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The Texas Writers' Project's Cary Roberts says that he's satisfied with 2003's Texas Writers Month, which took place during the month of May, but that an essentially year-to-year "ebb and flow" in terms of volunteer hours and effort led to a breakdown in publicity and inter-bookstore communication in Austin. Texas Writers Month, as Roberts says, is not a "monolithic organization," but more of an informal umbrella that spreads awareness of Texas writers and their work across the state. "I don't see that there's necessarily been a problem this year," Roberts says. "I guess it's just a matter of what you think Texas Writers Month is.

"It's totally a volunteer deal, so it sort of depends on the time and availability of the volunteers. And people were busier this year than they were last year."

When Roberts refers to people, he means mainly his webmaster, whose wedding, honeymoon, and, presumably, marriage, precluded him from designing and updating www.texaswritersmonth.info, which in turn precluded TWM from listing its schedule. This, of course, assumes that there was a schedule, and Roberts all but admitted that there was not. "The bookstores [Barnes & Noble and BookPeople] have done their thing, libraries have done their thing, so whose responsibility is it really to promote bookstore events that are held in the interest of book sales?" he asked. "Historically, we've helped and collaborated with bookstores and the libraries if they ask to. While there were definitely 'Texas Writers Month' events this month, it hasn't maybe been to the extent of years past because of availability of volunteers. You can call a spade a spade, obviously. Because of the falling-off of volunteer effort, we didn't have the presence this time around.

"We certainly recognize the need for there to be a more stable administrative mechanism, or organization, and we're working toward that for the 2004 celebration. It's a great problem to have, frankly," he explained, adding that there will be a "fairly major leadership change this fall." When asked if that meant him, Roberts demurred, saying only that "the awareness for the month is out there. What we're interested in mostly at this point is augmenting what bookstores and libraries do."

Writers' League of Texas Board President and Barnes & Noble Regional Community Relations Manager Linda Germain, who is the store's point person for TWM, agrees. "Our relationship with the Texas Writers' Project and Texas Writers Month is as strong as ever, and we've maintained a huge commitment to supporting Texas writers and events in our stores," she says. "The only issue we've ever had is the issue of the kickoff party, which was definitely underscale this year and was not what we wanted, which isn't to say that the volunteers didn't work really hard. But people come and go, and people don't always have the time, and there hasn't been an effort to recruit. The project needs to be better coordinated, better organized, but it's not like anyone's unaware of that."

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