November 2016 News

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Latest News: Call for Proposals Goes Out

With this installment of the newsletter, we mark another milestone. On November 3, we announced our Call for Proposals. For those interested in participating, there is plenty of time to brainstorm presentation ideas or polish up that creative work, as proposals will be accepted until March 15, 2017. 

The newsletter will take a break for the holiday season and return in January, 2017. In the meantime, help us spread the word about the call by sharing this month's news far and wide.

As we continue our preparations, we wish you all happy reading, happy writing.

~ Sandy Longhorn, Director of the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference

The Boy, The Train, and Writing My World ~ Janis F. Kearney


I have often been asked when and why I began writing. I was just a child when I fell in love with my father’s stories of the boy he once was, that boy who loved trains and traveling the world. I became a writer, not realizing that writing was a real option for someone like me. What I knew I could do as a young girl was pick 150 pounds of cotton in one day, cook a skillet of delicious cornbread, wash, starch and iron my six brothers’ jeans and shirts on Saturday evenings before the Lawrence Welk Show, and listen. I was an exceptionally adept listener.

I was born into a sharecropping existence, and as a child, I loved my world. I adored my beautiful mother with the 8th grade education, and the brains of a college instructor; a father I imagined as Arkansas’ own handsome pied piper who mesmerized his and the community’s children with oral history, and bible narratives; and the village of caring families on Varner Road. All of this surely fed my childhood desire to write my world.

If I was born to write, then surely my father, TJ Kearney, was born to tell stories. I have met many storytellers who are not great writers. Their brilliance is their ability to step onto a stage, and tell their stories, mesmerize their audiences with sadness, or joy, or fear, or anger—stories that magically change our lives, or at least make us question our limitations. No, I was not a storyteller in that theatrical sense. In time, however, I realized that I could write my world in a way that sometimes caused a reader to pause, to feel inspired as I did, in response to my father’s stories.

How well I recall those magical evenings when TJ would pull up a chair next to the living room heater and look around to make sure we were all present and accounted for before his stories began. Even now, I smell the remnants of Mama’s supper--brown beans, squash and baked sweet potatoes. I can hear Daddy’s strong, gravelly voice as he pulled his children into his world with memories of his younger self, the child vagabond who loved American trains and the places they took him.

While I was consumed by my father’s stories, I also secreted away a painful realization. I was just a girl, and a girl could never jump onto a moving train, walk miles from one city to another, stand around a fire at night with fellow drifters sharing stories while watching the barrel of burning paper. I imagined my father, a young man full of energy and inquisitiveness experiencing a world I would never be able to experience.

I began to write down my father’s world lest they disappear, lest when I shared them, no one would believe me. Those mesmerizing stories of the boy who loved trains were tainted with pure and unadulterated envy. Thankfully, that childhood envy evolved into my own voice, my own stories. Thankfully, today, I can research, imagine, write and share the stories of amazing women or amazing girls who grow up to be amazing women. Even girls who love trains.

Recommended Reading


We offer here a brief list of women writers whose work has made an impression on our lives. If you would like to send us a recommendation for consideration,* email the director, Sandy Longhorn, at Please include the author’s name and one representative title. Remember, we hope to support writers in all genres and styles from mass market to literary or academic, from bloggers to journalists. Help us spread the word about fantastic women writers of today or yesterday.

*The Executive Committee will make the final decision on which titles to feature.

Isabel Allende ~ Paula: A Memoir ~ Memoir (Harper Perennial, 2013)

Lucille Clifton ~ The Book of Light ~ Poetry (Copper Canyon, 1992)

Rita Dove ~ Thomas and Beulah ~ Poetry (Carnegie Mellon, 1986)

Melissa Fay Greene ~ Praying for Sheetrock: A Work of Non-Fiction ~ (Da Capo, 2006)

Carolyn Kizer ~ Yin: New Poems ~ Poetry (BOA, 1984)

Ursula K. Le Guin ~ Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story ~ Non-Fiction (Mariner, revised and updated, 2015)

Candice Millard ~ The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey ~ Non-Fiction (Broadway, 2006)

Stacy Schiff ~ Cleopatra: A Life ~ Non-Fiction (Back Bay Books, 2011)

Woolf, Virginia ~ A Room of One's Own ~ Non-Fiction (Mariner, 1989)

Malala Yousafzai ~ I Am Malala: The Girl who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban ~ Memoir (Back Bay Books, 2015)

This Month's Takeaway

Anne Bradstreet

The Author to Her Book

Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain, 
Who after birth didst by my side remain, 
Til snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true, 
Who thee abroad, expos’d to publick view, 
Made thee in raggs, halting to th’ press to trudge, 
Where errors were not lessened (all may judg). 
At thy return my blushing was not small, 
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call, 
I cast thee by as one unfit for light, 
Thy Visage was so irksome in my sight; 
Yet being mine own, at length affection would 
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could: 
I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw, 
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw. 
I stretched thy joynts to make thee even feet, 
Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet; 
In better dress to trim thee was my mind, 
But nought save home-spun Cloth, i’ th’ house I find. 
In this array ’mongst Vulgars mayst thou roam. 
In Criticks hands, beware thou dost not come; 
And take thy way where yet thou art not known, 
If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none: 
And for thy Mother, she alas is poor, 
Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door. 
Anne Bradstreet (1621 - 1672) is claimed to be the first woman writer in British colonial America to be published in English. 
Janis F. Kearney: author, lecturer, and publisher at Writing Our World Press
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Nov. 3, 2016 - Mar. 15, 2017

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The C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference is supported and hosted by the University of Central Arkansas, with thanks to the University of Central Arkansas Foundation.
Copyright © 2016 C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference, All rights reserved.

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