It has been our passion and our joy these past few years to serve the community and bring authors of all backgrounds together to share their journey, their expertise and their writing with one another. We’ve seen projects grow from ideas to rough drafts all the way to published works and we couldn’t be prouder.
Now with our founding members entering new chapters of their own lives, we’ve come to the decision that it’s time for Athens Writers Association to step back and give the group some time to rest and reflect on the future.
Like a caterpillar entering its chrysalis, we hope that AWA will emerge one day into a form even more beautiful than the one we’ve been able to share with you. We’re not yet sure what shape – or shapes! – that new form will take, but it is our intention to only reopen our doors when we’re positive we can bring a renewed level of expertise, advice, experience and compassion to the Athens writing community.
To all those who’ve supported us over the years, who’ve joined us on the stage at open mics, who’ve told us the stories that brought you to our table and who’ve shared their dreams and creative passions with us…this isn’t goodbye, only “so long for now.”
Keep writing, keep dreaming, and keep sharing the best parts of yourselves with the world, just as you’ve shared them with us.
Fall is a wonderful time, full of cooler weather, beautiful colors, and a renewed sense of the possible (!).
It’s also a wonderful time get one more writing accomplishment in before the end of the year. Whether you decide to write a novel — or read one, gear up and get excited about making this your most exciting fall yet!
Awesome Writing Ideas to Knock it Out of the Park Before New Year’s
Try a new style of writing. Pick a weekend, or a week, and choose a new kind of writing. Try poetry. Buy a book about memoir and then write a childhood memory. Read a couple of articles then create a short film script. All just to see if you can (you can!) and maybe you’ll find a wholly new, exciting way to share your talents with the world.
Read a classic. I just finished ‘Treasure Island’ for the first time and it was delightful. Treat yourself to a new-to-you classic and then let the masterwork contained within influence your writing.
Take a class. Even a couple of hour session can open your eyes and inspire you. Check out local events calendars, continuing education resources, and even retreats and conferences.
Write a novel this year (!). If you’ve been talking about it but haven’t quite gotten around to doing it, NaNoWriMo might be just the ticket to turn 2019 from a pretty good writing year into a great one. For the uninitiated, http://www.nanowrimo.org challenges people to write 50,000 words (the first draft of a novel) in the month of November. It’s a big goal, but the site helps you with finding local meetups to work beside other writers, creating your own goal page, prizes for finishing, and more.
Read in public. For some of us, public speaking is scary but if you want to read your book aloud to a delighted audience someday, why not get started now? There’s lot of open mics, and other events to help a beginning reader get out there. Or if you want to get more intense, you could join Toastmasters International.
Publish a book (!). Kindle Direct (from Amazon) is a great way to get a very professional, high quality book out into the world to launch your career. But it’s also a super simple, free platform with a lot of possibility for more relaxed fun too. No matter where you are as a writer, if you have something you’d like to share (even just as Christmas presents for the family), why not dig in and learn how enjoyable and easy book publishing is today?
Organize a event or outing. Reserve a free room at the public library for a poetry reading, volunteer to drive a group to a writing event, or encourage a group to go together to a writing-related movie (may I suggest the new ‘Little Women’ at the end of the year?).
Take a favorite book and break down the plot or first chapters. Discover what you loved and what worked so well. Even just reading a favorite after a long break can help you remember what you loved about it.
Treat yourself to some research. If there’s a story idea you’re excited about, let yourself do a little extra research. You could buy a book, but I’m especially thinking of something out in the world — go to a vineyard (all the more reason to set your next book there!), visit a museum, arrange a conversation with a scientist, take a class on bird watching. Whatever ties into your story idea, learning more about it will improve your future book.
Find a way to turn your love of writing into charity. This holiday season, write thoughtful Christmas cards for the troops and the elderly, or volunteer to read to children. Collect books and donate them. Or just write a beautiful, hopeful fall poem and share it with all your friends and family. Giving back is one of the best way to be happy yourself!
However you choose to spend your fall and holidays, I hope the fire that writing brings — of purpose, of excitement, and of love — burns brightly for you the whole season long. ❤
AWA founder Katherine Cerulean closes out an ‘Open Mic’ event at ‘Normal Books’
I, AWA founder Katherine Cerulean, am making a long-planned move and stepping away from the association starting in October. I leave the Athens Writers Association in the super-capable hands of co-founders Jill Hartmann and Rob White and they have some exciting new events and ideas to unveil in the coming months. Ever since we first talked about my plan over two years ago, they have been nothing but supportive and encouraging.
I’m making plans to travel more with my sister, to see more of the world, and — having returned to my original passion of screenwriting — I’m now throwing all my time and energy into breaking into Hollywood.
Even though this is a very exciting time in my life, it is by no means easy to step away from you all and the great association you all have built.
I had no idea when, in March 2013, I typed the name ‘Athens Writers Association’ into a Facebook group page and thought, ‘Hey! That’s a great name,’ how great — for me — it would become. I’ve made a lot of wonderful friends, had some of the most special, most magical days and evenings of my life with this group, and become more confident and felt more loved than ever before.
It wasn’t always easy (just ask anyone who’s edited a self-published collection!) but I was always learning, growing, and grateful in every challenge. If I met you, even once, know that you touched my heart and improved my experience. Thanks especially to everyone who helped me by leading classes, hosting events, editing aforementioned collections, and generally trying to make the association better. You truly did.
But even as I step down as president and pass off hosting duties, I hope you know I’ll always be available by email and happy to talk to AWA members or help you if you have any writing-related questions. In the same vein, well-wishes and nostalgic revelries are always welcome too at Katherinecerulean@gmail.com
For the month of September, there’s a few more events I’ll be at if you want to hang out a little more:
Wild Wednesday Write-In, September 4th, 2:00 PM at Jittery Joe’s, Epps Bridge
Film Athens Happy Hour, September 10th, 5:30 PM at Flicker Theatre and Bar
Final Wild Wednesday Write-In, September 11th, 2:00 PM at Jittery Joe’s, Epps Bridge
Katherine Goodbye Party!, September 22nd, 4:00 PM at Akademia Brewing Company
Sharing the Journey: A Gathering of Writers, September 29th, 4:00 PM at Jittery Joe’s, Epps Bridge
There is no way to express how much I have enjoyed this group and how proud I am of all of you! Let us not say goodbye, but au revoir, which means Goodbye until we meet again.
As writers, we often work alone, and much of our gift comes from standing outside the circle of light, and looking in. But with the AWA, I truly felt brought into the circle of the firelight, sharing in the stories, the warmth, the laughter, and the possibilities inherent in us all. You helped me and encouraged me, nourished and cheered me, and have now given me the strength to continue on down the road, following my true path, my north star.
AWA founder Katherine Cerulean closes out an AWA Open Mic event
@ Normal Books
1238 Prince Ave · Athens, ga
The Athens Writers Association is pleased to offer a FREE event in association with ‘Normal Books’ on Prince Street in Normaltown.
We are holding our an Open Mic Event from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (sign-up is at 5:00 PM and ARRIVE EARLY — spots fill up quickly!).
This showcases writers of all kinds reading their fiction, non-fiction, poems, and essays (each reader has an eight minute time allotment). Please keep your content PG-13 and under since this is a family establishment and people will be shopping while we read.
Come join us and hear many wonderful local authors!
The Athens-Clarke County Library is holding their third annual Indie Author Day & Festival on Saturday, April 6th, 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM in the Multipurpose Rooms A, B, and C. The library notes:
Indie Author Fair
Join us for programs about self-publishing your book.
Author books and signing will follow or precede the programs.
Are you interested in selling your indie books there? Then make haste! Deadline to reserve a free table is Friday, March 22nd! (Sorry to be so close to the deadline; we just learned about this ourselves). Register here.
Past the deadline? No worries! Contact us directly to see if there’s room left on the AWA table for your books (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This has been a lot of fun in the past, and there’s been some really good knowledge about self publishing in the talks. Learn about becoming an indie author this year and who knows? You might be the belle of the fair next year!
ALSO OF NOTE:
On Friday April 5th, 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM there is a Cafe au Libris event at the Library with author Marie Benedict. She will discuss her latest work, The Only Woman in the Room, a novel based on the life of Hedy Lamar.
If you don’t know about her, Lamar led a fascinating life as both a famous actress AND a brilliant inventor (anyone using cell phones today owes her a debt of gratitude).
Newcomers to our monthly Athens Writers Association social gatherings often ask this question when our president and founder, Katherine Cerulean, mentions that I host monthly “Read-Ins” at Barnes and Noble Cafe in Athens, Georgia.
Katherine asked me to write this guest blog post for the website – feel free to contact me if you are interested in experiencing a “Read-In” with us. Please email me through my website, jillhartmanneditor.com, or contact Katherine at email@example.com
“Read-In” is a term that I coined in October 2015, as a spin-off to the “Write-Ins” that Katherine started with the AWA from the beginning.
(Katherine currently hosts a weekly “Wild Wednesday Write-In at Jittery Joe’s on Epps Bridge Parkway from 2-4 pm every week for those of you who, like me, thrive on writing with other authors. Let’s be honest – there’s power – and inspiration – in working together).
Back in the “old days” (circa 2013-2014), the Athens Writers Association held our meetings, events, and most of our public readings at The Coffee Shop of Athens (sadly, they closed for business in November 2014). It was the perfect venue for “write-ins,” our workshops (they had a private meeting room upstairs), critique groups, guest speakers (e.g. Philip Lee Williams, Bobby Nash, Lacey Wolfe, and other local authors), and best of all, performing public readings in front of a live audience.
(We also performed in a few other Athens venues in 2013-14, including The Globe, UGA and Cine, but The Coffee Shop of Athens was our “home base.” ).
Luckily, we have found a new home for our public readings at the fabulous Normal Books on Prince Avenue. Although we hosted a successful reading for our anthology, Laughin’ in Athens at the Athens-Clarke County Library in September 2016, and we are grateful for the ACC library’s ongoing support of our organization, we are thrilled to have formed a new partnership with this local gem in Athens).
However – there was a void, so to speak, in our programming, after The Coffee Shop of Athens closed. Throughout 2015, I remember missing reading in front of the live audience – it is important to be able to bring our writing to life by reading it aloud, in voice and character, for there is a difference in hearing the words performed that makes the stories and poems come alive, in a way that reading it on a piece of paper alone cannot compare to.
Breathing life into the words we write has its own power – not only to entice people to want to read more of our work, but to teach us how to become the best public speakers and self-promoters we can be. All of us, if we’re lucky, will one day be standing at a podium in front of a large group in a bookstore, at a book fair, on a stage…telling a crowd of strangers about ourselves, as writers, and about our amazing book that we want them to buy (otherwise known as the book tour).
I wanted to bring that back to the Athens Writers Association. I missed it, and many people asked us, “When are you guys going to do another public reading?”
For a while, we didn’t have an answer. Until, I came up with the idea of a “Read-In.”
We had our first “Read-In” at Jittery Joe’s, but it didn’t take long to find a permanent home at Barnes and Noble Cafe. As I’ve always told people, what could be more inspiring than reading our stories and poems in a bookstore?
I never expected the “Read-Ins” to become as popular as they have. (We recently celebrated our 3-year anniversary). Katherine tells me that she frequently hears people rave about the “Read-Ins” – how much fun they are having, how positive of an experience it is, and how good it feels to get support from their peers when they read. I hear some people are even getting over their fears of reading in public. All the things I hoped for when I came up with the idea. I am so glad that people keep coming back, and for me, personally, I look forward to it every month.
We have a handful of regular participants, and we always welcome new people – I keep it light and positive and upbeat and informal (people can come late and leave early), we keep the meetings to 2 hours, we always meet on a Thursday night, and best of all, if people do not bring something to read to the group, we are happy to have them participate by listening and giving feedback (which also is not required, but in 3 years, I’ve only had one author tell us she did not want feedback. Most of our writers come to hear both the accolades and the constructive suggestions from their peers).
We do have a few guidelines to keep the “Read-Ins” running smoothly: 20 minutes per person, for reading and feedback, no cell phones at the meeting (not at the table, that is), treat people with respect – i.e. when you give feedback, be honest, but be encouraging and helpful, not derogatory – which is not a problem. Our writers are the most supportive group of people you could hope to read for – or so I’m told by many of our participants.
Because we read in an open cafe in a bookstore where children are sometimes present, unfortunately, we have to keep our material “PG-13,” but it’s a small sacrifice in order to be able to come to Barnes and Noble every month. They are very accommodating and supportive of our group’s monthly gatherings.
You might ask, what is it specifically about a “Read-In” that makes it so special?
Well, I will tell you that you might hear a different answer depending on whom you ask.
For me, it’s a toss-up between the people who come and their amazing writing – which, let’s face it, go hand in hand.
There have been so many incredible people who have been part of the “Read-Ins” and their writing has never ceased to impress and entertain me, but here are a few of my memories that have made our AWA “Read-Ins” so unique and meaningful:
One of our veterans, Jay, is a “renaissance” writer: he writes in a unique voice that showcases his talent for humor, dialogue, character and creativity. He writes science fiction, scary stories, memoirs, travel essays, fiction (one of his short stories was published in a literary journal), humorous anecdotes about his personal adventures…he’s done it all. Everyone loves his writing – he always entertains us, and he also is very helpful and encouraging to others – whether they be other veterans or brand new to the group.
An editing client of mine, Eric, works full time, and began writing in his spare time a while back. He has his own website, wrote a book of Christmas stories, and has been working on another science fiction/adventure book that is fantastic. But, he had not read any of his writing in front of other people and was not sure, at first, if he felt comfortable doing so. (Often we writers feel shy about public speaking, that’s one reason we express our thoughts in writing instead). When Eric first came, he waited for everyone else to read first before deciding if he wanted to read his own writing. From what I recall, his impression of the others’ positivity and moral support inspired him to get his feet wet and take a chance on reading his own prose. He told me afterward that it was such a positive experience for him, that it eliminated his fears of reading aloud, and he was eager to come back again. I was touched that we made his first try at a public reading such a great experience for him – and – that it made him want to come back for more!
Two of our regular participants, Chris and Sharon, often bring their poetry (Sharon also writes prose). Their poems are honest, raw, lyrical and have moved me, deeply, as well as doing so for many others. I appreciate that they trust our group to be a place of safety and appreciation for their very personal and beautiful poems. Poetry is meant to be read aloud, no doubt, but I do not take for granted that they both are open to sharing their poems aloud, with us, publicly, nonetheless.
My colleague and co-founder, Elsa, has shared many excerpts from books she has written, or is writing, and her voice is powerfully unique and strong and creative. She creates complex characters with humor and fire who make you think. My favorite, so far, is “Connie.” Elsa laughs whenever I bug her, “When are you going to read us another chapter about ‘Connie?’” It’s almost like a private joke between the two of us now (she has read two or three chapters from the book, which may be a series, I’m not sure), but I get a rise out of her every time I bring up “Connie.” It’s fun, but seriously, we all have found “Connie” to be brash and funny, and the story is a shocker at times, but in the best way!
A few months ago, one of our newer members brought her 11-year old granddaughter, Ella, to read (Yes, young writers are always welcome!) and being a former teacher, I took special delight in hearing her read her poem about her horse. Ella has a gift, and a voice that is pure and authentic, as most young writers do, before the world of publishers and editors, and school, period, for that matter, edits it for them. That experience took me back to my days as a teacher. I often don’t think about how much I miss teaching, and especially, how much I miss working with the kids – it is a labor of love that is truly worth it.
We host writers that come a few times, and then life happens, and we don’t see them again. They have enriched our “Read-Ins” as much as the regulars and I treasure all the prose and poetry they have graced us with over the years.
One of my favorites was Jamie. He came a couple of times to read from his fan fiction, based on the movie, “Carol,” starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Oh my gosh! Jamie’s dialogue was mind-blowing! I didn’t see the film, but I felt as if I walked right into the middle of it. (Fan fiction is a genre where people take the characters from a favorite book or TV series or movie and create new plots to continue where the original piece left off. It’s very popular with the Twilight and Harry Potter books). We were all struck by the powerful scenes that Jamie wrote, and by his fearless performance. I’ve seen Jamie at the ACC library a couple of times and I hope he will come back someday.
That’s just a taste of what we do at “Read-Ins,” and why they are so important to our writers in the AWA (or so I’m told:) I hope that we continue to welcome new writers, new readers, fresh voices, and their fiction, essays, non-fiction and poetry for years to come. We’ve been going strong so far, and I am so happy that the monthly “Read-Ins” have become such an integral part of the Athens Writers Association’s mission to bring writers together in a circle of mutual support and professional growth through collaboration, cooperation and camaraderie.
Whether you love the holidays, or whether you work retail (kidding…kind of 😉 ) the season is upon us. And most everyone would agree that between the parties, shopping, events, baking, and general busyness, it is a challenge to make time to write.
But I would argue that this is one of the most important times to write. Magical and emotional moments abound, and many of these make for wonderful stories and memories worth recording and sharing with others.
And for those of us who write fiction, or poetry, or anything else, this time seems to the exact right moment to follow our hearts, our star, and keep true to ourselves in a often hectic and frazzling time. Consider making time to write the gift you’ll give yourself this holiday season.
from jenifermorrison – WordPress.com
So how do you make time for writing during this season?
It’s not easy but it can be done. Below are a few time management tips that have worked for me, a few ways you can hang with the AWA and get inspired, and finally a couple of ideas about how to bring your love of writing into the season, ensuring it indeed will be a very happy holiday!
Set a goal for this week. At the beginning of each week, set a goal, and write down a plan. Have a certain goal of time or pages for your work days and off days. Then write those goals on your calendar, somewhere where you can see them each day.
Just sit down for 15 minutes. It’s very easy to feel tired and overwhelmed so just agree with yourself to sit down and write something – anything – for even a few minutes. You might find yourself having fun and getting into it.
Pick an idea you’re excited about. If it’s harder to make time right now, give yourself the gift of working on something you’re crazy about — something a little too wild, cool, fun, or silly. Take the season off from the hard stuff and dig into the awesome stuff… you might never go back.
Just do it. If you want to hit your writing goals by the end of the year, then… hit your writing goals by the end of the year. Expect it to be hard, real hard, and relish the chance to do yourself proud and achieve what few would even dare to try during the craziest time of the year. You CAN do it. You just have to want it bad enough.
Get inspired and have fun with the AWA! Join us every Wednesday for our Jittery Joe’s ‘Write-In’, our monthly social ‘Gathering’, our ‘Read-Ins’, and our ‘Open Mic’ on December 8th at ‘Normal Books’. Click on the ‘Upcoming Events’ link at the top of the page for full details.
Finally, have a little fun and share your passion. You have a gift and a love of words– share it this season. Send out real, paper holiday cards and write beautiful, unusually heartfelt messages this year. In addition to regular gifts, give a favorite book to loved ones — maybe a different one based on each person’s taste and interests. And volunteer your talent and time to help the elderly or children or soldiers by writing cards, reading stories aloud, or just sit down and talk to someone about how writing has changed your life.
“And then they realized they were no longer little girls: they were little women.”
Most of all, be kind to yourself, do your best, and then just relax and enjoy the season. Writing and the magic of the holidays — what a great combination!
We are a new group but, really, I'm surprised we didn't exist long ago. Athens, GA has long been known as a creative mecca. The world-famous music scene has now been joined by an expanding art and crafting contingent. Yet for some reason Athens is not as well known for its writers and writing, even though we have UGA, Terry Kay, and had the wonderful Harriett Austin Writer’s Conference for many years.
AWA was the idea of Katherine Cerulean and, along with her, the original founders are Jill Hartmann, Jennifer Innes, Elsa Russo, and Rob White.
Now come meet our wonderful, talented writers, read their words, and get excited about living near so many rising literary stars!