Madam’s Creek–a Novel Makes its Debut

For those who enjoy Civil War history, romance, and a tale set in lush mountain settings, a new novel, Madam’s Creek, by Summers County resident (and WV Writers member) Betsy Reeder released mid-October. A launch party has been set for Saturday, November 11, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., at the Summers County Public Library.

Author Donna Meredith gave Madam’s Creek high praise, saying, “In the tradition of New York Times bestseller, Cold Mountain, Reeder delivers a richly satisfying tale set in the hills of what soon would become West Virginia. Madam’s Creek explores the power of love and the sting of betrayal in a land shattered by war. The magnificent landscape of the New River serves as backdrop for the tender love story of Marcus and Maylene, fully human characters sure to win your hearts.”

During the launch party, there will be a brief talk and reading at 1:30 by the author, followed by the opportunity for discussion and purchase of signed books.

Come on out for a celebration of our region, which has often been overlooked in its grit, beauty, and historic significance.

Madam’s Creek is available nationally in bookstores and online retailers as of October 15, 2017. Canterbury House Publishing, ISBN: 978-1-94540100-8, trade soft cover, $14.95.

WV Writers Fall Conference Announced

WV Writers is pleased to announce the return of the one-day WV Writers Fall Conference. Make plans to join us November 4, 2017 at Tamarack, off I77 in Beckley and ‘Fall for Writing.’

Beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing until 5:00 p.m., there will be four workshop time slots with eight workshops from which to select. Those include Playwriting, Plot, Young Adult, Writing for the Periodical Market, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Developing Characters.

Lunch will be on your own, but the food at Tamarack is fabulous! After the workshops, you will have an opportunity to have your book purchases autographed by the presenters.

The cost for the full day of workshops, networking, and honing your craft is only $50 per person for WV Writers' members, and $60 for non-members. You may register online at, you can mail a check or money order to PO Box 212, Scott Depot, WV 25560.  Be sure to include a note with your name and contact information.

WV Writers is excited to return this popular fall workshop to the lineup of events. Don’t miss this chance to charge your writing batteries for your winter of writing ahead!



“Shenandoah River Songfest May, 2012” a poem by Lee Maynard



They came for the music

They were not a collection of strangers

They were not strangers at all,

A small gathering made known to each other

Returning again and again

Over the years

Returning through their love for each other

And by their yearning for the music

And that made them family

Day laborers


Amateur cooks better than any professionals




People who knew how to frame a house

People who knew how to command armies

And did

Soldiers then

Soldiers now

And still others of unknown skill and wisdom

There was no common age

No common dress

No common way of life

No common way of thinking

There was only their common want for the music

And the uncommon current of their laughter

They sat in shade and sun and heat and rain,

Not caring about what was happening in any world

Of their knowing

Except this one



By the river in the sun

For one bright weekend they sat beneath giant trees

Made large by the flow from a crystal river

Made emerald by the sun

They sat on lush grass

Beside babies sleeping on blankets

Cushioned by the beating heart of Earth,

Knowing that all babies, somewhere, sometime,

Should sleep next to the soft pulse of Mother

The rain

Gentle, caressing

And then more insistent,

Drumming softly and rhythmically on the canopies,

The sound an underlying applause beneath the music   Sent from some higher place to please and compliment The musicians

There was no wind, the rain coming straight and true

To the people and the music

As the music came straight and true

The music

The music was clean, clear and cleansing

It stirred the souls of any within hearing

There were no lights, no costumes, no flashes of emptiness    Having nothing to do with music

This was pure music, picked from mystic strings,

Tumbling down into the people as from some garden

Of pure joy

Sung by voices unheard in concert halls

Sung by voices unchanged by any artificial hand of man

The players ended their playing and then sat with the audience

The musicians were the listeners

The listeners were the musicians

There were no opening acts

No stars following

All were stars

All shone

The music began midday,

Ending when sheer exhaustion called a halt

And people dozed against each other's shoulders

But one day was not enough.

Some came early, the night before

More coming each year

Gathering around an open fire

The music coming as it would

The talk filling the open spaces

The last day came and went

And still a tiny group lingered,

The family smaller, now,

Sitting almost quietly in the warmth

Of another bright morning

Unwilling to let it go

Unwilling to let it end

The music

By the river






“The Maynard I Knew” a belated eulogy by Pops Walker


The Maynard I knew was a writer.  And damn, what a voice.  Some folks color outside the lines.  He saw no lines, he simply colored his words as he saw fit.  Some folks think outside the box.  He ignored the box.  Boxes were a form of containment, and he would not be contained.  He refused and disdained chains.

He had the courage to write of ugly truths, hard truths, yet he wrote of them with roughly hewn beauty.  And he might scoff at me for saying so, but he was indeed an artist.  He mixed truth and fiction like no other – you never knew if he wrote of his history, or of his enhanced dreams.  As he succinctly put it, his works were scatter shots.  I would add that his scatter shots were indeed an art form.

On a June day in 2008, we met and ere long were both convinced we’d known one another in former lives.  And we laughed.  Lord, how we laughed that day, and on many occasions since.  Over the years, it became patently obvious to us that one of our many life-roles, was to make the other laugh.

On occasion, we shared stages – him reading from his works, and me playing guitar.  They were precious moments to me, and to him.  He told me so, and I knew from his smiles, that it was so.

We were Gonzo Mountaineers, and between the two of us we shared well over a century of undetected crime.  Outlaw Artists is how we viewed one another, and we took pride in that assessment.  But we laughed at it too.  Neither he nor I took ourselves too seriously.

And it happened that a week or so before he left, we spoke on the phone.  We made each other laugh again, and said to each other, “I love you brother.” And when he passed in the wee hours of a June morning in 2017, my good friend John-Boy and I were on my porch, drunker than Cooter Brown, picking guitars and laughing, unaware of his departure.  I think Lee would have seen our tom-foolery as a fitting tribute.  I’m damn sure he would’ve laughed.

On learning of Lee’s death, a mutual friend concisely concluded “The world just became a less interesting place.”  Truer words were never spoken.

Pops Walker

June 28, 2017

Lee Maynard, R.I.P.

It is with sadness that we at WV Writers report that the writer and infamous WV native son Lee Maynard has passed.  Cat Pleska, former WVW president and good friend of Lee, reports that he died with his son by his side on June 16, in Colorado.

She writes "Lee wanted no memorials, no wakes, no funerals. His family will scatter his ashes in Grand Canyon, a fitting tribute, I think."

Lee is known for his novels in the Crum trilogy.  In recent years, he penned new works Cinco Becknell and Magnetic North, as well as his 2009 memoir in fiction The Pale Light of Sunset: Scattershots and Hallucinations in an Imagined Life.  He was a regular workshop presenter at the WV Writers summer conference.

Lee Maynard, 1936-2017

Certificates are in the mail

For those who placed in the 2017 WV Writers Annual Writing Contest, but who could not attend the banquet, the certificates are officially in the mail as of this morning.

And a big shout out to the Lewisburg Post Office for all their assistance and infinite patience during the entire contest season.

Once again it has been my pleasure to serve as the contest coordinator.

WV Writers Annual Writing Contest Winners List 2017

The winners of the 2017 West Virginia Writers Annual Writing Contest were announced during our Annual Awards Banquet at the WVW Summer Conference, June 10.

You can now download the 2017 WINNERS LIST.

Keep in mind this is the preliminary winners list and does not yet include the winners of the Writers Wall and People's Choice contests from the conference itself.  Check back next-week for those.

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest this year. It was a pleasure to have served as contest coordinator for my fourth year.

--eric fritzius

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!


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