Surrounded by fellow writers at a large table, Connie Barrow prods the group for input on her latest work, a comedic screenplay set in the countryside.
The group talked clichés, Southern dialect and comedic timing after reading through the first five pages of Carolina’s Wedding, about a woman’s journey to discover her father’s identity.
“It was pretty witty,” said GiGi La Pan, a poet and photographer. “I liked it.”
The group, called the CSRA Writers, meets the third Monday of each month at Georgia Military College to provide support to one another and give constructive criticism.
Mystery writer Sara Sommerville recently published her first novel, Death at The Old Mill Pond.
Sommerville based the fiction piece, sparked by a childhood memory, in rural South Carolina during the civil rights movement.
The book, Sommerville said, is a way for her to right the wrong of what she had recalled from that era – a black person being beaten to death by a white man who later was acquitted.
“In my book, I rewrite the story,” she said.
Sommerville, who has gone to the meetings for about a year, said she’s received good advice from her peers and is almost ready to publish a sequel to her first novel.
“This is an excellent group, and they gave me some really good ideas,” she said.
The CSRA Writers was started by former Augusta State University English professor Elizabeth Estes in 1996 at the request of her students.
The group, usually consisting of about a dozen people, has met at local bookstores and libraries throughout the years. About six months ago, they started gathering at the college on Davis Road in Martinez.
“Writers are pretty crazy,” Estes said. “This is the one place you can be just as crazy as you want to be and nobody thinks a thing about it.”
The group not only reviews novels and plays, but also magazine articles, short stories, poetry and even advertisements.
From brainstorming new ideas to editing for grammatical errors, the support group is there to encourage writers by giving critiques in a respectful manner.
“Each one of us writes different,” said former Hephzibah Middle School Teacher Steve Fox, who pens horror and sci-fi in addition to spiritual and devotional tales. “Each person that checks my work finds different mistakes, and I love that.”
The next CSRA Writers meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday and will feature guest speaker Carrie McCullough, an organizer of the South Carolina Writer’s Conference.
Both published and unpublished authors are welcome to attend and are asked to bring eight to 10 copies of a manuscript for critique.