2nd Quarter 2023

Instructor: Bill Walsh

Director, Creative Writing Reinhardt University

Editor, James Dickey Review

Writers Workshop $35

Top 15 Things You Need to Know to be a Successful Writer

Saturday, May 6, 2023 at 10am – 12pm

What does it take to be successful as a writer? I ask this because it is different for each person; however, there are a few constant variables you need to know to understand the writer’s life and building the proper story and characters. I will discuss where ideas (plot) bubble up from and how to run with them; how to lie like you are the biggest liar in the world and why it is okay to be a liar; I will discuss the main character’s wants and needs, as well as the inciting incident; I will take you through the orbit of Celie from The Color Purple and discuss the nuances of developing a story and how Alice Walker masterfully created this world through her characters. We will explore many other ideas and thoughts about writing, and how to take a family story and turn it into a novel. All of this is designed to demonstrate how one author accomplished this, but also how you can do the same.
Homework Assignment (optional):
Read and be familiar with The Color Purple (available for purchase at GWM).
William Walsh is the author of seven books, including the award-winning collection of poems, Fly Fishing in Times Square (Červená Barva Press). Widely published in some of the finest journals and is known for his literary interviews, which have included: Czeslaw Milosz, Joseph Brodsky, A.R. Ammons, Richard Blanco, Pat Conroy, Harry Crews, James Dickey, Rita Dove, and Mary Hood.
He was born in Jamestown, NY and raised in Lakewood until moving south in 1972. A graduate of Georgia State University and Vermont College, he resides in Atlanta with his family. He is the director of the undergraduate and graduate creative writing programs at Reinhardt University. He is the editor of the James Dickey Review. When not writing, he spends time with his family, enjoys competitive tennis and golf, as well as playing chess internationally.

1st Quarter 2023

BookLogix is a full-service book printer and publisher.*

Single Session $30

Both Sessions $55

I’ve Finished Writing. Now What?

Saturday, January 21, 2023 at 10am – 1pm

Our instructors are here to help you! Learn new techniques and tricks of the trade, or ask for feedback from your favorite Georgia writers and from professional writing instructors. Each quarter, we invite instructors who understand the rewards and challenges of writing to assist you through the process. Instructors offer practical advice about the publishing process, and answer questions about marketing and selling your work, in addition to providing assistance with writing style. 

Want more information? Check out our FAQs below. If we still haven’t answered your question, email us at:


Georgia Writers Museum hosts a variety of classes to best fit a wide range of schedules. We’ve hosted half-day classes to four-day workshops. We work with each instructor to determine the best length for their course, and then schedule their workshop.

Georgia Writers Museum selects the most in-demand topics from your requests. We’ve hosted classes on Beginning Writing, Writing Styles, Writing Across Different Genres, Character Development, Short Story Writing, and Memoir Writing, to mention a few.

Most classes include time for participants to respond to a short writing prompt or write on a subject of your choosing to help the instructor work with your specific style and provide specific feedback on your writing. Other courses include practical topics on publishing your book, and best practices for marketing. Each of our instructors is a published and professional writer with robust knowledge of the industry.

Want to request a course?

Email info@georgiawritersmuseum.org / subject Writing Workshop

The cost of each course varies. Workshop pricing is determined by a number of factors including instruction time and course materials. In addition, a percent of each workshop registration supports Georgia Writers Museum, which relies on ticket sales and donations in order to bring these workshops and educational programming to our community.

Past Writers Workshops

4th Quarter 2022

Writing Cookbooks

Saturday, October 1, 2022 at 11am


Many of us have wooden boxes or binders stuffed with favorite recipes to remind us of the people, places, and occasions that shape our lives.  What if you could polish the best of those gems and organize them into a keepsake cookbook — with stories and other mementos — to be treasured by loved ones near and far for generations to come? A veteran cookbook author and food-writing coach will share her experiences leading others — chefs, bloggers, and home cooks — on this journey and offer guidance for embarking on your own. This session will cover writing recipes like a pro; adding context with stories, oral history, photos, and lively food descriptions; and weaving together the elements into a cohesive format designed for the kitchen or bedside table. She’ll also offer resources for those who wish to self-publish for intimate gift-giving, as well as for those interested in pursuing more ambitious commercial projects.

Participants are encouraged — but not required — to send recipes from their own collections to the instructor beforehand to add to the discussion. Email your recipes to: info@georgiawritersmuseum.org


Susan Puckett is a James Beard-nominated food journalist and editor who has authored or collaborated on more than a dozen books. Her culinary travelogue, Eat Drink Delta: A Hungry Traveler’s Journey Through the Soul of the South (UGA Press, 2013) was chosen as one of ten books all Georgians should read by the Georgia Center for the Book,  as was Turnip Greens & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018), which she wrote with Eddie Hernandez, chef of the Taqueria del Sol restaurants in Georgia and Tennessee. Her most recent collaboration with the popular Alpharetta, Georgia-based blogger Suzy Karadsheh, The Mediterranean Dish: 120 Bold and Healthy Recipes You’ll Make on Repeat (Potter, 2022) will be released September 13.

Susan was the food editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for nearly 19 years and today, as a freelance writer and editor, contributes to its Food section and other media outlets. She has worked with several home cooks on self-publishing their family recipe collections and with a nonprofit, DIG Development in Gardening, on organizing mini booklets of healthy no-waste recipes for their fundraisers. For more about Susan’s work, see her website, www.susanpuckett.com.

3rd Quarter 2022

6-Week Narrative Non-Fiction

Mondays, Sept 12 – Oct. 17, 2022
7pm via Zoom

Workshop Description 

We all know how to tell a story, yet when it comes to writing one, we often become our own worst enemy. We tell readers what to think and feel. We throw in extraneous details because we have them. We telegraph the ending. Memorable stories do not happen in the inverted pyramid of journalism school; they unfold more like the ghost tales we told as kids. In this six-week course, we’ll learn how to recapture that natural sense of storytelling. We’ll study examples, do some writing, critique each other’s work. In fact, more of the class will be a roundtable workshop as opposed to a lecture.

Each week we’ll focus on a different aspect of nonfiction writing: scene and atmosphere, creating memorable characters, conflict and complication, theme and meaning, voice and style. We’ll also explore one of the hottest topics in modern storytelling: the line between fact and fiction, discussing whether a writer can ever take poetic liberties.

This course should be useful for anyone looking to write a book, a memoir, essays, magazine articles, journalism small or large, or better blog posts. All levels of writers are welcome.


Jim Auchmutey is a veteran journalist and author in Atlanta. His most recent book is Smokelore: A Short History of Barbecue in America, chosen as one of ten books all Georgians should read by the Georgia Center for the Book — as was his previous book, The Class of ’65: A Student, a Divided Town, and the Long Road to Forgiveness. The latter was featured on C-SPAN and was a New York Times best-seller (briefly — you take your bragging rights where you can get them!). Auchmutey was a reporter and editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years, where he was twice named the Cox newspaper chain’s writer of the year and won a James Beard Foundation award for his food writing. He has taught narrative nonfiction writing at the Decatur Writers Studio and has lectured at Wofford College and Georgia State University. 

3rd Quarter 2022

Writing Children’s Books

Saturday, August 20, 2022
10am – 3pm

Workshop Description 

Writing, illustrating, and publishing a book for children is filled with obstacles and hurdles that are unique to being an author for a younger audience. Join Andrea Cassell, Dr. Surishtha Sehgal, JoAnn Dotson, and Andy Runton as these renowned children’s book authors present books for primary students (grades K-3), elementary students (grades 3-5), and middle school students (grades 5-8). Each panelist will share their own journey, creative process, and advice to those wanting to pursue writing children’s books.

2nd Quarter 2022

June 25

10am – 2pm

Becoming a New Author

Workshop Description 

The months leading up to and following a book’s publication are filled with opportunities that affect a book’s success. Roger offers his years of hard-won, road-tested experience to illustrate ways to find, create, and take fuller advantage of a wide range of these opportunities. His hands-on, how-to approach includes an examination of: (1) the pros and cons of numerous types of book promotion events and activities, and (2) the participation and planning-and-development strategies intended to give new and soon-to-be-published authors a clearer understanding of how to derive greater value from resources they devote to promoting their books.
Roger Johns is the author of the Wallace Hartman Mysteries from St. Martin’s Press. He is the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year (Detective-Mystery Category) and a two-time finalist for the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award. Since April 2016, Roger has made over 140 live appearances across the country (in-person and virtual) at bookstores, conferences, conventions, book festivals, corporate events, colleges, writers’ clubs, libraries, trade shows, community centers, senior centers, and web radio shows.

In addition to dozens of blog appearances, he has authored numerous articles and given several interviews devoted to writing and career management for new authors. His short fiction has been published by, among others, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery MagazineSaturday Evening Post, and Mystery Weekly Magazine. Roger is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the Atlanta Writers Club, International Thriller Writers, and the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Along with several other crime fiction writers, he co-authors the MurderBooks blog at www.murder-books.com. Please visit him at: www.rogerjohnsbooks.com.

1st Quarter 2022

Jan. 22

1:00 – 3:30 PM
$45, per person

Writing for Scene

Description: Scenes are the building blocks of narrative storytelling. Think of any book or movie you’ve loved, and you probably remember, second only to an indelible character, a vivid scene that captures the conflicts of the story and conveys the mood and emotions. In this class, we’ll examine the art of scene-writing — especially gleaning the telling details that put a reader there. Participants are invited to send a piece of writing to the instructor before the class (info@georgiawritersmuseum.org). We’ll also walk outside for an exercise in scene-writing during the class.
Instructor: Jim Auchmutey is the author of two books that were named Books All Georgians Should Read by the Georgia Center for the Book: The Class of ’65: A Student, a Divided Town, and the Long Road to Forgiveness and Smokelore: A Short History of Barbecue in America. They both begin with scenes. He wrote for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years and was twice named the Cox Newspaper chain’s writer of the year. (https://jimauchmutey.com/)

2nd Quarter 2021

Family Stories: Evoking Emotion in Your Characters

We tell our family stories for ourselves, for our future generations, and for others outside our family. These stories connect the past to our present and to the future. Our stories and what we learn from them honors and respects our ancestors and us. They can awaken us and future generations to our potential. They can be transformative. For our family stories to be effective, however, they must not only tell a tale but express the important values, blunders, wishes, hopes, disappointments, and triumphs common to all humanity. And to convey the truth of humanity, our characters must express real emotion.

Writing honestly about family can be more challenging than recalling events accurately or finding the arc of our own story. How fair is it to put people into our books—names, warts, and all? Only the writer can answer the question of how much to whitewash stories, but if you can’t write honestly, your story will be wrong and it will be thin. We are all human and flawed. And we are moved and transformed by our humanity.

This workshop will cover both the basics of story and the importance of genuine emotion in stories. It will concentrate on how writers achieve success in creating human emotion in contrast to why writers sometimes fail in this essential endeavor. Ample illustrations will be provided, some from the Susan’s novel, Bells for Eli, and participants will be given writing prompts with feedback.

Instructor Bio:

Susan Beckham Zurenda taught English for 33 years on the college level and at the high school level to AP students. Her debut novel, Bells for Eli (Mercer University Press, March 2020), was selected as a Winter 2020 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, is a 2020 Notable Indie on Shelf Unbound, a 2020 finalist for American Book Fest Best Book Awards, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for 2021. She  has also won numerous awards for her short fiction. She lives in Spartanburg, SC.

Author Website: https://www.susanzurenda.com/

About the Book: First cousins Ellison (Eli) Winfield and Adeline (Delia) Green are meant to grow up happily and innocently across the street from one another amid the supposed wholesome values of small-town Green Branch, South Carolina, in the 1960s and 70s. But Eli’s tragic accident changes the trajectory of their lives and of those connected to them. Shunned and even tortured by his peers
for his disfigurement and frailty, Eli struggles for acceptance in childhood as Delia passionately devotes herself to defending him.

Delia’s vivid and compassionate narrative voice presents Eli as a confident young man in adolescence—the visible damage to his body gone—but underneath hide indelible wounds harboring pain and insecurity, scars that rule his impulses. And while Eli cherishes Delia more than anyone and attempts to protect her from her own troubles, he cares not for protecting himself. It is Delia who has that responsibility, growing more challenging each year.

Bells for Eli is a lyrical and tender exploration of the relationship between cousins drawn together through tragedy in a love forbidden by social constraints and a family whose secrets must stay hidden. Susan Beckham Zurenda masterfully transports readers into a small Southern town where quiet, ordinary life becomes extraordinary. In this compelling coming of age story,
culture, family, friends, bullies, and lovers propel two young people to unite to guard each other in a world where love, hope, and connectedness ultimately triumph.

I am one of those people for whom physical activity is a tonic for darkness. It doesn’t make the gloom go away, but, like aspirin for a brutal headache, it sometimes softens the hard, throbbing edge. Today, I’d walked about four miles past the outskirts of town in the thick August heat to assuage my spirit and also to escape my hovering parents.

This summer at home in Green Branch—my small South Carolina town situated on a natural ridge between the Broad and Catawba Rivers—I’d done not much more than live out my days, and for the most part my folks had let me be. Other than, from time to time, Mama proclaimed I ruminated too much. She called it “paralysis by analysis.” And my father—who is not by nature demonstrative—touched me often, sometimes with a light arm across my shoulder or a quick stroke on my arm, as though he might ask an important question.

But now, since the start of August, I had begun to feel a shift in my parents. Not exactly overt, but it was there—an unspoken plotting about how to get me back to school. I’d left just before exams in the spring, my senior year at Tulloh College, an all-female school about two hours from Green Branch. My current status, thanks to a sympathetic dean, stood at Incomplete. My parents were anxious for me to return and finish. Who could blame them? And I had no desire to worry them. But I also had no desire to return to school.

I pounded the sidewalk in heavy steps—sweat dripping from my eyebrows—as I turned the corner at  Stapleton Avenue and approached the Green Branch Town Cemetery on my right. I stopped to unscrew the top of my old Girl Scout canteen and take a swig of warm water. I’d found it at the back of my closet and liked carrying it slung across my chest when I went out walking, not just to quench my thirst but also for the nostalgia. Swiping my hand across my eyes to clear the sting of salt and unfog my vision, I heard voices and looked toward the direction of the graveyard.

Writing prompt: Write a scene that shows a contrast between what should be a pleasant circumstance for your character (for my narrator it’s summertime out of school), and the sadness or despondency the character feels. Include other characters, dialogue and any other elements to support your purpose, or keep the scene to one character and that character’s thoughts.

The next morning, waiting with Mama and Gene on the Winfields’ porch for Eli to return, I still didn’t see how it would work. And then I saw with my own eyes a red cap covering the hole in Eli’s throat. Uncle Gene sprang mid-pump from the porch swing where he sat with Mama—Helen on her lap—when Mary Lily parked at the curb. He jumped so quickly the back slats rammed into the porch rail, leaving Mama to catch herself and keep both her and Helen from falling out. I sat safe in a rocking chair out of range of the flying swing.

Gene ran to Eli walking up the path to the porch, grabbed him around his middle, and whirled him into the air. Eli’s face transfigured. He became all eyes—brimming green pools—staring out at us. His hands grasped at the red cap. I thought he was scared he couldn’t breathe and soar aloft at the same time. I stood. I looked up at my cousin. He smiled at me. I understood then that, though he might have been scared, his eyes were liquid happy, too. I watched him breathe in and out of his mouth. He hadn’t quite gotten the hang of his nose.

Writing Prompt: Concentrate on a moment of happiness in your life. Choose something not typical like your graduation day, wedding day, or the birth of one of your children. How is the moment you choose unique to you? Write a short scene revealing your happiness and excitement on a particular occasion without using any cliché.

I watched as Eli caught Nancy by the hand and pulled her into the middle of the floor during “Love (Can Make You Happy)” by Mercy, song that made my heart swoon whenever I heard it. I watched her arms stretch around his shoulders. I watched her melt into him, his arms enfolding her waist. They barely moved, just swayed back and forth. And who could blame him? What boy wouldn’t be taken with my voluptuous cousin?

Nealy caught me staring as Nancy and Eli embraced. “I know what you’re thinking,” she said.

“How would you know what I’m thinking?” I asked, turning quickly from the direction of the dancers to face my friend standing beside me.

“I can see the rejection on your face.”

“He’s my cousin, Nealy. Don’t be ridiculous.”

“You’re in love with him,” she said. “You always have been.” I stared hard at her. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, Nealy Simmons,” I admonished her. “You’d better watch what you say.”

She raised her eyebrows and cocked her head at me. “I know you better than you know yourself,” she said, all pleased. I ignored her.

Writing Prompt: Emotions in characters are often best understood and conveyed when we can tap into our own emotions. Think of a time, place, or person, or even thing you desperately long for. Evoke the essence of the time, person, place, or thing through the senses: taste, smell, touch, sound, sight.  Write this passage as a journal entry, as though no one else will ever read it so that you can let go of your inner critic.

Dear Eli,

It’s not so much that I’m mad about the phone call, but you woke me and half the hall. And people weren’t too happy with me. When the phone rings, it rings down the whole hall, you know? It was after midnight. The phone’s in the middle of our hall, and I’m at the far end. Meg and Donna’s room is right by the phone, and one of them has to get up to answer late at night, unless someone just happens to be walking down the hall to the bathroom. I wish Tricia and I had a private phone in the room, but it’s expensive. Not something Mama and Daddy, or Tricia’s parents either, have wanted to spring for. So until and unless we get our own  phone, don’t call late.

And what could I do anyway in the middle of the night?

You’ve got to calm down, Eli. Isabel doesn’t even live on my hall. How would I know where she is? And it’s not my business to ask her, either. That’s between you and her.

I’ll see you next week, cousin. All will be well.

Until then,


Writing Prompt: Write a short character sketch in which one of the most irritating people you know is traveling in the car with you. The narrator should not engage in dialogue with his/her irritating companion, but should observe the character’s appearance, movement, actions, etc. to reveal the narrator’s irritation. Try to tie the irritation to something specific the narrator naturally dislikes about this person.

He planted his feet on the slats, withdrew to the opening, passed through, and began to descend. Isabel and I strolled toward the bottom of the ladder, our chatter marking our relief, when I heard a grinding pop and then a clank of metal. It wasn’t loud, but it was distinct. I looked up to see my cousin dangling on rungs come loose from their connection to the tower, maybe twenty feet above us. He’d not swung far, but clearly, the ladder was no longer anchored below him. Eli had come unmoored.

I opened my mouth involuntarily to scream, but what came out was a dry, hollow gag. Isabel screamed with as much might as I’ve ever heard in a human being before or since.

“Stop,” I croaked at her. “Please stop.” But she continued. “You’ve got to stop. You’re making it worse,” I said, but she couldn’t help it. Her instincts had taken over. I don’t think she heard me. I ran from her, spanning the few remaining yards to the ladder.

“Don’t touch it,” Eli yelled down, his voice trembling, and I knew he, too, feared the loose section would break off. I shielded my eyes with my hand and looked up again into the sun’s glare. The white soles of his tennis shoes quivered on the swaying ladder.

“Listen to me, Eli. You’ve gotta get off the ladder, now. I can see from here what you have to do.” Before it falls all the way, I thought. My throat clogged tight. I coughed hard and spoke again. “Put your left foot on the cross-support beside you and then your right. Hold on above and inch both feet into the corner at the steel column.”

“I’m going to jump,” he called.

“It’s too far!” I warned, my voice suddenly returned.

Isabel arrived beside me, no longer screaming, but breathing hard in spasms.

“I’ve got to jump. I can’t stay up here,” he said, leaning out, making the ladder shudder. Herculean as he was in aspect, he believed he could leap safely to the ground. I knew he’d kill himself.

“No, Eli, don’t you dare,” Isabel called to him, panting, but clear. “Be still.”

“He’s got to get off the ladder,” I told her. She looked at me dumbfounded.

“I’ve got to jump,” Eli called again.

“No, no, no, you’ll break your neck.” I remember trying to make my voice calm, knowing it was close to hysterical.

Writing Prompt: Fear is an emotion that has physical responses as exemplified in the passage when Eli descends the rescue tower and nearly falls when the ladder breaks loose. Think of a time when you felt great fear and make a list of the physical responses you experienced. Think about a repetitive thought you had, a key smell or taste or image that dominated your thoughts, and perhaps how you felt just prior to feeling afraid. Create a one-page scene using the physical responses and thoughts you had in the situation to show your fear.

1st Quarter 2021

Writing Your First Page

Genre: Writing Your First Page

This is a two-hour online class, driven by your first page. Participants should submit their first page (approximately 300 words) to info@georgiawritersmuseum.org. Writer and Instructor Peter Selgin will review your work with you, as well as give you pointers for crafting your first page and the pages that follow.

Your First Page is unlike any other craft book on writing. It is based on the premise that almost everything that can go right or wrong in a work of fiction or memoir goes wrong or right on the first page. The book grew out of an experiment for which writers submitted nearly one hundred anonymous first pages of works-in-progress for analysis. The experiment proved two things: that first pages function like canaries in coalmines, forecasting success or predicting trouble. They establish the crucial bond between writer and reader, setting us off on a path toward the heart or climax of a story, or they fail to do so. The experiment also demonstrated that from first pages we stand to learn most of what we need to know to succeed as authors.

Instructor Bio:

PETER SELGIN is the author of Drowning Lessons, winner of the 2007 Flannery O’Connor Award for Fiction, Life Goes to the Movies, a novel, several books for children, and three books on the craft of fiction writing, the most recent of which, Your First Page: first pages and what they tell us about the pages that follow them, was published in 2017 by Serving House Books. Peter is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Georgia College & State University.

Peter was born in Bethesda, Maryland, of Italian immigrants, one of a pair of twins my mother hadn’t expected. The birth notices read, “Selgin Boy A” and “Selgin Boy B.” I was Boy B. Six months later … Click here to continue reading.

Author Website: http://peterselgin.com/

Qualifications for featured instructors:

Georgia Writers Museum is a premier resource for readers and writers throughout the state of Georgia. Therefore, all instructors should have published works through a professional publishing firm and have teaching experience.

Check out our past instructors!

*Georgia Writers Museum does not endorse any publishing companies.

Amanda Vining photo

Amanda holds a BS in Biology from Georgia College & State University. She began her career as an educator with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. After leaving the DNR, Amanda became a formal educator with Baldwin County School System and Jasper County School System. Amanda began her museum career at the Museum of Arts and Sciences (MAS) in Macon, Georgia, where she served as Curator of Environmental Science
(2011-2020). While at MAS, Amanda developed a love for sharing the world around us with the many students who visited on school field trips. During her time as Curator of Environmental Science, Amanda launched a storytime
program for preschool children.

Since 2020, Amanda has been serving Georgia Writers Museum as a volunteer on the Education Committee. Amanda has brought her love of sharing stories with students by launching Peaches’ Reading Pasture. As Museum Manager, Amanda looks forward to serving the community and helping to inspire those within our community to put words to paper and share their stories.

Amanda was born and raised in nearby Shady Dale, Georgia. Her husband, Rodney, is a native of Eatonton, and they currently reside in Putnam County. They have three children.