lo co crop

Walk Down to… Authors’ Avenue

Apply for Authors’ Avenue

You’ve toiled through first (and second and third … and 10th) drafts, made those tough edits and worked out all the bugs. Whether published by a big-time (or small-time) press or by dint of your own sweat, blood and hard-earned money, your biggest challenge may still lay ahead of you: Getting your book in a reader’s hands. Well, maybe Crossroads can help. That’s the idea behind Authors’ Avenue.

On Friday, October 4, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in downtown Macon, we’re joining forces with the city’s popular First Friday event and lining lower Cotton Avenue (Lo Co, if you will) with bookwrights such as yourself. We’re headlining the event with readings by Kevin Coval (co-founder of Louder Than a Bomb and author of “Schtick” and “L-Vis Lives!”), novelist Bernice McFadden (“Gathering of Waters” and “Sugar”), and YA author Kat Zhang (“What’s Left of Me” and “Once We Were”), among others. Macon native Shawn Durham, author of “Broke Brothers Revolution,” is emceeing performances by Trendlenburg, Poetic Peace and Storytellers.

There’s no cost to attend, but if you’re one of the applicants chosen, there will be a fee of $35 to help defray the costs of the event. For a shot at getting a space at Authors’ Avenue, you have to apply, which you can do by clicking here. We’ll make our final decisions by September 23, 2013 and notify our selections that day.

If you have any questions, post it below or shoot me an email at Chris@CrossroadsWriters.org.


“To Outline, Or Not to Outline? That’s a Contentious Question”: An Interview with Sarah Domet

Creative writing professor Sarah Domet is author of "90 Days to Your Novel"

Sarah Domet, author of “90 Days to Your Novel”

A favorite at Crossroads, Sarah Domet is the author of “90 Days to Your Novel” (Writer’s Digest Books). She earned her Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from The University of Cincinnati in 2009, and she now teaches in the Department of Writing and Linguistics at Georgia Southern University. She has published her fiction and nonfiction in many journals, most recently New Delta Review, Harpur’s Palate, Beloit Fiction Journal, Juked, Barely South Review, Talking Writing, Bitch Flicks, and Bluestem. She recently completed her novel, “Altar Girls,” the first draft of which she wrote in 90 Days. For more information, visit her website: http://sarahdomet.com/


“To Outline, Or Not to Outline? That’s a Contentious Question”: An Interview with Sarah Domet

by Kathy Holzapfel


Kathy Holzapfel: Your book – “90 Days to Your Novel: A Day-by-Day Plan for Outlining & Writing Your Book” – outlines a step-by-step process to a completed novel. Can you explain the advantages of deadlines?

domet_90daysSarah Domet: So many people say “one day I’ll write a novel,” but “one day” is often pushed to the next day, then the next day, then indefinitely. Those who wait for “one day” to show up knocking on their doors wearing horn-rimmed glasses and demanding their manuscripts ASAP will wind up waiting a long time.

As a teacher of writing, I appreciate deadlines, but I also recognize that individuals often arise to the challenges placed before them. A deadline is just that—a challenge. Stephen King famously noted that first drafts should be written in no more than three months. And many famous (and not so famous) writers feel similarly.

Writing a novel can sometimes feel like an insurmountable task. Staring at the first blank page, knowing you have hundreds more to write, recognizing the truth of the matter, that you’ll literally sit in front of your computer, alone, for hours, days, months until this thing is finished—that’s a moment that can overwhelm even the most seasoned writer. Clear deadlines remind us that habits—good habits—go further than inspiration when writing a novel. Or, as Mary Heaton Vorse reminds us, “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”


KH: The book proposes daily – or nearly daily – writing stints. What tips can you offer for the time-crunched?

SD: I was recently talking to a friend who happens to also be a teacher, a scientist, a mother, and a wife, among her other roles and responsibilities. She’s a writer, too—at work on her novel. To get her pages written each day this summer, she got in her car, drove to a scenic spot, and sat in what she termed her “mobile office” pecking away at her book.

I love imagining her writing in her car, gazing out at the ducks floating on a pond as she contemplates her next line. But, more importantly, I think this story illustrates the simple truth: If it’s important enough to you, you’ll find the time.

For those who are really time-crunched, either learn to consolidate time or write in spurts. Reserve a weekend afternoon for writing, or draft a few pages on your lunch break. Get up earlier or go to bed later. Carve out the time wherever you can. Find what works for you.

And always carry a notebook to jot down those novel-worthy ideas when you’re too busy to sit down at your computer. I can’t tell you how many of my “great” ideas have disappeared into the ether simply for the fact that I forgot to write them down.


This will be my third year presenting at Crossroads. I come back because of the people: The planners, the presenters, the attendees. Quite honestly, I’d be a little sad if I weren’t a part of it. – Sarah Domet


KH: Your book offers an in-depth method for outlining. Can you go over the components covered?

SD: Outlines are a real point of contention for writers. Some adamantly attest that outlines thwart creativity, while others swear by them. I happen to fall closer to the latter category. When you have at least some general sense of where your story might be leading you, you’ll free up your mind to do the fun stuff that novel writing entails: developing characters, creating unique worlds, playing with language. Outlines needn’t be viewed as restrictive or prescriptive. Writing is an art, after all, and like any art there’s a little bit of magic to it.

“90 Days to Your Novel” takes the writer through the whole process—from idea generation to completed manuscript. However, I’ve noticed many other writing guides focus only on the discrete components of writing, such as character, plot, setting, dialogue, etc., without discussing how these components all come together to form a story. That is, you don’t first write characters, then write plot, then write setting. You write interweave all these elements at once. It’s a balancing act.

A solid outline helps you consider your story more holistically. Where will you begin? Where will you end? How will you get there? Most people who, half-way through, give up on writing their novels do so because they can’t figure out where their story is going. They get stuck. Outlines can help unstick you.


KH: The objective of the outlining process is a chronological scene list. What are the benefits of writing one scene at a time?

SD: Every scene must accomplish important work in a novel; each scene must carry its own weight, while revealing a part of the big picture. Some scenes work toward developing character, some work to forward the plot, some deepen the drama or heighten the conflict, and some accomplish all these things at once.

Writers need to master the art of gazing outward and downward, like a quarterback who must both observe his immediate surroundings, so he doesn’t get sacked, while also looking downfield for the pass. Channel your inner quarterback, even if you’ve never played a sport in your life. Writing your novel scene by scene, from start to finish, helps you understand how the parts are related to the whole.

On another note, writing scene by scene allows you see the very real and physical way that the pages add up. That’s the fun part.


KH: The end goal of the 90 days process is a solid first draft novel. What then? Can you share insights on revision?

Nathan and SarahSD: Revision. Oh, the agony. You spend 90 days writing a book, and just when you think you’ve finished, the real work begins. Revision turns good novels into great novels, so it’s important work.

When writing a first draft, practice the art of letting go—don’t restrain your writing or your characters. Instead, create over-the-top scenarios, experiment with voice, wax philosophical about the invention of the Snuggy, tell off-color jokes that you never would repeat in real life. Just get the words down on the page.

Then take a break. Better yet, go on a vacation.

When you come back to your novel, again, practice the art of letting go. But this time in a different way. Let go of what doesn’t work. Let go of characters who may not contribute to your story, even if you love them. Let go of your perceptions about the book you wanted to write, and take a closer look at what your novel has become. What are your characters telling you?

There’s no one correct way to write a novel, no magic bullet. Trust yourself—you’re usually your own best guide. Keep in mind the words of Carl Sandburg: “Beware of advice—even this.”


KH: You’re a repeat presenter at the Crossroads Writers Conference. What’s a high point from last year?

SD: So many high points from last year! The entire conference buzzed with good writerly mojo. I met and re-met some seriously cool writers. Chris Baty’s keynote address, among others, inspired me: “Everyone — and I mean, EVERYONE — has so much more inside of them than they realize.” Sometimes we all need a little reminder of that.


KH: What brings you back to the Crossroads Conference in 2013?

SD: This will be my third year presenting at Crossroads. I come back because of the people: The planners, the presenters, the attendees. Quite honestly, I’d be a little sad if I weren’t a part of it.


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the Crossroads 2013 Schedule

Hello friends, sorry it took us so long. There was just a lot of awesome to cram into one weekend.

When you’re looking it over, remember how the registration works:

  • Short Story ticket gets you in just the Saturday daylight sessions
  • Pen & Paper gets you into Friday and Saturday’s sessions (and it includes lunch)
  • Storyteller Deluxe gets you in Friday, Saturday and Sunday sessions plus your lunch on Saturday and two after-hours socializing events and the new Crossroads shirt.




1 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. – Welcome & Keynote by Delilah Dawson


1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. – Breakout Block 1

Room A – Writing Stories about Ordinary People – Ed Grisamore

Room B – Freelancing – Anabelle Carr

Room C – Never Say No: Building A Portfolio In The Gig Economy – Rhett Thomas


2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. – Breakout Block 2

Room A – If Writing Is Easy, You Ain’t Doing It Right – Joe Kovac

Room B – The Writer/Editor Collaboration – Marc Jolley

Room C – Writing Stories That Will Sell – Nathan Edmondson


3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. – Breakout Block 3

Room A – Digital Storytelling – Tim Regan-Porter

Room B – Fiction Writing and Promotion – Shawn Durham

Room C – Literary Agent Q&A – Carrie Howland


4:15 p.m. – 6 p.m. – FREE TIME


6 p.m. – 8 p.m. – Author’s Avenue: Readings, Signings, Music & More in Downtown Macon


8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. – Social Hour for Authors & Storyteller Deluxe Ticket Holders





7:30 a.m. – Registration opens

8:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. – Opening remarks

8:45 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. – An Author Meets Her Agent: A conversation with Cat Scully & Carrie Howland

9:30 a.m. – 10:15 Breakout Block 1

Room A – Revising Your Teenage Voice – Lauren Morrill

Room B – Advice from a Writing Coach – Sarah Domet

Room C – The 7 Questions That Will Revolutionize Your Writing – Lauretta Hannon

Room D – Fiction Panel: Bernice McFadden, Cate Noble and Anthony Grooms

Room E – Poems from the Oblique Lexicon – Judson Mitcham


10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Breakout Block 2

Room A – Young Adult Fiction – David Iserson

Room B – Making History Live – Anthony Grooms

Room C – Poetry – Kevin Coval

Room D – The Writing Life Panel : Carrie Howland, Sarah Domet, Emilie Bush and Marc Jolley

Room E – Writing Stories That Sell – Nathan Edmonson



11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Breakout Block 3

Room A – Making the Most Out of Murder and Mayhem – Barry Reese

Room B – How to Build Your Story – Margaret South

Room C – Freelancing Is Out, Entrepreneurship Is in – Kristin Luna

Room D – Young Adult Fiction Panel: David Iserson, AJ Hartley, Jackson Pearce, Kat Zhang and Lauren Morrill

Room E – Fiction Writing Tips – Cate Noble


***12:15-2:00 Lunch in Mercer Village with Authors & Guest***

Pen & Paper and Storyteller Deluxe ticket holders get $10 lunch voucher for Mercer Village restaurants


2:15 p.m. – 3 p.m. Breakout Block 4

Room A – The Not-So Gentler Sex: How to Write Women. And Sex. – Delilah Dawson

Room B – Literary Agent Q&A – Carrie Howland

Room C – Young Adult Fiction – Jackson Pearce

Room D – Freelance Panel: Kristin Luna, Annabelle Carr, and Leila Regan-Porter

Room E – Writing Poems That Get Published – Kelly Whiddon


3:15 p.m. – 4 p.m. Breakout Block 5

Room A- Writing in Multiple Genres – AJ Hartley

Room B – Graphic Novels with Rhett Thomas

Room C – Writer vs. Studio with Adam Torchia

Room D – Journalism & New Media Panel: Erick Erickson, Tim Regan-Porter and Adam Ragusea

Room E – 25 Steps to Being a Traditionally Published Author (Even Lazier Edition) – Delilah Dawson


4:15 p.m. – 5 p.m. Breakout Block 6

Room A – Planning the YA Trilogy with Kat Zhang

Room B - Storytelling in the Digital Age – Erick Erickson

Room C – Anatomy of a Book with Emilie Bush

Room D – Screenwriting Panel with David Iserson and Adam Torchia

Room E – Trusting the Voice: the Art of Listening, Writing and Living – Bernice McFadden


5 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Author Book Signing

Short Story

What’s the “Short Story” ticket?

Short Story

You have spoken and we have listened. Several of our folks said they can’t get off work early on Friday and they wanted a Saturday-only ticket, which is what we’ve just created: the “Short Story” ticket. Now, for just $99, you can get into all our daytime Saturday sessions, panels and talks.

Unfortunately, the Short Story ticket doesn’t include the lunch voucher and it won’t get you into our special sessions on Friday and Sunday, but if you’re on a tight schedule and need to keep a close eye on your budget, this is a deal that’s hard to beat.

And stay tuned… the full schedule comes out today!

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How to Survive 74 Rejections: an Interview with Bernice McFadden

National Bestselling author Bernice McFadden has written ten critically-acclaimed, award-winning bestselling novels, including the contemporary classics “Sugar” and “Glorious.” Her novel, “The Warmest December,” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and was lauded as “searing and expertly imagined” by Nobel Laureate, Toni Morrison. A Brooklyn native and resident, Bernice’s latest novel is “Gathering of Waters,” a story that conjures the time, setting and heartbreak of the murder of Emmett Till. You can meet Bernice at this year’s Crossroads by registering here: CrossroadsWriters.splashthat.com

To learn more, please visit her website: www.bernicemcfadden.com.

You can also follow her on Twitter: @queenazsa


Bernice McFadden with fellow Akashic author Adam Mansbach at Crossroads 2012.

Bernice McFadden with fellow Akashic author Adam Mansbach at Crossroads 2012.


KATHY: If I’ve counted correctly, you’ve published 10 books as Bernice L. McFadden, plus you’ve got a piece in an anthology due out in December. You’ve also published 5 books under a pseudonym. That’s 16 books in 13 years. Sounds like you’re a disciplined writer. Can you describe your writing routine?

BERNICE: I just read your question out loud and was a little surprised. Wow, yes it has been sixteen books in thirteen years. Well fifteen novels and one novella. I’m amazed.

I don’t consider myself a disciplined writer. I think of myself as an emotional writer. I write when I’m feeling very sad or conflicted or extremely joyous. And I do not write everyday, at least not physically. The story is a constant in my head. I’m always thinking about the characters and their journey.


KATHY: In addition to creative writing, you’ve studied poetry and journalism. Do you write short stories and poems? Or any non-fiction?

BERNICE: I’ve written a few poems. Writing poetry is something I promised myself I would start doing more of. I started out as a short story writer. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would become a novelist! Way back when I first began to pursue publication all I had were short stories, but no one wanted to publish them. I’ve written non-fiction for The Washington Post and Crisis Magazine.


KATHY: Your first book, the award-winning novel, “Sugar,” was published in late 2000. It received 74 rejections before Dutton acquired it. What kept you going between rejection number 1 and rejection number 74?

BERNICE: “Sugar” was published In January of 2000. I call it my Millenium Baby. What kept me going was my faith in my gift that God had blessed me with. I couldn’t accept the fact that I had given so much of myself to these characters and their story for it to sit in a dusty desk drawer. That coupled with the promise I made to myself when I was nine years old, which was: I am going to be a published a writer when I grow up!

And besides, rejection builds character and resilience.


KATHY: Your second book, “The Warmest December,” also garnered awards and acclaim, including a nomination in 2001 for a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. What did that feel like and did the accolades make it easier or harder to sit and write book number three?

BERNICE: The Warmest December was the most difficult book I’ve ever written and that was for two reasons.

  1. It was a fictional account of my childhood
  2. The Sophomore Curse

For those who don’t know, the sophomore curse in the literary world is when your debut novel does exceptionally well and readers and critics alike expect more the same magic in your second offering – but BAM! It’s a flop because the writer was freaked out by the good fortune of the first and tried to write above and beyond his or hers own genius. Or something thing like that!

Honestly, I appreciated and was humbled by the accolades that poured in for TWD… but my greatest joy about that book was the glowing blurb I received from Toni Morrison. She is my absolute favorite writer and I continue to remain in awe of her work. Having Ms. Morrison in my corner, made it easy for me to continue writing without thinking about who was going to read my work or even like my work – because as far as I was concerned, if Ms. Morrison appreciated my work then all was well in my world.


KATHY: Fast forward twelve years. That list of honors and awards for your books is long and distinguished – Washington Post Best Fiction, multiple short-listings for the Hurston Wright Legacy Award (fiction). While you’re likely proud of all of them, are there any awards that are particularly meaningful to you?

BERNICE: All of the honors and awards I’ve received mean the world to me. I know how difficult it is to be recognized in this world of Art and Letters – I consider myself one of the lucky ones, so I am grateful.


KATHY: You write literary fiction as Bernice L. McFadden. You also write racy, humor as Geneva Holliday. What are the pros and cons of writing in two different genres, with two distinctly different voices?

BERNICE: I don’t think there is a con to it. Not everyone can write in two, three or five different voices. I’m blessed to have that ability and because of it I can engage a variety of different audiences.


KATHY: Your latest novel, “Gathering of Waters,” weaves a tapestry using fiction and American history. Was it daunting to re-imagine a real-life famous event – in this case, the tragic story of young Emmett Till?

BERNICE: Not at all. Historical Fiction comes naturally to me because I love history and love fiction and so to be able to meld the two, excites me. I love reimaging people, places and things that helped to shape the world we live in.


KATHY: Several of your novels – “Nowhere Is a Place,” “Glorious,” and “Gathering of Waters,” for example – have ties or setting in the South. As a storyteller, what draws you back to a particular setting?

BERNICE: I think I’m drawn to the Southern culture because that’s where my maternal family hails from and those are the people that I spent the most time with when I was a child. I think I honed my storytelling skills from my grandparents, great aunts and uncles. Also, I feel I owe my ancestors a debt and so happily honor their lives in my work.


KATHY: You’re a repeat presenter at Macon’s Crossroads Writers Conference. (It’s no secret that we love and admire you!) Can you share a highlight from last year’s conference?

BERNICE: I had a wonderful time at the conference. I met a lot of intriguing, warm and wonderful people. And was thrilled to be able to spend some time in a town filled with so much history, a town that my great-great grandparents called home after they were freed from the bondages of slavery. It doesn’t get any better than that!


KATHY: What are you looking forward to at this year’s Crossroads?

BERNICE: I’m looking forward to more of the same and of course the sweet tea!


KATHY: What projects have you been working on this past year?

BERNICE: Well, I’m working on a novel with a male main character. This is a first for me. So I’m excited about exploring this new territory.


KATHY: Last question: Here’s the opening lines from David McCord’s poem Books Fall Open: “Books fall open, you fall in, delighted where you’ve never been…” What’s the first book you remember falling in love with?

BERNICE: I think the first book I actually fell in love with was, “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker.


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Review of FIRECRACKER by David Iserson

David Iserson, a writer for “SNL,” “The New Girl” and “Up All Night,” made his YA debut with “Firecracker” this May. He was interviewed in the Los Angeles Times, reviewed at Reading Rants and featured in Entertainment Weekly’s Shelf Life and on ForeverYoungAdult.com. And you should love his star-studded book trailer for “Firecracker,” which you can watch below. This will be his first visit to Crossroads and we’re geeked. Meet him at Crossroads when you register by clicking here

Meaghan Walsh Gerard reviews FIRECRACKER by David Iserson

firecracker david iserson

“Firecracker” by David Iserson

Only once before have a read a YA book most of the way through before realizing it was categorized as such. I haven’t got anything against YA per se, but having been 29 for a couple of years now, I am generally uninterested in the adolescent themes they explore. But occasionally (though rarely) a YA novel manages to defy its genre conventions and just be a darn good story.

Our tempestuous heroine, and narrator, is Astrid Krieger and she lives in a rocket ship. Yes, you read that right. Astrid is the teenaged daughter of very wealthy if aloof parents. In short, Astrid is bored. Her only amusements are pulling the strings of those less perceptive than herself. She’s been recently expelled from her very exclusive high school for cheating – something she never denies doing but only determines to find out who turned her in.

Her therapist (and former dean) instead challenges Astrid to do at least three things that she doesn’t want to do. As an embittered, independent teen, the list of potential tasks is quite lengthy. But as Astrid embarks on her emotional scavenger hunt, she realizes that she doesn’t hate everyone/thing quite as much as she thought.

FIRECRACKER is a smart and funny novel, with a freshly modern voice. Angsty without being desperate, it also has a dash of classic 1980s high school movie mixed in. Astrid breaks the fourth wall quite often and speaks directly to her readers – and it works.

I probably don’t need to tell you what it’s like in a public school cafeteria. I mean, it’s very likely that you’ve been to one (or are sitting in one right now). And it you’ve seen one, I’m sure you’ve seen them all. But I’ll describe it anyway in case you are home-schooled (in which case, your mom is probably really upset that you’re reading this book because of the cursing. Loc 619 of 3004

And her descriptions of others are hysterical and spot-on.

Talia was feebly drunk. Drunk-Talia was like one of those inflatable people with swinging arms outside car dealerships. Loc. 808 of 3004.


Mason was an aspiring bully, and that’s why I figured he would be outside smoking with Melty. They must’ve thought smoking cigarettes ft the part. But they should have known that if they really wanted to effectively inflict pain on a victim, it would help if they didn’t get winded while chasing someone up the staircase. Don’t smoke because it makes it a lot harder to beat someone up. That’s my public service message. Loc. 1974 of 3004.

Despite her flippant manner, Astrid is a complex and sympathetic character. When it comes time to implement her plan that is so-crazy-it-just-might-work, we are firmly in her camp.

Even if you are out of your teenage years (like me, by a good amount), this fast-paced book is highly enjoyable. I can only imagine if I had had Astrid to look up to when I was in 6th or 7th grade.

Watch the book trailer for FIRECRACKER below.

FIRECRACKER by David Iserson

ISBN 9781595143709 | 336 pages | 16 May 2013 | Razorbill | 9.25 x 6.25in | 12 – AND UP years





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.

Enter to Win Writing Life Swag!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Matt Barr for winning the Writing Life Swag Pack! You’ll look good in your new duds!


We feel like giving away some stuff. Do you feel like winning some stuff?

Good because it’s super easy.

What’s the prize? This time, it’s a Writing Life Swag Pack — all capitalized and everything fancy — which comes with a Wordy South T-shirt, a Crossroads coffee mug and a shiny Crossroads USB so you can keep that novel-in-progress on you at all times. (Except the shower. Don’t shower with electronics!)

How do I enter? Just log-in with Facebook or your email and answer a single-question survey. If you want more more entries, tweetify the giveaway or do a little Facebookery with it.

When does it end? Monday, August 12 at 11:59 p.m., and after that you better be in bed, getting a good night’s sleep because it’s hard to create beautiful prose and poetry when you’ve been up all night!

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Location, location, location!

This is Macon in the early 1900's... it has changed (some) since then. Now, everything is in beautiful Technicolor!

This is Macon in the early 1900′s… it has changed (some) since then. Now, everything is in beautiful Technicolor!

Where is the Crossroads Writers Conference?

This year, the conference returns to the Macon, Georgia campus of Mercer University. A lot has changed around the college since we were last there. Namely, the growth of Mercer Village, which features a great little coffee shop Jittery Joe’s, a Barnes and Noble, and some great places to grab a bite: Ingleside Village Pizza, Francar’s Wings, Margarita’s Mexican Grill and Fountain of Juice. Don’t forget the large and lovely Tattnall Square Park next door, so if you need a few minute to wander around and collect your thoughts, you can find solitude there. To find your way to Mercer University, just click here, hit “get directions” and type in your address.

Is there an official hotel for us to stay in this year?

Yep! The brand spankin’ new Holiday Inn North is the official hotel of the Wordy South. They have writer-friendly rates (get a great discount off their regular prices when you ask for the Crossroads Writers room deal), a great bar for after-hours hanging out and we’ll run a shuttle from the hotel to the conference to make sure you get where the other word nerds are.

Wait… where is Macon, Georgia?

Right smack dab in the middle of the state, about an hour and a half south of Atlanta and about three hours west of Savannah, conveniently situated on I-75 and I-16.

Macon native John Oliver Killens was a co-founder of the Harlem Writers Guild and the author of several novels, like "Youngblood" and "And Then We Heard the Thunder." Photo: Carl Van Vechten

Macon native John Oliver Killens wrote several novels, like “Youngblood” and “And Then We Heard the Thunder.” (Photo: Carl Van Vechten)

The cool part is that Macon has long been a little creative haven that has been home to a variety of writers, musicians, filmmakers and artists who have make a global impact with their work. We’re talking about John Oliver Killens, the Macon-born co-founder of the Harlem Writers Guild in whose honor the conference is named, and poet/musician/lawyer/soldier Sidney Lanier and novelist Tina McElroy Ansa, Joel Chandler Harris (aka – Uncle Remus) and former CNN president Tom Johnson  and Pulitzer Prize winner George Weller who settled in here after becoming the first journalist into Nagasaki after the atomic bomb was dropped.

We’re talking about Flannery O’Connor who would make the short drive over from Milledgeville, and about Alice Walker, who grew up in Eatonton and still has kin here. And, of course, we’re talking about Otis Redding, Little Richard, the Allman Brothers, James Brown, Lena Horne, Lucinda Williams and her poet daddy Miller Williams. We’re even talking about Mike Mills and Bill Berry of REM, Jason Aldean, Young Jeezy and Meiko. We’re talking about visits to the old cotton mills by Sherwood Anderson and the summer Tennessee Williams spent here, which inspired Big Daddy in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

We could go on, but you get the drift, right? It’s a cool little place to come recharge your creative batteries.

Here are some links to help you learn more about Macon:

Macon Arts – Ovations365 

Macon-Bibb County Convention and Visitors Bureau

College Hill Alliance

Historic Macon

Gateway Macon

NewTown Macon

City of Macon

Bibb County

Main Street Macon

Why go to Crossroads? Because Meaghan says so!

Check out Meaghan's blog at MWGerard.com!

Check out Meaghan’s blog at MWGerard.com!

Our friend Meaghan Walsh Gerard is a writer. When we met her, she was working and living the nonprofit life, which is about as lucrative as being a writer. That’s to say not much. And though she didn’t get one of our full scholarships, she did get a partial scholarship, funded largely by our awesome community of writers, because we knew we needed her to join us last year.

What a great decision on our part! When you meet her at this year’s conference, you’ll know exactly why too! She has a ton of fire and a bunch of talent. Best yet, she has that follow-through we adore at Crossroads, which is to say she’s a good influence on a few of us slackers (ahem, Chris).

Here’s an except about what she had to say about her experience, meeting Crossroads organizers and mingling with our all-star lineup of professional writers — and why she thinks you should join us this year. Meaghan, thank you! (To read the whole dang thing and to check out more of her work, go to MWGerard.com.)

The act of writing is solitary but I never knew writing could be so friendly. There is no competitive jealousy at Crossroads. Everyone I met and talked to wanted to better their own process and was genuinely interested in each other’s projects. And for the first time ever, I won NaNoWriMo that November. …If you like writing, GO… …It’s a celebration of the written word. It’s the annual reminder for those of us who need the encouragement to keep writing during those subway commutes and while the dinner is cooking. It’s Thanksgiving, that once a year reunion, we gather around the table, tell stories, eat* too much, and promise to keep in touch (which we do!).