One of my concerns about moving back to small town Midwest from the big city was thinking that I would not be able to find many like-minded writers and promotional opportunities. When I first lived here, I had been able to form my own writers group by placing an ad in the local paper, and that had served me well since we were all basically beginners at that time and were able to grow and learn together.
As a professional, published author, however, I knew I would find fewer writers nearby with enough experience and success to help me stretch and test my skills to improve them. The internet age has made it easier for me to keep in touch with members of my old writers circle and to meet new authors as well. It isn’t quite the same, though, and doesn’t really provide local promotional opportunities.
I was expecting a long, lonely road.
Luckily, I’ve found a few surprises that tell me I was perhaps wrong to worry so much. Since moving back a little over a year ago, I have participated in as many local author events as I did in five years living in Seattle. In addition to doing readings and talks at a local library, my proximity to larger towns like Chicago and Rockford have enabled me to join two very active writer’s organizations.
The Chicago Writer’sAssociation has a large contingent of members that participate in monthly meetings and sponsor several events, plus produces a newsletter that does book reviews. While distance has prevented me from taking advantage of the interesting speakers they have at their meetings, I was able to attend Chicago’s Printers Row Lit Fest thanks to my membership, and had a review published in their newsletter.
Affiliated with the CWA is InPrint, a group based in Rockford, which is quite a bit closer to me. They hosted an all-day author fair at the DeKalb public library that I was able to attend, and will be hosting a unique event September 5 called Word of Art. Authors were invited to submit short poems or prose and then artists were invited to choose a piece as the inspiration for a work of art.
|A sneak peek of the final artwork inspired by An Autumn Afternoon|
My story, An Autumn Afternoon, was selected by artist Kathy Baker, and they posted a teaser of the complete canvas on the Word or Art Facebook page that makes me intrigued to see the whole picture. On September 5, I will be able to see the completed artwork, read my story to attendees, and sign copies of the book they are compiling that includes stories and art side by side.
InPrint also has monthly meetings, with guest speakers, and will host a book fair in October where I will have a chance to sell my books and meet readers and fellow writers alike. Attending those will provide more coverage and more contacts in just a few months than being a member of the Pacific Writer’s Association in Seattle did in five years.
Meaning I now have to eat my words about there being fewer opportunities in small town Midwest. Opportunities are anywhere you look for them. Have you found Midwest resources that surprise or delight you? I would love to hear about them.