Sanders: Writers of the West
Western Writers of America is a misnomer these days since there are members around the world, yet the word “writers” encompasses writers of books, magazine articles, movie scripts, songs and poetry. WWA recently held the annual convention, this time in Billings, Mont. I enjoyed the 400-mile drive especially because it was green all the way, the stock dams were full and the crops looked great.
Next year it will be in Tucson, Ariz., since they move it around to make it convenient for members. Speaking of members, there are over 650 of them. Most years around 250 are present at the convention and it is a lively bunch.
This year I spent time with fellow The Fence Post columnist Gwen Petersen while we visited with Michael and Kathleen Gear, bison ranchers and authors of over 60 books, many of which have been award winners. Candy Moulton, a past The Fence Post writer, is the executive director of WWA. Renewing these old acquaintances is the cream of the conventions for me.
Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire books, is on the WWA board. This year, he and A. Martinez (Jacob Nighthorse on the Longmire TV show) discussed everything Longmire-related in a group talk with Kirk Ellis, immediate past president of the organization. Kirk wrote and co-produced the 2008 HBO miniseries “John Adams,” for which he won two Emmy Awards.
If it seems like I am namedropping, yes, you could say that, but it’s not for my benefit. Writers who create and publish anything set in the west may want to look into membership of which there are five levels. I went in as an active member because I had five books set in the west in publication when I applied. You can read the information at http://www.westernwriters.org. There are new writers, seasoned writers with several awards under their belts, agents, editors and a publicist who comes seeking clients.
Many in the group took a day trip to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the McCracken Research Library at Cody. WWA has a large interactive digital display in the lobby of the McCracken. On one side is a spot where you can search for an author who is a member of WWA. A photo of the author and at least one book by that author is then displayed. The other side lists the WWA members who have been honored into their Hall of Fame.
The Buffalo Bill Center houses five museums: Plains Indian Museum (built 1979), Cody Firearms Museum (1976), Draper Museum of Natural History (2002), Buffalo Bill Museum (1927) and the Whitney Western Art Museum (1959). The McCracken Research Library (1980) is home to all of the papers from Remington Firearms. A collection of the papers of William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill) is also housed there. The library is searching for additional papers, originals or copies, by or about Cody. Their goal is to consolidate the information so people can come to a central place to research. Contact Jeremy Johnston at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org if you might have something of interest and let him evaluate it. ❖