taken off the shelf in a matter of months.
|Ropes, Reins and Rawhide |
by Melody Groves
I’m seeing a wide audience for my bar book, Hoist a Cold One! Historic Bars of the Southwest, which just came out in June. Everyone knows what a bar is and they’re even more interested when I tell them that it’s not about the building, but about the wooden bar itself.
|Melody Groves' newest release!|
Do you have any alternate suggestions if an aspiring writer is unable to attend a conference due to any number of reasons (i.e. financially unable, time conflict, conference doesn’t offer what writer is looking for, etc.)?
Conferences are extremely important, so in developing one, we look for wide appeal but a specialized topic that many genres can learn something from. To organize one, we need about five dedicated people to select topic, place, date, speakers, etc. The best is to start at least a year out. We’re organizing a February 2012 conference on screen and script writing, which at first blush sounds like it’s a limiting topic. But from my own personal experience, I know that two classes on screenwriting I took drastically improved my dialogue and understanding of structure in my fiction. This conference will offer something for everyone.
This year we had a perfect storm for not being able to put together a conference or two for SouthWest Writers. In a span of five months, I had two conference coordinators quit, even though the conferences were in the works. The executive board and I sat down and did some hard, cold number crunching. We decided that no matter what, we’d lose money and we didn’t have enough time to put on the quality of conference we wanted. Canceling it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make.
There is no good substitute for conferences, but the next best thing would be to read on line about the various writing topics. With today’s online blogs and websites, writers can pick up a lot of helpful tips. But my recommendation: save your pennies and locate a conference that you’re interested in and go!
Believe it or not, my Old West gunfighting re-enacting is vital to my writing. While it’s a ton of fun, and we do use blanks, I learn something new every show that I can put in my writing. I’ve stood toe to toe with sheriffs and outlaws, shooting at them, they shooting at me. And while the bullets aren’t real, the adrenaline is. It’s scary to stand facing someone with a gun.
And I know what it feels like to hit the ground after being “shot.” It hurts, unless it’s on grass.
A couple of years ago, my group was in Tombstone playing at the OK Corral. I was Morgan Earp, so I was lined up on one side with my “brothers” and Doc. On the other side stood the McLowry’s and Clanton boys. Two things happened that I’ve used in my writing. Doc’s shotgun had a hair trigger—it went off before the cue was given. We all started shooting, ducking, dying earlier than we’d rehearsed. Secondly, there was so much dust from our boots and smoke from our guns that I couldn’t see across the corral. I knew they were there, but I couldn’t see my target. That was the way it really happened. Spontaneous and smokey.