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The 11th annual writers conference returns with Pulitzer Prize winning author Rick Bragg.  There will be Master Classes on writing the memoir, mystery, thriller, first novel, children's story,  poem, play, and film script; plus others on writing characters, incorporating humor, getting a book on Amazon, and what publishers are looking for today.  Enter a contest for short stories, poetry, and one-act plays.  Two publishers will be available for one-on-one meetings about book projects in any stage of development.       

Conference Speaker

Rick Bragg won a Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for his reporting for the New York Times and now teaches writing at the University of Alabama. He is the author of All Over But the Shoutin’, Ava’s Man, and most recently My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South. Watch for his new book, with the working title The Best Cook in the World, later this year. 


Workshop: From Vision to Revision--Principles of Craft in Fiction: A story or novel begins with the writer’s vision and ends, optimally, with publication. Successful fiction takes risks while being anchored in solid foundations of craft and revision.  In this workshop, I will share the fourfold process of creativity and provide five major principles of craft. Bring a notebook and a pen - as a newcomer to Columbus, I look forward to meeting you!

Author of nine books of fiction, a biography and book of essays, Melissa Pritchard’s literary awards include the 2016 Marguerite and Lamar Smith Writing Fellowship from the Carson McCullers Center, the Flannery O’Connor Award, the Carl Sandburg and Janet Heidinger Kafka Awards, a National Endowment for the Arts and Howard Foundation Fellowship and five Pushcart Prize and O. Henry Awards. Two of her books have been New York Times Notable and Editor’s Choice selections. Pritchard has worked as a journalist in Afghanistan, India and Ethiopia; her nonfiction has appeared in various publications, including O, The Oprah Magazine, the Wilson Quarterly, ARRIVE, Amtrak’s magazine, The Nation, The Gettysburg Review and Conjunctions. Founder of the Ashton Goodman Fund, part of the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, her newest book, a collection of essays entitled A Solemn Pleasure, has been praised as a “Best Book for Writers,” by Poets and Writers, a “Top Ten in Biography, Essays and Criticism,” by Publishers Weekly and a Literary Hub “Best Book About Books.” ForeWord Review called it “a book that will help high school and college graduates change the world,” and Brookline Booksmith Small Press Book Club said it “may well be the handbook for the modern writer.” Brain Pickings described A Solemn Pleasure as “altogether magnificent…luminous and seriously pleasurable.” An Amazon Best Seller, the collection received a starred review from Library Journal, and Kirkus described it as ”heartfelt…bear(s) powerful witness to suffering, compassion and transcendence.”

Having recently completed a new novel, Melissa is at work on a story collection. One of the stories, “The Carnation Milk Palace,” received a 2017 Pushcart Prize. A full biography and list of her books, awards and service can be found on her website:

Emeritus Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Arizona State University where she was the recipient of numerous teaching awards, Melissa currently lives in Columbus, Georgia.

Workshop: The Art of Juggling We often berate younger generations for their perceived short attention spans. Yet strong poems often participate in a kind of scatterbrained flitting about from one subject to the next. Learn to control that flitting, that juggling of various contexts and images, and your poems grow in complexity. This workshop will focus on a few strategies for making your poems leap farther and faster.

Chad Davidson is the author of From the Fire Hills (2014), The Last Predicta (2008), and Consolation Miracle (2003), all three from Southern Illinois UP, as well as co-author with Gregory Fraser of two textbooks, including Writing Poetry: Creative and Critical Approaches (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). His poems have appeared in AGNI, Boston Review, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, The Paris Review, Yale Review, and many others. He is a professor of literature and creative writing, as well as director of the School of the Arts, at the University of West Georgia near Atlanta. He also directs Convivio, a creative-writing and arts seminar in Umbria, Italy, each summer. (more information at

Workshop: Humor and Absurdity in Writing—Let’s Have Some Fun!
Just because it’s serious, doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. We’ll explore surrealism, magical realism, and humor in the works of well-known writers, and discuss ways to bring some of those elements into our own works in order to liven them up and stroke the imagination.

Danielle Hanson received her MFA from Arizona State University and now lives in Atlanta, GA. Formerly the poetry editor of Hayden's Ferry Review, she currently serves as managing editor/assistant editor of Carriage House Review. Her work has appeared in Poetry Miscellany, Hiram Poetry Review, Marlboro Review, The Lucid Stone, Willow Springs, The Nebraska Review, Cimarron Review, Flyway, Roanoke Review, The Homestead Review, The English Journal, Poet Lore, Clackamas Literary Review, Mudfish, Asheville Poetry Review, and Sulphur River Literary Review. 

Her poetry has also appeared in the anthology Poets Against the War (Thunder Mouth/Nation, 2003), and Shout Them from the Mountaintops: Georgia Poems (Legacy Press, 2003). She has been on staff at the Meachem Writers' Conference and received the Fulton County (Georgia) Arts Council Grant for a residency at the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences.

Workshop: How to write a great screenplay.

Georgia is now the 3rd largest film capital in the US. But what makes a great movie? What are the key elements to make your script stand out? How do you get from here to a blockbuster?

Stacy Cunningham is the founder of the Way Down Film Festival in Columbus, Georgia. A BFA graduate from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and a 25-year veteran in the media industry, Stacy recently located to Georgia after spending most of her life in Los Angeles. She has participated as a professional screenwriter, producer, director, and actor in a combined  total of 500-plus film, television, commercial, and industrial projects.

She served as President of Women in Film Dallas, judge & spokesperson for USA Film Festival, advisory board member for SAG/AFTRA, Columbus Film Advisory Board, American Youth Film Festival Advisor and, most recently, is screenwriter and lead producer for the feature film, THEM THAT'S GOT, to be filmed in Columbus, GA's surrounding areas. She was also the producer for the feature film, THINGS DON’T STAY FIXED, directed by Bo Bartlett and filmed in Columbus, GA in June 2017.

Workshop: Telling your story on the stage! How to write a play that will move your audience! How do you pick the perfect topic and turn that into something that fits the construct of the stage?

Natalia Naman Temesgen is the playwright behind the Springer's recent production The Eugene Bullard Story which tells the story of the only black flying Ace in World War I, who happened to hail from Columbus, Georgia. Herself a native of Columbus, Georgia, Temesgen writes for the Ledger-Enquirer and teaches Creative Writing at Columbus State University.

Workshop:   Who's the Bad Guy ?

Create the perfect characters and your story will tell itself!   Learn how to develop the heroes, villains, foils, stock characters, and confidantes that will take on a life of their own and write your tale for you.    This class will also cover when to make a character dynamic (so they develop), round, flat, or static.

John Holman directs the Creative Writing program at Georgia State University. His short fiction has appeared in Mississippi Review, Tampa Review, The New YorkerOxford American, and other places. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, and author of Squabble and Other Stories and Luminous Mysteries.  “His latest collection, Triangle Ray  features distinctive characters and bizarre, often desperate circumstances, John Holman’s stories portray powerful images of middle class African American life. His novel Luminous Mysteries so poignantly captures the complicated racial realities of the American South that the Georgia Center for the Book included the novel on their 2010 list of “25 Books All Georgians Should Read.” Adding to his pedigree, Holman’s work has also appeared in the The New Yorker, Oxford American and the Mississippi Review, among other prestigious literary journals.

Workshop: The Novel: An Overview from Page One to the End!

You have a great story in the back of your mind. Now, how to get it on paper. This class with talk about story structure, characters and pace. We will write our first paragraph (or line if you are a Faulkner). We will experiment with the depth of characters. And we will learn some writing ideas that may help bring out the writer in you. Be sure to bring paper and pencil.  And we will talk about the publishing process from agent to editor to publishing house.

Anderson Harp is the author of the thrillers “Retribution”, “Born of War” (Kensington) and “A Northern Thunder” (Bancroft). He is a Marine veteran, taught artic survival, mountaineering, and was stationed around the globe. He was the Officer in Charge of the Marine’s Crisis Action Team during the invasion of Afghanistan. He created the USO’s Operation Thriller and did two USO tours in the Persian Gulf visiting the troops. His writing has also appeared in The Huffington Post, CNN Larry King Live, NewsMax and The Big Thrill. He received a MFA in Literary Fiction from Queens University of Charlotte. Like Clancy and Ludlum, Harp loves the challenge of creating a fast paced espionage page-turner!  He can be followed at

A Northern Thunder has received high praise,  including these reviews:

“Want to see what the military’s really like? Harp knows his stuff.”
—Brad Meltzer, New York Times bestselling author of “The President’s Shadow”

“Visceral writing and authentic detail make Northern Thunder a masterwork of military fiction.”
—Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times bestselling author of “The World Beneath”

“Tom Clancy at his best!”
—James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of “Map of Bones”

Workshop:  Mystery Writing:   So you want to write a mystery! Mystery Writing 101 covers the ABC’s of writing a mystery and is geared towards those writing or planning to write in this genre.   Topics covered are: What is a Mystery, Characters, Setting, Clues, Point of View, Dialogue, Plotting, Editing and Tying up the Package.

Deborah Malone’s first novel, Death in Dahlonega, finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Category Five writing contest. Deborah was nominated in 2012 and 2013 for the Georgia Author of the Year Award in the Novel category. She has worked as a freelance writer and photographer for the historic magazine Georgia Backroads. Deborah has been featured in Tales of the Rails, edited by Olin Jackson, as well as in the Christian Communicator and Southern Writers Magazine. She is a member of the Georgia Writers Association, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

Workshop: Children's Literature & Story Book Illustrations:  What are the special tips that separate different age groups? How do you make a story compelling to a child? Are you writing the right story? Steve Scott will lead you step by step from concept, to determining if an idea is a good one, to the final product.

Steve Scott has written and illustrated children's books with such notable titles as Grunions with Onions. He heads Strut the Hooch, an annual comic parade down Broadway, and maintains a blog on Columbus and the Valley.

Workshop: How to get your book on Amazon: You've created the perfect masterpiece. It's ready to sell. Everyone loves it. How do you access the millions of readers on Amazon? How do you create a cover page, verify that the formatting works, upload your document and start selling? This master class covers everything you need to know to begin selling of Amazon!

Rob St. Clair came to Columbus four years ago from Columbus, Ohio, after 35 years in private law with an active litigation practice. During that time, he also served as a magistrate for the Ohio Department of Education, writing hundreds of opinions in cases involving teacher misconduct and special education matters. St. Clair is a Vietnam veteran and a retired colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves. Today, he combines foreign travel with writing assignments for the Marine Corps Gazette and other military publications, photographing historic battle sites and writing about their influence on local culture. St. Clair is currently president of the Columbus Artists’ Guild and serves as the financial director for Gallery on 10th. He is also the first vice president of the Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning and a member of the Friends of Library board. His award-winning photographs are displayed, among other places, at the Gallery on 10th in Uptown Columbus, the Columbus Airport, and at the Chhokar Medical Clinic. His work has was most recently published in Columbus Artists Magazine, April 2016.

Workshop - What Book Publishers are Looking for Today:

Writers, or any brave idealist aspiring to whisper the words, "I'm a writer," are challenged by a vexing dichotomy. The craft and the practice are performed primarily in solitude: your writing space, your writing time and tools, your work. However, at some level, all writers are seeking an audience. Unfortunately, the path to reaching your fandom can be daunting. (Did Flannery O'Connor send out query letters?) In his workshop, Steve McCondichie, author and publisher, will discuss his own writing journey (Is it okay to laugh at failure?), the current state of the publishing industry (Does a hybrid publisher drive a Prius?), and provide practical advice on what publishers are seeking in authors. He’ll detail immediate steps you can take to begin maneuvering the mysterious path to publication and reach a broader audience. 

Steve McCondichie is a co-founder of Southern Fried Karma, LLC and publisher of SFK Press. Their mission is to cultivate the artistic voice of the new Millennium with a Southern accent. After twenty-five years peddling bulldozers around the globe, he received his MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University in Charlotte. He is a member of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, the Independent Book Publishers Association and the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.

Workshop: Jungian Archetypes - Deepening Your Plot--Strengthening Your Characters: Characters represent real life! How accurate are yours? Take this class on fitting your hero and supporting cast into psychological dramas that will you make work relevant.

Matt Henderson, B.S.Ed., is an Educator, Writer, and Martial Arts Historian and Teacher. He has developed Creative Writing curricula for Middle and High Schools and has been published in several Martial Arts periodicals, internationally. Recently featured in CQ magazine and the Ironology 2016 Anthology Championship Series.

Mission Statement

The Chattahoochee Valley Writers, Inc. seeks to nourish, stimulate and fund the development of literary arts by holding educational conferences, workshops, public readings and similar  activities to support the advancement of writers throughout the Chattahoochee Valley and beyond.