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Writing the West

There are some born to a life of livestock barns, wide open sky, starry nights, and sweaty work. They can saddle a horse anytime they want, lucky to be living the kind of life that others only dream about.

The place of sky and pasture. Spring roundup on the Sanford Ranch, Texas Panhandle. Photo by N. Bright.

The dreamers live out their adventures through the pages of a book, the words of a song, a theater production, or a movie playing on the big screen. And then there are them who write that book, craft that song, or create the words for actors to memorize so that we all may experience the western lifestyle, no matter our life’s destiny. My work and inspiration falls somewhere in between. I don’t ride a horse, but I am blessed to hang around some very skilled horsemen and women, and I count as friends many writers who love the American West as much as I do. I’m lucky to have a foot in both worlds.

The Western Writers of America is a group of people dedicated to preserving the history of the American West. The organization is unique in that people of varied talents and mediums come together in one place every year. They explore the local area, exchange ideas, reconnect, discover new friends, learn, write, and be inspired.

“What it is that unites us? Love,” said Will Bagley, this year’s winner of the Owen Wister award, in his keynote speech at the 2019 convention in Tuscon. “We are all storytellers who love our craft.”

With over 700 members from around the world, the Western Writers of America was founded in 1953 to promote the literature of the American West and bestow the coveted SPUR Awards to the best of the best. If you are a fan of the west like me, I understand your loyalty to Louis L’Amour, however it’s a new age. These aren’t your typical “shoot ’em up” westerns, although you’ll find some of them too. The work being generated today will astound you. In-depth revelations about the history and people of the American West, along with nail-biting adventures with cowboys and horses and yes, even romance. Music that will stir your soul, poems, documentaries, and television shows that take you back in time or put a new spin on an old tale. I challenge you to rediscover the artists and creatives of today. Click here to see a list of books by WWA  Active members and subscribe to WWA’s Roundup Magazine (you don’t have to be a member to subscribe).

As WWA past president Kirk Ellis reminded us in Tuscon, “To keep the spirit and history alive is honorable work.”

The WWA Players premiere production of eight monologues from “Americana West” by Red Shuttleworth.
Flanking playwright and director, Kirk Ellis, left to right: Carol Markstrom, Mark C. Jackson, Kellen Cutsforth, Micki Fuhrman Milom, Robert Nott, Sheila Ellis, Johnny D. Boggs and Chris Enss. Grand Palace Saloon Theatre in Old Tuscon, WWA 2019. Photo cred from WWA Facebook.

Whether you are a writer or not, the WWA is for any one who has a desire to preserve the legacy of our American West. Here’s how you can become a member: click here.



Tuscon was my third WWA convention to attend and the people I’ve met have certainly inspired my work and changed my life for the better. The next annual convention will be held in Rapid City, South Dakota on June 17-20, 2020. If you are writer in need of inspiration or you just love the American West, join us in Rapid City!


Natalie Bright is an author, blogger, speaker and aspiring photographer. Her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications and anthologies, and she is the author of the TROUBLE IN TEXAS Series, adventure books for kids set in the Texas frontier Ages 8-10. She also has a series of 3rd/4th level easy readers based on true stories about rescue horses. Her and her husband own a cow/calf operation raising all natural Red and Black Angus. KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’ is filled with all the flavors of the American West with over 100 recipes, history of the cattle drives, archival cow camp photos, and photography of the modern Texas ranch. Available NOW from TwoDot Books.