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Ready Set Novel

Our future is in your hands, Dude

Crossroads is at a crossroads.

We need your help again, starting with your honest feedback.

Just as we were set to announce the dates and location for the 2014 writers conference, we received unexpected news. It wasn’t BAD news in a cosmic sense but our original plan was kaput.

In a nutshell, the problem is that we can’t have all three of these at the same time: the date, the venue and nearby lodging.

We have targeted one of either the last two weekends of September or the first two of October. We narrowed it down to two venues that have facilitated our raucous crowd before. We made it a priority to select a hotel as close to the venue as possible–preferably one with both venue and lodging under the same roof.

No combination of those things will work out for 2014.

But that doesn’t mean we’re disappearing in 2014. (I repeat: We aren’t disappearing.) However, we have to change something.

I’m asking you to help us figure out our next steps.

Somewhere along the way, we started focusing entirely too much on ourselves, on improving. What do you like about the conference and the speakers and the topics and the food?

That’s all still important but there is one question whose answer is at the heart of everything we do: What goals can we help you reach?

Until we know, we can’t make a good decision about what we do next. That’s why your help is so crucial.

Crossroads was started in the belief we could make the world a better place by helping all kinds of storytellers grow.

Living up to our goal means first knowing what yours are.

To tell us, please take this brief survey.

It’s shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes to complete.

If you think we can really help you and you want us to do that well, please take the time to tell us more about you.

As always, if you have other ideas, suggestions, comments and concerns to share, remember I love getting your emails.

Yours,

Chris Horne

Chris (at) CrossroadsWriters (dot) org

Ep. 4 – The Agent-Writer Relationship w/ Carrie Howland & Cat Scully

Play Episode 4 of the Wordy South Social Hour below or click here to download it.

It’s no secret that Donadio & Olson agent Carrie Howland is one of our favorites at Crossroads. (We are secretly plotting to keep her.)

Likewise,  we quickly became fans of writer/novelist/illustrator Cat Scully, who we first met in 2012 as a Crossroads scholarship recipient. Her story is pretty amazing.

cat carrie

Dynamic duo: Cat Scully and Carrie Howland

In this episode of the Wordy South Social Hour, they talk about the relationship between a writer and an agent, how theirs came to be and what work lays ahead.

bernice and chuck

Wordy South, Ep. 3: Bernice McFadden & Chuck Wendig

(NOTE: This is the corrected version of the podcast. The first post was missing a few words. Sorry!)

What “lunatic” thing did acclaimed novelist Bernice McFadden do until 2005? And why did she stop?

Find out in this interview with the two-time Hurston/Wright Award nominee and author of New York Times editor’s choice book “Gathering of Waters.” She has a ton of great insight to share with writers trying to complete their novel.

The next time you think about saying you could care less, be aware pen monkey Chuck Wendig may tap you on the shoulder, eyeball you up and down, and then shake his head, “No, you could care less. And you should.”

We play his speech from the 2012 Crossroads so you know why.

Shout-outs to a couple of talented writers in the Crossroads family.

YA novelist Lauren Morrill, who made Crossroads 2013 awesome and then released her second book–”Being Sloan Jacobs”–on January 7. You can get your copy here.

You can see what Lauren looked like in high school here:

Delilah S. Dawson, writer of paranormal romance and whatnot, just unleashed “Damsel and the Daggerman,” a new Blud series novella. And, on January 28, you can get your hands on “Wicked After Midnight,” which may or may not be about lonely mogwai who eat dinner too late and have to deal with their emotions as they’re transformed into gremlins.

Also, Susannah Breslin is awesome.

Find these folks on Twitter:

Bernice McFaddenChuck WendigLauren MorrillDelilah S. DawsonSusannah Breslin, Crossroads and Chris Horne

Web interviews and blogs:

Bernice McFadden – interview How to survive 74 rejections (BONUS: M.W. Gerard’s review of “Glorious”)

 Chuck Wendig - interview The Mutter Draft

Lauren Morrill – guest blog “Do you still love it?”

Delilah S. Dawson – reviewed “Creepy Carnivals & Steampunk”

WordySouth old

Episode 2: Wordy South Social Hour w/ Max Adams, Chris Baty & Tina McElroy Ansa

Wait. There are a lot of folks on this one.

You are correct. We’re still test-driving this podcast thing so in this episode, we give you more. Enjoy!

So what will you find on the other side of that play button?

After a patented Chris Horne ramble, we hear from  Macon-born novelist and filmmaker Tina McElroy Ansa on what she learned from the late John Oliver Killens, the Macon-born co-founder of the Harlem Writers Guild and author of “Youngblood,” in whose honor we named our conference Crossroads.

Because we’re nearing the beginning of the New Year and we’re all excited about writing more and writing better–but can always use more motivation–we play a clip from NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty’s keynote at the 2012 Crossroads Writers Conference. 

Then we get to a real jewel: An interview with award-winning screenwriter Max Adams who joins Phillip Ramati for a conversation about telling stories with moving pictures.

As promised, here are a bunch of links to more good stuff:

Tina McElroy Ansa on the web, on Twitter and at The Moth.

John Oliver Killens in the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.

Chris Baty on the web, on Twitterin his poster shop and at NaNoWriMo.

Max Adams on the web, on Twitter, on Amazon where you can buy her book,  and in classes at the Academy of Film Writing.

And Susannah Breslin online, on Twitter and at Forbes.

PHOTO: Delilah S. Dawson, two tiny pumpkins and loads of candy.

(drumroll) Wordy South Social Hour, ep. 1

Technically, it’s still December 19, as I post this.

That’d been the plan: Post the first episode on Thursday, December 19.

But I quickly learned that I don’t know much at all about sound. So, my self-education (thank you, Internet) slowed my progress.

As did things like getting a broken tooth pulled.

Regardless, here’s our first installment. I’m proud of it and no matter how much better these episodes get–and they will get better–I’m always going to love this one.

Here, we kick-off the Wordy South Social Hour podcast the same way we kicked-off the 2013 Crossroads Writers Conference: With a talk by Delilah S. Dawson. (And her shout-out to the awesome Susannah Breslin.)

If you get nothing else out of it–besides how weird she is–remember these four things, which she says are key to being a published writer:

1) Work really hard for a long time.

2) Develop thick skin.

3) Never stop learning.

4) Write every day, even when it drives you crazy.

In a couple weeks or so, we’ll release the episode featuring an interview with Delilah.

For now, enjoy the podcast and let us know what you think. We’ll be posting more from past conferences (I just found a stash from 2011) and including interviews with our favorite folks.

Remember, you can find Delilah online at www.DelilahSDawson.com and follow her on Twitter at @delilahsdawson

Yay!

 

WordySouth old

3 exciting reasons not to feel lonely in 2014

I’ll be honest. I miss you all.

Just a couple months ago, we had our fifth–and I think, best–Crossroads Writers Conference and it was chock full of awesome, but now I’m lonely again. It happens every year. I just never get used to it.

This time, I decided to do something about it. That’s why I’m happy to tell you about three things we’re doing between now and the next conference that gives me a great excuse to talk/text/email/pester you.  (Yes, you!)

#1) the Wordy South podcast

Do you like things that are free? I do too! That’s the deal with podcasts. Download ‘em for free then go workout, take a walk, stream it in your car on long rides. You may think they’re soooo 2005 but I love ‘em.

That’s why we’re launching our own on Thursday, December 19, 2013. Every week, there’ll be a new installment featuring some of our favorite guests from past conferences, members of the Crossroads family and writers new to the whole Wordy South thing.

You’ll find each episode online, via iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud and whatever else we can get set up.

Our first guests include Bernice McFadden, Adam Mansbach, Carrie Howland, Delilah S. Dawson and Cat Scully. We’ve got a couple of surprise guests and dozens of cool folks from the five previous conferences so this is going to be fun.

 

#2) Webinars, tweet-ups and Hangouts, oh my!

Early in 2014, we’re re-launching this website.

The idea is to keep regular blogs with tips, advice, insight, prompts and whatever else we can think of to help keep you motivated.

But we’re also working on ways to keep us connected to each other in the year that passes between one conference and the next. That’s why we’ll start having regular meet-ups on Twitter (er, tweet-ups) and Google Hangouts.

And we’re working on plans to introduce webinars so you can workshop with your favorite Crossroads writers.

 

#3) the 1st ever Crossroads Writers Retreat

What the what?

Oh yeah. Think: a cross between the conference and that ray gun from “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” A mini-Crossroads that may or may not be in Macon.

Honey...

And there may or may not be more than one. Perhaps that’s something we can talk about in our tweet-ups and Hangouts, eh?

See, the big idea is that we want Crossroads to be directed and designed by you even more than it already is. Surveys aren’t enough anymore. We want you active and engaged in making sure we can help you write more and write better.

(That goes double for the next conference.)

So stay tuned. Make sure you’re on the email list, that you’ve added us on Facebook and are following us on Twitter. Share your ideas below or shoot me an email at chris (at) crossroadswriters (dot) com

Later!

Chris H.

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Gear up! “Writing is a lifestyle” shirts by Modern Giant

Jason at Modern Giant has FINALLY made his award-winning “Writing is a lifestyle” design available as a T-shirt. And we think you’d look great in one. Seriously. Buy one and flaunt it to all your jealous friends. But as they say, flaunt it if ya got it… so if you ain’t got it, you can’t flaunt it. That’s infallible logic, yo. Click here: http://moderngiant.bigcartel.com/product/writing-is-a-lifestyle-tee

Writing_is_a_lifestyle

delilah learning em

This is why we love you.

(Or, “What we’re talking about when we blog about love.”)

It’s been a whirlwind week (and some change) since we closed out the fifth (cheers!) Crossroads Writers Conference. In the painful wake of saying “See ya later” to a bunch of friends, new and old, we came together for one last meeting about 2013 with an eye towards year six. The good news, of course, is that we’re all back in for another conference. We’re hitting up potential venues and hotels, checking in with some of our favorite writers and checking out some fresh faces to add to the mix. In the near-ish future, we should be able to announce a date for the 2014 Crossroads Writers Conference.

In the meantime, we’re turning to you to help us make this conference better. While we love all the positive comments, don’t be afraid to tell us what went wrong, how and what we can do to fix it. That’s how we grow. Consider each conference a draft of our latest work. We need the feedback. [And you can offer that in this anonymous survey here -- bit.ly/1aOzQnk -- or by shooting me an email: chris (at) crossroadswriters (dot) org.]

As much fun as we all have at the conference, we recognize that there’s more we can do to help our Crossroads family write more and write better. We’re talking about doing some “Tweet Meets” and webinars and such. But tell us, how can we help keep you motivated? What insight can we wring from our writer friends so you can get past some tough roadblocks? Where can our lil’ community stay alive–and in what ways–while we’re waiting for the next conference?

Make your suggestions in the comments section below, via email, on Twitter or Facebook, by carrier pigeon, on the Wendig beard lice express, or with scrolls tied around arrows shot from atop galloping horses.

PS – Here are some blogs about Crossroads from some of our friends who were kind enough to join us. If you have one of your own to share, please let me know.

Later!

Chris

Blogs about Crossroads:

Tanya Kirkpatrick – “Today I Will Be Brave” – (Follow her on Twitter: @tanyawritesfic)

Jeremy Foshee – “Crossroads, Round Two” – (Follow him on Twitter: @jeremyfoshee)

Delilah S. Dawson – 30 Tips for Surviving Your First (or Any) Writing Conference” – (Follow her on Twitter: @DelilahSDawson) [Bonus Delilah post: "This Weekend"]

Shane Wilson – “But Am I A Writer?” – (Follow him on Twitter: @NomadShane)

Meaghan Walsh Gerard – “Dispatches from Crossroads 2013” – (Follow her on Twitter: @cineastesview)

Allowing for Failures and Successes: Interviewing Anthony Grooms

 A conversation with writer Anthony Grooms by Kathy Holzapfel

Anthony Grooms is an award winning writer, teacher, and poet. The former Macon State College professor is the author of “Ice Poems,” the short story collection “Trouble No More” and the novel “Bombingham.” A two-time Lillian Smith Prize winner and co-founder of the Georgia Writers’ Association, Tony is a Fulbright Fellow and Professor of Creative Writing at Kennesaw State University. His books have been twice selected to the All Georgia Reads list.

 

Author Anthony Grooms (Photo credit: J. D. Scott Photography)

Author Anthony Grooms (Photo credit: J. D. Scott Photography)

ABOUT ANTHONY…AS PROFESSOR:

 

KH: You teach creative writing and you’re a multi-publisher author. Which one is more challenging – and why?

AG: Each has its own set of challenges, but perhaps teaching is the more challenging since it requires trying to enter the realm of the student’s imagination as a way to help him or her improve. It is also very time consuming and impinges heavily on my writing discipline. But I enjoy teaching. It is a part of how I define myself as a writer.

 

KH: A writer’s creative process is deeply personal. But the audience – readers – have expectations. How do you teach aspiring writers established literary conventions that don’t inhibit originality?

AG: I emphasize that tradition is a part of creation. In order to respond to, or even rebel against, tradition, the writer must first understand it. After that, I allow students to discover on their own—always guiding them—but allowing for failures and successes, many of which lead them to a deeper understanding of how to use or not to use tradition.

 

KH: How do you shut off the “professor” part of your psyche for your personal writing endeavors? I imagine you with one voice chirping in your left ear, and a totally different voice in your right ear.

AG: The problem for me is often how do I turn on the professor! In fact, I’ve been writing and teaching for such a long time that the two roles seem fairly integrated—at least in terms of my personality. In the classroom, I want to be seen as a writer who teaches—I profess—or at least hope I do—many of the ideas and energies that I want to apply when I am at my desk.

 

 All of my writing groups turn into drinking groups—so I really like writing groups.

 

ABOUT ANTHONY…AS AUTHOR:

KH: Describe your creative process for book length projects. Do you complete an outline before drafting prose? Where does research fit it?

AG: I never do outlines. Rather, I focus on characters and conflicts and try to work out what happens when the characters I imagine meet certain challenges. My drafts are generally messy and my progress is often slow—but it is an exploration. I bush whack my way toward a destination. It can get frustrating, but I feel it is a more engaged and honest process for me than an outlining. Research is an ongoing aspect of my process. Thank God for Google and Wiki—no don’t thank God for them; they are distracting! In essence everything can provide detail for a novel, so I am constantly reading, listening, observing for helpful details.

 

KG: What’s your revision process? Do you make multiple passes through a manuscript?

AG: Yes. And when I think it’s perfect—I consult the services of a real editor.

 

KG: Does anyone read your work in progress? Are you in any writing or critique groups? What are your thoughts – pro or con – on critique groups?

AG: All of my writing groups turn into drinking groups—so I really like writing groups. In fact, I have a few carefully selected early readers and I usually find them helpful. Critique groups can be inspiring—or they can be destructive. It depends on the make-up of the group and its agenda. Outside of the classroom, I advise students to form carefully selected—and small—groups. As writers mature in their craft, the groups may become less useful as critique groups, and more useful as networking groups.

 

KG: You also write poetry and short stories. When inspiration hits, do you know right away whether the piece will be long or short, or does it change up some times?

AG: Oddly enough, I do have a sense of genre when I get an idea. Largely it depends on the scope of the idea—a succinctly made observation or a question about social interactions. Once, however, a poem expanded into a novel manuscript of several hundred pages. Both the poem and the manuscript are in the attic.

 

KH: What new writing projects are keeping you awake at night?

AG: It is not writing that keeps me awake at night. I tend to write in the late morning or early afternoon. I am working on a couple of different things—I never seem short on ideas—just on time to write them. I am well into a novel draft about a black American Vietnam deserter in Sweden. I am sketching out science fiction short shorts and thinking about a SF novel; I have two manuscripts circulating. Now, that does keep me awake at night! Fussing about publishers!—but, finally, all I can do is to write. Because that’s what I do.