Writers and their readers gathered at the Northeast Georgia History Center Thursday to celebrate the first publication by the Northeast Georgia Writers since 1986.
About 20 people trickled in and out of the two-hour book-signing in the history center lobby, as authors signed several copies of their finished product.
The anthology titled "Our Journey" is a collection of 63 stories and poems by 22 Northeast Georgia writers. The book has writings that date back to 1987 and is available for purchase at the Northeast Georgia History Center’s gift shop, the Books-A-Million at Lakeshore Mall and Frames You-Nique on the square. The writing group also will hold a signing at 1 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the Books-A-Million. The 82-page book sells for $12.50.
For some of the book’s authors, many of whom won awards at the group’s annual writing contest this past spring, this book marks the first time their words have been published.
But for others, publishing is their primary passion.
Gloria Cassity Stargel, a former Brenau journalism student, said that she has published a couple hundred stories in her lifetime. She is frequently published in "Guideposts Magazine" and in various editions of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series.
"I like to say I’ve been one-one hundredth of the New York Times Best Sellers list," Stargel said. She wrote one of the 100 stories that were published in the "Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul" collection that made the New York Times Best Sellers list.
Stargel said she has been writing for 30 years and has stories published in 35 books. And she is slated to publish yet another book with 57 of her original stories.
"Gloria just has so much experience under her belt. She’s a professional," said Laura Harris, editor-in-chief of "Our Journey."
"She sets the standards (for the group)," she said. "She’s a role model for us."
Stargel said that writing is tough business, and advises anyone with an itch to write to think hard about the message they want to send to readers. At least that’s what she does when she submits her stories to publications for review.
"I get rejected a lot," she said. "It’s tough, but you have to dig in and do it. That message is not going to write itself."
But in 1976, someone heard Stargel’s message loud and clear. In 1990, she was accepted into the Guideposts writing conference in New York City where her submission landed her one of 15 spots that set her apart from 4,500 applicants.
She also said that she’s no quitter. Stargel said that it took 12 years for one of her stories to be published between the covers of Guideposts Magazine.
Stargel has advice for beginner writers. She said that if you would like to publish a book of your own someday, it’s good to publish a few magazine articles first for experience and to create a platform for future publishers to review.
"It’s good to have an ending at the beginning," she said. "It doesn’t have to be polished, but it’s good to have an ending in mind to give you an idea of where you’re going."
Stargel is in good company with the Northeast Georgia Writers.
Rosemary Harris-Mallinson, who has been a member of the writing group for six years, said that she is currently working on her fourth book of poetry. She said that she planned to finish her fourth poetry collection in one year, but it took her two years to write the first draft.
"It takes a lot of time to write," she said.
Harris-Mallinson said the Northeast Georgia Writers are serious writers, but anyone with a craving to delve into their unspoken thoughts and dribble them out onto paper are welcome to join the group.
They meet at 1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at St. Paul Methodist Church on Washington Street.