Baby’s First Author Event

Following the photo shoot, the author was heard to shout "now give me back my goddamn whiskey, or you're getting written into the novel."

Following the photo shoot, the author was heard to shout “now give me back my goddamn whiskey, or you’re getting written into the novel.”

As previously advertised, yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of speaking at VCU on a panel about research for creative writing. The weather here wasn’t blizzard-in-Atlanta bad, but the university opened late, it was cold, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if we’d had no attendees at all. Instead, there were more audience members than panelists. It was like a dream come true. The panelists warmed up by swapping stories with each other about encounters with vermin, after which historical and market research were a breeze.

My co-panelists were a lively and interesting bunch, each with great tips and stories to tell. Lindsay Chudzik talked about how much is too much, up to and including a detailed discussion of when and how to engage with seedy hotels, and what they can teach. Mary-Chris Escobar discussed writing close to home, as well as dropping a lot of knowledge about what’s actually involved in becoming your own publisher. Mark Meier talked about the treadmill of freelancing, and he warmed my librarian heart by talking about using both microfilm and government documents to add verisimilitude. Sarah Pezzat detailed deep-diving into your subject and interviewing people, as well as talking about when and why it is appropriate to taste-test celluloid.

Like a lot of things in life, it didn’t start with a flourish of trumpets or end with a crash of cymbals, but it was the first event where I appeared as an author with billing. Of course, given it was at the university where I work, I was juggling hats a little bit, but I’m getting more comfortable with that. On which note, let me don one more hat and say that if you’re in the Richmond and want to learn about self-publishing, check out JRW‘s January Writing Show, Great Expectations: The Realities of Self-Publishing, at The Camel at 6:30.

For the curious, here’s the flier we used to advertise, along with a few basic research resources: rev.handouts.

Writerly Camaraderie in the RVA

At last the truth can be told: I am now a James River Writer. To wit, I am delighted to announce that I have joined the Board of Directors of the James River Writers. It’s a dynamic writing organization, as evidenced by the quality programming they put on, from the annual conference to other offerings, and I was shocked the first time I looked at their history and saw they were founded as recently as 2002. I’m very glad to be able to work with the good folks there on all things writing in RVA.

From their “About” page, James River Writers is a “multi-faceted non-profit organization that serves as central Virginia’s literary hub and a welcoming home for anyone who loves the written word. Aspiring and professional writers and passionate readers in all genres benefit from a variety of programs, services, and events, often presented in partnership with other cultural organizations.

I’m looking forward to serving, and to connecting with more of my fellow writers and readers in central Virginia. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about all that as the year progresses, but in the meanwhile, if you’re interested in the written word, live in central Virginia, and haven’t considered joining, take a look at what you get from membership.

James River Writers logo