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May 2023

Image of 2023 Storyfest logo with book with pencil coming out and colorful swirls.
Registration opens for SCWA's 2023 Storyfest

It's here! Registration for 2023 Storyfest, the South Carolina Writers Association annual conference, is open!

Check out the details at 2023 Storyfest and register at 2023 Storyfest Registration.

This is the biggest SCWA event of the year, and this conference promises to be one of our grandest gatherings ever.

Over 20 authors, agents, editors, screenwriters and journalists are coming from New York, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

That's good news for conference-goers. It means more critiques, pitches, pre-conference workshops, Q&A panels, craft and publishing talks, and keynotes.

Plus, everything you loved about last year's conference is back: a slushfest, queryfest, open mic, drinks and hors de oeuvres, a lobby for selling books, and a spot to hang out with other writers.

Here are just a few of our speakers and faculty: National Book Award-winner Jason Mott, the author of Hell of a Book and The Returned; Janisse Ray, the celebrated Georgia author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood (see the spotlight on her below); Ashley Poston, the New York Times bestselling author of The Seven Year Slip and The Dead Romantics; Cecil Williams, the acclaimed civil rights photographer and publisher; and Columbia author Claire Jimenez, whose just-published novel What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez is a USA Today must-read title.

Best of all, the early bird price is the same as last year — no increase if you act before June 30!

Bonus: giveaway: The first 25 people to register will get a free book by one of our award-winning speakers!

Last year, our members asked us to meet in Columbia, a spot central to writers statewide. The spacious Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center is the perfect spot to improve your writing, hear great authors, pitch your book idea and mingle with other storytellers.

So, what are you waiting for? We're celebrating our 33rd birthday, and you're invited! And yes, there will be cake.
Message from the President

Image of Caucasian woman with light background 
Last month I was candid with y'all about my writer's block and some very supportive messages came my way along with the requested home remedies. So, thank you!
Apparently writing about not writing is a good way to get unstuck because I'm now 5,000 words into a new vampire novel. Or maybe it's just being at the end of the semester and wondering what I'll do with myself all summer long?
I love May for the end-of-term-ness. Exams are over. Final grades are in. Graduation looms. I'm reminded each year of how I felt upon my own graduations (there have been four): the sense of accomplishment, the starry-eyed-emoji look to the future. 
I'm a sucker for the lull between endings and new beginnings. There's so much anticipation, so much nostalgia, a sense of gratitude, but also a slight anxiety over what the future holds. It's a delicious swirl of emotion that exists for just about a week or so.
SCWA isn't slowing down this summer:
  • We have two featured poets in our Author's Toolbox session on May 4, Kelli Russell Agodon and Jenna LeRegister here.
  • Our Summer Series kicks off May 23 and happens weekly at noon on Tuesdays until July 25. That's 10 weeks of lunchtime craft talks. Register here. (You only have to register once).
  • Our fall conference, 2023 Storyfest, officially has launched and early bird sales are underway. Excellent faculty, awesome venue, and it's in Columbia, which is convenient in 1,000 ways. We'll be talking it up all summer. Register here.
As fall semester doesn't begin until Aug. 24, I've got lots of time to write. I'm sure it'll be gone before I can blink. But for today, at least, I'm luxuriating in the feel of possibility. The kind only a good in-between moment can produce.
What are you looking forward to this summer?

Kasie Whitener
President, SCWA Board of Directors
Events and Education

Image of book cover with Caucasian girl with dark background. Reviewers and authors love Janisse Ray, the Georgia writer who grew up in a junkyard in rural Appling County. Over the years, they've compared her to Walt Whitman, Rachel Carson and Henry David Thoreau.

"Wonderful," says writer Rick Bass.

"Janisse Ray ... engages with the world in a way that few can manage in this screened-off age," adds Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home: A Long Walk Across America's Most Hopeful Landscape. "If there's a more open, honest and appealing writer today, I've not met her."

A close reading of her celebrated memoir, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, reveals why critics love her. Here's the first page:

In south Georgia, everything is flat and wide. Not empty. My people live among the mobile homes, junked cars, pine plantations, clearcuts, and fields. They live among the lost forests.

The creation ends in south Georgia, at the very edge of the sweet earth. Only the sky, widest of the wide, goes on, flatness against flatness. The sky appears so close that, with a long-enough extension ladder, you think you could touch it, and sometimes you do, when clouds descend in the night to set a fine pelt of dew on the grasses, leaving behind white trails of fig and mist.

Ecology of a Cracker Childhood was an instant success. The awards piled up: the American Book Award, the Southeastern Booksellers Award for Nonfiction, the Southern Environmental Law Center Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment and the Southern Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

Since then, Ray has written or edited over a dozen books and won other awards, including a Pushcart Prize and the Nautilus Book Award. She was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2015,

Over the long Nov. 3-5 Storyfest weekend, she'll share her approach to writing with conference-goers in Columbia. On Friday, she'll teach a pre-conference class, "Marketing Your Book Skyward." She'll deliver the Saturday morning keynote, "Five Challenges to Great Writing and How to Conquer Them," and offer a memoir class, "Write Your Own Story."

Register today to hear this remarkable poet, naturalist, activist and author.

Order her books from your favorite bookseller. As author Rick Bass says, "If you don't yet know her work, today is your lucky day."
Image of Flash Fiction Workshop Series graphic with dark background and picture of Caucasian woman and dog

There's never been a better time to be a flash fiction writer, says Writer's Edit, an online literary magazine. "With the form's increasing popularity, the number of publications and competitions seeking flash fiction has exploded."

A quick internet search bears this out: "30 Literary Magazines that Accept Flash Fiction”"(Authors Publish), "Top 24 Websites for Flash Fiction" (Bookfox) and "The Best Flash Fiction Writing Contests of 2023" (reedsy).

Flash fiction writers can earn from $50 to $1,000 in contest awards offered by magazines such as Fairfield Scribes, WOW! Women On Writing, Letter Review, Chilling Pen Horror Writers Association, The Lascaux Review and others.

Want to learn more about flash fiction writing?

In June, writer and teacher Amber Wheeler Bacon will offer a four-night crash course on short fiction.

Class members will study top flash fiction authors, write one to two pieces weekly and share their work for feedback in small groups. They'll also get feedback from Bacon, who received the 2022 Lit/South Award for flash fiction.

Each attendee may publish their best story in a special Flash Fiction edition of The Petigru Review, SCWA's literary magazine.

Can't make every class? Don't worry. The sessions will be recorded for those who miss a paid-for session.

You're in good hands with this course. Bacon received the 2018 Breakout Writers Prize from The Author's Guild. She's a finalist for the 2023 Chautauqua Janus Prize for prose. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Crazyhorse, Ecotone, Epiphany, Five Points, New Ohio Review, Post Road, Prairie Schooner and Witness.

Register here and start writing! 
Combined images of two women, one on left a Caucasian woman with dark background, and one on right, an Asian woman with brick background
SCWA's poetry celebration continues May 4 with talks and readings by poets Kelli Russell Agodon and Jenna Le.

Agodon's most recent collection, Hourglass Museum, was short-listed for the Julie Suk Poetry Prize for the best book of poems published by a small press. She co-authors The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice.

Le is a New York physician and the daughter of Vietnamese refugees. Her first book, Six Rivers, was a Small Press Poetry Bestseller. Her second collection, A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora, won second place in the 2017 Elgin Awards.

South Carolina poet Arthur Turfa will host the 7–8:30 p.m. event. The talk is free for SCWA members and $25 for nonmembers. Register here.
Image of book, summer hat and beverage beside blue swimming pool.


Beginning May 23, SCWA will host 10 weeks of Tuesday lunchtime Zoom-enabled meet-ups on craft and publishing. It's the same Zoom each week, so you only need to register once. These are the dates and topics, starting at noon each session:

May 23: Dialogue and dialect
May 30: Plotting and character arcs
June 6: Pacing and tension
June 13: Alliteration and rhythm (poets mostly)
June 20: World building (fantasy and sci-fi)
June 27: Suspense, clues and foreshadowing in mystery novels
July 11: All your query questions answered (agent, publisher, etc.)
July 18: Marketing your book part 1: Find your audience, basics, email newsletter, website
July 25: Marketing your book part 2: Social media, giveaways, contests, etc.
Aug. 1: Non-fiction book proposals / memoir queries

Is one of these topics your area of expertise? Apply to be a co-host here.

Paul Davis
VP/Events and Education


Each month, we spotlight one of our members, selected at random. This month we feature Millie West, the author of four novels and 10 screenplays. Overall, her screenplays have won 26 awards and recognitions. Of these, 11 were "Best Screenplay" awards for Cat Island (4), Dr. Portia (3), Mary Jane's Last Dance (3) and Catherine's Cross (1). Her biggest success has been Dr. Portia, the story of Blythewood's first female physician, with 10 awards and recognitions.

West began her screenwriting journey following a presentation she did in Beaufort about Catherine's Cross, one of her novels. Afterwards, a "kindly lady" told West she enjoyed the book and that it would make a good movie. So, West studied several how-to books, but the last one she read was most helpful: The Screenwriters Bible by Dave Trottier.

Research is West's favorite part of screenwriting, which is how she learns about intriguing South Carolina heroines whose lives she previously had known little about. SCWA, like West, hopes to see her work on the big screen one day.     


Thanks to everyone who renewed their membership. We appreciate your loyalty and support!

If you haven't paid your SCWA membership dues by now, your membership lapsed on May 1, but don't despair. You can rejoin at any time. Just go to Join Us and complete the application. We'd love to have you back.

Have questions, concerns or suggestions? Just email us at We'd love to hear from you.

Raegen Teller

Questions or suggestions about SCWA membership?
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