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Sunday, October 16, 2016

2016 Mobile Literary Festival

cj Sez: I spent all yesterday at the Ben May … the main branch of the Mobile Public Library system … at the inaugural Mobile Literary Festival. A free event co-sponsored by the Library and the Mobile Writers Guild for authors and readers, and it came complete with well-known authors, dignitaries, and small publishers as well as offering author workshops and panels. 
Photo by Linda Busby Parker

Did I mention it was free? Now these are the kind of conference/literary events that should appeal to all authors wanting to build a fan base AND do some skill building at the same time. It was a one-day event that was close to home and free. (Love that sentence.)

T.K. Thorne Photo by Jodie Cain Smith
The first workshop of the morning was led by T.K. Thorne, an award-winning author who is both traditionally published and self-published. (Spotted in her audience, way back in the left far corner, is City of Mobile Mayor William “Sandy” Stimpson. Hmm, a memoir, perhaps?)

A workshop led by Carrie Dalby, our local Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators liaison and the author of two YA novels, covered the things that differentiate books in all age levels—from baby books and picture books to young adult novels.

Angela Quarles, the 2016 RITA Award winner for Must Love Chainmail, led a “plotting 101” workshop, exploring the importance of plot in genre fiction and the three-act structure.

Prolific author Joyce Scarbrough took her workshop audience though “the nuances of creating characters in high definition 3D, no special glasses required” (ergo, no more cardboard characters).

Former Alabama Poet Laureate Dr. Sue Brannan Walker, herself a small-press publisher (Negative Capability Press), presented a brown bag lunch session called, “What’s new on the local scene.”

Thom Gossom, Jr. Photo by Jodie Cain Smith
Thom Gossom, Jr., professional actor (Fight Club, Jeepers Creepers2 and Miss Ever’s Boys), writer, and history-making Auburn athlete (a football walk-on who defied the odds by earning a scholarship, becoming a three-year starter, and the first Black athlete to graduate from Auburn University), gave the keynote address.

Conference coordinator and all-around whirlwind Jodie Cain Smith moderated the publishing industry discussion panel that included Mr. Gossom, Watt Key (author of Alabama Moon, Dirt Road Home, and coming in 2017, Hideout), Angela Quarles and local small press publishers Deer Hawk Publications and Excalibur Press.

Did I mention that all this was free? I know I did, but I wanted to say it again.

The idea behind this post is to remind authors that you don’t have to search far and wide for networking conferences and skill-building workshops that are offered at minimal or no cost. Take advantage of all the events offered at your local library and/or local writing group. Networking with other writers, whether in person or on-line, is as much a skill-building activity as a workshop might be.

Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

Be sure to stop by Wednesday for a guest post from author R. V. Reyes, discussing readers’ increasingly loud calls for more diverse characters in fiction writing.

PS:  It’s getting awfully close to some important gift-giving holidays. May I suggest, for 99 cents, a gift of six novels that will give hours of entertainment to your favorite romance reader: “More Than Friends,” available now until February 2017 for less than a buck. A great deal…and one that includes my novel, Choosing Carter!
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo
Amazon Central Author Page:


  1. I had a great time and look forward to seeing this event get bigger and bigger over the coming years. And "whirlwind" is definitely the right term to describe Jodie! :-)

    ~Joyce Scarbrough

  2. cj Sez" It was a marvelous event, and I think Jodie did everything but wash the dishes (and since I wasn't in the kitchen, she might have done that, too). It was an important event for Mobile, the Mobile Writers Guild, and the Mobile Public Library. I was happy to have been there. ...and thanks for stopping by.

  3. What a nice thing for your library to do! Sounds like a wonderful event.

  4. cj Sez: The library has been super supportive of local authors and the Mobile Writers Guild for many years. They are a great organization for writers and readers. Thanks for stopping by, Kaye.


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