Another Tennessee Mountain Writers Annual Conference has come and gone. It was another great one, but that doesn’t surprise me. The TMW Board always produces a top-notch event, and I come home both exhausted and exhilarated, wonderful ideas and information in hand to carry me through until the next time I meet with this energetic group of folks.

I won’t have to wait so long this time, though, as I was elected to a three-year term on the Board at this year’s conference. I’m beyond thrilled and humbled to be part of the magic that is TMW! In truth, I have hoped for this opportunity for several years. When Board Member Suzy Trotta asked if I’d consider running this year, I squealed on my end of the laptop. I took a couple of days to mull it over; I asked Russ his opinion. He asked if I could think of any reasons not to. I’m sure it won’t all be rainbows and roses – no Board appointment ever is – but I can honestly say, I’ve admired and appreciated what this organization does for so many years, I’m looking forward to getting to know it from a new perspective. This does mean I won’t be able to enter their writing contests, anymore, a bittersweet moment for me, as so many of my pieces have done so well there over the years. Sarah Pross, the outgoing Treasurer, good-naturedly said after this year’s Awards Banquet, “I wrote your check out and said, ‘That’s the last one for you!’” I laughed. Several Board members have joked with me that I have nearly bankrupted TMW over the years. I look around my office at the plaques and trophies dating back to 2013 and have to admit, it was a good run, but yes, it’s time to give back to an organization that has helped me grow so much for so very long. 

I went out with two final awards. I received an Honorable Mention for my short story, “Genevieve,” ad 3rd place for my Children’s Literature piece, “Bingo’s Banjo.” My friend Pam Campbell took home 1t place in Children’s Literature this year, and I couldn’t be happier for her. I was disappointed not to place in nonfiction, but my buddy Sharon Waters scored third place in that category, so that was great. Poetry is the only category other than Science Fiction/Fantasy I never placed in. I tried it again this year, to no avail. But my talented friends Jake Lawson and Lacy Snapp placed second and third respectively. The very talented Daniel Leonard got first place in Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and also the Excellence in Writing Award for this year; I was super-proud of him!

This year also marked my first year as a presenter at TMW. My Table Rock writing buddies, Sharon Shadrick and Sharon Waters, joined me in a panel presentation on “Combatting Imposter Syndrome for Writers.” Our session was well attended, and I think we had an interested audience that appreciated the information and tips we presented. Many thanks to Connie Kinsey, one of our 7:00 a.m. Writing Group friends for the “Writer” ribbons she gave us that we distributed to our session’s attendees. IT was great to have people tell us afterward how they planned to take their ribbons home and hang them up where they could see them, to remind themselves that yes, they are writers, not imposters trying/desiring to be writers. I also loved seeing folks walking around afterward wearing those ribbons the rest of the day. It reminded me of the months of hard work that Sharon, Sharon, and I had put in to make the presentation a successful one. We will deliver the same presentation at the West Virginia Writers Conference in early June.

I didn’t get to attend as many other sessions this year as I was helping out with conference duties and preparing for our presentation. I really enjoyed the ones I got to, though, with speakers like Fred Sauceman, Jim Minick, Susan O’Dell Underwood, and Susan Eddy, especially. A special thanks to Sue Weaver Dunlap for taking me under her wing and showing me the conference ropes. I sincerely hope I get to work with her again on TMW projects. Thank you also to everyone who voted for me, or didn’t say, “Don’t let her in!” I’m truly excited to see where the next three years lead on the TMW Board. May they be a time of great fun and prosperity for us all.