Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Farewell Message

My term as president of TGCW is coming to an end. I want to thank you ALL for sharing your trust, and struggles, as we formed a family. I also want to thank each of you for the EXTREMELY generous Christmas gift. It has been my honor to serve as your president. I am so grateful for the opportunity you gave me. I have enjoyed watching you grow as confident writers, and a successful writers group.
So, what does it take to make a successful group?

First and foremost, it takes you, the members. It takes your enthusiasm, dedication, participation, and your loyalty. It also takes a strong and capable board, and the efforts of volunteers.

These last two years you have been served by some amazing volunteers.

Your Vice President, Laurie Kolp, has worked tirelessly for two years to seek out and “book” speakers for each meeting. Her efforts have brought us strong speakers with valuable information to share. She also helped to organize two writing workshops, all while dealing with her mothers’ illness, eventual passing, and numerous publications including her beautiful book Upon the Blue Couch  (not to mention raising three amazing children). She somehow manages to smile, to share a kind word with everyone she meets, and to go out of her way to help keep TGCW on track. We look forward to her term as our new President.

Your Treasurer has been Debra McElwee, a dedicated and detail-oriented woman who has helped keep our head above water despite a small bank account. Her efforts in filing and finalizing our “nonprofit and tax exempt” status as well as managing our monthly budget have added nicely to our stability as a group. I only hope I can successfully fill her shoes next year.

Lanell Stuart served as secretary our first year, and did a WONDERFUL job keeping accurate records of our meetings. Unfortunately, she had to give up the position after that first year - due to health problems. Lisa Black took up her duties for the second year and secured our meeting location at the apartment complex. While I have enjoyed getting to know Lisa and watching her grow as a writer, work and personal responsibilities have prevented her from being at some of our meetings. We have missed both of these ladies and hope to see more of them in 2015. Merrilynn Williams, a very talented and vigilant author, will be taking over the office of secretary. We are delighted that she is willing to serve as our record keeper.

Much of our spotlight in the public eye has come from our wonderful publicist Kathy Haskins. She set up and maintained a website for the group for the last two years. She has also been great about using her wit and intelligence to seek out individuals, spread word of our meetings, and invite new members. I’m excited to see what she plans for us as our new vice president.

Carol Weishampel - who never ceases to amaze me as an author, a friend, and a humanitarian -will be taking over as our publicist. She often seems to be everywhere at once. She manages to care for a large family, travel several months at a time, publish a new book almost every year, often presents new tips and opportunities for other writers, and generously contributes to our processes and plans.

I look forward to many more years with these amazing women, and watching our writing family grow. So, your goals for 2015:
1)      Bring your unique skills, talents and insights to share with the group.
2)      Invite friends, strangers, and coworkers to a meeting.
3)      Increase your word count, number of people reading/critiquing your work.
4)      Try something new such as entering contests, trying for different submissions, attempting a different genre, and attending workshops/conferences.

Thank you again for everything. Happy holidays and HAPPY WRITING!

Sylvia Ney
Texas Gulf Coast Writers

Friday, November 7, 2014

November 10 Meeting

Group share, discussion, workshop, and critiques. Come with your publications, questions, work, whatever you want to share/learn from each other. This months meeting will be intended to learn from and encourage each other.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

2014 Short Story Contest Winners

First, a special thank you to contest director Laurie Kolp for organizing this contest, finding judges, and garnering support for our group. Secondly, thank you to everyone who participated in this contest. You sent us some amazing manuscripts! Prizes and entries were returned at our October 13 meeting. Contestants also received comments/critiques from the three judges. The winners are:
First Place - "Denton Fobbins" by Karen S. Rush - Winner of $50
Second Place - "Women Trouble" by Linda F. Todd - Winner of $25
Third Place - "Lights Out" by Sylvia Ney - Certificate of Accomplishment

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October Speaker: Gretchen Johnson on Short Stories

Gretchen Johnson lives in Beaumont, Texas, and works as an English Instructor at Lamar University. Her short stories and poems have appeared in The Blue Bear Review, The Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Poetry Harbor, Spout Press, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and others. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Southwest Minnesota State University and her MFA in Creative Writing from Texas State University. Her first book, The Joy of Deception, was published by Lamar University Press in 2012, and her second book; A Trip Through Downer, Minnesota; was published by Lamar University Press in 2014.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Chicken Soup for the Soul Connections

TGCW members Laurie Kolp and Sylvia Ney with Chicken Soup for the Soul publisher Amy Newmark at Hotel Zsa Zsa luncheon in Houston.

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 2014 Meeting

Birma Castle  will speak on "lucidity" in poetry.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Links of Writing Opportunities

Photo by L. Kolp

A wealth of information exists on the worldwide web; so much, in fact, it may seem overwhelming for writers seeking publication opportunities. Below is a list of resources that provide such information.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Future story ideas are listed here.

Creative Writer’s Opportunities List (Yahoo Groups) Run by Allison Joseph, a poet and professor at SIU-C. Subscribe to receive email.

Freelance’s Morning Coffee eNewsletter. Sign up for the newsletter to receive daily updates on paying opportunities. 

New Pages. Updated every Thursday with calls for submission.

Writing Updates regularly on paid writing opportunities. 


 Do you have something to share? If so, please leave a comment and we can add it to our list.

Friday, August 1, 2014

August Speaker: Mark Yost

Mark Yost will be speaking on "Finding the Right Publisher". 

He has written for The Wall Street Journal for more than 20 years. He was an editor and writer for the Journal editorial page in New York and Brussels, as well as a reporter for the Dow Jones Newswires in Detroit covering the auto industry. More recently, Yost has been a regular contributor to the Journal's Leisure and Arts pages and Book Review section.

He is the author of four nonfiction books, including "Varsity Green: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Culture and Corruption of College Athletics."

In 2014, Mark Yost begin writing columns for Stay Thirsty, a Chicago-based epublisher. In June 2014, Stay Thirsty released "Cooper's Daughter: A Rick Crane Noir," the first book in a series about an Upstate New York private eye reminiscent of Philip Marlowe and Jim Rockford.

Friday, July 11, 2014

July 14 Meeting

Our July 14th meeting will be a writing workshop with critiques of your WIP.

Please bring a typed manuscript of  2500 words or less for review by fellow members. You might also want to bring pens of various colors to use during the critiques.

This meeting is meant to help encourage and educate each other in regards to your own writing. You may bring either something you intend for publication or for the group contest: poems, short stories, novel excerpts, etc - for critique. You only need to bring one copy - no more than 10 pages or 2500 words.

You can hand your work to as many, or few, people as you wish. The members you choose to let read it will then write down any problems they see (grammar, repetitiveness, a lapse in logic, etc) and they will comment on things they like (word choice, character traits, etc.) You get your work back that night - no one leaves with your work, or makes copies, etc. This is meant to be a safe environment where we can all help each other grow in our craft.

For examples on how to revise and edit try this article on how to critique.

Friday, June 13, 2014

2014 Texas Gulf Coast Writers Short Story Contest

 TGCW presents its 2014 Short Story Contest. Fiction or creative nonfiction pieces may be submitted. Judging will be done by qualified professionals not associated with our group, and may include comments and suggestions on each entry. Rules are below. Winners will receive prizes as stated below.

ENTRY FEE: Members may enter for FREE. Nonmembers will be charged $10 per entry.

COVER SHEET: Use a separate cover sheet for your entry. Put your name, complete address, telephone number, and email address in the upper left-hand corner. Double space, six times, and center the title. Double space again and type the first line of your story (to avoid confusion in case of a title being used by more than one member). DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME ON ANY OTHER PAGE! Cover sheets will be kept in a special envelope by the President for identification of the winning entries and will not be sent to the judges with the submissions.

ALL ENTRIES: This must be your original unpublished work. Publication on the Internet is publication. Fiction or creative nonfiction of up to 2,500 words may be submitted. Entries must be typed and double-spaced with one-inch margins. Use font size 12 and Times New Roman only. Text should be on one side of each page. For the first page, double space eight times from the top of the page, center the title, double space again, and begin the story. On each succeeding page of story, type title and page number in the upper right- hand corner WITHOUT AUTHOR’S NAME.

Each person may enter ONLY ONE SHORT STORY: one fiction OR one creative nonfiction, but not both! Entries will be judged by outside professionals. Each entry needs three copies. One goes to each of the three judges. However, to reduce paper waste there only needs to be one cover sheet.

DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES: Printed copies must be turned in to the TGCW President by the close of the August 11 meeting!

Emailed entries are not accepted. If a contestant lives out of town, he/she may mail in their submission to the PO BOX in the right column. Fasten cover sheet to your submission with a large paperclip. DO NOT STAPLE ANYTHING! Entries which do not conform to these rules will be disqualified and not judged. Judges often write comments directly on the submission. Each entry will be judged but we cannot guarantee all judges will write comments on either a score sheet or submission. Decisions of the judges are final.

PRIZES: First place will receive a cash prize in the amount of $50, second place will receive a cash prize in the amount of $25, and third place will receive a certificate.

Winners and awards will be presented at either the Sept or Oct 2014 meeting.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June 9th Speaker: Laurie Kolp

Laurie Kolp is an award-winning poet with numerous publications, some of which include Poets & Artists, Writer’s Digest, Diane Lockward’s The Crafty Poet, cho, Miller’s Pond, The Fib Review; forthcoming in Pirene’s Fountain and Blue Fifth Review.

 Laurie is often inspired by nature, and her photography has been featured in Poetic PinUp Review and graced the cover of MiCrow8: Winter 2013. She is part of the online communities dVerse Poets and Poetry Jam, and the vice-president of Texas Gulf Coast Writers.

Laurie lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, three kids and two dogs. To learn more, please visit her website, or her blogs and

Her first full-length poetry collection, Upon the Blue Couch, was published by Winter Goose Publishing in April 2014, and will be available (and personalized) at the meeting. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Finding Inspiration

Inspiration, like a mustard seed, sprouts into thoughts begging for release. A poet then gathers words and phrases that bloom through concentrated reflection, waters them each day, forever pruning what becomes a poem. ~Laurie Kolp


Many people ask me where I find inspiration. I tell them it's everywhere, if they'd just take the time to notice; and in this busy, fast-paced world in which we live, that can be quite challenging. I'd like to share with you how I've become more aware of all the potential for poems I run into each day.

I'm reminded of how, as a second grade teacher, I used to take my kids on exploring walks (no talking allowed). The school where I worked had a park beside it with nature trails. I'd tell them to look, listen and list. They were like little scientists, notebook and pencils in hand. It was always near the end of the day on a day that had no end in sight; and every time we did this, the kids became more relaxed, and I received some much-needed peace.

As a poet, that's what I do. I look, listen and list. It can be outside all alone watching squirrels contort themselves to reach my bird feeders, or at the grocery store listening to a one-sided phone conversation while waiting in line. If I'm quiet, I can hear ideas popping through my mind (which also happens in the shower, more often times than not).

Memories and life experience also serve as inspiration for me. I'll scan through old photos which trigger something from my past I'd like to write about. Forgotten boxes in the garage do the same, or recalling conversations with parents and grandparents.

Sometimes I discover poems in old magazines and newspapers, books I'm reading or have read, crossword puzzle clues, horoscopes and fortunes from fortune cookies. I record the words or phrases for later use, either in a small notebook I carry in my purse, or on my phone.

All over the web there are poetry sites which provide prompts each week, allowing participants an opportunity to add links to their blogs so others can visit and read their new poems. I highly recommend this. Not only have I made some wonderful friends, I've made some wonderful connections. The feedback has helped me tremendously, as it is usually positive... and after a slew of rejections, it always boosts my morale and puts my focus back to where it should be: I write because I have something I need to say, and am doing it for ME, not an editor I don't even know.

Below is a list of suggested prompt sites. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SHARE A POEM, but the topic might help inspire you to write something, right?        

On her blog, Word Gathering, Margo Roby compiles a Friday post that recaps all the week's topics at various sites, and she also provides original prompts and poetry tips.

Of course, reading and studying craft books help. I highly recommend:

The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop by Diane Lockward
Poet’s Market (Writer’

What about you? Where do YOU find inspiration? Please share in comments below.

Until next time,

Click HERE for info

Thursday, May 8, 2014

May Speaker: Jerry Craven

Jerry Craven from Lamar University Press will be here on May 12 to discuss "The Benefits of Publishing With a University Press."
Jerry Craven: Press Director for Lamar University PressPress Director for Ink Brush Press, Editor-in-Chief of Amarillo Bay, a member of the writing faculty at Lamar University, he is an active member of The Texas Institute of LettersSFWATACWTCCTETo learn more: