WV Writers, Inc. - Established 1977
West Virginia Writers, Inc.
Serving literary interests throughout West Virginia

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Spring Conference

Spring Conference Workshop schedule will be available after May 1st, 2024.

REGISTRATION IS NOW LIVE! The mail-in paper form has all the details regarding pricing for various days and member levels. Please visit https://form.jotform.com/240738325406051 to sign up electronically, or if you want to go old-school and trust the US Postal Service, you can mail that paper form with your payment to the address on it. And make sure to send in the Cedar Lakes Room and Board form (done separately and handled by Cedar Lakes).

Larry Thacker

Bio:  Larry D. Thacker is a Kentuckian writer, artist, educator, and reality actor hailing from Johnson City,  Tennessee. His poetry and fiction can be found in over 200 publications. He has published three fiction collections, four full poetry collections, and two chapbooks. He is a cast member on the new Netflix original series Swap Shop. His MFA in poetry and fiction is earned from West Virginia Wesleyan College. Visit his website at: www.larrydthacker.com
Organize: Go forth and publish! Part of regular publication owes its success to organization. Whether you’re using Submittable and Duotrope, color-coding, theme-specific filing, or random papers scattered all over “Kingdom Come,” we’ll examine what works, what seems like it might (but doesn’t), and what just confuses and costs you time and money. Publication is all about having enough work to put out into the world, knowing what you have in the queue, knowing what you’re working on, tracking, industry awareness, and patience. Let’s talk about all the things!
Macro to Micro Poetics: The world behind the world  From the grand universal, to the microscopic and sub-atomic, poetry derives from all worlds – the seen and unseen, the obvious, the obscure. Maneuvering our minds through these “material levels” can be quite challenging, often forcing us to keep it too simple. Let’s dissect the endlessly varied world around us in the name of poetry!
The Block Buster Grab Bag of Eternal Randomness (Generative)  The day was cold. No, it was 100-degrees. Bill, no, Jackie Ray was at a Grateful Dead concert. No! She and Bill were at a Dairy Queen in West Virginia attending the clown convention, no, the horror con. That’s when the tornado, no, the tremor hit, shaking the town for a whole minute. That’s when the old, forgotten coal mine under the town opened up right down Main Street. Get the picture? (Writer’s) Block Busting is as simple as having random baskets of whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys, and hows from which to choose.


Denton Loving – Saturday Morning Keynote

Bio: Denton Loving is the author of the poetry collections Crimes Against Birds and Tamp. He is a co-founder and an editor at EastOver Press and its literary journal Cutleaf, and he is a poetry mentor in the MTSU Writes program at Middle Tennessee State University. His writing has appeared in numerous publications including Iron Horse Literary Review, Kenyon Review, Tupelo Quarterly, The Chattahoochee Review, Harvard Divinity Bulletin and The Threepenny Review.
Writing Poems about Place - The poet Maurice Manning tells is that every place is a place, and place-poetry is not limited to any certain geography or natural setting. Using various model poems, we'll dive into three of the most common ways writers create a sense of place in poetry.
Ekphrastic Poetry - The term ekphrasis comes to us from the Greek where it means "Description." Most commonly, ekphrastic writing expresses a visual medium in verbal form. In this workshop, we'll look at examples of poetry and short prose that respond to other pieces of art, and we'll practice using art to tap into our own inner resources.
Building Characters from the Bones Up - A character is the person in a narrative such as a novel or short story. Characterization is the process through which an author reveals a character's personality. Building a memorable character is all about characterization. Through a series of interview-style questions, we'll explore ways to get to know your characters, and how to use your characters to propel your narrative.


Cat Pleska

Bio - Cat Pleska, a native West Virginian, is an award-winning author, educator, and storyteller. Her memoir, Riding on Comets was published by West Virginia University Press. Cat edited four anthologies and her stories and essays have appeared in The Appalachian Heritage Anthologies,Still: The Journal, Heartwood Magazine, Change 7 Magazine, Women Speak anthologies, Raw Art Review, and many others. She teaches in Marshall University’s English Department and in the Graduate Humanities Program. Her new memoir, My Life in Water was published Spring 2024 by Uncollected Press.
Tell a Life Story in a Flash! What can you say in 1,000 words, or less, about your life? You’d be surprised! In this workshop, you’ll practice writing short! Let imagery and language carry the load. We’ll begin with a discussion of all the forms of flash nonfiction and how to get started, how to edit for brevity, and then begin a piece that you might be able to send to literary magazines looking for short pieces about your life.
Where Do I Begin? Want to write about your life but you’re not sure where to begin? Come to this workshop to learn about all the forms of memoir, why they matter, what they can offer you as the writer and the reader. You’ll soon find your bearings. And the bonus is you’ll write a MINI memoir in class!
Dadblasted memory! Don’t Fail Me Now! What about the memories trapped in your noggin? How to you jiggle them loose to use them on the page? What are the ways in which you can jump start memories and then how on earth do you learn to trust them to tell a truthful story? We’ll explore our memories and then we’ll put the tips into practice.


Georgann Eubanks

Bio: Georgann Eubanks is the author of five nonfiction books from the University of Norh Carolina Press, along with a new book about Southern roots music, published this year by the Music Maker Foundation. Intermittently, she writes poetry and a blog about Southern foodways. Her forthcoming book from UNC Press later this year celebrates the environmental treasures of our region. Since 2000, Georgann has been a principal with Donna Campbell in Minnow Media , LLC, an Emmy-winning multimedia production company that has produced many public television documentaries. She is also the founding director of the Table Rock Writers Workshop held each August in the Blue Ridge Mountains. https://georganneubanks.net
Write What You Don’t Know - I would characterize the kind of work I do as “documentary writing.” It always involves being willing to admit what I don’t know and going fishing to find out more about a topic without really knowing what I’ll get. Whether by interviews with experts, regular citizens, or from historical figures in a library, discovering a nonfiction story line can be the most fun of all. For me, the narrative arc involves putting my curiosity to work and then bringing readers  along for the ride. What have you always wanted to know more about? What is the story that only you can tell? I’ll talk a bit about my own journey and process and then offer some freewriting prompts to help you generate new ideas for your  writing, whether poetry or prose.
Creating a Nonfiction Book Proposal - Whether you aim to self-publish or find a publisher to take your work, you need to give careful, advanced thought to all the aspects of a book concept that you have in mind (while always leaving room for discovery and surprise in the writing.) Marketing, publicity, and audience development ultimately fall to authors nowadays, especially after the initial push from a book launch. The marketplace is crowded. Booksellers have finite space on their shelves. What will make your work stand out? Who are your prospective readers? How can you be more creative in sharing your book with your intended audience? I’ll walk you through the elements of a strong nonfiction book proposal.
The Art of the Interview - I believe we must treat the stories of others as their most precious asset. This workshop will address how to encourage storytelling from interview subjects and how to give respect and help them feel comfortable. We’ll talk about interview preparation and how to listen well. We’ll also discuss the practical aspects — recording equipment, transcription services, fact-checking, and release forms. Ultimately finding the right “experts” — formal and informal -- and developing relationships can be key to any storytelling project.


Mary Caroll-Hackett – Banquet Keynote

Bio - Mary Carroll-Hackett’s poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous journals including Carolina Quarterly, Superstition Review, and Cultural Weekly, among others. She is the author of eight collections of prose poetry: The Real Politics of Lipstick, Animal Soul, If We Could Know Our Bones, The Night I Heard Everything, Trailer Park Oracle, A Little Blood, A Little Rain, and Death for Beginners. Her chapbook, (Un)Hinged, was released Fall 2019 from Kattywompus Press. Mary founded and teaches in the Creative Writing programs at Longwood University and with the low-residency MFA faculty at West Virginia Wesleyan. Mary is at work on a novel.
Little Bits of Magic: A Workshop in Flash Fiction Flash fiction, those magical little stories short enough to write in a single sitting, but bringing language, character, and movement to the forefront, is both exciting and challenging. In this seminar we’ll explore writing flash fiction, how to deliver plot, character, mood, and epiphany in the most succinct way possible.
Boy Breaking Glass: Poetry as Activism Protest Poetry has played a significant role in historical protest movements, with poets using their words to inspire and mobilize communities. In this workshop we’ll explore four ways to approach writing political, social justice, or protest poetry.
Layering the Narrative: A Cross-Genre Exercise: Regardless of genre, writers often seek ways to reveal the extraordinary in the ordinary. Using some hands-on object play, in this workshop, we’ll explore what it means to discover and layer meaning into our narratives.


Laura Jackson

Bio: Laura Jackson is an environmental writer and humorist. Her work has been published in places like Terrain, Brevity, and Hippocampus, and she writes regularly for Wonderful WV and WV Living Magazines. She works for WVU as a research writer, and her essay collection, Deep & Wild: On Mountains, Opossums, & Finding Your Way in West Virginia will be published by Autumn House Press in October of 2024.
A Walk in the Woods - Finding Inspiration in Nature It's a fact: being outside is good for us. Cedar Lakes is full of quiet, natural places to take a breath and tap into our creativity. We will meet in the dining hall parking lot and meander around the pond, drawing inspiration from the natural world. Bring a notebook, walking shoes, and something to sit on, if you're planning to sit. Those who want to can take a prompt and explore on their own. We'll adjust for inclement weather.
What's So Funny? Everyone likes to laugh! In this session, we'll look at what's funny, why it's funny, and how to insert humor into your narrative, screenplay, and social media postings. We'll learn the rules of humor and when to break them. Whoopee cushions welcome.


Sarah Henning

Bio: Sara Henning is the author of the poetry collections Burn (Southern Illinois University Press, 2024), a 2022 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Editor’s Selection; Terra Incognita (Ohio University Press, 2022), winner of the 2021 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize; and View from True North (Southern Illinois University Press, 2018), winner of the 2017 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award and the 2019 High Plains Book Award. She was awarded the 2019 Poetry Society of America's George Bogin Memorial Award. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at Marshall University, where she coordinates the A.E. Stringer Visiting Writers Series.
Writing Home In the Wizard of Oz, Glinda the Good Witch tells Dorothy she can return home by clicking together the heels of her ruby slippers and repeating the phrase “There’s no place like home.” Some of us spend our lives longing for it, escaping it, hating it, or finding it again. Some of us recreate its boundaries and reinvent its meaning, shaping it into a version that makes sense to us. In this generative workshop, we will write poems that explore the notion of home. While this workshop is designed with poets in mind, it will be very useful to prose writers.
I’m Obsessed: Writing Through the Lens of Your Triggers In “The Triggering Town,” Poet Richard Hugo encourages us to write not only from what we know, but to write from subjects and words which trigger us. According to Hugo, “Your triggering subjects are those that ignite your need for words. When you are honest to your feelings ... Your obsessions lead you to your vocabulary.” In this generative workshop, we will explore how our obsessions can energize our writing. While this workshop is designed with poets in mind, it will be very useful to prose writers.
Playing with Magic: The Power of the Image In The Poet’s Companion, famous poets Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux tell us, “Magic. That’s what an image should do, produce a bit of magic, a reality so real it is ‘like being alive twice’” (86). In this generative workshop, we will focus on the importance of imagery as a craft-based strategy. We will create a little bit of magic of our own by practicing writing images into our own poems. While this workshop is designed with poets in mind, it will be very useful to prose writers.


Val Nieman

Bio - Valerie Nieman’s In the Lonely Backwater won the 2022 Sir Walter Raleigh Award and was a Foreword Reviews finalist for YA literature. Earlier work includes To the Bones, a folk horror/thriller set in West Virginia; Blood Clay (Eric Hoffer Award); three collections of poetry and one of short fiction. Upon the Corner of the Moon: A Tale of the Macbeths will be published in March ’25. A graduate of West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte, she taught at NC A&T State University and has held state and NEA creative writing fellowships.
How Poetry Makes Your Prose Better - It’s one of the first questions a writer is asked: Do you write poetry or prose? Yet this “fault line” between the genres can be and should be crossed. Writing poetry can help you focus your prose writing, trim the excess, emphasize sensory detail, and add specificity. We’ll look at some writers who do both equally well, including Fred Chappell and Raymond Carver, and do an exercise.
People and Landscape: It’s More Than a Backdrop - Ecology is a familiar term we use for the interrelatedness of the natural world, but it extends as well to the lives of people, whether urban, suburban, or rural. We are shaped by our environment and shape it in turn. How can we make sure that our fictional worlds are more than a stage set, but instead provide the air our characters breathe and the dirt under their feet?
Small Press? Academic Press? What to expect if you’re publishing with the dynamic firms that are bringing out some of the best and most innovative work today. How do you approach a small press or academic press, what are the characteristics of a good publishing partner, and what kind of processes should you expect as your work is considered, acquired, edited, and published.


Cole Smith

Bio: Cole Smith is the owner of Cole Smith Writes and Social Media Storyteller LLC. She helps authors and small businesses tell their stories online. She is the author of Waiting for Jacob, Ursula Spark and the Fourth Frankenstein, and Writers Write: a Workbook to Keep You Fierce, Focused, and Moving Forward. Find these books and her blog at ColeSmithWrites.com.
Author’s Online Marketing Toolkit - For aspiring and established authors who'd like to enhance an online presence. Connect more effectively with readers who are looking for your work! Whether you're already established online or have been hesitant to begin, this workshop will help you create a marketing plan that plays to your strengths. We'll discuss: online personas, what's working NOW on social media, how to create content without sacrificing writing time, and more. Digital and hard copy handouts will be provided.


Heather Gilbert

Bio - Summers County native Heather Day Gilbert is an RWA Daphne Award-winning author and 2-time ECPA Christy Award finalist. Her bestselling Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series is set in Lewisburg, WV and has hit numerous Amazon #1 Bestseller lists. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren't afraid to protect those they love. Find out more at heatherdaygilbert.com.
Creating Killer Cozy Mysteries: Should you write cozy mysteries? In this session, we'll discuss what cozies are and how to develop a series that will please this hungry readership.
Becoming an Indie Publisher - Doing It Right: Have you considered independently publishing your book? In this session, we'll discuss motivations for indie publishing, as well as the basics you'll need to master if you decide to go this route.


Lee Martin

Bio - Lee Martin is the author of seven novels, including The Bright Forever, a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. He has also published four memoirs and two short story collections, most recently The Mutual UFO Network, in addition to the craft book, Telling Stories. His most recent book is the historical novel, The Glassmaker’s Wife. He is the winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. He teaches in the MFA Program at The Ohio State University.
Creating Memorable Characters All forms of narrative require some level of skill with characterization. This presentation will consider how to make people, whether real or fictional, come to life on the page. My objective will be to highlight some strategies for making characters vibrant and unforgettable.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy I’m thinking, if you’re like me, you sometimes feel a bit of anxiety, worry, sadness, or downright despair, and you’re ready for more joy. This presentation will help lighten the mood while also making some points about the benefits of letting the light in to the more somber parts of our writing. With examples from both fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, we’ll consider strategies for using sources of light to create more nuanced and deeply felt layers in our work.
The Haunting: Mining Our Obsessions We all have moments from our pasts that haunt us—those moments that just won’t leave us alone. Even when we have no intention of calling them up, there they are, those memories that make us cringe. All writing is an attempt to think more fully about something. This presentation will offer tips for shaping personal experience in a piece of writing, thereby tapping into the emotional resonance and complexity that lingers long after the event itself.


Renee Nicholson

Bio - Renée K. Nicholson is the author of Fierce and Delicate: Essays on Dance and Illness (finalist for the Housatonic Award for Nonfiction), co-editor of the Foreword/Indie award-winning anthology Bodies of Truth: Personal Narratives of Illness, Disability, and Medicine, the poetry collection Roundabout Directions to Lincoln Center, and the forthcoming poetry collection, Postscripts. She is also collaborating with visual artist Sally Jane Brown on an art and poetry book, What We Do In The Hollows. Renée was a past Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State-Altoona, the recipient of the 2018 Susan S. Landis Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts from the West Virginia Division of Arts, Culture, and History, and the 2022 winner for the Prize for Prose from The Nassau Review. Renée directs the Humanities Center at WVU, where she also serves as a member of the WVU Press board.
Finding Your Dream Press: How to Research and Approach Publishers (multi-genre): You’ve put in all the time and creative energy into your work. In this session, you will be guided through the process of finding publishers for your book-length creative project. You will learn how to navigate online resources and how to establish a list of presses. As well, some tips for finding and following guidelines and best practices will be covered. Feel more confident in your ability to find the best home for your work.
Know My (Book's) Name: Press Kits and Publicity for Poets and Writers (multi-genre): You’ve done the toil alone with your words. Maybe you are publishing with a press, or maybe you are indie published. Regardless, all writers must be part of their own publicity and marketing. In this session, you will learn about and start developing work towards key components of your press kit and promotions plan. Learn the parts of the publicity kit, how and where to use it to get reviews, speaking engagements, podcast appearances, and more. I’ll show you the materials and strategies I used to be successful with past books, including twelve appearances in the first four months after publishing my memoir-in-essays, FIERCE AND DELICATE. You’ll walk out feeling more equipped to publicize and market your book and anticipate pitfalls.
Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Landscape of Publishing for Memoir and Narrative Nonfiction (CNF): Creative nonfiction is an umbrella term for many different kinds of work from new journalism, traditional essay, personal essay, memoir, hybrid memoir, lyric essay, and other forms. In this session, get a firmer grip on the landscape and choices for the nonfiction writer, and understand better where to place work in this ever-evolving genre.


Kara Starcher

Bio: Kara Starcher is a writer, professional editor, and book designer with words running deep in her veins. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Publishing and is the author of From Draft to Book: A Guide to Self-publishing. She thinks sunsets are better than sunrises and tea is better than coffee. When not reading or writing, she enjoys traveling, especially to seaside villages, but nothing is like coming home to the hills of rural Calhoun County, WV. Her home is never dull with her husband, three daughters (including identical twins), two cats, and two dogs.
Self-Publishing 101 Does self-publishing seem confusing or overwhelming? Do you wonder what the best practices are? In this workshop, learn the basics plus the ins and outs involved with self-publishing. Pick up some tips and tricks from Kara who, over the past decade, has helped dozens of authors successfully navigate self-publishing. She’ll cover topics like book printing options, freelance contracts, copyright registration, free vs paid ISBNs, and more.
Which Book Design Software Should I Use? If you are not hiring a book designer / formatter to create your book, how do you choose what software to use? Kara will walk you through some of the popular software programs used by other authors and designers. Make an informed decision about which one(s) will work for you after watching these demonstrations. Software demonstrations will include Vellum, Atticus, Adobe InDesign, and Scrivener plus others.


Kate Long

Bio: Kate Long is a Fayette County native and director of Voices of WV. She worked as a traveling writing coach and newspaper reporter for 34 years and was a contract producer for West Virginia Public Radio for more than 20 years, focusing on WV writers. She taught creative writing at The Governor’s School for the Arts for six years and published one book with Houghton Mifflin. Her songwriting, creative writing, and radio production have all won national awards.
Voices of West Virginia: Helping Torpedo Stereotypes: Voices of West Virginia is a website - www.voicesofwv.org - with Facebook/Instagram pages, dedicated to spreading proof that this state produces dynamite writers. The project includes audio conversations with 14 great WV writers and scores of related writing exercises. You’ll come away from this session with ideas about ways you can use Voices for writing workshops, inspiration and improving your own writing. You’ll have a chance to help brainstorm future directions for this project.



Panel Presentation #1: Publishing Options - discussing what an author's options are/aren’t/should be.

Panelists: Cat Pleska, Heather Day Gilbert, Val Neiman, Kara Starcher


Panel Presentation #2: Confronting Imposter Syndrome: What It Is, Who It Affects, and Ways for Writers to Combat It

Panelists: Chrissie Anderson Peters, Sharon Waters, Sharon Shadrick
Imposter syndrome is a mental condition that affects many people across many disciplines. Imposter syndrome can impact anyone at any time, but high-achieving individuals – like many writers – are at risk. A discussion on what writer imposter syndrome is, some accomplished writers who faced it and their experiences, who might be at greater risk, and what can be done about it. Defining imposter syndrome in the writing community, identifying the five main manifestations of the syndrome, and learning over a dozen practical ways in which it can be combated by writers. Leave the session firm in the knowledge you have great worth and value as a writer.

Chrissie Anderson Peters holds a BA in English/Education and a Master of Science in Information Sciences. Her writing has been featured in Still: The Journal, Women of Appalachia Project, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Mildred Haun Review, Clinch Mountain Review, and Salvation South. She has work in Howling Hills Publishing’s 23 Tales: Appalachian Ghost Stories, Legends, and Other Mysteries. She is currently working on a memoir surrounding a 28-day excursion to the UK/Europe and a lifetime dedication to 80’s phenom rock band Duran Duran.



Sharon Shadrick holds degrees in Middle Grades Education and Information Systems. She taught English and Writing Lab for twenty years in Tennessee before she retired in 2022. Sharon recently had two poems selected by the Women of Appalachia Project scheduled for publication in their 2024 15th anniversary anthology, Women Speak. She is currently working on a memoir and completing the final touches on a co-written nonfiction book, The Power of a Paper Clip.





Sharon Waters holds a master's degree in Counselor Education and Student Services, an MFA in Creative Writing, and a Master of Divinity degree. For thirty-four years, she has taught on mental health issues in classrooms, for organizations, and in churches. Sharon has a play published in 30 Short Plays for Passionate Actors, published by All Original Plays, and has been published in Longridge Review. She has won contests in Emerging Prose and Poetry through West Virginia Writers, Inc. Sharon is currently working on a memoir and a novel.






M. Lynne Squires

Bio: M. Lynne Squires is an Urban Appalachian fiction crafter, essayist, and occasional poet. She has penned four books, and her work has appeared in numerous journals, including Change Seven, The Stoneslide Corrective, and The Ekphrastic Review, as well as multiple anthologies, including three volumes of the Anthology of Appalachian Writers (Shepard University and the WV Center for the Book 2018, 2021, 2022) and Fearless: Women's Journeys to Self-Empowerment (Mountain State Press 2019). She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and is the 2020 Pearl S. Buck Writing for Social Change Award recipient. Connect with her at www.mlynne.com.
What Authors Don’t Want to Think About But Probably Should - How do you stop your work from being mined for AI content? When you’re no longer on this side of the grass, how do you keep your work alive? What happens if Amazon closes your author account (YIKES!)? How can you recognize publishing scams or shady publisher deals? Join us to unpack these topics and maybe some of your own.