Writers and avid readers, and those there just for the entertainment made for a large crowd at the fifth annual Carolina Writer’s Conference and second Back Porch Stories on Saturday.
Attendees listened to four authors speak during the morning presentations before moving into afternoon activities. The eclectic group included N.C. State University biologist and author Rob Dunn, author and Central Carolina Community College English teacher Marjorie Hudson, New York Times bestselling author Angela Knight, and author, lecturer and television commentator Robert Macomber.
Dunn told attendees how he, a tropical biologist, is now studying and writing about the life in armpits, colons, foreheads and bedrooms, and the results of his studies. His science articles have appeared in publications included Smithsonian Magazine and National Geographic, and he enjoys involving the public as citizen scientists for his studies.
Knight explained to the audience how romantic suspense and adventures benefit from well-written fight scenes. Among other things, she discussed “how to create heroes and villains who are a good match for each other, how to choreograph fight scenes, and how to build a plot line that rises to a climax that makes readers eager for your next book,” as the CWC program put it.
Hudson, author of “Accidental Birds of the Carolinas” and “Searching for Virginia Dare,” read excerpts from her stories and provided her unique perspective of an outsider’s view of the South, flavoring her stories with some of her own experiences following her move to the Carolinas from the Midwest.
Maomber explained to the audience how to “go out there and get your story,” instructing attendees to experience what they plan to write about. “If you’re going to write about an inner city, go to inner city Charlotte,” he gave as an example. Above all, writing should be fun, he said. “If it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong!”
The authors later met with guests for book sales and signings before heading off for workshops with the authors. Knight’s workshop also included her husband, Lt. Michael Woodcock, a 24-year veteran police officer for the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, hostage negotiator and polygraph examiner.
Back Porch Stories
After the workshops, many attended the Back Porch Stories at the Ansonia Theatre, where Michael Reno Harrrell, Martha Reed Johnson and Tyris Jones presented stories. Storyteller Randy Rayfield moderated as Jones told his stories while transforming himself into the characters, Johnson described her life growing up in a “family of crazy adventurers,” and Harrell told of his life in Tennessee, focusing on his childhood.
Knight said that it was her first time attending the CWC but that she loved the whole event, praising both CWC staff and presenters. “The biologist [Dunn] was hysterical,” she said of her fellow presenters. “Robert Macomber, the historian, I thought he was wonderful too. They all showed great skill for humor, which is always welcome for an audience I think. Humor will always capture the audience in a way that nothing else really can. I really like [Hudson’s] writing. She was reading to us and had a beautiful lyrical quality — and I’m speaking as a professional writer here, so I have an appreciation for that quality.”
Macomber also praised the event. “This conference is for real people, not snobs, not wealthy people,” he said. “It was kept very, very affordable and they treat their authors extremely well. I hope to come back next year.”
The events were sponsored by the Anson County Writers’ Club with co-sponsors Anson County Arts Council, South Piedmont Community College, Union County Writers Club, and Anson Bank & Trust.