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January 2017 News

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2017: Planning for November

When I was first approached in February 2016 about helping to plan this conference, 2017 seemed a long way off, but the calendar pages insisted on turning, and here we are. The first conference will be held November 3–4, 2017 at the University of Central Arkansas and we are well under way with planning.

Remember, our Call for Proposals deadline is March 15, 2017; we are looking for submissions from women and non-binary writers from all walks of life and all writing fields and genres. Writers are welcome to submit a proposal individually or as part of a pre-formed panel. Check out the website for full information and to access the submission form.

For those of you attending the annual conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) in Washington, D.C., please stop by and introduce yourself. The University of Central Arkansas' Arkansas Writers MFA Program, Arkana: a literary journal of mysteries and marginalized voices, and the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference will be sharing Booth 569. We will have conference swag!

Remember, one way to help us out is to share this newsletter on social media or by forwarding to friends and colleagues.

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

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

Cara Brookins to be Saturday Keynote Speaker 

The C. D. Wright Women Writers Conference is thrilled to announce Cara Brookins as our keynote speaker for Saturday, November 4, 2017.

Brookins is the author of Rise: How a House Built a Family, a memoir about escaping domestic violence with her four children and building a 3,500 square foot home from the ground up with their own hands. Rise is a 2017 Indy Next Pick and selected for Barnes & Noble’s What We’re Reading. Brookins also hosts a weekly podcast with Macmillan, and is a fiction writer with seven published novels. Learn more from this CBS News article.

About Rise:
If you were inspired by Wild and Eat, Pray, Love, you’ll love this extraordinary true story of a woman taking the greatest risk of her life in order to heal from the unthinkable.
 
After escaping an abusive marriage, Cara Brookins had four children to provide for and no one to turn to but herself. In desperate need of a home but without the means to buy one, she did something incredible.
 
Equipped only with YouTube instructional videos, a small bank loan and a mile-wide stubborn streak, Cara built her own house from the foundation up with a work crew made up of her four children.
 
It would be the hardest thing she had ever done. With no experience nailing together anything bigger than a bookshelf, she and her kids poured concrete, framed the walls and laid bricks for their two story, five bedroom house. She had convinced herself that if they could build a house, they could rebuild their broken family.
 
This must-read memoir traces one family’s rise from battered victims to stronger, better versions of themselves, all through one extraordinary do-it-yourself project.

Words for the Word ~ Linda Garrett

Since learning to read, I’ve always been a writer and teacher. Words were instantly my best friend. I came home from kindergarten and attempted to teach my three-year-old brother the wonders of writing and the alphabet. He wasn’t ready. In first grade, I wrote a fairy tale of over one hundred pages in length, my productivity in some ways spurred on by my desire to write a longer story than a boy in my class. Then, as I initially read the New Testament, the magic of signification wooed me to become a believer in Christ, drawn by such mighty and mystical passages as, “In the beginning was the word.”  Words formed a haven for me.
 
After earning a Bachelor’s Degree in piano pedagogy, and after long prayer, I felt led to attend Seminary and eventually graduated with a M.Div. and a Ph.D. in Theology. During my Ph.D. studies, I was offered the chance to write my first magazine articles. I wrote articles for Baptist magazines. I can remember the pride I felt at my first byline. I was an author! Since that beginning, I have written hundreds of articles and devotionals, including a monthly set of devotionals on the book of Revelations. I was determined to use every chapter, and that was a real challenge.
 
I also wanted to teach, but my graduation occurred during the year of the rather infamous takeover of the Southern Baptist denomination. My outlook for work was very dim. One of the chief tenets of the conquering group was that women could not teach or pastor. After having invested ten years of my life getting the Master’s Degree and Ph.D., the lack of job prospects hurt a lot, and my confidence in God’s provision and grace was severely shaken.
 
God managed to open a way in the Baptist wilderness for me. I taught at a small Baptist women’s college, then later, after I married, I served as an adjunct at a Virginia Seminary. I continued to write for other Baptist publications, writing many Bible studies, mission studies and devotionals for the Woman’s Missionary Union. I also produced weekly sermons, which I like to think of as practical theology, when I served briefly as a pastor of a country church in Virginia. Recently, I’ve written a few articles for a non-denominational Bible study magazine, and I still get a thrill any time I see an article I’ve written in print.
 
Currently, I’m writing a biographical book about the spiritual lessons I’ve learned through equestrian studies, called “Lessons Learned on Horseback.” When my husband’s job moved to Texas, I discovered there still aren’t a lot of jobs for female Baptist ministers. I had always wanted to own a horse, and through equestrian studies, I learned to find a beauty in fellowship with God once again as I become a horsewoman. The process has healed many wounds left by being told my gender precludes the service to which I felt called by the Spirit. The sheer waste of years of commitment and talent sometimes still angers me. Yet, even in the desert of that wrath, there are lessons of grace: my worth as a human isn’t limited by my achievement, the honor of daily friendship with God, knowing God’s kingdom extends even to stewardship of the animals, a reminder of humans’ original calling that our all too mechanized, computerized world needs. I hope I will have the stamina and self-control to finish the contemplative book. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever attempted, as I have always been a very private person.
 
This past Sunday, I looked at my hands. My hands are chapped, have several scabs, and are red from physical work. I felt out of place amongst the very sophisticated members of my Dallas church. I was preparing to serve the Lord’s Supper with other deacons. Then I read the words, “Do this in remembrance of me.” I remembered Jesus’ work as a carpenter. His hands probably looked a lot like mine. He knew about blending earthly work with divine service. I felt at home there, serving, after all.
 
On the whole, my journey as a Baptist minister and writer has only been enriched by the out-of-the-way paths I’ve walked with God. God still transforms believers in and through the wilderness, and I'm content to continue my efforts at writing words for the Word, trusting God to guide.

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 slonghorn@uca.edu. 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.


Margaret Atwood ~ The Edible Woman ~ fiction (Anchor, reissue 1998)

Elizabeth Bishop ~ The Complete Poems: 1927–1929 ~ poetry (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1983)

Traci Brimhall ~ Our Lady of the Ruins ~ poetry (Norton, 2012)

Cara Brookins ~ Rise: How a House Built a Family ~ memoir (St. Martin's, 2017)

Allie Brosch ~ Hyperbole and a Half ~ graphic memoir (Touchstone, 2013)

Naomi Shihab Nye ~ A Maze Me: Poems for Girls ~ poetry (Greenwillow, reprint 2014)

Wendy Wick Reaves ~ Celebrity Caricature in America ~ non-fiction (Yale, 1998)

Isabel Wilkerson ~ The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration ~ non-fiction (Vintage, reprint 2011)

Cara Brookins: keynote speaker and author of Rise: How a House Build a Family  

(photo: Ashley Murphy)




















 
Linda Garrett writes devotionals, bible studies, and for magazines.
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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 © 2017 C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference, All rights reserved.


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