Achieving Our Goals

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The Writers Alliance of Gainesville has grown from a handful of people to an alliance of more than 160 members.

WAG was founded in early 2009 after Wendy Thornton and the late Kal Rosenberg put their heads together and decided Gainesville needed an organization of writers who would promote, encourage, and support one another. How are we doing? Let’s take a look at what we’ve accomplished together and where we’re headed.[intense_spacer height=”20″]

Dues remain reasonable:

In the eight years since our founding, annual dues of $36 have never increased. What other organization can say that? Thank you Elaine Beem Robinson, Membership Coordinator, for gently reminding us when our dues are about to expire. How you keep track of all of us — with dues expiring on different dates — is a mystery to me![intense_spacer height=”20″]

Non-profit status:

Thanks to the diligent efforts of past presidents Wendy Thornton and Art Crummer, WAG is now certified a 501(c)(3) non-profit. And I am happy to report that we have recently received gifts that should help us extend our outreach and improve our programming.[intense_spacer height=”20″]

Growth of critique pods:

WAG currently has fifteen genre-specific critique pods, thanks to Pod Coordinator Skipper Hammond, who organizes pods as needed. Thanks also to pod leaders for facilitating the meetings. Of WAG’s membership, about half belong to one or more critique pods.[intense_spacer height=”20″]

Bacopa Literary Review, 2015:

WAG’s sixth annual journal features the writing of thirty-nine authors from around the world. Our special thanks to the outgoing Editorial Board, Gen Aris, Jani Sherrard, Pranada Comtois, Dorothy Staley, and Shellie Zacharia for their diligent work on the 2015 edition.[intense_spacer height=”20″]

  • New editorial board — Mary Bast, U.R. Bowie, Kaye Linden, Rick Sapp, Mary Bridgman, and Susie Baxter make up the 2016 editorial board. One of our goals is to increase submissions through the use of social media.
  • New Bacopa blog site — Check out the new Bacopa blog that features winning entries and other selections that illustrate the type of material Bacopa seeks.[intense_spacer height=”20″]

The WAG Digest:

WAG’s bi-monthly newsletter, edited by Wendy Thornton, provides writing-related articles and information for approximately 300 subscribers.[intense_spacer height=”20″]

WAG’s new website:

The new site is the place to find information on upcoming programs, critique pods, the Bacopa Literary Review, the WAG Digest, members’ works, and more. This is YOUR site and we are constantly striving to improve it. If you have ideas, please contact our webmaster.

  • Updates — Content updates are a team effort, facilitated by Webmaster Robin Ingle with assistance from Joan Carter (editor) and Kim Mullins. If you would like to help with editing or updates, let us know.
  • Blog Posts — In 2015, bloggers Mary Bast, Robin Ingle, Sharon Ketts, Felicia Lee, Kaye Linden, Connie Morrison, Rick Sapp, Cassie Selleck, Annie Thomas, and Wendy Thornton provided tips and humorous articles to help us improve our craft, to stay motivated, and to market our works. If you wish to contribute to the blog, please contact our webmaster.
  • PayPal — After the website was launched, new members could sign up and pay dues online through PayPal, and members could renew online. Of late, we have experienced some problems with this feature but we’re working diligently to fix it.
  • Members’ worksMore than sixty books by WAG members are listed. If yours is not, send your book information to our webmaster.
  • Members’ blogs — Check out the directory of members’ blogs and websites. If yours is not listed, email the webmaster.[intense_spacer height=”20″]

Monthly programs:

Program Coordinator Carol Ray Skipper brought us an array of interesting speakers and topics in 2015 — from Ron Cunningham’s talk on the “Virtues of Brevity” to a NaNoWriMo panel. Thank you, Carol. And thank you, Joan Carter, for publicizing the programs in the media.

  • Attendance — WAG’s programs draw audiences of 60-80 individuals, about half of whom are guests.
  • New Program Coordinator — Going forward, Roz Miller will serve as Program Coordinator, so if you have ideas for programs, please contact Roz.[intense_spacer height=”20″]

Special programs:

This past year, more than 150 people from North Florida enjoyed “A Land Remembered,” featuring Rick Smith, who discussed the many books written by his late father, the famous Patrick Smith. This year, we are sponsoring or co-sponsoring two special programs:

  • Writers in the Woods, March 5 — This full day of writing-related programming will be held at Pod Coordinator Skipper Hammond’s rural homestead near Williston.
  • Scribes of the Sunshine State, May 19 — WAG will co-sponsor this event with the Matheson History Museum in conjunction with the museum’s exhibition, Liquid Gold — The Rise and Fall of Florida Citrus. Three WAG members will share how Florida inspires their writing.[intense_spacer height=”20″]

Social media:

Check WAG out on:

  • Facebook — Updated daily by Sharon Ketts, WAG’s Facebook page, averages about 135 contacts (engagements) per week. Around the time of co-author Nathan Whitaker’s talk and the posting of a Tim Tebow photo, the number spiked to over 200 a day.
  • TwitterWAG’s Twitter account regularly tweets information on WAG events, members’ books, and blogs. Join in! If you don’t use Twitter, view the tweets on the front page of the website.[intense_spacer height=”20″]

Fairs, festivals and book sales:

WAG members distributed brochures and members sold their works at three 2015 festivals: The Gainesville Fine Art Association’s Winter Fine Arts Fair at Tioga Town Center in February, the Thornebrook Village Art Festival in October, and the Downtown Festival and Art Show in November. Thank you Wendy Thornton for setting up and staffing these events.

  • WAG invested in a tent and logo banner to be used at these events, and we will continue to look for new venues where members can sell their works.
  • Gene Cowell has volunteered to head up the 2016 fairs and festivals, with assistance from Art Crummer and Sandra Phillips.[intense_spacer height=”20″]

Community outreach:

WAG recently made a donation to P. K. Yonge’s literary publication Creeks and Currents; we provided refreshments for ArtSpeaks, a program that showcases area poets, held at the Thomas Center; we presented a program on “Becoming a Writer” at the High Spring library; and several WAG members volunteered their time to talk with University of Florida journalism students who requested interviews with writers to meet class assignments.[intense_spacer height=”20″]

Volunteers:

Without the dedication and efforts of our many volunteers, WAG would not exist. I wish to thank, in particular, the WAG Board and the Executive Committee, Art Crummer, Ann~Marie Magné, Bonnie Ogle, and Connie Morrison for their dedication and commitment.[intense_spacer height=”20″]

The overall goal of WAG remains the same: to promote, encourage, and support one another as writers. If WAG is important to you and you don’t currently hold a volunteer position, ask yourself, “What can I do to keep WAG moving forward?”

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Follow Susie Baxter:

Creative nonfiction editor of Bacopa Literary Review, Baxter teaches memoir writing at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. During her career in publishing, she commissioned physicians to write clinical reference books. Her own works include C.G. and Ethel, a biography, and Write Your Memoir: One Story at a Time. She is now wrapping up a memoir about her rural childhood.

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