Workshops for 2017 Summer Conference

Below are descriptions of the workshops for the 2017 Summer Conference.  This is the initial release.  More workshops will be added as the conference approaches.   Keep an eye out to this page for further updates.

UPDATED 5/26/2017

Beyond Show and Tell: Reflection  (Belinda Anderson) -  Show, don’t tell. That’s something that writing teachers preach incessantly, meaning the writer should go beyond telling that the cat was nasty and instead describing its nicked ears and its habit of sharpening claws on exposed flesh.  However, reflection is a little different from telling. Reflection can enrich your writing, creating an additional, deeper connection with the reader.  Join Belinda as she shares examples and techniques to guide you Beyond Show and Tell.

We regret that Laura Treacy Bentley's workshop PAGE TO STAGE will not take place.  Page to Stage: The Last Poem (Advanced Poetry Workshop for up to 15 students) (Laura Treacy Bentley) –  The power of poetry is our focus. Students will bring fifteen copies of one powerful poem to read aloud that is one page or less long. Every student will receive 15 different poems to read and keep. Students will write a draft of a brand-new poem on Saturday and meet again in late afternoon to refine and polish it in small critique groups. Saturday evening they will read their new poem on the Assembly Hall stage before an audience.

Creating Graphic Narrative (Daniel Boyd) - Most writers transition from comics to film, but Danny Boyd did the reverse, finding writing graphic novels a faster way to create much bigger stories on significantly smaller budgets. Approaching the graphic novel as "cinema on the page," he will cover the basic components of graphic narrative creation/construction, and present a general overview of this growing medium within the art, literature and film world. Formatting styles and available writing software will also be dis¬cussed.

Building Blocks of Good Stories (Daniel Boyd) - This workshop will focus on the basic building blocks used to develop and construct stories primarily for cinema and graphic novels but really relevant to any storytelling writing. Unlike some writing approaches, screen and graphic writing generally demand having an ending before you start, and then building backward from there. In this workshop Boyd will identify and explore the primary story elements, i.e., character, backstory, commitment, opposition, situations (scenes), settings (environment), etc. For Boyd, whether it’s writing for film, comics, and now even musical theater, the planning is the most important. "Is all in the pre-pro," he says. Formatting styles and available writing software will also be dis¬cussed, but like most entertainment writing, it’s all about the story.

Conspiracy (Crystal Good) - Why do we love the idea that people might be secretly working together to control and organize the world? Because we don’t like to face the fact that our world runs on a combination of chaos, incompetence and confusion.” ― Jonathan Cainer.   Crystal Good, a not so secret agent of progress for West Virginia and author of Valley Girl her debut collection of poetry will lead a West Virginia Writers Workshop titled: Conspiracy All genres are welcome and encouraged. The workshop will open with a facilitated discussion followed by a series of writing prompts. Some prompts may require access to audio - please bring a pair of headphones. Participants are also asked to bring an 1-2 examples of a “real”  “West Virginia conspiracy theory”.

Writing and Publishing Children's Books (Marc Harshman) - In this workshop, Mr. Harshman will survey his own experiences in the area of children’s book publishing and how it has changed over the past thirty years. He will discuss professional organizations, agents and editors, critique groups, library, bookstore and online resources, as well as practical advice concerning manuscript preparation, audience, character, narrative tension, and picture book visualization. He will also briefly examine the influence of both children and storytelling upon his writing. There will be ample time given over for questions from the attendees. Beginner to Intermediate Level.

Poetry in Prose: Mini-Lecture, Readings, and Workshop (Marc Harshman) - This program will include a mini-lecture, readings, and a workshop concerning the writing of prose poetry, flash fiction, and related condensed forms of poetic prose. Readings will include James Wright, Jean Follain, Jayne Anne Phillips and several others. It is intended that this session will provide not only a definition for and an introduction to the various types of prose poetry and flash fiction, but will inspire attendees to create their own short works of condensed prose. Suitable for beginning writers and others.

Poetry Workshop with Kirk Judd  (Kirk Judd) One of the original founders of West Virginia Writers, Inc. and Allegheny Echoes will teach a workshop on poetry.  (Full details to be revealed online.)

Spoken Word Poetry Workshop with Kirk Judd  (Kirk Judd) One of the original founders of West Virginia Writers, Inc., teaches the art of spoken word performance poetry.  (Full details to be revealed online.)

Showing Vs. Telling (Michael Knost) - 90 percent of all students who have taken this workshop gave an incorrect answer when (at the beginning of the class) I presented them with a sentence and asked if it was a SHOWING sentence or a TELLING sentence. Showing vs telling can be confusing on a number of levels, but this workshop will have you (just as every former student) walking away without a doubt concerning which is which, and how to better utilize both in your writing. We will use a fun visual aid that will make it so easy to understand.

Relational Influence (Michael Knost) - So often we create a beautiful backdrop in our story, as well as well developed characters, but for some reason they feel like a badly Photoshopped image when we put them together—and the result is nothing appears normal. And this causes everything to appear fake and cheap. This workshop will give us two different approaches to prevent this from happening in our stories. A great tool to learn when writing fiction or non-fiction, genre or literary, children or adult, etc., this workshop will help you pull everything together beautifully.

Technical Imagination: Self Editing and Deep Revision (8 Steps) Workshop (George Lies)  - This will go beyond the typical writing advice of "show, don't tell'. The material will draw on extensive editing and critique experience and moderating of Critique Workshops for short stories, novel chapters and non-fiction work. This will focus on a writer's technical imagination in revision of work, through careful editing, writing deeper, and maintaining the tone of story telling.  The 8 Steps include a) how a consistent point of view can style lengthy, run-on sentences; b) how pressuring narrative text can lead to deep writing; c) how a scene can come alive, using small setting detail and character actions; and d) how tweaks in dialogue or behavior will improve characterization.  The attendees will learn ways to critique or revise their own first or second drafts, as well as self-edit a story or chapter. There will be handouts, one for revision; one for 6 Short Story markets.

Pedagogy and spoken word (Joe Limer) How to get high school and college students to write to their truth and share it in class.

How to turn your poem alive with spoken word (Joe Limer)  Give poetry writers techniques on how to turn poetry readings alive.

The Heroine's Journey in Literature: How We Got From Elizabeth Bennett to Lizbeth Salander  (Donna Meredith) Women travel down different roads than men and fight different dragons. This workshop looks at the female journey in detail, including the major plot points in shaping a novel with a female protagonist. The workshop examines traits of traditional and modern female characters, using examples from novels and movies in a PowerPoint presentation with handouts. It translates the work of Joseph Campbell into the realm of females.

The Power of Place in Appalachia (Donna Meredith)The setting of a story acts as a crucible that unites characters and conflict. The workshop will give you tools to harness the power of place to fully flesh out authentic, believable characters. We explore making full use of locale, language, historical era, time, weather, season, natural light, and the “Third Element.” Using examples from dozens of West Virginia authors like Keith Maillard, Ann Pancake, Matthew Neill Null, and Meredith Sue Willis, we will consider characters who are in harmony and those who are in conflict with their setting, with special consideration of that love/hate relationship people in Appalachia often have with the land. PowerPoint presentation with handouts.

Jazz Up Your Nonfiction with Fiction Techniques (Donna Meredith) – Are you worried your nonfiction and memoir manuscript reads like a textbook instead of hooking readers? Punch it up a notch with creative nonfiction techniques. This workshop can help you distinguish between creatively presenting the truth and writing fiction. We’ll examine the difference between the retrospective narrator and the protagonist, and the proper use of scenes and frames in nonfiction and memoir. Though truthful, these genres can benefit from the same key techniques as any good story—hooks, characters, and scenes—but with caveats.  Learn many additional techniques to enliven your nonfiction so you never sound like a boring textbook again. PowerPoint presentation with handouts.

Structure and Narrative Tension (Eliot Parker) – despite the genre, readers expect longer works of prose to be complete, with an appropriate beginning, middle, and end. In addition, readers need to feel a sense of tension that exists between the main character(s) and the plot device(s) put forth by the writer. Utilizing a variety of classical and contemporary frameworks of storytelling and tension in story, this workshop will examine ways that writers can develop a complete and satisfying balance of structure in their writing, along with enough appropriate tension to keep the readers engaged from beginning to end. A mix of short workshop writings will allow attendees a chance to develop and improve structure and tension.

Creating a compelling "Bad Guy" readers love to hate (Eliot Parker) –  In mystery and thriller writing, the protagonist (a detective, private investigator, federal agent, average citizen, etc) is often pitted against an antagonist whose motives are heinous The reader follows the narrative with great interest, waiting for the moment when the protagonist and the antagonist will have their final confrontation.  Readers expect the protagonist to be an interesting, flawed character who experiences "raised stakes" on their way to solving the mystery. However, readers also expect the antagonist to be equally complex, with flaws and motivations in direct opposition to those of the protagonist. Writers often spend a great deal of time developing the protagonist, but how can that same attention be given to creating a complex villain that readers are going to "love to hate?" This workshop examines strategies and techniques that mystery/thriller writers can use to creating a complex, interesting, and passionate villain that will be worthy of challenging the protagonist physically and/or emotionally.

To Thine Own Selfie Be True (Cat Pleska) - It’s who we are now: the self-referenced, the well-documented, well, self. We take photos with our phones at every instant, whether anything’s happening or not. So, why not make it a reason to write about yourself or something else in the photo—the possibilities are endless and you’ll be prompted with plenty of ideas. It’s a good time to describe, to observe, to create a story, to polish a thought, to let yourself behave in some new way, to imagine. Come to this class for fun and for expression and to shape a story of, what else! The self. (No smart phone? Not to worry—we’ll help you out with that).

Your Big Idea (Sheila Redling) – You have an idea for a story. Is it enough for a book? Has it been done? Is it a cliché? Will you ever have another idea? In this workshop, we’ll discuss how to turn ideas into stories, how to shake up expectations, and how to keep fresh ideas raining down on you from one story to the next. From tweaking genre promises to pulling off a great twist, learn to get your big ideas onto the page.

Editing and Feedback (Sheila Redling) – You’ve finished your book! Congratulations! Now get your red pencils out and whip that beast into shape. Good writing is rewriting and in this workshop, we’ll cover the different levels of editing required to turn a good story into a great book, as well as what to expect from professional editors. We’ll also discuss the most effective way to give and receive feedback. No soul crushing allowed!

Make non-fiction/biography/memoir compelling (Carter Taylor Seaton) - We will talk about how to make your non-fiction/biography/memoir as exciting as any novel. We’ll explore developing the story line, the setting, the background and how to put it into context – historically, topically or geographically. We’ll discuss structure, and the use of flashbacks or flash-forwards, memory, and internal monologue. We’ll discuss how to add validation to memories and family stories, explore what sources are available and offer tips on how to find them.

Role of Research in Writing (Carter Taylor Seaton) - A deeper discussion on the types of sources, where to go for what, the value of first hand interviews, personal observations, how to credit sources, when and whether to do so, how to blend historical facts into your non-fiction writing.

Don’t Be a Social Media Virgin (M. Lynne Squires)Objective: Learning to create an author presence for those with little or no social media experience. What is Social Media and Why Utilize It?  Reviewing the Most Common Platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat.  Author Platforms - Amazon, Goodreads and personal websites.  Choosing the Right Platforms

Introduction to Social Media Marketing (M. Lynne Squires) Objective: Learning to promote yourself as an author through social media.  Developing a social media calendar.  Building a team. Paid social media advertising – yes or no?

Putting a Positive Spin on Rejection  (Larry Schardt) – Propel Your Writing and Yourself into Success That Rocks! A writer’s work is on the line for criticism or rejection or both. When rejected you may be tempted to toss your computer off a cliff, watch your hard work smash into tiny shards on the rocks below, crawl in a cave, and sink into the gloomy dungeon of self-pity. Escape from the dungeon and explore rejection from a different perspective so you can grow, persist, and flourish. In this workshop, you will learn the secrets of becoming a victor instead of a victim, making happiness a habit, and overcoming the diseases of cynicism, negaholism, and blame. You will also learn the secrets of enjoying “Success That Rocks.”

Powerful Tools to Enhance Your Writing Success and Rock Your Life (Larry Schardt) – Suffer from writer’s block, overwhelm, lack of focus, stalled creativity, anxiety . . . ? Yikes! In this workshop, Dr. Larry “Rock ’n’ Roll” Schardt shares ways to blast through these maladies and empower your writing, and your life. From daily routines, to mindfulness, to programs, to conferences, to potent psychological tools, and beyond, Larry shares secrets to improve your life and enhance your creativity. Supercharge your mindset, and your writing, with tools to help you reach your maximum potential.

Blogging 101 (Diane Tarantini) – In the increasingly crowded world of writing, “platform” is becoming more and more important for nonfiction and fiction writers alike. One of the easiest ways to start building a platform is to begin blogging. In this workshop, we will discuss who should blog and why, as well as how to get started. If all goes well, each participant will leave with some or all of the following: a blog name, a brand message, a tagline, and ten possible blog post ideas.

The 10 Commandments of Faith-Based Writing (Diane Tarantini) – Do you feel called to faith-based writing—fiction or nonfiction—but aren’t sure how to get started? Come learn the ten commandments of writing from a Christian worldview. In addition, we will also discuss associated writing opportunities, an extensive list of useful resources, and of course, craft.

Details, Details, Details (Sandy Tritt) – This workshop shows how to bring your prose to life by adding in the right kind of detail at the right place and the right time—and in the right amount. It’s often the little things that make a big difference in the effectiveness of your fiction. We’ll discuss sprinkling setting throughout, describing characters, and using all the senses to create memorable scenes.

Who’s your narrator? (Sandy Tritt) —  In this workshop, we will discuss what/who a narrator is, how to choose a narrator, and how to effectively control narrative distance--the amount of intimacy between the narrator and the reader.

Level Up (Tim Waggoner) - How do you go from an “okay” writer to a published one? This workshop will provide an overview of how to take your fiction to the next level and create stories that are vivid, original, gripping, and entertaining.

Multi-Level Fiction Writing (Tim Waggoner) - Learn specific techniques for constructing multi-layered, richly textured scenes to create a deeply immersive reading experience for your audience.

Get Out of Your Head and Into Nature (Michele Zirkle Marcum ) – Be prepared to hug a tree or two. This is a funshop; not a workshop. Words will flow as we enter imaginary worlds with the help of the spirit of Nature. This is the homeopathic cure for not only those with common writer’s block, but those who have misplaced their inspiration for writing.   Our head analyses the logistical progression of a story, but our heart creates the characters, the feel of the fabric they wear, the dynamics of relationship. Find out if fear is blocking your heart chakra and thus the inspiration that spurs the writing genius. Learn how to clear your fears and open the sluices of the Divine story-teller inside of you.



T.W. McNemar Scholarship 2017

Terry McNemar, a long time member and former president of West Virginia Writers, Inc., passed away in 2015. He was a guiding light for the organization for many years, remembered for his generous spirit and his humor.  He worked diligently both behind the scenes and on the stage of the board of directors itself to help keep the organization healthy and to help bring writers from our state and region into the fold. This was one of his passions. Many of our current members can cite Terry’s influence on them in making the decision to come to the conference for the first time, not to mention continuing on the path toward improving their writing.

During his time as president, Terry frequently arranged scholarships and internships for those who could not afford to come to the conference. In his absence, Terry’s family has requested that West Virginia Writers continue his legacy in this by establishing an annual scholarship fund in his name.

The T.W. McNemar Scholarship is open to writers and aspiring writers who wish to improve their craft through the workshops offered at our annual summer conference, but who may not be able to afford to otherwise attend. The scholarship will include waived conference fees for the recipient(s), as well as room and meals paid for in full during the three day conference. This will be a continuing fund, open to recipients each year. The process for applying includes a form application, found here at our website, which will also include an essay portion. The one page (or more) essay is intended to explain why the applicant would like to attend the conference, what their financial needs are, and what it would mean for them to have this opportunity. As a bonus, we ask that applicants include their favorite joke (dirty or clean) as Terry always liked a great joke. (The quality of the joke will not be a determining factor in awarding the scholarships; we just think Terry would have found it funny.)

Scholarships will be awarded based on need, quality of essay, and number of submissions received. Scholarship awards will be announced via email and/or telephone by Sunday, April 30, 2017.

Interested applicants may submit the application form and requested essay by Saturday, April 1, 2017.


They can be submitted by email to: 

Or by U.S. Mail to

TW McNemar Scholarship
c/o Eric Fritzius
231 Lookout Lane
Lewisburg, WV 24901


March 2, 2017 – West Virginia Writers, Inc., is entering into the home stretch for the annual writing competitions it sponsors, offering over $6000 in cash prizes.  Submissions are accepted from January 2 through March 15 each year, which means there are only days left to get entries in without a late fee.

Since 1982, WV Writers has held an annual writing contest for adults, accepting original, unpublished entries in a variety of themed writing categories.  Traditional categories for the contest include: Children’s Books, Short Story, Short Nonfiction, Short Poetry, Long Poetry, Appalachian Writing, Book Length Prose/Young Adult, and the Emerging Writers categories for prose and poetry, for writers who have not previously won a cash prize in the WV Writers contest.  But there are other categories to be found.

For the first time, the contest is featuring a category called Short Plays, accepting stage play scripts of a length of 15 minutes or fewer.  The short play—particularly the ten minute play—has become a popular form across the world, due to the ability of theatres to showcase several in a single evening.  Their limitations can make them challenging to write, which was what inspired West Virginia Writers to feature the form as a category in this year’s contest.

A returning category not featured since 2013 is Inspirational Writing.  This category accepts poetry or prose or a spiritual nature.  Such writing could take the form of faith-based fiction, non-fiction essay, or poetry, provided the writing is designed to inspire.

For the past six years, WV Writers has featured a special category called the Pearl S. Buck Award for Writing for Social Change.  This category seeks prose and poetry submissions on the theme of encouraging positive change in culture and society.  The category is sponsored by the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation in Hillsboro, and is inspired by Buck’s tradition of writing with the intent of bringing about social change.

And this year West Virginia Writers is offering a specialty topic category called The Flood, which is intended for prose or poetry inspired by the historic flooding that devastated over 1200 homes in West Virginia this past summer.  The writing can also be about floods in other states, or flood as a concept, but it was inspired by the tragedy so many experienced in our state.  There are thousands of stories that could be told that came from the flood and West Virginia Writers wants to encourage those stories to be recorded.

The adult writing contest is open to all residents of West Virginia as well as to any out-of-state member of WV Writers, Inc.  There is a $10 fee for each adult contest entry, and a $12 fee for the book-length category.  After the March 15 deadline, submissions can still be sent through March 31, but will require a $2 per entry late fee.  It’s best to get entries in by the March 15 deadline.  Prize amounts for the adult contest include $250 for 1st Place, $125 for 2nd Place and $75 for 3rd Place.

For students in grades 1-12, WV Writers offers a separate contest called The New Mountain Voices Student Writing Contest.  There are six suggested writing topics for this contest, but students are welcome to make up their own story or poem.   The New Mountain Voices Student Contest is free to enter and is only open to student residents of West Virginia.  Prize amounts for the student contest are $100 for 1st Place, $50 for 2nd Place and $25 for 3rd Place.  Winners will be announced June 10, 2017 in an awards ceremony during West Virginia Writers Annual Writers Conference, held at Cedar Lakes Conference Center in Ripley, W.Va.  All winners, including honorable mentions, will receive certificates suitable for framing.  Entries submitted after March 15 will require a $1 per entry late fee.

For official contest entry forms, contest rules, the Frequently Asked Questions List concerning the contest, bios for the 2017 contest judges, and a contest checklist for entering, please visit the contest webpage at  Or email contest coordinator, Eric Fritzius, at

West Virginia Writers, the largest writers’ organization in the state celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year.


WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: New Mountain Voices – High School


Natalie Sypolt

's work has appeared in Glimmer Train, Appalachian Heritage, Willow Springs Review, and The Kenyon Review Online, among other publications. Natalie is the winner of the Glimmer Train New Writers Contest, the Betty Gabehart Prize, and Still: The Journal’s fiction competition. She is also an active book reviewer whose work has appeared in Los Angeles Review, Fjords Review, Paste, Shenandoah, Harpur Palate, and Mid American Review. Additionally, Natalie serves as a literary editor for the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, is on the selection committee for the prestigious Weatherford Award in Fiction, is the High School Workshop Coordinator for the West Virginia Writers Workshop at West Virginia University, and is co-host of SummerBooks: A literary podcast. Natalie currently works as an Assistant Professor at Pierpont Community & Technical College.

WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: New Mountain Voices – Middle School


Pam Hanson

, a former reporter and West Virginia University journalism instructor, is the co-author (with her mother/writing partner Barbara Andrews) of more than 50 novels including romance, inspirational women’s fiction, and mystery for Harlequin and Guideposts. In addition, she and her partner have several indie inspirational romances available for Kindle on Amazon. She has been a workshop presenter for Romance Writers of America, West Virginia Writers, and Appalachian Studies Association. Teaching freshmen composition at the University of Nebraska at Kearney is her new passion. Pam, a past recipient of the JUG Award, has lived in Nebraska since 2008 where she writes when she’s not procrastinating on Facebook:

WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: New Mountain Voices – Elementary


Rene K. Nicholson

splits her artistic pursuits between writing and dance. She is Assistant Professor in the Multidisciplinary Studies Program at West Virginia University.
Renée studied English at Butler University, and holds a MFA in Creative Writing from West Virginia University where she won the Rebecca Mason Perry Award for Outstanding First-Year MFA Student and the Russ MacDonald Prize for Graduate Writing, Fiction. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Chelsea, Mid-American Review, Perigee: A Journal of the Arts, Paste, Poets & Writers, Crosstimbers, Naugatuck River Review, Honey Land Review, Dossier, Stymie, ABZ, Prime Number, Blue Lyra Review, Switchback, Fiction Writers Review, Moon City Review, Redux, Cleaver Magazine, Barely South Review, Saw Palm, Bluestem, The Superstition Review, The Gettysburg Review and elsewhere. Her work has been included in the anthologies Not A Muse, A Generation Defining Itself, and in Keeping Track: Fiction of Lists from Main Street Rag. She has served as Assistant to the Director of the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop since 2007, serves on the book reviews staff at Los Angeles Review, and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She co-hosts the literary podcast, SummerBooks and co-founded the journal Souvenir. Her collection of poems, Roundabout Directions to Lincoln Center, was published in 2014 in the Crossroads Poetry Series at Urban Farmhouse Press.

In 2011, Renée was the Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona.

WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: Short Story


Sandra Vrana received her PhD in Literature and Cultural Criticism from Indiana University of PA in 1995. She taught classes at IUP while a graduate student there, and then she taught a variety of literature and composition classes, including creative writing, at Alderson Broaddus University from 1993 until her retirement in May of 2016.

She was a member of Barbour County Writers all of the years she lived in West Virginia, and she was honored to be a part of that very talented group.

She was a member of West Virginia Writers, and she participated both as a presenter and as a contestant at writing conferences there. She believes West Virginia Writers is an invaluable asset to writers in the state, providing important instruction and showcasing and acknowledging the wonderful work of contestants in its annual writing awards.

She now resides in Pennsylvania.

WVW Contest Judge Spotlight: Short Stageplays

Suehyla El Attar


Suehyla El-Attar is an actor/writer/director/dramaturge based in the Atlanta area. For just over 10 years, she’s worked on most of the stages in Atlanta, including but not limited to: The Alliance Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Synchronicity Theatre, 7 Stages, Dad’s Garage, Georgia Ensemble and Essential Theatre; receiving multiple Suzi Bass Award nominations and a win for her performances. Since 2009, she’s delved into film and television hoping to create a legacy as a one-line actor and eventually evolve into ’that actor, what’s her name? She’s always like in one scene with one line’. As a writer, her work has premiered at Horizon Theatre (The Perfect Prayer; Third Country) and 7 Stages (The Doctor, The Devil, & My Dad). Her TYA scripts (Fishbowl; Desperadoes; The Devil’s Blues) were commissioned and produced by local high schools. She is a recipient of the Mississippi Theatre Association Playwright award (2011) and Gene Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award (2014). In the very active and growing-like-kudzu literary scene in Atlanta, she’s dominated the Write Club stage with 5 hard-earned wins and 2 very-much deserved losses; you can hear all of them on the WriteClubAtl podcast. She’s a former Alliance Theatre Artistic Fellow (2014) of directing and has worked with The Process Theatre on her directorial debut: Die Mommie Die (2015), The Tribute Artist (2016). During the inaugural year of the Ethel Woolson Lab, she served as the resident dramaturge for Working Title Playwrights. This year, she continues to audition for film/tv, is the dramaturge on The Alliance Theatre’s TYA production of SLUR written by Greg Shagnon), will unveil her new stage play ( at 7 Stages Homebrew Series, continue to develop her nearly-one woman show (Nope. That’s Just My First Name), and indulge in Netflix, highpointing, and hiking with her guy and their two cats. (Except they won’t bring the cats on the highpoint and hiking trips. That seems like a really bad idea.)

Happy Birthday!

Today, February 26, 2017, marks the 40th birthday of West Virginia Writers, Inc.

West Virginia Writers

A Brief History

(By Mike Pauley, originally published in Catching the Crow,

 the first WV Writers anthology in 1982.)


West Virginia Writers began at a meeting in February 1977 at the Cultural Center in Charleston.  The meeting was called by James B. Andrews, Director of Arts & Humanities, W.Va. Department of Culture and History of the State of West Virginia, after Mr. Andrews had received numerous suggestions that such a group needed to organize.  About 25 people attended, including Shirley Campbell, Jim Comstock (editor of W. Va. Hillbilly), poet-historian Doris Miller, poet Kirk Judd, poet Lyle Parkins, Michael Pauley (president of the Appalachian Literary League), Pat Love (co-editor of The Illustrated Appalachian Intelligencer), Helen Carper, Dolly Withrow, Dr. William Plumley, poet Jane Somerville, poet Bonnie McKeown, and others.  At this meeting a committee was formed to further investigate the possibilities of forming a permanent organization.

The West Virginia Writers Committee, chaired by Shirley Young Campbell, met several times during the following months, enlisted further support, compiled mailing lists, etc., and in April 1977 incorporated as West Virginia Writers, Inc.  The first officers were president, Dr. William Plumley; vice president, Lawrence Levy; treasurer, Helen Carper; and secretary, Shirley Young Campbell.  A constitution and by-laws were drawn up and adopted.

In June 1977 the organization held its first constitutionally mandated business meeting (officers to be elected from July 1 to July 1) at the Cultural Center.  At this meeting it was decided to hold a state-wide Writers Conference the following year.  Officers for 1977-78 were elected as follows:  president, Dr. William Plumley; vice president, Michael J. Pauley; treasurer, Betty MacQueen, secretary, Julia Canady.

The first W.Va. Writers Conference was held in June 1978 at the Cultural Center in Charleston and was an overwhelming success.  Nearly 200 writers from all over the state attended the three-day affair, and there was much excitement and comraderie in the air.

Since 1978, West Virginia Writers has held a conference every year and continues to grow in membership and activity.

Regional literary magazines and publishers have had great input into the organization and have allowed for the wide publication of members’ works.  New books have been published due the influence of WVW and, most importantly, WVW has served to bring many writers, editors, publishers, critics, etc., from all over West Virginia and the region together.

In 1981-82 WVW sponsored its first state-wide Writers Awards Program, as well as the first state-wide Poetry Contest.  Altogether, nearly 1300 individuals entered both contests and over $6,000 in award money was distributed by WVW.

In addition to the annual conferences and to the awards contests, West Virginia Writers was the leading force in bringing about the “Poet’s Corner” program done by the W.Va. Dept. of Culture and History.  During the Poet’s Corner series, which spanned 1979-1981, over 100 West Virginia poets read their works at the Cultural Center in Charleston and were paid substantial honoraria, plus expenses, for doing so.

WVW also sponsored and administered the one-year residency of famed native author Davis Grubb during 1987-79, sponsoring his many readings and talks throughout the state during that period. WVW has promoted regional meetings and gathers of writers from around the state.