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Category Archives: Athens GA

Classes! Get Your Fall Classes!

Katherine Cerulean and the Athens Writers Association are proud to announce four new FREE classes this fall! These “super-size” classes will be on some of the most requested topics and feature expanded bonus features.

NOTE: All classes will take place at the Athens-Clarke County Library in Multipurpose Room C.

by Sarah Cerulean

AWA founder and all around good egg Katherine Cerulean (who writes many of these posts 😉 ) will teach all four classes.

The first class is the always in demand The Beginner’s Guide to Self Publishing on Saturday, October 7th, 2017, 3:00 pm — 5:00 pm. Learn the basics of this hot topic —

  • Learn the differences between traditional publishers, both large and small, and self publishing
  • Find out more about Amazon’s pay scale and cost of publishing on Createspace
  • Learn how to publish for almost zero money — and why you probably shouldn’t
  • Find out how to protect your work
  • Look at the differences between ebooks and paperbacks
  • Find out if formatting is as terrible as you’ve heard (no hints ahead of time!)
  • Find out what an author’s platform is and why you probably have already started one
  • See examples of self published local books and ask questions

Next up: 10 Tips for Building Believable Love Stories! On Saturday, November 11th, 2017 at 3:00 pm. All the great info from our popular class and article with an added bonus!

This class explores how to turn a common romance into something extraordinary. Readers love love stories! But all too often we writers fall into either redoing the cliches we’ve seen a million times before (tripping and falling into a love interest’s arms), or we imbue the relationship with pat, uninteresting emotions and flawless characters. And yet in our real lives — and favorite fiction — people are rarely flawless, situations rarely perfect, and it is those exact qualities that draw us in and make us fall in love. Your story deserves no less of a happy ending! We will discover how to make your characters interesting and unique, create realistic obstacles for their happiness, and make audiences root for the couple’s perfect walk into the sunset (cancel that cliche — walk into the Frogurt Shack).

NOTE: This class is about improving a love story in any medium and genre. I’m not a genre Romance writer and so don’t know the ins and outs of that particular field; but a relationship you can believe in helps in any genre.

Bonus: Email me at katherinecerulean@gmail.com by October 28th with a one page description of your characters and/or story and the first five will discussed and your questions answered at the end of the class.

Next, move from the big questions about your writing to the even bigger questions about your life! How to Reevaluate Your Life is inspired by the most popular post on my blog and will take place on Sunday, December 9th, at 3:00 pm. There comes a time when you realize your goals and plans may no longer be in alignment with your life and actions. You may feel lost, discouraged, and even wonder just what would make you happy anymore — THIS IS ACTUALLY A WONDERFUL PLACE TO BE IN. When you realize you’re ready for a change, you can begin to look at your life anew, discovering what parts you really love and what ideas and situations you have outgrown. We will explore how to rediscover your passions and purpose, figure out which relationships are helping and hindering your journey, discuss simple ways you can begin to improve your life today, strategies for evaluating your life during the holidays, how to turn obstacles into advantages, and why where you are at this moment — standing here in frustration and uncertainty — is actually the best place in the world you could be in, and the start of your awesome, Hero’s Journey.

NOTE: This class focuses on evaluating where you are and what would improve your life. For more concrete planning, rejoin us in one month for 2018: Goal-Setting and Amazing Success.

Bonus: Email me at katherinecerulean@gmail.com by November 28th with a one page description of your life/issues/challenges and hopes and goals. The first five will discussed (without using your name or personal details if you wish) and your questions answered at the end of the class.

Lastly, after you’ve reevaluated your life, you may need some new goals. Join us in the new year for an explosion of excitement and list-making (!). 2018: Goal-Setting and Amazing Success will help you start strong and stay on track. Join us On Saturday, Jan. 6th, 2018 at 3:00 pm. Come with your “Big Dream” and learn how to figure out the steps you need to take, and how to break your objective down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Discover how to stay on track, create the life of your dreams, turn obstacles into advantages, and knock the new year out of the park!

Learn from someone who has spent her entire adult life setting goals and refining techniques for success. It’s not magic; it only takes a good attitude, a well-thought-out plan, and a willingness to WORK HARD. Ralph Waldo Emerson said ‘Do the thing and you will have the power.’

Katherine has written three screenplays, six novels, a self improvement book, dropped three sizes, traveled to Europe alone, started a writing association, edited two collects, and set up public events for her group, and gotten rid of 90% of everything she owns. And she wants to help you do all that and more. Come pick her brain and learn how your past failures have only helped teach you how to be ready for success in 2018!

BONUS: Sign up at the end of the class to email Katherine once a month for the next six months to ask questions and work through new challenges. A FREE life coach in email form!

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The Public Reading was a Hit!

Note the awesomely-drawn chair by Katherine Cerulean (!)

A crowd of thirty-seven people came out for our Laughin’ in Athens release party and Public Reading event at the Athens-Clarke County Library on Saturday, Sep. 9th. We sold copies of this, as well as the two previous, collections. We also signed books, marveled at giant pink balloons (thank you Party City!), and snacked on “funny” candies.

Thanks to all our wonderful readers, Alia Ghosheh, Genie Smith Bernstein, Janine Elyse Aronson, A C (Shorty) Wilmoth, Chelsea Brooks, Katherine Cerulean, Rob White, Larry Coleman, Hannah Thomas, Zhanna P. Rader, Billie H. Wilson, Shantala Kay Russell, and Jay Barnes. And thanks to everyone who donated and/or bought books from us!

The event was a delight, and afterwords a group of us crossed the street to continue reveling at Champys Fried Chicken. Once there, a number of hilarious events took place — but that’s a story for Laughin’ in Athens Volume II . . .

Please check out some photos from the event —

Genie Smith Bernstein wonders “Is God a Border Collie?” before a packed house

 

AWA co-founder Rob White tells “The Tall Modern Tale of a Small 80s Boy”

 

Even from the cheap seats, listeners were enthralled by Larry Coleman’s “The Dance”

 

Katherine Cerulean performs her take on an unhinged robot “For Your Consideration”

 

“Stephen King” offers to finish our event by reading all 849 pages of his bestseller “11/22/63”. Luckily the man, later revealed to be local author Jay Barnes, read from his delightful (and briefer) story “Driving Miss Kitty” instead

New Online Critique Group!

A newer member of our group, Isham James, would like to start an AWA online critique group and we’re looking for other interested parties.

I know sometimes it’s hard to be able to meet up in Athens at the same place and time. Whether you work odd hours or live a little outside the city (as I do), it can be a challenge to make it to a physical meeting for a critique group. This online group will hopefully provide a chance to improve your craft on your schedule.

What are we looking for?

We’re looking for 5-7 prose fiction writers who are willing to commit to trying this idea for a few months. Why prose fiction? As well being very popular within our group, other kinds of writers like poets and nonfiction writers may be disappointed be find themselves surrounded by those who don’t understand their craft as they do. If you’re interested in leading a differently focused group, let me know!

The loose plan right now is that the group will post to private Google Docs files and each member would submit new material once a month (probably a short story or chapter). Please email me at katherinecerulean@gmail.com by August 19th, 2017 if you are interested or have any questions.

So Many Submissions!

Submissions are now closed for our new comedy collection and — WOW.

We had over eighty pieces (counting each poem separately), from forty writers, adding up to over 60,000 words! That’s incredible. Our previous collections only had 22,000-25,000 words submitted. Thanks to everyone who got the word out; we’re especially indebted to Jill Hartmann and Jennifer Innes for their tireless help.

And many thanks to all who shared their wonderful pieces with us!

What happens now?

For those who submitted, you will be contacted by the end of May to let you know if your piece has been accepted. We have a panel of experienced writers as our content editors and they are now busy reading through all 60,000 words (I think they ended up with more than they bargained for!). And we’ve already read some WONDERFUL pieces.

The editors will meet in May and hash out the layout, tone, and submissions to accept for this collection. We are striving for a coherent book, so know we may end up cutting pieces of good quality if they don’t fit in with the stated theme (funny) or with the other accepted submissions.

If your work’s accepted, you will be asked to write a short bio and return to us a formal agreement allowing us the right to publish your work in our collection (you’ll retain all rights to your piece). You will receive one free copy of the paperback book that you can pick up at an future AWA event. You’ll also be able to buy as many wholesale copies for your own use as you’d like.

For everyone else, our plan is to publish the paperback on Createspace in late summer/early fall, and to have a public reading of some of the selected pieces in Athens. Please make plans to attend our event to hear these wonderful works and to just come hang with your fellow AWA writers. And if you’d like to check out the collection on Amazon or in local stores and consider buying one, that would be awesome too!

More details will be posted on this website as the publication date nears.

How exciting! And what a massive response from the Athens community — we are touched, and excited to watch this project come together.

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steveinaspeedo.tumblr.com

Join ‘Indie Author Day’ at the Athens-Clarke County Library

from OnlineAthens

from OnlineAthens

The ACC Library is presenting an Indie Author Fair that will be held on Saturday, February 18, 2017, from 11 AM to 3 PM. One table will be provided to each author. You will be permitted to sell your books, and the Library will provide seating and snacks. Following the marketplace, you are invited to attend an author symposium.

This is an amazing FREE opportunity to get your name out there, interact with the public, and meet like-minded writers.

The deadline to reserve your table is February 10, 2017.

Full details here.

UPDATE: Here’s some pics of the successful event!

An overview of the event (while standing on a chair!)

An overview of the event (while standing on a chair!)

 

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The Tuesday Writing Critique Group

 

The AWA table

The AWA table

 

AWA founder Katherine Cerluean's table (who couldn't stop talking about her new orange tablecloths ;-)

AWA founder Katherine Cerulean’s table (who couldn’t stop talking about her new orange tablecloth 😉

It was a lot of fun and hopefully the library will do it again!

Know Your Local Writer: Jill Hartmann

Welcome to the second in a series of interviews with Athens-area writers.  The hope is to inform you about new techniques you might want to try, increase your knowledge of the individuals in your community, and inspire you on your path.  Please contact me if you’re interested in answering our writing questionnaire and being featured here as a future ‘local writer’.

NOTE: Special thanks to AWA co-founder Jill Hartmann for originally supplying us with these wonderful questions for the series.

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Question: At what point in your life did you become a writer and how did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Answer: When I was in first grade, my elementary school held a writing contest for Grades K-2.  All of the classes were asked to respond to the following writing prompt: “What will you ask Santa Clause to bring you for Christmas this year?”  (Nowadays this subject would be taboo for a public school wide writing contest, but it was the 1970’s and it was a private school.  None of the parents complained, as far as I knew).  There were several winners chosen, enough to fill two pages in the school’s quarterly magazine.  My response was one of the winning entries.  I wrote a short paragraph asking Santa for peace and happiness for all of my friends and for my family, and for everyone in the world – and for a special best friend.  (Although I’m Jewish, we celebrated Christmas when I was very little, and I loved Santa Clause.  I think I believed he was real until I was eight or nine years old).

Artist: Elizabeth Goodrick (?)

Artist: Elizabeth Goodrick (?)

I’d have to pinpoint this accomplishment as the moment when I had the epiphany that I was a real writer and that I wanted to keep writing. I received a lot of praise for being among the published winners for that holiday writing contest.  I was six years old, and it didn’t take long for my love of writing to grow exponentially.  When I wasn’t writing stories for school, I would carry my mother’s electric typewriter into the hallway and start writing stories off the top of my head, while sitting right in the middle of the floor.  (I have no idea why I didn’t just carry the thing over to the kitchen table and sit in a chair like a regular kid, but then again, I was not a regular kid).  When I wrote in my diary every night, I usually sat on the floor, also.  What can I say, we had very soft carpet in our house when I was a child!

Q: What books have you read that shaped you as a writer? Which authors’ work do you admire and why?

A: As a child, the books that fired up my imagination were: the Little House books, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Oz books, written by L. Frank Baum, all of the books written by Judy Blume, Island of the Blue Dolphins, written by Scott O’ Dell, To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee, and all of the stories from Greek and Roman mythology.  My favorite authors in my adult years, whom I’d like to emulate, are: John Steinbeck and Jane Austen. Steinbeck’s novels resonate with me because of the way he seamlessly weaves his profound messages into stories about real, everyday people.  I gravitate toward character-centered writing, which I think is Steinbeck’s signature, as well as his talent for painting vivid pictures of the places where his characters are battling inner, and outer, conflicts.  When it comes to Jane Austen’s books, I can’t say enough about how beautifully she writes: her characters, her dialogue, her descriptions, are exquisitely crafted. She has created a portrait of an English society long gone that to this day, is not only remade into films over and over again, but also has been taken on by modern day authors with sequels and other stories that recreate that status driven society of early 19th century England.  Both authors have inspired story ideas of mine, and I wish they had written and published many more books than they lived to write in their respective lifetimes.

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Q: Which piece that you have written are you most proud of and why?

A: My short story, “To Ride the Wind.”  I wrote it in 7th grade for an English class assignment (It was inspired by John Steinbeck’s novel, The Pearl, incidentally).  My English teacher encouraged me to enter my story into the middle school’s first annual creative writing contest.  My story won first place, which was one of the greatest moments of my life.  “To Ride the Wind” was published in the school newspaper that summer, which I consider to be my first real publication.  Although we all have to work hard, as writers, to develop our talent and to hone our craft, that story is a symbol of what I’m capable of, and a reminder to never give up on my writing, no matter what.

Q: Do you gravitate toward a particular genre(s) and/or format when you write?   Tell us more about which genres and/or formats are your “passion?”

A: In the past seven years, my focus has been on writing memoirs.  I also continue to write poetry, which I have always gravitated toward as a means of expressing my personal thoughts and emotions about life.  Writing memoirs is challenging in that it requires a high degree of vulnerability and also enough emotional distance to imagine what audiences will be able to identify with when reading about my life story.  I’ve spent a lot of time editing and revising my memoirs, as well as reading others’ published memoirs, to guide me in creating books that read like a fictional character-driven novel, even though the stories are non-fiction.

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Q: Have you studied writing and/or attended writing seminars, workshops or conferences?  Where and what did you learn from your classes/sessions and other writing teachers?  Did any of them stand out to you and why?

A: I attended the USC Film School Graduate Screenwriting Program in the 1990’s, which was eye opening as far as how the television and film industry works.  Before then, I took playwriting classes in college.  I have not attended formal writing conferences, yet.  I have taken advantage of as many of the Athens Writers Association’s workshops as I’ve been able to attend in the past 3+ years, and the members of my critique group have made the most significant difference in my becoming a better writer.  They have been my best writing teachers these past 3 years, hands down.  I have learned so much from everything they’ve taught me.

Q: Have you had any formal writing jobs and/or published any of your work?  If so, tell us about your jobs and/or your publications.

A: Currently, I work as a freelance copyeditor – I proofread, copy edit and revise both non-fiction and fiction manuscripts, and in some cases, Power Point and website copy.  I’ve written articles for publication in the Congregation Children of Israel Temple Times monthly newsletter.  I continue to apply for other freelance writing jobs.  In addition to articles I’ve published in the Temple Times, my work has appeared in three publications in the past three years: Writers After Dark, The Journey Home and Slackpole (the annual holiday issue of Flagpole Magazine).

 

Q: What is unique about your writing process?  What works for you, and what doesn’t work?

A: I’m not sure if this is unique, but I work on writing multiple pieces simultaneously and divide my writing time among those projects.  It is harder for me to write at home than in a coffee house, but I’m working on spending more time writing at my house (while my dogs lay peacefully at my feet).  I work best with a “soundtrack,” which varies, depending on my mood. I tend to listen to a bundle of albums I associate with a particular writing or editing project.  It doesn’t work for me to write in a doctor’s waiting room, or on an airplane, though I have managed to write at a table at the car dealership for several hours, so I’m getting better at writing in less-than-ideal surroundings.  I keep a notebook in my purse at all times so that I can write ideas as they come to me throughout the day.  I used to always write by hand, and nowadays, I usually write on my laptop.  I’ve been thinking of writing shorter pieces by hand in the future because I had a great experience recently when I did that – it was like finding a long lost old friend.

john-steinbeck-quote

Q: What is the most challenging area of writing for you?

A: Not editing as I go while I’m writing my first draft.  I still have trouble just free flow writing without going back and rereading and rewriting as I go along.  It slows me down, a lot.  Breaking this habit is a work in progress.

Q: What are you currently writing?

A: My primary current writing project is a memoir about a tragic life-changing event that occurred in 1992, which resulted in a complex life-changing endeavor of mine over the next three months. Events that occurred during that time in my life substantially shaped the rest of my adult life, for the better, in my opinion. My hope is that this story of my journey from heartbreak and grief to activism and healing will inspire others to triumph in the wake of their own tragedies.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who is just beginning to write?

A: I meet people all the time who tell me about how they are “just dabbling” in writing, whether it be a short story or poetry or a novel, and I always encourage them to not sell themselves short as writers.  Everyone has to start at the beginning and many people who are prolific writers start late in life, not realizing how much talent they’ve always had.  It’s never too late so I say, don’t underestimate yourself and just be willing to learn and get feedback from other writers whom you trust.  Keep writing, don’t give up and join our group. We’re a great source of peer support and encouragement – I know for a fact that it has made a significant difference for many of our members.

Q: How has being a writer changed your life?

A: The real question is how has being a writer not changed my life!  I have believed for a long time, since I won that first contest in 7th grade, that writing is what I was born to do.  I gave it up for 15 years and took the safe route in life, becoming a teacher and then working in administration at a major university.  My dog, Toby Hartmann, inadvertently led me back to writing, and moving to Athens gave me the opportunity to spend the time writing Toby’s story that I used to spend at my brick and mortar job in San Diego, California.  It’s hard to explain how being a writer has changed me except to say that now I remember who I am – not to use a cliché, but it’s true that, “I once was lost, and now I’m found.” I know that this is my purpose in life.  I cannot feel fulfilled if I cannot write – it is what I need to do for myself.  I can no longer imagine not being a writer.  It is scary to open myself up to my readers, but it’s worth it to me to share my voice with the rest of the world.

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AWA at ‘Lickskillet’!

We had a great time, met friends old and new, and sold a few books.  Check out the pics below!

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Katherine Cerulean’s ‘dream board’, our drawing for a gift certificate, a red dalek in the donation box, a Philips ‘Hue’ light, and — of course — chocolate.

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So many beautiful books!

Dac Crossley at his booth.

Dac Crossley at his booth.

The Tuesday Writing / Critique Group debuting their newest book 'Tuesday's Tales'

The Tuesday Writing / Critique Group debuting their newest book ‘Tuesday’s Tales’.

Daniel Galt at his booth

Daniel Galt at his booth.

Sara Winick Herrington at her BEE-you-ti-ful table

Sara Winick Herrington at her BEE-you-ti-ful table.

Sara Winick Herrington at her table with Phyl Campbell, Katherine Cerulean, and Amanda McMurtrey.

Sara Winick Herrington at her table with Phyl Campbell, Katherine Cerulean, and Amanda McMurtrey.