Meeting Minutes

January 2023

AGT Monthly Meeting for January 2023


The Authors Guild of Tennessee held their first monthly meeting of the year on Thursday, January 5, 2023, at the Faith Lutheran Church, Knoxville. Social time and book exchange began at 10:30 a.m. with the business meeting following at 11:00 a.m.


The following members were present:

Arlene Anderson, Tom Badgett, Stephen Lyn Bales, Vicki Bennett, Linda Best, Sam Bledsoe, Randy Carpenter, Bobbi Chapman, Gayle Curtin, Laura Derr, Danita Dodson, Sonja DuBois, Barb Dunn, David Everhart (Stone), Russ Fine, Linda Fitzpatrick, Kaye George, Leoma Gilley, Jim Hartsell, Wes Hibbert, Morris Hudgins, Stanford Johnson, Ernie Lancaster, Jerry Morton, Kathy Parr, Cheryl Peyton, Adrienne Small, Art Stewart, Cyn Taylor, Victoria Winifred, and Curt Young.


Guests:  Sherry Fine, Donald Sims


Welcome – Cheryl introduced one visitor and several new members.  Donald Sims is a visitor who learned about the meeting on the website.

New members were introduced: the “Stone brothers,” whose pseudonym is David Thomas Stone. David Everhart and Tom Badgett are business partners, who previously wrote on technical topics in NY. They met and started co-writing a fiction book in 1991 that was finished just last year.

Danita Dodson joined two weeks ago. She is from Sneedville and is a nature poet. She taught high school for 33 years and is still teaching writing courses at Walters State Community College in Morristown. She will be speaking at the Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge, January 24-28.

Victoria Winifred moved to Knoxville in 2016. She is a chess devotee who discovered there were no fictional children’s books about chess. She felt she had to fill the void. She started her book for middle-grade fiction in 2016. She’s now working on a sequel. She is also working on a cat book and another of her mother’s poetry.

Stan Johnson has a new book: At the Dead Hours of Midnight about the vigilante group called the White Caps in Sevier County. He is also speaking at Wilderness Wildlife Week.

Ernie Lancaster is from Memphis but has lived in the Knoxville area for 15 years. He was a policeman for 33 years in Memphis and decided to write stories based on his experiences. He completed The Jinx. He plans to self-publish the second book, The Black Spanish Flower (which is the name of Elvis Presley’s favorite jumpsuit).




Our speaker was AGT member and naturalist Stephen Lyn Bales who spoke about his studies of flora and fauna that he has written about in his books.


Stephen worked at Ijams Nature Center for years and enjoys sharing his passion for nature in his books and many articles. He has been a nature writer for 30 years. H has written over 600 newspaper and magazine articles about nature in the past 30 years. Each species has a unique story. When he decided to write a book, he took a course taught by UT Publishing: How to Prepare a proposal for a publisher. They suggested answering questions such as: Why is this book unique, what else is out there like this, write one chapter. His chapter was about the language of the Carolina chickadee; each sentence of their call is filled with information (non-human language).

His second book is about the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker (the legendary ghost bird of the South). In the 1930s there was a strong movement toward conservation and it was determined that to save a species, one must know everything about their lives and habits. There is still a controversy about whether or not this woodpecker is extinct.

Bales’ third book, Ephemerality, is about fragile flora and fauna, including the freshwater jellyfish.

His most recent book, Rising from the Ashes, about the 2016 fire in Gatlinburg and the Smokies, was a project started by Gatlinburg’s Anna Porter Library and UT library. They recorded oral accounts of the fire from eyewitnesses. UT received a grant from the Endowment of the Arts to ask artists to listen to the accounts and create artwork for the book. Stephen was asked to write an introduction to the book.  He was personally touched by the fire as it destroyed his childhood home and every home on his street.

Stephen has illustrated his first three books. He also has illustrated notecards that he sells.

December minutes: Minutes of the December meeting have been approved online.


Treasurer’s report: – Russ

Balance as of December 1 was $ 2589.27.

Total amount of Expenses in December:   $397.63.  Income: $895.27 (donations)

Balance as of December 31: $3,142.91.


Report on Committee Activities going into the New Year


Directory:  Barb Dunn handed out 2023 Directories. New members should send her information that will be shared with all of us.

Fairs and Festivals: Cheryl spoke about the Jackson Park Lavender Festival in June in Oak Ridge. Eleven members have signed up to participate. There is room for one more. Cheryl will check on whether we’ll have space on the sides of our double tent for additional display space.

Library:  Laura Derr -Books from new members are available in the library. Sign the card and give it to Laura. If your book is not checked out, take it home with you. Read your chosen book(s) and review on Amazon. Once a book has 50 reviews, Amazon will promote it without charge.

Membership/Vetting: Cyn Taylor advised that Tom Badgett is in charge of ordering and picking up badges.

Program:  Kaye George If you have speakers or topics, contact her at with your ideas. Topics could include: writing, publishing, and promoting.

Publicity/Marketing:  Linda Fitzpatrick. Linda reported she will meet with Cheryl to discuss plans.

Retail:  Linda Best and Art Stewart will determine additional stores to place our books, will replenish supplies, and build good relationships with shop owners. They need more people to work on the committee to reach more locations. Linda mentioned that libraries might make fliers to promote our books on a rotating basis, so the team will be reaching out to various libraries.

Training:  Sam Bledsoe will be offering training programs on how to use the website, using social media, and other topics by request. If you feel the need for information on some topic, let Sam know. There is a form for new people to complete about skills they have and skills they need.

Website: Bill Barbour. Cheryl advised that Bill needs a headshot photo and brief bio (250 words), book titles, and the author’s names as they appear on the covers from new members to create their Authors’ pages. This is a great resource, especially if you don’t have your own website. Group website:

Writing Contest: Jerry Morton announced the conclusion of the first semester of the high school group for the contest with the topic, historical fiction. The Guild will be providing a mentor for the winners of the contests who wish to submit their stories to regional or national contests. Volunteers are needed to be a mentor and also to be a guest speaker at the high school in the second semester.



Cheryl adjourned the meeting at 12:32  p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for February 2 at 10:30 a.m. at the Faith Lutheran Church.