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A Rally of Writers brings in talent for workshops, networking

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“Write” in your own backyard — Lansing is becoming, or maybe already has become, a place for writers to learn their craft and flourish.

On April 4, A Rally of Writers will host its annual writers’ workshop and networking event. This year features Michigan Notable Book Award-winning authors such as Lansing’s Erin Bartels, author of “We Hope for Better Things,” and Michael Zadoorian, who won in 2019 for “Beautiful Music.”

The keynote speech will come from New York Times best-selling author Doug Stanton. Stanton is also co-founder of the National Writers Series in Traverse City, which attracts some of the world’s most important writers. Stanton has written extensively about men in war and his 2010 book “Horse Soldiers” was made into a major movie in 2018.

A word of caution: Don’t dawdle along this year waiting to register. Ever since A Rally of Writers was named one of the best writing conferences in the nation by The Writer — a periodical that is a practical guide to writing and getting published — it’s pretty much a guarantee the workshop will sell out early this year.

It is also one of the best bargains, featuring 16 sessions and costing only $90 for general admission and $50 for students. You can register online at arallyofwriters.com.

Also available for one young writer is a chance to win the Richard Bradley Scholarship, which provides admission and lunch for one winner of an essay contest. It was named for Dick Bradley, a high school teacher and writer who co-founded the Rally in 1987.

Winning is not as hard as it might sound.

Applicants must be 22 years of age or younger and submit an essay of up to 200 words that explains their interest in writing, and tells why the rally is important to them. Deadline for submission is Feb. 17 and the winner will be notified by March 2.

Writers should also note that Ann Arbor author and writing coach Ken Wachsberger will be at Everybody Reads Feb. 27 for a launch of his new book, “You’ve Got the Time: How to Write and Publish That Book in You.”

Wachsberger has an interesting history as a writer, including working on the underground newspaper The Joint Issue and teaching writing at Lansing Community College. He published his first book, “Beercans on the Side of the Road: The Story of Henry the Hitchhiker” in 1987, which chronicles a fictional cross-country road trip based on his own experiences of thumbing it in the ’70s. His interest and experiences working in the underground press while studying at MSU in the ’60s resulted in “Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press,” a two-volume history of the phenomena, published by MSU Press in 2012.

He said he chose the title of his new book for the practical reason that “not enough time” is the No. 1 reason people say they can’t write the book they want to write.

Of late, he also has been helping other people write their own books.

“Seeing how their lives were transformed compelled me to write this book to help others. There’s never been a better time to self-publish your own story,” he said.

Wachsberger’s own writing career was transformed when he worked with a writer on his memoir “Never Be Afraid: A Belgian Jew in the French Resistance.”

He still recalls asking the author the simple question, “What did you do that night,” which elicited a break through into the author’s repressed memories of a terrible, but necessary act he committed during the resistance.

“He broke down and sobbed and sobbed once he remembered, and it allowed him to not take sleeping pills to go to bed,” Wachsberger said. The author died shortly after publishing his book for family members only.

In addition to his own writing, Wacxqhsberger also markets himself as the “The Book Coach,” who can help others write. Find him at kenthebookcoach.com

Wachsberger said he will use the book in his speaking engagements and workshops on writing. His new book covers everything from writing and interviewing techniques, to using the self-publishing companies to get your book in print. The author is vice president of marketing for the National Speakers Association-Michigan and knows the value of having a book to promote oneself.

“It’s like a calling card,” he said.

Many authors are proud to claim Wachsberger as their writing coach, and on his website Kristi Lynn Davis, author of “Long Legs and Tall Tales: a Showgirl’s Wacky, Sexy Journey to the Playboy Mansion and the Radio City Rockettes,” says “he turned me into a writing ninja.”

The event at Everybody Reads is free and Wachsberger’s book will be for sale.

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