Local libraries partner to host inaugural writers’ conference

NILES — Those with an interest in self-publishing or learning to improve their writing craft will have the opportunity to gain some professional insight during the inaugural Southwest Michigan Writers’ Conference.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Niles District Library, 620 E. Main St. Those who attend will get to hear multiple authors speak on a variety of topics from how to write for children to how to make fiction writing more suspenseful. The event is free and open to the public and sponsored by the libraries in Niles, Dowagiac, Benton Harbor, Lincoln Township, Van Buren and Berrien Springs. People are welcome to attend any variety of sessions.

Topics for the day will include:

• 10 a.m. — conference begins with brief welcome

• 10:30 a.m. — Author Bibi Belford to speak on “Lessons on Writing for Children from ‘The Princess Bride’”

• Also at 10:30 a.m. — Author Brian Johnston to speak on avoiding “Logical Fallacies”

• 11:45 a.m. — Authors Jessica Pennington and Kim Chance to speak on “Writing Young Adult Fiction”

• Also at 11:45 a.m. — Aleatha Romig to speak on the art of self-publishing

• 1:45 p.m. — Author Libby Hellman to speak about “Putting Suspense into Your Fiction” and author Tamara Knighten to speak about “Writing About Challenging Topics”

• 3:30 p.m. — Roundtable discussion on the future of self-publishing

Brian Johnston is a self-published author and serves as the head of public services for the Lincoln Township Library. Johnston, who will be among the authors speaking at the conference, said he would encourage anyone with a passion for writing to attend the conference.

“No matter what age group you write for or what type of writing you do, there is going to be a session there for you,” Johnston said. “Any writer, any level, any genre, there’s going to be something there for them.”

Johnston said he hopes that people take away some useful tips, such as the steps to self-publishing and tools for making them marketable in the industry.

“The reason that I came up with this idea is that I work at a public library, but I am also a self-published author,” Johnston said. “It is really hard for self-published authors to build credibility and get the word out about their writing and about the books they release.”

While it is not required to sign up, Johnston advised that those interested register with their local library. A link is also available online at any of the sponsoring libraries websites.

“We are just trying to provide some free resources to our community to help aspiring writers improve their craft, because there’s a lot of writers out there that have the skill but want to get even better,” Johnston said. “We really think we are filling a niche.”