Category Archives: Idaho Writers

Philosophizing on writing

During dinner one evening, my friend and I talked about family, what’s happening in the world and our backyard, but ultimately the discussion turned to writing. Our usual chat over sushi.

We each had stories that we were working on, so we brainstormed ideas, ironed out character bumps, filled in plot holes.

But that night, the talk turned deeper, to the basics of why we sit in front of the computer and produce thoughts, characters, words, stories, essays and poems. The question was what do we want to get out of writing.

It was a damn good question.

My friend said that while having her work published would be great, she strived for perfection. To make each word and sentence count, to make each meaningful and to make the story go forward. That was what was keeping her writing.

“And you’re writing for the money,” she said.

“No,” I answered. I wrote so that I could get to a place where I would have the freedom to write full-time.

I think we both said aloud something we had probably been thinking for a long time — What we wanted to get out of the writing.

That is a good question for all to ask.

Do we want recognition? Or to see our name in print? Do we want the joy of expressing those thoughts and feelings that seem out of place if we speak them?

I have friends who are freelance writers who must write to pay bills, while others want to tell the stories within them as only they can and want satisfaction from that process.

Others may want an outlet for creativity, as music and painting is for others.

My friend reminded me of what Joanne Pence, a best-selling author, said at the workshop sponsored by The Other Bunch in April. Joanne said that writing and publishing are two separate things.

That makes total sense because the discussion was not what we wanted out of publishing, but what we wanted out of writing. That indeed makes them two different things with two different directions and sometimes, the twain will never meet.

What do we want out of writing?

Our answers may change over time, or not. But there is no wrong answer.

There is just the writing.

– Patricia Marcantonio

Finding Your Voice Workshop

We had a lot of fun presenting our workshop April 17. The speakers were awesome, and the audience had lots of questions. If you couldn’t make it this time, maybe we’ll see you next time. Here bestselling mystery author Joanne Pence is giving a workshop on Voice.

Video trailer for Voices from the Snake River Plain

Check out the trailer for Voices from the Snake River Plain here.

Finding Your Voice Workshop this weekend

Pat, Dixie and I are putting the finishing touches to our Finding Your Voice workshop that will be held April 17 in Twin Falls, Idaho. We are excited to have bestselling author Joanne Pence as our guest speaker. Her books have been USA Today and Independent Mystery Bookstore Association bestsellers. Author of more than thirteen books, Joanne will lead a workshop on how to find your own unique voice.
Other workshops will include Tools to Fire up your Creativity, Memoirs: Who has to Right to Write One which includes family histories, Creating Sparks and Banning Doubts, and The Writer’s Life.

If you’ve ever had the desire to write, this workshop is for you. You can find out more about the workshop here.

Other Bunch reads at Filer Kiwanis Club

On March 30, The Other Bunch read from their book, Voices from the Snake River Plain, at the Filer Kiwanis Club. Since Dixie was recovering from knee surgery and still in the hospital, Pat and Bonnie presented the club’s program by reading from their book and answering questions about their upcoming workshop, Finding Your Voice. We want to thank the Filer Kiwanis Club for hosting us and being such a gracious audience.

“Voices from the Snake River Plain” at Indy bookstores

Dixie, Pat and I had a productive weekend. Before our reading at The Cabin, we stopped by Rediscovered Bookshop and A Novel Adventure, independent book stores in Boise, Idaho. We hope you will support these bookstores whenever you are in Boise.


You can find Voices from the Snake River Plain in the Idaho/Northwest section at Rediscovered Bookshop.

Random Readings January 30, 2010

The publishing world is changing daily, it seems, and there’s a lot of interest in the area of non-traditional forms of publishing. As “Writers Working for Writers,” the Idaho Writer’s Guild is proudly launching a new series called “Random Readings” on Saturday, January 30th from 1-3 pm at The Cabin, in Boise. Featured writers will share their experiences, from writing to publishing.

Here’s what you can look forward to: authors will read from their books, with commentary. Afterwards, there will be time for asking questions and sharing thoughts about the nuts and bolts of a variety of publishing processes. Not-to-be-missed refreshments will be served.

Southern Idaho residents Bonnie Dodge, Dixie Thomas Reale and Patricia Santos Marcantonio wrote and published “Voices from the Snake River Plain.” A collection of short stories, poems and essays, the book has been described as “a small treasure….we learn there is beauty in the landscape around us and people with stories to tell.” Some of the tales by these award-winning writers include a jackalope, an old Mexican ghost story, haunting landscapes and a road trip with Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey.

Val Robertson was the former president of The Couer du Bois Chapter of Romance Writers of America, and the founding and current president of the Popular Fiction Association of Idaho, which produces the Murder in the Grove mystery conference. She is also the organizer of the Boise Speculative Fiction writer’s support group. Her debut novel is entitled “Blade’s Edge.”

Also from Boise, Ken McConnell is both traditionally published and self-published. A Software Test Technician, Ken wrote and published “Starstrikers” in 2008. His first novel is “a military space novel that takes place between two galactic civilizations.” He also wrote “Null Pointer,” a mystery novel about a programmer sleuth.

“Random Readings” will take place in the Jean Wilson Reading Room, on the basement level at The Cabin, 801 S. Capitol Blvd, Boise. Admission is free. For further information contact Diane Graham at diane@idahowritersguild.org.

Thank you, Magic Valley

On November 6, Pat, Dixie and I enjoyed reading excerpts from Voices from the Snake River Plain to a standing-room-only crowd in Twin Falls, Idaho. A heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone who helped celebrate the launch of our new book. If you missed the event, copies are still available at the Magic Valley Arts Council, 132 Main Avenue South, Twin Falls, Idaho. They are also available at the Log Cabin Literary Center, 801 S. Capitol Boulevard in Boise, Idaho.

Three writers with stories to tell

Check out this review by Judi Baxter.  Article reprinted courtesy of the Times-News, www.magicvalley.com

BOOKCHAT: Three ‘writers with stories to tell’

It is always thrilling to hold a treasured book in my hands – rediscovering a childhood favorite, inhaling the scent of an old, leather-bound tome, perusing glorious pictures from a beloved illustrator or gently opening a much-anticipated title for the first time.

The thrill was certainly there when I received a copy of “Voices From The Snake River Plain,” the collection of essays, short stories and poetry from three talented local writers, Bonnie Dodge, Dixie Thomas Reale and Patricia Santos Marcantonio.

The lawn mowing, leaf raking and sidewalk sweeping went by the wayside as I sat on my deck and immersed myself in their worlds. I laughed, sighed, held my breath for a few moments and even cried while reading of families and friends, journeys and jealousies.

Marcantonio’s “The Hitch,” an engaging short story about a camping trip gone bad, left me giggling and nodding my head in agreement: Been there, done that! Forget the spectacular Stanley Basin scenery, mountain air and sparkling Salmon River; a lost trailer hitch leads to pointed fingers, heated words and thoughts of divorce. But her wise old character, Earl, quickly snaps everything back into focus: “Earl pulled up his welding mask. ‘You folks should have a good time once this is fixed. You can hike the trails, cook over a campfire, fish a bit. See the stars together. That’s the only way to see the stars, with someone you love so you know you aren’t dreaming.'” Beautiful!

In the chapter “Remembrances,” Reale captured my heart with “Mush.” Anyone who grew up having to eat oatmeal-the-texture-of-wallpaper-paste for breakfast every morning will immediately identify with the feisty, stubborn little girl. Her mother said she would eat it. Period. She was determined not to. Period. It became a royal battle of wills and more than a little ingenuity on young Dixie’s part: feeding it to the dog, tossing it out the window, dribbling large spoonfuls around her bowl. Since she didn’t have to eat the slopped part, that maneuver became her answer:

“I decorated the room. The entire bowl was drizzled and splattered one spoonful at a time across the mahogany tabletop, the wall, the bench and onto the floor. There was so much of it that gray puddles ran into one another making small lakes. Once Mama saw the mess she scraped it back into the dish and slung it in front of me. Now it was cold and slimy, had a faint flavor of English wood oil, and smelled a bit like floor polish. ‘You will eat this,’ she said.”

At this point, I was chuckling, but it was nothing compared with the laugher that erupted when I came to her final solution. What a creative little girl!

After reading Dodge’s “Surviving the Storm,” set a few days after the attack on the World Trade Center, I barely moved for many long minutes, reflecting on her words, recalling the overwhelming feelings of those haunting days as our nation sat in stultified silence and pain.

The women debate their plans to attend a bookfest in Boise and a trip to Idaho City for their annual mini-retreat, struggling with their own fears and doubts about leaving home and families so soon. “It’s what they want,” writes Dodge. “They want to terrorize us into inaction. I think we should go.” And so they do.

They spend hours exploring the former mining town, picking wildflowers, spontaneously attending a Catholic Mass, sharing homemade peach cobbler at Trudy’s Diner.

Dodge writes: “Heading for the car, we stop when we see an area of the cemetery marked with weathered boards, each etched with only one word: Unknown. Like rubber bands, we’re snapped back into reality as we think of the many new graves in New York City, some of which will soon be marked: Unknown. We exchange glances and, unembarrassed by our tears, embrace, holding onto each other longer than usual.

“We pass tissues like candy. Our hearts hurt. We have no words, no stories to define our nation’s massive devastation. As we travel the road that will take us back to our families, smiles chase away sadness and the desperate need to be home … Even in this troubled time, when our nation is stunned and nothing much is moving, we are. Because we’re still writers with stories to tell.”

And our lives are richer because these three writers have gathered and shared those stories with us.

Judi Baxter owned and operated Judi’s Bookstore in downtown Twin Falls from 1978 to 1992. From 2000 to 2004 she wrote a twice-weekly column for Publisher’s Weekly’s online edition called “Reviews in the News.”

Posted in Books-and-literature, Entertainment on Friday, October 23, 2009 1:00 am Updated: 6:30 pm.

Voices from the Snake River Plain is here!

Voices from the Snake River Plain is a collection of short stories, essays, and poems written by Bonnie Dodge, Dixie Thomas Reale, and Patricia Santos Marcantonio. Edited by Jennifer Sandmann, the anthology includes tales that range from humorous to haunting, poignant to tragic. Sometimes the stories rise out of the landscape and from dreams. Sometimes they reach into the past, or into the future, but mostly, the stories echo the human heart. Many of the selections have been printed in other publications or have won writing awards. With a foreword by Diane Josephy Peavey, author of Bitterbrush Country: Living on the Edge of the Land, this is a book you will want to add to your collection.

Voices from the Snake River Plain was made possible in part by the Embodiment Grant of Boise.

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ISBN 978-0-9627690-1-6

$15 plus tax, shipping & handling

To order contact Bonnie.