By LYDIA BERGLAR
As part of its summer program, the Dade County Public Library is hosting three adult writing-related workshops: the first on June 21, the second on July 20, and the last on August 12.
Estelle Ford-Williamson (author of three historically inspired books) will be talking about how to write family stories at the first workshop. This midday event is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on June 21.
Kris Whorton (English professor at the University of Chattanooga, Tennessee and published poet) will speak about brainstorming and editing creative pieces at the second workshop. This evening event is from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on July 20.
Dana Shavin (published author, essayist, and columnist) will teach about how to pursue publication through numerous publishing outlets. This Saturday event is from 10 a.m. to noon on August 12.
Ford-Williamson has a particular love of historical fiction and memoirs. Her first book, “Abbeville Farewell: A Novel of Early Atlanta and North Georgia,” is a historical fiction piece published in 2001.
She said, “I spent about ten years researching for the book. I learned about all of the people and historical details, like the weave of the clothing, and talked with a gunsmith to learn about long rifles.”
Her 2014 book, “Seed of South Sudan: Memoir of a ‘Lost Boy’ Refugee,” is a nonfiction memoir. She co-authored it with Majok Marier. She said, “It’s his story, and we wrote it together.”
Ford-Williamson’s most recent book, “Rising Fawn,” came out in 2021 and takes place in Dade County’s own Rising Fawn and Lookout Mountain area. She describes it as a fiction book with historical elements.
She says, “The workshop will emphasize various ways you can tell stories, sequentially, biographically, etc., but more than that, we’ll talk about the stories people tell in their families, family habits, expressions, and traditions. These are the things that are unique about your family.”
The workshop will touch on editing and how to find an editor, as well as publishing and methods of publication. Ford-Williamson also wants to address any questions people have about family stories and how to write them.
She emphasized the importance of making sure information is correct, even if a fiction piece is loosely inspired by historical events. She said, “I’ve known some writers who’ve written entire histories about their family before writing fiction inspired by those stories.”
Whorton, whose poetry collection, “Alchemy” comes out this August, will focus on the early stages of the creative writing process during the second workshop.
She said, “We’ll look at how inspiration can be used for poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction and think about how to approach editing the work we’ve created. Come ready to plumb your imagination, and put words on the page that delight, inspire, and move you and others.”
Whorton enjoys writing about nature, family, and the body. Through brainstorming exercises, her workshop will help people find the subjects that inspire them, making the writing process personal.
Whorton concluded, “I enjoy working with adults because I think they often feel too overwhelmed by their busy lives, or they believe they don’t have the talent or skill to write their stories, but everyone has stories to tell and they simply need the space and possibly the encouragement to put their words on paper.”
The third and final workshop, led by Shavin, will “offer a comprehensive overview of the multitude of publishing outlets that exist for aspiring writers. We will cover literary journals, commercial magazines, column and opinion writing, blogging, and travel writing. I will talk about submission protocols for each, the do’s and don’ts of submitting and talking to editors, the difference between a pitch and a cover letter (and how to write each), handling rejection, and the very real value of persistence.”
This class includes the chance to receive editorial help from Shavin for one cover letter or pitch up to one month after the class.
Shavin reflected, “I’m excited to teach the class because I love encouraging aspiring writers to publish. When I was a young writer, I read everything I could about how to get published, and I asked a million questions of other writers about how the business works. I have also had a number of wonderful mentors.”
Having written for a wide variety of magazines and news publications and having published two books (a memoir and a collection of her most popular columns), Shavin said, “Now it’s my turn to demystify the publishing process for other writers.”