I was a newspaper reporter for 14 years, the last ten of which I spent as a features writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Most of that time I loved my work and my co-workers. But then one day, newspapers changed, and I wasn’t consulted. When I left journalism 18 years ago to write fiction full-time, I had no idea how much more newspapers would change in the years to come, or that one day, print journalism would be considered as a dinosaur. Today, newspapers are under siege, from the effects of a crappy economy, the free ads offered on Craigslist, and sadly, a younger readership that doesn’t want to get news tossed in the driveway or out of a box on the sidewalk. I still love poring over my newspaper on the kitchen counter every morning, sipping my Diet Coke and catching up on the world. But fewer and fewer of the bylines are familiar anymore. Most of my former colleagues have now been laid off or bought out–and some of them are still twenty or more years away from retirement age. What to do? What could anybody do with a burning desire to write, even if you’re just a laid-off dot.com guy or a bored housewife? How about writing a book? Here are two wonderful workshop opportunities for anybody who’s been thinking about writing the next great American novel.
1. TWO DAY WRITERS WORKSHOP TAUGHT BY BEST-SELLING AUTHOR TERRY KAY. To be held in Marietta, Ga. Sat. May 2, 2009, from 6-9pm, and Sun. May 3, 2-5 p.m.
Terry Kay is the acclaimed author (and personal friend of moi) of such novels as TO DANCE WITH THE WHITE DOG, TAKING LOTTIE HOME, THE BOOK OF MARIE and others. His books have been made into movies, and he is an accomplished and entertaining writing instructor. The cost is ridiculously low–$100, based on a minimum class size of 30 people. For more information, visit Terry’s website at TerryKay.com or BookExchangeMarietta.com.
2. THE ANTIOCH WRITER’S WORKSHOP. Yellow Springs, Ohio, July 11-17. In the summer of 1990, I had a mystery manuscript that nobody wanted to buy, and the start of another book–only five chapters. I saw an ad in the back of a writer’s magazine about a writer’s workshop at a place I’d never heard of, Antioch College, in a town and a state I’d never been to–Yellow Springs, Ohio. But I had heard of the workshop’s keynote instructor, mystery writer extraordinaire Sue Grafton. I went to the AWW that July, sat in on Sue’s week-long class, and in short, my life was changed. Seriously. I left AWW in July, and by October, I had a two-book contract with HarperCollins Publishers. And in May 2001, I quit newspapers. Forever. Seventeen books later, I’m still thankful that I spent the money on that workshop. Check out the AWW’s website for details on this year’s workshop. And tell ’em Mary Kay sent you.