Thursday, April 20, 2017

Local Authors Help Aspiring Writers at the Cumming Library

Learn how to write a memoir at the first Forsyth Writes Together workshop of the year, presented at the Cumming Library on Tuesday, May 2 at 6:30 p.m.

This free 90-minute seminar will feature a panel of four local authors with published memoirs or novels woven from family stories. The workshop is for adults only and registration is not required.

After short presentations, the authors will engage in a Q-and-A session with the audience to address specific memoir-writing topics and offer guidance on self-publishing or finding a publisher. The authors will also stay to sign copies of their books.

“Each of these authors has experience and advice to share that will help aspiring writers organize their life stories in a way that keeps readers interested and to develop habits or writing processes that consistently put words on the page,” explains Program Manager Laura Bradley.

G. Ross Kelly is the author of What’s Your Favorite Song? The Life, Family and Music of George and Emma Kelly. His mother, Emma Kelly, was the remarkable entertainer described as “The Lady of 6,000 Songs” in the true crime book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. She and her husband managed complex careers and life in show business, all while raising 10 children.

Kelly thinks everyone has a story to tell, and that writing those stories down is important.

“Next to the birth of your children or grandchildren, writing your story will perhaps be the most meaningful experience of your life,” says Kelly.

Charlotte Gober Czekala’s memoir, I Am Charlotte, describes life in the 1940s before it was common for girls to be strong and athletic. At a young age, she learned discipline and perseverance through sports and the confidence Charlotte gained on the field led her to launch a drug treatment center for teenagers and bring Nar-Anon to the east coast.

Charlotte’s story also includes the dark challenges she faced as two of her own children struggled with addiction, and she will share the ways she stayed motivated to keep writing, even when it was difficult.

When an author is writing about tough times, Czekala says being transparent about your feelings is critical to conveying your story and giving your reader hope.

“It was very hard for me to hang in there,” she says of the writing process. “However, I had an outline and a story that I wanted to complete, so I just had to finish what I started. I wanted to show how God gave me hope and got me through the difficult times.”

Charles A. Pitcher, whose own experiences as an attorney, judge, and medical assistant in the army are interesting enough, focused instead on someone else’s life as he wrote his second book, My Uncle Pat.

While the book is a work of fiction, Pitcher drew heavily on the real-life experiences of his father's half-brother, Pat Murphy. Pitcher recalls that his dad and Uncle Pat swapped stories as they hunted duck and fished in the Pascagoula River and around the barrier islands off the Mississippi coast.

"He was a character, very Irish and blessed with a great sense of humor. I miss him and his peculiar slant on almost every subject," says Pitcher.

Syed Riaz Ahmed, author of The Lottery, was living in Pakistan when he won the diversity visa lottery to immigrate to the U.S. in the mid-1990s. Before retiring, he taught computer science at the University of North Georgia and worked to give his wife and children a secure and comfortable life that was not possible in Pakistan.

Ahmed’s memoir describes a period of crushing grief that makes readers thoughtfully consider family bonds and the struggles of parenthood. His passion for writing didn’t begin with The Lottery, though. Ahmed began writing a series of children’s jokes and puzzles and then more serious news articles in the popular newspapers of Pakistan more than 50 years ago.

“Seeing my name in print in the newspaper gave me a sense of pride and achievement, and prompted me to start writing about the important events in my life after getting the immigration through the diversity visa program of the State Department in 1995. The program uses a computer software to randomly pick a certain number of visa applicants from all over the world, just like a ticket in Georgia Lottery is picked by a computer program. My name was picked up from more than two million applicants who applied for the visa in that year,” Ahmed explains.

The Forsyth Writes Together series is designed to connect local authors and aspiring writers.

“Libraries are a wonderful place for writers to gather. We offer free resources, including online writing tutorials, research and reference materials, and writing groups for sharing work-in-progress and receiving constructive feedback,” says Bradley.

In addition to the Forsyth Writes Together series of workshops that are expected to be offered quarterly in 2017, FCPL hosts a semi-monthly writing group for adults at the Post Road Library. Teen writers in grades 6 through 12 also gather at FCPL for monthly programs at the Cumming and Post Road libraries.

For more information, please visit