Third annual writers conference goes virtual Saturday

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — The third annual Southwest Michigan Writers’ Conference will be hosted this weekend for the first time virtually.

The free event will take place over the Zoom on Oct. 24. The first session begins at 10 a.m., and the last begins at 3:45 p.m.

Brian Johnston, of the Lincoln Township Public Library in Stevensville, was inspired to help other writers when he organized the first conference in the area. A writer himself, Johnston has self-published three books, is an opinion-maker writer for The Herald-Palladium and a baseball reporter for FanSided. Johnston said he understands the need for motivation, networking and community in a career with lots of independent work.

Previously, the conferences were hosted at the Niles District Library. The first, in 2018, had 67 attendees. The second hosted 81 attendees. Currently, the virtual conference has 46 registered attendees for the day’s discussions. Johnston said the event’s registration will stay open until it begins on Saturday.

“I think the most common thing I have heard is [writers] needing motivation,” Johnston said. “There are a lot of potentially very talented writers out there. The one thing that is missing from their skillset is just the motivation to do it.”

Johnston said over the past two years with the conference, he has witnessed quite a few writers with talent become motivated after seeing what others can accomplish and networking.

“They see what’s possible, and that is a motivator for their own projects,” Johnston said. “That’s the biggest meat of this conference, in my opinion. Just getting started and getting your project off the ground is what’s important.”

The event will host five speakers:

• Bibi Belford at 10 a.m., “You are Incredible, So Write Like it: Seven Lessons from ‘The Incredibles’”

• 11:15 a.m. with Barry Chessick, “Character Development”

• 1:15 p.m. with Martin Klubeck, “Encouraging Youth to Write”

• 2:30 p.m. with Serena Wadhwa, “Overcoming Stress as a Writer”

• 3:45 p.m. is David Berner, “Memoir Workshop: The How and Why of Writing a Memoir.”

The conference is a collaborative effort between area libraries, including the Lincoln Township Public Library, Niles District Library, Van Buren District Library, Berrien Springs Community Library, Benton Harbor Public Library, Sturgis District Library and the Buchanan District Library. A grant from the Michigan Center for the Book helps to make the conference possible, and free, for attendees.

Registration can be found on the Lincoln Township Public Library website under the Programs tab for Events.

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