Wednesday, November 20, 2013

SJWG at the Maple Shade Library

Guest blog by Dawn Byrne

A group of writers and readers didn't let the cold weather keep them from meeting on Novmber 13th at the Maple Shade Public Library in Burlington County New Jersey, inside Maple Shade's municipal building at 200 Stiles Ave. Visitors are encouraged to ask for assistance with information, as you can tell by this sign on the wall above the librarian's desk just inside the library.

This was the South Jersey Writers' Group's second visit to the library this year to promote their anthology, Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey. Members of the SJWG are preparing to publish a second Tall Tales anthology within the next year, so look for more local tales to come. The SJWG thanks the Maple Shade Library for inviting us back to speak about writing and publishing.

One audience member shared her sad experience with a publishing company and how the company not only didn't promote and distribute her book after she had paid them, but that she has lost control of her book. Writer Marie Gilbert suggested the importance of being part of a writing community, especially for new writers. The panel also mentioned that information and support from a group, and resources they offer, can help keep writers from becoming prey to dishonest publishers. And, as luck may have it, the SJWG is open for membership until the end of December.

The evening also featured an opportunity for public readings. Our panel read from their works and then opened the floor to the audience. John Farquhar, author of What To Expect When You're Dead, read his short story "Bad Day For Santa" from our highlighted anthology, Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey. Staying with the holiday theme, Dawn Byrne read her short story, "The Christmas Hostage" from the book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas. Both authors received laughs for their humorous works as well as applause.

John L. Smith, a retired economics teacher and member of the Juliette Writers' Group, which meets in Moorestown's Barnes & Noble on the third Tuesday of every month (except December), read two of his poems from his self-published book, Food For Thought. His poems, "Dark Satanic Mills" and "Pins In New Shirts" raise empathy and awareness for those forced to work in sweat shops.

Marie Gilbert, who is up for Skelations' Blogger of the Year 2014 (have you voted yet?), answered questions from the audience and spoke about the value social media holds for promoting oneself as a writer. She explained how blogging can create a brand for a writer, showcasing his voice, style, and type of writing for his readers, which can attract multiple reader audiences.

Our cold evening continued to warm up at 8 PM when the discussion switched locations. Some of the panel and audience attended a reception at Dawn Byrne's home. They exchanged mutual conversation that moved from general writing and publishing topics to specific issues.

The South Jersey Writers' Group appreciates the Maple Shade Library, the SJWG panel, and an amazing audience for a memorable evening of the spoken and written word.

About today's guest blogger:

Dawn Byrne, a grandmother, writes inspirational and fictional stories about families from her New Jersey home. She's a member of the South Jersey Writers' Group, facilitates the Juliette Writers' Group, and teaches Sunday School. Dawn strives to leave a small carbon footprint, reads classical literature and has stories featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives: 101 Daily Devotions to Comfort, Encourage, and Inspire You and Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas. Her website is


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