May 18, 12:45 p.m.-4:15 p.m. at Georgia State University: Perimeter College – Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Rd, Dunwoody, GA 30338, Building N-C auditorium and café. (If you’re not on our mailing list, use the form here to add yourself so you will get any updates about this meeting.)

This meeting may be recorded; if so, the recording link will be shared in the following month’s eQuill newsletter.


12:45-1:30 p.m. Nosh and Networking Mixer for members and first-time visitors in the café

  • Please arrive for our March meeting as early as 12:45 so you can check in, and then join everyone at our genre tables for a meet and greet opportunity to build your network and make new friends.


1:30-1:45 p.m. AWC announcements and upcoming events with AWC President Jill Evans


1:45 p.m.-2:15 p.m. Presentation of 2024 AWC Writing Contest Winners and Runners Up


2:15 p.m.-3:15 p.m. Speaker #1 – Susan Zurenda: Crossing the Line — The Role of Thresholds in Successful Stories

Susan Beckham Zurenda taught English for 33 years on the college level and at the high school level to AP students. Her debut novel, Bells for Eli (Mercer University Press, March 2020; paperback edition March 2021), was selected the Gold Medal (first place) winner for Best First Book—Fiction in the 2021 IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards), a Foreword Indie Book Award finalist, a Winter 2020 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, a 2020 Notable Indie on Shelf Unbound, a 2020 finalist for American Book Fest Best Book Awards, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for 2021. Susan has won numerous awards for her short fiction, including winning the South Carolina Fiction Prize twice. Her second novel, The Girl From the Red Rose Motel, was published in September 2023, by Mercer University Press and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, named a finalist in the American Book Fest Awards, and is a 2023 Shelf Unbound Notable 100 book. The author lives in Spartanburg, SC. Learn more at

On May 18, Susan will speak about “Crossing the Line: The Role of Thresholds in Successful Stories”:

“In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between them, there are doors.”
― William Blake

Why does the position of the threshold in literature exert such a compelling hold on our imaginative lives? Why is it a resonant space? Why is it imperative that we create thresholds for our characters?

Many readers and writers are familiar with Joseph Campbell’s representation of the universal pattern of the hero’s journey that includes a departure, transformation and return in his seminal work The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Within the 12 or so classic stages of the journey, a hero typically crosses his/her first threshold around Stage 4. Stories like The Odyssey, The Wonderful Wizard of OZ, and The Hobbit come to mind.

Campbell’s emphasis on thresholds applies to all good stories. Threshold scenes allow for transformation not only in characters but often in the structure of the narrative as well. “In between” spaces (whether literal, figurative, or both) act as triggers to catapult a character into a place he or she has never been, from which there is no return. Liminal spaces hook readers because they are powerful and common occurrences in our real lives.

In this workshop, we will examine how elements such as atmosphere (setting and tone), pacing, detail, rhythm, imagery, and actions help to create meaningful crossings in stories. Before responding to a writing prompt, participants will examine illustrations for analysis, including a significant threshold scene for each of the three main characters in Susan’s novel The Girl From the Red Rose Motel.


3:15 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Book signing for Susan Zurenda


3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Speaker #2 – Mayra Cuevas & Marie Marquardt: How to Co-Author (and Sell!) a Novel

Mayra Cuevas is the award-winning author of multiple novels, picture books and short stories for childrenBorn and raised in Puerto Rico, Mayra is a former CNN award-winning producer, where she worked for almost 20 years. She teaches creative writing in the MFA program at City University of New York. Mayra is a co-founder and board member of the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival, recipient of the National Council of Teachers of English, 2022 Latinx and Black Caucus’s Advocacy Award. In 2024, she co-founded the LKBF Latinx Storytellers Conference, aimed at uplifting Latinx writers and illustrators seeking a path to publication. She keeps her sanity by practicing Buddhism and meditation. You can find Mayra on Instagram @Mayra.Cuevas and her website
Marie Marquardt is the author of YA novels Does My Body Offend You? (with Mayra Cuevas), Dream Things True, The Radius of Us, and Flight Season. Her books have earned many awards and commendations, including BEA Buzz Books, Books all Young Georgians Should Read, and the CLASP Américas Commendation, and they have been shortlisted for several state book awards, including the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award and the Missouri Gateway Readers Award.  Marie also has published articles and co-authored two non-fiction books about Latin American immigration to the U.S. South, and has been interviewed on National Public Radio, Public Radio International, and BBC America, among many other media outlets. She lives in a busy household in Decatur, Georgia with her spouse, four kids, several chickens, a dog, and a bearded dragon. You can connect with Marie on Instagram, @Marie_Marquardt and at her website,
On May 18th at 3 pm, Mayra and Marie will present “How to co-author (and sell!) a novel”:
Georgia Authors of the Year, Mayra Cuevas and Marie Marquardt share the secrets of their multi-book contract collaboration
We’re often told writing is a solitary business, but it doesn’t have to be! Co-writing a book can create a story with rich layers and diverse perspectives. Sharing the publishing journey can also be a gratifying experience, especially if it’s with someone whose artistic values align with yours. In this hour-long workshop, you will learn what it takes to co-write and publish a book. We will explore how to select an idea and structure a story that lends itself to co-writing, taking into account things like workflow, expectations and communication styles, creating a co-author contract, and the importance of checking ego at the door.  Mayra and Marie started their co-writing journey as critique partners and today they are the co-authors of the YA novel Does My Body Offend You? long-listed for the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award, named a 2023 Book All Young Georgians Should Read, a New York Public Library Best Books for Teens 2022 and a Target YA Book Club selection. In 2023, they were named Georgia Authors of the Year in the Young Adult category. They currently have another young adult novel in development with Penguin Random House and a debut co-authored adult novel with Alloy Entertainment, a division of Warner Media Discovery. 

4:30-5:00 p.m. Book signing for Mayra Cuevas & Marie Marquardt