My short story, “The Embroidered Sheets,” received an Honorable Mention certificate at the Women Writing the West conference held in Kansas City, MO this past weekend. My disappointment at not placing first, second or third was quickly replaced with gratitude for the detailed letter I received from the judge. In it she praised my story and writing style and then explained why my story fell short in its structure. Since I had taken excerpts from my novel-in-progress and turned it into what I thought made a good short story, the resulting hybrid suffered pacing problems and a dramatic arc better suited to a longer piece. I hope to write short stories rather than novels some day, so this was excellent advice.
More than simply a recognition that women played broader and more complex roles than being wives or prostitutes, the new view of the Women's West speaks to the diversity of women of all cultures and all time periods. It acknowledges the rich variety of ways women responded to, and continue to respond to, the western experience.
If you write about women who live in the past, present or future of America west of the Mississippi River, you should consider joining. For more information, go to www.womenwritingthewest.org