Sanctuary for local writers
When Karli Land published her first book, “Baby Don’t Cry,” in 2014, she realized that she didn’t have much of a platform in Calhoun for promoting and marketing it. And due to a lack of writers’ groups in the Calhoun area, Land decided to start one.
She had previously been attending groups in Kennesaw and Rome, but she wanted something a bit more local. So in 2014, she founded Calhoun Area Writers, not knowing how many people would be interested.
“We started off with 16 members, and now we are up to 40. It’s grown so much over the last few years,” Land said, adding she’s had a lot of help from organizations like the Harris Arts Center, the Voluntary Action Center and Rock Bridge Community Church. “It’s just taken off.”
The CAW, a nonprofit organization, meets the third Friday of every month in the VAC conference room from 6-7:30 p.m. and welcomes anyone interested. And Land, the founder and president of the group, is not alone in facilitating those meetings. The group’s Vice President Amber Lanier-Nagle and Secretary Millicent Flake also help run the group. Recently, members have even been stepping up and planning the monthly sessions, bringing in guest speakers or lecturing themselves.
CAW has members from not only Gordon County, but also members from all over Georgia and even across state borders. And though members have to pay a yearly $40 fee, they get to participate in author events, critique groups, the formation of the group’s anthology and blog, group parties and book promotion.
And since their origination, the CAW has grown in size but also in local involvement. This year, they will be publishing the third edition of their annual anthology, “Telling Stories,” which consists of local writers’ work. In 2017, they hosted the first annual Northwest Georgia Writers Conference, a wildly popular event where local authors are invited to Calhoun to lecture and lead writing workshops.
In addition, they are looking into setting up a few “Little Free Libraries,” an increasingly trendy movement where small decorated boxes are set up around a specific area containing free books available for exchange.
About the founder
Land specializes in writing Christian nonfiction, devotionals, children’s books, blogging and fiction based on her own personal experiences. Her most recent project is a fiction book on a daughter caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s, “Day After Yesterday,” which is based on a nine-year period of time when Land helped care for her grandmother, who was an Alzheimer’s patient.
“If someone would have told me about those (life experiences), I might have been better prepared,” said Land, who’s now working on getting her manuscript published. “I want to try to help others get a glimpse of what might be coming.”
And professionally, Land not only serves as the president for CAW, but she also works as a project assistant for the Council on Alcohol and Drugs and discipleship director at Rock Bridge Community Church.
Only living in Calhoun since 2012, Land is heavily involved in the community and credits her history of writing to her grandmother, who served as her muse. “My first moment of inspiration was when I was a little kid, we used to walk around the block every day and (my grandmother) would read these little stories she had written down,” Land said. “That was my first experience with writing.”
And while her grandmother inspired her, the other reason she continues to write is so she can help people.
“We go through things and that’s our purpose,” Land said. “We can take those things and use them to help somebody who is going through (something similar) or coming into a tough season.”
Land, a Florida native, lives in Calhoun with her husband, four children and one grandchild. Of all the things she’s involved with, she knows that CAW has its own unique quality.
“There’s something about our group,” she said. “It’s just really special.”
CAW’s 2019 Northwest Georgia Writers Conference will be held in September and details will be released at a later date.