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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

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: Katiedid Langrock

Welcome to the fifth 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?

I have one of those amazing stories of superb teacher intervention. I was eleven years old, combating a rough spell of pre-adolescence and lost my drive to succeed. I wouldn’t do my homework or take any tests. Rather, on the back of the forms I routinely refused to fill in, I would write stories about a rebellious young girl who could do no right.

I should have failed that year. I was practically begging to fail. But rather than seeing a flunkee, Mr. Patrick saw a kid in need of a little special attention. He called me after class one day to make me an offer. If I could muster the ambition to ask him for an alternative to the homework or tests, he would give me a unique story-based assignment. However, if I ever asked and then failed to hand in the work, the deal was off.

From that day on, I never answered math equations, but rather, wrote word problems that proved I understood the lesson. I never took another scantron exam about ancient Egypt, but rather wrote stories from the point of view of King Tut. Mr. Patrick saw potential and put the pen in my hand. He could have failed me that year. Many other teachers would have. Instead, he gave me my career and a creative outlet has never let me down.

 

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

No book shaped me more as a writer than Catcher in the Rye. That book inspired my foray into screenwriting. I had never read anything written in that way; in the first person with such a command of voice and such a unique world-view. As a fifteen-year- old, Holden Caulfield was my heartthrob of choice.

I was so smitten by CITR, that – in my free time – I wrote monologues from the perspective of the other characters in the story who didn’t get a fair chance to speak. The monologue I wrote from the perspective of the prostitute won an award the following year when, at sixteen, I attended summer-college at Syracuse University. It was there that a professor told me for the first time that I could write professionally. If only I were brave enough to try.

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

Oh man, I have no idea. When I am writing for myself, I always like to push myself to try something new. I will tackle a new genre or story-telling style. Anything to force myself to learn and adapt and mold language in new and exciting ways. A few of these attempts have ended in miserable failures, but each of these experimental babies are loved equally. I can’t pick a favorite because, since they were each equally out of my comfort zone, they each equally taught me something profound.

The accomplishment comes not from believing I have a new style or genre nailed down, but rather, in knowing that I don’t have to be afraid of it. In learning that now I have yet another arena in which I can play. And isn’t that the best part of being a writer, getting to play?

All this being said, getting to go to the Emmys when Project Mc2, a show I helped develop and write, was nominated for Best Children’s Program, was a pretty spectacular experience.

— Walt Whitman

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?”

As stated in the previous question, I love to play and try new things. However, I will say I have two passions and though folks find them quite dissimilar, I couldn’t disagree more.

I love to write for kids, particularly around the preteen age, and to give them stories full of complicated emotions. It is so important that we tell kids, “I see you” and offer them stories in which they see themselves and their feelings are validated. Superheroes and dystopia are fun and have a place, but to take a story that walks along the school halls with them and shows the complicated inner-workings of young friendships is key to a kid’s self-esteem and understanding of their placement in the world.

My other passion is female raunch-comedy, such as Bridesmaids or The Heat. And though it seems like an odd departure, I love it for a similar reason. Women, for too long, have been silenced. Our humor is silenced. Our sexuality is silenced. Our emotional wants and needs are silenced. We are currently in another wave of the feminist movement and I love being a part of it. I have spent my entire life (not just career) being asked whether I think women can be as funny as men. Duh! Now, finally, this is changing. Of course we are just as funny.

The true question was never whether women are funny, but whether men are willing to laugh. And the answer we see now, is yes!! Male allies are supporting funny women. And through these stories, women can talk about things we were never allowed to talk about and show off talents that, before, many felt uncomfortable with us showing off.

Just like with writing for kids, this is a genre that helps women see themselves reflected in media in a way they haven’t been allowed to see before. For as silly as it can be, it is also important because it validates and helps women find their footing and their voice. I love them both.

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 majored in Creative Writing at Miami University. Two teachers stand out above the rest: Steve Bauer and Dave Kajganich, both excellent writers. They were hard on me. They were clear on what makes a story and what is just fluff. They didn’t give a whistle if you used pretty words. They cared about conflict, about stakes and about emotional connection. They geeked out to authors who did it differently; they encouraged me to try new things. They didn’t get annoyed or dismiss your talents if you failed, but kicked you in the butt to try again. I’m so lucky to have had them as my mentors.

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.

I am a TV writer and I have a syndicated humor column that appears in newspapers every week around the country. My television work is primarily for kid/teen shows: Lalaloopsy, Project Mc2, etc. Before moving to Athens from LA, I also worked on the network-side of things as a story development executive. I’ve been fortunate enough to keep getting work writing for television since I moved here 10 months ago. I’m currently writing for three TV programs (including a live-action show coming out of Atlanta), but due to the NDAs [nondisclosure agreements — Ed.] I can’t disclose more. Other fun scripted work comes in the form of writing scripts for games and apps. A Disney game I wrote should be coming out soon. I’m also a columnist for Script magazine. Last year, my book was published, titled, Stop Farting in the Pyramids.

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

My number one must-do is finding my emotional connection to the story. Emotional connection is everything. When people ask me what is the one thing publishers and producers are looking for, my answer is always this: all they want, is to feel something. And here’s the trick, when you feel while writing it, your readers will feel it to.

So the challenge now becomes, how, during the writing process, do you, the writer, get out of your head and into your heart? Whenever I coach writers through my company, Write in the Wild, one of the first things I have them do is take a walk in the woods with me. There is a lot of science behind this that I won’t get into here, but suffice it to say, nature provides a quick access road to emotionally connecting with your story and characters in a way that can’t help but show up on the page.

It’s probably the most unique thing about the way I work and has never failed me. It took a girl with no film school experience, only $86 to her name and no Hollywood connections in one of the most competitive industries in the world, and provided the career of a lifetime. I love what I do, and getting my readers, specifically the publishers and producers, to feel is what earned me my career.

What is the most challenging area of writing for you?

Dialogue is my forte, so I often get so wrapped up in what my characters are saying, that I forget (or neglect) to account for what they are doing. This is particularly bad when it comes to the cartoons I write, because cartoons are visual and rely far more on action than words spoken.

What are you currently writing?

As I mentioned earlier, I’m currently on 3 shows and ghostwriting a really awesome book about service dogs. I also have my weekly humor column. But, man, I really can’t wait until things slow down a bit and I can write some stuff for me again. I have 3 books I want to write and a deliciously cheesy Christmas movie that would be perfect for Hallmark channel. It’ll pour some sap right into your eggnog.

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

Good question! Take the time to read about and learn structure and character archetypes. It’s important to have this in your arsenal. But do not, under any circumstance, feel beholden to them. Humans have been telling stories since the dawn of our existence. It’s a species gift and a special gift. You have storytelling in you. So study it, then put it on the backburner and really consider what it is that you want to say.

What is the message you are trying to send out into the world? People always like to say, “It’s true that every story has been written, but no one has written like you would.” But this statement is only sorta true. You can only add something new to say if YOU actually show up. If the unique YOUR shines through. So, get in there. Get dirty. Find your emotional connection to the story, to the characters. Let them surprise you, inspire you. Let them make you cry. Let them make you laugh. Let yourself feel all of this.

Because you can’t write anything worthwhile if you are simply following someone else’s mile-markers. Set off on this new trail and see it as an adventure. Don’t force the course, or your story, in any particular direction. Once you are tuned in to your craft and into your characters, you can let them lead you. Writing is hard, but it is oh-so fun.

And lastly, be brave and be kind to yourself. If you want to be a writer it takes guts to put stuff out into the world and then you have to be prepared to accept that rejection will come. It does for all of us. Bravery is a must to get started. Being kind to yourself is a must for having a long career.

How has being a writer changed your life?

I don’t even know how to answer this; it’s given me my entire adult life, my entire career. I get paid to jump into the mind of a teenager saving the world, and then into the mind of a bumblebee out to become a princess. How cool is that!? And, I believe, if you are doing it right, writing anything can be a healing experience. When you breathe emotional truth into your characters, the actions and decisions they make, give you pause. The connectedness creates a mirror from which you can see how you personally respond similarly or dissimilarly. You are able to play with choices and thus get to know yourself better. By empathizing with characters, you can better empathize with, and forgive, yourself.

Writing is such an amazing tool that utilizes your complete mind, body and spirit. Your imagination leaking down into your fingertips, your brain and heart communicate in open dialogue. It’s a wondrous thing.

Cheers to everyone who has chosen this path, it is a winding, twisting road, but the views are amazing and the adventure is oh-so worth it.

A NOTE FROM Katherine Cerulean: I’m very excited to have such an experienced TV writer teaching here in Athens and I’ve signed up to take Katiedid’s special 8-week screenwriting / TV writing class which will begin mid-September! She’s offering it at a one-time only introductory price and it will go over the basics and then get into the tips, tricks, and nitty-gritty that made her – someone with no connections who didn’t go to film school – a successful working  professional writer – even from here in Athens. Come be my classmate and we’ll learn together!

She also has a writers retreat that she will hosting along with Silver Compass Tours – known for their fine wine and food tours – in Italy in spring 2018 (!).

Find out more at WriteInTheWild.com

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.

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!)!

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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