Fall Conference 2021: Presenters and Workshops

Daniel O’Malley

Daniel J. O'Malley is a writer whose fiction has appeared in Granta, Gulf Coast, Subtropics, Alaska Quarterly Review, Meridian, The Baltimore Review, and 2016’s Best American Short Stories, among other publications. In 2020 his story "Simon" was a finalist for the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award. He earned a BA in Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Florida. Currently he teaches in the English Department at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, where he was recently named as the city’s inaugural Literary Laureate.

Fine-tuning Stories for Publication

Revision strategies and workshop discussions often focus on a story’s content—the plot, setting, character development, etc. Nothing wrong with that. But beyond these narrative considerations, a story’s language itself could often use some attention, some tinkering in terms of diction and syntax. This workshop will explore some activities designed to help writers find flexibility in their language usage, with an emphasis on concision, economy, image, and verve. Discussion will also cover strategies for publication—researching journals, composing cover letters, devising a plan—all with an awareness that when an editor encounters a submission the first thing they likely notice is the author’s way with words. Participants are asked to bring a draft of a story.

In addition to the above, we are honored to have Mr. O’Malley as our morning keynote speaker.

Cat Pleska

Cat Pleska, award-winning author, educator, president of Mountain State Press, and oral historian, holds an MFA in creative nonfiction writing and an MA in Humanities. Her memoir, Riding on Comets was published by West Virginia University Press, 2015. Cat edited three anthologies and her essays have appeared in Still: The Journal, Heartwood Magazine, Change 7 Magazine, and many others. She teaches full time in the English department at Marshall University.

Workshop 1: MMM--Good! Food writing in memoir

Workshop 2: Boom! Knock'em out with flash nonfiction


Ace Boggess

Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, including The Prisoners, Ultra Deep Field, and I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, as well as the novels States of Mercy and A Song Without a Melody. He earned his B.A. from Marshall University and his J.D. from West Virginia University. He serves as Senior editor at The Adirondack Review and Associate Editor at The Evening Street Review. His poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, Notre Dame Review, J Journal, North Dakota Quarterly, and many other journals. His awards include the Robert Bausch Fiction Award and a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. In addition, he was locked up for five years in the West Virginia prison system, an experience which has been the basis for much of his writing. He currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia.

Submitting work for Publication. An hour discussing forms, cover letters, differences in journal guidelines, how to find out what journals are reading submissions, places to search for new or unfamiliar publications.

Poetry reading. A 20-minute reading, followed by Q & A about process, strategies, or whatever interests the audience.

Doc Benson

Doc Benson (www.DocBenson.org) has produced, directed, and even starred in films screened at top international film festivals, received multiple Best Director and Best Screenplay awards, and has been privileged to see his films receive distribution worldwide. He has also served as a television producer, station manager, newspaper journalist, and script doctor, and is a past recipient of the Top Columnist award from the West Virginia Press Association. He holds advanced degrees in Business and Ministry and serves as president of the non-profit Appalachian Cinematic Arts Council.

Scripts that Sell: Screenwriting Tips for Indie Success. Curious about writing for the big screen? Join award-winning writer, producer, and director Doc Benson as he breaks down the tips you need to craft the next hit indie film script. We will discuss proper structure, building in product placement, treatments and loglines, stories directors love and hate, and genres that sell. The topics we will cover are taken right from Doc’s multi-day production management workshop entitled “Indie Film Express.” Come ready to laugh and learn!

Compelling Characters for Audiences and Actors. This workshop would complement my other presentation, and would take a deeper dive into the world of character development for film. Whether starting from scratch or adapting from source material, we can discuss tips to create memorable roles including motivation, dialogue, story arc, and more.

Douglas John Imbrogno

Douglas John Imbrogno is a lifetime storyteller in words, image, and video. He was a feature writer, feature editor, and multimedia producer for the Charleston Gazette and Gazette-Mail for 35 years, and in the last 15 years of that time was an evangelist for multimedia storytelling. He currently edits the multimedia monthly magazine WestVirginiaVille.com, and for the last year has produced short-form and long-form narrative documentaries shown at filmfests worldwide (See: WestVirginiaVille.com/amp-multimedia).

STORYTELLING: From Campfires to Computers. He will discuss the art of old-school storytelling in traditional and new ways of telling. He is editor of "What Why How: Answers to Your Questions on Buddhism, Meditation, and Living Mindfully" by Bhante G (Wisdom Publications 2020) and is at work on a "sorta memoir" titled "WHAT HAPPENED: Confessions of a Failed Boulevardier."

Tobi Doyle

Erin Novotny writing as Tobi Doyle, a hybrid romance author, has published over a dozen romance books. She writes HEAs with heat and humor, romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. A member of the RWA’s Pen to Paper committee, she’s also the current President of RWA’s romantic suspense chapter, Kiss of Death, a member of Central Ohio Fiction Writers, West Virginia Writers and other local writing groups.

Using Emotional Wounds to create characters and stories your readers can't put down. Want to create a compelling story with high conflict, tension, emotion? This workshop is an in-depth look at plotting your story, taking you step-by-step by starting with your characters’ emotional wounds to power their external and internal goals, motivations, and conflicts. Participants will learn how to make their plot points make an emotional impact that wows their readers.

What your readers really want...cognitive science and genre fiction. How does the human brain engage with fictional characters? Why do we like fiction? It’s NOT real!!! Why did 50 Shades of Gray Trilogy sell 150 Million books Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns only 35 million? In this workshop, we’ll go over the science and research that explains why humans crave fiction, what elements trigger our brain into wanting more, and you’ll learn how to reach your readers. You’ll be provided with a list of resources on cognitive brain science, so you don’t have to take my word for it, you can dive into the research yourself.

Michael Connick

Michael Connick was born and raised in San Francisco, lived in Europe and the Middle East, and has lived in WV for the past 13 years. Now retired, his career included work in the US intelligence community, the Department of Defense, and the technology industry. He was a Contributing Editor to the technology magazine PalmPower.

Michael has published three Cold War spy novels and 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

Powerful Promotional Ideas for Authors.  I was recently told by a West Coast television producer that I was the number one response to the Google search: “crime novel author Huntington WV”. Number two was Craig Johnson, Huntington native and bestselling author of the Longmire series. Oh, and number three was me, again.

So how does a self-published author of only one modestly selling crime novel and three spy novels get to be the top response in Google searches? How am I able to get invited to appear on television and radio shows to promote my books? I’m able to do so by knowing how best to promote myself and my books. This workshop will reveal the promotional techniques I use, most of which can be done at absolutely zero cost to you.