Welcome to the 2024
Clarksville Writers Conference

Greetings! Every year, the creme de la creme of today’s literary scene gather in Tennessee for the Clarksville Writers Conference, paying homage to the state’s rich history as the birthplace of the southern Renaissance.

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For almost two decades, the conference has been a sanctuary for those who hold the written word dear. The conference is a time of creativity, friendship, and limitless opportunities. And for those fortunate enough to be in attendance, it will be an unforgettable experience.

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Come join us, and tell us a story. Hope to see you there.

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Warmest regards, 

Laurina Isabella Lyle, PhD, conference chairperson

The Clarksville Writers Conference,
where writers and readers meet to celebrate and
honor the power of the written word.

[ AT A GLANCE ]

Wednesday, June 5

All-Day
Workshops

9:00am – 3:00pm

Thursday, June 6

Plenary Session Presentations 
Workshops

9:00am – 4:00pm

Friday, June 7

Plenary Session Presentations
Workshops

9:00am – 4:00pm

Friday, June 7

Reception | Book Signings | Closing Banquet

6:00pm

[ AUTHORS ]
Keynote Speaker
Susan Beckham Zurenda

taught English for 33 years on the college level and at the high school level to both AP and at-need students. Her debut novel, aBells for Eli (Mercer University Press, March 2020; paperback edition March 2021), has been selected the Gold Medal (first place) winner for Best First Book—Fiction in the 2021 IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards), a Foreword Indie Book Award finalist, a Winter 2020 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, a 2020 Notable Indie on Shelf Unbound, a 2020 finalist for American Book Fest Best Book Awards, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for 2021. Susan has won numerous awards for her short fiction, including winning the South Carolina Fiction Prize twice. Her second novel, The Girl From the Red Rose Motel, published September 5, 2023, by Mercer University Press, has been chosen a finalist in the American Book Fest Awards, a Shelf Unbound Notable Indie 100, was highlighted in Kirkus Magazine, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. The author lives in Spartanburg, SC.

[ SCHEDULE ]
Wednesday, June 5, 2024
9:00am – 3:00pm
All-Day Workshops

Austin Peay State University Art + Design Building, 601 College Street

8:30am

Registration | Check-in

Workshop 1

How to Make Your Writing Shine

Workshop Leader, Jeanne Hardt

This workshop will teach how to polish your manuscript to a shine by using simple techniques (sometimes called tricks!). These will help you easily enhance your work.

Workshop 2

THE BOOK of Your Life

 Workshop Leader, Cynthia Marsh

We all have an activity, an idea, or a passion that resides at the core of our being. So . . . how do we record the stories of our eccentricities — journal entries, scrapbooks, shoeboxes filled with mementos? This one-day workshop will introduce simple bookmaking methods to assist in the creation of a unique, handcrafted structure designed to keep and present the narratives you hold dear.

Workshop 3

When Writing Well Means Writing Wellness

Workshop Leader, Amy Wright

Writing can help us process experience, integrate love and loss, understand ourselves, and reclaim our voices. In this one-day workshop, we will discuss and practice writing and wellness methods like inquiry, framing, mindfulness, and compassion to bring clarity to aspects of our lives that feel sensitive or painful. Whether you are interested in resolving trauma or forgiving yourself for not creating more or sooner, this extended session will provide prompts and opportunities to shed light on the stories you tell yourself and to consider how they might more authentically represent you.

Thursday, June 6, 2024
Plenary Session | Presentations
WORKSHOPS

Austin Peay State University Art + Design Building, 601 College Street

8:30am – 9:00am

Registration | Check-in

9:00am – 10:15am
Plenary Session: Tell Us a Story

Welcome, Laurina Isabella Lyle

Moderator: Linda Crenshaw

During this session, panelists will delve into the lives of women found in Clarksville’s history. By opening pages from their dairies and other accounts, these women will be able to tell us their stories. Some may be difficult to hear, but they are important stories that provide insight into our city’s challenges and demonstrate how attitudes have changed. While revisiting the voices in Clarksville’s history can be uncomfortable, the necessity to learn from the past is always with us in the present.

Panelists: Ellen Kanervo, Minoa Uffelman, Phyllis Smith, and Shana Thornton

10:30am – 11:45am
Presentations | Workshops

1. Paths to Publication

Presenter, Janis Daly

A presentation concerning the timeline to publish a novel. It doesn’t start nor end with a finished manuscript or published book. This will include interactive exercises to help writers determine the best path to consider: traditional, small/indie press, hybrid, or self-publishing.

2. What Did You Say? Writing Dialogue

Presenter, Peggy O’Neal Peden

The way your fictional characters speak is a crucial aspect of their identity. Their dialogue can reveal important details about their background, such as where they grew up, their social class or economic status, and even their age. Not only should dialogue move the plot forward, but it also helps with pacing the story.

3. Anatomy of a Joke: The Art and Science of Humor Writing

Presenter, Ysabel Yates

Join this hands-on workshop where we’ll deconstruct the art and science of humor writing together in a fun and supportive environment.

NOON – 1:00pm
LUNCH

4. The Anatomy of a Comic Book

Presenter, Andrew Aydin

Andrew will conduct a workshop on comic book writing essentials and best practices, blending fiction with nonfiction elements, using his acclaimed Captain America short story “Home of the Brave”.

5. The Character-Driven Mystery

Presenter, Sharon Mabry

Sharon will talk about how to spin out a plot of a mystery while clearly defining the characters and having things happen to them in the meantime.

6. Writing Romance

Presenter, Jeanne Hardt

This workshop will focus of the difference between romance novels and women’s fiction and break down the difference between the necessary components.

2:45pm – 4:00pm
Presentations | Workshops

7. Unboxing the Landscape

Presenter, Adrian Rice

The Muck Island box: poems and images from ‘a place apart.’ Adrian will present a slideshow of the Muck Island Box, and talk about his collaboration with artist, Ross Wilson, and their motivation in this unusual and stimulating enterprise.

8. Secrets, Lies, and How to Tell What
You're Not supposed to Tell

Presenter, Shana Thornton

When is it safe to say that you went too far as an author? Is there such a thing as too far in writing?  We’ll consider the act of revelation looking at both fiction and nonfiction.

9. The Power of A Story

Presenter, Rick Gregory

The concept of “Doors” will be explored. Doors open for us throughout our lives through our relationships with others. Participants will be guided to acknowledge opening doors and how that may be woven into a story.

Friday, June 7 2024
conference presentations
Workshops
8:30am – 9:00am

Registration | Check-in

9:00am – 10:15am
Plenary Session: Tell Us A Story

Learning to March

Presenter, Andrew Aydin

During this captivating plenary session, Andrew will share the origin story of the Trilogy March co-authored with congressman John Lewis. His partnership with Lewis began in 2007 as they recognized the powerful impact comics had had on their own lives.  In 2016, book three won The National Book Award in Young People’s Literature topping the New York Times bestseller list for graphic nonfiction for six consecutive weeks. Andrew will reflect on the valuable lessons he has learned while creating nonfiction comics (graphic books) for the next generation.

10:30am – 11:45am
Presentations | Workshops

10. Great-Great Grandfather, Tell Me a Story: An Examination and Celebration of Family History

Presenter, Janis Daly

How the secrets of our past can surprise, delight, educate, and inspire the writing of a novel. The author will present background on how she found the story of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in her family history and why it inspired her to write her debut historical fiction, The Unlocked Path. Includes an exploration of how to find stories through genealogy research, the importance of being authentic to a time period and how character voices to tell their story, by reading from the novel, and open Q&A.

11. The Poet’s Place

From Belfast to Hickory, or There and Back Again

Presenter, Adrian Rice

Originally from Belfast, now entering his twentieth year living in Hickory, NC, Adrian shares the story of how these different places have shaped the content, scope and style of his poetry.

12. Writing is a Collaboration: How to Find Your Creative Community

Presenter, Ysabel Yates

NOON – 1:00pm
LUNCH
1:15pm – 2:30pm
Presentations | Workshops

13. Word + Image

Presenter, Amy Wright

From illustration to ekphrasis, art can augment texts and vice versa. This workshop will discuss some advantages and considerations for multimedia creations. Writer, collage artist, and visual essayist, Amy Wright will offer examples from works that find a happy medium between mediums to facilitate deeper, fuller forms of expression.

14. So You Want to Write a Memoir

Presenter, Sharon Mabry

Sharon will read sections of her new memoir, The Blue Box and Memories that Live in the Bones. Types of memoir and how to have emotional truth come through in writing.

15. How the Power of Nature Influeces Our Storytelling

Presenter, Rick Gregory

Drawing from personal experiences of living in the Red River Watershed, Robertson County, Tennessee, Rick will share river stories. Participants will explore their own nature stories and how they influence their Writing.

2:45pm – 4:00pm
Closing Plenary Session

Moderator: Laurina Isabella Lyle

6:00pm
Reception | Book Signings Closing Banquet

Susan Beckham Zurenda

Keynote Speaker – Closing Banquet

@
F&M Bank’s Franklin Room

50 Franklin Street

@2024 Winner of the Patricia Winn Award for Excellence in Fiction Writing