Monday, June 30, 2014

EditorialLee Speaking

I couldn't have hired a playwright to script it any better. Our 2014 SWA workshop was everything I hoped it could have been and a whole lot more. We filled up the seats, mostly with new attendees. We dazzled everyone with brilliant instructors, and most of the newbies were saying they couldn't wait to come back next year. We have some younger people accepting positions of responsibility on the Board of Directors. I believe SWA's future is very secure.

That wasn't the case not so long ago. While we had a cash reserve that could carry us forward for a couple of years no matter how great the failures, we were in a downturn. Our membership was down. Our Board of Directors was dwindling, and while we were almost begging for more bodies, our requests, for the most part, went unanswered. Workshop attendance was barely bringing in break-even revenue, if that. A couple of times we pondered if we might have reached the end of the line.

Now with a positive cash flow from our most recent workshop, an energized "fan base" of new attendees who will be back, hopefully with their friends, and some younger blood sitting in the Board of Directors' seats, the end of the line has been pushed well into the future.

All this happened as Kay Eaton and I served our last tenures on the Board. Kay was one of those who answered the call when we were in dire need of people a few years ago. She helped hold SWA together with the important registrar duties. Relocation to Florida has dictated that she step down from her duties, but we still expect her to show up each June at St. Simons.

As to that other guy who's stepping aside, I'll still show my face at St. Simons as well. The ThomasMax "You Are Published" Contest -- which received the highest number of entries and best competition we've ever had in 2014 -- will continue so there's still a book deal to be had. I've made a lot of comments about my retirement, and all of them have been honestly from the heart. There DOES come a time when everyone needs to step aside and let others bring something new to the show. George Washington DID indeed say eight years was enough. But mostly it's been health issues, specifically pain management, that sparked my decision. I've tried to keep that under the rug (and think I've been pretty successful at it), and now you've just read all I'm going to say about it here. 

But I do have a little more to say before I run into the sunset. I am quite proud of the service I've given to SWA. I've received several post-workshop notes and thank-you cards. One said, "Someone asked me the other day what I do. I said, 'I am a writer.' And that's all because of my years at SWA that I could say that." While there were personal accolades in that note, the thing that touched me is that I know I made a difference. And that's why I signed up for the volunteer job in the first place.

My last night as SWA President (let's pretend the meeting the next morning didn't happen) was amazing. My good friend Darrell Huckaby -- I met Huck as a result of SWA -- asked if he could come and entertain at our Awards Ceremony. Anyone in his right mind would say yes, and luckily I was in my right mind the day he asked. And I got this inspired idea to buy torches to pass to the new board members (at least those of which I was aware at the time) as a fitting ritual. Then I was blown away with the going-away gift the board gave me . . . a photo of the Braves' locker room (it's no secret I'm a rabid Braves fan) with my name awarded one of the lockers there. No. 8 -- for eight years of service, four as President and four as VP. I felt truly honored at that moment. I've seen former SWA Presidents with many more years than me retire with a simple "thank-you" certificate or plaque . . . or less. 

I haven't yet chosen the spot in my house where it will hang, but it will certainly be a spot of honor. Every time I look at it, I am humbled by the notion that I was held in such esteem by my peers. I know it wasn't cheap, and you really shouldn't have . . . but I'm thrilled that you did. Thank you from every fiber of my being.

And thank you, SWA, for giving me the chance to make a difference. I'll remember THAT every time I look at that picture, too.

~~ Lee Clevenger

Lee is 2-time President of SWA, an author and co-founder of ThomasMax Publishing in Atlanta, GA.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Power of Technology

Becky Lee Weyrich was a pillar of SWA when I joined in 1990.  It was a re-building year after the Workshop wasn't held due to lack of funds the year before.  Becky taught that year, a commanding presence with her deep voice, reading glasses perched on the end of her nose and her hair pulled back so severely into a single long braid that she would never need a face lift. Becky gave her all to SWA - a board member who served as president, a teacher, an award sponsor - nurturing many fledgling writers into successful authors.  

My favorite Becky story occurred a few years after I joined the board. Becky was on a panel with other instructors including fantasy author Tom Deitz.  Tom announced he had published 9 books and 4 were still in print and he stood them up on the front of the table.  While the other panelist introduced themselves, Becky walked out and returned with a box.  When her turn came, she stood and said "My name is Becky Lee Weyrich and I have 27 books published, 7 still in print here." She lined up her books.  "This one's in print in 2 languages - Spanish and French - and this one's in 4!  I've been in print longer than you've been alive!" She sat down triumphantly, but soon shot a wink down the table at Tom, who toppled his books then stood clapping and coaxed us into a standing ovation.

Well, Becky passed away a few years ago, but thanks to technology, she's back in print.  Diversion Books is re-releasing Becky's books as e-books!   They released 5 titles on June 10th and have 5 more scheduled on July 1st and 4 more each on July 22nd and August 5th. The e-books are available on and and there are some mass market paperbacks, too.  She still deserves a standing ovation.

~~ Amy Munnell

Amy is the current president of SWA, serving on the Board of Directors from 1993-2007 and again from 2011 to the present.  She has been a freelance writer and editor for 29 years with her work appearing in various publications including the Chocolate for a Woman's Soul series, Saying Goodbye, From the Heart, Points North, ByLine, Athens Magazine and Georgia Magazine. Find Amy on Twitter: @amunnell

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Round of Applause: Member News

Susan Lindsley, H.W. "Buzz" Bernard and Martha Phillips were semi-finalists for Georgia Author of the Year.  Susan was in the First Novel category for The Bottom Rail, placing third, while Buzz and Martha competed in the Fiction Novel category for Supercell and Carved respectively. 

Debra Brown's humor story "The She Devil" has made it into Not Your Mother’s Book . . . On Cats. The book is slated for release in September 2014.

Patrick Hempfing’s moMENts columns were published in the June issues of 12 regional parenting magazines, including Houston Family, San Diego Family, South Florida Parenting, and Suburban Parent (Dallas/Ft. Worth) magazines.  In May, the Chicago Tribune, Daily Press, Orlando Sentinel, and Sun Sentinel ran one of his pieces.  His columns have now been published over 100 times, spanning 17 states and two Canadian provinces.

We invite members to share news about their successes and activities so we can all join the celebration!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

2014 Southeastern Writers Workshop Awards Night

We wrapped up the 2014 Southeastern Writers Workshop with our Awards Night: Celebrating the Great American Author!  And celebrate we did!

Guest speaker Darrell Huckaby gave a rousing rendition of Johnny Cash's "Ragged Old Flag" and had us in stitches as he recounted his first forays into the literary life.  President Lee Clevenger introduced new SWA Board members, passing the torch -- literally --to (photo l-r) Meredith Brown - The Purple Pros editor; Patrick Hempfing -treasurer; and Sandra Giles - secretary/registrar.  Alex Christle joined the Board the next morning at the Board meeting, taking on the manuscript coordinator and webmaster job. Lee and Kay Eaton (also pictured) are retiring from the Board.

But the real stars of the night are our WINNERS!  We had 13 contests with cash prizes up for grabs this year.  Thank you to our contests sponsors for their loyal support of SWA!

The Hal Bernard Memorial Award For Novel - sponsored by H.W. "Buzz" Bernard
1st:   Behind the Mask by Dana Ridenour
2nd:   The Rose and the Spider by Z.J. Czupor
3rd:   Illusions by L. M. W. Bro
HM:   The Refugee Territory by Tiffany Chacon

The Past Presidents’ Romance Award - sponsored by Debra A. Brown
1st:   Harvest by Linda Joyce
2nd:   Between Nowhere And Lost by Alexandra Christle

The Edna Sampson Award Of Excellence For The Best Novel By A First Time Attendee - sponsored by Vicki Hinze, Cheryl Norman & Marge Smith
Behind the Mask by Dana Ridenour

The GT Youngblood Short Fiction Award - sponsored by Adrian Drost
1st:   Bobby’s Battle by Linda Joyce
2nd:   Encounter With Yesterday by Susan Lindsley
HM:   The Bridge by Dana Ridenour

The Microcosm Award - sponsored by Charlotte Babb
1st:    Rivalry by Micki Morency
2nd:   Innocence by Dawn Burr
3rd:   View of a lifetime by Jody S. Herpin

Lines Of Worth Award - sponsored by Margaret Pennycook
Nonagenarians by Mary Stripling

The Julie L. Cannon Award - sponsored by Cheryl Walz & Frances Ruffin
1st:   To Fall Off The Mountain by Edward D. Anderson
2nd:   Me And Woot And The Redbone Hound by Susan Lindsley
3rd:   The "Write" Way by Georgia Mellie Justad

The Bill Westhead Memorial Award - sponsored by John House
1st:   The Legacy by Sheila S. Hudson
2nd:   My Personal Journey by Micki Morency
3rd:    From My Mouth by Patrick L. Hempfing

The Angel Award For Holiday Seasonal Writing - sponsored by Lee & Emily Sue Harvey
1st:   A Very Southern Tradition by Sheila S. Hudson
2nd:   The Most Wonderful Time by Patrick L. Hempfing
3rd:   Devilishly Good Skeleton Soup by Carol Dumas

The ThomasMax “You Are Published” Contest - sponsored by Lee Clevenger
When Darkness Fell by Susan Lindsley

The Very Merrie Bosom Buddy Award - sponsored by Janet S. Kelleher
1st:   Jonas Rules For Cats by Amy Wethington   
2nd:   Joy To The Fish That Got Away by Mary Stripling

The Award For Excellence In Inspirational Writing - sponsored by Mary Stripling
1st:   Grief by Micki Morency
2nd:   Broken Wings by Sheila S. Hudson
3rd:   Claiming Our Gifts by Candi Deal
HM:   The List by Patrick L. Hempfing

The Cappy Award For Humor - sponsor by Cappy Hall Rearick
Flower Power by Sheila S. Hudson

2014 SWA Winners!

Monday, June 16, 2014

2014 Southeastern Writers Workshop Highlights - Open Mic Night

A regular feature of the 2014 Southeastern Writers Workshop is Open Mic Night.  Attendees and faculty share their work.  It's a funny, poignant and inspiring night!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

2014 Southeastern Writers Workshop Highlights - Nonfiction Weekend

We just wrapped up the 2014 Southeastern Writers Workshop Nonfiction Weekend.  A big thank you to instructors Peggy Mercer, Chuck Sambuchino, Dahlynn and Ken McKowen, Debra Brown and Carlie Webber!  Debra and Carlie are staying for our Fiction Workshop.  Here are a few highlights.  Doesn't look like fun?

Monday, June 9, 2014

SWA Writers Workshop starts Friday!

Have you packed?

The atmosphere of the workshop is casual. It's a beach resort community so shorts and tees rule. Just be sure to bring some nice party clothes for the Awards Ceremony. And you may want to try one of the fabulous local restaurants. 

Did you submit manuscripts for evaluation?  

You should bring a copy of each manuscript with you to the workshop. The faculty only have electronic copies. It may be helpful to have a hard copy available during your conference. 

Don't worry if you missed the deadline!

If you didn't submit a manuscript, bring some of your work with you. Agent Carlie Webber will be available all week to meet with attendees. Editor Chuck Sambuchino will be available Saturday and Sunday to meet with students. And many of the evaluating faculty will have extra appointments you can nab, plus you could have lunch, dinner or even breakfast with an instructor. Try to get all the feedback you can get from these professionals. 

The motto of SWA is "Writers helping writers."  That's why we do this, why these instructors are here. We all want to help you become the best writer you can be. 

We'll see you Friday!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Workshop Sneak Peek: Evening Programs

The SWA Workshop doesn't stop for the day at 5:00.  There's more after dinner each night!  The Evening Sessions are open to the public and there's a social after for networking, card playing and more. Oh, and there are DOOR PRIZES every night!  Click here for the full Schedule of Events!

Friday, June 13

Orientation - Meet the faculty and the SWA Board of Directors, learn the basic set-up, ask questions and sign up for evaluations and Open Mic Night.

Saturday, June 14

Something New! - We're having a little fun - Karaoke! Board member Jan Kelleher will host an evening of singing, cutting up and being fabulous because everyone's a rock star deep inside!

Sunday, June 15

State Of The Industry - Agent Carlie Webber will give a talk on Publishing Today and answer questions on the Writer/Agent Relationship.

Monday, June 16

Open Mic Night - Attendees and faculty can sign up to read 4 minutes of their work.  Always a fun and interesting night!

Tuesday, June 17

Awards Night with Special Guest Darrell Huckaby and After Party - We will hand out the contests prizes and a few surprises!  Read all about here.

Monday, June 2, 2014

EditorialLee Speaking

It's June. If you're a subscriber to Purple Pros and you haven't already decided to come to St. Simons this month for our workshop, it's doubtful there's much I can say that will convince you to come. But I'd like to try. This is my final year as president, my final year on the Board of Directors, my final year to recruit faculty. And if you haven't managed to get to our workshop for the past eight years while I have been on the board (or the six years or so before that when I came strictly as a student), that means I haven't had the chance to meet you. And I'd like to meet you.

No, you can't enter manuscripts for evaluations or contests at this late date. That ship has sailed. But we still have some open seats in classes, the best roster of instructors I've ever seen (I know I'm prejudiced because I recruited them, but, it's really exactly that). We have a publisher, a renown editor, a social media specialist, a best-selling novelist, an award-winning children's author (who will double teaching poetry, for which she's up for an award this year). And that's just the start...there's more! Got a book you want to pitch to an agent? We'll have an agent there to hear your pitch . . . convenient, huh? And there's more beyond that, too much to explain in a simple column. Just come see for yourself.

It's so simple. Just go to and register. And be sure to come talk to me while you're there. Oh, yeah, talk to everyone else too; they'll want to meet you as well. We're a fun group that enjoys spending time together! And we've got room for you in that group.

I guarantee if you do, you'll be glad you did.

~~ Lee Clevenger

Lee is the current President of SWA, an author and co-founder of ThomasMax Publishing in Atlanta, GA.