Archive for the ‘Press Women of Texas’ category

Meet a Member: Sarah Cortez

July 26, 2017

This September Sarah Cortez will attend her first NFPW conference. She won a first place award for her efforts with her latest book, “Vanishing Points Poems and Photographs of Texas Roadside Memorials.” She is a new member of Press women of Texas and is already involved in the organization’s leadership. She is a unique and unbelievable new member I hope you enjoy getting to know a little better.

Name: Sarah Cortez

City and State: Houston, TX

Affiliate & Leadership Position: Press Women of Texas. Recently elected vice-president.

Years a NFPW Member:  Less than one year.

Sarah Cortez

Sarah Cortez

Tell Us A Little About Yourself:                    

I have been a freelance professional writer and editor for almost ten years.  I am 12 books into my career: eight are anthologies and three are authored by myself.  All are published by successful independent publishers.

There are three loves that define my professional life: a love of working with writers, a love of police work, and a love of poetry.  Just as so many others in our culture, I have been lucky enough to combine several career paths.  For me, a 24-year career in law enforcement has melded with both teaching/writing/editing poetry, fiction, memoir, etc., for both individuals and publishing houses.

The best thing I’ve done in my life is become a police officer.  In a way, it was an improbable decision because I already had a fast-track career in corporate America and two graduate degrees: a master’s in Classical Studies and a master’s in Accountancy. My decision to take a radical pay cut and go from white-collar work to blue-collar work has enabled me to stand up for crime victims as I also stand up for what is right based on the laws of the U.S.  The one thing I don’t fear is dying on the job as a cop.  Anyone who goes to the police academy had better make peace with this issue before he/she pays tuition and shows up with armfuls of new, scratchy uniforms and heavy equipment on the first day.

What book are you reading?

I always seem to be reading several books at once.  Right now, I’m going through a book of St. Mother Teresa’s meditations and advice, Pat Conroy’s “Prince of Tides,” and Dana Gioia’s monograph, “The Catholic Writer.”

Why is your affiliate important to you?

I have been intrigued by the Texas affiliate of NFPW because the people I’ve met are so professional, so smart, and have had such a variety of careers.  Perhaps, like me, they are women and men who’ve seen a lot of life yet still believe in the triumph of the human spirit.  As a recently elected vice-president, my goal is to increase membership and work with the present board for the good of our organization.

Any career advice you would give?

If I might offer career advice related to being a freelance writer and editor, I would say “Be patient and hard-working.”  I believe it is a natural human tendency to want everything to be easy.  I even see this tendency in myself every once in a while.  It creeps up on me and it is dreadfully depleting.  I think we writers/editors would be much better served if we expect every piece of writing/editing to be difficult.  You see, “difficult” is okay.  It helps each of us rise to better and higher standards or ways of thinking or vistas of understanding.   Difficulty pushes each of us to greater achievement.  “Easy” doesn’t do this.  We can’t allow our professional output to be a function of the attitude of minimalism that is endemic in today’s culture.  You know, that attitude of “what’s the least I can do to get by?”

Thoughts on attending your first NFPW conference?

Oh, yes, I wish to say that I am thrilled to have been granted a First Timer Grant to attend the annual conference in Birmingham, AL this year!  I am eager to meet everyone!  I feel strongly that this organization is where I should be right now to combine the many bright threads of my professional experience into the strong rope of the future.

Ways to follow you:
and her NFPW award winning book:

Meet a Member: Bonnie Arnold

April 3, 2017

She was one of the co-chairs of the 2009 NFPW conference in San Antonio, Texas and continues to be an active member of Press Women of Texas and NFPW. She is a talented writer and hard worker. Meet another unique and unbelievable NFPW member, Bonnie Arnold.

Bonnie Atwood

Bonnie Arnold

Name — Bonnie Arnold

City/state — Kerrville, Texas (“Hill Country” about an hour northwest of San Antonio)

Affiliate and any leadership positions – Press Women of Texas; over the years I have been a “district” officer when we had enough members to break up activities into smaller areas, to state president, co-coordinator of the 2009 NFPW conference in San Antonio, director of the High School Contest for Texas more than once, and currently secretary of the state group.

Years a member of NFPW – I joined Texas and NFPW in 1983, and continued membership each year since.

Tell us a little about you – I am a native Texan, though my husband’s military service and then former VA job took us to five other states to live briefly; we worked to stay “home” since then; wife for 48 years this year; mother to two grown daughters (who actually inherited and use the sewing/crafting skills I learned from my mother and grandmother); and grandmother of twin 5-year-olds, a girl and a boy. I like traveling but unrelenting work hours and too few vacation days make it hard to leave the job for the car or airport.

Career advice you would like to share?

I believed my professors in J-School when they said we’d never get rich. It was and still apparently is very true. I think I deserved more money over the years, but working for (relatively) small dailies and weekly community newspapers isn’t a money-maker. But I continued over the years since my first paying newspaper job in 1981, to be “hooked” on the variety of people contact, and the feeling that the readers, too, should be in seats in many of the same meetings I go to – even if I grit my teeth frequently over city council and county commissioner meetings. Otherwise, I guess a couple well-chosen internships or summer jobs would tell you if you really want to stick with it.

Bonnie Arnold, left, with Karla Estrada 2014 High School Communications Award of Excellence winner from Texas;  Judy Gharis, our current elected PWT president; and Angela Smith.

Bonnie Arnold, left, with Karla Estrada 2014 High School Communications Award of Excellence winner from Texas; Judy Gharis, current PWT president; and Angela Smith.

What talent would you like to have?

Not sure about a new untried one. I still sew for myself and grandchildren when I can. The time to try out classes in new things might be nice.

If you could live anywhere, it would be?

First, probably where I am, in a town of about 24,000 with a good community weekly newspaper (2 weeklies and 1 daily here) and being 10 minutes from my office and less than 20 minutes to almost anywhere else I get sent. We have a river to look at, no “rush hour” to speak of; and the big city is about 45-60 minutes away if wanted or needed. Equal second choice would be closer to my only two grandchildren in southeast Georgia, but we haven’t moved in 34 years and that’s a scary prospect.

What books have you recently read?

Who has time to sit and read for fun?! No, really, mysteries for “escape-ism,” especially women authors with women as main characters. I did indulge in a thick biography of Queen Victoria recently when PBS started their new TV series.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

This seems eons ago, when I was in college, I competed in an on-campus beauty (sorry, “scholarship”) pageant to pick a Miss Texas Woman’s University to try to advance to Miss Texas. I didn’t get far ….

Why are your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

My affiliate and NFPW are important to me because of moral support and networking. My Texas friends have been generous as sounding boards and with job advice when asked.

How can people connect and follow you on social media?

“Following me” is a NON-technology thing. I have a cell phone (not a smart phone – it just needs to make and take calls), and email at home and office; and my by-line on top of an average of 5,000-plus words per week at the Hill Country Community Journal newspaper. I’m a little tired now. Is there such a thing as part-time reporter/photographer?