TMW Newsletter - Fall 2012




There has been much talk of metals this past summer, specifically, gold, silver and bronze, in connection with the Olympic and Paralympic Games, in London. Everyone knows that gold medals are the most cherished by the contestants, because it means triumphing over all others, and because, well, gold is gold. 

According to Wikipedia, the metal has been highly treasured since before recorded history, and, like British magpies, humans seem to love bright, shiny objects. 

The most awe-inspiring piece of metal I have ever seen was the mask of Tutankhamun, on display at the British Museum, in 1972. Unhindered by glass or whatever security system was in place, I came within inches of the famous piece. The ancient Egyptian artifact gave off an astonishing polished gleam. Even the most expensive souvenirs in the surrounding shops looked tawdry by comparison.

Silver, you might say, has been relegated to second best. Because of the Biblical account of Judas selling information to the Romans about the identity of Jesus, thirty pieces of silver has accrued a reputation for being the metal of traitors, but gold isn’t always so great either. It proves to be useless when everything you touch turns into it, as discovered by Midas, in the Greek myth. Goldilocks isn’t exactly a great role model for little girls, either.

Silver has many fine scientific properties. From electrical conductors to mirrors to disinfectants, silver has a wide range of uses that bring it into contact with ordinary people on a regular basis. Some of the oldest coins found in the world were made by the Lydians, in what is modern Turkey. Made of silver, they date to the sixth century BC. The pound sterling, the fourth most traded world currency, takes its name from the Anglo Saxons, who weighed silver, and gave it the unit value.

Coins have not been minted from silver in most modern countries for well over 40 years, but many looked on their quarters, shillings or Francs as silver money. Today, whether it’s a dime, the center of a Euro, or a hexagonal 50 pence piece, coins are still silver colored, but usually made from an alloy of copper and nickel. The same is true of utensils, even when made of brittle plastic, we refer to knives, forks and spoons as silverware. 

Perhaps, we like the sound of the word.

I called my favorite doll, Sylvia, because it sounded like silver. She walked when you held her hands, and said “Mama,” when you tipped her over. I painted her toe and fingernails, and pulled her only two teeth. She never complained. The Lone Ranger went further. He actually called his horse Silver. Even Champion the Wonder Horse couldn’t match that. Sylvan, as with so many Latin based words, sounds quite different from its Germanic equivalent, wood. It hints at silvery mists and mystery, rather than something more solid. Though I like the look of silver, the metal doesn’t look well on my skin as jewelry, but I have trained my hair dresser to refer to the fading color of streaks in my hair as silver, not white, or grey. It works better for my ego that way. 

Is there any shame in winning a silver medal, of being the second best in the world at something, on a particular day, especially as luck plays a vital role in athletic competition? Surely, not? Next year, Tennessee Mountain Writers will present its 25th conference and there’s nothing second best about that. The value of silver is illustrated best when we list anniversaries. A year old marriage is called a paper anniversary. A ten-year-old one is marked with tin. A 25th is silver, representing a sign of staying power. Like ancient coins, my doll, the Lone Ranger’s horse and certain married couples, TMW’s Annual Conference has staying power, and keeps getting better. Thanks to those who started it. Thanks to those who eased it through those difficult teenage years, and thanks to those who make it possible to hold its 25th annual conference next spring. Next, TMWC will be going for gold.

For full details of next spring’s conference, keep checking

~ Margaret Pennycook




It’s looking as though the long hot summer has finally played itself out, and with the coming of cooler weather we’re ready to embark on another year of TMW events, culminating in our 25th (who can believe it??) annual conference! 

We’ll kick things off on Saturday, November 10, when freelance writer and part-time Knoxville News Sentinel columnist Ina Hughs will present our Fall Workshop, “Right Word-Any Genre” (see details below). This one is aimed at writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry-whatever sort of writing you do, whether you’re a beginner or a published author, this workshop will help sharpen your language skills. Those who have previously heard Ina speak or teach know what a treat this workshop will be; the rest of you should plan to come and find out for yourselves. Registration is limited to 20, and we expect this one to fill up, so sign up soon.

January Jumpstart XIII is scheduled for January 11-13, 2013, at the Magnuson Hotel in Sweetwater. TMW board member Darnell Arnoult, Writer-in-Residence and assistant professor of English at Lincoln Memorial University and author of the novel Sufficient Grace, will lead our fiction track; poetry will be led by widely published poet Bill Brown, the author of three chapbooks, four collections of poetry and a writing textbook, and a member of our TMW Advisory Board. Again, don’t delay in getting your registration in. (I hate to say it, but January will be here before we know it.)

We’re looking forward to our 25th annual conference, set for April 4-6, 2013, when we’ll bring you another great lineup of presenters, plus a few anniversary surprises as well. Among the presenters is Sandra Plant. Years ago, Plant’s non-credit class, at Roane State Community College, in Harriman, on “Writing for Fun and Profit” brought together the motivated and talented group of writers, who later formed TMW. Watch the website ( a little later this year for schedule and registration information. And for those of you compulsive types who like to mark your calendars well in advance, our 2014 conference is scheduled for April 3-5. (Here’s to the beginning of our next 25 years…!)

~ Carol Grametbauer

UPCOMING TWM EVENTS    (Information and registration for all TMW events can be found by clicking on the EVENTS tab)

TMW Fall Conference
November 10, 2012
Speaker: Ina Hughs - for all genres

TMW January Jumpstart XIII
January 11-13, 2013
Speakers: Darnell Arnoult (Fiction), Bill Brown (Poetry)

TMW 25th Annual Writers' Conference
April 4-6, 2013
Judy Goldman, writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, will be our nonfiction presenter and banquet speaker. Our other principal presenters will include Abigail DeWitt, fiction; Connie Jordan Green, poetry; George Ella Lyon, writing for young people; Judith Geary, editing/publishing, and Amy Greene, general session. Our specialty sessions will include storytelling, Finn Bille, Christian publishing, Ami McConnell, and graphic novels, Bobby Nash. Sandra Plant will present a special session on writing groups and networking, and another on writing for newspapers.


Student and adult competitions will be held in association with the conference. Prizes will be awarded at the conference banquet. Deadline for both competitions is February 1, 2013.

The conference is a great opportunity to renew friendships with writer friends and make new ones. If you’ve attended before, you’ll know that. We hope to see as many of you as possible.




Darnell Arnoult’s Extended Novel Course 
A Novel Process: Six Weekends to a First Draft

Okay, that title is a little misleading!  Learning Events, in conjunction with novelist, poet, and long-time writing coach and instructor Darnell Arnoult, has put together an 18-month course based on the "Arnoult Method" and her "Sublime Fiction Triangle."  This is so popular, it's the sixth offering! The course is made up of six two day weekend workshops spread out over 18 months. Each workshop will focus on key steps from character development to scene construction to divining a plot, a structure, and identifying  themes organically present in the characters’ experience. Each workshop will be hands on. Participants will receive method materials, instruction, and will also be asked to write and read and perform creative and evaluative assignments regarding their work and the writing process.  Each weekend, participants will be sent home with assignments and resources to use between workshops to take the manuscript from inception to a finished draft.  The instructor will be available for encouragement and questions in the interim.  Manuscript critique will be confined to discussion of process and discovery on the part of the writer and the limited laboratory and workshop readings during the six weekends. The instructor will not read manuscripts as part of the course. The goal is for participants to have a completed “learning draft” or first draft by the end of 18 months, or be well on the way to such a draft. However, reaching this goal will be dependent on the students’ attendance at the workshops coupled with their follow through in the intervening weeks! Students will not be allowed to come into the course series after the first weekend, so we ask that those participants who wish to give this method a go make an informal but genuine commitment to the course for the long haul for their benefit and that of the other participants. The course is limited to 14 participants. It’s like signing on for a cruise around the Cape of Good Hope.  You won’t reach home if you get off early!

Darnell Arnoult is the author of the award-winning poetry collection What Travels With Us, published by LSU Press, and Sufficient Grace, a novel published in hardcover and paperback by Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.  Sufficient Grace is also available in unabridged audio from Recorded Books. Her short works have appeared in a variety of literary journals. She has been teaching writing for over 18 years at workshops and conferences including the Duke Writers Workshop and Duke Short Course Program.  She teaches workshops and coaches students from all over the Southeast.  Many students have written novel drafts based on her process, and some have gone on to attend the prestigious Sewanee Writers Workshop, been accepted to MFA programs, and began careers as published writers.

Each workshop listed below will be conducted with the three legs of the Sublime Fiction Triangle in mind: character, action, language.

Weekend #1 (Feb. 23–24, 2013): WHO ARE YOUR PEOPLE? This weekend we use photographs and questions as well as some short assignments to develop characters and get at their experience.  Participants learn how to build a character from scratch or take a real person across the bridge to fictional character.  Participants come to a better understanding of the artist’s need to collect and to contain for later use, how to manipulate real events to shape art, how to give away pieces of experience and observation to generate a new world, and the use of “quick writes” to find the path to a larger story.  We also cover the concept of writing toward a novel or story under the rubric of a “learning draft” and the role research plays in this process.

Weekend #2 (June 1–2, 2013): WHERE THE HECK ARE WE? This weekend is a level two character development workshop, with the focus on characters and place, characters and community, and what impact place has on character and story.  As we come to further understand our characters and discover new ones, we also define the space the character moves out from and the environment of the possible story. We examine the roll of dialogue and setting as a means to create an illusion of existence—verisimilitude.

Weekend #3 (Aug. 24–25, 2013): WARNING! SCENE STORM APPROACHING! This weekend we will hammer home the philosophies already articulated in previous workshops in this series: 1) You must write badly to write well. 2) The value of and commitment to short assignments and ugly first drafts (paraphrased from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird) is crucial. 3) Writing is an act of faith.  4) No part of this process is a waste of time, whether it ends up in your book or not.

Weekend #4 (Nov 16–17, 2013): CORRAL CRITICAL MASS (OR MESS)!  This weekend will be about evaluating your collected scenes and the tools related to this process.  Using a mapping system to identify and organize elements within the body of the work to-date, we look for the best possible plot points, structures, and themes organically present in the work. We employ a piece of the method to identify scene purpose, value, and strength. We explore possible revelations and epiphanies. Whose story is it, really?  Who should tell it, or how should it be told? Why is it important? Why does the story need to be told now?  Why do the characters do what they do? We identify holes that need filling and fat and suckers that need to be cut away. In essence, we will be searching for the beating heart of a book in a partially written, very rough semblance of a novel manuscript. At this point we will also discuss the individual writers’ needs regarding linear and global mapping.

Weekend #5 (Feb. 22–23, 2014): SUPER CHARGE YOUR MUSCLE CAR. This weekend’s focus is revision at a deep level. This is not correction, but rather it is further development, deeper writing, layering of experience, adding new elements to take the work to a richer place. We are not looking under the hood to repair so much as to increase power and performance of character, action, language, plot, structure, voice, story, beginnings, endings, middles and so on.

Weekend #6 (May 17–18, 2014): CIRCLE UP IN THE LOCKER ROOM.  This weekend focuses on what is required of a writer who wants to be published, on what to do now that you have a novel draft, or are close to a novel draft.  What does it mean to say you are a writer? What place does publication have in the life of a writer, if any? What is the role of rejection and revision for the writer who wants to be published? How must a writer think of revision and multiple revisions? How do you get helpful feedback? When do you know it’s time to try for a public life for your work? What is a synopsis?  How should it appear on the page? What should a cover letter say?  How do you find an agent or an editor/publisher? What is the agent’s role?  Why do you need one? What can you do to collect a few planks for your platform? How does publication affect your work?  How can you best approach working with an editor who has paid you for your book and now wants you to change it?  How will the possible market place affect your book and your life as a writer—or just your life in general?  What does it mean to be a writer as opposed to an “author”? What is a writing life, really? What happens if this novel doesn’t get an agent or doesn’t get published? What happens if it does get published but doesn’t sell? In this final workshop, we talk about what to embrace, what to steer clear of, what to let roll off your back, and how to happily let an advanced manuscript do its job while you get back to yours.

COST: The cost of the workshop will be $225.00 per weekend due two weeks before each workshop. Committment for payment of $1,350 for all 6 weekends is required.

LOCATION: All workshops will be held in the former Orr Mountain Winery building between Sweetwater and Madisonville, Tenn. 

TIMES: Sessions will run 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 – 3:30 Sunday, Eastern Time or Eastern Daylight time.  Morning snacks, coffee, hot tea, etc., will be available.  We will break for lunch from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Saturday, 11:30 – 12:30 Sunday. 

FOOD: Soft drinks, water and lunch will be provided both days.  Saturday night dinner will be on your own, with a suggested restaurant of the day for those who want to eat with group members.

LODGING: The Magnuson Hotel, exit 60 off I-75, is offering a special rate of $39.99 per night for 1 – 2 people for course participants.  Rooms at the Magnuson are equipped with refrigerators, microwaves, and wireless internet.  There is an indoor pool, a hot tub.   Mention Learning Events/Sue Richardson Orr when making reservations. Phone number is 423-337-3541.

COURSE MATERIALS: Attendees will be asked to purchase The Glimmer Train Guide to Writing Fiction.  Learning Events will work to have copies available for purchase at the first session if participants need them.


** Please e-mail Sue at or call 423-420-1152 to register. **

Workshop group is limited to 16.

REGISTRATION FORM for Extended Novel Workshop 6 weekend series:

Name_____________________________       e-mail __________________________

Address___________________________     phone __________________________



Check to Sue Richardson Orr enclosed for _____________

Mail to:

Sue Richardson Orr
359 Pumpkin Hollow Rd
Madisonville, TN 37354




Connie Green won the Knoxville Biscuit Festival poetry contest, with a poem about her daughter learning to make biscuits. She received a $100 gift certificate to Union Avenue Books. She also had a poem published in Magnolia: A Journal of Women’s Socially Engaged Literature, Vol. II. In addition, she edited a book of memories, We’re the Class of ’56: Living and Learning in Early Oak Ridge. The books are available at Jefferson Drug Store, in Oak Ridge, and the Secret City website. She also has a poem just out, in the Q2 issue of 2nd and Church (available online and in a print edition). Connie calls this, “A quiet summer!” I wish mine had been so lacking in excitement.

Beverly Connor has a new website,, from which I learned, she is working on a new Diane Fallon book. 

Jane Sasser won fourth place in the free verse poetry contest at the Alabama Writers’ Conclave.

Christy French’s publisher has been contacted by a producer, who wants an option on her book The Bodyguard.

Melanie Harless reports she has been chosen to participate with a small group of travel writers, in a four-day tour, by the Upper Cumberland Tourism Association on October 2-5. She will travel in a van to several places in the northern part of the Upper Cumberlands. We’ll look forward to her tale of the journey.

Carol Grametbauer’s poem, “Chiaroscuro,” will appear in the fall issue of Potomac Review.

Fans of Barbara Bates Smith, and Lee Smith, can find information about Barbara’s upcoming performances at

Congratulations to all.  Please send any information you’d like to share about writing events, or your writing successes, to me at