2021 Summer Conference Workshops and Presenter Bios

The following is a preview of workshop presenters and their workshops for the 2021 WV Writers Summer Conference. The schedules are also listed. Click the day's schedule you're interested in looking at to make the image bigger.



Austin S. Camacho is the author of seven novels about Washington DC-based private eye Hannibal Jones, five in the Stark and O’Brien international adventure-thriller series, and the detective novel, Beyond Blue. His short stories have been featured in several anthologies including Dying in a Winter Wonderland – an Independent Mystery Booksellers Association Top Ten Bestseller for 2008. He is featured in the Edgar nominated African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey. Camacho is also editorial director for Intrigue Publishing, a Maryland small press.


Conflict and suspense — two elements we have to lean hard on to create good fiction. Without conflict, there is no story. Conflict is what drives your story forward. And without suspense, readers have no reason to get to the end of your story. Suspense is what draws your readers through the story to a satisfying conclusion. In this class I will show you how to use several kinds of conflict in your stories, and how to use suspense to keep your reader involved in your stories all the way to the last page.

Marketing plans — Promoting your book takes careful planning if you want to so you get the most out of your time and effort. There are dozens of possible techniques you can use to promote your work including advertising, social media and personal appearances. But what tools are best for you, and when should you use them? Answering those questions is the reason a book marketing plan is an essential part of the process. In this class I’ll explain how to build a great one.

Publishing Options — Should you be published by a large publisher or a small press or should you self-publish? Different writers will have a variety of reasons for that choice. In this session I will spell out the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and the many differences while letting the audience make up their own minds.



Pete Kosky is an award-winning songwriter and storyteller from South Charleston, West Virginia. He is known for singing traditional ballads and songwriting. His songwriting often focuses on historical themes with an emphasis on West Virginia. He is also a past winner of the West Virginia liars contest. Pete has two collections of short stories published by Mountain State Press, Mountain Tales & River Stories and Mountain Tales II. His stories range from historically based tales with a supernatural bend to humorous tall tales, and vignettes of life in West Virginia.


Songwriting — This workshop will focus on what it takes to write a song. Pete Kosky started writing songs when he was 16 years old and will share what he has learned. He will share the various methods that he has learned and how to try and draw out the inner muse. He will also discuss how to use narrative in songwriting, much like writing a short story, as well as address the poetic side of songwriting. He will have a guitar and banjo to aid in instruction. Please feel free to bring an instrument.



Kathy Manley lives in southern West Virginia and has been an educator in Logan County schools for over 35 years. Her writing has been featured in Hamilton Stone Review, Traditions: A Journal of West Virginia Folk Culture and Educational Awareness, and Fearless: Women’s Journeys to Self-Empowerment. Her short stories have placed in West Virginia Writers’ Contests, and her memoir Don’t Tell’em You’re Cold released in October 2019, was a semi-finalist in William Faulkner’s Writing Competition. Katherine has won several prestigious teaching awards including finalist for West Virginia Teacher of the Year, Arch Coal Teacher of the Year, and Rocket Boys’ Teacher of the Year given in memory of their beloved teacher, Freida J. Riley of Coalwood, West Virginia.


Mining Your Memories: It’s All Coming Back to Me Now! You’ve been thinking about writing a memoir but need some new ideas on how to discover information from your past. Come to this session and learn how to revisit what defined you as a child, teenager, and adult. Be inspired as you discover how simple manipulatives can evoke strong memories and energize your writing. You will leave this workshop recharged after an hour of remembering and reminiscing!



Bonnie Proudfoot moved to Athens, OH, from Fairmont, WV. She has Creative Writing MA from Hollins and one from WVU. She taught writing for over 20 years at Hocking College and currently teaches part-time for WVU. She received a Fellowship for the Arts from the West Virginia Department of Culture and History. She has published poetry and fiction in many journals, including the Gettysburg Review, Kestrel, Quarter After Eight, the Lyric, and Sheila-Na-Gig. Her short-short story won first prize in the Columbus Dispatch “Novelini” competition. Her first novel, Goshen Road, was published by Swallow Press in January of 2020.


What's For Supper? - This workshop will explore foods we were raised with and the ways food serves as a backdrop for story-making and storytelling. Selections of work involving food from fiction, poetry, and memoir will be featured, as well as writing prompts that can encourage participants to channel their memories of how food helped to shape their sense of place and/or their sense of community. Readings will include brief selections from selected poems and the new anthology The Food We Eat, the Stories We Tell, Edited by Elizabeth S. D. Englehardt with Lora E. Smith, among other works. There will be time for writing poetry that features food, recipe poems, and for sharing.

Getting to the heart of place — How do we get somewhere? We use a map! How mapping and visualization can lead us into imagery, memory, and more, and become a diving board into the space where poems are created. The workshop will include drawing “idea maps,” as a way to generate specific details, as well as reading examples of place-oriented poetry, and discussions of the ways to incorporate figurative language and sense imagery into your work. There will be time for writing and sharing. Examples will come from books such as Kettle Bottom by Diane Gilliam Fisher, Coaltown Photograph by Pauletta Hansel, and A Place Deep inside America it can’t be Seen by Kari Gunter Seymour.

"in medias res" — (adverb) Definition: into the middle of a narrative; without, into the midst of things.
“having begun his story in medias res, he then interrupts it.” (dictionary.com)
This hands-on writing workshop will discuss the process of writing fiction (either a novel or a short story, or even a play) by beginning in the middle and then working backward through flashback, and forward through narrative progression at the same time. In many ways, this is quite liberating, and it allows a writer to envision both a past and future for the characters, fleshing out a piece of writing by asking questions about that situation. Many famous examples of short stories, flash fiction, novels (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Chekhov), epic poems (The Odyssey), films (Memento), memoirs (Orange is the New Black), have that kind of structure, vivid flashback along with progression. Examples will be provided, and time for writing and comparing notes about starting in the middle, then working backward and forward to uncover Who, What, When, How, and Why. My own process of writing my novel Goshen Road will be discussed as well.

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 (fiction, nonfiction, and plays), and ghostwritten dozens more. She’s the author of several books, including From Laundry to Love and The PLAIN ENGLISH Writer’s Workbook, and the editor of In the Midst: a COVID-19 Anthology. Sandy has given workshops at the Connecticut Fiction Fest (Meriden, Connecticut), West Virginia Writers Conference (Cedar Lakes, West Virginia), the Alabama Writers Conclave (Auburn, Alabama), the Appalachian Writers Association (Bristol, Tennessee), the Writer’s Project Runway (Leesburg, Virginia), the Lewisburg Literary Festival, and for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History (Charleston, West Virginia)—among many local and regional workshops. Invite her to speak at your conference or workshop.


Self-Publishing Considerations - So you’ve decided to self-publish. Should you go with Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon) or IngramSpark? Or both? Or somewhere else? How do you get an ISBN or UPC? Do you need them? How do you typeset your work? Insert footnotes or an index? Page numbers? Headers and footers? How do you format your work for an ebook? Do you need an author’s website? Facebook page? Blog? This workshop prepares you to successfully self-publish with confidence. Handouts provided. Questions encouraged.

Self-Editing (Fiction and Nonfiction) - “The End” is just the beginning. Once you’ve finished writing your manuscript, it’s time to start the real work—editing. This workshop provides a professional editor’s checklist that helps you verify you’ve been consistent, tightened every sentence, and formatted your manuscript according to current standards. Both fiction and nonfiction checklists will be provided and discussed.

Bring your writing or editing questions, since we’ll end the workshop with an informal question and answer segment.

Writing the Story Only You Can Tell (Memoir) -This workshop hopes to answer the zillions of questions you have when writing your memoir. Should you use real names? Should you fictionalize your story? Should you use first person or third person? Where do you begin your story? Where do you end? When should you file for a copyright? Can you get sued for saying bad things about people? What about good things? And what, exactly, should be included, and how do you know which life experiences belong and which ones don’t? We’ll provide worksheets and handouts—you bring your questions.

S.G. Redling is the author of nine novels, including the best-selling FLOWERTOWN and the Dani Britton series. A former morning radio host, Sheila now splits her time among writing, giving writing workshops, and working at The Red Caboose Artisan Market, helping folks discover the art and charm of her hometown, Huntington WV.


Diagnosis Fiction - Novels are living creatures with blood, bones, and skin. They have needs and quirks. To take your story from the germ of an idea into a fully realized creature, you need to understand and accept the complexity. We will discuss the importance of genre promises, high stakes, emotional resonance, pacing and the indefinable magic that can bring your story to life.

Dialogue - It's More Than Just Talking -Dialogue: how hard can it be? Incredibly hard if you understand its importance. We will discuss how to fine tune your dialogue to make sure it is doing all it can to elevate your story, including working with dialects and inner monologues.

Hayley Mitchell Haugen holds a PhD in English from Ohio University and an MFA in poetry from the University of Washington; she is Professor of English at Ohio University Southern in southeastern Ohio. Light & Shadow, Shadow & Light from Main Street Rag Publishing Company (2018) is her first full-length poetry collection, and her chapbook, What the Grimm Girl Looks Forward To is from Finishing Line Press (2016). She edits Sheila-Na-Gig online (https://sheilanagigblog.com/) and Sheila-Na-Gig Editions.


Sing A Song of Sixes: Exploring the Sestina -
The sestina is a great poetry form for poets who have a narrative bent but appreciate (or need!) some structure to rein in their ideas. If you've never written a sestina, or just want to revisit the form, come check out my workshop. I'll lecture briefly on the form and provide examples of my own work, and then I'll walk you through a generative exercise to help you get your own sestina off the ground.

What Poetry Publishers Want Writers to Know - This workshop is especially useful for poets who are just starting to send their work out for publication, or who think they may have a first manuscript ready to submit to contests or other forums. I'll offer some dos and don'ts advice from an editor's perspective that may increase your chances for publication. We'll also talk about venues through which you can find the best markets for your work.

WANA - Writers Association of Northern Appalachia

The mission of the Writers Association of Northern Appalachia is to support writers from, living in, or writing about the greater northern Appalachian region by providing opportunities to share work and expertise, publish written work, and develop relationships with editors, publishers, literary scholars, readers, and fellow writers. We provide opportunities for the region’s writers to build a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming community.


Our panel will discuss the publishing process from the point of view of the author. This will include finding a publisher, working with a publisher on the book, and various aspects of bringing out your book (i.e.), reviews, readings, publicity, launch, etc. The authors will represent various publishing experiences--working with a midsize indie press, working with a large commercial press, working with a university press and working with a small indie press.



Award-winning author Abigail Drake has spent her life traveling the world and collecting stories wherever she visited. She majored in Japanese and Economics in college, and is a book hoarder, a coffee drinker, a linguistics geek, and an eternal optimist. She writes women's fiction and young adult fiction, and also enjoys blogging about her mischievous Labrador retriever, Capone. As sad as she is to admit it, her dog has become her muse. Abigail received an honorable mention in the Writer's Digest Self-Published E-book Awards, 2019 for one of her latest books Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone.


Training Yourself to Be a Better and More Productive Writer — Abigail Drake has published twelve award-winning novels in under four years. In this lighthearted and inspirational workshop she’ll discuss the tips and tricks that helped her achieve this success, including the best advice she ever received as a writer.

Mapping Out Your Book Like a Pro - Attention pantsers: Do you think plotting out your book sounds like no fun at all? Are you afraid it might destroy your creativity and ruin your story?

Reformed pantser Abigail Drake will share why plotting out your book chapter by chapter can be helpful. This applies whether you’re just beginning to write your book, or if you have a manuscript that isn’t working, but you aren’t sure why.

Using a simple method, Abigail will teach you how to plot like a pro, so prepare to take your pants off, open your mind to something new, and find out how to make your story shine. It isn’t as scary as you think.

How To Be a Hybrid, and Why It’s the Way of the Future — Many authors choose to be completely self-published, and others take the traditional route. What if you want to do both?

In this workshop, Abigail Drake will share the details about how she ended up being a hybrid author, and why it works for her. She’ll also analyze the risks and benefits of both self-publishing and traditional publishing, and discuss how to find a reputable small press.

Being a hybrid is the way of the future, but is it the right path for you?


R.G. Yoho is a West Virginia native with a passion for history and tales of the American West. He’s author of the five-book Kellen Malone Western series. “The Nine Lives of Charles E. Lively: The Deadliest Man in the West Virginia-Colorado Coal Mine Wars,” is his most recent book, a work of nonfiction. Yoho is a former president of the West Virginia Writers, along with being a proud member of the Western Writers of America. To learn more about him and his work, go to: www.RGYoho.com.


Digging up Bones: Researching Your Biography - This workshop will cover the basics of researching a biography, skills that will apply equally well to any sort of nonfiction writing.

Writing a Lively Biography - R.G. Yoho will be sharing the challenges he confronted and pitfalls to avoid while penning a biography.


Tobi Doyle writes hot and humorous contemporary romance and romantic suspense as Tobi Doyle. She’s been an active member of Romance Writers of America since 2015 and Kiss of Death, the Romantic Suspense Chapter since 2017. She’s currently the President of the Kiss of Death Chapter, an active member of the RWA Central Ohio Fiction Writers Chapter, as well as WV Writers, and Patchworks Writers. She was honored to be a member of the Intensive Genre Workshop Panel in 2020. Her books have finaled in several RWA chapter contests including the Passionate Plume, the Stiletto Contest, the Fire and Ice Contest, and Great Beginnings. You can find more information at tobidoyle.com.


Book Mapping: Be your own developmental editor - What to do after you've written your book, and before you send it to be edited or read by others.

If you’ve got a work-in-progress that needs revision and you don’t know where to start, this workshop is for you!

Use the book map to visually track the plot, characters, settings, and more. A book map allows you to critically look at your book and find your story.

Use the book map to identify areas that need work.

  • Find the pacing issues, or unnecessary scenes in your WIP
  • Plot holes become obvious
  • See the character development
  • Find the theme


At the end of the workshop participants will be able to create their own book map for their manuscript, and then use the book map to objectively identify the areas in their book that require revisions. This workshop is best suited for commercial genre fiction writers.

Tobi's Down and Dirty Guide to Writing Romance - It’s so much more than kissing books. A down and dirty guide to get you started on writing an emotionally satisfying romance or add a romantic subplot to your work.

This workshop covers:

  • Romance genre expectations
  • How to create great conflicts, realistic motivations, and empathetic characters to grab the romance reader’s attention.
  • Working your romance subplot into your current WIP.
  • Creating characters that your readers will root for.
  • Where to send your submissions
  • Time for questions about publishing in the romance market today.

Tobi contributed the Down and Dirty Guide to Writing Romance to the WV Writers craft book being published this year. This workshop will cover the same material, but with Tobi’s engaging presentation.

At the end of this workshop participants will have a concrete understanding of what a romance is, where to find resources to help write and edit, and what the romance publishing industry looks like right now.



Sandee Gertz is a native of Western Pennsylvania and a graduate of Wilkes University's M.A. and M.F.A. program. In 2012, she published a poetry collection, The Pattern Maker's Daughter, with Bottom Dog Press. Sandee is a Sandburg-Livesay Poetry Award winner and has published poems and essays widely in literary journals, including Poet Lore, Gargoyle, Green Mountains Review, The Ledge, and others. In 2014, she was featured as one of 16 Working Class Poets in World Literature Today. Recently her fiction work was a finalist for the Porch Prize, and her memoir manuscript excerpt was featured at The Write Launch. She also has forthcoming poems in the Keystone Poetry Anthology and Cathexis Northwest Press. Sandee currently teaches at Cumberland University outside of Nashville in the English and Creative Writing departments.


Poetry Rocks! Writing Using Geology, Geography, and Found/Reference Materials - In this session, we will focus on places that are of particular significance to you – but we will be "digging deeper" into what lies beneath the ground on which you walk – or walked in the past. Does a former neighborhood or plot of land mean a great deal to you? Were you shaped by a special landscape? Here we will explore the various landforms, geological and geographical features of your chosen place via reference materials and found information. (You may bring a reference or other book, or you can access online information during the session.) If you don't have a chosen place to write about, I will have studies on rocks or other earthy explorations for you to muse on.

The Body Speaks Back: Writing About Illness and Physical Challenge – Do you have (or have you in the past) had a condition or illness that has created challenges for you in your daily life? Have you conquered a certain affliction, or are you currently experiencing physical or mental challenges? This session allows you to "speak back" to your body or will bring forth messages from the body to you by way of talking with your challenges directly in poetic exploration. The leader of this session has written about neurological conditions and will have examples to help guide you. We will employ the form of "direct address" in speaking back and forth with the body and will work in any form desired to bring forth poems of challenge and (perhaps) triumph. What are the hidden "gifts" your condition may have given you? You may also choose to study the medical history of your condition and find inspiration there. All these will be explored.

Image and Imagination: How to Visualize the Precise Image for Poems – Everyone knows the adage "show don't tell," but how does one come up with those very specific and powerful images that help enliven poems? In this session, it is helpful to have draft poems to work with – ones you wish to enhance with more resonant or specific imagery. We will practice visualizing and observing human gestures, subtle mannerisms, details of place and/or the images available to us in the natural world. We will "go back to" the places and people of the poems and brainstorm for the most precise images and descriptions.



Michael Dittman is a professor of English and Creative Writing who lives and writes near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania surrounded by the palimpsest of the Appalachian Rust Belt and its ghosts. He's worked in bike shops, in newsrooms, and on the tops of roofs, but today he can be found more often at the front of a classroom. He is the author of Jack Kerouac; A Biography, Masterpieces of the Beat Generation, and Small Brutal Incidents. His short stories and poetry, as well as his journalism and non-fiction, are widely published and anthologized. He has been awarded the Hicks Prize for Poetry, the Small Press Distribution Lannan Literary Grant, a Pennsylvania Arts Council Special Stipend Grant Award, a Pennsylvania Artist in Education Grant, and the Brennecke Award for Outstanding Scholarship. He was a National Poetry Slam Semi-Finalist and performed his spoken word with the Lollapalooza tour. Contact him at Michaeldittman.com.


The Twist and Turns of the Poem - Examine ways to capture the dynamic energy of the poetic turn in your writing. While formal poets are familiar with the volta of a sonnet, a sudden change in direction can have pronounced and powerful results in all poetry. This workshop will explore using the drama of the turn and twist in a poem to layer in complexity and new ways of writing and thinking about poetry.

Participants are asked to bring poetic work ready to have the technique applied.

Preparing Poetry for Publication - Whether placing a single poem in a journal, querying presses for full-length collections, or considering the world of self-publishing, preparing poetry for publication can be a labyrinthine process that has caused many writers to give up due to confusion and frustration. This workshop addresses the publication of poetry from start to finish with emphasis on submission to print and online journals. Discussion will include analyzing journals’ submission needs, crafting work that stands out, developing a publication strategy, finding and choosing the right outlet for your work, writing query and cover letters, and preparing the submission. Participants are asked to bring work to discuss and will leave with a submission plan and sample cover letter created during the workshop.

Power Up Your Poetry - This workshop will examine three (or possibly more if time allows) techniques for creating and then quickly and dramatically applying methods to strengthen the language and structure of your poetry. Our goal will be to take our writing and revise it in such a way as to heighten the reader’s experience and interaction. Although participants will be writing drafts in class, participants are also asked to bring already-written work to apply these methods. If time allows, there will be time for volunteers to have their work shared and critiqued by the group under the leader’s supervision. Appropriate for all levels.


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 multiple 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. Return of the Mothman, Barbers and Beauties, and Author's Guide to Marketing with Teeth were all finalists for the Bram Stoker Award®.

Michael received the Horror Writers Association's Silver Hammer Award in 2015 for his work as the organization's mentorship chair. He also received the prestigious J.U.G. (Just Uncommonly Good) Award from West Virginia Writers Inc. His Return of the Mothman is currently in production as a film adaption. He has taught writing classes and workshops at several colleges, conventions, online, and currently resides in Chapmanville, West Virginia with his wife, daughter, and a zombie goldfish.


Show, Don't Just Tell - More than ninety percent of writers who previously attended this workshop were unable to identify a specific sentence as showing or telling. Both devices have a valid place in writing, but misconception in this matter can be devastating to writers ­ —just as a carpenter unknowingly using his or her tools incorrectly. You may be shocked at what you learn. But you will walk away with total clarity as to the difference between showing and telling, and why both are important to story.

Creating Parallels With Plot And Character - Attendees will learn the techniques of subtly adding layers to the plot while adding layers to the character, and adding layers to the character by adding layers to the plot. We will discuss linking the two and allowing the story to grow organically. If we are successful in this effort as an author, we will find we are adding layers to the story as a whole.


M. Lynne Squires is a Pushcart Prize-nominated Urban Appalachian author. Her books include the award-winning Letters to My Son – Reflections of Urban Appalachia at Mid-Century. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, including the 2018 Anthology of Appalachian Writers, and Fearless: Women's Journey's to Self-Empowerment. Squires is the 2020 recipient of the Pearl S. Buck Writing for Social Change award. She regularly teaches workshops for writers on a variety of topics. Writing happens overlooking a sugar maple and bird feeder, while fending off her two cats, Scout and Boo Radley. Connect with her at www.mlynne.com.


Keeping Your Words Alive After You Die — Valuable information on how to protect your intellectual property after you pass away, lest it all die with you. Estate planning, literary executors, copyrights, and more.

WV Authors You Might Not Have Read and Why You Should — Focusing on WV authors of note. Discussing authors Breece D'J Pancake, Cynthia Rylant, Davis Grubb, Muriel Miller Dressler, Louise McNeill, Jayne Anne Phillips, and others.

Staying Relevant in a Virtual World — Strategies for promoting your work virtually. Posts on social media are no longer enough. Tips for expanding your reach and your book sales.