NMPW Board

Christine Burroughs
NMPW President
(505) 844-0948
E-mail Chris

Melissa Sais
NMPW Vice President
(505) 865-6323
E-mail Melissa

Lynne Behnfield Thomas
Albuquerque Press Women
(505) 298-5538
E-mail Lynne

Julie Hughes
Las Cruces Press Women Chapter
E-mail Julie


The Broadsheet

New Mexico Press Women   January 2004   Vol. 27 No. 1

2004 State Convention
Getting Better and Better

You might as well keep the weekend of May 21-23 open because this is one convention you won't want to miss.

Convention co-chair Pari Taichert has confirmed nationally-known writing coach Paula LaRocque for a three-hour writing workshop. Paula was last here a number of years ago, and those of us who've heard her know she's terrific. You won't get an opportunity like this very often.

And convention committee member Laurie Mellas has lined up the Maxwell Museum for the Friday night reception. Convention co-chair Susan Walton is starting to make her wish list of sponsors. If you have any ideas about potential sponsors, let Susan know at swalton@sandiaprep.org.

Other convention committee members are Tracy Ingalls, of First State Bank (her great aunt was Laura Ingalls Wilder) and Sherry Robinson.

The convention will be at the Sheraton Uptown, across the street from Coronado Mall and a stone's throw from Winrock, for your shopping pleasure. And yes, we have built some goofing-off time into the schedule.


The state organization and the Albuquerque chapter of NMPW are working together to establish Web sites for both and have them professionally designed. The NMPW Web site would post newsletters and news releases and be a link for members.

* * *

Our hard-working president Chris Burroughs was willing to extend her term another year so that she can see some of her initiatives to completion, and the board snapped up her offer. Vice president and mommy Melissa Sais said she could use some more time before taking on the presidency. Thanks, Chris and Melissa! That makes things much easier for the nominating committee.

* * *

Laurie Mellas has agreed to be sole scholarship chair. (Last year it was a shared position.) Thanks also to Laurie. And we remind you again, if you have things you can donate to the Silent Auction, which benefits the NMPW scholarship fund, let Laurie know.

* * *

Chris will nominate Kathy Cordova as Communicator of Achievement this year. She said she would have done this before, but the high-energy Kathy was COA chair for the national organization and ineligible for a state nomination.

* * *

Marti Segura has two judges for the Zia Award and is looking for a third. The category this year is fiction. If you're interested, contact Marti at martijoe@mindspring.com

* * *

NMPW historian Denise Tessier needs copies of information and clippings about Press Women events and activities statewide. Send clippings to Denise at PO Box 379, Cedar Crest, NM 87008.

Membership deals from NFPW

Know any prospective members? Remember the National Federation of Press Women will offer a free membership for any company that pays dues for the first four members. And for individuals, if you recruit four members, your own membership is free. Questions, call or e-mail Marsha Shuler at 1-225-342-7279 or mshuler@theadvocate.com.

Chapter News

Amy Getchell, vice president of the Las Cruces chapter, reported that the group visited the Mountain View Regional Medical Center in October. In November they heard the managing editor of the Las Cruces Sun-News discuss changing since Gannett acquired the paper and Sammy Lopez took over as publisher. In December they had a holiday reunion at the home of Linda Harris.

Diana Sandoval, vice president of the Albuquerque chapter, said the group learned about city-county unification in December and got a special session legislative review by Santa Fe New Mexican reporter Steve Terrell in January. Coming up are:
Feb. 9: "A Dignified Tribute to Iraqi Citizens" by Santa Fe freelance writer Zellie Pollon and Taos photographer Laurent Gaunt
March 8: "Media Bias in Coverage of the Middle East" by Albuquerque Journal reporter Rosalie Rayburn
April 12: "Marketing and Communicating During Times of Crisis"


Susanne Burks writes: "The person who died was Marge Solenberger. She and I were friends and kept in touch after she and her husband moved to Petersburg, Virginia (so long ago I can't give you a date)." One of her sons sent Susanne a notice showing she died Jan. 18, 2003 at age 86. She'd had a debilitating stroke a year or two earlier. "Marge was very well known in the news circles of Albuquerque for many years," says Susanne.


MissCommunication gives the floor to John Fleck of the Albuquerque Journal for an apt observation forwarded by Merilee Dannemann, who writes: "I really agree with what the writer is saying. I have often felt pressured to spend a lot of money on 'upgrades,' which are not really upgrades but upDATES, just so I could read things sent by other people who are not considerate enough to take 30 seconds to translate a couple of pages into plain text. I'm sure you know as well as I do that this stuff is expensive."

Fleck quotes Pai Chou, a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California's Irvine campus, on why he would prefer that one not email him Microsoft Word attachments: "I am urging people to be considerate when your choice of file format imposes on other people. If Ms. Office works for you as an authoring tool, please by all means continue to use it, but please do not force me to use it just to read your document."

Fleck writes: "I couldn't agree more. Both in principle and in practice, MS Word attachments are my nightmare. In practice, the Albuquerque Journal is not a Microsoft Word shop. We write our newspaper stories on an elegant, simple and powerful old word processor called Xywrite. We've been doing it that way since PC's first entered the newsroom and we have no reason to change. It works great.

"The result is that when someone sends us an MS Word attachment, reading it is non-trivial. Our systems people have installed the free MS Word reader, which helps. But several times a week, someone comes over to my desk (I'm one of the informal office geeks) with a problem related to a Word attachment. One solution, of course, would be to cave and just install Word on everyone's computer, but something like $400 a seat seems a bit pricey just to read MS Word attachments, and that's the only real use we'd have for it… Regular old plain text email is great. Any old mail client can read it. highly recommend it."

Editor's note: Hear, hear! At my last two newspaper jobs I had to write back to folks many times a week asking them to copy their news releases directly into email because we couldn't read the file. And I was one of the few to respond. I suspect others just got spiked.

Opal Lee Priestly

Opal Lee Priestly was the first author to win the Zia Book Award twice. She was a long-time NMPW member and prolific writer, having published some 15 books and 1,500 stories and articles in both the children's and adult fields. She and her husband published newspapers in Perry, Okla., and in Artesia, and Las Vegas, New Mexico. They came to Las Cruces in 1947, where Orville Priestly was publisher and editor of the Las Cruces Sun-News. She died on July 20, 1999 at the age of 95. Linda Harris, also a Zia Book Award recipient, wrote this remembrance shortly after Opal Lee's death.

Opal Lee Priestly had the merriest eyes--the truest of blues, a color you would imagine she shared with leprechauns. Her fluff of white hair, she once told me, confirmed her Irish heritage, a result she said of centuries of Irish diets lacking in certain nutrients. If that is so, she also bore the traces of ancestral wit. It showed in her life and it showed in her writing.

Opal Lee wrote under the name Lee Priestley not so much to deceive editors into thinking she was a man, but to be so vague as not to make it matter. It was no accident, though, that many of the early articles she wrote for western pulp magazines were more believable written by a fella named Lee than by a proper lady, Opal, who was as fair and luminescent as her name.

By the time we became friends she was already in her 80s, revered and respected. And so when I needed advice on quitting my university position to write, and possibly go into publishing, I took her to lunch. We were formal with each other at first, careful in asking and giving career changing information. Finally, over coffee she said, "Well, I can't think of a better life for a woman than to be a writer."

Over the next decade we would spend countless hours in each other's company. I ended up publishing three of her books. The most fun for her was one about the "good side" of Billy the Kid. While I was somewhat embarrassed by the subject, she approached it with humor and amazing enthusiasm. She was, I learned, a very competitive writer. After the little book had been out for a while, she dreamed up the idea of asking the governor to pardon Billy. She composed the letter and I sent it off. Months later she received notice that the pardon had been officially declined by the New Mexico Pardon and Parole Board. Again, she thought it would be fun to release the letter to the media. I cleared it with the governor's public relations office and wrote up the press release. When the wire service picked up the story and it turned out to be an embarrassment to the governor--a hometown boy whom we both liked- she was mortified and quickly wrote him a letter of apology.

I was happy to be out of the Billy business and onto something more respectable when she broached the idea of publishing a biography, already long in the process, of an Episcopal priest, ''Preacher" Lewis and his family. The family, it turned out, included five living children, each one as dramatic as their eccentric parents. In the three years to its publication, I watched her craft their story in her unmistakable style under the toughest of circumstances. Here was a real writer, passionate and dogged, compromising when she could, standing her ground when she couldn't.

When the book came out, we laughed in amazement when the church hall overflowed with the old preacher's parishioners, and not a few fans of her own. Later, Opal Lee and I and her dear friend Knute Jones, Methodists all, attended a rededication of one of Preacher's little mission churches. Outside the tiny stone chapel we joined a small group of serious-minded Episcopalians, and a couple of visiting Quakers. The mission's new congregation--robust men and women and their prettily dressed children--began singing in the church yard and invited us to join them as they circled the church, singing, clapping, and praying to drive the demon vandals who had desecrated the abandoned church.

When the procession led us inside, we took a third row seat and for the next two hours, rejoiced with them as best as three Methodists could. In between songs, Opal Lee leaned over and said, "Preacher would have loved this." When the service broke for lunch, however, we tiptoed to my car and headed home, exhausted.

Over the next years, I would join Opal Lee for afternoon tea and talk. Most of the time we sat at the kitchen table, sampling bits of store bought pastry and drinking Knute's coffee. We talked books, history and religion. Knute usually had a poem handy, which he always recited from memory. Just as surely, Opal Lee would have an idea for a book, some ideas arrived fresh from her brain, others were retrieved from a pile of manuscripts. In turn, I would wag my latest grandchild to her house to receive her confirmation of their cleverness and intelligence. She wrote the introduction for one of my own books.

Last December I picked her up to take her to a book signing downtown. On the way she confessed that her glasses were missing a lens and she could barely see. By then she also depended on a walking cane. As I helped her out of the car, I told her I had parked in the handicapped space. "I shall try and look the part," she said.

When I last visited, she was in bed, rare for her. Knute sat beside her, propped against a pillow. They listened while I delivered my usual storehouse of everyday news. When I told them of my latest attempt at ushering, they laughed and laughed and said it was the funniest church story they had ever heard. I was leaving for Ruidoso the next day and told them I would get my exercise by walking the mile to the post office to mail them a postcard. "Then we will be contributing to your good health," she said. With a twinkle.

Š Linda G. Harris 7/22/99

People News

In October Linda Harris served as a panelist at the Women Writing the West conference in Tucson. While there she visited with Anne Tatum, long-time friend and former NMPW member. Linda ended the weekend in Silver City with a museum-sponsored presentation and exhibit from her new book "Ghost Towns Alive."

Congratulations to Pari Taichert on the publication of her book, The Clovis Incident, by the University of New Mexico Press. "Oh, man, it's gorgeous!" writes the excited new author. Tony Hillerman wrote about the book, "Great plot . . .lots of action and, best of all, Pari Taichert is a skilled and witty writer." Pari also attended Bouchercon, the world's biggest mystery convention, where she moderated a panel of new authors. Her author's web site is now up and running. She invites you to check it out and let her know what you think. PariNoskinTaichert.com

Carol Kreis is developing a map/poster with a teacher's guide on how to read maps for Newsweek's education program. And she's still taking Spanish classes at Cervantes Instituto at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Recently she accepted a full-time job teaching Contemporary Issues and Great Books classes to gifted students at La Cueva High School for the rest of this school year.

Vanessa Baca is the new PIO at the state Economic Development Department. She recently moved to Albuquerque and commutes to Santa Fe.

Former NMPW president and current treasurer Sandy Schauer and her husband, Bob Anderson, have been working for the last year in a different venue. They have taken over a company that works with the hardware and software for the 1242 ELECTronic Voting Machine, which is currently used in 12 New Mexico counties. Sandy and Bob also continue to operate Montaņita Publishing, an advertising and public relations company that Sandy launched after she left the newspaper business.

Former NMPW president Ellie Syvertson, and her partner in business and life, Harold Maez, operate Flyer Press in Los Lunas. The Flyer Press prints a variety of products for clients throughout central New Mexico. Ellie is former editor of the New Mexico Business Journal, among other positions.

Former NMPW president Melanie Majors had a hip replacement in August and says she's doing fine and getting around much better now. Melanie is still with Beta Corp. Former NMPW president Joanne Ray got out of newspaper work and got what our parents would call a real job: She's been practicing medicine for some time, first in Carlsbad and now in Las Cruces. And she's a grandma.

And while we're in a former presidents' groove, Sherry Robinson is running a home business, Sherry Robinson Writing Services, which is basically involves business writing for business groups. She's also a volunteer mediator with the Victim-Offender Mediation Program and a volunteer juvenile probation officer.

New Mexico Press Women
Board of Directors

Chris Burroughs
W 844-0948
H 822-9852

Sherry Robinson
Newsletter Editor

Vanessa Baca
W 827-2020

Melissa Sais
Vice President

Allie-Sue Gottwald

Marti Segura
Zia Award
C 741-0368

Susan Walton
H 897-4350
W 344-1671

Julie Hughes
Las Cruces President
C 649-4420
W 646-1953

Denise Tessier
H 281-5513
W 823-3864

Sandy Schauer

Susan Walton

H 897-4350
W 344-1671

Lynne B. Thomas
Albuquerque President

Connie Gotsch
Communications Contest
H 326-4969
W 566-3377

Pari Taichert

High School contest:
Christine Romero

H 454-1511
W 1-800-234-7520

Mary Ybarra
Public Relations
H 388-4670
W 388-1576
Laurie Mellas-Ramirez
H 271-2563
W 277-5915

Let us know what you're doing!
Send your news to The Broadsheet at robinson@nmia.com.

2004 Conference

Nationally-known writing coach Paula LaRocque
will present a
three-hour writing workshop.

See what else


Awards to be presented at the New Mexico Press Women's annual banquet on May 22.

Find out more


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© New Mexico Press Women, 2004.