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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

Know Your Local Writer: Ruby Mae O’Dell

Welcome to the sixth 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’ve always loved reading (especially Love Inspired Suspense novels) and a small part of me wanted to write the kind of stories I loved to read so much. I first toyed with the idea of writing back in 2014. I wrote a couple of pages of what would later become my debut novel, Hidden Treasures. My Papaw passed away shortly after and I set my seedling of a dream to the side, silently thinking, my work isn’t good enough anyway.

But then, in August of 2016, my dream of writing a novel came back full force. My seedling dream had spouted inside my heart and was continuing to grow. I pulled out my first attempts and read, reread, and reread again. I knew they were okay, but they weren’t great. If I was going to do this, then I needed to beef up my writing. My opening with my heroine pretty much stayed the same but my story line had completely changed. 

Anywho,(I know I’m strange, but “anywho” is in my vocabulary and from the mouth of Ramona Quimby, it’s a much funner word to say. Lol) I was still doubtful of my writing abilities and my parent’s twenty-fourth wedding anniversary was coming up. So I decided to write a short story about their wedding day as a gift to them and also to kinda test the waters to find out what my family thought about my writing. Everyone loved it and it inspired me to show them my novel in progress a few days later.

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

If it’s Christian and romantic, suspenseful, funny, heartwarming, thrilling, or all the above, I love to read it and every one of them has encouraged and helped me in my course to become a better writer. But the Book that has inspired me the most, I would have to say, the old King James Bible. There’s no other book more inspiring to me or that has better shaped me as the writer that I am today.

As for authors, the One I most admire is God, the author and finisher of my faith. For those who’ve participated in NaNoWriMo, y’all know we writers are commonly divided into one of three categories; a plotter, pantser, or a plantser. A plotter plots out a story before it’s written, a pantser writes as she goes, and a plantser does a little of both. If asked which category I fit in, I’d say “Neither. I’m a Spirit-Pantser.” Allow me to explain, I have no idea what I’m going to write, or even how the story is going to turn out until God reveals it to me. 

photo from Global Stewards

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

That is a tough question to answer.  It’s hard to pick a favorite. To date, I’d probably have to say passages from my debut novel, Hidden Treasures. But I also love this passage from the sequel, Seeking Refuge:

“What make’s you think that God wants you to help me?” The curiosity in her voice was loud and clear and she knew he’d heard it as well.

“Just a feeling. Sometimes it takes more faith to trust God’s will than others. But that’s why they call it faith. We trust Him even when we can’t see the outcome. Sometimes it feels like you’re walking with a blindfold on, with nothing to guide you but Him.”

She pondered that, though she couldn’t quite wrap her mind around it. How could he have faith about what God wanted from him, without anything to go on? “I don’t understand how you can follow God blindly. Don’t you ever doubt His decisions?”

“Of course I do. We all do at some point in our lives. But it all comes down to trust. He promises He will never leave us or fail us. But we have to make that choice to trust Him. He doesn’t force us to trust Him.”

“Trust. That’s the hard part,” she added with a small sigh.

A corner of his mouth hitched up in a crooked grin that did strange things to her heart. “It is. It’s a simple choice, but it’s definitely not an easy one to make.”

 

Why? Because they’re strong and encouraging messages of faith that have inspired me to walk closer to God and I pray it does the same for my readers.

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?”

I love to write Christian/Romance/Suspense! But I do enjoy a slower pace now and then and write a more heartwarming Christian romance, minus the thrills, dangers, and/or suspense. My “passion” is to write the stories God lays on my heart to write and encourage others to walk closer to the Lord through the written word.

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?

Majority of my writing abilities are simply a gift from God. There’s no other explanation to why I’m able to write the stories that I write. I have studied and researched a bit on the subject (mostly on editing), and I have to say I’ve benefited the most from reading other writer’s blogs and tips and taking part in writing challenges that Harlequin hosts on their blog, SoYouThinkYouCanWrite.com

I’ve also participated in two different writing contests and while I didn’t place, the feedback I received was beneficial to me. But honestly, it wasn’t nothing I couldn’t have learned myself by doing a little more research and keeping that money in my pocket.

The biggest learning experience about writing that stands out to me is simply to write what God gives me to write. When I try to write on my own to suit me it’s impossible and it never feels… right. I have to listen for God to whisper the story into my ear.

Another great learning experience is being willing to let go and let others read my work, and being willing and open to any and all comments, no matter how criticizing they may be. Another experience that stands out is simply learning to enjoy the adventures that God sends my way that I can somehow twist into stories.

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’ve wrote a few songs that my family and I sing and I have published one of my novels, with a contract offer on book two. My debut novel is titled, Hidden Treasures. It’s the first in a series of twelve books, each about a different Sawyer child. The series is titled, Faith In The Valley, they’re set in a small valley town in Eastern Tennessee.

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

Ha, ha, ha, I think I’ve already covered this question multiple times in the previous questions. But just in case, I feel my writing process is unique mainly because of my solely following God’s lead when it comes to writing and not planning out ahead of time. Another thing is, I work on multiple books at a time. I simply can’t stick to just one book. If I don’t have multiple projects then I hit writer’s block.  As for what doesn’t work for me, here’s a small list; plotting, stick to a single project, work in complete silence, and I can’t listen to any music with lyrics while writing.

Something else that makes me unique, I write Christian Romance and have never been on a date, kissed a boy, or even came close to having a romantic relationship before. I’m yet to find a single romance author who isn’t married or at least had a little case of puppy love once in their life. *shrugs. Is that unique enough? Lol.

What is the most challenging area of writing for you?

Definitely the editing. I’m currently taking a high school English course in Rod and Staff in hopes to make it easier (it seems to be working so far!). It isn’t as much the cutting or adding for me, as it is the grammar. I’m a simple country gal who tends to write the way I talk and that clearly ain’t acceptable in the book world (though, writing characters who are countrified like me, I can get away with writing that way in dialogue. *Grins).

What are you currently writing?

*whistles lowly. You really want that list? Lol, currently I’m working on six books in my Faith In The Valley series; Seeking Refuge, Protective Secrets, Unseen Dangers, Hidden In The Ashes, Mistaken For Murder, and Obscured Faith. Seeking Refuge is already under contract and just going through revisions. I’m also working on a book entitled, Rodeo Storm, that’s part of another large family series I’m writing, Echoes Of Danger. I’m also working on another two books that not series related, The Deputy’s Second Chance and To Protect The Witnesses. Out of all nine, all but one are Christian/Romantic/Suspense novel. The one exception is The Deputy’s Second Chance, a slower paced story that has it’s share of conflicts, comedy, and romance.

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

Write the story God lays on your heart to write. Enjoy the adventure writing brings. Read published books that fit into your genre, they’ll inspire you to better your own writing. Just write one sentence at a time until it’s finished. Setting small goals make the task less daunting and brings you to your ultimate goal of finishing a lot sooner than ya think. Don’t worry about editing until after you’ve finished. Get your story on paper first, you’ll have plenty of time to revise later.

Ask yourself, “Does Jesus delight in what I write?”

How has being a writer changed your life?
Wow, tough one. I have to say it’s brought me closer to the Lord as I have to listen for Him to speak to me in order to write. That, in return helps me to listen to Him more the rest of the time as well. As a result, I find I’m closer to my family as well.

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!

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