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Arts Foundation helps fund publication of 'Into the West'

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FARMINGTON — For some people, writing is not really work, local author Roberta Summers likes to point out. In the process of producing a book, that's the relatively easy part, she says.

"It's after the writing, when you go for agents and publishers, that it becomes work," she said. "It's the marketing part. And most writers, by nature, are not marketers."

Summers already had some experience with the challenges of marketing when the time came to get her second book, "Fatal Winds," published earlier this year. So when she and a group of Farmington-area authors, the San Juan Writers, decided to pursue the idea of publishing an anthology of their short stories, Summers already had an idea of how much work might be involved.

Even so, the road from idea to reality for that project, titled "Into the West," which goes on sale this weekend at locations around Farmington, was anything but straightforward. The book features 14 short stories by eight Farmington and Aztec authors, including Summers, Anthony Bartley, E. Cluff Elliott, Linda Fredericks, Traci HalesVass, Gloria O'Shields, Lee Pierce and Vicky Ramakka. O'Shields also edited the anthology.

Book signings for "Into the West" will take place at the Artifacts Gallery, 302 E. Main St. in Farmington, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 30 and at Amy's Bookcase, 2530 San Juan Blvd. in Farmington, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 30 as part of the nationwide Small Business Saturday celebration of local merchants. The book also will be sold at the gift shop at the Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, 3041 E. Main St.

Summers said the San Juan Writers applied for and received a grant for $2,400 from the Connie Gotsch Arts Foundation to help cover the cost of publishing the collection. But the group had to raise additional funds to meet the cost of the obligations it included in its grant proposal to the CGAF, many of them related to the marketing campaign associated with the book. Summers said the authors group has bought ads promoting the anthology in New Mexico Magazine and in a trade publication that reaches most book stores and libraries in the Southwest.

Additionally, the San Juan Writers had to form a limited liability company to protect the rights of the authors whose work is featured in the anthology. All that was in addition to the writing required for the collection, as many of the stories were produced specifically for this project.

"There was more to it than what we thought," Summers said. "I was reminded of an old Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland film, where they say, 'Let's do a play, let's do a musical,' and then we find out how naïve we were. … We didn't anticipate all the requirements we wrote into the grant and how much work it would be."

Seeing the project reach fruition was a rewarding experience for everyone associated with it, she said, and the book's release has generated a great deal of momentum for the group, which has been around for years, offering support and advice for local authors looking to have their work published.

"It's not only built momentum (for the group members), but it's kept our noses to the grindstone," she said. "We've been under the pressure of a deadline – a self-imposed pressure."

Copies of "Into the West" are being donated to all public and school libraries in the area that are interested in including it in their collection, Summers said. That is part of a plan to generate statewide exposure for the anthology, which includes stories in various genres, including historical and modern Westerns, horror, humor and the paranormal. All the stories are set in the American West, hence the name.

Summers said the San Juan Writers group hopes to release a new anthology every two or three years.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610, or via email at measterling@daily-times.com.

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