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who wish to monetarily donate to the cause. For the more athletically minded, The Friends of the Jack Kerouac House also hosts an annual bike ride which is a tour of some of the St. Petersburg places that Kerouac visited like Haslam’s Bookstore and the
2014 marked the club’s 100th anniversary and it would most likely delight Lollie Belle Wylie to know that a century later, the club was still in existence and that a woman of letters was holding the office of president. Valerie Joan Connors wrote and self published her first novel Give Me Liberty in 2009. Completely lost as to how to proceed with marketing her book, she visited the Decatur Book Festival to see if she could garner some direction. “As I approached the AWC tent,” she recounts, “past President Marty Aftewicz, asked if I was a writer. I stood there with my best deer in the headlights expression, and my husband answered for me.” After learning about the organization under the hot summer sun, the tempest tossed author finally found a beacon to guide her that day. A few years later she would become the club’s president. “Becoming a member has really changed my life.” Connors says enthusiastically. “Since joining the club, I’ve made countless contacts in the local writing community. I have published two more books with traditional publishers, and I’m working on number four and number five. I’ve gained confidence in myself and in my work. I can’t say enough good things about the AWC. I love the organization and I understand why it’s been around for a hundred years.” Past president and author of four books, George Weinstein, harbors the same appreciation for the club. “I joined in 2001and have held every Board position including the presidency.” His devotion to the club was rewarded with the rare lifetime title of Officer Emeritus. Although he no longer holds any elective offices; Weinstein remains active in the association by managing The Atlanta Writers Conference. A twice yearly event; the conference brings literary agents, editors, and publishers to the city so that members of the Atlanta Writers Club can pitch their manuscripts, receive one-on-one critiques, and attend lectures by industry insiders. “No one understands the calling to write as well as we do,” Weinstein adds. “The conferences offer educational opportunities for new writers but more importantly, they provide experienced writers with the means to get published. A number of our members have received publishing contracts —including some six figure deals— and agent representation through the conferences.” New author Rosemarie Perry has personally seen and experienced the benefits of the club’s resources. She is working on the completion of her debut novel and throughout its development she has availed herself of the local critique groups sponsored by the society. Perry refers to participation in these sessions as “priceless” for helping to polish her storytelling skills. “Because the groups are a mix of seasoned published writers and unpublished writers,” she says. “There is always something to learn.” After hours of writing, receiving suggestions from her critique group peers, and countless rewrites; attending the Atlanta Writers Conference was a natural step forward for Perry. Her psychological thriller, Resurrection Fern , set in historic 1860 Baton Rouge, is currently being considered by a major New York publishing house. Many of the critique groups are hosted by authors who have lived through the triumphs and travails of writing professionally. Current AWC president Valerie Connors with three of her books featuring strong female characters and one instance some tigers.
Among this year’s slated faculty are Andre Dubus III ( The House of Sand and Fog, Townie ), Ann Hood ( Somewhere off the Coast of Maine, The Knitting Circle ), Laura Lippman ( The Girl in the Green Raincoat, After I’m Gone ), Lori Roy ( Bent Road, Until She Comes Home ), Les Standiford ( Havana Run, Bringing Adam Home ), John Searles ( Help for the Haunted, Boy Still Missing ), David Yoo ( Girls for Breakfast, Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before ) and Sterling Watson ( Weep No More My Brother, Fighting in the Shade ). Watson will also have copies of his latest work, Suitcase City available for purchase at the conference even though the official release date has not been finalized. The roster of faculty and lecturers reads like a Who’s Who of The New York Times Best Seller List but the next generation of writers can be found in the conference workshops. A large percentage of attendees come from the Southeastern United States but all fifty states have been represented over the years. Many international visitors are drawn to the conference as well. One author, Karina Berg Johansson traveled from Sweden for a number of years and developed her young adult novel Synvilla there. “I came because of Dennis Lehane, Steven King —and the Florida sunshine.” She recalls. “Then I came because of the conference itself, the teachers, the friends I’ve made...and the Florida sunshine. The manuscript that came to be my debut novel Synvilla (Delusion) was the third piece I work shopped at WIP.” Many of the events, lectures and book signings are free and open to the public; attracting a large local crowd from the Tampa Bay Area. But for the serious writer however, it is participation in the paid workshop offerings that can mean the difference between having an unpolished manuscript upon entering a class and having a work that is closer to publication when leaving it. There are workshops for Nonfiction, Novels, Short Stories, and Poetry. The classes are limited in size to only twelve authors and admissions are based on writing samples. The faculty first assesses the required number of pages submitted for each category and then makes a determination as to who will be invited into the elite program. What can a writer expect if they are accepted into the program? The answer is simple: Hard work, constructive criticism, and hopefully a validation for their idea and dedication to their craft. Each manuscript is reviewed by the workshop leader and then by every student in the class. Afterwards an hour long discussion citing the strengths and weaknesses of the work takes place. “As co-director with Dennis [Lehane], I always encourage faculty to consider all of the student manuscripts as textbooks for the workshop and,” as Sterling Watson explains, “use all student writing to help all students improve. Students come to us to learn not to seek praise.” “Writing is a lonely thing,” adds Karina Berg Johansson. “To me it was important to find trusted readers to measure my work against and whose work I could read and learn from through giving feedback. At WIP I found both teachers and valued friends whose opinion I treasure above all else.” Swedish author Karina Berg Johansson developed her young adult novel at the conference.
The In Print Review is a literary magazine which contains articles about authors, their books and the art and business of writing. Our publication wishes to introduce writers to their readers in order to provide the latter with a better understanding of, not only the book they are reading, but the author that created it.