The word nerds are back and they are inviting the public to join them.
The fifth annual Crossroads Writers Conference begins Friday at Mercer University.
The conference will include an Authors Avenue -- a free, downtown event that will feature book signings, readings and music.
Weve never done that before or anything like it, said Lauren Morrill, a Macon-based young adult author who is organizing the conference. The goal is really to get the community engaged with Crossroads. ... The conference is for word nerds, thats what we say, but we want to make sure we are sharing the writing with the community that hosts us.
Authors Avenue will take place from 6-8 p.m. along Cotton Avenue between Mulberry and Cherry streets.
Were going to have the stage there, Morrill said. The sidewalk will be lined with tables and authors and books. We will have book sales. Storytellers will be there. Well have a live DJ. Its going to be in conjunction with First Friday.
The event will be headlined by Kevin Coval, a Def Jam poet who is founder of Louder Than a Bomb, which is a youth writers organization of Chicago.
The other key writers at the event will be Bernice McFadden, a bestselling author who has family from Macon; Kat Zhang, an Atlanta-based young adult novelist; and Morrill, whose first book, Meant to Be, is in bookstores and a second novel is scheduled for release in January.
All four will be signing books and doing readings.
Weve also set it up for emerging authors to apply to sell their books so there will be a lot of self-published authors or newly published authors or indie-published authors with their work out, Morrill said. So we will have some other local authors from the region coming in and theyll also be taking the stage to share and do some readings.
The conference part of Crossroads requires paid admission and runs through Sunday. There will be Saturday-only tickets available.
Its a conference all about the craft of writing -- all kinds. We have fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, graphic novel, poetry, journalism, basically everything, Morrill said. Its intended to bring together writers -- both published and unpublished -- and get them fired up to do work.
Another new feature to this years conference will be a track of sessions on middle and young grades, she said. This will include Zhang, young adult author Jackson Pearce and AJ Hartley.
Some of the other featured speakers include:
David Iserson, who is a former screenwriter for Saturday Night Live and New Girl, which he recently left to co-produce Mad Men. Hes also just published his first young adult novel, Firecracker.
Lauretta Hannon, who is known for her memoir, The Cracker Queen -- A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life.
Kristin Luna, who is an award-winning travel writer and freelance writer.
Carrie Howland, who is a literary agent that signed one of last years conference participants as a client.
Erick Erickson, a Mercer University graduate and former Macon City Councilman, who is known nationally for his blog www.redstate.com and his contributions to Fox News and CNN.
Crossroads Writers Conference
When: 1-10 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-noon Sunday
Where: Register in Willingham Hall, Mercer University, 1400 Coleman Ave.
When: 6-8 p.m. Friday
Where: Cotton Avenue between Mulberry and Cherry streets