Category Archives: Writers Toolkit

Writers’ Toolkit 2012

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History in collaboration with the West Virginia Library Commission will present an intensive creative writing skills workshop on Saturday, March 17, from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston.WV Writers members Sandy Tritt, Sarah Sullivan, Karin Fuller, and Danny Boyd will be presenters.

Please see the flyer below for information.

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The Writers’ Toolkit Event THIS weekend

West Virginia Division of Culture and History
and West Virginia Library Commission present
The Writers' Toolkit

Free intensive creative writing workshops

Friday Evening Kickoff and Reception March 18. 2011 7:00 p.m.

Saturday Classes March 19, 2011 9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Free and open to the public.

Friday Evening, March 18, 7:00 p.m.

Keynote Address with guest writer Mary Calhoun Brown, award-winning author of There Are No Words.

Her talk, "Inspired by Dr. Seuss," will address the important role of authors, songwriters and artists as a voice of positive change in the world, and how to use your work to create change in classrooms and beyond.

Saturday, March 19, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Writers' Toolkit will have two sessions of two-hour concurrent classes.

10:00 a.m. to noon

"Creative Writing: A Sensory Approach for Teachers, Students and Young Writers" with Mary Calhoun Brown

"Journalism Class" with Paul Nyden

"Taking Off the Training Wheels" with Sherrell Wigal

"Writing Speculation Fiction: Part One" with Michael Knost

Noon to 1:00 p.m. - Lunch

Bring your own or visit several eateries within a block of the Culture Center

1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

"Creative Writing: Using Technology and Other Strategies to Enrich the Writing Process" with Mary Calhoun Brown

"Songwriting" with Kodac Harrison

"Writing Speculation Fiction: Part Two" with Michael Knost

Free and open to the public

Place: The Culture Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston

For more information, call (304) 558-0220, or to see short bios and class descriptions, visit the Division's Web site at www.wvculture.org.

The Culture Center can be reached by traveling on Interstate 64/77. Take exit 99 (Greenbrier Street, State Capitol) down the hill. The Capitol Complex entrance is on the corner of Greenbrier and Washington streets.

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Writers’ Toolkit 2011

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History in collaboration with the West Virginia Library Commission will present an intensive creative writing skills workshop on Saturday, March 19, from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The conference, Writers’ Toolkit, will kickoff with a keynote address by featured guest writer Mary Calhoun Brown of Huntington on Friday evening, March 18, at 7 p.m. Her talk, Inspired by Dr. Seuss, will be followed by a reception in the Great Hall. The Friday and Saturday programs are free and open to the public.

Brown’s keynote talk will address the important role authors, songwriters and artists have as a voice for positive change in the world. She will illustrate how she uses her work to create change in classrooms and beyond. Brown also will discuss how writers can achieve that extra punch that can turn their words into a useful tool for educators and an award-winning book. The address will be followed by a question-and answer session.

The Writers’ Toolkit workshop will have two sessions of two-hour workshops: 10 a.m. - noon, and 1 - 3 p.m. Each session will feature several concurrent classes. The morning options include “Creative Writing: A Sensory Approach for Teachers, Students and Young Writers” with Brown; “Journalism Class” with Paul Nyden of Charleston; “Taking Off the Training Wheels” with Sherrell Wigal of Parkersburg; and “Writing Speculation Fiction Part One” with Michael Knost of Logan.

Brown will lead participants through a series of writing prompts to help them improve their writing skills. She uses a unique combination of humor and sensory awareness to bring out the best in young writers. She will encourage everyone to share portions of their in-session work and provide prizes for outstanding ideas and vocabulary.

Nyden will discuss the people skills necessary to get the best story. He will talk about the value of statistical information and how it is enhanced when you talk to people who give a human face to those statistics. He also will provide copies of a 1993 investigative series he wrote for the Charleston Gazette on coal contracting for which he received the George Polk Award for business reporting.

Wigal will emphasize tips, techniques and tricks to put the writer into an open and receptive mind-set. Participants will take part in hands-on writing exercises designed to free them from the fear presented by the blank page. The workshop is open to all ages and skill levels, and will end with a question-and-answer period.

Knost’s class will be the first of a two-part lesson plan that will serve any genre writer, especially those seeking to write science fiction, fantasy, horror, or supernatural thrillers. This workshop will provide a detailed study of what a story is and the necessary components of plot.

Afternoon workshops will offer “Creative Writing: Using Technology and Other Strategies to Enrich the Writing Process” with Brown; “Songwriting” with Kodac Harrison of Atlanta, Ga.; and “Writing Speculation Fiction Part Two” with Knost.

Brown’s workshop will help participants enrich their writing using both high- and low-tech methods and simple strategies. She will discuss how to end writers’ block, how to navigate changes in the publishing business and answer specific questions about the writing process. Brown also will talk about the benefits of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as tools to market your work and increase sales.

Harrison will cover all aspects of being a songwriter from what it means to be a songwriter, the elements of a good song, what to do with a song once you’ve written it, and how a songwriter makes money. Participants will analyze several types of songs.

The second part of Knost’s lesson plan will focus on how the writer can successfully suspend the reader’s disbelief with speculative nature of story or plot.

Brown is an award-winning author and speaker who started her writing career at the age of five when she “figured out that letters made words,” she says. She’s been creating stories ever since. Her most recent novel, There Are No Words is the recipient of 10 awards, including the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, Eric Hoffer Award, International Book Award, Mom’s Choice Award, and USA Book Award. Brown advocates for children and adults with autism and serves on the board of the Autism Services Center. She stands firm on her soap box in classrooms and at conferences, encouraging kindness and an end to bullying.

Harrison is a long time Atlanta singer/songwriter and acoustic guitar player. He has released 15 recordings of original music and the spoken word in the last 30 years. Harrison is involved in the Atlanta poetry community as chairman of the non-profit Poetry Atlanta, and hosts the weekly “Java Monkey Speaks” poetry reading. In 2008, he produced and performed in a theatrical presentation of his music and spoken word at 7 Stages theater. In 2010 he held the McEver Chair in Poetry at Georgia Tech. Harrison has been named Atlanta’s best spoken word artist four times in Atlanta’s “Creative Loafing” and Atlanta’s best poet three times.

Knost is a Bram Stoker award-winning author, editor, and columnist of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and supernatural thrillers. His Writers Workshop of Horror recently won the Black Quill and Bram Stoker awards for superior achievement in nonfiction. He served as ghostwriter for several projects, including work with the Discovery Channel and Lionsgate Media. He is writing a Mothman novel slated for release in 2011.

Nyden has been a reporter for the Charleston Gazette since June 1982, covering political, environmental, labor and foreign policy issues. He also has written extensively about the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd. Since 1994, he has taught courses in sociology and labor history at West Virginia University Institute of Technology. Between 1979 and 1982, he did research projects for federal agencies, including the National Park Service. In addition to the George Polk Award, Nyden has won three first-place national awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

A West Virginia native, Wigal focuses her writing primarily upon poetry and short fiction. She has been featured at events throughout West Virginia and the Appalachian region, both as a performer of her original poetry and as a workshop leader. Wigal is dedicated to helping writers establish their own voices in writing and to be confident in the creation and presentation of their work. Wigal is planning a creative writing workshop which she will conduct in Venice, Italy this fall.

Participants should bring pens, pencils and writing tablets. They also are welcome to bring a bag lunch to eat from noon - 1 p.m., or visit one of several eateries available within one block of the Culture Center.

For more information about the Writers’ Toolkit workshop, contact Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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Reminder about this weekend’s Writers Toolkit 2010

UPDATED: 2/11/10

The WV Division of Culture and History in collaboration with the WV Library Commission is presenting their annual Writers Toolkit event on February 13, 2010. The event will take place at the Cultural Center in Charleston. The event is free and open to the public.

Below are the workshop descriptions, schedule and bios of participating authors.

PLEASE NOTE: According to the Charleston Gazette, State Poet Laureate Irene McKinney will not be able to attend the annual Writers' Toolkit as originally scheduled due to weather concerns, but the program will still continue with the authors below and poet and essayist Doug Van Gundy will step in to take the workshop spaces left by McKinney.

Workshop Descriptions: Writer’s Toolkit 2010

Registration 9am

Morning Session – 10am – 12 noon
Afternoon Session 1pm – 3pm

Frank X Walker
Morning: Demystifying the Poetic Process"
Walker will lead beginning and immediate writers through the creative process from original concept to published poems. Participants will practice and conquer new editing & revision techniques, try on persona poems, and generate new work in a community of writers.

Anthony Viola’s Fiction Workshops:

Morning: Creating Three-Dimensional Characters through Unreliable Narrators.
An unreliable first-person narrator is one that masters the art of exaggeration, skews the facts of a story so that they cater to his or her needs. They can become truly gifted storytellers because they are truly human and unconsciously embrace and clearly display (to the reader) the idea that they are bound by their limited point of view. One way to create an unreliable first-person narrator is to carefully place contradictory elements, details, etc. within the narrative, which may or may not be expressed overtly, however will always remain on the surface for the reader to interpret as contradictory. By including specific elements and details, writers indirectly create three-dimensional characters in their narrators even if these narrators aren’t unreliable narrators.
In this session, participants will study, explore, and attempt to create an unreliable narrator. An exercise sheet and sample will be provided. Participants will be encouraged to share their work with others.

Anthony Viola’s Fiction Workshops:

Afternoon: Embracing Brevity by Writing a Story in 120 Words
Character, conflict, rising action, and climax are traits often associated with the short story genre. However, one complexity is that stories must be short; therefore a writer must achieve the most in the least amount of space. Brevity is the one unquestionable characteristic of the short story genre and many writers often have difficulty writing a complete story in such a compact space. By focusing on brevity, writers indirectly base their stories on single events and limit timeframes, settings, and characters, avoiding unnecessary clutter and underdevelopment. In this session, participants study, explore, and attempt to craft a complete story in 120 words. An exercise sheet and sample will be provided. Participants will be encouraged to share their work with others.

Rob Whetsell’s Historical Writing Workshops

Morning: This session will explore historical writing styles and techniques used to interpret history and make it more meaningful to the public. Presentation will focus on interpretive writing techniques, developing research skills, types of historical resources available to writers and how they can be applied. Mr. Whetsell will share his experiences as a historical writer and interpreter and his approaches to writing for a variety of formats and audiences.

Afternoon: The class will conduct an on-site visit to the WV State Archives to learn basic techniques of historical research and use of archival resources. Plans also include a short tour of West Virginia State Museum to analyze and discuss the effectiveness of interpretive writing and illustrate the different techniques and formats used to engage the public.

Kaite Hillenbrand’s Poetry Workshop

Afternoon: Whether you have an idea for a poem in mind or not, this workshop will help you figure out how to express your thoughts and feelings in a unique way. In my workshop, we will read a few poems, paying attention to imagery, figurative language, and other elements of craft. Each workshop member will make a list of images that have caught their attention recently and, with the help of a "sensory call," each person will freewrite on one of those images, keeping in mind the five senses. We will then compose a poem or two based on that image, using a line-by-line guide that I will provide. I will give you some time to revise before you read it to the rest of the workshop! In honor of Valentine's Day, we may also savor some Hershey's Kisses and write with love in mind.

Author Bios: Writer’s Toolkit 2010

Frank X Walker Walker is the award-winning writer and founder of the Affrlachian Poets, the author of four collections of poetry including the soon to be published I Dedicate This Ride: A Portrait of Isaac Murphy and the editor of PLUCK! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. He teaches in the Department of English at the University of Kentucky.

Additional bio information and photos if necessary are available under the press kit link at www.frankxwalker.com

Dr. Anthony Viola is an Assistant Professor of English at Marshall University where he teaches creative writing, literature, and composition. He received a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Ohio University in 2003, was a postdoctoral fellow in Creative Writing at Ohio University, and was a postdoctoral scholar in Creative Writing at the University of Kentucky while serving as the Associate Director of the Writing Program. He has been published in Pleiades, Gulf Coast, and Calliope, has had a short story nominated for a Pushcart Prize and another short story listed in “100 Other Distinguished Stories,” Best American Short Stories 2007. In addition to completing a collection of interrelated short stories, he has completed a full-length novel and two screenplays.

Rob Whetsell has 20 years of professional experience in interpreting West Virginia history. A former US Forest Service historian and archeologist, he currently works as an architectural historian for a large cultural resource contracting firm. Mr. Whetsell has a B.A. in History/Political Science from Davis & Elkins and dual M.A.s (in History and Public History) from WVU.

Mr. Whetsell is the author of the book Elkins, West Virginia: The Metropolis Revisited (1994) and has also completed three documentary films: A Good Place to Work: Myles Lumber Company (2008); The ‘CC Boys: A West Virginia Legacy (2006); and The Cliff-Scaling Soldiers of West Virginia (2003). Rob is also a 2006 recipient of the West Virginia History Hero Award and has received several other awards for his cultural resource work and interpretive skills, including the US Forest Service’s Eastern Region, Century of Service Award.

Kaite Hillenbrand is Assistant Editor in Chief of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, and she teaches English at Waynesburg University in Waynesburg, PA. She lives in Morgantown and is a native of Charleston, WV. She earned her MFA in Poetry from the University of California, Riverside, and she earned her MA in Literature from WVU. She feels rooted in West Virginia’s landscape, and her lyric narrative poetry reflects that. Her poetry was most recently published in Kestrel, and a recent interview with her appears online at The Bees Knees.

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Writers Toolkit 2010

The WV Division of Culture and History in collaboration with the WV Library Commission is presenting their annual Writers Toolkit event on February 13, 2010. The event will take place at the Cultural Center in Charleston. The event is free and open to the public.

Below are the workshop descriptions, schedule and bios of participating authors.

Workshop Descriptions: Writer’s Toolkit 2010

Registration 9am

Morning Session – 10am – 12 noon
Afternoon Session 1pm – 3pm

Frank X Walker
Morning: Demystifying the Poetic Process"
Walker will lead beginning and immediate writers through the creative process from original concept to published poems. Participants will practice and conquer new editing & revision techniques, try on persona poems, and generate new work in a community of writers.

Irene McKinney’s Non-Fiction Workshops:

Morning: IN SHORT.
Brief creative non-fiction pieces of 1-3- pages are currently seen everywhere. Such pieces may be short chapters or sections of a longer work or stand on their own as magazine pieces or radio commmentaries. Any subject is permissable and can yield fortunate surprises. We will use exercises to trigger writing.

Afternoon: MEMOIR: RECOVERING THE SELF.
Writing memoir might be termed a "vale of soul-making," as Keats termed the writing of poems. We create meaning in our lives by feeling our way along through past events while providing the same journey for a reader. We will begin with exercises to trigger the writing.

Anthony Viola’s Fiction Workshops:

Morning: Creating Three-Dimensional Characters through Unreliable Narrators.
An unreliable first-person narrator is one that masters the art of exaggeration, skews the facts of a story so that they cater to his or her needs. They can become truly gifted storytellers because they are truly human and unconsciously embrace and clearly display (to the reader) the idea that they are bound by their limited point of view. One way to create an unreliable first-person narrator is to carefully place contradictory elements, details, etc. within the narrative, which may or may not be expressed overtly, however will always remain on the surface for the reader to interpret as contradictory. By including specific elements and details, writers indirectly create three-dimensional characters in their narrators even if these narrators aren’t unreliable narrators.
In this session, participants will study, explore, and attempt to create an unreliable narrator. An exercise sheet and sample will be provided. Participants will be encouraged to share their work with others.

Anthony Viola’s Fiction Workshops:

Afternoon: Embracing Brevity by Writing a Story in 120 Words
Character, conflict, rising action, and climax are traits often associated with the short story genre. However, one complexity is that stories must be short; therefore a writer must achieve the most in the least amount of space. Brevity is the one unquestionable characteristic of the short story genre and many writers often have difficulty writing a complete story in such a compact space. By focusing on brevity, writers indirectly base their stories on single events and limit timeframes, settings, and characters, avoiding unnecessary clutter and underdevelopment. In this session, participants study, explore, and attempt to craft a complete story in 120 words. An exercise sheet and sample will be provided. Participants will be encouraged to share their work with others.

Rob Whetsell’s Historical Writing Workshops

Morning: This session will explore historical writing styles and techniques used to interpret history and make it more meaningful to the public. Presentation will focus on interpretive writing techniques, developing research skills, types of historical resources available to writers and how they can be applied. Mr. Whetsell will share his experiences as a historical writer and interpreter and his approaches to writing for a variety of formats and audiences.

Afternoon: The class will conduct an on-site visit to the WV State Archives to learn basic techniques of historical research and use of archival resources. Plans also include a short tour of West Virginia State Museum to analyze and discuss the effectiveness of interpretive writing and illustrate the different techniques and formats used to engage the public.

Kaite Hillenbrand’s Poetry Workshop

Afternoon: Whether you have an idea for a poem in mind or not, this workshop will help you figure out how to express your thoughts and feelings in a unique way. In my workshop, we will read a few poems, paying attention to imagery, figurative language, and other elements of craft. Each workshop member will make a list of images that have caught their attention recently and, with the help of a "sensory call," each person will freewrite on one of those images, keeping in mind the five senses. We will then compose a poem or two based on that image, using a line-by-line guide that I will provide. I will give you some time to revise before you read it to the rest of the workshop! In honor of Valentine's Day, we may also savor some Hershey's Kisses and write with love in mind.

Author Bios: Writer’s Toolkit 2010

Frank X Walker Walker is the award-winning writer and founder of the Affrlachian Poets, the author of four collections of poetry including the soon to be published I Dedicate This Ride: A Portrait of Isaac Murphy and the editor of PLUCK! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. He teaches in the Department of English at the University of Kentucky.

Additional bio information and photos if necessary are available under the press kit link at www.frankxwalker.com
Irene McKinney is Poet Laureate of the State of West Virginia and the author of 6 books of poetry, most recently Unthinkable: New and Selected Poems (2009). Her personal and deeply insightful non-fiction essays are regularly heard on West Virginia Public Radio.
McKinney is Professor Emeritus at West Virginia Wesleyan College, and has also taught at Western Washington University, the University of California-Santa Cruz and Hamilton College. She is currently serving as Writer-in-Residence at Lynchburg College in Virginia. When she isn’t travelling, she lives on the Barbour Co. farm that has been her family’s home for generations.

Dr. Anthony Viola is an Assistant Professor of English at Marshall University where he teaches creative writing, literature, and composition. He received a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Ohio University in 2003, was a postdoctoral fellow in Creative Writing at Ohio University, and was a postdoctoral scholar in Creative Writing at the University of Kentucky while serving as the Associate Director of the Writing Program. He has been published in Pleiades, Gulf Coast, and Calliope, has had a short story nominated for a Pushcart Prize and another short story listed in “100 Other Distinguished Stories,” Best American Short Stories 2007. In addition to completing a collection of interrelated short stories, he has completed a full-length novel and two screenplays.

Rob Whetsell has 20 years of professional experience in interpreting West Virginia history. A former US Forest Service historian and archeologist, he currently works as an architectural historian for a large cultural resource contracting firm. Mr. Whetsell has a B.A. in History/Political Science from Davis & Elkins and dual M.A.s (in History and Public History) from WVU.

Mr. Whetsell is the author of the book Elkins, West Virginia: The Metropolis Revisited (1994) and has also completed three documentary films: A Good Place to Work: Myles Lumber Company (2008); The ‘CC Boys: A West Virginia Legacy (2006); and The Cliff-Scaling Soldiers of West Virginia (2003). Rob is also a 2006 recipient of the West Virginia History Hero Award and has received several other awards for his cultural resource work and interpretive skills, including the US Forest Service’s Eastern Region, Century of Service Award.

Kaite Hillenbrand is Assistant Editor in Chief of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, and she teaches English at Waynesburg University in Waynesburg, PA. She lives in Morgantown and is a native of Charleston, WV. She earned her MFA in Poetry from the University of California, Riverside, and she earned her MA in Literature from WVU. She feels rooted in West Virginia’s landscape, and her lyric narrative poetry reflects that. Her poetry was most recently published in Kestrel, and a recent interview with her appears online at The Bees Knees.

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