Today, I welcome my guest blogger Sheryl L. Nelms. Sheryl is a wonderful writer whose poems I’ve already introduced in the Thursday Poetry Corner on November 10th.

Sheryl is originally from Marysville, Kansas.  She graduated from South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science in Family Relations and Child Development. She has had over 4,500 poems, stories and articles published.  Some of the magazines, anthologies and textbooks that have used her work are: READER’S DIGEST, MODERN MATURITY, KALEIDOSCOPE, CAPPER’S, GRIT, COUNTRY WOMAN, POETRY NOW, CRICKET, Strings, This Delicious Day, The American Anthology, Girls To The Rescue and Men Freeing Men.

Fourteen collections of her poetry have been published.  Some of them are: Their Combs Turn Red In The Spring, The Oketo Yahoos, Strawberries and Rhubarb, Rural America, Land of the Blue Paloverde, Friday Night Desperate, Aunt Emma Collected Teeth, Stalking Spirits, Secrets of the Wind, Howling At The Gibbous Moon and Greatest Hits 1978-2003.

Her most recent collection is Bluebonnets, Boots and Buffalo Bones.

Sheryl has taught writing and poetry classes at conferences, colleges and schools in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and South Dakota.  She recently taught workshops at Amarillo College, The University of Texas at Dallas, Tarrant County College, Abilene Christian University, Tarleton State University and the Society of Children’s Book Writers Conference in Arlington, Texas.  She was a Bread Loaf Contributor at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Middlebury, Vermont. In South Dakota, she was a Writer-in-the-Schools with the South Dakota Arts Council.

She was the editor of OAKWOOD, the SDSU literary magazine.  She was a contributing editor to BYLINE, a national writers’ magazine and to STREETS, a national literary magazine. She was the editor of CRAWFORD’S CHRONICLES, an insurance trade publication.  She has been a staff writer for several newspapers and magazines.  For the past ten years, she has been the essay editor of THE PEN WOMAN MAGAZINE, the membership magazine of the National League of American Pen Women.

Currently, she is a member of the National League of American Pen Women, The Society of Southwestern Authors, Abilene Writer’s Guild and Trinity Writers Workshop.

She’s also a painter, a weaver and an old dirt biker.

Today, Sheryl is including a blog about being a poet.


     “Poets are not writers,” she said.  “They just put words on paper.”

     That statement came from a romance writer one night at the Trinity Writer’s Workshop.  Ever since that woman said that to me it has stuck in my brain.

     Poets are writers, just like every other kind of writer.  And as far as I know every variety of writer puts words on paper or a computer disc or zip drive or hard drive, sooner or later.

     Since I became a writer thirty-three years ago I have attended many writers’ conferences, as a student and later as a speaker.  The thing that I find with a lot of writers, especially beginning writers is that they tend to pigeonhole themselves at those conferences.  Often they tend to only go to sessions in their genre, instead of sampling other perceptions.

     In the past thirty-three years I have attended classes at colleges, writer’s conferences, including Bread Loaf and community classes in all varieties of writing.  Each one of those classes has helped me grow as a writer and sparkle my writing with a slightly different perspective.

     I have gone to the East Texas Romance Writers Conference, the Denton, Texas Storytellers conclave, gatherings of Cowboy Poets, journalism classes at Eastern Oklahoma College and The North Texas Outdoor Writer’s Conference.  I have attended sessions on romance writing, how to write wildlife stories, journalism writing and style, fiction writing, non-fiction writing, short story writing, true confessions, rhymed poetry, essays and flash fiction. 

     Every single session has been a boost to my writing.  I have learned how to do my research.  Yes, I said research.  Every poem that I send to an editor has been researched.  When I send a poem out my research has been done and if an editor criticizes what I have written, I can back up my work with a bibliography.  I have had several editors’ dispute facts in my poems.  But each time that happens, I reply with a quote and book title.  Each time my poems were published my way.

     Another skewed idea is that a poem comes ready to publish.  Many writers who claim they are poets believe that their words are a gift, as is.  They think that nothing can be changed.

     When I am doing a poem I revise, revise, and revise.  Then I may stand the poem on its head.  Give it a different view of the world.  A different take.  Often I shuffle the lines around just to see what will happen.  In this instance, I use the fiction writer’s “What If?”

     One of the best class I have ever taken was “Novel Writing” taught by Jack Bickham.  I constantly use ideas I heard in that class every day in my writing.

     My final comeback is that writers are poets and poets are writers.  It does not matter what you are writing, a good writer is a good writer.  And a bad one is a bad one.


About Sharon K Owen

I am a fiction writer, a university professor, a copy editor and an online writing teacher. My first Romantic Suspense: Thicker Than Water (Brands Crossing Series) was published in 2011 and the second book in the series, Whatever Goes Around, will be published in 2016. My short stories and poetry have been published in Descant, Concho River Review, Iron Horse, American Literary Review, Trinity Writer's Workshop newsletter and collections of Christmas stories. I am blessed with a loving, supportive family, a multitude of friends and the good fortune to share a cozy sanctuary in North Texas with my two cats (Matt and Cinders).

Posted on November 25, 2011, in Writers, Writers Groups, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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