My Reunion With Fox News Channel’s Juan Williams As MLK Weekend Kicks Off At U. of Alabama

January 16, 2015
Juan_williams_2011

Juan Williams

It’s hard to believe it’s been 23 years since I first met Juan Williams, the legendary author of Eyes on the Prize, the book that accompanied the 14-hour award-winning television series with the same name a quarter century ago.

Tonight I had the opportunity to be his chaffeur as he visited the University of Alabama to give the keynote address at our Realizing the Dream Legacy Awards Banquet.

Williams, formerly of National Public Radio and The Washington Post, now co-host of Fox News Channel’s “The Five, and fill-in host “The O’Reilly Factor,” spoke to a soldout crowd at the Hotel Capstone .

He used the occasion to share some of the comments from generations of readers of Eyes on the Prize who often are in disbelief about much of what Williams shares in recounting the Civil Rights Movement.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.56.41 PMA year after the 25th anniversary of the publication of Eyes on the Prize, Williams says people still ask “is that really true?” what he reported happened in the period between 1954 and 1965 “was it really that bad?”

Even as he shared stories from his Eyes on the Prize readers, who he says get “younger and younger” he lamented how many want to analyze what he calls the “complicated story of race in America today” by drawing comparisons to the Civil Rights Movement.

COMPARISONS TO FERGUSON

Months after the death of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and the unrest following a grand jury’s decision not to the indict the police officer responsible,  Williams says with an African American in The White House, an African American United States Attorney General and an African American executive editor of The New York TImes, there is no comparison.

“People want this period now to be just like the Civil Rights Movement,” Williams said.   ” We have a different of problems.”

The 60-year-old Panamanian born political analyst says, instead of drawing those comparisons,  we should take inspiration from those who accomplished much a half-century ago.

“It’s not necessary to say we were back where we were 50 years ago,” he said.

MY REUNION

This afternoon, neither of us could recall The Washington Post story on Former Howard University President Franklyn Jenifer published in September 1992 for which he interviewed me as the editor-in-chief of THE HILLTOP, Howard’s student newspaper.

Malone_Hood_Plaza_University_of_Alabama_Foster_Auditorium_I

Williams visited The Malone Hood Plaza, located at Foster Auditorium where the late Alabama Governor George Wallace stood in The Schoolhouse Door.

The subject of that news story wasn’t important today.

What is significant is that 23 years after he sat in my office at THE HILLTOP in Washington, DC talking to me as I was weeks away from finishing my undergraduate degree in journalism,   I’d be an assistant dean at the University of Alabama and Williams would be giving the keynote address here, the same place that he wrote about as being one of the last institutions to integrate.

It was neat showing him Foster Auditorium where George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door and today where the University has recognized the accomplishments of the late Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood, the first blacks admitted to the University in 1963.

What a great start to our Martin Luther King weekend!

Remembering One of the Greatest Ministers of Music of All Time — Andrae Crouch

January 9, 2015

Early this morning on the radio,  I heard the chorus to the song “Take Me Back, Take Me Back, Dear Lord.” But, they didn’t come from a Gospel Radio Station or a Christian radio program.

Those words were coming through National Public Radio, which carried a story about the passing Thursday of one of the greatest Christian songwriters of all time: Andrae Crouch.

While those of us who literally grew up listening to Andrae Crouch’s music were saddened, he wouldn’t want us to be sad that he’s passed on from this life.

All we have to do is listen to the words of “Soon and Very Soon” and know that he’s had his head pointed toward heaven for many, many years.   It is the ultimate confidence that we as children of God have.

As Christians, our whole attitude about death and passing from this life on into eternity is different and we know and testify to that just by singing some of Crouch’s songs.

I can vividly remember learning how to play the piano by playing some of Crouch’s music.  Like Crouch, I too played piano (and the organ) in church as a teenager.

There are so many songs from the 1970s and 1980s–“Take Me Back,” ” Through It All,” “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power, ” “My Tribute”– that taught me the power of music to minister to one’s soul.

As a singer, songwriter, choir director,  Crouch set the tone for what it meant to worship through our witnessing about what He means to us.   He showed us how to let the words of our testimony minister to others.

One of his last greatest hits– “Let the Church Say Amen” is a song that like dozens of others resonates with people to the point that they are sung not only in sacred, but also secular environments.

Crouch reached across racial lines with his music, touching those from all walks of life.

Even though he has passed on,  he’s left so much behind for us as music ministers of the Gospel to carry on.   Some have called Andrae Couch the “Father of Modern Gospel Music.”

If that is so,  then we the “children of modern Gospel Music” have to carry on Crouch’s work in our own singing of his songs, sharing the lyrics with those who are unsaved and writing our own songs that God places in our spirit and heart.

We’ll see Minister Crouch again one day  “Soon and Very Soon.”

Let the Church Say “AMEN.”

10 Reasons I AM Thankful Today

November 27, 2014

thanskgivingiamge RICHMOND, Va.–    As we reach the noon hour on this Thanksgiving Day 2014,  time to pause briefly and reflect on the reason our nation breaks with routine to celebrate each year on the fourth Thursday of November.

Millions like me travel back to their hometowns to re-connect with family and join together in giving thanks. There’s no place like your home to remind of who you of how far you’ve come and how far you have yet to go. I came up with 10 REASONS I am giving thanks today.

How many of them do you share with me?

A crowd of more than 300 packed the lower level of the sanctuary at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church for Thanksgiving Service 2014.   The historic Sixth Mount Zion is located in Richmond's Jackson Ward community.

A crowd of more than 300 packed the lower level of the sanctuary at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church for Thanksgiving Service 2014. The historic Sixth Mount Zion is located in Richmond’s Jackson Ward community.

1. I am Thankful for Life and Health

So many people have come and gone since last Thanksgiving.   In today’s Thanksgiving Day Message, Dr. A. Lincoln James, reminded us of the importance of just celebrating being here.   We cannot take for granted life itself and good health.

2. I am Thankful for A Family and A Home

Later this afternoon, I’ll sit down at a Thanksgiving Table with my extended family, some of whom have encountered health challenges over the past year.  But, it’s a joy to be able  to break bread with them another time.  My home of 44 years is intact, something a lot of people cannot say this Thanksgiving Day.

3. I am Thankful for A Great Work Environment and Co-workers

While I’m a long way from it today– Reese Phifer Hall where I work with a fantastic faculty as the assistant dean of administration for the College of Communication and Information Sciences is place of pleasure.  I am thankful to have a job and to be able to work every day with students, faculty and staff who are truly committed to what they do. This past year I’ve worked for both an interim dean and a new dean who challenged me to be better at what I do.  They’ve set a standard of excellence and lead by example.    I look forward to getting back to my co-workers and students next week.   I don’t take for granted this opportunity to love going to work every day at The University of Alabama.

4. I am Thankful for Safe Travels.

So far 2014 has been characterized by a good bit of travel to places near and far.   In spite of lost luggage along the way, I am thankful that I have arrived at each destination safely and mostly, on time (smile). Even in the hustle and bustle of my journeys, I have seen and experienced parts of our nation and world for the first time.  From Western Canada to Western North Carolina or two different regions of Texas and parts of Central Alabama, the travels have expanded my view of the world around me. Whether by car, train or plane, I thank God for safe travels to all of these places. gratefulgraphic

5. I am Thankful for the Opportunity to Make a Difference

I like the fact that in my work, I have the privilege of working with dozens of students every day.  I have an opportunity to make a difference in their lives and the lives of those in the community where I serve.   So I am thankful for the chance to see that I can make a difference every day that I’m alive.

6. I am Thankful To Be A Mentor and Be Mentored 

Both in my role as a faculty member and in various community organizations, I am blessed to be able to mentor young men and women even as I look to those who ave more experienced in life and can mentor me.   Both roles- mentor and mentee– are equally important and I’m grateful to be positioned to be and do both.

7. I am Thankful for Four Seasons

Here in Virginia, not too far from here, there was snow yesterday.   Early talk of a White Thanksgiving for Central Virginia went away even as those west of here experienced snowy weather 24 hours ago.  Usually I have to come home to Virginia to see snow, but in 2014, I experienced measurable snow in West Alabama last winter.   For the first time, I have leaves to rake in the backyard of my Tuscaloosa home and we’ve had our share of 90-degree heat.    It’s nice to have the four seasons even in the Deep South.

8. I am Thankful for A Vision to Make An Even Greater Impact on the World Around Me

God has given me a vision to be great at what I do so that I can impact those with whom I come in contact.  That vision has yet to be fully realized.  But, I am thankful that God has picked me to do such great things.

9. I am Thankful for Wisdom of  12 years in West Alabama

While many of my colleagues have shifted and re-adjusted in their work from place to place, now for more than a decade, I’ve been able to call West Alabama home away from home.   There’s something to be said for stability and being settled where you are even as you take in the wisdom of those around you.  I am thankful for job and career that places me in contact with those who have wisdom to share and shape my whole  lived experience. 2014image

10. I am Thankful for 33 More Days to Get It Right in 2014

For all of those things I still need to and want to do this year,  I still have time to make waves, accomplish more great things THIS year.   Even as I write this,  I am setting some 4 1/2 week personal goals for what I believe God will have me do before the New Year begins. Stay tuned!

UA Journalism Student Comments on Immigration Debate While Attending Hispanic Journalists Conference

August 8, 2014
Ellisa Bray, a journalism and international studies major at University of Alabama is interviewed by KENS-TV reporter Jeremy  Baker.

Ellisa Bray, a journalism and international studies major at University of Alabama is interviewed by KENS-TV reporter Jeremy Baker.

SAN ANTONIO– A University of Alabama journalism student is offering some insight on the ongoing immigration debate.

Ellisa Bray, a Houston native, is representing the University at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) meeting here in South Texas this week.

Bray drew on her background as an international studies and journalism double major in providing her perspective on the major issue on the agenda at the NAHJ’s 30th convention.

Here’s a link to the story by KENS-TV Reporter Jeremy Baker:

UA Journalism Student Weighs on Immigration with San Antonio TV Station

San Antonio River Walk OK, but Not All That

August 7, 2014

SAN ANTONIO–  What do the River Walk in San Antonio and Bryant-Denny Stadium on the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa have in common?

Drum roll ……

They’re both the top tourist attractions in their respective states.

I was shocked to learn that the River Walk, which I took in Wednesday night at the end of my first day of my first visit to San Antonio, was the number-one tourist attraction in Texas.

Here's what I saw in San Antonio last night as I checked out the number-one Tourist destination in Texas.

Here’s what I saw in San Antonio last night as I checked out the number-one Tourist destination in Texas.

Really?

I mean — it’s nice and a great place to get some exercise and step away from the air conditioned convention center or hotel meeting rooms.

But, number-one in a large state like Texas?

I’m not sure this is quite the “destination” that the home of one of the top college football programs in the nation is.

I haven’t walked the entire route yet.   I only experienced part of it.   I haven’t visited The Alamo.    Maybe that’s what will seal the tourist deal for me.

Stay tuned.

 

San Antonio Express-News’ coverage of Becky Hammon Worth Going the Extra Mile To Hold In My Hand

August 7, 2014
20140806_220737

While people could find the text and perhaps a photo with this story online, reading it as it was “packaged” “above the fold” on page A1 of Wednesday’s San Antonio Express-News was part of its appeal.

SAN ANTONIO–  Call me old-fashioned.

But I took special delight in reading San Antonio Express-News‘ Mike Monroe’s front page story Wednesday about WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon being selected as the first female paid assistant coach in the NBA.

The announcement of Hammon’s hiring by the San Antonio Spurs made national news.

The historic nature of her hire makes it a national news story.

Local Makes a Difference

But, the national media coverage (i.e. Andrew Keh’s story buried on page B13 of The New York Times) of it does not compare to the way the story was played in the paper in the hometown of the Spurs.

Along with the front page story  that included more than the expected quotes and statement from yeah management, there was Terrence Thomas’ “reaction piece” featuring Hammon’s female teammates and a perspective offered only by Roy Bragg, who’s been a Texas journalist for more than 30 years.

Those other related stories were in the SPORTS section of the Express-News.

On page A2, the paper promotes “Tomorrow’s front-page stories now available at 10:30 every night, exclusively on ExpressNews.com.

Discovered veteran sports journalism Roy Bragg while reading a print edition of The San Antonio Express-News Wednesday.

I discovered veteran sports journalist Roy Bragg’s work while reading a print edition of The San Antonio Express-News Wednesday.

Why was it important for me to read this piece Tuesday night?  I’m not sure SPEED was the motivation for me to know the story.

The perspective that only this publication provides is reason enough for it to land on my front step the next day.

And, I know the issue is not one of medium, but reader preference.

The business model doesn’t work if people like me are in the shrinking smaller and smaller minority.

But, daily newspapers all over the country are hastening their demise by making their product harder and harder to find.

Go the Extra Mile

The absolute shame is that I had to go to three locations just to find the publication.  At my hotel, I was told the Express-News delivers so few copies that if you don’t come to the gift shop within 1 hour of it opening, the papers are gone.

What’s wrong with this picture?    Is the Circulation Department at The Express-News that afraid that they will have leftover papers, so they don’t deliver many copies so they sell out in an hour?   Why not deliver 3 times as many newspapers?

I know when I’m on a plane or sitting in a restaurant, I’m usually the only one turning the pages of a newspaper while others are tapping away on their smart phones or tablets.

So that explains why this Hearst newspaper, traditionally one of the four largest papers in the state of Texas, is hard to find.

They say All Politics is Local. I enjoy reading about those politics when I visit a town in the local paper, especially when it has a national reputation.

The story in Wednesday’s Express-News about a controversial proposal to increase the storm-water utility fee was interesting to me.   It was “packaged” along with a column by David Hendricks on the BUSINESS page.

I know I’m old-fashioned.

But,  reading the local paper has an appeal that will never be replicated in an e-edition or on Twitter or some other electronic means.

 

Stanley Nelson Rocks with “Freedom Summer” Documentary That Premieres Tuesday Night on PBS’ American Experience

June 23, 2014

It’s Great When Your College Professor Can Still Teach You Something 22 Years After You’ve Graduated.

50LogoSquare_new_450On the edge of my seat tonight learning about what was known as “Freedom Summer,” an effort to secure voter registration for residents in the state of Mississippi.

Honestly, before watching two interviews about a new documentary on Freedom Summer that premieres tomorrow night, I knew little about this milestone in American history.

And, I’m especially proud that my Media Production Professor from Howard University, Stanley Nelson directed the project.

Stanley-Headshot_EDIT

Stanley Nelson

It’s been nearly a quarter century since I sat in Professor Nelson’s class learning the right way to tell a story with moving images.

Now Professor Nelson’s at it again–teaching– this time his pupils are the millions who will be watching what is destined to be an award-winning documentary.

Between now and next Tuesday, the 50th anniversary of the President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,  I expect I will be learning a lot of American history, the portion that often is relegated to the month of February for so-called “Black History Month.”

freedomsummer-film_landing-dateWhat we’re hearing this week is about the history of all Americans who were involved in ensuring that everyone has equal rights to public accommodations and in the case of Freedom Summer, is able to cast a vote and participate in the political process.

Looking forward to the Premiere of Freedom Summer tomorrow night on PBS’ American Experience.

Hats off to Professor Nelson and the documentary filmmakers at Firelight Media who tell stories about people, places and cultures that are underrepresented in the mainstream media.

 

Headline Headaches, “Old Fashioned” Journalism Spotlighted in Tuscaloosa News Mishap

June 20, 2014

An incorrect headline about the place where I work and a letter to the editor in today’s Tuscaloosa News raised some interesting points about journalism in the digital age where we post things online and often focus our training on preparing students mostly for content delivery in that online area.

Last week, The Tuscaloosa News included a “staff report” on the new dean of the University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences.

The story appears to have been rewritten from a news release published the day before on the University’s web site.

Problem is- the story that appeared in the newspaper incorrectly stated in the headline that Nelson was the new “dean of journalism.”

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only factual error in the way the story was presented.   But, we’ll save those criticisms for another day.

Here's how the story appeared in the June 12th edition of The Tuscaloosa News.

Here’s how the story appeared in the June 12th edition of The Tuscaloosa News.

Headline Dilemma

Most of us who teach journalism suspected the challenge was in the headline writing.

Anyone with experience working in producing newspaper designs knows the most difficult headlines to write are those that must fit over one column of news copy.  The small space does not lend itself to long names like “communication and information sciences.”

Those of us on the UA campus, usually just say “C&IS”   But, that is not a recognizable acronym to the general public.

Even the word “communication” is too long to fit over that column.

So what’s a responsible newspaper designer to do?

Aversa-copy

Aversa

The former director of UA’s School of Library and Information Studies (and a personal friend and colleague) Elizabeth Aversa attempted to set the record straight with a letter to the editor published today.

But, the web version of her letter appears to have been edited down. So one has to see the version in the “print edition” to get the full effect of her critique.  The opening sentences of Aversa’s letter are very telling.

“Although thrilled to hear of the appointment of a dean for the College of Communication and Information Sciences at The University of Alabama, I am writing to correct the impression left by the headline “UA names Mark Nelson as new dean of journalism.” The College that Dr. Nelson will lead is very much more than an old-fashioned “journalism school.”

Aversa is correct that the College consists of five academic units, with the Department of Journalism being the oldest of the units.

But, the irony in her calling a journalism school “old-fashioned” is that those basic print production  skills like writing headlines for newspapers that we have traditionally taught in a copyediting or editing class are claiming less and less attention in our class.

In fact, this fall, our editing classes will be spending a lot of time editing web content in our brand new Digital Media Center.

That leaves one to question– won’t that mean less time and practice in writing one-column headlines?

The answer is probably “YES.”    There are many in our profession who believe newspapers are dying and don’t have much of a place in the “future of journalism.”

So,  it behooves journalism educators to devote more time to instructing students on digital skills that are directed at web-based, mobile platforms as the places where more and more folks are getting their news.

Still, one has to wonder does that mean we will have more editing snafus like we saw last week at The Tuscaloosa News?

REWRITING THE HEADLINE

So, how would I have rewritten that headline?

Well, given that “communication” is too long, I would have focused on the fact that Nelson is Vice President of Student Affairs.  It’s actually somewhat unusual for a vice president to leave that higher central administrative post and take a leadership role in a single unit.

“Nelson to
trade V.P.
title for
dean’s post’

Remembering My Toughest Journalism Professor- Richmond Free Press Founder Raymond Boone

June 9, 2014
(Sanra Sellars-10/16/13)

Raymond Boone

Just received the very sad news tonight that one of my former journalism professors and former boss,  Richmond Free Press Founder Raymond Boone will be funeralized tomorrow in my hometown of Richmond, Va.

My parents thought I knew that he passed away last week after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

They remember Boone as the very tough editor who gave me a chance to get started as a reporter right after finishing my journalism degree at Howard University in 1992.

Even before I launched into the world of broadcast journalism as a television news producer, there was the newspaper writing that I had learned to do as a news-editorial journalism major.

If I look back at those Free Press stories now, I will see that almost always my lede (the first paragraph of a news story) was rewritten.   Mr. Boone made sure that I “nailed” the point of the story in that first paragraph.

The heavy editing of my copy did me some good, a lot of good.

The fact is Raymond Boone was well-acquainted (perhaps too acquainted) with my writing as he was a member of the journalism faculty at Howard University, before launching The Richmond Free Press.

The One Journalism Class I Had To Repeat

Even though I graduated cum laude  from Howard U.,  there were two classes I had to repeat.   Professor Boone’s Copyediting class was one of them.

Apparently, I was not acquainted quite well enough with the Associated Press Stylebook.

Yes, as a veteran campus reporter (and later editor-in-chief) for THE HILLTOP, I was insulted when I saw a “D” on my grade report  (You have to make a C- or higher for a journalism class to count toward graduation).

Professor Boone and my father were friends long before I ever stepped foot on Howard’s campus.  But,  that didn’t mean Boone was going to cut me any slack.

Here is the very first edition of The Richmond Free Press, which was published in 1992.

Here is the very first edition of The Richmond Free Press, which was published in 1992.

A Stalwart for Advocacy Journalism

When we talk about what it means to do advocacy journalism,  I will always point to Raymond Boone and his editorials as the best example how it’s done.

He was critical of many of those in power and even his rival newspaper publisher in town.

Boone was proudest of his effort to move the Free Press offices to a location that was within a few feet of the Media General headquarters (former owner of Richmond Times Dispatch) where the “corporate brass” for Times Dispatch worked.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was a college intern at Media General’s now-defunct afternoon newspaper, The Richmond News Leader, in 1991.

In a story published last week in the Richmond Times Dispatch, the local daily newspaper in my hometown,  Tom Silvestri, publisher and president of the Times Dispatch, called Boone “a passionate publisher, a hard-charging editor, a frank editorial writer.”

Boone took strong stands on issues through the Free Press’ editorial pages.

To this day, I still receive copies of the weekly newspaper here in Alabama, via the U.S. mail.

Each edition is that good.

Sad, but Stronger

So tonight I’m saddened by the loss of such a strong voice for journalism that “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.”

More than a decade ago, after finishing my Ph.D. at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication,  I had a chance to have lunch with Professor Boone and tell him about my plans to join the journalism faculty here at The University of Alabama.

So I’m glad he got a chance to see one of his students whose journalism career he helped launch become a journalism professor.

I’m a stronger writer, a better journalist and a better journalism professor because of what Raymond Boone did a quarter century ago.   He will be missed.

Five Biggest Takeaways from 2014 Southern Christian Writers Conference

June 7, 2014
ednasigns1

Edna Ellison signs a copy of her new book, Called to Write, for Kathleen Jones (right)

For more than a quarter century, Joanne and David Sloan and family have labored tirelessly to produce one of the best Christian writers conferences in the nation.

The Southern Christian Writers Conference (SCWC) draws 200 or more people to Tuscaloosa each June.

In spite of a busy schedule this week, much of it out of town, I was pleased to make it back to Tuscaloosa in time for some potentially life-changing encounters and insights from the dozens who gathered this weekend at Tuscaloosa’s First Baptist Church.

Here are my FIVE (5) biggest takeaways from this year’s two-day conference:

Edna Ellison shares her principles to become a writer on a mission.

Edna Ellison shares her principles to become a writer on a mission.

1.  Edna Ellison’s SEVEN Principles to Become a Writer on a Mission
I first heard Ellison, the author of 31 books and more than 400 articles, several years ago at this same conference.   It was great to see her back in the conference line-up with a brand new book she co-authored with Linda Gilden, Called to Write: Seven Principles to Become A Writer On Mission.

This afternoon, from her new book, she shared seven principles to become a writer on a mission

  1. Spirituality
  2. Scripture Study: A Biblical Basis
  3. Worldview
  4. Relationships: God, Self, Family and Others
  5. Communication (Including Speaking and Writing)
  6. Ministry  (including our role as a “word professor)
  7. Leadership (including writing for multiplication and duplication

2.  Candie Price’s  Suggestions for Social Media Marketing Strategy
I’m so glad I had a chance to hear Birmingham-based PR, Marketing and Social Media Strategist Candie Price, who contextualized all of the usual social media tips with a plea for the two dozen or so attending her session this morning to have a larger marketing plan.

I say “usual” because the topic of social media– Facebook and Twitter, in particular, has been a part of the SCWC for several years.   (I’ve moderated discussions at past conferences)

But  there are so many out there and many writing consultants simply say “you need to be there” without making a compelling argument WHY.

Candie Price from Priceless PR & Marketing Consulting gave lots of great social media tips at the SCWC this year.

Candie Price from Priceless PR & Marketing Consulting gave lots of great social media tips at the SCWC this year.

Price made that argument and a lot more in her 45-minute seminar this morning.

“Social media is not an island,” Price said.  “It has to be integrated, part of a plan.”

According to Price, that plan starts by knowing exactly who your target audience is for your book or writing.

Gathering that demographic information is a key part of the development of a larger social media marketing strategy.

“Most customers are on social media,” Price said.  “They’re searching and you want to be found.”

3.  Deborah Malone’s Strategies for Marketing My Own Book

Georgia-based fiction writer Deborah Malone gave all of those at her session something to think about when it comes to getting the word out about our books, whether fiction or non-fiction.

Malone left no stone unturned as she explained everything from how to utilize a QR code to send potential readers to one’s web site to the way in which she contacts local libraries to organize events where she can read her books, which are tied to communities at popular destinations around Georgia.

Sometimes we, as writers, can forget the most basic things such as making sure our photos on our social media pages are up-to-date.   Up until recently, I was guilty of that– having the same Facebook photo on my page for more than four years.

4.  Don Aycock’s Suggestions for THINKING like a CHRISTIAN WRITER

A Friday afternoon severe thunderstorm let up just in time for me to get indoors and catch Don Aycock’s evening keynote last night.

“It’s a difficult thing to lose your words, ” Aycock said.  “To write is to find your words.”

He reminded us that words can create and words can destroy.

As a reminder of how important what we do is, Aycock let us know that just like God has called us to be writers, He’s also called individuals to be our readers.

For Aycock, thinking like a Christian writer involves thinking about her writing as a sacred activity.

Quoting Tom Stoppard:

WORDS ARE SACRED THEY DESERVE RESPECT.  IF YOU GET THE RIGHT ONES IN THE RIGHT ORDER, YOU CAN NUDGE THE WORLD A LITTLE

I think all of us at the Southern Christian Writers Conference want to “nudge the world” like Stoppard and Aycock are suggesting we can.

5. A Host of New Friends in the Christian Writing Area

As one of my colleagues noted today at lunch, some of the best lessons at a conference can come not from the speakers or facilitators, but the fellow attendees with whom you interact during breaks and meals.

Carol Weeks, a humorist, told her story at a breakout session Friday for non-fiction writers.

Carol Weeks, a humorist, told her story at a breakout session Friday for non-fiction writers.

Moderating a non-fiction book writer’s breakout session afforded me the chance to meet an author of a book on a Holocaust survivor in the Birmingham area, a Christian humorist and a writer from nearby Berry, Ala. who is preparing the story of her near-death experience.

THE REAL WORK BEGINS

Like any writers conference, this 2014 edition of the Southern Christian Writers Conference is just the beginning of the change that we as writers want to make in what we do.

We leave inspired to climb to higher heights with what we write hoping that we can report major progress in the days, weeks and months to come.

I certainly left today’s conference inspired, jumping right into a couple of writing projects awaiting me as I arrived home this afternoon.

 

 

 


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