The BUZZ to Host First Rural Writers’ Conference


Reaching out to East Tennessee’s Literary Community
Tabitha Prock

Monroe County TN Rural Writers' ConferenceEast Tennessee is a place filled with natural beauty and rich cultural heritage to which writers of all genres have been drawn including James Agee, Alex Haley, and Cormack McCarthy. An exciting convergence of our local literary community will take place Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Eclectic Vibe Centre in Madisonville for the 2016 Rural Writers Conference.

This conference is sponsored by The Monroe County BUZZ in support of our creative community. Writers from all disciplines are invited to attend the free event.

Terence Hawkins, the founder of Yale Writers’ Conference at Yale University will share his insights on the publishing world via Skype with those in attendance.

Hawkins is currently director of The Company of Writers in New Haven, Connecticut. The Company of Writers provides manuscript reviews, editing and coaching in addition to numerous workshops by a faculty of nationally known writers who also happen to be exceptionally talented teachers. Hawkins attended Yale University and served as publisher of the Yale Daily News. He published his first novel, The Rage of Achilles, in 2009. Hawkins’ second novel, American Neolithic, was named a Best Book of 2014 by Kirkus Reviews. As director of the Yale Writers’ Conference, Hawkins also played an instrumental role in the creation of an e-book publication called The Craft: Essays on Writing from the Yale Writers’ Conference Faculty. This publication can be found on Amazon. It includes instructional and entertaining essays by several amazingly talented writers and faculty members of the summer sessions at Yale.

During the upcoming conference, celebrated writer and talented artist Susan Cope Becker, who makes her home in the Citico area of Monroe County, will discuss journaling as a form of artistic expression and as an exercise to develop and enhance creativity. In 1999 she began work on the Anniversary Edition of the Joy of Cooking. She worked as an editor, writer, and art director with publisher, Scribner in New York. Becker self-published Living With A Deaf Dog in 1997, a book that shares experiences and offers advice and facts about communicating with and training a deaf dog. The book, a first of its kind, continues to be an excellent resource for those who share their lives with deaf dogs. She was inspired in 1995 to write the book by her deaf Boston Terrier, Spanky.

Becker is the recipient of numerous awards for her advertising and public relations campaigns, television commercials and videos. In 1996, she received national recognition when she was awarded the prestigious Silver Telly for Television Campaign, and the Bronze Telly for Promotional Video. In 1985, Susan was chosen by Yoko Ono to work as Creative Director and Editor to design the John Lennon greeting cards, Imagine, and later Dream Series, a line of Yoko’s cards. Susan published a cartoon known as The Pibbles in several newspapers nationwide. Her fan club included over 10,000 people from all over the world in 1988. Because the cartoon expresses our feelings, Susan also teaches journal-keeping to children and adults as a way of helping them learn more about personal feelings and how to share them…how to communicate. “Journal-keeping is a valuable tool to writers. It frees the mind, organizes the thoughts and allows words to flow. Maybe from this writer’s conference there will be interest in a future journal workshop. These workshops are so inspiring for everyone involved,” Susan said. Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Gerald D. Hodge, Jr. will also provide insightful information on research, writing, self-publishing historical non-fiction. He is a 28 year veteran of the United States Army and has been the Executive Director of the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association in Etowah since November 2013. He has a B.S. in Political Science from UT Chattanooga and a M.A. with Honors in Military History: Civil War Concentration from American Military University. His master’s thesis was entitled Free or Dead: Loyalty, Desertion, and Will in the 39th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He has a journal article in the Chattanooga Regional Historical Journal (December 2002) entitled “Sustaining the Army of Tennessee in the Fall of 1863” which looked at logistical support at the strategic, operational, and tactical level.

Hodge footnoted, edited, and published a reminiscence of a 39th Georgia soldier entitled War As I Saw It: The Civil War Reminiscences of Commissary Sergeant Newton H. Coker, 39th Georgia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He is a noted expert on East Tennessee and North Georgia during the war and guest speaks at schools, historical societies, Civil War Roundtables, descendant organizations, and various civic organizations. “In spite of what many people think, history happens in this very moment and not necessarily yesterday or 150 years ago. The most powerful witness is you. If you do not capture your words then no one will. Be the witness, be the historian,” Said Hodge who has written and led two original U.S. Army Staff Rides on Cavalry Operations during the Chickamauga Campaign and in East Tennessee in the fall of 1863 and has spoken about guerrilla warfare in Northwestern Georgia. The Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park has also utilized his expertise to lead the “Cleburne and Stevenson Defeat Sherman at Tunnel Hill” portion of the Missionary Ridge Anniversary Historical Walking Tours on numerous occasions.

For more information on the 2016 Rural Writers’ Conference contact The Monroe County Buzz 423-442-1635 or send a confirmation of attendance by email to

All local published, non-published, and aspiring writers are invited to attend. The event is free. Breakfast items, lunch, and refreshments will be served.

Space is limited so RSVP by April 22.



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