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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Meredith Sue Willis Online Classes

Meredith Sue Willis is offering a three-session online creative writing class called Summer Stories during the month of July 2007.

This class is for writers of narrative, including memoir and personal essay as well as short story and novel. The class is appropriate for writers just voyaging out but will also help advanced writers move forward with their projects. There will be exercises and individual feedback on up to 1000 words per week. Sessions will be posted online and emailed on July 2, 9, and 16, 2007, with homework due a week later.

To learn more, see or write

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Darfur Challenge to WV Writers

(From WVWriters member Tim Nichols)

Hello, all.

I've really begun to feel the burden of Darfur since I visited the Holocaust Museum a few weeks ago. Another holocaust is in progress in Darfur and Chad and it seems that there has been little notice of it in our news media. I have written something (below) to submit to our newspaper, but I believe that this effort to educate and activate could be multiplied if similar letters or op-ed pieces were to go to every newspaper in West Virginia.

So I challenge you to write something on Darfur for your local paper and report back to this forum (keeping this subject line) when your writing has been published. Let's see how many papers will print our educational pieces by the end of July. I hope you'll all join me in making this a serious project.

Thanks, friends. -- Tim Nichols


This Time the Photographs are in Color

Tim Nichols

How many times have you looked at old black-and-white photographs of starving and dying Jews in Nazi concentration camps and asked how such things could happen in the modern world? The Nazi Third Reich deliberately set out to systematically eradicate every Jew within their expanding borders. Soldiers, feeling justified in their atrocities because they acted as agents of their government, tortured, humiliated, and murdered millions of innocent men, women, and children while the world stood by. Most of the world stood by in blissful ignorance. Many averted their eyes when confronted with compelling evidence. The allies liberated the camps and their old newsreels and still photographs tell the truth that is still difficult to believe. Many refused to believe it, but no reasonable soul who has examined the facts can now deny it.

We build museums to remember those awful events, as we should. We hold “Days of Remembrance” to remind ourselves that tyrants are capable of inflicting unthinkable horrors upon their own defenseless citizens and that good and decent people must never avert their eyes. We make virtuous pronouncements that this will never happen again, that we will not tolerate genocide in our world ever again. We puff out our chests and exclaim, “Not on our watch!” We speak with conviction, but do we proceed with deeds when the time comes to act?

It is happening again, in Sudan, and this time the photographs are in full color. Perhaps for the first time in history a government is systematically and purposely targeting a specific ethnic group and attempting to wipe the very memory of that “race” from the face of the earth while the rest of the world is watching and aware. The victims are completely innocent and in most cases they have no idea why their government rains bombs on their homes, why militia soldiers slaughter their families, castrate their men, and use rape as a weapon to humiliate and alienate. Even those who manage to escape across desolate lands infested with hostile militia forces and find their way to refugee camps across the border in Chad face attacks from their oppressors. Women venture outside the camps for firewood instead of men because they face “only” brutal rape while the men will almost certainly be tortured, castrated, and left to die slow agonizing deaths.

This is genocide. It is not about religion. Both the victims and the perpetrators are, for the most part, Muslims. It is not a civil war involving two armed forces in conflict. It is about race. The nomadic lighter-skinned Arabs of Sudan have long marginalized the black Africans of the Darfur region. Under the pretext of fighting against rebels, the government of Sudan has armed and aided the Arab Janjaweed (translated, “Devils on Horseback”) to murder and drive the defenseless Darfurians from their lands forever.

Only the government of Sudan denies its involvement. Eyewitness accounts – lots of them – are available to you and the facts are undeniable. Sudanese soldiers work in concert with the Janjeweed butchers. The government-controlled communications system cuts off just before attacks, leaving observers powerless to contact the outside world until the executioners have finished their work. The government of Sudan has been carrying out this crusade of terror since 2003, yet the average American knows far more about the private life of Anna Nicole Smith and the pitiful comments of Don Imus than they know of this. The networks serve up the latest gossip to comfortable spectators, presumably for the sake of ratings, while leaving us in delightful ignorance of the world’s most unspeakable crime that is now in progress.

Please take the time to learn more about this. Do not avert your eyes until it’s too late. Readers can visit my webpage ( to access more of the facts or write to me at Tim Nichols, Mineral County for Darfur, Route 1, Box 206A, Burlington, WV 26710. I would be delighted to provide more information about what is happening and a few suggestions about what you can do to help put a stop to it.

For now:

  • You can "divest" your personal funds from companies that are doing business with Sudan and helping to fund the genocide. It's easier than you might think. Go to .

  • You can urge your state and national leaders to pull state money out of Sudan in the same way. Several states have done this already. Colorado did it just the other day.

  • You can educate more people by urging them to look carefully at what is available online. I'm putting together a presentation to educate my community wherever anyone will let me come and talk to them. There are lots of powerful media aids here:
  • This is among the more valuable things to do. I meet well-educated people every day who know little or nothing about this genocide. Darfur is going unnoticed and we have a moral obligation to get it on the radar screen.

  • You could actually join or start a group to raise awareness and funds in your area. Some of us are working on that in West Virginia. This is morally more catastrophic than natural disasters and famines that are also terrible. Maybe we should refuse to talk about what is “happening” in Darfur. Genocide does not passively “happen.” People actively do this to others. This involves a government and thousands of criminals who are deliberately and systematically wiping out a whole population of innocent and helpless men, women, and children -- solely because they were born into the "wrong" ethnic family. In Chad where most of the refugee camps are, some of the refugees have actually decided to send the women to gather firewood outside the camps instead of the men because the women face "only" rape while the men will almost certainly be murdered and mutilated. Can you imagine being forced to make such choices?

  • You can educate your neighbors in simple ways. I have a sign in my front yard that simply says, "NOT ON OUR WATCH, www.SAVEDARFUR.ORG." Lots of traffic goes by there, so I hope my little sign is working. I have also made myself a walking billboard by wearing clothing with the same message and website printed on it. I've never done that before. You can purchase such things at

  • I wrote a letter to President Bush the other day. Letters are going out to my governor and congressmen very soon. Maybe others could do that.

    Do not let this continue on our watch. When our grandchildren and great-grandchildren read of this in their history books, let's give them the right to say that we did what we could to stop it -- and let's give them the ability to say that we were successful in bringing it to an end.

    Tim Nichols, Director of Student Support Services
    Adjunct Instructor, Philosophy
    Potomac State College of WVU
    101 Fort Avenue
    Keyser, WV 26726
    304.788.6856 (office)
    304.788.6848 (fax)

    Saturday, May 12, 2007

    Belinda Anderson featured in the Gazette

    WV Writers member and 2007 Conference Presenter Belinda Anderson was featured in the Charleston Gazette.

    Read the article at the link below...

    Conference Bits N Pieces (PART III)

    Being as how this is our 30th Anniversary, I think it might be nice to show off some photographic memories of conferences past or from WV Writers events past.

    At this year's conference, I'd like to devote one side of the bulletin board partition nearest to the bookstore for use as a photo gallery of snapshots from throughout the history of WV Writers. Those of you who've been with the organization for a while, please look through your photo albums and choose some of the best photos you have that are WV Writers-related. And, since you're all writers, it would be great to see what sort of captions you can come up with for them. It'll be worth it to see the hairstyles alone.

    Probably the best way to handle them would be to mount them to a piece of paper with tape and we can then tack we can tack the paper to the bulletin board with pins, so as not to damage the photo itself.

    Please do be sure to write your name and address on the back of each photo you bring so that they may be returned to you in case they get left behind at the end of the conference.

    Friday, May 11, 2007

    Seeking Submissions for Proposed Anthology

    Words & Images of Belonging

    Foreword by Dr. Gretchen Legler, nonfiction author and professor, University of Maine at Farmington, Creative Writing.

    Contributions that address legacies, generations (especially that of grandparents and grandchildren), family, a sense of home and identity (i.e. the pull between home and work, leaving your childhood home to start your own home or a sense of place within oneself). Reflections may be poems, short stories, songs, diary entries, essays, letters, creative
    nonfiction, or other forms as well as artwork. Combinations of forms are encouraged, up to approximately 4,000 words per contributor.

    If accepted, contributors will receive a complimentary copy upon publication and a contributor's discount on additional copies. Publishers are being queried and the best will see the completed

    Cynthia Brackett-Vincent is publisher/editor of the esteemed Aurorean poetry journal; poetry instructor; award-winning poet; author of The 95 Poems chapbook (2005) and contributor to Educators as Writers: Publishing for Personal and Professional Development.

    View Cynthia's background

    Carol Smallwood has written, co-authored, and edited 17 books such as Michigan Authors; an award-winning fiction writer; her work has appeared in English Journal, Iris, Main Street Rag, The Detroit News, and several others including anthologies.

    View Carol's last book

    No previously published or simultaneously submitted material.

    Please send work in an attachment; use 12-point Courier. Include a 50-60 word bio to appear in contributor's notes section of BELONGING if your work is accepted. (Writing credits/current position/where you're from and personal highlights are invited.) Please e-mail by August 30, 2007 with BELONGING as the subject line.

    For artwork, use BELONGING as the subject line; send in PDF by e-mail. If you would like to send artwork by regular mail, send B&W or color PHOTOCOPIES ONLY (ABSOLUTELY NO ORIGINALS) to: Cynthia Brackett-Vincent, P. O. Box 187, Farmington, ME 04938 ATTN: BELONGING. If your artwork is accepted AND ONCE WE HAVE SECURED A PUBLISHER, we will request originals if necessary. If you'd like photocopies returned, include an SASE. If you would like to know your photocopies have been received, include a self-addressed stamped postcard.

    Please include all your contact information (including e-mail address) in submissions. Send e-mail to Cynthia at, or to Carol at

    Wednesday, May 09, 2007


    Literary Agent Scott Hoffman, of Folio Literary Management, LLC, will be conducting a limited number of 10 minute one on one consultation sessions during this year’s WV Writers Summer Conference. For this process, Mr. Hoffman will be reviewing in advance the material sent in by those members who have registered for sessions with him and then will hold the one on one consultations with those members at the conference to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the material, offer advice and, potentially, representation. These consultations will be scheduled on a first-come-first-served basis and must be registered for in advance.

    To be eligible to participate in one of these sessions, applicants must: A) be a member of West Virginia Writers in good standing; B) pre-register for the summer conference for at least one day; C) pay a fee of $20 in advance (which will go to help to offset WV Writers’ expenses in bringing Mr. Hoffman to the conference and will not be paid to Mr. Hoffman himself); D) mail a typed example of their work to WV Writers at the address below by May 20, 2007, using the following guidelines:

    For fiction submissions, send a 1 to 2 page synopsis of the work for Mr. Hoffman to review in advance and include the first five pages of said work; for nonfiction submissions send a complete nonfiction proposal. For details on how to write a nonfiction proposal, please see the article by Jeff Kleinman in the latest newsletter or at the Folio website,

    The first twenty-five qualifying submissions received will be granted the consultation sessions. All others will have their $20 fee refunded. We will also keep a waiting list of alternates to be used in cases of cancellation or if there is time left after the twenty five sessions have concluded and if Mr. Hoffman is willing.

    If you are unable to keep your appointment for any reason, please notify our consultation sessions coordinator, Chris Freeburn, by May 31, ( If notification is received by this time, your $20 fee will be refunded.

    Applicants, please send your check, and submission by May 20, 2007 to:

    Scott Hoffman Sessions
    c/o Sandy Tritt
    1527 18th Street
    Parkersburg, WV 26101

    If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at or 304-645-4119. I look forward to seeing you at the conference and good luck.

    --Eric Fritzius, president of WV Writers, Inc.

    Conference Bits N Pieces (PART II)

    Attendees of the WV Writers Conference should also be sure to bring something to submit for the Writers Wall competition and to read for the People's Choice competitions.

    The Writers Wall--which is actually more of a Writers Partition, if you think about it, as it's based on the bulletin board style partition between the seating and the silent auction area of the assembly hall and not on an actual wall--is where conference attendees may post anonymous entries to be reviewed and voted upon by their conference peers. One side of the partition features anonymous one page prose pieces while the other side features one page anonymous poetry entries. Throughout Friday and most of Saturday, the population of the conference will vote on their favorites and the winners will receive a certificate and fun money at the awards banquet.

    The People's Choice competition occurs in five sessions, two on Friday evening (for prose and for poetry), and three on Saturday (for prose, poetry and youth entries). These occur in moderated 1:15 minute sessions in which each competitor will be given four minutes to read either a prose or poetry entry. The pieces are then voted on in silent ballot format by the other competitors and audience members from each session. It's a great chance to show off flash fiction, essays or that special poem you've written. Awards for these categories will be given at the awards banquet.

    Be sure to bring your best material with you!


    Tuesday, May 08, 2007

    Conference Bits N Pieces (PART I)

    Hola all,

    Just a note to alert everyone to have their eyes peeled for the mailman this week, for our Spring Newsletter is in the mail and on its way, packed with Conference Information including the details on the Scott Hoffman sessions. As soon as I spy one myself, I'll send out the same information here on the Roundtable and George Lies will distribute it via his e-news.

    While we're on the subject of the Conference, one of the popular annual events at the conference is the Silent Auction. This is where you the membership can donate items to be auctioned off silently (via open paper bid sheets). Each year we request such items from conference attendees as well as any items you might be able to persuade businesses in your area to donate. You can use our auction solicitation letter to seek contributions from those area businesses. These items could be anything, really, but something of local flavor from your particular part of the state is always nice. (The Flatwoods Monster porcelain statue, from last year, was a hotly bid upon item.)

    Conference attendees may bid on the silent auction items with cash, check or with any WV Writers Fun Money you may have saved from years past.

    This year Lynne Sturtevant will be our Silent Auction coordinator. If you have items you'd like to bring, please send her a note at to let her know what to expect.


    Wednesday, May 02, 2007

    Chicken Soup book seeks submissions

    (This news courtesy Fay Thompson)

    Chicken Soup for the Empty Nester's Soul is now seeking submissions. Find out all you want to know about the process at

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    The Fire Escape Presents 2007 Writing Contests

    (This information courtesy Granny Sue Holstein on the WV Writers Youth Forum)

    Do you love to weave words together? Were you and/or one or both of your birth parents born in another country? Do you live in the United States or Canada now? Are you 13-19 years old?

    If you answered yes to ALL of the questions above, YOU qualify to enter the 2007 Fire Escape Writing Contests! Submit an original, unpublished poem or story that reflects some of the joys and struggles of growing up between two cultures in America. The Fire Escape will only consider one poem and story per person, so send your best work. (If you like writing non-fiction, too, check out the Fire Escape's Write-a-Review Contest.)

    Poetry (up to three poems)
    Short Fiction (up to 800 words)

    First Prize: $40
    Second Prize: $25
    Third Prize: $10

    How to submit an entry:

    Paste your poem or story into an e-mail message and send it to I will not open attachments. Proofread thoroughly and keep your presentation simple. Entries with spelling, grammar or punctuation errors and funky characters/fonts may be disqualified without notice. (There were lots of these this year!) Do not include any clip art, images, or photos with your entry. Words only, please. Fiction longer than 1000 words will not be
    considered. Include your name, age, and e-mail address in your e-mail. Also include your countr(ies) of origin. You and/or ONE of your birth parents must have been born outside North America. If you were born in Puerto Rico and are now living in one of the states or Canadian
    provinces, you qualify. Current U.S. or Canadian residents only please, and previous winners
    are not eligible.

    To qualify, your entry must be received between September 1, 2006 and June 1, 2007. REPEAT: you must be an immigrant or internationally adopted teen (or a teen with one immigrant parent) currently living in the United States or Canada. NOTE: Failure to follow all of the contest guidelines will disqualify your entry.

    Winning Poems and Stories will be published on the Fire Escape. Winners will be notified by June 30th. If you do not hear from us by June 30th, you can assume that your entry was NOT a winner. Prizes must be claimed by September 1, 2007. Please note that editorial or any other personal comments will not be provided for contest submissions. The Fire Escape reserves the right to award no prizes if no entry meets the judge's standards.

    The Fire Escape seeks the following permissions from young authors: permission to publish your work on the web site, and permission to include your work in online archives after publication. Authors retain the copyright to their work. Once selected, winners must send their school information and a mailing address so that the Fire Escape can validate the entry and send the prize. Read the Fire Escape's privacy policy for more information.