Sidewalk Stories

Last year, Crossroads was honored to receive a grant for Sidewalk Stories from the Knight Neighborhood Challenge, a bi-annual effort for citizen-led development of the College Hill area in Macon. Sidewalk Stories, funded by the Knight Foundation, which supports transformational ideas that engage communities and foster the arts, is a project to replace broken and sometimes unsafe sidewalks around College Hill with new sidewalks embedded with Macon-related poetry, song lyrics, literary excerpts, historic factoids and other cool stories. For instance, that cracked concrete you almost tripped over on College Street could soon become a testament to Little Richard’s songwriting legacy, or to the summer Tennessee Williams spent in Macon before he wrote “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” But we need your help to pull this off. Have a great quote in mind? Share it with us. As long as it’s related to Macon, it qualifies. Know a stretch of sidewalk in desperate need of repair? Snap a picture or tell us where it is so we can put it on the list. It’s that simple and that complex. The Knight Foundation, the Community Foundation of Central Georgia and city of Macon have given us the ability to make a lasting change on the local physical landscape. YOU can give us the tools to make it happen. So, go to our nomination form and let us know what you’ve got: sidewalks to repair or stories to share! The nomination period ends August 13, 2012. To learn more about The Knight Foundation, which believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged, visit KnightFoundation.org. If you’re interested in...

5 Tricks to Staying Motivated

It’s Friday and I’ve procrastinated this article for nearly a week. Well, it wasn’t all procrastination. But there has been plenty to keep me busy and none of it was writing. There are other times when I have nothing to do and Google Docs is open, the cursor staring at me, blinking accusations because there are no words before or behind it. I’m talking about motivation, people. If it were simple or easy, everyone would write. These are hard things to do, but doing them gets you to the nitty-gritty of where you want to be as a writer. 1. Think. Writing isn’t just about writing things down. It’s also about thinking. If you’re thinking, you’re coming up with things that will be useful later. Sometimes you have to mull over a concept before you can even begin the writing process. The more you consider something, or turn a topic over in your head, the more ammunition you have when you get to step two. And what’s step two? 2. Write. If there are no words, there is nothing else. Just writing can help you find your way. But first you’ve got to find the time. It’s not just about getting up early in the morning or staying up late into the night. It’s about finding the 15 minutes here, an hour there. Like this quote from Chuck Wendig that sums up how we must look at finding time to write. “Reach! Grab! Steal the minutes and hours back from the mouth of the Time Beast. Even a little time reclaimed will let you do that thing you want...
Interview with editor Annabelle Carr

Interview with editor Annabelle Carr

What do you enjoy most about writing? I love the moment when I finally know what I’m writing about—the heart of the story—and I get this huge surge of energy. It’s almost worth the sensory depravation required to sit down and write in the first place. The sooner I “see” the story, the better. Sometimes I have to write the whole story or article first and I finally“get it” on the last line. Then I know I’m in for a big edit. So I’ve developed tools for “getting it” sooner, because magazine deadlines are unforgiving. In order to edit, the same thing has to happen. You have to see the heart of the piece. It’s like striking a vein of gold. Once you find it, you can follow it and do good, honest work. What do you look for most when hiring staff writers and freelancers? I look for people who can put me, the reader, right into the story. It’s all about engaging the senses and bringing the page to life. Once I find someone who can do that, I look for structure and organization. I need someone who can build a story arc quickly and find the meaning in things that other people can’t see. But what really makes a writer is his or her ear. Good prose sings. It has pitch, timbre and rhythm. TO LEARN MORE FROM ANNABELLE CARR REGISTER FOR THE FREELANCERS SUMMIT What’s the best way to pitch a story, and what’s the most common mistake freelancers make? Don’t pitch a story. Pitch four. Dedicate a couple of lines to each idea, and...
Why I tried NaNoWriMo

Why I tried NaNoWriMo

Some time last year before my first Crossroads Writers Conference, I happened upon National Novel Writing Month quite unexpectedly. I’m not sure exactly but I believe a west coast writer friend “liked” the Office of Letters and Lights on a social networking site, and sounding quite lovely, I endeavored to find out what exactly that was. Part of it was restlessness; a restlessness that I am sure many writers feel when they are struggling to find their way with the written word. (I had my work as an alt-weekly journalist, although I was still somewhat intimidated by the process of interviewing others.) But first and foremost, I felt born to tell big stories using my own voice. It’s a birds-eye view of a labyrinth, sitting down at one’s desk and sifting through the ball of string that will ultimately lead you out, safe from the monsters that haunt blind alleys and dead ends. Needless to say, that sensation is not a little daunting. Recharged by the creative inspiration from the conference, inspired and driven by a sense of competition, I dived into the NaNoWriMo experience with a hunger that kept me pushing forward. Watching the little blue progress plotter was like running a marathon against myself. Knowing that others were staring down the same struggle with varying degrees of success and failure made me realize that though I was in my own world, we were part of a system of worlds. We saw each other from telescopic distances, in awe and comforted by possibility. Every day I wanted to be at twice the necessary word count, because if I...
Chuck Wendig: Mutter Draft

Chuck Wendig: Mutter Draft

interview with a Terrible Mind, Chuck Wendig by Rachel Helie Rachel: Thanks for taking time out to answer these questions. With the success of Blackbirds and your blog and…okay, it’s a mystery to me where you find time for it all to be honest! So let’s get to it! Question 1: Many authors say that it is important to “write as one speaks.” I’m not suggesting that you walk around muttering the things you write (leave that to your fans!) but would you say that your work is representative of your internal monologue? Chuck: I do walk around muttering all the things I write. The first draft of every thing I do is called “the mutter draft.” I hire a small, unobtrusive person to follow me around and record it as I go. Or not. I don’t think my writing is really all that representative of an internal monologue – my internal monologues are probably pretty incomprehensible to any who would actually witness them in some psychic way. That said, I do think the work is representative of my voice, both internal and external. Edited, sharpened, tightened, but my voice just the same. R: In your career as the freelance “penmonkey” you have made a living providing advice and inspiring fellow writers with your ability to do prolific work, all while meeting the challenges of family life. What are some things that you have found work in your juggling of career and domesticity? C: Technically, I don’t make a living doing the advice and inspiration thing – I sell some e-books (more now than I used to, which is...

What folks say about Crossroads

Why did you choose Crossroads? “My love for writing, learning and the ability to be around like-minded inspiring people.” “Always looking for other writers to connect with as well as to expand my writing skills.” “I love meeting the authors and hearing their advice and encouragement.” “It’s close by and fun.” “I attended the first two and enjoyed them and learned from them.” “The variety of genres and writers available for one-on-one conversations.”   What did you get out of Crossroads? “Getting to meet so many people who shared a passion for writing and creativity. Networking.” “Meeting a bunch of different people, from all backgrounds. Everyone was so friendly.” “Hearing things that validate what I do as a beginning writer.” “Variety of subject matter – you offered something for just about every style of writing.” “Great info, feedback, insight and words of wisdom from those who have succeeded to those of us who wish to!” “Listening to the experiences of authors who have been published.” “I really thought it was a well-balanced conference. I’ve attended many conferences professionally and really was pleased with the quality of the conference.” What did you like best about Crossroads? “Seeing amateurs and professionals all mingling. Watching folks make connections that would extend beyond the conference and would not have happened without out.” “Being able to meet and converse with published authors, and get insight from their experiences (the good and not-so-good)!” “I liked the small groups–the authors were more interactive.” “The presenters, interacting with fellow participants.” “The energy among the attendees – and the excitement of the panelists to share their expertise. I’ve...

What folks say (pt 2)

  I had such a fantastic time, I thought my head would explode. It was so fun talking shop during the sessions and listening to what other writers had to say about All Things Writing. I met some true characters, too, I tell you. All and all, I had a fantastic time. Macon is such a cool place, too. —  Sarah Domet, a Crossroads guest writer, about her experience: Crossroads succeeded in convincing me that whether or not I ever published a word, I was a writer. …My fantasy romance ‘Miami Days & Truscan (K)nights’ hits the e-book market in April, 2012. My crime thriller ‘Down Home’ hits the e-book market in September 2012. Not too shabby for somebody who was never going to submit again, I don’t think. Crossroads was my start. It didn’t make me a writer. It made me believe I was a writer. And that, my friends, is crucial when attempting to enter the professional publishing world. — Gail Roughton Branan, newly published writer (flowersonthefence.blogspot.com) This weekend I was very nearly spoiled to death at the Crossroads Writers Conference. They made much of me, and fed me on grilled salmon, and did such a great job with promo… On top of the good crowd and the spoiling and the salmon, the bookstore sold so many of my books they ran out of one title and were down to a single copy of another… I came away feeling like the princess of Macon, and my head was puffy and so large it wobbled like a newborn’s outsize melon. – Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times Bestselling novelist,...
Always Carry Your Towel

Always Carry Your Towel

by Angel Collins On May 25, 2012, as I prepared to leave the house, I grabbed my handbag and my towel and headed down to my favorite watering hole to obtain my pan galactic gargleblaster. It was a balmy 95 degrees and I realized that, far from being a silly, geeky thing to do, maybe carrying a towel around made you more than a savvy intergalactic traveler. Maybe it made you a smart, walking in the middle of a hot day, traveler. As a writer, I thought about the towel. The towel told another traveler that, even if you didn’t have anything else, you had to be a pretty awesome traveler because you kept up with your towel. As a writer, I think our “towel” is what we use to write. Whether it is pen and paper or a smartphone, if you always have it for ideas, other writers think you’re a pretty savvy writer if you always have something to keep up with your ideas. So then I was thinking, what are other silly, geeky things others dismiss that could inform our writing? One of my favorite stories is Stranger in a Strange Land. When Valentine Michael Smith first explains the term “grok”, I knew it would stick with me forever. Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthling assumptions) as color means to a blind man. As a writer, isn’t...
Pulp Fiction Revivalist

Pulp Fiction Revivalist

Barry Reese is a man with a prodigious habit for writing. A librarian by day, he churns out thousands of words a night, bringing to life pulp characters like The Rook and Lazarus Gray. He got his big break writing for “the Official Handbook for Marvel Universe,” then began creating his own stories. For his pulp short stories and gory, monster horror novel “Rabbit Heart,” Barry was awarded the 2011 Pulp Ark Award for Best Author. This year, he took home the Pulp Ark Award for Best Short Story and received his first–but certainly not last–nomination for Georgia Author of the Year. He’s also a co-creator on the “Pulped!” podcast and the Ubergeeks podcast. In this interview with Barry Reese, which originally appeared in the pages of The 11th Hour magazine, writer Rachel Helie digs a little deeper into the pulp tradition and its revival.   Rachel: In working in pulp, which is considered a cult genre, what did you find distinguishes it from traditional literary models? Barry: Well, on the New Pulp website, they have a definition of pulp that says it’s “…fast-paced, plot-oriented storytelling of a linear nature with clearly defined, larger than life protagonists and antagonists, creative descriptions, clever use of turns of phrase and other aspects of writing that add to the intensity and pacing of the story.” That’s a pretty good way of describing it. Pulp is about momentum and excitement – the stories barrel along at a brisk pace and feature larger than life heroes, villains and settings. That’s very different in many other literary genres. R: Is there a formula to the creation of...
Talkin’ Business With the Queen: an interview with Lauretta Hannon

Talkin’ Business With the Queen: an interview with Lauretta Hannon

Talkin’ Business with The Queen by Beth Ward   I have had the pleasure of keeping Lauretta Hannon’s company exactly two times, and both of those times she was sporting fire-engine red lipstick, with leopard print sunglasses perched on top of her head. Nothing about this look was contrived; in fact, she was The Cracker Queen personified – right down to a laugh that bellowed out of her in loud, unapologetic waves, causing her head to tilt back as if to make room for its sound. It is a rare thing to be in the company of someone so utterly authentic. Fans of her memoir have responded not only to its brash, down-home humor, but also to its warmth and honesty. For many of us adoring fans, it is not a stretch to place ourselves right within its pages, living out scenes of our own lives. Perhaps it is these things that can be credited for “The Cracker Queen”’s success; perhaps it is Ms. Lauretta herself. Either way, we have all fallen in love with her and her joyful, jagged life. I had the opportunity to pick The Queen’s brain a bit in lieu of her Crossroad’s appearance this year, and as always, she left me laughing and aching to write. BW: To begin, when did you know writing was what you wanted to do? LH: I’ve always had a hungering to write, but I didn’t always know that I was “good enough” to do it well.   BW: I think that’s the main problem emerging writers struggle with – just getting over that fear, because there’s always someone...