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  • 07 Aug 2023 10:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Image of Caucasian woman with light backgroundCONSIDER SCWA BOARD SERVICE

    Our Summer Series wrapped up this week with Chapin/Irmo Chapter member Carolyn Hartley. She shared that some of her chapter members had told her how much they enjoyed the Summer Series.
    Summer Series was first run during the pandemic when we'd been shut down from in-person chapter meetings and SCWA wanted to present something that would fulfill our commitment to education and association for our writers. We went 10 consecutive weeks this summer, every Tuesday at noon.
    I volunteered for it again this year for two reasons: 1) I need a weekly habit to keep me in the groove over the summer, and 2) I love giving our members a chance to teach on the subjects they know best. We have quite a few members ready, able and willing to lead.
    People! Your SCWA needs you!
    Our Board of Directors is currently recruiting for the 2024 service year. We'll need members to step forward, make themselves available, and serve the association in governance. (See more details later in the August 2023 issue of The Quill from SCWA Secretary Sharon Thomas.)
    I've been serving SCWA since 2018 in various capacities. I have certainly gotten more than I expected from these opportunities. Leadership gives members a chance to direct the activities of the organization that supports them. Service to the organization helps you get more from the association pillar of our mission statement.
    Consider where you are in your writing journey and whether board service may be right for you. I'm glad to answer any questions just email me at

    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

  • 07 Jul 2023 11:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Message from the President

    Image of Caucasian woman with light background ON THE FOURTH OF JULY

    We skipped this week's Summer Series because it fell on July 4th. Nonetheless, around lunchtime I found myself pondering what others were doing for the holiday.
    Had they found a pool to sit around and cool off in? Had they attended a picnic for hamburgers and watermelon? Had they planned to write something commemorating the day?
    On Twitter, the people I followed repeated these immortal words:
    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
    Arguably the most important words written in the course of human history, establishing the purpose for an act of defiance — treason — they are a foundational philosophy, the expression of deeply-held values.
    The words are Thomas Jefferson's and he wrote them in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. July 4th was our country's birthday, the day we remember Jefferson's bold assertion "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…"
    In commemoration, we eat hot dogs and set off fireworks, play John Philip Souza tunes and wear star-spangled T-shirts. We wave flags, congratulate each other on living in the greatest country in the world, and in general feel a sense of national pride.
    I hope you had a chance to write yesterday, or if not to put fingers-to-keyboard, then a chance to at least observe the language we use to describe ourselves and each other. We are the home of the free and the brave. We are tried and true. We are a continuing experiment in self-governance. Imperfect but ever striving to achieve the dream of our founders:
    "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
    Happy Independence Day!

    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

  • 07 Jun 2023 12:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Image of Caucasian woman with light background  
    The week before Memorial Day I went on a walking tour of the University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus led by the Office of Veterans Affairs. The tour highlighted fallen Gamecocks – erstwhile students who had joined various war efforts from Gettysburg to Bagram. One of our last stops was at the World War Memorial, dedicated on May 30, 1935, and so named because they didn’t know it would only be the first World War.
    Inside the memorial is a sanctuary and a stone inscription hangs on the wall, flanked by flags. It read, in part, “Soldiers of South Carolina this is your peoples’ tribute to the spirit that made you patriots ….” Several other lines espousing the nobility of the fallen finished with “God rest your souls and may He help the living to be worthy to reap in the fields of honor where you have sown.”
    The inscription was written by Ambrose Elliot Gonzales, one of two brothers who founded The State newspaper (more info here). I couldn’t find the full inscription anywhere online but if you’d like to read it in its entirety, send me an email ( and I’ll share it with you.
    It is often the work of writers, journalists, authors and storytellers, to propel the lessons and hopes of previous generations to those who follow. When we read historic documents and experience the intentions of their authors, we accept the responsibility to fulfill the promise of our collective future. One that will, hopefully, far surpass the past.
    I hope you were each able to mark Memorial Day in some meaningful way. And yes, hot dogs with neighbors qualifies. Let our gratitude be a shared grace and our hope for the future a unifying passion.

    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

  • 03 May 2023 12:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    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

  • 05 Apr 2023 4:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Message from the President


    I started my career as a sportswriter. Once a week, I was the featured columnist on the sports page. My editor called my column "Kasie at the Bat."
    In the column, I was allowed to comment on sports world happenings. Twenty-two years ago, I wrote about Dale Earnhardt's death at Daytona. I remember it vividly. The word coming through headsets and scanners and whispers and wails sewed us together in a tapestry of sponsored grief: Interstate Batteries and Budweiser and Napa Auto Parts. We stood in elongated shadows and wept.
    Being a sportswriter felt easier than writing fiction. It also felt more fun.
    I'm in the middle of my career, so I'm pretty busy. And there's a lot of paid stuff to do and just as much obligatory stuff to do. I try to prioritize the fun stuff. I'm not exactly sure when writing stories stopped being the fun stuff.
    I've attended six chapter meetings in a row with no new pages. I've even rewritten this message six different times with six different topics:
    • Being "above the fold" and getting your stories read.
    • Competing for eyeballs and writing "newsworthy" stories.
    • Finding your way out of writer's block with self-imposed deadlines.
    • Being the reason people buy the newspaper (or attend the conference) and building a following.
    • Effectuation and starting from a means-based approach (what do I have that I can use?).
    And this topic, which seems to be part confession, part cry for help. Maybe I need to stop attending critique groups and go back into my writing cave and write. Maybe I need a better hero, a Dale Earnhardt. Maybe I need to make time to write. Again. Prompts could help. Maybe some writing exercises. Send your home remedies to
    Don't fall victim to below-the-scroll fatigue. This issue of The Quill has LOTS to offer. Keep reading.

    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

  • 05 Apr 2023 4:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Message from the President


    I am apparently on a Taylor Swift kick because she's all over my Spotify. If you're not familiar, Spotify is the world's leading digital music service. One of the things that has contributed to its wildfire growth since 2020 is the platform's ability to suggest music to listeners. Once Spotify learns what you like, it dials up more of it. Spotify sometimes knows before I do that I need to go Back to December.
    Technology learns us. Google's search algorithm prioritizes answers and links that match ones we've clicked before. From stored passwords to cookie preferences, our digital lives are living, changing things.
    Now, ChatGPT is offering to write our stories for us. If you haven't heard of the free artificial intelligence (AI) application disrupting the publishing industry, check out Amazon's latest author.
    Every story generated teaches the program how to do it better. Technology is learning to mimic us. To be us. And AI poses a legitimate threat to writers because it can make out of the existing internet of words, a combination that passes for composition: it can write.
    Before long, writers focused on words will find themselves replaced by technology that uses the very same bricks for building stories.
    I am challenged by ChatGPT to write the parts of the story that AI couldn't possibly know. What does it feel like to press your lips to the dry, papery flesh of Nana's cheek? To breathe in that baby scent during a midnight feeding cuddle? To catch the pitch deep in the glove with the satisfying thwump and the whoosh of a strikeout?
    Writers sharing authentic experiences, and excavating core wounds, cannot be replaced. We can defeat the artificial with the authentic.
    The influence of AI on publishing is one of the many topics we're bringing to SCWA's fall conference in Columbia. More details to come. Just know you'll be able to attend for less than the price of Taylor Swift tickets.
    In the meantime, send me your workshop wants and needs ( and we'll try to line up a menu of relevant, useful sessions for our biggest weekend of the year.

    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

  • 07 Feb 2023 11:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In 2018, I went on a tear of young adult books. I usually read over 100 books a year and that year was no exception. Sixty of them were YA fantasy novels. I read Sarah Maas and Leigh Bardugo. I read all the Caraval novels and all the Selection novels. I also read Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeymi's Hugo and Nebula awards-winning YA fantasy novel.
    This book is so decorated, its Amazon listing's first 17 lines are accolades. It's like the Serena Williams of YA literature. It's a fast-paced, magical hero's journey with echoes of African mythology that NPR called "a feast for hungry readers." And it was her debut novel.
    It blew me away. It was worthy of every single word of praise and more. It's an author putting on a clinic about strong characters, solid plot structure, well-crafted scenes, world-building and series-starters.
    February is Black History Month and the usual outlets are promoting the usual authors: Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison - just go to Because of Them We Can to see. If you haven't read anything by these masters, make this the month you do so. Then discover one of these new, debut and up-and-coming authors: Nic StoneCharmaine Wilkerson, Nikki May, C.J. Washington and Jabari Asim.
    Then look to our own backyard as the Richland Library celebrates local Black writers and discover Savannah Friarson, Brian Barr, Jerlean Noble, Kym Davis Boyles and Catherine Fleming Bruce.
    I invite you to also look into our own writing community to find C.J. HeigelmanDr. Len Lawson, Dr. Walter Curry and Yvette Murray.
    Also, be sure to check out the Black Authors Lab and Book Festival on Saturday, March 25, in Cheraw. The ticketed event, which is open to the public, includes storytelling, poetry, spoken word, jazz, books for sale, meet and greet with the authors and a writer's workshop. Its purpose is to encourage the reading and writing of African American literature. For details and to register, go to Black Authors Lab and Book Festival.
    Just because it's Black History Month? Yes! Because the purpose of celebrating Black culture and heritage by designating an entire month is to remind us that there are voices we don't always hear singing every day.
    Let yourself listen to them, read them, hear them, be changed by them.

    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

  • 06 Jan 2023 9:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It's that time of year when we are encouraged to resolve to do better in the upcoming year. I have never resolved anything as a result of a New Year, but I have set new goals. Each January, I try to envision what the upcoming year might bring and attempt to put myself on a track for success.
    I call them New Year's Renewals. I think of them as recommitting to excellence, not a rebuke for falling off the wagon. Football season gets us all, amiright?
    My renewals last year included being present – fully connected on Zoom, fully in the room with the people I'm with, focused on the task at hand. It made such a big difference for me that I'm recommitting to PRESENCE in 2023. I'm also recommitting to a higher volume of writing (more blogging! more short stories!) since last year I did a lot of revision.
    If one of your New Year's Renewals is to participate more in SCWA, I'd encourage you to consider joining a committee. Here are a few of them and their missions:
    • Membership, led by Reagan Teller, focuses on attracting and retaining members by creating an inviting and enriching experience for existing and prospective members.
    • Events and Education, led by Paul Davis, provides ongoing education on the craft of writing and the professionalism of publishing through virtual and in-person workshops.
    • Conference Committee, led by Paul Davis and Brad Land, will organize our fall conference, including finding sponsors, speakers and locations.
    • Finance and Fundraising, led by Lynn Volkenant, will find and pursue grants and other efforts at fundraising.
    • The Petigru Review, led in 2022 by Maria Picone and Yvette Murray, is published annually and will need readers for a fresh batch of submissions this summer.
    • Marketing is a new committee, currently being led by yours truly, and could benefit from you social-media-savvy, publicity and marketing gurus.
    • Diversity is an audit committee, led by Yvette Murray, to help us keep our commitment to diversity in everything we do.
    You can contact the committee lead directly or email me at, and I'll be glad to introduce you to them.
    If you're called to further service in SCWA consider stepping up as a chapter lead or serving on a committee. You'll get out of SCWA what you put in this year. Let's make it the best one yet, together.

    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

  • 20 Dec 2022 8:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last year, our Elf on the Shelf disappeared in Florida while we were on a pre-Christmas trip with my dad. I now have a flash fiction piece about an elf named Patrick Henry who is desperate to escape his life of indentured-scout-elf-servitude. He plots an escape plan consisting of giving up his magic and hitchhiking to Florida.
    Don’t all stories bear traces of our real-life adventures?
    Something about this time of year and an inevitable sense of urgency – make the most of the holidays, finish out the year strong, get all that shopping done, those cookies baked, those words on the page. And beyond the urgency is the instant-nostalgia – make memories you’ll keep, have good times you’ll remember, take photos, send cards, attend parties, tell stories, spread cheer.
    Why do we expect so much from ourselves during the holidays? Why can’t my Spotify Wrapped just be quiet Christmas music instead of Taylor Swift’s example of what the achievement of totally awesome actually looks like?
    As our organization looks toward 2023, using your membership survey input as our guide, we are mindful of the ambitions, expectations and obligations of our writing family. We have BIG ideas for 2023 we can’t wait to share, and we’ll be voting in new board members we can’t wait for you to meet.
    But, before all that, on Dec. 8, the Pat Conroy Literary Center will co-host with SCWA its last Virtual Open Mic of the year with author Juan Eugenio Ramirez, author of The Man with Wolves for Hands, winner of the Nilsen Prize for First Novel. Learn more here
    Then, on Dec. 14, our radio show, Write On SC, will host its first Holiday Party at The Aristocrat on Washington Street in Columbia. You’re all welcome to come and hear eight short stories, including the one about Patrick Henry’s Florida fantasies. Learn more about that here.
    In the midst of the holiday crush, I imagine a little escape is welcome. Just don’t give up your magic to get it.

    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

  • 04 Nov 2022 4:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    WHAT I HEARDKasie Whitener 

    I give my students an assignment called "What I Heard." They're meant to watch a video, attend a talk or listen to a podcast that is relevant to what we’re studying and report to the class how it helped them to learn and grow.
    SCWA presented two incredible opportunities last month. Our virtual conference had 50 registrants and took on issues like whether to pursue self, hybrid, indie or traditional publication. What I heard there was a community glad for the expertise being offered to help further their craft and career.
    Our Pawley's Island annual conference had 95 attendees and included the classic Slushfest where panelists offered honest feedback on some hopeful authors' first pages. The event also featured the youngest and only Black female poet laureate of Alabama, Ashley M. Jones, whose Sunday keynote included moving passages from her poems and received a standing ovation. 
    What I heard at Pawley's Island was how excited people were to be back in person, sharing their ideas, sharing the same spaces, learning craft and practice and professionalism. 
    What I heard in October was a community reunited around our shared passion: writing.
    When we go into community, we are fully human, and as humans, we are tasked with trying to make sense of the world around us. As writers, we do that sense-making on the page. We write our way through confusion, questioning, learning, feeling, understanding, contextualizing, and catharsis. Many of us come to the page to rage, or weep, to dream, hope, or ponder. 
    As writers, we do our sense-making with words and words have power. 
    I hope we'll each consider the terms and sentiments we use when describing ourselves and others. I hope we'll reach for love. I hope that we'll be glad for the chance to read, hear, learn, empathize, and maybe even change when presented with opportunities. 
    What I heard this month was that we are here, in SCWA, to learn. And learning will change us, it should change us. For the better.

    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

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