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Your Next Great Adventure

Recently I was asked by several people about how I became a writer and got my books published. I didn’t exactly go about things in the normal way.

Marlene Ratledge Buchanen

Snellville Patch was very popular at one time. I wrote a letter to the editor about topic of which I have no memory. The editor contacted me and asked if I would be interested in writing for Patch. I accepted and Hey Y’all was born. I wrote articles on the Snellville Saturday Farmer’s market, festivals, and events around town. I also wrote about some of the history of Snellville. Then the editor changed and Patch re-organized and I wasn’t needed anymore.

My friend Cece Landress wanted to write the great American novel-or at least a story or two. She and I decided to take a class taught by Carole Townsend. Carole has published many articles in newspapers and with a number of books to her credit.

Cece and I went to Carole’s book launch of Blood in the Soil. There we ran into Auveed Cawthon, owner and editor of the Gwinnett Citizen, a monthly newspaper. ( Auveed asked if I would be interested in writing for her paper. I did and the rest leads up to my books.

I attended a newly formed group named the Walton Writers. There I met an author, Tori Bailey, who was developing her own publishing company. With her encouragement, I collected a number of my better Hey Y’all columns and added some more and created Life is Hard. Soften it with Laughter. I used this phrase a lot-long before the book.

Here is where my advice begins with you wanting to write. Join some author groups. Choose wisely. Explore Facebook and the Internet for potential groups to join.

There are two groups in our area that I strongly support. Scribblers Web and Walton Writers. Membership in both of these groups is free.

This first I would encourage you to join is Scribblers Web. It has a number of meeting in person locations My group is the Snellville Scribblers. We meet the third Thursday of the month at Main Street Restaurant and the last Monday of each month on Zoom. Both programs start 6:00 pm. (

Scribblers Web is designed to help you with the business end of writing and getting yourself published. I encourage you to join and peruse the past newsletters for a better feeling of the organization. We do not focus on critiquing your work, but you may share it with the group. This group has everything from cover artists, editors, web designers, publishers, and more. You are invited to submit your questions at any time. Look at the on-line bookstore and you will see we have writers from all genre.

Walton Writers, which you can find on Facebook at Magical Muse Moments Create, Paint, Write, meets the first Thursday of each month at 7:00 pm. Monroe Walton Center for the Arts ( is the home of this group. The goal is to help you with the business end of writing, but also with an eye to work content. Monthly discussions on activities, events, and opportunities take place. Also, people are encouraged to share their work for critique/review.

Another part of the Magical Muse Moment is Second Saturday Mic Night. It currently meets on Zoom (7:00 pm second Saturday of each month). Authors, musicians, and all creative people are asked to participate by sharing their work with others. Participation will strengthen your presentation skills. The feedback you get from the others will strength your work.

I attended a number of writers’ conferences. Some were a complete waste of money and time. Again, choose wisely. Don’t pay to attend a romance writers group if you don’t like to read or write romance. Sisters in Crime is a great resource, but if murder isn’t your thing, look elsewhere.

I would encourage you to explore Atlanta Writers’ Club, probably the oldest writing group in the southeast, and perhaps beyond. There is an annual membership fee. AWC host monthly meetings in person and/or on Zoom. There are two general conferences a year. This year AWC will sponsor a meeting for independent authors; those who publish personally. You will get great information from attending any of these conferences. (

The best conference I ever attended was Southeastern Writers Association ( It will be held in June at Epworth-by-the-Sea. I plan to go again this year.

My best advice for anyone who would like to write. Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Just write your thoughts. It doesn’t matter what it says or how you say it. Just get it down. It is never wrong. It is just the beginning of a new adventure.

A southern humorist, Marlene has won the 2020 Georgia Independent Author of the Year for Life is Hard. Soften It with Laughter and 2021 GIAYA for A Place with a past. She is available for speaking engagements. You may reach her through her website