“Successful writers surround themselves with writers,” said Phoenix Writers Club president Cindi Reiss, and she believes PWC provides the opportunity to share experiences with writers from various genres. “Between the levels of expertise represented and the speakers each month, I constantly learn ways to further my writing career.”
Here is a recap of 2012 events for the group, which meets on the third Saturday of every month.
Saturday, Jan. 21: Debe Branning spoke about her writing, including articles she does for rootshed.com as Arizona Haunted Sites Examiner and Haunted Places Examiner. Since 1994 Branning has been the director of MVD Ghostchasers of Mesa/Bisbee paranormal team, which investigates haunted locations throughout Arizona. Branning has appeared on “Streets of Fear” for FearNet.com and in an episode of Travel Channel’s “Ghost Stories” about haunted Jerome, Ariz. She has also been a guest lecturer at Ottawa University, Central Arizona College, Arizona State University and South Mountain Community College. Branning is the author of “Sleeping with Ghosts! A Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Arizona’s Haunted Hotels & Inns.” and in 2012 she published “The Graveyard Shift: Arizona’s Historic and Haunted Cemeteries” and “Grand Canyon Ghost Stories.”
Saturday, Feb. 18: Vickie Mullins wrote “I Want You to Know Me … Love Mom & Dad” to fulfill a promise to a dying friend. Thus began a series of books for people who want to leave their stories for their family, friends and peers. An energetic, entertaining communicator, Mullins founded Mullins Creative, Inc., a full-service graphic design and print management company, in 1991. In 2005 she and Ted Rogers started a publishing firm, Perfect Bound Marketing, which shepherds authors through the process of becoming self-publishers. Mullins holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism, with an emphasis in advertising and marketing, from Northern Arizona University. An Arizona resident since 1956, Mullins lives in Scottsdale with her husband, Jack.
Saturday, March 7: Scottsdale author and former journalist Betty Webb shared writing and publishing tips. Deemed “a favorite of Phoenix Writers Club” by PWC president Cindi Reiss, Webb is the author of the acclaimed Lena Jones mystery series, which includes seven books so far, the latest of which is “Desert Wind.” In this series private investigator Lena Jones uncovers shocking details involving everything from polygamist sects to dangerous uranium mining practices in Arizona, while battling her own private demons. Webb also writes the lighthearted and entertaining Gunn Zoo mysteries series. “The Llama of Death,” the latest in the series, comes out Jan. 6, 2013. Webb is a member of the National Federation of Press Women, Mystery Writers of America, the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers and other writing groups.
Saturday, April 21: Actor Robert Bledsoe told of his latest endeavor, the creation of the Carefree Theatre Company, a nonprofit with an emphasis on bringing exceptional theater to Arizona. He plans to present local, national, and international plays and hopes to put on four or five productions a year. A member of the Screen Actors Guild, Bledsoe began his acting career at age 45 when he got cast in his first play, Equus. Since that time, he has appeared in more than 30 stage productions and several films. From April 26-May 12, the company produced the ariZoni Award-winning play “In My Humble Opinion,” in which Bledsoe reprised his role as Jack Durant. The play is based on “The Saga of Jack Durant,” a book written about Arizona’s famous restaurateur by Mabel Leo, a past president of PWC and current member.
Saturday, May 19: The Phoenix Writers Club celebrated Arizona’s Centennial and 86 years as a club by presenting “The Play.” Written by BetteLou Tobin and produced by Geri Rosato, “The Play,” was performed at the Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix and took the audience from 1926, when women weren’t welcome in the newsroom, to the present day, where women are writing in every genre. The cast included Eileen Birin, BetteLou Tobin, Ron Thompson, Katherine Washburn, Marge Elza, Hank Elza and Cindi Reiss. Allen Ewson served as stage manager, and Katherine Washburn and Jeff Lazar served as assistant stage managers. Elaine Mays handled publicity for the event.
June-Aug.: Rather than bring in outside speakers in summer, PWC uses this time to catch up with the club’s own happenings. In June, social media coordinator Maria Piork gave a presentation introducing PWC to LinkedIn. In July and August, members told about their writing lives.
Saturday, Sept. 15: Former undercover hit man Jack Ballentine spoke and signed copies of his book, “Murder for Hire.” All proceeds from the book go to the 100 Club of Arizona, which looks out for the families of fallen public safety officers and firefighters. “Murder for Hire” tells the story of Ballentine’s 15 years undercover with the Phoenix Police Department as a supposed hired hit man. During that time, he played the role of seven different characters, including a warlord in a motorcycle gang, a mob guy from an upstate New York family, a member of the Aryan Brotherhood and a disgruntled Vietnam veteran. He efforts paid off. He managed to indict 24 individuals who thought they were hiring him to kill someone. Currently with the Phoenix Fire Department, Ballentine says he sleeps well despite all he’s been through.
Saturday, Oct. 20: Longtime Arizona television personality Dan Davis told about his life since leaving KTVK in 2009. The Emmy Award-winning anchor on “Good Morning Arizona” lost his job there due to cost-cutting measures. In 2010 he returned to television as the host, as well as writer and producer, of “AAA Presents Highroads with Dan Davis.” When Davis was laid off, he first began writing for Highroads, the AAA magazine. When someone suggested he do his own TV show, he presented the idea to AAA, and AAA went for it. The 30-minute travel and lifestyle program depicts interesting things to see and do in Arizona and beyond. Davis writes the entire show, but he says he thinks of himself as more of a storyteller than a writer, noting that he doesn’t do a formal outline but just lets the story unfold. Davis has also published a book entitled “Underground Art.”
Saturday, Nov. 17: Elizabeth Welles spoke about journaling for creativity. A writer, actress, teacher and healer, Welles began journaling at the age of 7, when she kept a diary of her family’s travels to Europe. She is the author of “Journaling for Well-Being & Peace,” a guide to healing from loss and discovering new pathways to creativity, and the editor of “Women Celebrate: The Gift in Every Moment.” Welles is also the founder of the Four Wisdoms of Creativity and the ISIS Method for Stress Reduction and the creator of the CD, “Meditation for Relaxation.” Welles will be teaching a teleseminar, “Journaling for Well-Being & Peace,” Jan. 15-Feb. 26, 2013. For information and registration, call 323-682-4025.
Saturday, Dec. 17: Eileen Birin headed up PWC’s annual book exchange, where members each bring a book and exchange it for another one. This year the club added a white elephant raffle.
Writing in the January 2013 issue of the Stimulus, PWC’s newsletter, Reiss wishes everyone a happy 2013, “and may you allow yourself the freedom to trust yourself and let your writing talent grow in ways you could have never imagined.”
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