The following are bios for the presenters who will be leading workshops at the 2017 West Virginia Writers Summer Conference.
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. www.lauratreacybentley.com
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 www.MichaelKnost.com.
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 http://www.youtube.com/armstrongonewire/chapters. 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 email@example.com. Her website is catpleska.com.
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.
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 www.mlynne.com.
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 graceandsuch.com … 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. WWW.InspirationForWriters.com provides encouragement, writing craft tips, and inspiring success stories. Additionally, Inspiration for Writers, Inc., publishes a weekly blog article at http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ 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 IFWeditors@gmail.com. Sandy loves giving workshops. Invite her to speak to your local writing group.
Tim Waggoner is an 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 www.timwaggoner.com.
Michele Savaunah Zirkle Marcum is a weekly columnist for Ohio Valley Publishing and The Portsmouth Times in addition to hosting Life Speaks at www.ontheairadio.com. 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 www.michelezirkle.com.