Meeting Minutes

April 2024

AGT Monthly Meeting for April 2024

The Authors Guild of Tennessee held their monthly meeting on Thursday, April 4, 2024, at the Faith Lutheran Church in Farragut. Social time started at 10:30 and the business meeting at 11:00.

The following members were present:

Bill Barbour, Randy Carpenter, Dorie Cummings, Gayle Curtin, Laura Derr, Danita Dodson, John Forcum, Leoma Gilley, Ernie Lancaster, Angela Newland, Cheryl Peyton, Nancy Pressley, Ron Pressley, Brenda Sellers, Art Stewart, Becky Tucker, Jeri Weems, and Curt Young.

Guest: Terry Shaw

Welcome – Cheryl.

New members:

Dorie Cummings was noted as a new member who was introduced at the March meeting.

John Forcus practiced law for eight years with his brother, then was elected as a district judge in a small community, eventually serving for 24 years. His first book is a historical novel about his mother’s family in Dayton, Tennessee. His second book is an analysis of justice in America. The book opens with a description of a case concerning a Vietnam veteran that he represented in criminal court. John felt both the charge and the sentence were unjust.

Becky Tucker moved to Knoxville a year ago from the Dayton/Sweetwater area. She has one book, Hear Their Stories, which are true accounts she had published as a newspaper columnist. She is working on a friend’s memoir.

Regrettably, it is Angela Newland’s last meeting. She has helped with many things including the library. She’s moving back to Ohio to be near family.

March Minutes: Minutes of the March meeting have been approved online.

Treasurer’s report:  – from Russ

Beginning Balance $3365.07
Ending Balance $3298.80
Membership Dues $113.00
Book Sales: $10.50
Website Hosting
Author Payments  $10.50
Domain Name Renewal $23.17
Trade Show Expense $25.00
Pending Transactions:  
Bobbi Chapman $151.97 (Trade Show Expense)
Author Payment $10.50



Ernie reported on a new conference coming to Knoxville, February 1-2, 2025.  ( She will have literary agents and publishers present at the Knoxville Airport Hilton. Registration is now open.

Reports by Committee Chairs:

Festival Facts – Nancy P. The goal of this committee is to create as many opportunities to sell books personally throughout the year as possible. The committee will also evaluate if each venue is appropriate for the types of books we have. At STAR we had 12 people there. Evaluations were given and returned. The location and set up process were fine. The temperature was chilly. It was not a good venue for books as most people bought saddles and horse equipment. There will be two events in April: Spring Fling April 20 in Lenoir City, and the Dogwood Arts Festival at World’s Fair Park on April 24. One booth is full, but we could ask for another.

There will be two opportunities in May. Nancy will send out a pdf of the events.

Program – Danita reports that Bobbi will be speaking next month on festivals. In June, a speaker from UT will talk about AI and writing.

Retail — Cheryl explained The Phoenix inventory has been reduced to one case, 23 titles. The books will be transferred to the IGA store in Townsend after the owner makes the shelves. The Café in Loudon has closed, and the owner is not responding to calls or texts. Cheryl is trying to find the building owner to get access to our books.

Marketing and Publicity – Gayle Curtin conducted a survey (attached to these minutes) on what marketing tactics have worked and what haven’t, asking for what help is needed.

Curt will meet with the publisher of McMinn County magazine next month with a proposal to put articles about our authors in the magazine.

Art Stewart, Bill, Jerry, and Cheryl are working on a grant which will be submitted later this month for our books to go to public libraries and authors to speak for an hour about writing.

Writing Contest – Art says they are still judging the students’ work. The poetry by the winners of the most recent contest is posted on our website.

Speaker:  Our speaker, Terry Shaw, is on the board of the Tennessee Mountain Writers and is founder and editor at Howling Hills Publishing. Terry spoke about a “commitment to learning your writing craft.” He gave advice on publishing your new book and how to find the right editor, among other topics about completing your writing project. Howling Hills Publishing is an independent publisher of nonfiction books about Greater Appalachia. It is easier to get publicity for nonfiction books as there is a shortage of reporters. Terry and his partner published two books last year: East Tennessee Garden Stories, and 23 Tales: Appalachian Ghost Stories. They plan to do four books this year: The Good Pint Trail, Open House: Mostly True Tales of Crazy in Southern Real Estate, 24 Tales: More Appalachian Ghost Stories, Legends and Other Mysteries, and A Holiday Anthology.

They are looking for stories that fit their mission.

Questions authors should ask themselves and suggested resources.

Am I learning the craft? You can always learn more. Read. Audiobooks count. Do you read poetry? Writers should read a poem every day. Read books on writing like The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr and The Author’s Way by Julia Cameron (rediscover the joy of creativity). Attend workshops like Artificial Intelligence 101. Network at conferences, author readings, writing groups / organizations.

Do you put in the effort?

How often do you write? “All writing is rewriting.” He recommended On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Just get something on paper. Shannon Burke, Knoxville-based writer of Black Flies, A Novel and co-creator of the Netflix hit “Outer Banks,” writes every day and nothing interferes with that.

Do you get the right feedback? You need people to be honest with you: friends and family, other writers, writing groups, editors. Good feedback includes candor, encouragement, the right audience, professional experience. There needs to be a balance of encouragement and critique. Having thick skin is important. Find someone you trust.

Do you have the right editor(s)? Content, Line editing, and Proofreading are different skills and may require different people.

The ultimate feedback is the market.

Holiday stories (any holiday) are needed by Howling Hills Publishing by May 15.


The meeting adjourned at 12:12 p.m. The next meeting will be held May 2, 2024 at the Faith Lutheran Church, beginning at 10:30 a.m. for social time and book exchange.

Respectfully submitted,

Leoma Gilley, Secretary