As I write this, it's April Fool's Day. It appears winter finally gave up its hold on us yesterday, but one day of lamb-like weather at the end of March further convinces me global warming is a hoax perpetrated by a few people who wanted to get rich at the expense of the rest of us. The Braves lost yesterday on Opening Day, and the latest fad among Braves' players appears to be elbow surgery. My favorite time of year (March Madness) has ended disgustingly with nobody in the Final Four that makes me want to root, root, root. The deadline for entry to our workshop in June draws closer.
And I'm not writing about any of those things. Okay, the last one about the workshop holds some relevance to the success stories I'm about to mention, but that the deadline nears isn't my focus here. Success is that focus.
Sheila Hudson was at St. Simons when I first attended the Southeastern Writers Workshop in 2001 and has been there every year since then. She's served in various capacities (including President) on the Board of Directors for our writers-helping-writers group. Now, after years of faithful effort, she has landed a book deal. More than just a one-book deal -- a potential series with another thirteen decisions coming up for her next title! And more than just a series, a series bringing help with life's lessons. The title of the first is Thirteen Decisions That Will Change Your Life. Check it out here: http://sh5633.wix.com/13decisions. Among Sheila's other writing projects: a blog called "Bright Ideas." Check it out here: http://sheilasewellhudson.wordpress.com/
Emily Sue Harvey was also at that first workshop I attended. Like Sheila, she's faithfully attended workshop classes and served her time on the Board of Directors (including a two-year term as President). After years of fighting the battle to get published and facing rejection after rejection, in 2011 she hit the jackpot and now has five novels in print. Her Amazon.com page lists them all along with some biographical information: http://www.amazon.com/Emily-Sue-Harvey/e/B008UV2CX4. Her personal website is: http://emilysueharvey.com/
Buzz Bernard first came to SWA several years ago (he wasn't here on my first visit in 2001). However, like Sheila and Emily Sue, he has been a Godsend to SWA. He now holds the title of Vice President on the Board of Directors. Oh, yeah, SWA has been a Godsend to him. Buzz has had success as a novelist, beginning with Eyewall in 2011, which became ame an e-book bestseller on Amazon Kindle. He's since followed up with two other novels, which have garnered recognition for excellence (Plague is my favorite...I'm currently reading Supercell). And yet when he first came to SWA, he was unpublished as a novelist. I remember the happiness he let show when SWA novel instructor Brian Jay Corrigan told him, "You're ready to play with the big boys." Here's a link to Buzz's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/H-W-Buzz-Bernard-author/314813731901133
Oh, Buzz doesn't just write about weather; as a former employee of The Weather Channel, he's a self-admitted "weather junkie." And his upcoming fourth novel, Blizzard, will be his third weather-related book.
These are not the only success stories from SWA, but they are three that hit close to my heart. I have worked closely with all three on the SWA Board and also gotten to know them well as friends. I see several things in common beyond the fact that they've all had success:
- They've been attending SWA for years, honing their crafts and understanding the marketplace as a result.
- They've all won awards (at SWA and elsewhere) for poetry, humor or short stories, fiction or non-fiction.
- They've all served on the SWA Board of Directors. That in itself doesn't guarantee anything. But it does show that those willing to step up and help others frequently are the ones who succeed.
- None of them are (sorry, guys) young in years. Young at heart, perhaps, but all have found their success through perseverance that has carried them to success late in life.
Buzz still serves on the board, and Sheila is working as an auxiliary board member. Both will be at the workshop in June. If your career as a writer seems to be going nowhere, talk to them. I'm sure they have had times they felt their writing careers were going nowhere also.
And while Emily Sue, with her busy promotion schedule, probably won't be there, I venture to say she'd answer any questions a fledgling unpublished wannabee might throw at her via Facebook, Linked-in or the contact form on her web page (link at her personal website).
We have a lot more success stories that have grown from SWA, far too many to list in one column. If you're interested in adding your name to the list of successful SWA-workshop grads, the first step is to sign up for this year's June workshop. Just follow this link and you'll be on your way: http://www.southeasternwriters.org/Writers_Workshop.html
~~ Lee Clevenger
Lee is the current President of SWA, an author and co-founder of ThomasMax Publishing in Atlanta, GA.