Get ready to write…


Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House, will be the keynote speaker at a symposium, “Navigating Your Writing Life,” on August 3rd at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Grissom will share lessons she found helpful in becoming a writer.

Symposium sessions will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at The Dickinson Fine & Performing Arts Center.

Kathleen Grissom

A resident of Forest, Virginia, Kathleen Grissom was born and raised in Saskatchewan, Canada. She and her husband now live in a plantation tavern which they renovated together. Grissom’s 2010 debut novel, The Kitchen House, garnered high praise: “I recommend The Kitchen House. This novel, like The Help, does important work.” Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple. “Kathleen Grissom gives us a new and unforgettable perspective on slavery and families and human ties in the Old South, exploring the deepest mysteries of the past that help define who we are to this day.” Robert Morgan, author of Gap Creek.

“I struggled to get writing and publishing information and to learn the publishing business. I stumbled through but it took me years. I lost count of the rejections, and when I got to the bottom of my list, I started all over again,” says Grissom. “At first I didn’t want others to critique ‘my baby.’ I felt I knew best. I also fought suggestions because I feared I couldn’t do them. I realized I had to keep an open mind and professional ideas could improve my work. I’d like to pay back and help other writers bypass such roadblocks. Don’t take no for an answer. If I can do it, others can too.” Grissom now has a contract for two more historical novels, the first set in Philadelphia and North Carolina in the 1830s, twenty years after The Kitchen House.

Symposium sessions will range from Publishing Modes, Websites, Blogs and Social Media, Nuts and Bolts of E-booking, Contests and Preparing Submissions. “Our goal is to alert the Virginia writing public — older, experienced and newto what is going on in the publishing arena,” says poet Sara Robinson who is chairing the event with fiction writer Gary Kessler. “Many emerging writers don’t have access to the current marketplace or the chance to listen and share their experiences, learn how to hone their writing skills and get published. The symposium’s all-day forum will give them that chance.”

Registration deadline is July 26 at Cost for VWC members is $75 and $85 for non-members. There are special rates for students and educators.

This 4th writers’ symposium is sponsored by the statewide Virginia Writers Club and supported by its local Blue Ridge Writers chapter. The VWC is the oldest organization of its kind in the state, founded in 1918, by fantasy and sci-fi author James Branch Cabell. The Blue Ridge chapter began as the Charlottesville Writers in 1989 at the instigation of writer Booton “Boo” Herndon. The Blue Ridge group joined the statewide organization in 1991.


–Elizabeth Howard

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