Category Archives: 2017 Summer Conference

Conference First Timers Guidelines 2017

As a service to first time attendees or potential attendees of WV Writers Summer Conference, this document is being provided as a guide to planning your conference experience. There are answers to frequently asked questions below...

  • If you plan to stay overnight, be sure to fill out the separate Cedar Lakes form, as well. You'll also need to fill it out if you plan to eat meals there, which we recommend, because it's hard to get out and back without missing a workshop or two.
  • On the weekend of the conference, stop at the Cedar Lakes office when you enter the grounds. The office is the first building on your right as you enter. You'll get your meal tickets (more like a typed sheet of paper) and your room keys. DO NOT LOSE YOUR MEAL TICKET.
  • Ask the Cedar Lakes staff to point out the Assembly Hall building for you (they'll give you a map, too, but you can see the building from the office). Come there next and register. If you have pre-registered and prepaid in full, there is usually a "quick line" you can jump to and simply check your name off the list, grab your name tag and goody bag (we always have the best goody bags of any writers conference), and head to step three. If you still need to register, that's fine too. We accept cash, checks, and can now accept credit cards via Square Up at the registration desk or bookstore.  (Cedar Lakes can accept credit cards for room and meals).
  • Stop by the reception table for a cold (or hot) drink and a snack.
  • The Assembly Hall is also where the Writer's Wall competition is located. For the Writer's Wall, participants can bring in a one page piece of poetry and/or prose to anonymously post to the wall (which means, naturally, that your name must not appear on it). There will be a sign up book and an intern to help with the process, assigning each entry a number which conference attendees will be able to vote for using the ballot slip in their goodie bags. The winners will be announced at the Awards Banquet on Saturday night.
  • Similarly, there will be five total sessions of People's Choice, with prose and poetry sessions on Friday evening and prose, poetry and youth sessions on Saturday. During People's Choice, attendees are invited to read a piece of their own work that must come in at under 5 minutes in length. After all the pieces are read, ballots will be passed out for fellow readers and other attendees to vote on their favorite pieces. Winners will be announced at the Awards Banquet on Saturday night.
  • You don't have to register for the individual workshops in advance. Just pick them as you go. Some people find that it's easier to print out the schedule (or use the one given to you at registration, which will be the most accurate) and then highlight two classes each session that you're interested in. Then, when the time arrives, you can pick between the two. Some people like to have a "back up class" in case one is overcrowded, or in case you find yourself enjoying a particular track so much that you want to stick with it (poetry vs. non-fiction, for example). We would recommend that you take at least one class outside of your chosen genre; not just for the broadened experience, but because you might find inspiration or a particular nugget of writing wisdom that you can apply to what you're working on. For example, if you write fiction, take a poetry workshop or a nonfiction editing workshop, which can help with your craft.
  • Be sure to dress light but bring a sweater and an umbrella. It’s an annual tradition that it rains very hard on at least one of the conference days. The classrooms can also be hot. And wear shoes that are comfortable for walking, not only for walking to and from the dining hall but for taking strolls around the grounds of Cedar Lakes.  Oh, and open toed shoes can be sort of iffy, for there is a great deal of goose poo to be found in certain parts near the big lake.
  • We also hope you're planning to attend the banquet and stick around for entertainment, as we'll have some nice surprises in store!
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In celebration of its 40th Anniversary, the West Virginia Writers 2017 Summer Conference will take place on June 9, 10, and 11, at Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, W.Va. offering a variety of writing workshops, panel discussions, as well as nightly entertainment. Among the workshop presenters this year are some internationally recognized authors.

On April 30, the Bram Stoker Awards announced their winners for 2016 including author Tim Waggoner, who won in the BSA category for Superior Achievement in Long Fiction for his novel The Winter Box. Tim Waggoner has published over thirty novels and three short story collections. He writes both original and media tie-in fiction, and he teaches creative writing at Sinclair College in Dayton, Oh. For the conference Waggoner will be teaching two workshops: one called “Level Up” which is designed to offer an overview on how to take your fiction to the next level and create stories that are vivid, original, gripping, and entertaining; and the second called “Multi-Level Fiction Writing” which will teach specific techniques for constructing multi-layered, richly textured scenes to create a deeply immersive reading experience for an audience. Waggoner was previously awarded Mentor of the Year by the Bram Stoker Awards in 2015. He has received 15 other national and international awards for writing since 1984.

Waggoner is not the only Bram Stoker winner on the WV Writers staff this year. Author Michael Knost of the Chapmanville area is a multi-winner and nominee for the Bram Stoker Award, having first won one in 2009 for the nonfiction essay collection he edited called The Writers Workshop of Horror. He also was presented with Bram Stoker’s Silver Hammer Award in 2015. Knost has written in various genres. In addition to the Writers Workshop of Horror, he served as editor for the acclaimed Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy. His novel, Return of the Mothman was also a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in first novel. And his Author’s Guide to Marketing with Teeth was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award® for superior achievement in non-fiction. Knost will be teaching two workshops for the WV Writers Conference: one called “Showing Vs. Telling” explaining that the writing advice “Show, Don’t Tell” is not always appropriate, and detailing how both can be used most effectively; and “Relational Influence” which will offer advice on how writers can best mesh their characters and setting to allow both to seem as authentic as possible.

The Bram Stoker Awards were launched by the Horror Writers Association in 1988 in honor of the author of the most famous horror novel, Dracula, and are given annually "for superior achievement" in horror writing.

"We are so lucky to have so many award-winning authors on our presenting faculty this year,” says WV Writers President Steve Goff. "That, coupled with the top drawer entertainment we have on tap from two of West Virginia's outstanding artists—film maker Danny Boyd, and renowned singer/songwriter Larry Groce—make this year's West Virginia Writers Conference one of the best ever."

Founded in 1977, West Virginia Writers, Inc. (WVW) is now the largest organization for writers in the state and has held summer writers conference each year since 1978. Among the other award-winning workshop presenters for the 2017 conference will be: Belinda Anderson, Laura Treacy Bentley, Affrilachian Poet Crystal Good, West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman, slam poet Joe Limer, thriller writer S.G. Redling, and editor Sandy Tritt among many others.

In addition to the 30 plus writing workshops and panel discussions, the conference builds to its annual awards banquet, celebrating the winners of its annual writing contests on the night of Saturday, June 10. Keynote speaker for the banquet will be Kirk Judd, a founding member of WVW, and a renowned West Virginia poet and ambassador for the arts.

"The WV Writers Conference is known for its laid back atmosphere and camaraderie,” says President Steve Goff. “We keep our costs low and pass that along to the conference attendees. We are one of the most affordable writing conferences in the country.”

A three day package for the conference itself is $125 for members of West Virginia Writers, or $145 for non-members. However, there are also two-day and one day options as well, all detailed on the conference registration form found at Lodging and meals may also be arranged with Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley via a lodging and meals form also found at the website.

For information, registration forms, the full list of workshop presenters and their bios, first-time attendees guidelines, the conference schedule and more, please visit


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Workshop Presenter Bios 2017

The following are bios for the presenters who will be leading workshops at the 2017 West Virginia Writers Summer Conference.

UPDATED 6/7/2017

Belinda Anderson is the author of four books, published by Mountain State Press, based at the University of Charleston. Her first three books are short story collections: The Well Ain't Dry Yet, The Bingo Cheaters and Buckle Up, Buttercup. Her most recent book, Jackson Vs. Witchy Wanda: Making Kid Soup, is a middle-grade novel.   Her literary work was selected for inclusion on the first official literary map of West Virginia, published by Fairmont State University. Before she could start cultivating a big head about this honor, her family asked her why her image wasn’t on the front of the map with Pearl S. Buck and Booker T. Washington. Belinda explained that these writers were deceased, but her family didn’t seem to think that was much of an excuse.  Belinda also teaches both adults and children and works individually with other writers. She was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Letters about Literature awards ceremony in Charleston.   Belinda Anderson has a background in journalism and is working on a commissioned project co-sponsored by Alderson Main Street: Wolf Creek Mountain: Remembering a Vanished People.

Laura Treacy Bentley is the author of LOOKING FOR IRELAND: AN IRISH-APPALACHIAN PILGRIMAGE,  a chapbook/artist’s book of her poems and photographs (2017), THE SILVER TATTOO (2013)—a psychological thriller with a magic realist’s edge set in Ireland— and a short story prequel NIGHT TERRORS (2015). In addition, she has written a poetry collection LAKE EFFECT (2006). Laura’s work has been widely published in the United States and Ireland in literary journals such as The New York Quarterly, Art Times, Poetry Ireland Review, Connotation Press, Rosebud, Nightsun, Blink, The Stinging Fly, Kestrel, ABZ, Crannóg, Now & Then, 3x10 plus, Grey Sparrow Journal, and numerous anthologies, including Wild Sweet Notes, The Southern Poetry Anthology, and Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods.  She received a Fellowship Award for Literature from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, and her poetry has been featured on the websites of A Prairie Home Companion, Poetry Daily, and O Magazine. Laura was honored to read her poetry in Venice, California, with Ray Bradbury in 2003.

Daniel Boyd is an acclaimed filmmaker (Chillers, Strangest Dreams, Paradise Park), a two-time television regional Emmy nominee, and is a multi-nominated graphic novelist (Chillers I & II, CARBON, SALT). CARBON and SALT are currently being developed for film and TV by Emmy-nominated producer Darrell Fetty.  Currently, Boyd and Gold/Platinum albums recipient and NPR’s Mountain Stage co-creator and host, Larry Groce, are collaborating on a full staged musical adaptation of Paradise Park commissioned by Theater West Virginia, scheduled for release in summer 2018.  A retired media studies professor at West Virginia State University, Boyd also taught around the world including in Tanzania as a three-time Fulbright scholar. He continues to serve as Artist in Residence at WV State University’s Economic Development Center.

Crystal Good is an advocate, entrepreneur and  writer poet who uses poetry and performance to explore the landscape of West Virginia as a lens into the universe. She is a member of the Affrilachian Poets, a Irene McKinney Scholar and performs with Heroes Are Gang Leaders, a New York-based Free/Avant-Garde experimental improvisation ensemble. She is the author of “Valley Girl” and is working on her second collection of poetry.

Larry Groce is one of the founders of West Virginia Public Radio's Mountain Stage and has been host and artistic director since its beginning in 1983. He was also executive director of FestivALL Charleston from its beginning in 2005 until 2015. Larry began as a singer and songwriter, and has recorded twenty-four albums. The most recent, Live Forever, was released in 2016. He wrote and recorded the top ten hit song “Junk Food Junkie” as well as many Walt Disney records for children, one of which was nominated for a Grammy Award. He appeared on The Tonight Show, The Merv Griffin Show, American Bandstand, The Midnight Special and many other network television and radio programs. In 2008 Larry was awarded the West Virginia Governor’s Award for Leadership in the Arts and in 2010 he was inducted into the West Virginia Broadcasters Hall of Fame. He’s received honorary Doctorates from the University of Charleston and West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Marc Harshman’s second full-length collection of poems, BELIEVE WHAT YOU CAN, was recently published by West Virginia University and is the winner of this year’s Weatherford Award in poetry from the Appalachian Studies Association.  His children’s book, ONE BIG FAMILY, was published recently by Eerdmans. His fourteenth children’s book, FALLINGWATER, co-authored with Anna Smucker is forthcoming later this year.  His poems have been anthologized by Kent State University, the University of Iowa, University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona. Periodical publications include The Georgia Review, Salamander, Gargoyle, and Poetry Salzburg Review.  He is the seventh poet laureate of West Virginia.

Kirk Judd is a talented poet and performer originally from Wayne County, W.Va. His first volume of poetry "Field of Vision" was published in Huntington in 1986 by Aegina Press, a second collection "Tao Billy" was released in the Spring of 1996 by Trillium Press of St. Albans, and a third volume of new and collected works, “My People Was Music”, which includes spoken word performances on a bound-in CD, was published by Mountain State Press in 2014, and was nominated for the Appalachian Writers Association 2014 Poetry Book of the Year. His work has appeared in such respected regional publications as “The West Virginia Hillbilly”, “Appalachian Heritage”, “Appalachian Journal”, "BOGG", "Now & Then", "The Sow's Ear", "Grab A Nickel", "Down Home", “The Dickensonian”, “The Hamilton Stone Review”, and "Hill and Valley", and has been used in Appalachian Poetry classes at the University of Tennessee, The Ohio State University, Marshall University, and Southern West Virginia Community College. A co-editor with Dr. Barbara Smith of the widely acclaimed anthology, “Wild, Sweet Notes – 50 Years of West Virginia Poetry 1950 – 1999”, he has been featured three times on American Public Radio on "The Poet and The Poem" with WV native Grace Cavalieri. Kirk's poetry deals with the Appalachian cultural experience, and the individual emotional and spiritual involvement of living day to day in this unique environment.  Kirk was a member of the Appalachian Literary League, and helped found West Virginia Writers, Inc. in 1977. He has served that organization in various capacities, including two terms as vice president and two terms as president, and remains active in the group. In 1996 he was awarded the prestigious J.U.G. award by the organization for service to writers throughout the state.

In 1997, with other prominent West Virginia artists, Kirk founded Allegheny Echoes, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to the support and preservation of the State’s cultural heritage arts. The organization sponsors concerts and presentations around the region, and conducts a weeklong series of workshops each summer in Pocahontas County featuring classes in traditional music, craft and creative writing. Currently, Kirk serves on the board of the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation, located in Hillsboro, WV, where he is leading the effort to bring Ms. Buck’s remarkable legacy back into the consciousness of the international literary landscape.

Michael Knost is a Bram Stoker Award®-winning editor and author of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and supernatural thrillers. He has written in various genres and helmed several anthologies. His Writers Workshop of Horror won the 2009 Bram Stoker Award® in England for superior achievement in non-fiction. His critically acclaimed Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy is an Amazon #1 bestseller. His novel, Return of the Mothman was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award® for superior achievement in first novel. His Author’s Guide to Marketing with Teeth was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award® for superior achievement in non-fiction. Michael has taught writing classes and workshops at several colleges, conventions, and online, and currently resides in Chapmanville, West Virginia with his wife, daughter, and a zombie goldfish. To find out more, visit

Writer and editor George Lies, uses Technical Imagination to develop original ideas that inspire his short stories and novels-in-progress. His visual style draws on beats and cadence of music and poets for voice and tone; he uses incidents and historical facts to expand narrative and dialogue in revision. He published, Rafaello's Night, Heart Wood Literary Journal, WV Wesleyan University, (2016); Cancer Inventory, Savannah Quill (2016); Trailer Dogs Barking (2008) and Age of Enlightenment (2012), Hamilton Stone Review, founded by Meredith Sue Willis. A 2001 story, Keys to Heaven, was published in Romania and Brazil. In WV, he deepened his narrative visual style, after serving as a newspaper reporter/editor in Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., and Rio de Janeiro (where he was hired after the Brazil Herald Editor fired Hunter S. Thompson). Two-time President and President Emeritus, WVW, Inc. (turn of 21st century) he first attended WVW Ink, 1983, to promote GoldenRod Writers Conference (1983-2001), Morgantown. When he also was asked to announce the annual R.A.M.P. Festival, Richwood, Boyd Carr yelled, "that's Ramp, boy, not r.a.m.p. -- where you from?"

Joe Limer is a West Virginia native having went to Washington Irving HS in Clarksburg (now Robert C. Byrd), Fairmont State, and West Virginia University. He still has family in Bridgeport and countless friends throughout the state. After graduating WVU college of law, he traveled to San Diego, California to teach and currently resides there as a professor in political science and director of legal studies at Palomar College in San Marcos, Ca.  As an artist, Joe is a spoken word poet and he’s competed around the country in poetry slam competitions. He’s a member of the San Diego team and competed at nationals in 2012, 2013, and 2015. He currently travels to colleges and universities to give workshops on spoken word.

Donna Meredith’s  award-winning novels include The Glass Madonna, The Color of Lies, Wet Work, and Fraccidental Death. She also wrote Magic in the Mountains: Kelsey Murphy, Robert Bomkamp, and the West Virginia Cameo Glass Revolution. Her work has appeared in Tallahassee magazine, Goldenseal, the Seven Hills Review and various newspapers. The retired English and journalism teacher is regular contributor to Southern Literary Review. A graduate of Fairmont State College, West Virginia University, and Nova Southeastern University, she also studied creative writing at Florida State. For the past thirty years, the Clarksburg native has called Tallahassee, Florida, home.

Eliot Parker is an award-winning the author of three novels: Breakdown at Clear River (a Weatherford Award nominee for Outstanding Fiction), Making Arrangements (named a "Best Book of 2014" by USA BookNews), Fragile Brilliance, and the forthcoming novel Code for Murder, which will be released in September 2017 by Black Rose Press. Fragile Brilliance was a finalist for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize in 2016 for Mystery/Thriller Writing. The National Literary Habitat Foundation awarded Eliot with the Bronze Award for Mystery and Thriller Writing in 2016. Eliot received the Award for Literary Merit from the West Virginia Library Association in 2016.   Eliot is currently Professor of English at Mountwest Community and Technical College in Huntington, West Virginia. He was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award in 2016 and was awarded the Crystal Plate Award by the West Virginia Community College Association for outstanding contributions to Community College Education.  Eliot currently is the host of Chapters, a 30-minute television program airing on the Armstrong television network that profiles authors, editors, and publishers from West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. Previous episodes of the  show can be viewed at Eliot also is the director of the monthly Writers Can Read Open mic reading series, which takes place at Empire Books and News in Huntington.

Cat Pleska is a 7th generation West Virginian, an award-winning author, editor, educator, publisher, and storyteller. She is a frequent writing workshop leader and is an essayist for West Virginia Public Radio and is a book reviewer for West Virginia University Press. She edited the anthology Fed from the Blade: Tales and Poems from the Mountains, for Woodland Press, and her first book, Riding on Comets: a Memoir was published by West Virginia University Press May 2015. Riding on Comets was short listed for the 2015 book of the year in the memoir category by Foreword Magazine. Her latest book is a cookbook, One Foot in the Gravy—Hooked on the Sauce: Recipes you’ll Relish, just out with Mountain State Press. It is not only a cookbook, but also a cultural documentation and a fun read.  Cat is the 2016 recipient of the Governor’s Arts Award for Support of the Arts. You can reach her at Her website is

S.G. Redling is a Huntington native and a fifteen year veteran of the WKEE morning radio show. After hanging up her headphones, she turned to fiction. Her first thriller, FLOWERTOWN, sold 50,000 copies in its first six weeks. Since then, Sheila has released a series of mind-bending thrillers and sci-fi novels, including DAMOCLES; the Dani Britton series; and BAGGAGE, her first novel set in West Virginia.

Dr. Larry “Rock 'n' Roll!!!” Schardt has a Masters in Education and Communications and earned his PhD in Education and Instructional Systems. Larry has toured the country motivating audiences from all 50 states and US Territories, with his presentations on success, leadership, writing, and happiness. Dr. Schardt has been teaching at Penn State University for the past 25 years. He has also taught at University of Pittsburgh, Dickinson College, and University of the Virgin Islands. Schardt is co-founder and facilitator of the highly successful Mindful Writers Retreats and is presently co-authoring a book on Mindful Writing and Retreats.  He has stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness and Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Gratitude. His teaching philosophy is one of the few included in The Penn State Teacher II. He also authored manuals on grant training, mentoring, leadership, nonprofit management, and other educational training. When he’s not writing, speaking, or teaching you will find Larry involved with small businesses, community activities, and storytelling.

Carter Taylor Seaton is the author of the books Hippie Homesteadersamo, amas, amat... an unconventional love story, Father's Trouble$and numerous magazine articles. A ceramic sculptor, she previously directed a rural craft cooperative and was a marketing professional for thirty years. She is the recipient of the 2014 West Virginia Library Association's Literary Merit Award, 2015 Marshall University Distinguished Alumni Award, and the 2016 Governor's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.   

M. Lynne Squires is an award-winning author, M. Lynne Squires writes creative non-fiction, is a short story crafter, poetry dabbler, intermittent blogger, newspaper book reviewer, and magazine columnist. Her books include Writers on Writing – Daily Motivation for Writers, Mid-Century Recipes from Cocktails to Comfort Food, and Letters to My Son – Reflections of Urban Appalachia at Mid-Century. Lynne is a Scrabble enthusiast, an architecture junkie, and a collector of Blenko glass, flower frogs, Hallmark holiday ornaments, and Fiesta dishes. She writes amidst her eclectic collections at her Scott Depot home. Connect with M. Lynne Squires, Author on Facebook, @mlynnesquires on Twitter, or visit

Diane Tarantini is a teller of stories and maker of lists.  Her MFA in Creative Nonfiction is from Converse College … Her story “Black Lungs” placed 2nd in the WV Fiction Competition and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize … “Killing Her Softly,” a blogpost of hers went viral once The Pioneer Woman retweeted it … At Shepherd University’s Appalachian Heritage Master Class last fall, Charles Frazier (of Cold Mountain fame), noted on her manuscript: “That was the best reading I’ve heard in years.” ... In 2012, her story “The Woman in Red” placed 3rd in Writers Digest’s Annual Competition, inspirational category … She's a regular contributor over at … At this year’s “Listen to Your Mother” event in Pittsburgh she’ll be reading one of her essays … Most days you can find her reading, writing, sipping coffee, and snuggling cats in her family's 100-year-old Sears kit house in Morgantown.

Sandy Tritt is a writer, ghostwriter, editor and speaker. The founder and CEO of Inspiration for Writers, Inc., an international editing and critiquing service for aspiring writers, she has edited hundreds of manuscripts and ghostwritten dozens more. She is a past president of West Virginia Writers, Inc., the state’s largest writing organization, and past president of the Ohio Valley Literary Group. She was the recipient of the 2002 Artsbridge Arts Award for Writing and the West Virginia Writers’ 2008 J.U.G. (Just Uncommonly Good) Award for mentoring.  Sandy frequently speaks, reads and gives workshops at writer conferences, educational functions and regional workshops. She taught creative writing for the Jackson County Board of Education and has given public readings of her fiction at libraries, workshops, schools, colleges, conferences and other gatherings as requested. Most recently, she has led workshops at the Connecticut Fiction Fest 2010 (Meriden, Connecticut), West Virginia Writers Conference (Cedar Lakes, West Virginia), the Alabama Writers Conclave (Auburn, Alabama), the Appalachian Writers Association (Bristol, Tennessee), and for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History (Charleston, West Virginia). Sandy’s short stories have received many awards and have been published in literary magazines and local journals such as Gambit, Confluence, West Virginia United Methodist, Allegheny Echoes, Mountain Voices, The Northwestern, and Mountain Echoes, in which she was the July 2004 featured writer. In addition, she has published Everything I Know (Headline Books), Inspiration for Writers Tips and Techniques Workbook, Inspiration for Writers Tips and Techniques Workbook II, The PLAIN ENGLISH Writer’s Workbook, seven technical manuals (Phoenix Software, Atlanta, GA), and, uh, one poem, “The Writer’s Prayer.” She has also ghostwritten more than a dozen nonfiction books, eight novels and two screenplays. provides encouragement, writing craft tips, and inspiring success stories. Additionally, Inspiration for Writers, Inc., publishes a weekly blog article at and a somewhat-monthly e-newsletter. IFW will provide a free sample edit (500 words) of a completed fiction or nonfiction manuscript over 20,000 words or a 30-minute complimentary consultation. See the website for more information or contact Sandy at   Sandy loves giving workshops. Invite her to speak to your local writing group.

Tim Waggoner is an award-winning author--in fact, he's a Bram Stoker Award-winning author-- and teacher who’s published over thirty novels and three short story collections. He writes both original and media tie-in fiction, and he teaches creative writing at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio. You can find him on the web at

Michele Savaunah Zirkle Marcum is a weekly columnist for Ohio Valley Publishing and The Portsmouth Times in addition to hosting Life Speaks at A graduate of Concord College and Marshall Graduate School, she taught high school for twenty years and now freelances as a writer. Her debut novel, “Rain No Evil,” was released in 2016 and chronicles her transformation after a brush with evil. To reach Michele for speaking engagements go to

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Workshops for 2017 Summer Conference

Below are descriptions of the workshops for the 2017 Summer Conference.  This is the initial release.  More workshops will be added as the conference approaches.   Keep an eye out to this page for further updates.

UPDATED 5/26/2017

Beyond Show and Tell: Reflection  (Belinda Anderson) -  Show, don’t tell. That’s something that writing teachers preach incessantly, meaning the writer should go beyond telling that the cat was nasty and instead describing its nicked ears and its habit of sharpening claws on exposed flesh.  However, reflection is a little different from telling. Reflection can enrich your writing, creating an additional, deeper connection with the reader.  Join Belinda as she shares examples and techniques to guide you Beyond Show and Tell.

We regret that Laura Treacy Bentley's workshop PAGE TO STAGE will not take place.  Page to Stage: The Last Poem (Advanced Poetry Workshop for up to 15 students) (Laura Treacy Bentley) –  The power of poetry is our focus. Students will bring fifteen copies of one powerful poem to read aloud that is one page or less long. Every student will receive 15 different poems to read and keep. Students will write a draft of a brand-new poem on Saturday and meet again in late afternoon to refine and polish it in small critique groups. Saturday evening they will read their new poem on the Assembly Hall stage before an audience.

Creating Graphic Narrative (Daniel Boyd) - Most writers transition from comics to film, but Danny Boyd did the reverse, finding writing graphic novels a faster way to create much bigger stories on significantly smaller budgets. Approaching the graphic novel as "cinema on the page," he will cover the basic components of graphic narrative creation/construction, and present a general overview of this growing medium within the art, literature and film world. Formatting styles and available writing software will also be dis¬cussed.

Building Blocks of Good Stories (Daniel Boyd) - This workshop will focus on the basic building blocks used to develop and construct stories primarily for cinema and graphic novels but really relevant to any storytelling writing. Unlike some writing approaches, screen and graphic writing generally demand having an ending before you start, and then building backward from there. In this workshop Boyd will identify and explore the primary story elements, i.e., character, backstory, commitment, opposition, situations (scenes), settings (environment), etc. For Boyd, whether it’s writing for film, comics, and now even musical theater, the planning is the most important. "Is all in the pre-pro," he says. Formatting styles and available writing software will also be dis¬cussed, but like most entertainment writing, it’s all about the story.

Conspiracy (Crystal Good) - Why do we love the idea that people might be secretly working together to control and organize the world? Because we don’t like to face the fact that our world runs on a combination of chaos, incompetence and confusion.” ― Jonathan Cainer.   Crystal Good, a not so secret agent of progress for West Virginia and author of Valley Girl her debut collection of poetry will lead a West Virginia Writers Workshop titled: Conspiracy All genres are welcome and encouraged. The workshop will open with a facilitated discussion followed by a series of writing prompts. Some prompts may require access to audio - please bring a pair of headphones. Participants are also asked to bring an 1-2 examples of a “real”  “West Virginia conspiracy theory”.

Writing and Publishing Children's Books (Marc Harshman) - In this workshop, Mr. Harshman will survey his own experiences in the area of children’s book publishing and how it has changed over the past thirty years. He will discuss professional organizations, agents and editors, critique groups, library, bookstore and online resources, as well as practical advice concerning manuscript preparation, audience, character, narrative tension, and picture book visualization. He will also briefly examine the influence of both children and storytelling upon his writing. There will be ample time given over for questions from the attendees. Beginner to Intermediate Level.

Poetry in Prose: Mini-Lecture, Readings, and Workshop (Marc Harshman) - This program will include a mini-lecture, readings, and a workshop concerning the writing of prose poetry, flash fiction, and related condensed forms of poetic prose. Readings will include James Wright, Jean Follain, Jayne Anne Phillips and several others. It is intended that this session will provide not only a definition for and an introduction to the various types of prose poetry and flash fiction, but will inspire attendees to create their own short works of condensed prose. Suitable for beginning writers and others.

Poetry Workshop with Kirk Judd  (Kirk Judd) One of the original founders of West Virginia Writers, Inc. and Allegheny Echoes will teach a workshop on poetry.  (Full details to be revealed online.)

Spoken Word Poetry Workshop with Kirk Judd  (Kirk Judd) One of the original founders of West Virginia Writers, Inc., teaches the art of spoken word performance poetry.  (Full details to be revealed online.)

Showing Vs. Telling (Michael Knost) - 90 percent of all students who have taken this workshop gave an incorrect answer when (at the beginning of the class) I presented them with a sentence and asked if it was a SHOWING sentence or a TELLING sentence. Showing vs telling can be confusing on a number of levels, but this workshop will have you (just as every former student) walking away without a doubt concerning which is which, and how to better utilize both in your writing. We will use a fun visual aid that will make it so easy to understand.

Relational Influence (Michael Knost) - So often we create a beautiful backdrop in our story, as well as well developed characters, but for some reason they feel like a badly Photoshopped image when we put them together—and the result is nothing appears normal. And this causes everything to appear fake and cheap. This workshop will give us two different approaches to prevent this from happening in our stories. A great tool to learn when writing fiction or non-fiction, genre or literary, children or adult, etc., this workshop will help you pull everything together beautifully.

Technical Imagination: Self Editing and Deep Revision (8 Steps) Workshop (George Lies)  - This will go beyond the typical writing advice of "show, don't tell'. The material will draw on extensive editing and critique experience and moderating of Critique Workshops for short stories, novel chapters and non-fiction work. This will focus on a writer's technical imagination in revision of work, through careful editing, writing deeper, and maintaining the tone of story telling.  The 8 Steps include a) how a consistent point of view can style lengthy, run-on sentences; b) how pressuring narrative text can lead to deep writing; c) how a scene can come alive, using small setting detail and character actions; and d) how tweaks in dialogue or behavior will improve characterization.  The attendees will learn ways to critique or revise their own first or second drafts, as well as self-edit a story or chapter. There will be handouts, one for revision; one for 6 Short Story markets.

Pedagogy and spoken word (Joe Limer) How to get high school and college students to write to their truth and share it in class.

How to turn your poem alive with spoken word (Joe Limer)  Give poetry writers techniques on how to turn poetry readings alive.

The Heroine's Journey in Literature: How We Got From Elizabeth Bennett to Lizbeth Salander  (Donna Meredith) Women travel down different roads than men and fight different dragons. This workshop looks at the female journey in detail, including the major plot points in shaping a novel with a female protagonist. The workshop examines traits of traditional and modern female characters, using examples from novels and movies in a PowerPoint presentation with handouts. It translates the work of Joseph Campbell into the realm of females.

The Power of Place in Appalachia (Donna Meredith)The setting of a story acts as a crucible that unites characters and conflict. The workshop will give you tools to harness the power of place to fully flesh out authentic, believable characters. We explore making full use of locale, language, historical era, time, weather, season, natural light, and the “Third Element.” Using examples from dozens of West Virginia authors like Keith Maillard, Ann Pancake, Matthew Neill Null, and Meredith Sue Willis, we will consider characters who are in harmony and those who are in conflict with their setting, with special consideration of that love/hate relationship people in Appalachia often have with the land. PowerPoint presentation with handouts.

Jazz Up Your Nonfiction with Fiction Techniques (Donna Meredith) – Are you worried your nonfiction and memoir manuscript reads like a textbook instead of hooking readers? Punch it up a notch with creative nonfiction techniques. This workshop can help you distinguish between creatively presenting the truth and writing fiction. We’ll examine the difference between the retrospective narrator and the protagonist, and the proper use of scenes and frames in nonfiction and memoir. Though truthful, these genres can benefit from the same key techniques as any good story—hooks, characters, and scenes—but with caveats.  Learn many additional techniques to enliven your nonfiction so you never sound like a boring textbook again. PowerPoint presentation with handouts.

Structure and Narrative Tension (Eliot Parker) – despite the genre, readers expect longer works of prose to be complete, with an appropriate beginning, middle, and end. In addition, readers need to feel a sense of tension that exists between the main character(s) and the plot device(s) put forth by the writer. Utilizing a variety of classical and contemporary frameworks of storytelling and tension in story, this workshop will examine ways that writers can develop a complete and satisfying balance of structure in their writing, along with enough appropriate tension to keep the readers engaged from beginning to end. A mix of short workshop writings will allow attendees a chance to develop and improve structure and tension.

Creating a compelling "Bad Guy" readers love to hate (Eliot Parker) –  In mystery and thriller writing, the protagonist (a detective, private investigator, federal agent, average citizen, etc) is often pitted against an antagonist whose motives are heinous The reader follows the narrative with great interest, waiting for the moment when the protagonist and the antagonist will have their final confrontation.  Readers expect the protagonist to be an interesting, flawed character who experiences "raised stakes" on their way to solving the mystery. However, readers also expect the antagonist to be equally complex, with flaws and motivations in direct opposition to those of the protagonist. Writers often spend a great deal of time developing the protagonist, but how can that same attention be given to creating a complex villain that readers are going to "love to hate?" This workshop examines strategies and techniques that mystery/thriller writers can use to creating a complex, interesting, and passionate villain that will be worthy of challenging the protagonist physically and/or emotionally.

To Thine Own Selfie Be True (Cat Pleska) - It’s who we are now: the self-referenced, the well-documented, well, self. We take photos with our phones at every instant, whether anything’s happening or not. So, why not make it a reason to write about yourself or something else in the photo—the possibilities are endless and you’ll be prompted with plenty of ideas. It’s a good time to describe, to observe, to create a story, to polish a thought, to let yourself behave in some new way, to imagine. Come to this class for fun and for expression and to shape a story of, what else! The self. (No smart phone? Not to worry—we’ll help you out with that).

Your Big Idea (Sheila Redling) – You have an idea for a story. Is it enough for a book? Has it been done? Is it a cliché? Will you ever have another idea? In this workshop, we’ll discuss how to turn ideas into stories, how to shake up expectations, and how to keep fresh ideas raining down on you from one story to the next. From tweaking genre promises to pulling off a great twist, learn to get your big ideas onto the page.

Editing and Feedback (Sheila Redling) – You’ve finished your book! Congratulations! Now get your red pencils out and whip that beast into shape. Good writing is rewriting and in this workshop, we’ll cover the different levels of editing required to turn a good story into a great book, as well as what to expect from professional editors. We’ll also discuss the most effective way to give and receive feedback. No soul crushing allowed!

Make non-fiction/biography/memoir compelling (Carter Taylor Seaton) - We will talk about how to make your non-fiction/biography/memoir as exciting as any novel. We’ll explore developing the story line, the setting, the background and how to put it into context – historically, topically or geographically. We’ll discuss structure, and the use of flashbacks or flash-forwards, memory, and internal monologue. We’ll discuss how to add validation to memories and family stories, explore what sources are available and offer tips on how to find them.

Role of Research in Writing (Carter Taylor Seaton) - A deeper discussion on the types of sources, where to go for what, the value of first hand interviews, personal observations, how to credit sources, when and whether to do so, how to blend historical facts into your non-fiction writing.

Don’t Be a Social Media Virgin (M. Lynne Squires)Objective: Learning to create an author presence for those with little or no social media experience. What is Social Media and Why Utilize It?  Reviewing the Most Common Platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat.  Author Platforms - Amazon, Goodreads and personal websites.  Choosing the Right Platforms

Introduction to Social Media Marketing (M. Lynne Squires) Objective: Learning to promote yourself as an author through social media.  Developing a social media calendar.  Building a team. Paid social media advertising – yes or no?

Putting a Positive Spin on Rejection  (Larry Schardt) – Propel Your Writing and Yourself into Success That Rocks! A writer’s work is on the line for criticism or rejection or both. When rejected you may be tempted to toss your computer off a cliff, watch your hard work smash into tiny shards on the rocks below, crawl in a cave, and sink into the gloomy dungeon of self-pity. Escape from the dungeon and explore rejection from a different perspective so you can grow, persist, and flourish. In this workshop, you will learn the secrets of becoming a victor instead of a victim, making happiness a habit, and overcoming the diseases of cynicism, negaholism, and blame. You will also learn the secrets of enjoying “Success That Rocks.”

Powerful Tools to Enhance Your Writing Success and Rock Your Life (Larry Schardt) – Suffer from writer’s block, overwhelm, lack of focus, stalled creativity, anxiety . . . ? Yikes! In this workshop, Dr. Larry “Rock ’n’ Roll” Schardt shares ways to blast through these maladies and empower your writing, and your life. From daily routines, to mindfulness, to programs, to conferences, to potent psychological tools, and beyond, Larry shares secrets to improve your life and enhance your creativity. Supercharge your mindset, and your writing, with tools to help you reach your maximum potential.

Blogging 101 (Diane Tarantini) – In the increasingly crowded world of writing, “platform” is becoming more and more important for nonfiction and fiction writers alike. One of the easiest ways to start building a platform is to begin blogging. In this workshop, we will discuss who should blog and why, as well as how to get started. If all goes well, each participant will leave with some or all of the following: a blog name, a brand message, a tagline, and ten possible blog post ideas.

The 10 Commandments of Faith-Based Writing (Diane Tarantini) – Do you feel called to faith-based writing—fiction or nonfiction—but aren’t sure how to get started? Come learn the ten commandments of writing from a Christian worldview. In addition, we will also discuss associated writing opportunities, an extensive list of useful resources, and of course, craft.

Details, Details, Details (Sandy Tritt) – This workshop shows how to bring your prose to life by adding in the right kind of detail at the right place and the right time—and in the right amount. It’s often the little things that make a big difference in the effectiveness of your fiction. We’ll discuss sprinkling setting throughout, describing characters, and using all the senses to create memorable scenes.

Who’s your narrator? (Sandy Tritt) —  In this workshop, we will discuss what/who a narrator is, how to choose a narrator, and how to effectively control narrative distance--the amount of intimacy between the narrator and the reader.

Level Up (Tim Waggoner) - How do you go from an “okay” writer to a published one? This workshop will provide an overview of how to take your fiction to the next level and create stories that are vivid, original, gripping, and entertaining.

Multi-Level Fiction Writing (Tim Waggoner) - Learn specific techniques for constructing multi-layered, richly textured scenes to create a deeply immersive reading experience for your audience.

Get Out of Your Head and Into Nature (Michele Zirkle Marcum ) – Be prepared to hug a tree or two. This is a funshop; not a workshop. Words will flow as we enter imaginary worlds with the help of the spirit of Nature. This is the homeopathic cure for not only those with common writer’s block, but those who have misplaced their inspiration for writing.   Our head analyses the logistical progression of a story, but our heart creates the characters, the feel of the fabric they wear, the dynamics of relationship. Find out if fear is blocking your heart chakra and thus the inspiration that spurs the writing genius. Learn how to clear your fears and open the sluices of the Divine story-teller inside of you.



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T.W. McNemar Scholarship 2017

Terry McNemar, a long time member and former president of West Virginia Writers, Inc., passed away in 2015. He was a guiding light for the organization for many years, remembered for his generous spirit and his humor.  He worked diligently both behind the scenes and on the stage of the board of directors itself to help keep the organization healthy and to help bring writers from our state and region into the fold. This was one of his passions. Many of our current members can cite Terry’s influence on them in making the decision to come to the conference for the first time, not to mention continuing on the path toward improving their writing.

During his time as president, Terry frequently arranged scholarships and internships for those who could not afford to come to the conference. In his absence, Terry’s family has requested that West Virginia Writers continue his legacy in this by establishing an annual scholarship fund in his name.

The T.W. McNemar Scholarship is open to writers and aspiring writers who wish to improve their craft through the workshops offered at our annual summer conference, but who may not be able to afford to otherwise attend. The scholarship will include waived conference fees for the recipient(s), as well as room and meals paid for in full during the three day conference. This will be a continuing fund, open to recipients each year. The process for applying includes a form application, found here at our website, which will also include an essay portion. The one page (or more) essay is intended to explain why the applicant would like to attend the conference, what their financial needs are, and what it would mean for them to have this opportunity. As a bonus, we ask that applicants include their favorite joke (dirty or clean) as Terry always liked a great joke. (The quality of the joke will not be a determining factor in awarding the scholarships; we just think Terry would have found it funny.)

Scholarships will be awarded based on need, quality of essay, and number of submissions received. Scholarship awards will be announced via email and/or telephone by Sunday, April 30, 2017.

Interested applicants may submit the application form and requested essay by Saturday, April 1, 2017.


They can be submitted by email to: 

Or by U.S. Mail to

TW McNemar Scholarship
c/o Eric Fritzius
231 Lookout Lane
Lewisburg, WV 24901

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