By: Malcolm Mayhew
In May 2014, Rachel Pilcher, Fort Worth native and longtime English teacher, current librarian at Trimble Technical High School, launched the Fort Worth Writer’s Boot Camp on West Berry Street.
The purpose was to provide a community for local writers. One year later, Pilcher started a writer’s critique group through the Boot Camp. Most of the writers in the group are consistently submitting work to literary journals and magazines, but few were getting published. In January 2016, she asked them to submit their top three best submissions from May 2015 through April 2016 to be put into a literary journal that she decided to publish, selecting up to two of the submissions from each writer. Pilcher had a background in publishing and always wanted to start her own small press, so she did. This was the birth of Panther City Review, and the independent publishing company, Sleeping Panther Press. Pilcher launched Panther City Review 2016 at The Last Word Bookstore on Oct. 1, where it is constantly kept in stock.
Why “Panther City” and “Sleeping Panther”?
Thank you for this opportunity. I chose to include “panther” in the titles of both the review and the name of the publishing company due to the provenance of the sleeping panther in Fort Worth lore.
What is the future of Panther City Review and Sleeping Panther press?
I plan to publish the Panther City Review annually, opening up submissions from North Texas writers in February 2017. Sleeping Panther Press will also be releasing at least two more books in the next few months, with the goal of publishing at least four titles.
Why should people join Fort Worth Writer’s Boot Camp?
It was solely created to help writers hone their craft. Taking a workshop or joining a critique group will ultimately improve a writer’s work by either giving them new skills, through workshop, or providing multiple eyes and viewpoints on their writing and through critique. Writing is a solitary work, but improving your writing involves more than just you, your family, or closest friends to read it and heap praise on it. Writers need other writers to read their work with a critical eye. I believe that a writer who wants to be published cannot be serious about their work if they have not had it critiqued at least once.
Where do you see the Boot Camp in five years?
I envision Fort Worth Writer's Boot Camp as being a sanctuary for writers. A place where they can bring their work to be evaluated and know that, with some praise, there will also be suggestions for improvement. The only difference between what it is now and what I see it being in the future is that more writers will know about what we do and will be either taking writing workshops or being a member of a critique group.
By: Malcolm Mayhew