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Women Writing the West offers opportunity for aspiring student writers

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Doris Eraldi

Winners of the WILLA Literary Award at the 2016 Women Writing the West Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Women Writing the West promotes writing about the West, with emphasis on the experiences of western females, according to their website.

As part of an outreach to engender diversity and encourage students interested in writing, Women Writing the West, an organization of writers and other professionals, is extending  discounted rates to a limited number of University of Arizona and Pima College students interested in attending their 23rd annual conference on Saturday, Oct. 28.

WWW promotes writing about the West with the emphasis on the experiences of western females, according to its website.  The organization is not gender-exclusive; all are welcome to join this writing conference and community.

Carolyn Niethammer, co-chair for the 2017 WWW Conference and local author, said the group created the special student rate because they “want to encourage and share their expertise with young writers.”

“Because we’re inclusive, we want to bring up young writers, help them learn things that they might not get in creative writing classes and begin making connections with them,” Niethammer said.

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The conference team planned 15 different programs of speakers and panelists to teach and inspire participants.  Attendees can choose from three event lineups each hour.

Members of WWW are published or aspiring to be published in non-fiction, all genres of fiction and scholarly books.  Membership is not required to attend the conference.

There is an opportunity for those with completed manuscripts to submit them for critique from professional agents and editors during a 10-minute, one-on-one pitch session.  Names of the agents and editors can be found on the website.

Aspiring student writers can also attend a luncheon with keynote speaker Maribel Alvarez, a UA anthropologist, folklorist and executive program director of Tucson Meet Yourself.  Alvarez will discuss how weaving food into writing can add depth and authenticity to stories.

“This year, it is packed with informative, fascinating and entertaining sessions that will appeal to writers of all genres, and the setting is a perfect place to explore new avenues of writing, meet old friends, connect with an agent or editor or just relax and enjoy the amenities of a five-star resort,” conference co-chair Jan Cleere  said in a written statement.

Participants will meet at Loew’s Ventana Canyon Resort, located in the Catalina Foothills, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admittance for UA students is $50, while non-students must pay $165.  Those who want to attend the optional luncheon at noon need to purchase separate tickets for $37.  There are no refunds for purchases after Sept. 30.

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Registration is a first-come, first-serve basis;  the WWW Conference is only accepting 20 students.

Those who are interested in participating can RSVP by visiting womenwritingthewest.org and clicking the “register for current conference” tab on the homepage’s sidebar.  

Address conference questions to co-chairs Jan Cleere Carolyn Niethammer.

Proceeds from this event support the Willa Literary Fund, which grants awards to literature featuring women’s stories set in the West. A panel of librarians select winners of the award, which is named in honor of Pulitzer Prize novelist Willa Cather. The winners are announced at the annual WWW Fall Conference.


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