FALL CONFERENCE 2018: Presenters and Workshops

The following are the presenters and workshops for the 2018 West Virginia Writers One Day Fall Conference, November 17 at the Days Inn Conference Center in Flatwoods.


JD Byrne was born and raised around Charleston  before spending seven years in Morgantown obtaining degrees in history and law from West     Virginia University. He’s practiced law for nearly 20 years, writing briefs where he has to stick to real facts and real law.

In his fiction, he gets to make up the facts, take or leave the law, and let his imagination run wild. He is the author of Moore Hollow and The Water Road trilogy. He lives outside Charleston with his wife and the two cutest Chihuahuas the world has ever seen. Find him online at jdbyrne.net.


Lines in the Speculative Sand – When Genre Matters in Fantasy & Science Fiction (and When It Doesn’t): Is my story fantasy? Is it science fiction? Does it even matter? Dive into the weird world of speculative fiction and learn some of the rules of the road (so you can go break them if you want).

Law 101 for Writers – Getting It Right When Your Character Goes to Court: Into every character’s life a little law must fall. Even if you’re not writing legal thrillers, there’s lots of reasons for characters to wind up in court. Learn some tips and discover some valuable resources to make your legal writing feel real


Michael Connick was born and raised in San Francisco.  During much of the Cold War, he consulted with the US intelligence community, Department of Defense, and the technology industry. He was a course developer and instructor for Bell Labs, and was a Contributing Editor to the technology magazine PalmPower.  Michael has lived in WV for 12 years, currently in Huntington.

Michael has published three Cold War spy novels and is currently working on a crime novel set in Huntington. His work also appears in ThrillWriting, The Writer’s Guide to Weapons, and Artistic License Renewed. For more information, visit  http://michaelconnick.com


Marketing Your Work on the Cheap - This presentation will cover a wide variety of techniques for promoting your work that are free or have minimal cost. Topics include creating simple websites, using social media, getting reviews, dealing with traditional media, creating a launch event, successful book signings, tools for automating social media campaigns, gauging effectiveness of your marketing efforts, and a review of low-cost advertising techniques.

Technology for the Technophobe Writer - Learn practical ways to use computers and software to improve your writing. How to choose a computer and the tradeoff between simplicity and sophistication. Hands-on time with a variety of computers in the classroom seeing the advantages and disadvantages of each. A review of computer software, including composition software, the “cloud” and how it can help you, tools for supporting research, style and grammar checkers, formatting for publication, and protecting work from loss.


Lynn Eldridge is a former president of the West Virginia Chapter of Romance Writers of America and earned honorable mention for Kindred Spirits, a paranormal romance in their Golden Heart Contest.  She is the author of two published historical romances; Desire in Deadwood and Remember the Passion both from Sunstone Press.  She is currently hard at work on her third romance novel.


Romance and Research - Who doesn't want to research a bit of romance? Whether you are writing historical, contemporary or any paranormal romance you will want to have the facts right.  Accuracy lends credibility and makes your story believable. Come and let's discuss how sizzle and study, desire and diligence can dance your story into the hearts of your readers.


Sarah Elkins is a writer and poet living in Lewisburg, WV. By day, her work takes the form of journal and magazine articles, business blogs, web copy and social media management. In the dark hours of the morning, she returns to her first love: poetry.

Sarah has taught creative writing and composition in diverse classrooms and workshop settings from Los Angeles to West Virginia. In 2014, she served as Artist in Residence at FCI-Beckley, a medium security men's federal prison in Beckley, WV. The account of her time teaching poetry to inmate students later became the subject of a TEDx talk titled Poetry and Connection in the Care Bear of Prisons. Sarah is a WVW Regional Rep in Region 3.


Writing About the Natural World - Guided by the work of poets who invoke the natural world in exploration of the human experience, we will spend the afternoon playing with writing prompts. The fun,  exploratory prompts presented will encourage participants to make a connection between the elements of the natural world they are most drawn to and their own experience. As poet Mary Oliver might prescribe, we will allow ourselves to be drawn to what we love in nature as a way of knowing our own place in the world.

Poetry From Guided Meditation -  This workshop will invite participants to explore the vastness available through the guided meditations of expert yoga instructor and healer Cari Cohen and the sound meditations of Tom Kenyon. Guided meditation will be used a springboard for poetry. We will also explore aromatherapy as an avenue into the creative subconscious. Participants are invited to  bring yoga mats, blankets or any other items that will aid in personal comfort. Preferring to remain seated at a table is equally acceptable.


Eric Fritzius lives in Lewisburg, WV where he is a freelance creative type and frequent performer with Greenbrier Valley Theatre (GVT).  His short plays have been performed across northern Appalachia and now north of the Mason-Dixon with the 10 x 10 Play Festival at the Barrington Theatre in Pittsfield, MA.  Eric has also directed plays for GVT, as well as at the Pocahontas County Opera House where he recently served for a third year as the director of the Opera House PlayFest.  His short modern fantasy collection A Consternation of Monsters is available in print, ebook, and audiobook. A former president of West Virginia Writers, he works as an audiobook narrator.  Visit him online at MrHerman.com


The Joe McCabe Memorial Short Play Writing Workshop  - The first workshop Eric ever attended at a WV Writers Conference was one on the craft of writing short plays taught by the late and prolific playwright Joe McCabe.  In this workshop, Eric will honors Joe’s legacy by using examples of Joe’s work (as well as his own short plays) as a backdrop to discuss the form.  The goal is for participants to leave with ideas for short plays of their own to develop as well as resources for submitting those plays to theatres around the country who are actively seeking them.


Kari Gunter-Seymour is an instructor in the School of Journalism at Ohio University. She is the Poet Laureate of Athens, Ohio.  Her poetry appears in several publications including, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Main Street Rag, Stirring and The LA Times.  Kari is the founder/curator of the “Women of Appalachia Project,” an arts organization she created to address discrimination directed at women from the Appalachian region by encouraging participation from women artists (both fine art and spoken word).   Visit www.karigunterseymourpoet.com


Strictly Imagination – This workshop is based strictly on imagination (controlled visualization, sensation and word play).

Ekphrastic Poetry – explores ekphrastic poetry with the addition of the S.M.I.L.E. technique, a method designed to enhance and focus the poet and the poem."


Cole Smith is a writer and teacher in West Virginia. She's the author of the cozy mystery, Waiting for Jacob, and enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at www.colesmithwrites.com.


Self-Publishing Checklist - (Prose/Creative Nonfiction) Find out if the indie route is right for your manuscript. The explosion of software and helpful tools makes self-publishing an attractive choice.    Cut through the overwhelming options and form a plan that fits your project. This workshop will help you ensure a high-quality production, schedule a successful book launch, and market your book. We'll discuss when it's best to hire an expert and when to do it yourself. Worksheets provided.

Write Your Life: Get Your Story Out There - (Creative Nonfiction)  Learn how to craft the stories nearest your heart! Whether you're interested in penning a memoir, family history, or autobiography, this workshop will inspire you. Leave with fresh ideas and a plan for structuring, writing, and publishing your book. For all skill levels, but especially sensitive to the beginner. Worksheets provided, along with an opportunity to download a free workbook after the conference.



An urban Appalachian author, M. Lynne Squires is a novelist, short story crafter, poetry dabbler, intermittent blogger, book reviewer, and magazine columnist.  Her books include Letters to My Son – Reflections of Urban Appalachia at Mid-Century, Mid-Century Recipes from Cocktails to Comfort Food, and Writers on Writing – Daily Motivation for Writers.


Social Media, Blogging, Platform, and Frogs --  Using social media effectively, creating and maintaining a blog, developing a platform… and the importance of frogs in the process.


Michele Savaunah Zirkle is a life coach and self-syndicated columnist. She is the author of Rain No Evil, her personal experience of transformation through energy healing. She has published works in Mountain Ink Literary Journal and The Journal of Health and Human Experience. Michele writes and leads healing meditations, and inspires self-empowerment in her podcast, Life Speaks. After twenty years teaching English to high school students, she now teaches mindfulness to students of all ages. ​


How to Cross the Fine Line Between Memoir and Creative Non-fiction - Methods to be probed in depth: Necessary disclaimer to avoid lawsuit; Condensing time frames to move the story along; Identifying morals and ways to trickle these lessons into the storyline; Choosing appropriate names for characters, places and events; Creating interesting transitions between events; Ending scenes with intrigue; and, Addressing media concerns regarding privacy of “Real people.”

Cleanse Your Creative Chakra -  Identify mental chatter that interferes with creativity and writers block.  Bring a work-in-progress. Participants will note negative thought patterns and procrastinations that  prevent writing progress. Be lead in a meditation in which participants will balance their chakras, including the chakra of creativity. Time will be provided to write on the work-in-progress practicing conditioning the mind to “Catch and Release” thoughts that are counterproductive to writing goals.


Co-Presenters Susanna Holstein and Janet Smart are both from Jackson County, West Virginia.

Janet Smart has presented at the WV State Folk Festival, the Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair and other venues and is a former columnist for  Two Lane Livin’ Magazine. Her publication credits include her middle grade novel, Duck and Cover and a family cookbook of recipes and remembrances.

Professional storyteller, writer, poet and ballad singer Susanna “Granny Sue” Holstein includes Appalachian stories and ballads, family heritage, and tales from West Virginia’s history in her storytelling performances. She has produced three storytelling CDs and is a founding member of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild. Her work appears in numerous print and online journals and anthologies. She was awarded the 2014 McWhorter Award for Service to West Virginia Storytelling and in 2015 was named a West Virginia History Hero.


Black Dogs and Horse Collars: Folklore, Superstition, and the Writer - Folk beliefs are a strong element of Appalachian culture. People often quote weather proverbs, plant by the signs and use folk remedies even as they interact in the modern world of technology and social media. Folklore is integral to who we are and where we come from, and can add humor, suspense and anticipation to stories, articles and poetry. This workshop that explores the role of folklore and superstition in our lives and how old lore can add depth to characters and deepen a sense of place in any written work. This class is intended for poetry, prose, and creative nonfiction writers.