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Todd Gerelds, author of “Woodlawn” and “Always Fall Forward.” “Woodlawn,” will conduct a workshop and present a keynote, titled “Why You’re the Right Person to Write Your Story" at the 7th Mid-Winter Writers Conference in Pell City on Jan. 25. 

When Harry and I moved to Pell City in 2005, we looked for a writing group. However, there was nothing like that available. In early 2011, we decided to “test the waters” with a “Night of Poetry” at the old Pell City Library.

An experienced poet friend from Virginia, the president of the Alabama State Poetry Society and I were the featured poets that night. We also had a tribute to our military, which included a proclamation from Pell City’s mayor. In typical Pell City fashion, several local businesses helped us by providing refreshments.

On a rainy Saturday, we didn’t expect much of a turnout. However, once the doors were open, people began coming in, and they just kept on coming. Before the night was over, close to 100 people had crowded into the library.

That was all the motivation we needed, and Pell City’s Writers Anonymous was born. We started meeting the following month and immediately began to give back to our community with writing contests in the local schools and donations for the library’s summer reading programs.

WA continued to grow and in 2012, we made the decision to have a yearly writers conference. Our first Mid-Winter Writers Conference was held at CEPA, with the workshops held in the dressing rooms! Despite the mistakes we made and the frustration we experienced, that first conference was well received, and we were hooked.

WA has continued to grow, both in numbers and in skill, and each year the Mid-Winter Writers Conference has done the same. This year is going to be the best ever, and it has attracted some big names as our presenters, including:

Todd Gerelds: Todd is the author of “Woodlawn,” the story of a high school football coach that helped to heal a city. “Woodlawn” was turned into a movie. Todd’s workshop will be about writing from your own experiences. He will also do a Keynote, titled, “Why You’re the Right Person to Tell Your Story.”

David Bennett: David is the editor of both “HomeLife” magazine and “Open Windows.” His workshop is “How to Become the Writer Editors Love.”

Dr. Allen Berry: Allen’s workshop is titled “Making Pearls: How to Turn Pain into Poetry.” He will focus on how you can use your pain to create something beautiful.

Joe Whitten: Joe is the author of several books about local history. His workshop is titled “Was grandpa really baptized in the river sitting in a cane bottom chair?” and it will focus on verifying information when you’re researching your family history.

Cheryl Sloan Wray: Cheryl is well known for her part in organizing the Southern Christian Writers Conference. She is also the author of more than 2,000 articles in a variety of newspapers and magazines. Her two workshops will cover query letters and everything you need to know about writing magazine articles “from Idea to Publication.”

Sean Dietrich: “Sean of the South” is well known for his homey articles about growing up and living in the south. He has also authored 11 books. He will be doing a general workshop titled “What to Write About When You Don’t Know What to Write About.” This casual workshop will be the highlight of the Mid-Winter Writers Conference as attendees will get to hear where Sean gets his ideas for writing. They will also be able to ask questions and hear what the “master writers” has to say.

The Mid-Winter Writers Conference will be on January 25 from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Pell City Library. Registration includes a continental breakfast, a catered lunch, two keynotes and a choice of five workshops.

We have two levels of registration. The first is for the conference only. The second option includes “An Evening with Sean of the South” as well an hour of networking and fellowship, during which heavy appetizers will be served. People who register for both get a discount. As space permits, people can register for the evening activity only.

For more information about the Mid-Winter Writers Conference and to register and pay online, go to https://www.mwwconference.com. For more information about Writers Anonymous, go to www.writersanonymous.us.

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