Nan McKenzie, January 25, 2016

The loving month of February is just a hop and a skip away, so my thoughts automatically go to affectionate feelings. I love:
♥ My handsome loving son, caring for his half-paralyzed wife (stroke) with kindness, humor and endless patience.
♥ My beautiful amazing daughter, doing her best to stay happy in her difficult world.
♥ My five grandchildren, Brit, Greg, Brianna, Audrey, Kenzie.
♥ My five great-grandchildren, Drifter, Autumn, Isaiah, Jonah, Rylee.
♥ My three sisters, Faye, Sue, Kona, and their pile of kids, grand-kids, great-grand-kids.
♥ A slew of fun good friends.
♥ Former loves, all the goodness they left me with.
♥ My house, always my sanctuary, my comfortable home.
♥ My co-workers, fine men and women all, who do the right thing always, not the easy thing.
♥ Montana, the best-kept secret in the fifty states. All it lacks is an ocean to be perfect.
♥ My country, America it is, born in struggle and genius, carried on by the best of people, always looking to find the best way, the kind way.
♥ My amazing memories of a long life lived with an eye to having adventures, not just surviving.

Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

Ann Minnett MWW photoBy Ann Minnett

Einstein is credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.” These words describe my approach to writing for the past five years. Although I prefer NOT to label my writing as insane, I’m not getting the results I desire and must make changes.

My theme for 2016 is: Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Nothing changes… refers to the outcomes I want to achieve. Easy. My writing goals have always been:

  1. Write meaningful stories.
  2. Have lots of readers.

Meaningful stories—check. Lots of readers—not so much.


… if nothing changes  refers to what I can control/change in order to accomplish those outcomes.

  1. Enroll in workshops to become a better writer. I love being a learner and can always improve.
  2. Stop self-publishing and explore other ways to share my work. The successful self-publisher engages in a web of marketing activities every day. I’m a fair-weather marketer, at best.
  3. Take a break from writing. Counter-productive? Not really. I’ve written three novels, a screenplay, and several short stories in the past five years, always feeling pressure to come up with the next project. It’s time to step back from the keyboard, realign my writing priorities, and brainstorm with abandon.

I might be crazy, but “insanity” will no longer define my writing process.

Happy New Year!





The Enlightened Setting

George Wythe House

By Karen Wills
One of my writing goals for 2016 is to create stronger settings. This is partly the result of a trip I took to Virginia in early December. I joined family to visit Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, and the reconstructed Jamestown Settlement of 1607. All three proved fascinating.

In Colonial Williamsburg costumed guides showed us through eighteenth century working shops, historic homes and government buildings, as well as landscapes. A history buff, I’ve concentrated on the American West, but fell in love with the vital, courageous people and settings of the American Revolution. The symmetrical classic lines of their architecture and practical gardens (If you owned an acre, you had to have an orchard.) belied the tumultuous, risky  times in which they lived, creating an appealing (at least to a writer) dramatic tension.

This is evident in Wythe House. Although George Wythe signed the Declaration of Independence, and has been called the Father of American Jurisprudence, he and his wife did something else. They turned their home over to General George Washington and his military staff for their headquarters on the eve of the tide-turning Siege of Yorktown.

The house is as it was during his stay, a military coat draped across a chair in his room, perhaps worn more casually than the responsibility our future president shouldered. A low, narrow bed across from his four poster must be where a personal attendant slept. If I were that man, I think I would have slept only lightly. But the room has purple and white striped wallpaper and seems to be a bright, optimistic place for a man of both thought and action to have prepared for a pivotal moment in his and our fledgling nation’s life.

The dining room includes the messy remains of a dinner, including scattered cracked nuts. The room where he met with his officers to study maps and plan strategy is orderly. Relaxing at dinner must have been a luxury.

I paused on the wooden stairs, thrilled to be where one of the men I most admire climbed wearily up at the end of hard days. The great man must have drawn a long breath or two before he finally departed to change the setting of Colonial America forever. The setting of Wythe House made him seem so very real and so very human.




January Book News

Happy New Year! It’s a bright, chilly day here in NW Montana, and we’re all thinking of the year ahead, in writing and reading. And we’re grateful for all of you readers, taking this journey with us.

Marie F MartinI also say Happy New Year to all the readers of Montana Novels in this past year.  I have no idea how many that encompasses, but at our monthly meetings we hear about the success of our writers.  We are always grateful and  clap for each other.  The lonely, busy author needs that kinship.

Thank you, readers for the gift of pleasure we receive when a book of ours is read.

Marie F Martin

From all of us to all of you, Happy New Year! May 2016 bring you peace and joy, and all the good books you can possibly devour!

Leslie BudewitzMontana Women Writers 009