About four years ago I discovered the existence of Western Writers of America. It is made up of individuals who have been published in fiction or non-fiction (print and visual media) pertaining to the west. I'm not a member - yet - because my western is not yet finished, and therefore cannot possibly be published.
However, they do an annual conference each year and this is open to members and non-members alike. I have been dying to go to one first because they hold the conference at a different western city each year. In recent years it has been such wonderful locations like Spokane, Washington or Cody, Wyoming, to name a few. Next year it will be held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and I hope to attend then, too because I love Oklahoma City (home of the Cowboy Hall of Fame) and Oklahomans are some of the friendliest folk I've ever met.
But for 2008 the news is even better - the WWA Conference is coming right here to Arizona - Scottsdale to be exact. Which makes it affordable to attend (i.e. not having to scrounge up airfare and hotel funds).
While I've not yet attended a WWA Conference, they seem to run a little differently then the typical writer's conference. I don't usually see things like classes on POV and the like. Instead, they have classes any western writer would love - such as classes on how to be a tracker, a class on Missouri Mules, writing about the military in the frontier west and so on. Very cool stuff!
And, when I first saw this year's conference schedule, there was one thing that locked me in hook, line and sinker - a panel on Zane Grey and a tour of Zane Grey country a little farther north in Arizona around Payson. Anybody who has heard me utter a breath knows that Zane Grey is my literary hero and still the western writer I go back to again and again.
I will view the panel and tour with interest. In recent decades Zane Grey has taken a drubbing, both on his personal life and his writing style. I don't know about the personal stuff, nor is it any of my business. But I heartily disagree with those who think Zane Grey's work is less valuable today. So no doubt I will be bristling with some resentment reaction if such comments arise at this panel. For me the proof is in the reading. Is it contemporary western authors I keep coming back to again and again? Nope. Zane Grey still has the touch that keeps me coming back for more.
And for one very important reason. He could transport me to a western locale like no other. He is still the undefeated master of setting. Ah but I digress, which is easy to do when I start discussing Zane Grey.
The point is, I mailed off my registration today for this year's Western Writers Conference and I am just ecstatic! Finaly, a vacation. A working vacation, but FUN! There's not much that can make me look forward to June in Arizona, but this does.
I hope it is all I anticipated and more!
No matter what genre you love, keep writing!