Fall Conference 2020: Presenters and Workshops

The following are the presenters and workshops for the 2020 West Virginia Writers Virtual Fall Conference, November 14 and 15.

Note: A lunch break is scheduled Saturday from 11:45am until 1:00pm so we can troubleshoot any inevitable tech issues (and so you can eat). Sessions are running consecutively instead of concurrently so everyone can attend all of them. No session is planned for Sunday morning.

Please - fill out this form to let us know you're attending. Information about the conference will be sent to the email address you provide.


Saturday, November 14 - 10:30am - 11:45am

What Work Is” by Valerie Nieman – Work provides “our daily bread,” but also shapes the substance of our lives, whether that work takes place in the home, in the shop or mill, on the farm or behind a desk. In this workshop for both poetry and prose we will look at ways to tap into the history and culture of work. A writing exercise will stimulate memory and imagination. Participants are asked to bring photographs of a family member or friend at work, as well as a tool or some other memento of the workplace.

Valerie Nieman is the author of four novels: To the Bones, released in June 2019; Blood Clay, a novel of the New South, which was honored with the Eric Hoffer Prize in General Fiction; Survivors, a novel about the Rust Belt of the 1970s, and her first book, Neena Gathering, reissued in 2012 as a classic in the post-apocalyptic genre. Another novel is now in submission, and she is at work on a narrative based on a month hiking solo in Scotland.



Saturday, November 14 - 1:00pm - 2:15pm

Prose Poems, Lined Poems, and What We Mean by ‘Poetic’” by Dr. Edwina Pendarvis – This session will consider why some passages strike readers as poetic and some seem “flat as an ironing board.” Participants are invited to bring a short quote (from their own or someone else’s work) to illustrate their idea of what’s poetic and what’s not. The session will include a brief writing exercise.

Edwina (Eddy) Pendarvis has authored, co-authored, and edited collections of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, most of them focusing on Appalachia. She was named a Distinguished Fellow of Marshall University's John Deaver Drinko Academy from 2001 to 2002. She has won many awards for her work, served on the Board of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, and received the Pearl S. Buck Award in 2013. She wrote a series of biographies of winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and in 2015, her poetry collection Ghost Dance Poems was published by Blair Mountain Press.


Saturday, November 14 - 2:30pm to 3:45pm

"Follow Your Dreams, Chart Your Own Course" by Michael McClellan - What does it take to land the big deals? What does it take to get the attention of the big names? You can't sit and expect things to just fall in your lap, of course. It takes determination, knocking on doors, knocking down walls, and staying true to your passion. Small successes can help you chart the course to bigger successes. And before you know it, even after a hundred rejections and failed attempts, you could be interviewing one of your greatest idols: NBA great Larry Bird.

A West Virginia native, Michael D. McClellan's celebrity interviews appear on his web site, FifteenMinutesWith.Com, and include superstars Pharrell Williams and Vince Gill; Nobel Prize winners Art McDonald and Takaaki Kajita; Grammy winners Al Jarreau, Melissa Manchester, Keb Mo, and Big Daddy Kane; racing legend Mario Andretti; NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly; and NBA legends Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Julius Erving, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.



Sunday, November 15 - 1:00pm to 2:15pm

"Social Media Today - What's New and What Works in Writing Promotion" by M. Lynne Squires - If writing in the time of Covid seems challenging, the good news is writing promotion has gotten a leg up. Let's chat about what is new in social media for writers, and also what is working for many.  We'll discuss new platforms, new technology, and new ideas for reaching readers.

M. Lynne Squires is a Pushcart Prize nominated author of four books, including the award-winning Letters to My Son – Reflections of Urban Appalachia at Mid-Century. A short story crafter, occasional poet, and essayist, her work appears in numerous anthologies and journals including the 2018 Anthology of Appalachian Writers, and Fearless: Women's Journeys to Self-Empowerment. She is the recipient the 2020 Pearl Buck Writing for Social Change award. Writing happens at her desk looking out on a sugar maple and bird feeder. Her creative wellspring flows before noon typically. Laptop to write, paper and pen to edit. Quiet, no music. Coffee, no snacks because noshing tops typing every time.

Sunday, November 15 - 2:30pm to 3:45pm

Creative Marketing with Nothing But a Dream and Good Book” by Chris Enss – In this workshop, Chris Enss will discuss the top selling books she’s written and the marketing techniques used that can be employed by all authors... especially those who have a shoe-string budget.

Chris Enss is a New York Times Best Selling author, a scriptwriter and comedienne who has written for television and film, and performed on cruise ships and on stage. She has worked with award-winning musicians, writers, directors, producers, and as a screenwriter for Tricor Entertainment, but her passion is for telling the stories of the men and women who shaped the history and mythology of the American West. Chris brings her sensitive eye and respect for their work to her stories of more contemporary American entertainers, as well. Her books reveal the lives of John Wayne, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, bringing to light stories gleaned from family interviews and archives.