HARLINGEN — Their eyes light up when talking about writing and the future of the Rio Grande Valley Byliners.

But, for Frank Cortazo and Don Clifford, both longtime member of the group, there also are some question marks as the world of book publishing changes, seemingly every day.

One thing is certainly clear and easy to see — their passion for writing and their excitement about the likelihood of their fourth published book in the organization’s modern era and sixth overall.

Just two years removed from the publishing the Harlingen organization’s last book, the next one is in the planning stages.

Clifford and Cortazo know what it takes. The editors of the last one, they were the main players in organizing and compiling the stories that went into the 386-page anthology called “The Rio Grande: A River with a Thousand Tales.”

The book is filled with short stories, memoirs, poetry and science fiction. All are creations that won top billing in monthly contests held by the group at their meetings, called the writer’s challenge.

Once a month, every author can submit a short story or poem.

It is anonymous, so no one knows who the author is.

The membership picks out the best ones. These were the stories over the years, collected and put into the book.

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Bio Box

The Byliners file

The Rio Grande Valley Byliners has a long and interesting past.

Founded in 1943 originally for women, by Minnie Gilbert of San Benito and Lucy Wallace of Mission among others, the organization was started because at that time, newspapers were written and managed mostly by men. Few women were journalists, so given the male dominated field at the time, it was unusual the group was formed this way.

The organization was started to encourage women to become more professional in their writing and to find opportunities in the writing field as well as a way to get to know each other.

In 1975, the Byliners began writing and publishing their own books. The first book, “Gift of the Rio” was spearheaded by Wallace as part of the 1975 Bicentennial activities in Mission. About 3,000 copes were printed. It sold well and the Byliners ended up with some money in the bank.

The group has since published five more books, three of them in the last 10 years.

They are always welcoming new members. The group meets on the second Saturday of each month, except July, at 1:30 p.m. Writers and would-be writers seeking to perfect their craft and meet others who are doing the same are invited to attend a meeting and join.


Next meeting of the Byliners

The Rio Grande Valley Byliners, a writers group open to anyone interested in writing and publishing, meets the second Saturday of the month at 1:30 p.m. in the Harlingen Public Library located at 410 ‘76 Drive.

The speaker for the April 9 meeting will be John Wiesehan, McAllen Memorial High School English teacher.

His program, “I Don’t Have Anything To Write About,” will examine procrastination, writing basics, how to generate ideas, and writing exercises to focus those ideas into finished works. For more information call 956-630-5166 or visit rgvbyliners.org.