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Authors at Nora Roberts Writing Institute 'help beginning writers get established'

August 03, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Best selling author Erica Bauermeister, left, and Jeanne Adams talk about writing between the genres at the Nora Roberts Writing Institute on Saturday.
By Ric Dugan / Staff Photographer

To an aspiring writer, accomplished authors often are viewed as a symbol of hope, representing what they hope to one day be and the heights they hope to one day reach.

Whether their names can be found on a New York Times best-seller list or on the shelf at the local bookstore, Andrea Bowersox said some authors even are thought of as “magicians” for their abilities.

“But that makes you afraid to talk to them,” said Bowersox, a wife and mother of two from Waynesboro, Pa., hoping to launch a writing career of her own.

However, the authors in attendance for this weekend’s Nora Roberts Writing Institute at Hagerstown Community College were anything but, Bowersox said.

“They’re all so down to earth, so very available ... not afraid to tell us the things they’ve done wrong, the things they’ve done right,” she said. “... I think all these authors have done a really great job at communicating to us the things we should and shouldn’t do, and I think that’s been the best part of it together.”

The two-day institute that began Friday brought about 100 adult and youth participants to HCC, including some adults who traveled from as far as California, Georgia and New York, according to HCC’s Anne Myers, an organizer of the event.

While the majority of attendees were from the local area, a total of 13 states were represented, Myers said.

“This is a remarkable opportunity to bring new and aspiring writers to Hagerstown Community College to learn about the craft and to hone their craft,” she said. “We were so fortunate to have Nora’s guidance, and her publicist Laura Reeth’s guidance.”

Saturday’s session started with a panel discussion featuring published authors Sylvia Day, Gail Barrett, Jeanne Adams and Susan Donovan, who shared experiences of how they started writing and how they transitioned into “the writing life.”

Kay Maruhashi, who made the cross-country trip from California to attend, said the panel discussion was especially enlightening since she is trying to make the jump from unrelated fields into writing, something she always has wanted to do.

“To be able to hear from published authors, their own experiences, how they’ve worked their way to get where they are now, the advice they have to give, and to meet other participants that are going through the same thing ... it’s wonderful,” Maruhashi said.

More than a dozen breakout sessions were available Saturday to institute attendees, covering a wide range of topics — from developing plot structure to learning what sells in today’s writing world.

Barrett, a local author with 13 published novels, led a workshop on point of view, which is something she said is not easily picked up by some beginners.

“We wanted to do something that was nurturing and encouraging, and it would help beginning writers get established and learn what they were doing,” said Barrett, who helped organize the institute that took more than a year to develop. “I wanted people to come away with something practical.”

Bowersox said one of the most interesting parts of the institute was learning how much the writing industry is changing.

With more and more publishing companies turning to new methods of production with less author support, the need to self-promote has grown, she said.

“... It’s amazing that they’re not providing as much help as you would think that they would, so that’s been very interesting to see that,” Bowersox said.

Critically acclaimed author Erica Bauermeister served as Saturday’s keynote speaker. Day, a New York Times best-selling author, spoke Friday night.

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