GR author receives award
A book that sat on a shelf for 20 years became an award-winning novel.
Western, historical romance novel writer Christine Williams, who writes under the pen name "Alethea Williams," started writing about 20 years ago.
Williams, a Green River resident, said the only reason she picked a pen name was because there were already so many Christine Williams out there. She wanted to set herself apart from them.
Williams said Alethea was her grandmother's middle name and one of her cousin's first names.
"When I was 39, I decided I wanted to go back to school," Williams said. "The only thing I was ever good at was English."
The only things English degrees are used for is English teachers or journalists, Williams said. Neither of these appealed to Williams because she considers herself an introvert.
Williams started out by writing short stories. She just could not see herself writing a novel. Then, she saw an ad in the Green River Star about a writers group that was going to meet at the Sweetwater County Library.
She started attending that writing group, which met frequently. During these writing-group meetings, the participants would read each other's pieces and constructively critique them. The group varied from poetry writers and short story writers to romance novel writers.
"It really wasn't my thing," she said.
However, when the group decreased in size and only romance novel writers remained, Williams started to change her focus.
"I found out I could write that many words if you just take it a chapter at a time," Williams said.
As her writing continued, so did Williams' educational pursuits. She obtained an associates degree in English from Western Wyoming Community College.
"I took every class Barbara Smith and Marsha Hensley had," she said.
Williams eventually finished two novels, "Walls for the Wind" and "Willow Vale." Both of these novels would sit on a hard drive for 20 years before Williams retired from her two jobs and was ready to start the process of trying to get them published.
"It wasn't going anywhere," Williams said. "It was getting rejected. I was getting letters, but there are so few places to submit."
She said the book publishing companies wanted her to have an agent. Eventually, one of Williams books was accepted by a small company.
After the company published the books, Williams faced another obstacle -- self promoting her book.
"I had to learn Facebook, Twitter and Instagram," Williams said. "You could spend all of your time on self promotion."
That is something Williams doesn't want to do. When Williams isn't busy self-promoting her book, she is busy going to the local libraries and making sure they have copies on hand. She said for some reason her book, even though it is available on Amazon, cannot be ordered through the libraries system.
"It's a crazy business," Williams said. "That's why it's good that I am retired."
As for the western romance genre, Williams said it is more historical than romance, but she had to choose a category and have a niche.
"There is a little bit of romance, but not too much," she said. "I was a little bit more focused on the story."
Williams said when she entered her novel "Walls for the Wind," in the western romance category of the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion Award competition, she was quite surprised to take the gold.
Williams knew a lot of the authors who submitted work and knew it would be tough to even place, let alone take the gold award -- the Will Rogers Award Gold Medallion for Outstanding Excellence in Western Media. This was a new category for the competition.
"The initial winner in a new category sets a standard for following years, and Ms. Williams sets a very high standard indeed," Charles Williams, Will Rogers Medallion Awards Committee executive director, said.
"I was surprised to take the gold," she said. "I would have been surprised to take the silver or bronze."
Her book "Walls for the Wind," was also a finalist in the Willa Cather Women Writing the West competition. Williams said she knew her book was up against New York Times and USA Today best-selling authors. To even make it to the finalist category was an accomplishment for Williams.
With one award under her belt, Williams is already in the process of writing two more books.
Like all writers, Williams does face the occasional writers block. She said it seems that most of her writers block comes from some issue her subconscious is trying to work out. Once the issue has been resolved, the writers block disappears.
"The one I am working on is always my favorite. It has to be or else why keep doing it," she said.
Williams books are available for purchase on Amazon or at the Sweetwater County Museum.