Finding Fiction in Your Own Backyard

Finding Fiction in Your Own Backyard

I’m getting excited about the upcoming Harriette Austin Writers Conference, July 22 – 23, 2011, at the Georgia Center on the University of Georgia campus. My session there, “Finding Fiction in Your Own Backyard,” will be on Saturday, July 23, 10 – 11 am. I’ve presented this same workshop many times. Most recently, I taught “Finding Fiction” at the OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Georgia). Last summer, I flew to Frederick, Maryland, and presented “Finding Fiction,” at the MD/DE/WV region of SCBWI summer conference. OLLI is an organization for retired folks and SCBWI is an organization for writers of children’s literature. So, of course, this workshop is suitable for writers of books and stories for children and young adults, and also for writers of fiction for adults. One difference between previous presentations of Finding Fiction and the one I’ll do at the HAWC, is the length. I usually have l l/2 hours, but the version coming up in a few days will only be an hour long. Most writers will agree that condensing, tightening, and editing are good words, whether they’re connected with workshops or manuscripts.

Listen up. I’m going to tell you a secret. The three handouts for my “Finding Fiction in Your Own Backyard,” are already posted on my website. They’re in PDF format and you’re welcome to take a look and to print out a copy. But remember, the handouts are only a part of my workshop. I hope you’ll consider attending the workshop for the rest. If you’re interested in doing this, go register for the Harriette Austin Writers Conference here.

In addition to my workshop, there are other presenters and sessions that might be of interest to writers of children’s literature. Author Evelyn Coleman will be there, sharing her expertise and experience in the children’s book writing field and in the mystery genre. Mary Kole, an agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency, an agency that is consistently ranked #1 in juvenile sales in Publishers Marketplace, also will talk about children’s books. For writers in other genres, there is an excellent group of presenters, including authors like Terry Kay and Judy Iakvou, editors, and other agents. For more information on presenters, go here.

Okay. Enough said for now. Back to working on my upcoming HAWC workshop. If you have questions, email me or post a comment here. Otherwise, I hope to see you at the Harriette Austin Writers Conference July 23.


Harriette Austin Writers Conference is Back!

I’m delighted to tell you this fantastic news: the popular Harriette Austin Writers Conference is back! The 2011 HAC will be held July 22 – 23, 2011, at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education on the University of Georgia campus. This year’s conference has a great line up of speakers and critiquers and the deadline for manuscript critiques is June 20. I’ll be presenting my “Finding Fiction in Your Own Backyard” writing workshop. Other presenters include: Terry Kay, Janell Walden Agyeman, Robert Alan Black, Doris Booth, Tony Burton, Evelyn Coleman, Dac Crossley, Paige Cummings, Susan Dansby, Wally Eberhart, John Fristoe, John Gilstrap, Judy Iakovou, Amanda Luedke, Rebecca McClanahan, Susan Mary Malone, Jackie Lee Miles, David Oates, Kevin O’Brien, Susan Olson, Chuck Sambuchino, Mary Kole, and Beverly Varnado.

Authors Evelyn Coleman and Donny Seagraves

Authors Evelyn Coleman and Donny Seagraves at the 2009 HAWC

My association with the Harriette Austin conference goes way back to the beginning. A call went out to present and former students asking us to contribute writing for a fund-raising calendar that helped finance the first HAWC. I contributed a short story, “Dear Delores,” to that calendar and also attended the first conference. “Dear Delores” has been published and republished many times in magazines, including Seek and The Roswell (NM) Literary Review.  I’ve attended many of the HAWCs, served on a nonfiction panel at an early conference and presented two workshops at the 2009 HAC, which took place about the same time as the publication of my debut novel, Gone From These Woods.

I’ve learned much from HAWC presenters and even acquired my literary agent at a Harriette Austin conference. I’ve also enjoyed seeing Harriette herself, a quiet, encouraging presence at the conference with her name. This inspiring teacher is now celebrating over 90 years of living, writing, encouraging, teaching, guiding, helping, and enjoying the publication success of a growing number of students in her writing classes at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education and attendees at 16 Harriette Austin Writers Conferences.  All the pertinent conference information is here. Check it out. Sign up. Submit your manuscript. Who knows. You might be the next HAWC success story. See you there.

First Ever Northwest Georgia Valley Writers Conference a Great Success in Calhoun, GA

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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