Books and friends | – Fence Post

Peggy Sanders Peggy-sanders |

Books. They are my companions. I seem to be reading one or two at a time, often they are different genres; one for fun and one for my edification. Until a few years ago, my shelves were filled with faceless writers. Once I started writing, I also had the privilege of meeting — and putting faces to — a large number of my own library’s authors. Now I have a section that is devoted to wordsmiths that I know personally. I have enjoyed time with Candy Moulton, Chris Enss, Michael and Kathleen Gear, Craig Johnson, Gwen Petersen, Yvonne Hollenbeck, Jane Kirkpatrick and so many others, mostly due to being part of Western Writers of America. Those encounters make their books more meaningful to me.
Rachel Klippenstein was the first woman I knew that really had written, and published, a book. She hadn’t just talked about it. I must give her credit for challenging me to write. When I went to my first writer’s conference, there were editors and agents and they were approachable. I had thought talking to an editor about a book during a conference meal was something akin to asking a doctor to diagnose an illness at a party. In fact, they were there to find writers and encouraged such conversations.
My first paid articles were for a dot com. I thought I was truly a writer when I got my first check; and I knew I was when I had my first article stolen on line and re-submitted (to the same dot com!) by another writer. That might go into my ‘stupid crooks’ book.

I was an honored guest for a book signing, my first one ever, at the Tattered Cover in Denver. How many authors go their entire careers without ever having that feather in their cap? It came about because of a trio of women — Nancy Curtis, Gaydell Collier, and Linda Hasselstrom — who saw a need to encourage other Western women writers to sit down and write. Not just talk about writing, but write. They arranged the event and invited the women who were published in the anthology titled Woven on the Wind. That is what knowing other writers is all about, getting together, supporting each other, encouraging — sometimes with a kick in the pants, sometimes with a referral for a writing assignment — but always with actually putting words on paper in mind. After I had written my fourth book, I had rousing book signing events at Ranchers’ Feed and Seed in Buffalo Gap, S.D., and the Hitch Rail Bar and Restaurant in Pringle, S.D. Unconventional works.
The great thing is, none of the writers I have met project the attitude that they feel they are better people than anyone else. They, too, struggle from time to time with what-is-the-perfect-word; they consult, critique and challenge others, and celebrate small victories with fellow writers. Now when I sit down to read, I feel like I am having a conversation with a friend, no matter who wrote the book.

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