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Authors share tips, talk about their inspiration at Hagerstown summit

June 27, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Gerry LaFemina explains one of his poems after a reading Wednesday at the second annual Washington County Literary Arts Summit at the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in Hagerstown.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Author Tim Wendel said one of the keys to being a successful writer is having friends who push you to the limit.

Wendel is the author of “Summer of ‘68: The Season When Baseball, and America, Changed Forever,” a nonfiction book about the extraordinary 1968 baseball season when the game was played to perfection while the nation was being rocked by tragedies like the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wendel was participating Wednesday night in the second annual Washington County Literary Arts Summit at the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in Hagerstown, where writers were invited to talk about how they achieved success.

Wendel said a friend was pushing for him to visit Memphis, Tenn., where King was assassinated. But Wendel told an audience of about 25 people that he was reluctant at first to make the trip because of exhaustion.

But after eventually going, he was given the chance to meet Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles who witnessed King’s assassination.

Gerry LaFemina, another writer attending the summit, agreed that writers need good friends who “occasionally kick our butts when we can’t kick it ourselves.”

At the first summit held last year at the arts school, people associated with the literary arts talked about how to expand the field across the region.

At the time, Scot Slaby, the lead literary arts teacher at Barbara Ingram, talked about developing a local literary arts center and a festival to promote the art form.

Slaby, who led Wednesday’s summit, said no festival or center has been started yet, noting that those type of projects take time.

But since last year, Slaby said he has been working to build partnerships with local organizations like Hagerstown Community College and the Washington County Arts Council to promote the literary arts.

Those type of partnerships can lead to more events like Wednesday’s to showcase talented writers. And such partnerships can lead to the bigger projects like a literary arts council and a festival, Slaby said.

At Barbara Ingram, teachers have been encouraging students to write, and dancers at the school interpret the works, he said.

Besides offering writing tips, Wendel and LaFemina, an English teacher at Frostburg State University, also read some of their works.

Wendel’s book was a Top 10 choice by Publisher’s Weekly. His previous book, “High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time,” was an editor’s selection by The New York Times Book Review.

Also scheduled to appear at the summit was Antonio and Jonna Mendez, former CIA officers who wrote two books that are recommended reading for new recruits in the U.S. intelligence community.

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