What I Learned at Ken-Ten Writers Retreat

My Dear Writer Friends,

      Do you know the most important tool in your writer’s tool box is passion?  This is the theme of the enthusiastic, poignant message from the final speaker at our get-together Bar-be-que on opening night at the retreat in Montgomery Bell State Park. Mr. Guy Robbins presented this concept in a moving tribute to his late wife, Sandra Robbins, one of the founding writers of the Ken-Ten Writers Group.  Mrs. Robbins passed away in January.

      Mr. Robbins spoke of his wife’s love for writing. Among her talents he listed, intelligence, wit, tenacity, willingness to help other writers, and her ability to make and keep friends.  But in closing, he said all those things which she possessed in abundance were outranked by her passion for her craft. Mr. Robbins recounted her long career in writing.  He said she had published at least thirty-five novels, but Guy felt her greatest contribution was her encouragement to other writers.  That “Passion”  led her, through a friendship with Kathy Cretsinger and Susan Davis, to begin a group for writers in Western Tennessee and Western Kentucky.   From their work came to the development the Ken-Ten Retreat, which last year opened their event to writers from other states. This June 11-14, approximately thirty writers from six states were afforded the opportunity to “hone our skills, like striking iron against iron”.

       I didn’t personally know Sandra Robbins, but in a brief conversation  in the parking lot, Guy told my friend Martha Rodriquez and me of his  great loss.  Now his passion is to assure her work continues. Sandra was indeed blessed to have a life mate who cares so deeply for her and her passion.  I have been blessed with her passion, too.  Thanks to Kathy Cretsinger and Susan Davis and the other Ken-Ten members, the retreat was a wonderful week.  Guy impressed me with his closing charge to the members of our retreat: Write always and write with passion. We were recharged in the beauty of God’s beautiful world in the glorious park.  We were revitalized in the energetic atmosphere of the Ken-Ten Retreat. I pray we will use the gifts we received last week and let our passion make us all better writers to the Glory of our Lord.

Write Passionately,

Patricia Clark Blake



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thSandra Robbins



Arkansas, Arkansas…’Tis a name dear.

Native born and proud to be an Arkansan.

In 1836, the Federal Government cut a swath of land from the Louisiana Purchase and named it after an Indian tribe that at one time roamed the green hills and mountains of the beautiful, fertile land.

Our state was named for the Quapaw Indian tribe, which inhabited the northern part of the state—from the Mississippi River to the east and the Arkansas on the south.  During the early time of French exploration in the mid 1600’s, this tribe came in contact with the Algonquin tribes from the Ohio Valley.  In the language of the Algonquin, the word meaning “South Wind” was used to name the Arkansas tribe.  In that language, the term for south wind sounded much like our state’s name.

Over the next three hundred plus years, Arkansas took on several names, mostly influenced by  French explorers trying to mimic the Indian language they were unfamiliar with.  In 1673, Marquette and La Salle recorded the name AKANSEA in their travel journals.  La Salle came on the scene a decade or so later and put his French twist on the word and called the area ACANSA.  La Harpe almost got it right when he named the river in the central part of the state Arkansas and the Indians who spawned the word Les Akansas.  Not until Zebulon Pike arrived in 1811 did we earn our R that let us become Arkansas.  Unfortunately, Pike preferred the W at the end, instead of our beloved second S.

The controversy remained until 1881.  At that time the Arkansas General Assembly passed the resolution solving the question once and for all.  They mandated our state would be spelled with its second S —ARKANSAS, but it would be pronounced with the W.  The people approved.  We didn’t want to be AR-Kansas, after all.  Their action honored the original inhabitants of this land we now call home and also the earliest explorers who were among the first Europeans to visit this place.

Unfortunately, by the time of statehood in 1836, few Quapaw remained in Arkansas.  The lands where they hunted and raised their families were rich and ideally suited to plantation development.  The tribe was an obstacle.  Years of turbulence and fighting with the white man and other Indian tribes, which were also being displaced, took its toll.  In 1833, the Quapaw agreed to their final removal from Arkansas, still only a territory.

The tribes mistrust of the government was a major cause of the dissolution the Quapaws.  Many refused to settle on the assigned reservation offered in the treaty.  Some returned the Red River region where they had once lived.  Others went to Texas.  A number of families joined the Choctaws in Oklahoma.  A few even tried to remain in Arkansas. The division of the tribe brought on the eventual demise of the Quapaws.


Thanks to the well- written history of Arkansas by Whayne, Deblack, Sabo, and Arnold, Arkansas: A Narrative History, University of Arkansas Press, 2002.

A Yellow Rose of Arkansas

A Yellow Rose from Arkansas
In Memory…H. Gene Clark

Father’s Day is near.  My daddy passed almost eighteen years ago.  Not one day goes by that I don’t miss him.  He loved yellow roses.  I place this picture him in his memory.  It is an Arkansas yellow rose that I grew in my front yard.  He would have loved it.  Gene Clark was the greatest dad.  Thank you, Lord, for all the great fathers everywhere in all ages.