RSS Feed

Author Archives: katherinecerulean

What in the World is a “Read-In?”

By Jill Hartmann

“What’s a ‘Read-In’?”

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.

barnesandnobleinside
Barnes and Noble Bookstore, Athens, GA. Home of the “Read-Ins” Image courtesy of Facebook

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 katherinecerulean@gmail.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).

jjoeseppsbridge

Jittery Joe’s Epps Bridge Parkway, Image courtesy of Facebook page

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.

feb12014coffeeathensreading

Jill Hartmann-Roberts at the AWA public reading, “Writers Read II” at Coffee Shop of Athens on February 1, 2014

(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.

Advertisements

How to Have a Happy, Writing-Filled Holiday!

from Hypable

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!

A Great Open Mic!

Thanks to all the wonderful audience members who came out to support us on Saturday and thanks to Normal Books for their wonderful hospitality!

And we especially appreciate the 14 wonderful readers who shared their awesome writing with us!

For anyone interested, we plan on doing another one soon — keep an eye out for the announcement. And here’s a few pics of the fun —

AWA co-founder Rob White

Chip McDaniels reads from her memoir

Katie Kreutzer reads from her graphic novel

A full house!

AWA founder Katherine Cerulean closes out the event (thanks to co-founder Jill Hartmann for the great photo!)

For more fun with Normal Books, come out in October for the Collaborative Storytelling Event. Six AWA writers will come together to tell one story — each reading their section aloud as a tale of awesomeness unfolds!

The event will take place on Saturday, October 13th at 3:00 PM.

Come hang out with other writers as they try something new and support a great local business at the same time!

Fall Events at ‘Normal Books’!

The Athens Writers Association is pleased to offer two events in association with ‘Normal Books’ on Prince Street in Normaltown. Both events are free and open to the public.

First, we are holding our second Open Mic Event on Saturday, September 22nd from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM (sign-up is at 3:00 PM and arrive early, last time spots filled 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.

Second, in October, it’s time to scare up some fun with a Collaborative Storytelling Event. A limited number of AWA writers will come together to tell one story — each reading their section aloud as a tale of awesomeness unfolds! We almost have enough storytellers but contact me by September 8th if you are seriously interested and would like to join us — katherinecerulean@gmail.com. The event will take place on Saturday, October 13th at 3:00 PM and participants must be able to attend a pre-event table reading.

Neither of these dates are home UGA football games, so they should be beautiful autumn days to get out and enjoy the magic and community that permeates Athens in the fall!

Come hang out with other writers, possibly read your work in public, and support a great local business!

Summer ‘Slackpole’ is Now Open to Submissions!

Athens’ own ‘Flagpole’ magazine has been a wonderful local resource for decades and their annual end-of-the-year ‘Slackpole’ issue has enabled many AWA members to see their names in print for the first time.

The term ‘slackpole’ comes from the fact that the staff supposedly gets to ‘slack off’ and let new writers take over the pages of that issue — but as someone who’s edited a large anthology of writers, I can say with some certainty that I’m sure there’s very little ‘slacking’ going on for the editors that week.  😉

And now there’s another reason to love the summer months — 2018’s Summer Slackpole! Check out the call for submissions —

The Deadline is July 11th. 

Good luck!

Afternoon Open Mic at Normal Books – Prose, Poetry and Storytelling!

Come share your favorite poems, a passage from your novel or a story from days gone by. Each reader can read up to 8 minutes of material.

Co-hosted by the proprietors of Normal Books and Athens Writers Association.

Sign up at 3 and meet other local poets and storytellers. Readings will begin at 4 and end at 6.

*Note: Please limit your material to a PG-13 audience and below, as Normal Books is open to the public and family friendly.

Normal Books

1238 Prince Ave · Athens, ga

 

There’s a small parking lot behind Normal Books and plenty of street parking along Prince Avenue.

Join the AWA for the Second Indie Author Day!

Photo from the first Indie Author Day

Come join the Athens Writers Association in a celebration of independent writers, libraries, and great reads! The Athens-Clarke Country Library is holding their second Indie Author Day on Saturday, March 17th, 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

The AWA will have a table, as will several members including co-founder Rob White. Come find some great books, ask us all your questions about self publishing, and hear founder Katherine Cerulean talk as part of the 12:00 pm author’s discussion panel.

It will be a fun day!

More details from the Library:

Join us for a day celebrating self and indie published authors!

  • 12-1 PM My Self-Publishing Journey: a panel discussion with self-published authors
  • 1-2 PM How to Market your Self or Indie Published Book: a discussion with Bob Babcock of Deeds Publishing
  • 2-4 PM Indie Author Marketplace: meet and mingle with indie and self-published authors as well as purchase their titles!
  • 4-5 PM Keynote Address (TBA) and ReceptionTo register as one of the authors please visit: http://www.athenslibrary.org/indieauthor

    Date:
    Saturday, March 17, 2018
    Time:
    12:00pm – 5:00pm
    Location:
    Multipurpose Room A, Multipurpose Room B, Multipurpose Room C