No, the title of this blog isn’t referring to the Rockies, I’m referring to the Writing Workshop that is held at Wildacres in the Blue Ridge Mountains every summer the second week in July.

A first glance at their website, might entice you to go for the setting, for the faculty, for the view off the huge stone porch, and yes, for the food, which is wonderful. But I went there looking for a getaway, and a week long workshop with writer folks just like me.

While it seemed wildly decadent (the time away, not the price,) it was just like the ticket I needed to kick start my commitment to my craft. And I got permission to do just that during Director, Judi Hill’s welcome speech, in which she said one of the most amazing things I've ever heard as a writer.


Wow. That thought had never occurred to me. While I spent a lot of time writing and stealing blocks of time from other responsibilities, I’d never done that before. Even when I registered for the workshop, I didn’t think of the week in those terms. But Wildacres Writing Workshop made a huge difference in my life.

During that week I started rewriting a novel I finished several years ago about a mountain girl, thinking it was appropriate and some mountain magic just might rub off on me. I’m not sure if it was the mountain or my re commitment to my craft, but the magic happened and I sold that book to Penguin last year, just in time for Christmas.

Granted the title of this blog might be a little misleading if your 49 or younger, so let me be clear, Wildacres Writing Workshop IS FOR EVERYONE.

But if you’re 50 or over, here’s where YOU come in. An anonymous donor is offering a WILDACRES WRITING WORKSHOP SCHOLARSHIP to a current SCWW member in honor of former Wildacres faculty member at--Scott Lax.

Why 50 and over? In Scott’s words:

I was a decent writer in high school. Yet I allowed a few rude comments about my writing in college and a few years after to throw me way off course. It took me twenty years to get back to it, at 39, when I wrote published essays and columns on a weekly basis. At 41 I began my first novel; when I startedit I didn’t even know what an MFA was. I only knew I had to write. My novel was published when I was 46; we made it into a feature film, which was released when I was 50; I wrote my first produced play when I was 51. I’m 59 now, and I have just completed producing my first TV show (actually two of them) and co-written them. Most importantly, I became a father for the first time at 58 . . .

So here’s my point. It’s never too late. Writers 50 and older have so much to offer. Yes, we have some aches and pains and losses. But we have the experience and patience and love of life to offer readers, whether one reader or millions.”

I’ve pasted the eligibility requirements below and hope that you will take advantage of this amazing opportunity. If you’re under 50, let me reinterrate, that your investment, which is modest for a Saturday to Saturday stay in the mountains, all meals included, is well worth the trip to this little piece of heaven.

Eligibility for the Scott Lax Wildacres Writers’ Workshop

Open to SCWW Members 50 years or older

Applicant must not have previously attended a Wildacres Writers’ Workshop

Application process

Applicants for the Scott Lax Scholarship will submit one of the following to SCWW:

Poetry – 3 poems

Creative Nonfiction – up to but no more than 10 pages

Novel – up to but no more than 10 pages

Short story – up to but no more than 10 pages

Contemporary Commercial Fiction – up to but no more than 10 pages

Along with the materials, include a cover sheet with the following information

All contact information – name, address, phone number, email address

Chapter affiliation, if one

The class you intend to register for at Wildacres Writers Workshop (note, Ron Rash’s novel class is full)

Title of your entry

A brief essay, 250 words or less, on ‘Why I Want to Attend Wildacres Writers’ Workshop’

Material submitted to SCWW for the Scott Lax Scholarship must be the same material the scholarship recipient will then submit to Wildacres Writers’ Workshop as part of its registration process

Applications are now open and the in-hand deadline for submitting is March 10, 2012.

Send to Kim Blum-Hyclak

1315 Treetop Dr.

Lancaster, SC 29720

There is no application fee. Any submissions received after March 10 will not be eligible.

Award selection process

Finalists will be selected by a panel of SCWW Chapter Members

SCWW Board will determine the SCWW Scott Lax Wildacres Scholarship recipient

Recipient will be notified no later than March 24th

Scholarship recipient agrees to:

apply to and attend the Wildacres Writers Workshop, July 7-14th

submit to the SCWW Board a brief summary/report on the Wildacres Writers’ Workshop experience no later than August 31st. Specifics about this will be given to the scholarship winner.

Recipient is responsible for transportation to and from the Wildacres Writers Workshop and any expenses outside the cost of tuition.

Questions? Contact Kim Blum-Hyclak at

Some words from Scott:

“I wish all the entrants well. And I hope those who do not win are never discouraged: just by entering the scholarship award means that one has written something that he or she is proud of. That’s the important thing. As for the winner this year and in the future, I hope it moves them towards both humility and increased determination to make a difference through writing, through language, through the beauty of words.”

2012 SCWW Officers and Committee Chairs Elected

The new SCWW Board of Directors met yesterday (January 21) for the first time this year. Among lots of business, new officers and committee chairs were elected.

SCWW Board of Directors Officers
President – Ginny Padgett
Vice-President – Kia Goins
Secretary – Monet Jones
Treasurer – Jim McFarlane

Standing Committee Chairs
Chapter Liaison – Kim Boykin
Conference Chair – Ginny Padgett
Contests – Virginia Schafer
Grants – Linda Cookingham and Virginia Schafer
Membership – Jim McFarlane
Petigru Review Editor – Tibby Plants
Publicity – Belise Butler
Quill Editor – Kim Boykin

All email addresses remain the same for each office and committee chair. Those addresses are listed in the Quill and on the website. Please don’t hesitate to contact your board members with questions, suggestions, or concerns. Because we are all volunteers, please allow a response time of no more than one week. If you have a pressing issue, email me at I’ll respond in 24 hours or less.

We have an enthusiastic, energetic vibe to the Board this year. I think there will be many new opportunities for the members of SCWW during 2012, and your board is dedicated to building on our proven successes. Here’s to a great new year!

The Past as Prologue

The past eight months of my life have been busy with my 90-year-old mother. Some days are good, some not so. We have a caregiver for a period of time almost every day, but I've taken on the majority of her care. Going to a doctor's appointment takes up most of a day and wears both of us out. Just getting her to the car to get her out of the house for a while is a challenge. There are good days and not so good days.

Although Mom's short term memory is bad, she can still tell the best family stories, especially the silly things I did when I was younger. Those memories are phenomenal. She repeats conversations from 75 years ago in a manner I suspect is verbatim. She listened to the original War of the Worlds broadcast in its entirety and had no idea it terrified so many people. She didn't want for much during the Great Depression because her mother raised chickens and had a garden. She ran a boarding house and cooked for as many as 100. My mother's six older siblings and their husbands always helped out.

When our neighborhood trees were T-Ped one Halloween my Mom never gave me away: the tissue was pink and she knew it had come from our home.

I have more time to listen. I'm jotting down her revelations in a notebook. I won't get all the stories I missed, but I'll have a record of some of them. I learned that after her father died when she was nine, she and her mother took the train from Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they lived, back to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where her mother successfully managed the food service of a country club/hotel. Quite an accomplishment for a French-Canadian who could not read or write English. When Mom was in high school her friends made stove top potatoes. They cooked thinly sliced potatoes on the wood stove lids, slid them into bowls and ate them while listening to one of the few radios in town.

These reminiscences are important memoirs I can pass on to my children. This year I plan to write up a few of Mom's stories and team them with the appropriate pictures and make little books for my family. I know they will appreciate them, as my daughter and son take great delight in stories of my youthful escapades.

I wish I had thought of this years ago, of leaving a legacy for my children and grandchildren. But perhaps we need the wisdom we gain as we age to realize how important this is.

I think I'll take a memoir writing class. An instructor in Coastal University's OLLI program has what sounds like a great approach.

Once I have all the stories, I just need a great opening line and perhaps I'll become famous. More likely my family will have a legacy to pass on to their families. Sometimes recognition from loved ones is more important then being famous.

A Letter to My Great-Grandmother

I moved into the home of two great aunts over twelve years ago. While combing through the remnants of furniture that were left, I stumbled onto a trunk filled with pictures and letters they had saved. This little adventure began my research into my family history.

The house next door was built by my great-grandfather. My cousin invited me into her attic one day and together we opened a sealed barrel. This barrel contained dozens of letters wrapped in bundles and tied together with ribbons. We had hit the mother lode, letters dating back to 1827. For weeks I sat and organized the thin parchment papers by author. Each letter remained in its envelope, so that I could identify dates and the location from which it had been mailed. I read for weeks, connecting the names within the family. There were business letters, land agreements, letters of love and letters of disagreement throughout the 1800s and early 1900s. The one letter that sticks with me, however, was written by my great-great-great grandmother to her granddaughter in 1879. It begins, “My dear Maude, I am now 74 and will not be able to give dates. I forget so much now,” and then proceeds to give an eight page account of her life.

Until that moment, the only thing that any of the family members knew about this particular woman, Martha Ruberry McBride, was her name and the dates of birth and death as recorded on her stone in the church graveyard. Suddenly she became alive with a story to tell. She walked us through her life before and after the civil war, the deaths of her husband and only son, her love for her grandchildren, and her remarriage.

What fascinated me the most, however, was this record of a life for others to read. That letter sat in a barrel for 130 years. Someone had the good sense to save it and store it properly. What may have seemed like an effort to provide remembrances to a granddaughter blossomed into a treasure of history for my generation. I have since donated it to the archives of the Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina.

Everywhere I speak, I encourage people to write at least one personal letter to someone they care about describing their life. E-mail will not suffice. Write your personal history down on paper and either mail the letter to someone you love or place it in a safety deposit box with your will. As Roger Angell writes in The New Yorker, “If we stop writing letters, who will keep our history or dare to venture upon a biography?” You never know what great-great-great granddaughter, nephew or niece, might discover the letter 130 years from now that inspires the great American novel, or at the very least shows your family that you were a living, breathing person with a story to tell.