Friday, June 15, 2012

Best Friends Forever

I'm in Albuquerque at the Western Writers of America Convention. Some of my dearest friends are in this group. It's the oldest American writing organization, and was started around a campfire in the '50s by five of the best-selling western novelists. They discussed editors and market and whatever. The group expanded and their editors joined them. A LOT of business took place at these meetings

It was through my first conference (Santa Fe) in 1982 that I made the connections that enabled me to sell Come Spring, which was about homesteading in Kansas.

A huge number of members at that time actually made a writing novels. Quite a few made about $50,000 dollars a years. They supported families and could afford to go on research trips.

Ah, for the good old days!

Through the years, the composition of the group changed dramatically. The emphasis changed to include academics and non-fiction writers. Then there was an influx of screen writers.

After that there was a deluge of TV script writers and songwriters, then the audio books people lobbied for their rightful place in the line-up. Suddenly the panels changed to marketing. University presses began picking up "Novels of the West" and the books were often award-winning masterpieces.

Times change, the group changed. There was no longer a deluge of New York editors sent by their houses to ferret out the next best-sellers. Fewer contracts were finalized at the bar. The number of agents declined.

Hope is in the air. Cables are making westerns. The History Channel loves the membership. Love the books and love the scripts.

One thing that has not changed is the quality of friendship and generosity in WWA. Ya'all come! Chances are we'll take a liking to you.

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