“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 WVWriters.org. 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 WVWriters.org.


Workshop Presenter Bios 2017

The following are bios for the presenters who will be leading workshops at the 2017 West Virginia Writers Summer Conference.

UPDATED 6/7/2017

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 catpleska@aol.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.

Carter Taylor Seaton is the author of the books Hippie Homesteadersamo, amas, amat... an unconventional love story, Father's Trouble$and numerous magazine articles. A ceramic sculptor, she previously directed a rural craft cooperative and was a marketing professional for thirty years. She is the recipient of the 2014 West Virginia Library Association's Literary Merit Award, 2015 Marshall University Distinguished Alumni Award, and the 2016 Governor's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.   

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--in fact, he's a Bram Stoker 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.