Category Archives: Crossroads 500


VIDEO: Chris Baty at Crossroads 2012

“Everyone — and I mean, EVERYONE — has so much more inside of them than they realize.”

National Novel Writing Month started almost in jest between friends. Its founder, Chris Baty, never expected hundreds of thousands of people to one day attempt it. He never thought so many of them would finish a 50,000 word novel over a November of writing insanity. And of those, that any would be published by a major press, let alone more than 100. Or that, in the case for “Like Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, be made into a major motion picture.

But you don’t watch a cultural phenomenon like this unfold without learning a few things along the way. On October 6, 2012, Chris Baty shared with us Crossroaders the highlights of his hard-won lessons.

We won’t spoil the surprise. Just press play for a shot of inspiration, courtesy of Chris Baty.

(Photo by Maryann Bates)

Crossroads 500: Let’s Go Bookshoppin’

The Crossroads 500 is our ever-growing list of the coolest, most interesting, creative and inspiring people, places and things in the big ol’ world of storytelling.  You can nominate someone or something by clicking here.


So maybe we shouldn’t have started this right before the July 4th holiday because we kinda got to partying and one thing led to another, and well… we got behind. But we’re back and we’ll get caught up. No worries, right?

Let’s start by turning our attention to those awesome, indie places that sell the books we love to read, those local shops that give local writers a chance to have their first reading and still bring in established pros. This time, we focused on those east of the mighty Mississippi and south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Others will come.

Note: Macon’s Golden Bough Books was featured in the first installment of the Crossroads 500. It’s a must-visit bookstore.


In no particular order, here are 14 great bookshops. Find them online and follow them on Twitter, but experience them in person:

A Capella Books, in Atlanta’s Little Five Points, has hosted a host of amazing writers and partnered with the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library – Atlanta - - @acappellabooks

The Book Tavern in the birthplace of James Brown shows its soul (and some funk) there in beautiful downtown Augusta, Ga., befriending local authors and being a small business booster – - @booktavern

Little Shop of Stories in the heart of Decatur, Ga., where thousands and thousands gather every year for the Decatur Book Festival – - @lilshopostories

You’ll find another of Georgia’s great bookstores, Avid Bookshop, in Athens, where indie music and college football usually steal the stage –

If you’re on a tour of the literary South, you’ll have to stop in Oxford, Miss., which was home to William Faulkner, Larry Brown, Barry Hannah and John Grisham, a legacy fortified by the three buildings of Square Books - - @SquareBooks

Speaking of Oxford’s former postmaster, N’awlins pays homage to the writer’s time in the Cresent City at Faulkner’s House of Books

One of the best and biggest bookshopping experiences you’ll have in the Wordy South will be found at one of the three McKay Books in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville. - - @McKayBooksKnox

Music City, USA could be Indie Bookstore, USA because Nashville is also home to both Bookman/Bookwoman in historic Hillsboro Village ( and Parnassus Books, run by the one and only Ann Patchett, author of “Bel Canto” and “State of Wonder” (

Crossroads alums Kevin Maurer and Mitch Weiss recently had a reading at Books & Books in Coral Gables, Fla., so you know they have great taste in writers! –

Church Street Coffee & Books in a suburb of Birmingham, Ala., took up a home in a place where Starbucks lived for ten years, and they seem to be pretty successful there too!  - - @81churchstreet

Charleston, South Carolina is beautiful enough and historic enough to warrant visits there on those grounds alone, but if you find yourself looking for the best in Young Adult writing, don’t miss its YA’LL Fest and Blue Bicycle Books – - @BlueBikeBooks

After you go see the massive Biltmore Estate, swing by Malaprop’s Bookstore in downtown Asheville, a magnet for great writers, big time and small –

No, filmmaker John Waters does not own Atomic Books, but this great indie bookstore in downtown Baltimore will take your fan mail for the quirky auteur. - @atomicbooks

So… you’re wondering why Strand, Powell’s or City Lights make the list? Because you don’t need us to tell you they’re awesome. Technically, you don’t need us to tell you anything. But, we like being helpful so we hope you got something out of this.

If you think we missed a great bookstore, nominate them here.


Crossroads 500: Starting in Central Georgia

Starting today, we’re launching the Crossroads 500, a list of the coolest writing people, places and things. Three times a week — usually Monday, Wednesday and Friday — every week from here until the end of the year, we’re going to share six new entries into the Crossroads 500.

The best part is that you can help us make it happen. Share your favorites by clicking here: Tell us who and what should be in the Crossroads 500.

It’s another way to help you get that story out of you and into the heads of the people who deserve it. But it’s also our way of shining the light on the folks who might otherwise be ignored.

And to kick things off, we’re starting our list in central Georgia, home of the Crossroads Writers Conference.

In no particular order, here we go…

Mercer University Press isn’t your traditional university press. Instead they specialize in Southern literature and books about Southern culture. That’s just one reason we like them so much. In addition to being good folks, they’ve been good partners with the conference, launching both their Macon poetry collection “Writing on Napkins in the Sunshine Club” and their writing awards for fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry. Follow them on Twitter and meet ‘em in person at Crossroads this October.

This year’s conference, our fifth, will be at Mercer University, a short walk to Jittery Joe’s in Mercer Village. This eclectic coffee shop was born and raised in Athens, Georgia, but migrated to Macon, lured by “the song and soul of the South.” Now, if you’re looking for a good local caffeine supplier–whether in Macon or Athens–this is the place to “get your story on.”

But what shall ye read over coffee? Ask Eric at the Golden Bough Bookstore in downtown Macon. Not only do they carry all the awesome stuff that the big box stores neglect, but many are “gently used” and he takes trade. Better still, his doors are almost always open to the creative community, whether it’s a noise punk band or someone’s first reading as a published author.

While you’re in Macon, don’t forget to stop by the Sidney Lanier Cottage for a visit. If you’re lucky, there’ll be a reading when you do. This former childhood home of poet, lawyer, soldier and musician Sidney Lanier has become a hub for central Georgia’s writing community. It also serves as the home of Historic Macon, a nonprofit that works hard to preserve the city’s historic houses and buildings.

If you liked that, gas up and head to Andalusia, about 30 minutes away in Milledgeville. This is the family farm where Flannery O’Connor lived, wrote and played with her pet peacocks. Many of her eccentric and thoroughly Southern characters were inspired by real folks in the area. Stop by a gas station there for a biscuit and listen in to the conversations being had.

That might just inspire you to pick up the pen and craft a little fiction yourself. If that’s the case, park your seat at Blackbird Coffee in downtown Milledgeville, grab some java and see what happens. Who knows, you start brainstorming with a student from our last Crossroads 500 entry in this installment, the creative writing program at Georgia College & State University, which publishes both the Flannery O’Connor Review and Arts & Letters. Faculty members Alice Friman and Allen Gee have both shared their knowledge at Crossroads before.

Crossroads 500:

Andalusia Farm

GCSU’s MFA in Creative Writing

Golden Bough Bookstore

Jittery Joe’s Coffee

Mercer University Press

Sidney Lanier Cottage