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Conferences expand scope of your writing
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Northeast Georgia Writers Conferences

When: 1-3 p.m. Feb. 3, April 7, Aug. 4 and Oct. 6
Where: Peach State Bank, 325 Washington St., Gainesville
How much: Members are free, nonmembers $25; preregistration required
More info: Northeast Georgia Writers or Elouise Whitten, 770-297-0680

February 3: Cecil Murphey

Topic: "Dancing With Dialogue"
More info: To make your prose dance, Murphey teaches the secrets of writing conversation that enlivens your work and makes you a better writer. Murphey is the author of more than 100 books, fiction and nonfiction.

April 7: Julie Garmon

Topic: "Writing Real" (nonfiction)
More info: Julie Garmon is a writer of Guideposts stories.

Aug. 4: Amy Wallace

Topic: "Fiction Writing"
More info: Amy Wallace has written a trilogy published by Multnomah Books.

Oct. 6: Sandra Brim

Topic: "Structuring and Writing Poetry"
More info: Sandra Brim is a professor of creative writing and poetry at Brenau University.

Is there a partially written story in your files or a manuscript that could use some revision? Do you live and breathe poetry?

Writers and anyone interested in writing will have several opportunities this year to develop their style through a series of conferences presented by the Northeast Georgia Writers club. The programs during the next few months will offer a variety of genres, according to Elouise Whitten, a charter member.

The club was established in 1973 at Brenau University with the purpose of fostering good writing.

"Our president, Margaret Ellett asked me if I had any creative or alternative ideas," said Whitten of planning the upcoming conferences. "Evaluative comments from attendees at our 2006 conference revealed that most individuals had a specific area of interest instead of several, so we decided to try something different this time: 90-minute sessions on separate dates instead of a full-day conference."

The speaker for each conference will focus on a particular topic, such as writing dialogue, fiction, poetry or nonfiction.

"Dialogue is pertinent to every genre, if it is well-crafted," she said.

Club members have a variety of interests. For example, Leona Martin has an affinity for stories about people who seem real, facing problems they are able to overcome because of their own efforts, values and judgement.

"They face real challenges, and may sustain losses, but in the end they are better people because of what they have gone through," she said.

Rosemary Harris-Mallinson said she has a passion for poetry.

"I believe poetry is an important genre. Since the innate joy of childhood described by Wordsworth has virtually evaporated in the postmodern world, we are now being confronted by a longing for wisdom to counteract the darkness."

She added that she agreed with Percy B. Shelley, author of "Defence of Poetry: An Essay," who said, "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world."

Hal Hartvigsen said he has found that conferences and workshops provide opportunities to interact with other writers and peers, as well as professionals.

And local author Gloria Stargel agreed that writers conferences have been beneficial.

"If you want to improve your writing, I heartily recommend writers conferences, and this series sounds like a winner - the slate of speakers is impressive," she said. "Whether you are a beginning writer or a much-published one, you can learn something valuable from established writers."