Writers ConferenceIf your dream is to become a published author, you first have to know your craft. That’s the goal of the inaugural Broadleaf Writers Conference, which will be held at the main branch of the DeKalb County Public Library in downtown Decatur on Sept. 24-25. The brainchild of writer Zachary Steel, the conference will be the main event of the Broadleaf Writers Association, which will begin offering year-round programming in 2017. We asked Steele to talk about the creation of Broadleaf and it’s mission.

Why did you decide to create Broadleaf?
As a young writer who thought I had it all figured out, I had the benefit of joining a writing organization out of state that specialized in teaching the craft. Through their conferences and seminars, socializing and discussing writing with other members, and friendships that blossomed thereafter, I found a sense of home and purpose I had never before experienced. I grew as a writer, and as a person. I honestly considered moving just to maintain my place in that community. It was that potent. But Atlanta is my home. This is where I want to be. So, I began the process of creating an organization here. Georgia is rich in solid writing organizations dedicated to assisting writers in their efforts to become published authors, but there weren’t any dedicated solely to craft, or to my vision of what a community of writers can accomplish together. So, I founded Broadleaf Writers with the assistance of a fabulous Board of Directors, and off we went.

What can attendees expect from the inaugural conference?
Writers can expect a line-up of deeply talented writers speaking on various aspects of the craft. Whether it’s Paul Jenkins’ keynote on writing with confidence, or Joshilyn Jackson, Patti Callahan Henry and Brian Panowich detailing their methods of creating the proper Southern Voice, or Clifford Brooks III, David L. Robbins and Kate Sweeney discussing how to choose the right word, writers in attendance will gain invaluable knowledge on areas of writing that mean the most to them. Additionally, we have three guest literary agents who will be conducting five-minute sessions with attendees, as well as sitting on a panel focused on the importance of nailing the first page of a manuscript. And beyond the knowledge, beyond what writers will gain from those who have succeeded in the craft, there will be one-hundred and fifty passionate writers talking to one another for two days. Learning from each other. Forging friendships that will go well beyond the conference. They will be forming the core of a community that they can depend on.

What will be the mission of Broadleaf year-round?
The fundamental mission of Broadleaf is to enrich and advance the craft of writing for all writers through education, inspiration and community. The conference is a single step in that process. Our aim beyond is to incorporate educational programming designed to assist writers—both young and old—in their efforts to utilize writing for professional gain. For example, in October, we are partnering with Oglethorpe University to conduct a seminar for students pursuing a degree in writing. We’ll have panels geared toward the exploration of possible careers in the field, and ways in which students may someday make a living with their degree. To further our drive for community and education, we will be adding seminars and workshops throughout the year to offer focused events for writers to learn and interact. We’re in the process of crafting our 2017 schedule of programming and hope to have it posted to our website soon.

To register and get more information for the Broadleaf Writers Conference , visit broadleafwriters.com.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.