This past weekend, I enjoyed being part of the very first Northwest Georgia Valley Writers Conference in the Harris Arts Center in downtown Calhoun, Georgia. This new conference, organized by Gray Bridges, Literary Director of the Arts Center, featured a 90-minute writing workshop with author Terry Kay, during which he explained “The DNA of Writing: Reducing the Must-Know Requirements to 2 Issues,” and another with author Rosemary Daniell, who told us “What Geniuses Know.” Other workshop leaders included poet Anne Webster, who also is the sister of Rosemary Daniell, Geri Taran, founder and former executive director of Georgia Writers Association,Bobbie Christmas, who is known as “The Book Doctor,” and Fran Stewart, a freelance editor by day and a mystery writer by night.
Two panel discussions rounded out this conference. The first included Terry Kay, Tony Burton, Fran Stewart, Anne Webster and Geri Taran talking about the advantgages and disadvantages of publishing your book with Large Press, Small Press, or Self-Publishing. This panel was moderated by Wayne Minshew. I participated in the second panel, entitled “Living the Writer’s Life,” moderated by Tony Burton. Other authors included Rosemary Daniell, Jimmy Blackmon, Fran Stewart, Bobbie Christmas and Geri Taran.

The Harris Arts Center is an impressive facilty. Housed in a former hotel building in the heart of downtown Calhoun, the center provides space for art, music and other classes for children and adults. Local artwork is displayed throughout the building. But one of the most interesting and unique features of the center is the Roland Hayes Museum. Roland Hayes was the first African-American classical singer to have an international career on the concert stage. He was also a son of former slaves and was born in Gordon County in 1887. Initially compelled to arrange and promote his own concerts, Hayes eventually became the highest-paid tenor in the world, despite the racial barriers that often excluded African Americans from careers in classical music. He was named to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1991. If you’d like to learn more about the Harris Arts Center, visit their website. For information about future Nortwest Georgia Valley Writers Conferences, contact Gray Bridges.

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