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June 9, 2012

Literary stars share sparkle at Clarksville Writers Conference

Wordsmiths flocked to the Queen City this week for the Clarksville Arts & Heritage Development Council’s 8th Annual Writers Conference. This yearly celebration of the written word and Southern Writing, for two days, takes over the west wing of the third floor of the Morgan University Center with writers, budding writers and authors, publishing industry professionals all mingling together and sharing their experience and stories.

The conference has grown into a special event where authors can get personal consulting with publishing professionals to help prepare their manuscripts for submission, have their work viewed or get guidance in finding an agent. All this for the cost of the conference admission and nothing more out of their pocket for meeting with the publishing professionals themselves. Not a bad deal in any light.

Workshops fill the conference agenda. All manner of writing is covered. Poetry, prose, fiction, non-fiction, all of these styles of expression receive exposure and examination by the authors and professionals who conduct the sessions that fill the conference schedule. Published authors offer opportunities for trying new ways of expressions, writing skills and gaining insight into adjusting writing habits and traits to be more effective and creative.

The selection of authors who populated this year’s conference is truly amazing. Clarksville is playing hoist to some renown writers. Alex S. Jones, Tracy Barrett, Marshall Chapman, Debbie Carter, Peggy DeKay, Keven McQueen, Sean Jeter Naslund, Alice Randall, A. Scott Pearson, Frederick Smock, Marianne Walker and Chuck Sambuchino made for a diverse collection of talent from which attendees could draw much insight and knowledge.

Traditional publishing avenues are explained and with the advent of the internet and social media, new attention is being focused on the evolving world of self-publishing. It’s so much more than the pitfall laden “vanity press” forest of years past. Major authors have discovered this new arena and made positive use of its freedoms to realize success and good fortune. Self publishing and the business of writing today are aptly explained in the sessions conducted by Peggy DeKay. Her chosen theme for her workshop tells it all: “Your book is not your baby — your book is your business!” lets you know that this is serious stuff and the attendee will be exposed to the real world of the business of publishing.

And just what types of topics are covered in at the writers conference, you may wonder.  More than might ordinarily come to mind. Sessions included a master class in poetry, your publishing options today, breaking into young adult and children’s literature, poetry readings, freelance writing, building a writing platform, uses and misuses of autobiography when writing fiction, a nonfiction workshop, publishing as a fiction writer, writing the biography, conceptual strategies for generating and/or shaping poems, self publishing for the novice, nonfiction workshop, print on demand, social media and non-traditional book promotion.

Conference attendant peruses book offerings

Authors and writers were given exposure to such a wide wealth of information on the world of writing. Tips to develop writing skills, sharpen development processes, selection market approach and the changing world of the business of writing come full center at the conference.

This year’s conference was intensively focused on the development of the writer’s understanding of the changing world that is the business of writing. Traditional and non-traditional publishing received great exposure with knowledgeable experts offering guidance into this realm of the writing world that often trips up the author.

A special feature of this year’s conference was the tribute to novelist William Gay. Gay was originally set to be the keynote speaker for this year’s conference. He died earlier this spring and the conference chose to honor his memory and previous participation with a special session Thursday afternoon. Gay was an iconic novelist and literary genius in our modern time. The tribute included readings of his poetry, a selection from his novels and remembrances from friends and fellow authors.

The Thursday luncheon featured a poetry reading by Frederick Smock. Smock is the Director of Creative Writing at Bellarmine University. He read  selections from his poetry collections which include ‘The Deer at Gethsemani” Eclogues and his forthcoming book, ‘The Bounteous World.’

The conference banquet was held at the Clarksville Country Club. Alex S. Jones was the keynote speaker at a splendidly presented buffet dinner. The opening reception allowed for meeting the authors and networking among the attendees. Books were available for purchase and authors graciously signed them for the asking. APSU President Tim Hall and other supporters of the conference mixed freely and shared time with friends and newcomers alike.

Alex S. Jones signs a copy of his book for banquet guest

Conference Chairman Patricia Winn welcome guests and introduced her vice-chairman Chris Burawa. Burawa  greeted the conference guests and introduced Richard Stevens who gave an eloquent introduction of the keynote speaker, Alex S. Jones.

Jones discussed, “Writing in a digital world” Golden Age or Ice Age?” Here, he addressed the current sate of affairs that is the modern world of writing. Unlike some who bemoan the advance of the digital world and social media, Jones sees these changes as liberating writers, empowering them to develop their talents and more so, bringing attention to their efforts and talents. These are ‘the best of times’ to Jones. People are eager for information and readily consume the written word with a voracious appetite. Writers are enjoying a eager public as not been seen in many a year past. The internet has changed the world of publishing, and for the better, for both the reading public and the publishing author.


[Photos by Turner McCullough Jr./JazzWaves Imaging Solutions]

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