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February 2024

Message from the President

Ash Smith, Caucasian individual with light backgroundHello, folks. I am Ash and I am your new SCWA president for the year. I'm excited to be able to give back and serve the SCWA community.

We've all heard writing is a solo sport and, for the most part, that's true. However, what I've learned being a part of the SCWA is that it also takes a village to write. What I love most about the SCWA is that it gave me that community that I haven't had since college. A community that I didn't know I needed until I met you.

Community is important because it gives us people who think similarly to us. They get that you cleaned your entire house because you were stuck sitting down and writing a scene. They can laugh with you when you scare the poison control people by asking questions. Let's not mention our search history.

Community is being able to bounce ideas off each other and work on our dreaded pitches. SCWA gives us a safe place to have our work critiqued and low key learn to be a better writer by critiquing others' work. It awes me that we have so many strong critique groups both by regions and by some styles/genres. I love hearing about people’s excitement for sharing their work with each other.

Community is coming together and learning together. I joined SCWA in 2021, just in time for Summer Series, and I was hooked. We came together for an hour and learned a cool writing lesson or even just have an hour where we wrote with each other. The open mic nights gave me courage again to read my work to other people. Hearing from other authors gives me inspiration. Meeting and learning from publishers, editors and agents gives me hope and knowledge I need to share my work with the world.

My favorite part of the SCWA is the yearly conference and getting to meet in person so many of my SCWA friends. It's a weekend where I can get away from life and just focus on my craft. It's a weekend where I reenergize for my writing and become excited after listening to the speakers, watching pitch speed dating, and hearing from agents and editors.

SCWA offers a place for all types of writers. We all have different personalities and lives, but writing brings us together. That bond is so important to keep going with writing. We all need encouragement and the chance to see our stories, poems, memoirs, etc. from different eyes. This makes us better writers.

Happy writing and may the muses smile in your direction.
Ash Smith
SCWA Board of Directors


The year is off to a great start with our new board of directors, which met in person in January to conduct SCWA business and to elect our new officers for 20204.

Ash Smith was elected president, and Charles Hall was elected 1st vice president. Lynn Volkenant will continue as treasurer. We continue to seek someone to take over the role of secretary. If you have an interest, pleas contact our administrator, Laura Corbin, at; she will fill you in on the responsibilities of the office.

Smith has a BFA in creative and professional writing. They currently are working on their first novel. A graduate of Converse University, Smith lives in Spartanburg and has served on previous boards in both Spartanburg and Converse University communities. They are very excited to serve on SCWA's board and look forward to growing with this community. 

A native South Carolinian, Hall is new to the novel-writing game. Previously, his efforts were focused on speech and stage writing. He uses his writing talents primarily in the political world as an issue activist. In fiction writing, he finds Heinlein, Crichton, Grisham, Harris and Conroy to be inspirations. Outside of writing you will find him at home on the tennis court and camping. You can find him on most social media platforms at Chip Hall. 

As announced las month, our vice presidents are: Pat Brandon, Events & Education; Ben Culbreth, Marketing; and Jay Sauls, Membership. Kasie Whitener continues on the board as immediate past president.
News and Updates


SCWA has launched a new online Newsroom to keep you updated on upcoming events and organization news, including news of member awards and accolades. We will use it for important announcements, especially those that come between issues of The Quill.

Email with news of your awards.

The Newsroom link can be found in the top main menu on the website.

(Note that the Newsroom will not be for announcing members' new publications, as there are just so many talented writers in SCWA. Please continue to post those in your personal profiles as well as in the Publications & Awards forum.)
Events & Education


Renee Fountain, Caucasian woman with light backgroundIn partnership with South Carolina Writers Association, literary agent Renee C. Fountain, president of Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management, is offering critique sessions.

These sessions will be available for purchase:

Book Pitch with 15-minute Zoom session
Cost: $75

One-Page Query or 1st Page Critique (no Zoom session)
Cost: $75

10-Page Reading with 15-minute Zoom session
Cost: $100

10-Page In-Depth Critique (no Zoom session)
Cost: $110

To register for any of these sessions, go to the SCWA Online Store, select your desired session(s) and pay via credit or debit card. 

Once payment is confirmed, you will receive an email with instructions regarding your submission and/or scheduling your session with Fountain, if applicable. Note that ALL payments are ONLINE via credit card or debit card; PayPal, Venmo or other cash-apps are not accepted. Payment must be received within two (2) hours of placement of the order or it will be canceled.

Fountain champions various genres, ranging from adult thrillers to informative nonfiction and close-to-her-heart YA. Over the years, Fountain has helped launch several crime thriller writers and series, including Sarah Cain's The 8th Circle, Michel Logan’s Hell’s Detective and Jonathan Fredrick's Cain City series. Before putting on her agent hat, she spent five years working for the CW television network as a book scout and story analyst for television development. She spent nearly a decade working in major publishing houses, including Harcourt Brace and Simon & Schuster, where she worked with some of the best writers and illustrators in the publishing world.  In addition to looking for the next best-seller, Fountain also can be found on the faculty of Manuscript Academy, providing developmental editing and writing critiques.

Questions? Email

Paula Munier, left, and Holly Goddard Jones will start off SCWA's Author's Toolbox programs in February and March, respectively.

Your SCWA Board (prior and current!) members already have begun work on the 2024 year!
The first Author's Toolbox Zoom workshop will take place from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 29. The featured presenter will be Paula Munier, the senior agent and director of Storytelling for Talcott Notch Literary and the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Mercy Carr mysteries. For over 20 years, Munier has created and marketed content in various formats across all markets for such media giants as WGBH, Fidelity, Disney and Gannett. Her books on writing include The Writer's Guide to Beginnings: How to Craft Story Openings That Sell; Writing With Quiet Hands: How to Shape Your Writing to Resonate With Readers; and Plot Perfect: How to Build Unforgettable Stories Scene by Scene. Don't miss this exciting opportunity!

Future presenters include Holly Goddard Jones (March 28), and our own Arthur Turfa (April 10; Poetry Month) will present "Writing Poems About Family Without Anyone Getting Upset" – several of us will likely be there for that with popcorn, for sure!)

Drew Geyer, managing editor of TPR, will present the May 16 Author's Toolbox program, discussing TPR and this year's submissions.

Register for Author's Toolbox. The programs are free for SCWA members; $25 each for nonmembers.

Our 2024 SCWA Storyfest Conference is already in the works! Mark your calendars for Oct. 11-13 at the Doubletree by Hilton in Columbia (2100 Bush River Road; 10 minutes from downtown). There will be plenty of parking; an on-site restaurant (Columbo’s) serving breakfast, lunch and dinner; a lounge; and a 24-hour snack access area as well as a fitness center. There are many restaurants close by as well, including Real Mexico, Persis Indian Grill, Cracker Barrel, Wings and Ale, and The Melting Pot. Two keynote speakers and a few other presenters already have been procured. We are ramping up all efforts to make this year’s conference as fantastic as last year’s! Please send any thoughts and ideas to Pat Brandon at

More to come, stay tuned!

Pat Brandon
VP/Events & Education


Andrew Geyer, Caucasian man in outdoor settingDrew Geyer, chair of the Department of English at the University of South Carolina Aiken, has been named managing editor of SCWA's cornerstone literary journal, The Petigru Review (TPR).
Geyer is the author, co-author and editor of 11 books, including the novels Dixie Fish and Meeting the Dead and the short story collection Lesser Mountains, winner of the 2020 Independent Publishers Book Award Silver Medal for Regional/Southern Fiction. His short stories have won numerous accolades, including two Spur Awards for Best Short Story from the Western Writers of America.  He is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and the South Carolina Academy of Authors Literary Hall of Fame and is the fiction editor at the Concho River Review
Sara J. Sobota, who teaches at Coastal Carolina University, has been named assistant editor, and Sydney Bollinger will assist with editing, Submittable and the TPR website.
"All three of us are super excited to be part of the TPR team," Geyer says. "Submissions will be open as soon as we're able to swing it. You'll get details soon. We'll be accepting submissions of fiction, nonfiction and poetry."
All TPR submissions will be handled via Submittable. There will be a two-track approach, Geyer says. "We'll have a regular submissions portal, open to all, with a minimal fee for submitting – probably $3. There also will be a students-only contest portal, free of charge for all students who enter. They will need a dot-edu email address to make that fee-free entry happen. The student track will offer $1,000 total in prize money – $500 for first, $300 for second and $200 for third."
The contest will be multi-genre, Geyer notes. "Students may submit fiction, nonfiction or poetry. The three best entries will win, regardless of genre. The top 20 or so entries also will be awarded free one-year student memberships in the SCWA. Winning students must be present at the SCWA annual conference, set for October, to collect their checks.
"For the open submissions portal, we plan to have a twin-themed issue with emphasis on 'Place' and 'Voice,'" he says. "Submissions will not be limited to a Carolina setting. Rather, in the tradition of Spartanburg's Hub City Press, the greater South will be our focus. We’re hoping to get more submissions by casting a broader net."

Submission guidelines, deadlines and other details will be shared soon.


Welcome to February, the shortest, coldest month of the year! The holiday season is a distant memory, the decorations are all neatly stored in the attic, and best of all, your home is free of guests and distractions! It's now time to get back to writing. No better month than February to start working on stories for your special person.

The South Carolina Writers Association is here to help you create the poems, love stories, romantic novels that you have carried with you all your life. The SCWA has chapters all over South Carolina, from the coast to the mountains and everywhere in between. If you don't know where to start, visit our Local & Virtual Chapters page or email me at I'll be more than happy to help point you in the right direction so you can find the SCWA chapter that will help you grow as a writer and be your forever writing home.
2024 is shaping up to be a great year. Follow The Quill so you'll be in the know when exciting events happen throughout the year. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to write me at


We're giving away free memberships for 2024-25 to two members who renew by April 1.

All you have to do to be eligible is renew and pay your dues by the midnight April 1 deadline. On April 2, we will do a random drawing and pull two names from those who have paid on or prior to April 1. If you're one of the two lucky winners, we'll issue a refund for your dues and you'll have free membership until April 2025. 

Jay Sauls
Have comments or questions about your SCWA membership?
Contact us at We'd love to hear from you.
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