As a local published author and literacy specialist for Owensboro Public Schools, Amy Bellamy has attended many writing conferences over the years. But when she was invited to attend the Writers in the Park event in Tompkinsville, Ky. this summer, she said one of her first thoughts was that she could bring a similar event to Owensboro.
“There are a lot of regional and local authors and people who love to write in this area,” Bellamy said. “We have all of these festivals for everything and we don’t have a book or literary event for people who like to write or read.”
After months of research and planning, the first-ever Writers on the River event is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. The day-long event will take place at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum on the Owensboro Riverfront. Ticket prices are $25 per person, with a $5 discount for teachers and students. Local food trucks will be on-site to provide a variety of food options throughout the day.
“We’re actually going to be taking over much of the museum that day,” Bellamy said, adding that both levels of the museum will be used to accommodate author book signings and breakout sessions for writers.
Bellamy’s vision is to have published authors and gift items for readers and writers upstairs overlooking the Ohio River and breakout sessions interspersed throughout the day.
“We are hoping to have a lot of vendors as well as local or regional authors,” Bellamy said. “We hope to have authors speaking about different things related to publishing and writing and things behind the scenes. So it won’t just be authors, but publishers that can come in and talk about that process too.”
According to Bellamy, there will be four time slots for breakout sessions, with four sessions per time slot. This will offer participants 16 different options to choose from, including hearing from published authors, editors and literary agents. The main auditorium has also been reserved for the keynote speaker, who will be announced at a later date. Participants will need to pre-register for their desired sessions when purchasing tickets later in the spring.
“I know it’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m super excited about it,” Bellamy said. “It’s going to appeal to local authors and amateur authors and even people who are writing memoirs or their family histories. I’m just hoping it all falls into place and this can become an annual event.”
While Bellamy is excited about the inaugural event, she said it required quite a bit of groundwork including securing nonprofit status and creating a logo.
As an author and educator, Bellamy had access to several professional artists but, in the end, it was the artwork of her 12-year-old daughter Savannah that was selected. A sixth-grade student at iMiddle, Savannah used a digital paint program, tablet and stylus to create a freehand logo, which includes an abstract design of the Blue Bridge.
“I told her I wanted the Blue Bridge on the logo because I wanted it to represent Owensboro,” Amy said. “She managed to include a book that looks like flowing water.”
Savannah is not the only student participating in the event, as Amy also hopes to create an area for students in grades six through 12 to sign the books they have self-published through Nanowrimo’s (National Novel Writing Month) Young Writers Program.
“That is one of my favorite things to do through the schools — it’s just a lot of fun,” Amy said. “But I didn’t want it to just be a children’s book festival, I want it to appeal to a larger audience.”
With the location, logo and nonprofit status secure, Amy said she is now searching for vendors and sponsors to help promote the event.
“I’ve had a lot of support from people I’ve just mentioned the idea to in the community and that I’ve talked to so far,” Amy said. “We are still so early in planning, but we want to put it in people’s minds.”
The Owensboro Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s (CVB) Dave Kirk, who is responsible for destination management, said the CVB is looking forward to promoting the inaugural writing event and anticipates it bringing many new visitors to Owensboro.
“We are very excited about this new event happening right here in Owensboro at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum,” said Kirk. “We want to thank Amy and her team for taking a chance on something they are passionate about and turning it into something for all to enjoy.”
Amy said she has been passionate about reading and writing for as long as she can remember. This passion for the written word is undoubtedly what led to her first book Kentucky Family, which was a collection of family stories published in 2012. In the spring of 2019, Amy published her first novel Waverly which was inspired by true events that occurred in conjunction with the last public execution in Owensboro. The novel that she describes as “a historical mystery type of book with a little bit of fact mixed with a little bit of imagination,” was selected by Owensboro Community & Technical College (OCTC) as their Spring 2020 Common Reading.
“I’ve always loved to write and read and I’ve made that my career,” Amy said. “I’ve spent 14 years in the education field working to build literacy in the schools and now I want to build literacy in my community.”
Those interested in presenting, setting up a vendor booth or wanting more information about the event may contact Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org