With just over a month left before writers from across Texoma gather for the first-ever Herald Democrat Writers Conference at Austin College, the program of presenters is set and registrations are starting to pile up.
“We have been excited about the feedback we initially heard from some of the local libraries about young people wanting to attend the conference,” said Herald Democrat City Editor Jerrie Whiteley. She added that the Herald is also excited about the response from locals who have participated in the Telling Our Stories workshops presented by Dr. Jerry Lincecum of Austin College.
“The TOS group, and everyone who attends the conference, is in for a real treat. We have lined up a great roster of local writers who can help people navigate everything from the very beginning stages of a writing project all of the way through making decisions about how to go about getting something published,” said Whiteley.
That roster includes New York Times Bestselling author Deborah Crombie, an Austin College graduate, who lives in Dallas. Crombie will make time for the Herald Democrat conference as she promotes her newest book, “To Dwell in Darkness,” the 16th in her series of mysteries set in modern-day London England.
“We are very grateful to Ms. Crombie for fitting this conference into her busy schedule and know her fans are looking forward to being able to hear her speak. We have, in fact, had some people sign up for the conference just to hear her,” Whiteley said.
Though Crombie’s keynote is sure to be entertaining and enlightening to both novice and experienced writers, she is not the only accomplished writer set to impart knowledge to would be wordsmiths. The program includes a wide range of writers who are all excited to talk to those interested in the craft of writing.
Herald Democrat columnist Amy Shojai will discuss the process of reinvention that every writer must embrace in the world of modern publishing.
“Today authors must be masochists in order to endure both the real and imagined slings and arrows of writer-hissy-fit bullying,” Shojai said in the description of her presentation. She will show writers,“how to put on (their) big-boy (or girl)-panties, suck it up, and succeed — whether it’s (their) first book, first blog or article or 50th. Writers will get easy to use tips on how to ‘brand’ themselves; the benefits of collaboration; ways to build ‘tribes’ and why writers should; how to leverage nonfiction to transition to fiction; ways to create diverse revenue streams; and how to use multiple platforms (e-books, POD, blogs, podcasts, YouTube, audiobooks, Facebook and more) to build an audience and career. And, since this presentation is coming from a renown animal expert, attendees can expect to see all of those things mixed in with some really cute puppy and kitten pictures.”
Durant writer Marion Moore Hill will delve deeper into the process of creating characters to help fiction jump off the page and grab the readers’ attention.
“A likable protagonist, a detestable villain, a mischievous sidekick — any lively, intriguing character can help make the difference between a ho-hum book and one that readers not only can’t put down but will remember afterwards,” Hill said in the description for her presentation. Hill will help writers answer the plethora of questions one must tackle to write characters that keep readers the turning the pages book after book.
Texas writers Barbara Brannon and Kay Ellington have a wealth of writing experience to draw on for their presentation about taking a project from the spark of an idea all of the way through to publication. They will discuss the process they used to publish their recently released co-written book, “The Paragraph Ranch” to illustrate their points.
“An inspiring idea for your book is an essential starting point. But without a clear plan and the technical know-how for turning it into a sellable manuscript, it’s like standing on the site of your dream home without lumber or power tools,” the two said in their promotional material for the conference.
Local humorist, and Herald Democrat columnist Cindy Baker will help writers tackle the sometimes not so funny task of inserting humor into their writing.
“Hilarity comes when we poke fun at ourselves in our ordinary worlds,” Baker said. She plans to help local writers learn to use the PART method to poke fun at themselves, accentuate the ordinary, rally their thesaurus, and think of off-the wall parallels to keep readers laughing all of the way through their fiction.
Baker is not the only presenter who will work with conference attendees on using real life to boost their writing.
Retired Austin College Professor Jerry Lincecum will provide small group sessions on the art of “writing what you know” to complete works from memoirs to novels. As a professor of writing, Lincecum has been helping people to find their writing voice for more than 25 years and hundreds of local people have attended his “Telling Our Stories” workshops. Those who have taken Lincecum’s workshop in the past can ask about the availability of a discount on cost of the Herald Democrat Writer’s Conference at Austin College.
Lincecum, who is also a Herald Democrat columnist, said he is interested in using the conference as a means of starting a local writer’s group that could help people walk the path of becoming stronger writers whether they want to write better journal entries or novels.
The conference is timed just one short month from the beginning of National Novel Writing Month and that is not just a happy coincidence.
“I think it would be great if the conference gives people the courage to take the leap and start a writing project during November,” said Whiteley. “I know there are a number of NANO related writing events like write-ins and kick off parties in the Dallas area, but there really hasn’t been anything like that in this area.”
She said it would be nice to see local writers form a community to foster each other’s creative endeavors the way local musicians, painters, and actors have done.
“This is just the first small step toward that and it is one that the Herald Democrat has been pleased to partner with Austin College to present,” Whiteley said.
To help people who might have been too busy getting their children or grandchildren back into school to worry about things like signing up for conferences, the Herald Democrat is extending the $100 early bird sign up period for the first week of September. After that the cost increase to $125.
Attendees will get a copy of Crombie’s newest book and lunch is included in the cost of the conference as well. To register online visit, http://bit.ly/HDWritersCon.