Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hello everyone. I've moved my blog to my website, which is a Wordpress-powered website/blog combo. I hope you'll also follow me there by clicking here to visit the new blog. I'll also be leaving this blog up for awhile but all of my new posts about Gone From These Woods, upcoming books, and other things will appear on In case you want to reread a post from Winterville Writer, I've also ported most of my past posts to the new blog.

Thanks for following Winterville Writer and for your support.--Donny

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Harriette Austin Writers Conference is Back!

Harriette Austin
I'm delighted to tell you this fantastic news: the popular Harriette Austin Writers Conference is back! The 2011 HAC will be held July 22 - 23, 2011, at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education on the University of Georgia campus. This year's conference has a great line up of speakers and critiquers and the deadline for manuscript critiques is June 20.

I'll be presenting my "Finding Fiction in Your Own Backyard" writing workshop. Other presenters include: Terry Kay, Janell Walden Agyeman, Robert Alan Black, Doris Booth, Tony Burton, Evelyn Coleman, Dac Crossley, Paige Cummings, Susan Dansby, Wally Eberhart, John Fristoe, John Gilstrap, Judy Iakovou, Amanda Luedke, Rebecca McClanahan, Susan Mary Malone, Jackie Lee Miles, David Oates, Kevin O'Brien, Susan Olson, Chuck Sambuchino, and Beverly Varnado.

Authors Evelyn Coleman and Donny Bailey Seagraves at the 2009 HAC.
My association with the Harriette Austin conference goes way back to the beginning. A call went out to present and former students for writing contributions to a fund-raising calendar that helped finance the first HAC. I contributed a short story, "Dear Delores," to that calendar and also attended the first conference. "Dear Delores" has been published and republished many times in magazines, including Seek and The Roswell (NM) Literary Review.  I've attended many of the HACs, served on a nonfiction panel at an early conference and presented two workshops at the 2009 HAC, which took place about the same time as the publication of my debut novel, Gone From These Woods. I've learned much from HAC presenters and even acquired my literary agent at a Harriette Austin conference. I've also enjoyed seeing Harriette herself, a quiet, encouraging presence at the conference with her name.

All the pertinent conference info is here. Check it out. Sign up. Submit your manuscript. See you there.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Winterville's Mary Whitehead, My Favorite Pianist

Winterville United Methodist Church's newly retired pianist, Mary Whitehead, has filled the church on the square's sanctuary and our small town with music for 75 years. That's a lifetime of tapping the keys for Jesus and for Mary's neighbors and friends. 

I got a chance to visit with Mary briefly the other night while standing in line at the funeral home visitation for her late sister-in-law, Latrelle Carney. Mary didn't look 91 that night. She radiated ageless beauty and charm as she spoke to me in that smooth, warm, Southern-accented voice. 

Mary now lives about 15 miles away from Winterville, but she's still very much a part of our town. If I close my eyes and let my mind drift back to scenes of Winterville in years past, I see Mary in many of my memories. Her distinctive piano playing is the sound track as she plays hymns in the Winterville Methodist's sanctuary on a Sunday morning. I see her fingers tapping the ivories of a piano in the park gazebo on a hot June day, playing Dixieland songs with the Merry Makers at an early Marigold festival. And who could forget Mary riding in festival parades, beside her husband, the late Wesley Whitehead, our mayor for 23 years, and more recently as parade Grand Marshall in our newly-revived festival?

Mary Whitehead playing piano at her home in Watkinsville. Photo by Richard Hamm.
There are many other women, and men, who can tap the keys of a piano and make it sing and create instant feelings of happiness in those who listen. But I've never met anyone else who has the charm and the by-ear natural gift for music that Mary Whitehead possesses and who shares her gifts so graciously. There is music and there is Mary Whitehead. Put them together and you have pure joy.

Mary Whitehead Video

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas in Winterville

One of the most popular events in the little town of Winterville, Georgia, where I've lived for many years, is the Christmas in Winterville celebration. This year, this event takes place on Friday, December 3. It begins with the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus. In Winterville, they don't fly in on a sleigh pulled by reindeer. These holiday dignitaries cross the city limits line in style in the locally famous Marigold Express train! Afterall, Winterville began as a railroad town many years ago, called Six Mile Station. One of our landmarks is our historic train depot on the square. Why not have Santa and Mrs. Claus roll in on the Marigold Express?

More Information

  • Christmas in Winterville begins at 6 PM in Pittard Park and on the town square.
  • The event is sponsored by The Commercial Bank, with contributions by other community groups and individuals.
  • Visitors to Christmas in Winterville will enjoy free cookies, candy, hot dogs, hot cocoa and cider.
  • The Winterville Express train will provide free rides to children (with adult supervision).
  • Santa will arrive on the Marigold Express just after 6 PM and will then be under the gazebo in the park for pictures. Bring your cameras!
  • Other Christmas happenings in Winterville include The Mayor's Christmas Motorcade 52nd Anniversary Celebration to East Central Regional Hospital in Augusta, Thursday, December 9, 2010. Winterville also will collect Toys for Tots. For more information on supporting these programs, call city hall: 706-742-8600.