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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!

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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!

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

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

The Collection is Here!

The AWA’s third collection, Laughin’ in Athens is out! Check out our humorous collection in ebook and paperback on Amazon, and (coming soon) in select Athens, GA stores.

It took a lot of hard work and quite a few tears were shed (of laughter) but we four editors — myself, Jill Hartmann, Jennifer Innes, and Rob White — are proud to present our largest collection yet: 174 pages, thirty authors, and thirty-three pieces designed to make you think a little deeper, feel a little more, and (especially) laugh at the absurdity of everyday life while seeing a bit of reality in the most fanciful of jests.

Laughing alone is good; laughing together is even better!

Come out and join us for a Public Reading of Laughin’ in Athens on Saturday, September 9th, 2017 at the Athens-Clarke County Library at 3:00 pm — 5:00 pm. This event will take place in Multipurpose Room “C” (at the end of the first hall on the left) and will feature a wonderful selection of our contributors reading short pieces. We’ll also have copies of the collection on hand to purchase.

Laughin‘ in Athens will also be available at our monthly Gathering for sale.

from Picture Quotes

Thanks again to all the wonderful writers who submitted their work, and to everyone for their suggestions, ideas, and help throughout this process.

So please join us if you can on September 9th for an evening of Laughin’ in Athens!

Know Your Local Writer: Charles Beacham

Welcome to the fourth 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, and to the author below for supplying the photos and memes.

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

First of all, I’m honored to answer these questions for the Athens Writer’s Association. Thank you for this opportunity.

The simple answer is: I don’t know how not to be a writer. From an early age, I enjoyed writing, beginning with silly childhood poems and moving onto teen angst-y kind of poetry about the passions of young love, the tribulations of separation and rejection, as well as parental friction.

In high school, my English teacher told me, “Whatever you do in life, make sure writing is a part of it.” I never forgot his advice, but also didn’t take it completely to heart, until rather recently.

Instead, I entered the public policy field, which required an abundance of writing, although of the academic and technical kind. However, the profession, and my series of positions, was less than satisfying. 

The turning point came when a dear friend of mine committed suicide in 2009. The event changed my life. I pondered questions deeply. Are you satisfied with your life? What do you want in life? A meeting with mortality has extraordinary potential for setting and/or redirecting the course. The night of his passing, I sat down and words poured out of me. More specifically, I felt his words poured through me, as if I was a vessel for his story.

It was the first time in many years that I allowed inspiration to flow without the internal editor questioning and sculpting and rearranging. I realized how much I wanted and needed to write.

For the past seven years, I’ve dedicated myself to practicing, learning, and growing as a fiction writer, a bit of a rewiring, if you will.

At this point, I consider myself a writer, but the next step is becoming a published author.

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

My all-time favorite is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’m enamored of his reporter’s style and the atmosphere he creates in his settings. Most of his work is set in revolutionary Colombia, but the applications and connections are universal. I can imagine his stories taking place in the Civil War-era United States, for example. I enjoy his lesser known works, the novella entitled ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold,’ and ‘The Autumn of the Patriarch.’ Garcia Marquez’s calling card is magical realism. I love how he weaves the material world with other realms and I’m grateful I discovered him early in my writing journey.

Another favorite is Hunter S. Thompson. In a sense, he’s similar to Garcia Marquez but opposite. Garcia Marquez makes the unbelievable feel real, while Thompson had a penchant for making the real feel unbelievable. His brutal telling of politics and public policy beginning in the 1960’s serve as reminders of where our country was at the time and warnings about where we’re going.

A third author I’ve learned from is Dennis Lehane. It’s strange, because I don’t find his books overly entertaining, but I’ve taken cues from his works about grounding my settings and developing pace. Incorporating elements of Lehane’s style provides a certain balancing mechanism to the atmosphere and lyrical beauty of Garcia Marquez and the vitriolic, face-smashing prose of Thompson.

Other inspirations include Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, and local author Eddie Whitlock. I also like darker writers like Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. Some call it horror, but I see it more as the shadowy side of our subconscious selves.

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

Two pieces come to mind.

First is the first short story I had accepted for publication in 2013. ‘Snout of the Alligator’ appeared in an anthology of “new” Southern Gothic by a small publisher in New York. I still keep in contact and receive advice from the editor. Opening the acceptance email was a profoundly rewarding and motivating experience.

As writers, we spend so much time alone with our thoughts and characters, and little victories along the way serve as motivation to continue. ‘Alligator’ began life as a chapter in the novel inspired by the life and death of my friend who committed suicide. He made a big impact on my shift to a writing life, so it feels fitting that my first publication was inspired by him.

The second piece is the novel I completed last year, ‘We Were Hungry.’ I’ve written four novels over the past few years, but none satisfied me enough to submit to agents or publishers. When I finished ‘We Were Hungry,’ I felt for the first time that I’d written the book I really wanted to. I’ve always wanted to give readers a similar feeling to the atmosphere in Garcia Marquez novels, and for the first time, I felt I was in the ballpark. Not a home run, or perhaps a base hit even, but watching the game from the bench, at least.

‘We Were Hungry’ was the first piece I submitted for a writer’s conference and it won a ‘Best Manuscript Award,’ which was very rewarding and signaled: “Yes! I’m in the ballpark!”

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?”

Determining genre is a huge challenge for me. My writing isn’t formulaic, but genre is extremely important when self-publishing or querying agents and publishers. As humans, we love to categorize, and fiction is no different. My style has been called “dark but hopeful,” so I wish that was a genre.

I enjoy reading thrillers, magical realism, Southern Gothic, some dystopian, and what they call literary fiction (I’m still unsure about what that means, exactly). The English teacher mentioned above read one of my pieces and called it: “Hunter S. Thompson meets Edgar Allan Poe with a twist of Bram Stoker,” and I can live with that, but must also keep pushing and redefining those boundaries.

My stories are psychological, about what pushes humans to the edge of their own minds and what either pushes them over or pulls them back. My protagonists are often people viewed by society as different or outcasts. Schizophrenics, addicts, war veterans, and others who are often marginalized. Society casts wide nets of judgment about those perceived as different from the status quo. But at the essential core, all humans are on a journey and have unique stories regardless of the circumstances surrounding their lives.

I believe the health of a culture is mirrored by how “the outcasts” are treated, and when I look at our culture, the image in the mirror isn’t pretty. Everyone deserves a voice, and I hope my writing honors those who rarely have one, and that it’s accomplished within a story that is entertaining, thought-provoking, and dashed with some humor. After all, a bit of humor helps us take ourselves less seriously.

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?

I’ve attended the Atlanta Writer’s Conference. The best part was being surrounded by other writers, networking and making contacts, and comparing experiences. The icing on the cake was presenting my work to editors and agents and receiving feedback, which is next to impossible with online querying. I urge anyone who is serious about publishing to invest in yourself by attending a conference.

The Athens’ Writers’ Association provides presentations and reading/writing groups, which are great sources for meeting fellow writers, motivation, and feedback.

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.

In the past five years, I’ve worked a few freelance jobs for magazines, writing articles on organic gardening, crystals and minerals (I co-own a mineral and jewelry business with my partner/wife), and the practice of gratitude. One was a lifestyle magazine in Nepal—a friend of mine was the editor—and that was pretty cool. I’ve also had short stories published in online journals and in two short story anthologies.

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

I’ll answer this question in two ways—process and writing routine.

Process (how my stories come to life): Writers, in so many ways, are social and cultural observers. Often, I find my story ideas by observing people, overhearing conversations, or reading newspapers. For a writer, just about anything can become a story!

The first part that comes, typically, is a character, so I spend time with that character in my head, learning how he/she would handle a situation. If I’m open to the character and his/her journey, they’ll often lead me to the setting. Sometimes, I’ll write a short story about the character to better familiarize myself with them. This begins the process of identifying conflicts and eventually pushes forth the inciting incidents which move the story along to its completion.

This is where inspiration turns into effort and perspiration.

Routine: Each story is unique and, in my view, each story requires its own rhythm. I recently read an interview with Dennis Lehane that resonated with me. He said he doesn’t like routine because it breeds a dependence on formula.

I don’t have a daily routine, but I do give a certain amount of energy to writing each day. Depending on the work in progress, I might rise with the sun or write in the evening or through the night. I try to be open to what the story and characters need at the moment, and each one, so far, has been different.

I usually have at least two queries out, whether for novels or short stories.

What is the most challenging area of writing for you?

Overall, the most challenging area is time!

As a father and business owner, the time I can devote to writing is somewhat limited, so I have to make that time count. I’ve learned through experience that writing is “ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration,” although ten percent might be too high, perhaps more like five-ninety five.

As for the writing process, editing as I go is a challenge, and one, I believe, magnified by computer software. For me, it’s important to brainstorm the story to completion before the sculpting and editing begins. I’ve found that writing the rough draft, or at least parts of the rough draft, with pen and paper keeps me in the present moment and allows the story to finish before the analysis begins.

As for the business of writing, my biggest challenge is marketing and building a platform. I want to write, not try to sell my writing, but the current environment is one of self-promotion. It’s the way of the world in the age of social media.

What are you currently writing?

I’m revisiting some short stories, tweaking them with an eye for developing a short story collection. I’m also working on a novel about a man who may or may not have schizophrenia.

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

If you feel the urge to write, do so without hesitation and without holding on to the ultimate results. Your stories are important! Even if you’re the only one who ever reads them.

If you love writing, you owe it to your deepest self to get it out. Do it for the love of writing, or because you can’t help yourself, or as a form of therapy. Tell your story! It’s the best way I know how to connect with myself, my longings and challenges, the way I interact with the world around me.

Everyone has a story to tell, and writers are the chroniclers of their time. If you want more than self-reflection and satisfaction, read books on the craft of writing, attend workshops, join a writing group, and when you get really serious, delve into the business of writing. It’s not my favorite part for certain, but if you want to publish successfully, an understanding of the writing market is crucial.

READ! Allow the books you enjoy, and the ones you don’t, to inspire and influence you. You can learn a lot about your own writing by reading the work of others.

And…don’t discount the time you spend in contemplation sitting in front of the screen for minutes, maybe hours, on end. Those moments are when the gears are grinding inside your mind, and hopefully, they lead to something satisfying.

How has being a writer changed your life?

Committing to writing and publishing has shifted my life to a more creatively-inspired one. Writing has always been my favorite and most successful form of communication, so intentionally focusing on it drives me to learn and develop more. My desire to live a writing-focused life inspired the development of a small business, so I could shift my attention from nine-to-five office existence to a more home-based life, which in turn, allows me to spend more time with my son.

Writing allows the time for reflection and contemplation, and helps me come to terms with myself, the world, and my journey. It allows me the opportunity to give a voice to those who might not otherwise be heard, and I don’t take that opportunity lightly. And hopefully, I can provide an entertaining, thought-provoking story to make a reader’s life a little bit better. Planting seeds and singing songs.

Thank you and happy writing (and reading!)!