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Anne Rivers Siddons headlines Birmingham-Southern College's 22nd Writing Today conference

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-Best-selling author Anne Rivers Siddons headlines the 22nd Writing Today conference at Birmingham-Southern College April 12-13.

Siddons, the author of 15 books, is the Grand Master of the annual conference and will be introduced by her friend and best-selling author Pat Conroy.

The Writing Today conference brings literary professionals from around the country to the Birmingham-Southern campus for how-to workshops and lectures on the literary arts, as well as practical information necessary to the craft of writing.

This year's program explores poetry, playwriting, novels, short stories, magazine writing, biography and memoir writing, historical fiction, young adults' books, mystery, publishing, and editing.

Siddons, a graduate of Auburn University, is known for her skill in crafting strong female protagonists. Her books include Up Island, Low Country, Outer Banks, Peachtree Road, Colony, Downtown, Fault Lines, Heartbreak Hotel, Hill Towns, The House Next Door, Fox's Earth, King's Oak, Homeplace, John Chancellor Makes Me Cry, and her newest novel Nora, Nora.

Conroy, who served as Grand Master of the 1999 conference, says that Siddons "ranks among the best of us and delivers the goods-the whole fabulous package-with every book she writes."

Conroy's work includes Beach Music, The Boo, The Water is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, and The Prince of Tides, the last four of which were adapted into feature films.

The conference also will feature Nevada Barr, known for her interest in conservation and environmental issues which finds a voice through protagonist park ranger Anna Pigeon and the mystery series in which she is featured; Peter Jenkins, whose best-selling A Walk Across America is included today on practically every high school reading list in the country; and Jill McCorkle, award-winning short story author and novelist who made publishing history when her first two novels were published simultaneously.

Track of the Cat, the first in the mystery series authored by Barr, won an Agatha and an Anthony for a best first mystery in 1983. Others in the series are A Superior Death, Ill Wind, Firestorm, Endangered Species, Blind Descent, Liberty Falling, Deep South, and Blood Lure. Hunting Season, the 10th in the series, was published in February 2002. Deep South and Blood Lure were both on The New York Times' Bestseller List.

Jenkins' A Walk Across America enjoyed a three-month run on The New York Times' Bestseller List, as did his other books, The Walk West: A Walk Across America 2, Across China, and Road Unseen. His newest book, Looking for Alaska, is another bestseller and was named by Barnes and Noble and Booksense, the publication of America's independent booksellers, as one of the best books of 2001. He also is an award-winning photographer.

McCorkle is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including the New England Booksellers' Association Award for Fiction, The North Carolina Award for Literature, and the Dos Passos Prize for Excellence for Literature. Five of her books have been New York Times Notable Books. She is a reviewer for The New York Times Book Review and has published reviews for The Washington Post, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and other noted publications. She has taught writing at the University of North Carolina, Duke University, Bennington College, and Harvard University.

"We have assembled an outstanding group of literary professionals for this year's conference," said Jake Reiss, owner of the Alabama Booksmith and chair of a community-based committee that annually plans the conference. "This is not only a credit to the national reputation this conference has achieved over the past 22 years, but also to the people in the Birmingham community who help plan this event, half of whom are published writers themselves."

Other Writing Today 2002 faculty include:
Robin Behn, poet and associate professor of English and director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Alabama; Dr. William C. Carter, professor of French at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and internationally known authority on 20th century novelist Marcel Proust; Curtis L. Clark, editor-in-chief at the University of Alabama Press;

Mark Delaney, author of the young adult mystery series Misfits, Inc.; Michael Griffith, associate editor of The Southern Review; Anthony Grooms, author of Bombingham and poems and short stories; Carolyn Haines, author of Touched and the popular mystery series Bones; Robert Inman, fiction writer and screenwriter for six motion pictures for television; Marianne Merola, literary agent at Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents Inc. in New York;

Marianne Moates, freelance writer and author of Truman Capote's Southern Years; Jim Murphy, poet and assistant professor of English at the University of Montevallo; Carolynne Scott, short story writer and winner of five Hackney Literary Awards; and Jo Broyles Yohay, freelance travel writer frequently published in The New York Times and Travel & Leisure.

The Hackney Literary Awards, sponsored since 1969 by the Cecil Hackney family of Birmingham, will be presented during the conference. The competition awards $5,000 prizes for poetry and short fiction, as well as a $5,000 prize for an unpublished novel, sponsored by T. Morris Hackney, chairman of the board of The Hackney Group of Birmingham and Birmingham-Southern College trustee. The Hackney Awards are open to writers nationwide.

For the first time this year, there will be an authors' and patrons' party prior to the conference April 11 at 7 p.m. at Southern Progress Corp.

For complete information, contact Birmingham-Southern's Office of Special Events at 205/226-4921.

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