Published on January 4, 2015
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.