News & Updates  

  • 07 Mar 2022 9:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Message from the President
     
    I love the old adage “in like a lion, out like a lamb” to describe March. It sounds as if we’re brash, bold and determined at the beginning of the month. It inspires me to seize the day, be energetic and bold! To get unstuck on projects that have stalled since the 2022 New Year’s spark.
     
    I know lamb time is coming. There will be a chance to rest and reflect and enjoy the flowers as they bloom and all that spring has to offer. But for now – ROAR!
     
    March is my favorite month of the year in part because it’s my birthday month but also because it’s an annual milestone – the end of the first quarter, the nudge into a new season. It’s when we emerge from the long winter and find things new, hopeful and budding. March is full of hope for what’s to come. It doesn’t dwell on what has been but looks forward to what can be.
     
    For a perpetual optimist, March allows yet another opportunity to plan and execute great ideas and our SCWA leadership has been busy!
    • The Events &Education team has been hard at work organizing a variety of programming including this month’s Become an Author event with Angela Belcher Epps “Get into Your Write Space” all about connecting to that intrinsic motivation for inspiration. If you’re not registered yet, click here to get your spot.
    • The Board of Directors is hard at work organizing and formalizing committees. As we move toward a governing board configuration, we are decentralizing the operating work through committees. Committee work is a low-impact, high reward way to lend your voice, your time, and your talents to SCWA. Existing committees include Finance & Fundraising, Membership & Recruitment, Events & Education, Technology, Marketing, and Diversity. Interested in serving? Email me at scwritersassociationpresident@gmail.com and we can discuss what might be a good fit for you.
    • Our chapters are hard at work getting work polished and ready for submission. We have winners among us! 
      • The 2022 Charlotte Lit LIT/south awards include flash fiction winner Amber Wheeler Bacon, fiction finalist Mary Alice Dixon and poetry finalist Yvette R. Murray
      • The SC Academy of Authors awarded the 2022 Carrie McCray Nickens Fellowship in Poetry to Columbia III writer Danielle Verwers for her work “Between Two Poles.”
    • We’re so very, very proud of all of you! Congratulations!
    Welcome to March, writing friends. I hope you’ll find inspiration and motivation in the roar of the lion and gratitude and hope in the soft down of the lamb.

    Kasie Whitener
    President 
    SCWA Board of Directors
  • 05 Feb 2022 10:48 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Hello members and friends of SCWA! We begin 2022 with enthusiasm and hope, and by announcing the new leadership of the board of directors. At the January board meeting, I was elected president, a role that I humbly accept with an appreciation for the confidence placed in me by the board. Our 2022 board is composed of a team that exudes excellence in literary arts and business and a dedication to serving SCWA members.
     
    All board members – directors and advisors – dedicate their time and talents to add value to SCWA through their service and leadership. I’m proud to announce the appointment of the following team members who have accepted additional responsibilities, for which we are extremely grateful.
    • Abby Morales, 1st Vice President/Marketing
    • Lynn Volkenant, Treasurer
    • Sharon Thomas, Secretary
    • Raegan Teller, Vice President, Membership
    • Austin Hehir, Chapter Liaison
    • Paul Davis, Vice President, Events & Education
    • Catherine Con, Director, Technology
    This leadership team is supported by additional board members participating in committee work alongside board advisors and contract staff delivering exceptional quality to our members.
     
    The Events & Education Committee already is hard at work delivering outstanding programming, including all new weekday workshops, longer-program curricula, a new slate of faculty and a fall conference for October. We’re excited about plans for The Petigru Review, under new leadership and opening for submissions in the spring. 
     
    I hope you’ll consider joining one of our committees dedicated to fundraising, membership, marketing or diversity. Each committee is pursuing specific recommendations to strengthen our organization and make it more representative of the South Carolina literary community. Committee service is a great way to get involved in the association and make new connections while requiring just the minimum investment of time and talent. If committee service interests you but you’re not sure where or how to serve, email me at scwritersassociationpresident@gmail.com and we can discuss it.


    Kasie Whitener
    President 
    SCWA Board of Directors
  • 05 Jan 2022 5:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Writers understand the opportunity with each new page or chapter. How will the characters, whether existing or new to our story, create an exciting outcome? So is the case with your board of directors as we launch 2022 with changes, saying grateful goodbyes to some and welcoming new SCWA leaders.
     
    The SCWA board expresses its deepest gratitude to the following directors and advisors who have steered SCWA to new heights and are now retiring from the board: Vivian Bikulege, Barbara Evers, Roger Jones and Nancy Allen-Mastro
     
    Susan Zurenda and David Wilson also are retiring as directors, but they will continue to serve as advisors. I will support the board as past president and advisor. 
     
    These board members built upon the success created by former boards, the dedication of the chapter leaders, and many other volunteers whose passion for writing has made SCWA successful for 31 years.
     
    We look with admiration and hope to the following new board members to carry on this leadership. We welcome the following new directors: Catherine Con, Wanda Craig (Raegan Teller), Austin Hehir, Ralph Jarrells, Yvette Murray, Sharon Clemmons Thomas and Lynn Allison Volkenant. They will be joined by our new advisors Peter Coan and Brad Land.
     
    The new Executive Board will be elected at the Jan. 15 board meeting to which all members are welcome to attend. This will be a virtual meeting due to COVID concerns. If you wish to attend, email Laura Corbin, administrator, at writersassociationsc@gmail.com and she will provide you with the Zoom link.
     
    I subscribe to the philosophy that there are three kinds of characters in a story – those who make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who say ‘what the hell just happened?’”
     
    As I leave the role of president, I consider myself blessed to have been part of the board team and am confident the new board will be making great things happen for our members.


    Mike Lee
    President 
    SCWA Board of Directors


  • 08 Dec 2021 5:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    December 8, 2021

    SCWA is pleased to be able to serve writers in South Carolina and the region. In order to continue our positive trajectory toward excellence, effective immediately, the SCWA annual membership fee will increase to $75. The common member anniversary date will remain April 1. All new memberships and renewals for current members at the $75 fee will be effective through March 31, 2023. The student fee will be $25.

    It’s been more than 10 years since the last increase during which time SCWA’s operating costs for such items as insurance, accounting, and membership software have increased to unsustainable levels. The increase in fees is needed in order to continue to meet our expenses and offer valuable programs to our members.

    While the new fees are competitive with other writing associations, SCWA provides a broader set of services than many of its counterparts. The recently announced programs for 2022 will provide members with free access to at least 12 virtual education events as well as discounts for the fall 2022 conference and other programs such as the new Writers’ Studio. Members also will have free access to SCWA’s recorded library of past Writing Conversations and Become an Author events, which has been building since 2020.

    Other member benefits, such as participation in chapters and critique groups and publication opportunities in SCWA’s digital journal, The Petigru Review, will continue to be supported as valuable services to SCWA members.

    The volunteer board is dedicated to providing the best quality of services at a low cost to SCWA members. We exist for our members and will continue to ensure our writers receive high value for their membership fees.

    Mike Lee, President

    SCWA Board of Directors

    scwritersassociationpresident@gmail.com

  • 03 Dec 2021 4:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Come Write by the Beach!

    SCWA will present a three-day, in-person conference Oct. 21-23 in Pawleys Island, featuring workshops on publishing and craft with keynote faculty Ashley M. JonesLeigh Stein and many more. Editors and agents also will be in attendance. An additional virtual conference is under development and will offer complementary programming. Members will have access to discounted early-bird rates and prizes. Keep watching the SCWA website for more details on registration, accommodations and the sessions to be offered.

    ---------------------------------------------------

    The SCWA board has been focused on the development of plans for 2022, and on behalf of the board, I’m pleased to announce that we have created a robust program for our members for the coming year.
     
    Here are some highlights:
     
    Events & Education – SCWA will continue its successful virtual workshops and writing programs focusing on writing craft and publishing. 
     
    Starting in January, SCWA members will have free access to the popular Writing Conversations and Become an Author series plus a new program called Shared Writing. These will occur quarterly. 
     
    SCWA also will introduce new paid programs at discounted member rates consisting of four-week, virtual, in-depth workshops focusing on topics such as novel writing, finding an agent, and indie marketing and bookselling.
     
    Additional quarterly programs will include free open mic sessions and paid in-person and virtual workshops to be held in locations across the state. Members also have access to more than 40 recorded writing workshops and events in Recorded Events on the SCWA website.

    Publications – SCWA’s digital journal, The Petigru Review, will return in 2022 with the opportunity for members to publish their work. A new position of managing editor has been created to ensure high standards and additional promotional opportunities for the journal and its contributors.
     
    SCWA once again will co-sponsor, with the South Carolina Academy of Authors, the McCray Nickens Fellowship in Poetry and the Coker Fellowship in Fiction, providing the opportunity for members to compete for paid awards. These contests are open now. For details, visit MySCWA.org.
     
    More details will be provided soon as each of these major member programs is set to launch.
     
    Board recruiting – The window to submit applications to become a member of the board closed Nov. 15. Interviews are under way and new board members will be proposed at the Dec. 21 board meeting and announced shortly thereafter. We appreciate all who applied.
     
    2022 BOD Meeting Schedule – A schedule has been approved for the 2022 board meeting dates. Members are welcome to participate in any board meeting as we have reserved an item on every agenda for member discussion. The new schedule is posted on MySCWA.org.
     
    Congratulations are to SCWA board member Len Lawson and longtime SCWA friend Gary Jackson for their recent publication of The Future of Black – Afrofuturism, Black Comics, and Superhero Poetry. Members are reminded to post their awards and publications on MySCWA.org and on our Facebook group and page. Also, look on our website for publication opportunities and contests, such as the playwright and screenplay competition by the Del Shores Foundation for the LGBTQ+ community.
     
    Guest posts – This feature of The Quill will have a new look in 2022. While we work out more details, I am pleased to share with you the selection for December – an essay by member Jayne Bowers.

    In closing, my term as SCWA board president concludes this month, so this will be the last time I'll issue the Message from the President. A couple of parting comments: First to our members, you inspire me with your writing – I try to read all members' published works – and with your participation in our programs. You've made the work worthwhile. To our board members and our administrator, Laura Corbin, it's been a true pleasure to serve with you. Thank you for your trust, support and dedication without which we would not have succeeded. I appreciate every one of you.

    Mike Lee
    President 
    SCWA Board of Directors

  • 03 Nov 2021 5:13 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    One benefit of SCWA’s partnerships with other organizations is that we are able to provide our members with access to those groups and their activities. One Columbia for Arts and Culture is a perfect example.

    One Columbia allows SCWA to use its Taylor Street office in Columbia as our mailing address, a tremendous service. We also can use its shared event facility at 1013 Co-Op (1013 Duke Ave. in Columbia), where the SCWA board held its quarterly in-person meeting on Oct. 23. Thanks to One Columbia, a cherished partner.
     
    SCWA members can check out its programs at One Columbia.
     
    The Pat Conroy Center, another major partner, will hold its annual literary festival through Nov. 4 through 7. SCWA members are encouraged to take advantage of the many virtual and in-person programs in Beaufort, many of which are free. You likely will recognize several names of SCWA members involved in the sessions. 
     
    Congratulations to SCWA board member Dr. Kasie Whitener, who was awarded a 2021 South Carolina Governor's Fresh Voices in the Humanities Award, sponsored by another SCWA partner, SC Humanities. The ceremony was held on Oct. 21. Tune in to Whitener’s Write On SC weekly radio talk show – all about writing – at 9 a.m. Saturdays on 100.7 FM /1470 AM and Makethepointradio.com.

    We remind members to consider joining our board of directors. We need you to become involved to continue the great work of SCWA. The deadline is Nov. 15. Applications are available on MySCWA.org or by emailing writersassociationsc@gmail.com. For more information, email scwritersassociationpresident@gmail.com.
     
    We’ve been pleased with the submissions for guest articles or essays for our "Come Write With Us!" segment of the monthly issue of The Quill and love to showcase the work of our writers. We can’t promise that all submissions will be published, but please keep them coming. Send your submission for consideration to SCWA administrator Laura Corbin at writersassociationsc@gmail.com(Guidelines: Submissions with a maximum of 500 words can be opinion editorials, poems, essays or a piece of writing in any genre. They cannot be commercial, political or offensive. We reserve the right to edit.)

    This month, we feature member Paula Appling of Upstate South Carolina with her essay “Mouse Potato.”


    Mike Lee
    President 
    SCWA Board of Directors

  • 05 Oct 2021 6:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    As we enter the final quarter of the year, the SCWA board's sights are on finishing 2021 strong and planning our 2022 member programs. Our recent member survey has provided very helpful perspectives on member opinions and preferences and areas we can improve. Results are being analyzed and incorporated into our planning and will be available soon. Thanks to all who responded. We appreciate you taking the time to improve SCWA.
     
    Interested in joining the SCWA board? It’s a very rewarding experience. We are recruiting for 2022 board positions as directors or advisors and would welcome interest from members with experience in critique groups, membership, publications or delivering conference and educational programs. We also could use help in the IT, finance/treasury and board secretary support areas. Please nominate yourself or someone else. Nomination and application forms are available by contacting Laura Corbin, administrative assistant, at writersassociationsc@gmail.com.
     
    Congratulations to these SCWA members on recent accomplishments:
    • Catherine Con, whose "Feuillemort" made the finalist list for the Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction and will be published on Longridge Review.
    • Finalists in the Southeastern Writers 2021 contests: Candace Carter, Kasie Whitener, Martha Thwaite Weeks and John MacIlroy.
    • Yvette R. Murray, who has been named one of the 50 Finalists for the anthology "Best New Poets" for 2021.
    We’re proud of your success. SCWA members are encouraged to share your publications news in Publications & Awards under Member News on MySCWA.org and in our Facebook group.
     
    Updates on partner associations:
     
    The Palmetto Literacy Council will host an author event on Oct. 16 in Myrtle Beach, featuring Jonathan Haupt of the Pat Conroy Literary Center. For information, contact Patricia D’Ascoli at patricia@palmettoliteracy.org.
     
    Charlotte Lit announces the inaugural Writers/South Awards – $10,000 in prizes plus publication. Four categories: poetry, short fiction, nonfiction and flash. Four prize levels: $1,500 first, $500 second, $250 third, $50 honorable mentions. All prize winners published in the new Writers/South: Journal of Charlotte Lit. Judges: Ron Rash (fiction, 4,000 words), Jessica Jacobs and Nickole Brown (poetry, 1-3 poems), Stephanie Elizondo Griest (nonfiction, 4,000 words), and flash (1-2 pieces, up to 500 words each). Submissions are open until Dec. 1. The entry fee is $15, which includes a print copy of the journal. To enter, go to charlottelit.org/writerssouth/awards or charlottelit.submittable.com.


    October guest column:

    I'm happy to introduce our guest writing contributor, Bill Bruehl, a distinguished scholar and gifted writer who we love having as an advisor to our board. Being around Bill leaves one inspired and wanting more. Enjoy his column here.


    Mike Lee
    President 
    SCWA Board of Directors


  • 07 Sep 2021 1:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Message from the President

    As we slide into autumn, our sights shift to finishing the year strong for our members and developing South Carolina Writers Association’s plans for the coming year. 
     
    We’ve continued to provide exciting and innovative programs, such as our recent session on writing diverse characters. We’ve also been working with other associations to expand our member access to programs offered beyond SCWA.
     
    On that subject, we’re proud to announce that all SCWA members are eligible for a 10% discount on writing programs offered by our partner association The Pat Conroy Literary Center. We’re honored to be associated with such a prestigious organization and encourage our members to support the center and participate in its many outstanding writing programs. 
     
    We’re also happy to announce that our efforts to collaborate with other South Carolina writing groups have resulted in a statewide calendar sponsored by the South Carolina Humanities https://schumanities.org/calendar/. Writers now can go to one source to learn about literary arts programs, events, and activities across South Carolina. Our thanks go out to SC Humanities for making this available. (You still can find SCWA events on our website at myscwa.org/events.)
     
    The SCWA website myscwa.org also has been updated to make it easier for SCWA members share information about their accomplishments and promote their publications on the Publications & Awards page at under the revised Member News tab. Please take advantage of this feature!
     
    I urge you to participate in our member survey. Members have been emailed the survey, and a link can be found in the Membership section in this newsletter. Your responses will help us understand what members value most and the programs and services you’d like to see in 2022.
     
    Finally, our guest contributor this month is a special friend of SCWA – Leigh Steinan acclaimed novelist, poet and contributor to major newspapers and magazines. She has been a faculty member at SCWA conferences and is simply a brilliant writer. 

    Mike Lee
    President 
    SCWA Board of Directors

    Come Write With Us!

    Leigh Stein is the author of five books, including the poetry collection What to Miss When and the satirical novel Self Care. She also has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Allure, Elle, The Cut, Salon and Slate. She is a recipient of an Amy Award from Poets & Writers, and The Cut named her “poet laureate of The Bachelor.

    (Send your own submission for consideration to Laura Corbin at writersassociationsc@gmail.com.)

    The Time and Place for Poetry
               
    The last memory I have of the Before Times is going to the mall on Leap Day and watching families ride the escalators up and down, unmasked. My husband was in Chicago working a convention. I’d been following the news of a virus spreading in suburban Seattle. On the phone, I asked him if the turnout was low.
     
    “Higher than it’s ever been,” he said.
     
    A couple weeks later, our life in Connecticut had shrunk to the confines of our two-bedroom townhouse. There would be no more conventions for him, no more in-person teaching for me. I followed news of the virus in Italy as a forecast of things to come; we were 11 days behind them. In The New York Times, a doctor compared the worsening outbreak to starlight: “Think starlight. That light isn’t from now, it’s from however long it took to get here.” One death meant there was already widespread transmission.
     
    That metaphor—think starlight—triggered the first poem I’d written in nearly a decade.
     
    About two weeks before our state went into lockdown, I’d stopped drinking alcohol. The combination of my new sobriety and the intense isolation of the early phase of the pandemic sparked a period of blazing productivity. I didn’t have to cajole or bribe myself to sit at my desk and write (the way I have to when I’m writing an essay); the poems wrote themselves. They were tiny time capsules I filled every morning with the material I’d collected the day before: watching a TV newscaster catch the virus, buying scissors to cut my husband’s hair, an influencer saying the stay-at-home order doesn’t apply to people like her, people who can influence anywhere.
     
    I was writing about class. Most of the people I knew were, like me, members of the laptop class. We could afford to work from home and spend hours a day on social media, where we expressed our outrage, our grief, our guilt. I counted what happened online as material, too. When I first got the idea to write an entire book of these poems, I was going to call it Viral Experience.
     
    I wrote in the morning, before my husband woke up, the only time of the day I felt alone in the house, once he stopped going into an office. Each poem took between one and two hours to complete. While I wrote, I listened to the same music I listened to when I wrote poems in my bedroom as a depressed teenage girl—another isolated time, a mirror image.
     
    I have never written for myself. I have always written for a reader—a single friend. Her name is Liz and she lives in Indiana. As soon as I finished a poem, I emailed it to Liz, or another friend. I don’t do this when I’m writing essays or fiction. I don’t finish a draft of a novel chapter and immediately paste it into an email. But a poem is the perfect size for sharing: it can be a sympathy bouquet, a five-minute stand-up routine, a loaf of bread still warm from the oven.
     
    On March 14, 2020, Rosanne Cash tweeted, “Just a reminder that when Shakespeare quarantined because of the plague, he wrote King Lear.” Many people on the internet lost their minds over this. How could anyone write at a time like this?
     
    But a time like this was exactly what I wanted to write about. I wanted to capture the catastrophe as it unfolded. Between March and September of last year, I wrote the poems that would become my fifth book, What to Miss When. I worried that by the time it was published, we would no longer be talking about the pandemic.
     
    And here we are. 
     
    THINK STARLIGHT
     
    Think containment. Think case load. Think
    of your parents. Think of Lily who taught you
    the etymology of stanza—
    a kind of stopping place, the room
    where we self-quarantine. Think
    of all the faces you’ve known by hand,
    the curve of your lover’s skull, how no one
    ever admits they wish they’d worried more
    so you keep your panic on you at all times
    like a passport. The paper reports the nameless
    score, tally marks on the wall of a white stanza
    where women in green speak a language
    you don’t understand and decide who deserves
    the breathing machine. Think starlight:
    it took so long to touch us,
    we trusted we were spared.


  • 07 Sep 2021 12:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    PRESIDENT'S AUGUST UPDATES

    I hope this finds you writing, enjoying yourselves and the services SCWA offers. There never seems to be a slow time for the SCWA board, but we put the less active times to good use as opportunities to improve member services.
     
    While we continue to examine our top priorities of the future of our publications, 2022 program design and membership growth, the board also has spent considerable time on less exciting activities, such as examining our communications, reviewing our liability insurance and updating our coronavirus policy. Copies of board minutes, which reflect these, are available by contacting Laura Corbin at writersassociationsc@gmail.com.
     
    We’re proud to celebrate some additional member news:
     
    Barbara Evers received the Best Fantasy Novel Award for her first novel, The Watchers of Moniah, from the Imaginarium Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.
     
    Bob Strother's short story, Unmoored, will appear in the spring issue of moonShine review.
     
    Kasie Whitener racked up more recognition for her novel Before Pittsburgh, which received an honorable mention at the New York Book Festival. Whitener also was awarded the Broad River Prize for Prose by the Jasper Project in conjunction with Richland County, One Columbia for Arts and Culture (an SCWA partner) and Richland County Library Friends and Family. Her short fiction work, The Shower, will be published in the Jasper Project's journal Fall Lines - a literary convergence. Other SCWA members selected for publication in the journal are Danielle Verwers, Austin Hehir, Ann-Chadwell Humphries and Arthur McMaster.

    Congratulations to all. We’re delighted for you!

    Mike Lee
    President 
    SCWA Board of Directors

    Come Write With Us!

    We continue our guest compositions in The Quill to showcase the creative writing and musings from members, board members and invited guests. Our August contribution is by board member Vivian Bikulege, well known across the association for hosting many activities, including Open Mic Nights with SCWA and partner organizations. Vivian introduces us to another famous writer in this wonderful piece. Send your own submission for consideration to Laura Corbin at writersassociationsc@gmail.com.

    GUEST COLUMN BY VIVIAN BIKULEGE

    Once in a while, I drift. It’s kind of like floating in the ocean, held up by the saltwater when there is no wind or riptide, just the gentle push and pull of waves cresting toward and receding from the shoreline. In those moments, or days, or weeks, I don’t feel like doing anything — housework, exercise, or writing.

    One evening in July, while I was cushioned in this stale space of lethargy, I went back to a documentary I’d started on Netflix. Titled The Center Will Not Hold, it is a film directed by Griffin Dunne. His subject matter is his aunt, literary icon Joan Didion.

    Somewhere between the black and white photos of Didion, her husband-writer John Gregory Dunne, and their adopted daughter, Quintana, I fell into Didion’s spell as she confessed to self-doubts and pleasures of a writing life. Was writing a relevant act? How does one come to terms with the disorder of life and create order in the form of an essay, novel or screenplay? To my knowledge, she did not rub her pen against the sandpaper of poetry.

    What impressed me so very much was the transparency and brutal effects of age and loss on Didion. Her resilience, stamina and wisdom shine through each piece of the film, and I found myself roused by select Joan Didion mantras. I’ll paraphrase a few.

    • Your story unfolds as you write it.
    • Novels are about things you’re afraid you can’t deal with.
    • Listen to the edge of what people say.
    • Write to understand what you think and how you feel.
    • Remember what it is to be you. That is always the point.

    Didion is best known for her work in non-fiction, my genre of first choice. I will never be a Joan Didion. I started writing later in my life. I don’t share her writing style, but because I love it, I suspect her influence will peek between the periods and line breaks of my own developing voice. I admire her life lessons and her ability to process pain, wonder and confusion onto the page.

    If you are looking for inspiration, if you are caught between the dog days of summer and the next act of autumn, if you are floating and wondering what or how to write the next single word or sentence, but can’t, or won’t, or are wondering how, maybe listening to another writer will help. It’s why we belong to and write with one another in South Carolina and beyond. We find value in sharing and learning. We discover impetus and new pathways with words.

    I recommend taking time to watch The Center Will Not Hold when and if you are interested. Drifting isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes you bump into a buoy of inspiration along the way.

  • 07 Jul 2021 3:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Come Write With Us!

    With the July Message from the President, we begin our guest compositions intended to showcase the creative writing and musings from members, board members and invited guests. Don’t forget to send your own submission to Laura Corbin at writersassociationsc@gmail.com.
     
    This month we proudly feature veteran journalist, award-winning author, Pulitzer Prize nominee and SCWA’s very own board member Paul Davis.

    GUEST COLUMN BY PAUL DAVIS

    In 2009, I wrote about an unusual event: a group of Somali pirates had hijacked an American cargo ship headed for Kenya. The crew fought off the attack, but the hijackers took the captain hostage.
     
    A few days later, Navy snipers killed three of the pirates and rescued Capt. Richard Phillips. (Tom Hanks played the captain in the 2013 Hollywood film.)
     
    Shane Murphy, the ship's chief officer, had just returned to the U.S. and was holed up in his ranch house in Seekonk, Massachusetts. I was a reporter for the Providence Journal, a Rhode Island newspaper with readers in Massachusetts.
     
    "Get the story," my editor said.
     
    I camped on Murphy's street for three days before he spoke to me. "No press!" his wife yelled from the back of the house.
     
    Murphy, who juggled his infant son in one hand and a beer in the other, told me a wild story.
     
    I drove back to the paper. I had a scoop, but probably not for long.
     
    "Write a block of copy and file it," an editor said. "I’ll post it on our website. Then write another block, and I’ll post it. Don’t stop."
     
    He paused. "End each segment with a cliffhanger. I don't want to lose a reader."
     
    I wrote the first few sentences to set the tone:
     
    Chief Officer Shane Murphy heard the threat before dawn.
    "Stop ship," said a voice on the radio. "This is Somali pirate."
     
    I limited the opening scene to 10 paragraphs. During the hijacking, Murphy ran below deck to secure more than 100 locks and doors. Above him, he heard Captain Phillips shout, "Shots fired! Shot's fired!"
     
    I ended the first installment this way:
     
    The men grabbed improvised weapons: hatchets, saws and homemade shivs.
     
    I wrote a few more scenes. An engineer shut off the ship's lights and power. Murphy activated a tracking transmitter. He and another crewman jumped a pirate and held him hostage.
     
    I wrote in bursts and used short sentences to create tension.
     
    The exercise taught me something: Never forget your reader. Text messages, YouTube videos, emails, Netflix — distractions abound. Readers are quick to put a story down.
     
    You don't have to write like James Patterson, but you must engage your readers. That means using every trick in the book: cliffhangers, foreshadowing, cinematic detail, snappy dialogue — anything to grab the reader and propel the story forward.
     
    "Shots fired! Shots fired!"
     
    I talked to Murphy for 20 minutes before his wife threw me out. It was enough. He even sketched the ship’s interior on a napkin. Before I left, I noticed the tattoos on Murphy’s arms. A mermaid floated on one bicep. A shark swam on the other.

    PRESIDENT'S JULY UPDATES

    Board member announcements
     
    We’re extremely proud of our board and especially celebrate their individual successes. 
     
    Dr. Len Lawson has successfully achieved his doctorate in English literature and criticism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. We’re delighted for Len on this tremendous accomplishment and wish him continued academic and writing success. So glad to rub shoulders with you on the board, Dr. Len!
     
    Dr. Kasie Whitener has been awarded a 2021 South Carolina Humanities - Fresh Voice in Humanities Award. We’re so very happy for Kasie and everything that she does to advance literary arts in South Carolina. We’ll be cheering loudly at the Governor’s Awards in Humanities ceremony in October. For more, go to Governor's Awards.
     
    SCWA is so fortunate to have both of Len and Kasie as board directors. Please join us in giving them a standing ovation!
     
    2021 recap
     
    We’re pleased to have supported South Carolina writers with our many programs thus far in 2021. Do you realize that in the first six months of 2021, we’ve held a major virtual conference, published our print anthology, Catfish Stew, and hosted 20 virtual programs (four Become an Author and 16 Writing Conversations). We’re not done yet. Check out our events calendar for the remaining nine Writing Conversations and two Become an Author sessions, and our new Facebook Live and YouTube special events - Authors' Corner - on July 7 and Aug. 11. Remember all sessions are recorded and available free to members.
     
    The Petigru Review
     
    As previously announced, the board was examining the direction of our publications and particularly plans for The Petigru Review during 2021. At the June board planning meeting, we decided to pause TPR for the remainder of 2021. This pause will give us time to examine our options for both TPR and Catfish Stew, such as outsourcing, partnering with publishing houses or dedicating our own resources required to produce high quality publications. We welcome your input to this process and will keep you posted on plans for 2022.
     
    Chapter meeting guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic
     
    Some chapters have resumed in-person meetings while some members prefer to take advantage of the virtual genre chapters available. The board has developed the following meeting guidelines to assist in safely navigating your meeting options during the pandemic.
     
    Chapter leaders should routinely consult with their members regarding decisions for in-person meetings. Options to consider:
    • Use virtual meeting options such as Zoom or other alternatives until 80% of the membership is prepared to meet in person.
    • Offer hybrid virtual/in-person meetings when practical.
    • Request unvaccinated attendees either to wear masks or join virtually.
    • Suggest that vaccinated members should join virtually if they are uncomfortable with in-person meetings.
    • Suggest that members consider joining SCWA virtual statewide genre chapters.
    • Require non-members attending chapter meetings to observe the health and safety practices adopted by that chapter.
    For more information, go to Coronavirus Guidelines for Chapters.

    Statewide writers directory being developed
     
    As part of the South Carolina Literary Arts Partnership Project, of which SCWA was the lead sponsor, the South Carolina State Library has agreed to take the lead in creating a statewide writers directory. When completed this fall/winter, writers across South Carolina will have access to a directory of the many writing associations, groups and resources for all genres. Stay tuned for more announcements coming from the S.C. State Library.

    A different kind of writing program
     
    Our friends at Charlottelit.org are offering a new program called Author’s Lab, which provides intensive, residential learning over a year-long program. It’s unlike anything we or our other partners offer. Check it out at Charlottelit Author's Lab.
     
    Mike Lee
    President 
    SCWA Board of Directors

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