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  • 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

  • 04 Nov 2022 4:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    It's Dracula: Ballet with a Bite! month in Columbia. I've always been a fan of Halloween. The costumes! The candy! The vampires! Every year I try to talk my kid into dressing like a vampire with me. We could go to Dracula like that. Or watch The Lost Boys. Or hand out candy. Or just sit on the couch sucking back all that extra saliva that fangs generate. 

    Halloween is about performing, and we'll have a lot of opportunity to perform this month, with fangs or without.
    • Our Virtual Conference includes Literary Trivia on Friday and a Zoom Open Mic on Saturday. The Petigru Review authors are invited to read in a virtual launch party. Register here.
    • The Pat Conroy Literary Center's Open Mic, of which SCWA is a co-host, features Rock Hill poet Angelo Geter on Oct. 13. Watch live or contact PCLC to join and read.
    • Our Pawley's Island conference includes two "tailgate" workshops (Friday), an Open Mic (Saturday) and a slushfest (Sunday). Sold out!
    • Seven of our Columbia SCWA writers will participate in Flash at the Bar: Halloween Edition on Oct 26. There’s a total of nine readers. While it’s not an SCWA sponsored event, the co-host is SCWA's VP of Membership Raegan Teller. No registration required. Just come out to The Aristocrat in Columbia at 6 p.m. and support our readers.  
    Recently, fellow SCWA member Lis Anna-Langston and I were part of Short Story Today, a podcast wherein the voice-actor-host interviews the author and then performs the work. It's a great use of the podcast medium. The popularity of podcasts and audiobooks indicates that performance is an inherent part of our literary craft.
    Performing your work is a great way to build an audience. It's also a great way to edit. We often hear things in a piece when we read aloud that we wouldn't have seen on the page. Inflection, cadence and tone are more easily heard than read. 
    Performing your work is not just marketing, it's also fun! When my kid was little, I used to read Skippyjon Jones books and Hollie would beg, "Do the voices, Mom!" We once had the attention of an entire party of adults as I read, "Holy frijoles!" My dad does the best 'Twas the Night Before Christmas rendition ever. You'd think he'd written it himself.
    Have some ideas for how we can perform our work more often? On a bigger stage? Send them to me I'd love to add more live performance events to our calendar in 2023.
    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

  • 06 Sep 2022 12:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Message from the President

    Back-to-school momentum is contagious. It's an unexpected renewal in September even as we're heading into the decay of fall. It's our final chance to turn this year around.
    I love the possibilities of a new school year, despite being folded back into routine and conformity. The dichotomy of September is motivating. As a football fan, the return to the gridiron gets me especially fired up.
    The fall harvest of apples and pumpkin-spice-everything, the cooling temperatures or at least the promise that our 102-degree days are over. September has its own magic as we transition and transform; it feels like a portal from what was, skipping through what is, headed straight toward what will be.
    I can't help but be optimistic, surrounded by young people on campus. I hope that you'll find reason to be optimistic, too. In September:
    • SCWA is issuing The Petigru Review and moving our contributors forward in their literary journeys.
    • Our Aiken writers are hosting a book fair on Sept. 24 in the Etherredge Center at the University of South Carolina Aiken.
    • We're recruiting board members to serve in 2023; there is a place for you here in our SCWA leadership team.
    • And we're gearing up for our virtual conference Oct. 7-9.
    September is full of the very-best-kind of change. What end-of-year goals will you chase with this back-to-school momentum surrounding us all?

    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

  • 04 Aug 2022 10:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I'm not a dog person. Don’t throw things at me. I think dogs on videos are adorable, and I understand how people love their pets like children. My favorite dogs are other people's dogs. It's not particularly popular to admit such a thing, but my family and I are a "no pets" household. For which, I assure you, we are sufficiently ostracized.
    It's the dog days of summer, those final sluggish moments wherein the enthusiasm of summer has waned and the promise of change is yawning.
    This month our Short Story Workshop with Keith Lesmeister, Digging Trenches, gives us the opportunity to create and iterate, to shape an experience into a specific form. It's one of the add-on offerings from this year's Events & Education programming. I am able to join (unexpectedly) and look forward to getting a kind of JOLT to the doldrums of August and the winding down of summer fun.
    Perhaps I'll find a wagging tail, an enthusiastic bark, or the sprinkled shake of a beloved friend galloping out of the surf. A story waiting for my attention. Glad to see me. Grateful I belong to it and it to me.
    I'd ask you to send me your doggie stories but see line 1. Instead, send me anything you'd like to share about the dog days of summer or the upcoming Digging Trenches workshop to
    I loved hearing from those of you who reached out in July. You're a blessing to me as is SCWA.

    Happy writing!

    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

  • 12 Jul 2022 8:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Message from the President


    When we first moved to Columbia in 2012, the city was under a tourism campaign that read, “Famously Hot.” Billboards flanked the city on the inbound interstates, and just about every citywide event adopted the “Famously Hot” moniker, from blues festivals to farmer’s markets to parades. 
    Although born in Florence in 1977, I was raised in Virginia and returned to my native state in 1995 to attend Clemson, where I married my husband in 2001. We spent the early aughts in Charlotte, where I attended Winthrop University in Rock Hill and worked for a small company in York. We bought our first home in Easley in 2004, and our daughter was born at Greenville Hospital in 2008.
    Columbia, despite being the nucleus around which the rest of the state reluctantly revolves, has a terrible reputation. I was less than thrilled to move here in 2012. 
    The billboards changed my mind. What’s better than honesty? Knowing one’s own self and boldly declaring it. In hero terms, it’s the equivalent of “I am what I am.” In corporate terms, “It is what it is.”
    Columbia is HOT.
    I tell out-of-state folks that the only thing separating Columbia from Hell is a screen door. There are days in July that make you wonder what sins the people around you are being punished for.
    Despite the heat, a band of SCWA writers gathered for fellowship, sharing and support on Saturday, June 25. We sat together outside for five hours, under tent-provided shade, sipping water bottles from iced coolers and reading passages from our published and unpublished work.
    The Inside/Out event was our first face-to-face gathering for the full SCWA community since the Beaufort retreat in 2019. Inside/Out was unstructured, unpretentious and provided a unique opportunity for SCWA members – by longevity, leadership role, writing credentials and chapter experience – to discuss what the future of our writing community should be.
    We were honest. 
    We told stories, read pages and shared perspectives on the world at large and the world inside our chapters and our organization. Thank you to those who came. I hope more of you will join us for our October conference at Pawley’s Island. Let’s get face-to-face and share with candor and compassion the truth we know about ourselves.
    Every journey we’ve ever taken has been flanked by signs, and sometimes the signs change us with their honesty. 
    What signs have you seen that altered your path? Or changed your mind? Send me your thoughts at

    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

  • 03 Jun 2022 10:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Over the Memorial Day weekend, I had the opportunity to do some traveling. To get through the long walks down airport terminals and window seat imprisonment on long flights, I queued up a dozen podcasts on writing.

    There are several things I look for in a good podcast:

    Theme – Most podcasts will have a topic (it's usually in the title of the episode) and shows that stay on topic are more valuable for me than wandering monologues that seem interminable.

    Formula – Shows with an agenda or a designated formula sound more professional, in my opinion. When the hosts stick to it, they demonstrate that professionalism and I'm more likely to come back for another show.

    Relevance – Even the "famous author" podcasts will be clear about how this information is relevant to you, no matter your writing level, age or experience.

    Here are some of my favorites:

    Short Story Today – An SCWA member, Lis Anna-Langston from Columbia, was on a recent episode.

    The Creative PennJoanna Penn is a BIG name in digital publishing and this podcast has been around for so long, she's getting really granular in her topics. But she's on the forefront of digital trends, such as NFTs, and if you don't know what those are or why writers should care, you should queue her up.

    The Shit No One Tells You About Writing – Hosted by a couple of agents who spend the first 10 minutes critiquing a query with the writer on the line. So, so valuable for insight into what agents are thinking when they read your email query.

    Learning the Tropes – This one is a romance-genre-specific one, but I'm sure there are some focused on other genres, too. Definitely helps in learning what is expected of the genre you're writing in. The romance genre has a ton of podcasts, actually, and they all have clever names like Heaving Bosoms, Fated Mates, and Smart Women, Trashy Books. 

    Write On SC – Of course, I'll add my own show here. Rex Hurst and I do this weekly and share not just S.C. writers, but all kinds of craft, publishing and marketing things we're learning. Find us at 

    When starting a podcast listening habit, keep in mind that some are short (less than 30 minutes) and some are a good deal longer (as much as three hours). You may want to consider what length you need for a walk in the neighborhood versus a road trip.
    I'd love to hear what you're listening to. Send me your suggestions at and I'll give them a listen!
    This month we're planning a SUPER SOCIAL event called SCWA Inside Out. It will be on June 25 in Columbia, it's free and pretty casual. Just a chance for us to be face-to-face again. Check out the details below. I hope you'll all join me there and thanks to the Events and Education Committee for planning it and making it happen.
    Lastly, it’s Pride Month and I’d like to wish a very happy celebration to all of our LGBTQ+ members, friends and allies. This month is about celebrating so much, including the unbridled emergence of diverse stories and characters we’ve seen over the past few years. SCWA supports you, loves you and wants your writing career to be spectacular as you bring your own stories into the light.
    Cheers and happy writing!
    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

  • 06 May 2022 11:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Message from the President

    All over the internet this week are Justin Timberlake and Star Wars memes. A recent phenomenon, memes are those pictures with clever words superimposed on them. In this case, Justin Timberlake is a reference to a lyric in one of his songs, “It’s gonna be me!” but, stylistically, it sounds like he says, “It’s gonna be May.” So now you’re in on the joke.
    That’s what memes are – “in” jokes that some people get and some people don’t. It’s their inclusionary nature that makes them so funny. When I get it, I feel included, but if I don’t get it, I usually just scroll past.

    As writers, we’re communicating with a variety of readers, listeners and buyers. It’s incumbent upon us to ensure our messaging is as clear and unmistakable as possible so that as many people as possible can be reached and included. That’s not just how we sell more books, but how we connect humans one-to-the-other.
    Memes aren’t exactly stories. They’re more like reminders of stories we’ve already heard. On May 4th we see the Star Wars memes everywhere (“May the fourth be with you”). Our family even makes lightsaber Kool-Aid and Death Star pizzas for dinner. 
    If the May memes already have worn you out, don’t worry. They’re mostly about the first week of the month.
    SCWA has bigger plans for the whole month. We’re featuring the Your Paths to Publish series this month that includes author-prenuer Raegen Teller, hybrid publisher Alexa Bigwarfe, and small press Hub City and literary agent Amy Elizabeth Bishop. There’s still time to register, even if you missed the first session on May 2. Register at Registrants have access to all the event recordings.
    While Mother’s Day and Memorial Day bookend May, my favorite part of the month is all the puns it lends itself to. Specifically, those classic Irish blessings: May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. May you write in health and joy this month. (I might have added that last part myself!)
    Cheers and happy writing!

    Kasie Whitener
    President, SCWA Board of Directors

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