- Michele Brown
November will be bringing our library community both Veterans Day and NaNoWriMo. If you’ve thought of trying your hand at writing about the war experience, you’ll want to attend our workshop, “When Fiction Goes to War: Creating Characters in and after Combat.” Steve Watkins, award-winning local author and past instructor of journalism, creative writing, and Vietnam War literature at the University of Mary Washington, will lead this program for veterans, their family members, and anyone else who wants to hone their writing skills. To be held at Porter Branch, 2001 Parkway Boulevard, Stafford, November 11, 9:45-10:45 am, this program is part of our larger Writers Conference.
The Writers Conference features six workshops for aspiring writers, a panel discussion, and a reception for all local authors or authors-to-be. Participants can attend as few or as many activities as they wish. Led by published authors, the workshops include sessions on writing believable characters, how to market your book like a pro, writing a pitch, and using graphic novels to help youth overcome adversity. Budding authors are encouraged to bring in the first 500 words of their own works for review and feedback.
The panel discussion on traditional publishing versus self-publishing will be of interest to all writers. Moderated by author Linda White and featuring local authors Jim Hall, E.H. Kindred, Mary Maki, and Steve Watkins, the panel will explore the pros and cons of each publishing route and share their experiences.
The reception for local authors will include refreshments, book signings, and books for sale. Authors interested in reserving a table should call now to reserve space.
For more information on the conference, including times for the various events, call Porter Branch at 540-659-4909 or visit the library’s website at librarypoint.org.
If you want to get a head start on the art and mechanics of writing before the Writers Conference, check out a related book at the library. A favorite is How to Not Write Bad: The Most Common Writing Problems and the Best Ways to Avoid Them, by Ben Yagoda. One reader opined that this work on crafting interesting and effective sentences and paragraphs with correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar was “fun.” I’ve never found grammar or punctuation to be fun before, so this is good news.
Looking for encouragement and tips to get started writing? A new book, Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo, by Grant Faulkner, is sure to motivate you. Really, any book with “mojo” in the title has to be a winner.
We have books that focus solely on either explaining how to write properly or reflecting on the magic and creativity of the process. The Way of the Writer: Reflections on the Art and Craft of Storytelling, by Charles Johnson, does both neatly. Pick up this book if you want a utilitarian guidebook and a little philosophy.
A highly popular genre at our library is the memoir, especially the type in which the writer wrestles with a deeply distressing situation. Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma, by Melanie Brooks, illustrates how these books are cathartic for the writer and the reader.
Consult your librarian—in person, by phone, or email—for more reading suggestions as you begin your project. We can also help with your other research needs, whether you’re writing a modern memoir or a historical novel.
This article originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star. A deleted portion, edited for currency, referenced one of a series of lectures on the Civil War and the Great War being held this fall at CRRL branches by the National Park Service.