Friday Night in Savannah

The night before the Red Clay Writers Conference, the GWA will kick off the weekend with a private reception at the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home followed by one of Savannah’s most popular attractions, a Boos and Brews Ghost Tour. If you are one of the twenty conference attendees that purchase a ticket to these events, your afternoon will look something like this:

Flannery O'Connor Childhood HomeCheck in at the Courtyard Marriott in historic downtown, where Red Clay attendees receive a special discounted rate. After you’ve rested and taken a moment to prepare for the evening (don’t forget shoes for walking!), make your way down to the lobby where our group will be assembling. Around 3:30 PM, we’ll start our 10-15 minute walk to the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home (weather permitting). Once we arrive, resident docent Toby Aldrich will take us on a private tour and share with the group a few of his favorite stories. After the tour, there will be light refreshments and a presentation led by Dr. Paul Wakeman, whose dissertation and post-doctorate studies focus on Flannery O’Connor.

Leaving the Flannery O’Connor Home, we’ll take a short, two-block walk to Perry Street where we will dine at Billy’s Place, a restaurant filled with live music and old-world charm, where Chef Michael Marchands has prepared a special menu for our private party. Following what is sure to be a deliciously filling meal is a ghostly tour through Savannah’s oldest haunts by Tara Tours. Chad, our Boos and Brews guide, will take us from McDonough’s Pub through some of the famously haunted cemeteries, homes, and pubs in Savannah. Our tour will end at the Moon River Brewing Company, whose name–whether coincidental or intentional–comes from the title of one of Johnny Mercer’s most memorable pieces, Moon River.

Twenty conference attendees will be able to enjoy this unique experience with GWA staff along with a group of conference speakers. You can reserve your spot for this event on the registration page under the “Conference Add-On” section. Please note that you must pay upon registration in order to reserve your spot! Register here.

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Lynn Cullen: Keynote Speaker for 2014 Red Clay

Article written by Candi Deal and originally posted on

The Georgia Writers Association is thrilled to announce Lynn Cullen as the keynote speaker for the upcoming Red Clay Writers Conference. Cullen’s latest release, Mrs. Poe, is an editor’s pick for the Historical Novels Review. Named a 2013 Best Read by NPR and a Best Book 2013 by Atlanta Magazine, the novel “examines the fall of Edgar Allen Poe through the eyes of poet Francis Osgood.”

2014 Red Clay Keynote Speaker

Lynn Cullen, author of Mrs. Poe

The author’s presentation for the conference is titled Picture This: The Making of an Historical Novel. “I’ll show how after getting the idea for the story during a time of great personal trauma, I pulled together various images and historical tidbits, along with my travels to my main characters’ places of work and play, to construct my novel, Mrs. Poe,” said Cullen.  “I hope to demonstrate how visiting the settings of all the scenes in my book and being open to surprises has influenced the story.”

The book, which came at a dark time in her writing career, “went on to become–miraculously enough—a national bestseller,” says Cullen, “and is an example of how when a door closes, a window opens.”

The theme for this year’s conference is “Bringing History to Life Through Literature.” When asked her thoughts about the comeback historical fiction is currently making, Cullen said, “Books that deal with American and/or more recent history are the hottest right at the moment. The pendulum may swing back to more ancient history at any time. It just takes one groundbreaking hit to start a trend.”

Cullen mentions another trend that probably boosted the success of Mrs. Poe“Many novels being written from the perspective of a famous person’s wife or lover, like The Paris WifeLoving Frank, and The Aviator’s Wife” have been popular recently.  “I didn’t consciously try to tap into that when I started Mrs. Poe, but was personally interested in the point of view of women who have been behind the scenes in history.  I always look for women in history to write about because, being a woman, naturally I better understand how they tick.  I’m as much interested in the psychology of my characters as the history within which they operate.”

A previous novel by Cullen, Reign of Madness, about Juana the Mad, daughter of the Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand was chosen as a 2011 Best of the South selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was a 2012 Townsend Prize finalist. She is also the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She has written numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection and an ALA Best Book of 2008.

Currently, Cullen is working on a novel about the women in Mark Twain’s life. “He’s much more complicated than the homespun humorist that he seems” according to Cullen. “The women in his life—his secretary, his wife, his daughters—had a tiger by the tail.”

Now a resident of Atlanta, Cullen grew up in Ohio and attended the University of Indiana at Bloomington. After her move to Atlanta, she studied with Tom McHaney at Georgia State University.

Since 2009, the Red Clay Writers Conference has brought together hundreds of writers from beginners to national best-sellers for a full-day of workshops that reaffirm and renew the craft of writing. This year’s conference will take place in lovely Savannah, GA – a city rich in history and steeped in the arts.

Make plans to join us on Saturday, October 25, 2014, at the Coastal Georgia Center from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The conference will feature four, 75-minute panels, six, 45-minute panels, and manuscript critiques. A buffet lunch is included in the price of admission. Speakers include: Ann Hite, Renea Winchester, Glenn T. Eskew, Dr. Marc Jolley, James Lough, Jonathan Rabb, Kevin McCarey, Zach Powers, Gino Orlandi, and Joseph Schwartzburt. More speakers will be announced soon.

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Meet us in Savannah!

This year is the 5th Annual Red Clay Writers Conference. Since 2009, Red Clay has been held at Kennesaw State University, but this year we are heading for the coast! On Saturday, October 25, the Georgia Writers Association welcomes Georgia’s writers to attend a day full of workshops and panels at the Coastal Georgia Center in Savannah, Georgia.

The theme of this year’s Red Clay is inspired by Savannah’s deep roots in literature. Flannery O’Connor, for which the University of Georgia Press has named their annual prize for short fiction, is one of America’s greatest authors that were born within a stone’s throw of the charming, cobbled walkways of River Street. John Berendt’s nationally acclaimed novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil brought a revival in Savannah in 1994 that reignited the city’s allure. Other great writers, musicians, and artists were borne out of and inspired by the enchanting oak-shaded squares and hauntingly beautiful landscapes.

On October 25, writers–both aspiring and published–will attend the Red Clay Writers Conference at the Coastal Georgia Center on Fahm Street to seek that same inspiration. During the course of the conference, there will be both panels and workshops designed to instruct, encourage, and inspire the craft of writing.

Our keynote speaker is one who represents the theme of this year’s Red Clay, Bringing History to Life Through Literature, as evidenced in her recently published work Mrs. Poe. In her novels, Lynn Cullen seamlessly intertwines the factual with the creative to produce enchanting works of historical fiction.

Other speakers include Glenn T. EskewJohnny Mercer author and Georgia Author of the Year nominee; Ann Hite, author of Ghost on Black Mountain, winner of the 2012 Georgia Author of the Year Award in Fiction and Townsend Award finalist; and Savannah’s own Seersucker Live. More speakers and panelists will be announced over the next few weeks.

Event registration will begin soon.

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