Farragut-hosted Authors Guild of Tennessee meeting open to all

Nadine and Elmore Richmond saw an announcement for the Authors Guild of Tennessee meeting in Farragut and decided to give it a try.

“We’ve only been in the area for three days, and this is the first activity we’ve participated in,” Elmore said.

They were part of a group of about 40 writers at a recent monthly meeting in Faith Lutheran Church along Jamestowne Boulevard, where the speaker was Sharon Higa, a guild member who writes fantasy, horror, zombie, apocalypse and ghost stories.

“We always have a speaker,” said Cheryl Peyton, guild chairperson for retail sales. “And the public is welcome to come to our meetings. We had Sharon Higa, one of our own who officially became a member in July. She introduced herself and her genre. She talked about how she started writing and why she’s in that genre. She’s psychic herself, she told us. She’d be the only psychic in the group that I know of.”

Members come from Farragut and all over the surrounding area.

Farragut resident Judy Egner is a crime writer who often goes by her penname, “Kaye George.” Jennifer Hultz is a nurse anesthetist at Turkey Creek Medical Center who has published a children’s book, “The Adventures of Hopkins.”

“The main purpose is to provide marketing opportunities and education to people who are local authors,” said member Laura Derr, author of “Nick and Viola,” the story of the tobacco wars in Kentucky in the early 1900s.

“For many of us, this is our first book or we’re self-published. We don’t have a network based on working with a professional publisher. This has grown over the last few years to help us learn to use social media and retail,” she added.

“Our mission statement is to market our books,” Peyton said. “Some independently published and some published by conventional publishers. We’re in a sea of books — Amazon has more than 1.8 million soft-cover books on their site and 700,000, 800,000 titles on Kindle. We help make a presence by marketing our books together. It gives us a certain presence in stores and so on that we wouldn’t have as individuals.

“I wrote my first book on a dare,” Peyton added. “I met a former federal agent at Y-12. He told me about the transfer of weapons and fissile material. I read a short story he’d written on the subject. I said, ‘I’m sorry, but it’s not very good.’ He was calling the characters ‘Guy 1’ and ‘Guy 2’ and having them ‘pop up’ from behind the truck. He said, ‘OK, you write it.’ And I said, ‘OK.’

Adding her own touch, “I introduced a female federal agent,” Peyton said. “I wrote the first chapter and thought ‘This is pretty good. I wonder what happens next?’ I had it published 115,000 words later. I think I sent it to an agent once, who said it needed to be in a different format. What I didn’t know about was vanity press. I sent it somewhere else and they were glad to publish it — with my money. I got it back from them and self-published.”

Peyton now has self-published seven books and is writing the eighth.

“I thought it was a very good meeting,” Elmore said.

Elmore Richmond has written several books including “End of Terrorism in the United States: God Warned Us.” His wife, Nadine Richmond, is the author of “The New Birth: Going Unto Perfection.”

“They gave out a lot of good information about how to promote your book once you have it published,” Elmore said. “The members have different things they’re involved in like marketing, book cover design. ... Anybody who might be an author out there and is looking for an organization to be involved in, this would be a good group.”

“There’s a big push to put our books in local shops,” Egner said. “Cheryl puts in bookcases and we fill them with our books. The books are on average $15 for soft cover. We also have a few hardcovers.”

Currently, books are available at American Commissary Gift Shop, 1211 E. Broadway in Lenoir City; Knoxville Soap, Candles and Gifts, 5201 Kingston Pike Suite 3; Locally Grown Gallery, 109 Towne Road, Oak Ridge; McGuire Books, CDs, DVDs & More, 240 S. Illinois Ave., Oak Ridge; Preferred Pharmacy, 101 Cheeyo Way Suite A in Tellico Village and Laurel Tree Cottage, 411 N. 3rd Street, Kingston.

The website at www.authorsguildoftn.org has authors’ biographies and book synopses.