Women writing the
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WWW Winter Newsletter Cover

Learn about the late Sybil Downing, co-founder and first president of WWW, in this commemorative edition.
Included in this newsletter:

•Photos and articles about the 2011 conference, the sightseeing tour, and what some members found most valuable

•How to interest agents and editors at your next conference

•What your fellow members are doing and so much more


Cover photo by Nancy Godbout Jurka



Sybil Downing, Founding Member of Women Writing the WestSybil Downing
By Jeri Hurd

Sybil Downing and I met for lunch one day in 1994 to discuss how we were going to promote our upcoming books.My first novel would be out from Pocket Books in six months. Sybil was looking for a publisher for Ladies of the Gold Field Stock Exchange.

Book promotion is not a new problem, but we were on the cusp of real change in how stories of the American West were being told. Research by Sue Armitage (see The Women’s West) and others had changed how historians told about women’s contributions to our region.Our question was how to reach a wider audience.

Women mystery writers, faced with fewer reviews and less publisher promotion than male mystery writers, had organized as Sisters In Crime and turned that genre on its head. Ours was a bigger problem. At least women mystery writers had their books published as mysteries.

Women who wrote about the American West often were lumped with romance writers or defined as regional writers. Western Writers of America, the great, venerable organization of our genre, was biased toward male writers. Just read the list of Spur Winners prior to 1994. Worse, the New York Times didn’t review western books at all—nobody’s, not even Wallace Stegner’s.

• Jerrie Hurd is co-founder of Women Writing the West with Sybil Downing, WWW’s second President, and first Newsletter Editor. The author of three novels, she is currently working on a book about the power of family stories with supporting blog at http://www.jerriehurd.wordpress.com. Her photography has shown at Camera Obscura, Dairy Center for the Arts and other galleries. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.