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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Robert W. Walker wins Best Hystery-Mystery at Love Is Murder

At Chicago's largest gathering of readers, fans, librarians, and authors at a conference setting, Love is Murder (, WV Writer's Summer Conference workshop leader Robert W. Walker truly WON for BEST Hystery-Mystery or Historical Fiction (suspense) for 2007. The prize was given for his book Shadows in the White City, which is the centerpiece for his trilogy begun with City for Ransom and completed recently with the publicaiton of City of the Absent.

The Chicago Tribune gave high acclaim and praise for Shadows and the other titles in two separate reviews, one of which likened the series to a bold mix of Twainian witticisms, Dickensian social consciousness, and the ghoulish atmosphere of Poe.

In great company, I'd say.

Mr. Walker will again grace WV Writers Summer Conference this June for a special 3-hour workshop on the craft of fiction.

Keep your eyes on this space and our newsletter for future conference news.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Cup of Comfort series now seeking submissions

(From Colleen Sell, editor of the Cup of Comfort series)


The bestselling book series A Cup of Comfort is now seeking authentic and compelling personal essays for the three new volumes:


It has been said that military life is “not for the faint of heart.” But neither is it without its benefits and blessings. The popular Cup of Comfort book series now seeks powerful and positive stories about how military life affects the personal lives of service men and women, how family affects soldiers on the job, and how military life affects families. The stories in A Cup of Comfort for Military Families will cover a wide range of topics and reveal a variety of perspectives, experiences, and emotions specific to military personnel and/or their loved ones. All branches; all ranks; active and veterans.

Submission deadline: April 1, 2008 (urgent last call; extended from March 1)
$500 grand prize; $100 each, all other published stories; plus copy of book


Few experiences bring forth as many anxieties, blessings, challenges, wonders, and changes as having a baby—whether it’s your first child or fifth, your birth child or adopted child. And nothing is as miraculous as giving birth to or witnessing the birth of your baby. This heartwarming anthology will be filled with birth stories and newborn homecoming stories as well as a wide range of stories about the various experiences, emotions, and concerns involved in adding a new baby to one’s life and family. Potential topics include but are not limited to: nursing (or not), caring for a newborn, bonding/falling in love with infant, lack of sleep, relationship with spouse, how siblings respond, returning to work, balancing responsibilities, post-partum depression, self transformation, unexpected joys, life lessons, small miracles, etc. The majority of the stories will be about birth children, but the book will likely include a couple adoptive stories as well. Likewise, most of the stories will be written from the new mother’s perspective, but we are open to including a few stories written from the spouse’s or a very close family member’s perspective. All stories will be uplifting and positive, no matter how difficult the situation portrayed in the story might be. We do not want stories that simply recount misfortunes and sorrows and that do not clearly reveal a positive outcome or redeeming result (silver lining).

Submission deadline: April 15, 2008 (extended from April 1)
$500 grand prize; $100 each, all other published stories; plus copy of book


The primary purpose of this book is to celebrate adoptive families and to recognize the extraordinary and challenging experiences that are unique to “chosen children” and their families. We are most interested in stories written by adult adoptive children and their adoptive parents and siblings, but the book will also likely include some stories written by members of the extended adoptive family (grandparent, aunt/uncle, cousin), close friends of the adoptive family (i.e. godparent), and birth family members. Virtually any topic relevant to adopted children and their adoptive parents is acceptable—as long as it is authentic, positive, insightful, and uplifting or inspiring. We do not want heartbreaking stories about adoptive parents or birth families that regret the adoption; there is a place for stories of that ilk, but this book is not that place. All of the stories in this collection must show a positive aspect of adoption and must bring comfort or joy or inspiration to those who have been adopted and/or to the families who adopted them—no matter how difficult the experience and emotions portrayed in the story might be.

Submission deadline: June 15, 2008
$500 grand prize; $100 each, all other published stories; plus copy of book

All Cup of Comfort stories must be true, original, and positive; narrative essays (creation nonfiction); and 1,000-2,000 words. Entrants pay no fees. Writer's guidelines:

Copyright 2008, Adams Media Corporation, an F+W Publications Company

Friday, February 22, 2008

New book on novel revision released

WV Writers has received notification of a new book on revision that we think our members might be interested in looking at. It's by Elizabeth Lyon author of The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit, A Writer’s Guide to Fiction, Nonfiction Book Proposals Anyone Can Write, A Writer’s Guide to Nonfiction, and National Directory of Editors & Writers.

She writes:

"Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore" is my magnum opus on revising novels. I poured my twenty years of experience as a book editor into this 368-page how-to book that I am confident is the most comprehensive and practical book on revision techniques. Readers can expect to learn:

  • Stand-out style techniques, from accessing an authentic voice to applying techniques of “wordsmithing” that transform prose
  • Guidelines to match prose style and structure to genre specifications
  • Techniques to guarantee depth, dimensionality, and originality of characterization
  • Strategies to strengthen story beginnings and endings
  • Methods for increasing plot stakes, creating movement, and adjusting pace for maximum suspense
  • Rules for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and format
  • Model queries and tips for securing literary agent and editor attention
  • Detailed revision checklists at every chapter’s end for easy reference
  • Exemplary excerpts drawn from nearly every genre of writing and for every age level of reader, and representing contemporary and classic literature to show exactly how to revise well

Two of the endorsements:
“Whether you’re learning the craft, revising your manuscript, or looking to position it for the best chance of getting it published, read Elizabeth Lyon.”
― Robert Dugoni, New York Times bestseller for Runaway Jury

“MANUSCRIPT MAKEOVER is a must.” ― Barbara Pope, Cezanne’s Quarry

Elizabeth Lyon, a regular speaker at writing conferences and retreats nationwide, has been a contributor to The Writer and Writer’s Digest and is a mentor, editor, and writing teacher. The author of The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit, A Writer’s Guide to Fiction, Nonfiction Book Proposals Anyone Can Write, A Writer’s Guide to Nonfiction, and National Directory of Editors & Writers, she lives in Springfield, Oregon.

See more about the book at its AMAZON listing.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ray Bradbury Creative Writing Contest 2008

The Waukegan Public Library is pleased to announce the 24th Annual Ray Bradbury Creative Writing Contest. The contest will begin on February 15, and will end on March 15, 2008. The category this year is poetry. Eligibility: The contest is open to high school students and adults. Library employees and board members and their immediate families are not eligible
to participate.

Length: No longer than two pages on one side.

Text: Must be typed, 12 point, double-spaced, on white 8 1/2” x 11” paper. Limit of two entries per individual. One entry in triplicate per envelop.

Pen name: To preserve the anonymity of the contestants, each entry must be signed with a pen name or pseudonym and be accompanied by a sealed envelope that will contain the real name, address, telephone number and e-mail of the writer. The outside of the envelope should have clearly printed the pen name, the title of the work submitted, and the school attended, if
applicable. Entries that do not follow the rules will be disqualified.

Deadline: All entries must be postmarked on or before March 15, 2008. Poems may be mailed or hand-delivered on or before the deadline. Late entries will not be accepted. No e-mail entries will be accepted.

Judges: The judges’ names will become available before the closing date.

Prizes: Prizes will be awarded to high school students and to adults.

The prizes in each category are:
$100.00 for 1st place
$50.00 for 2nd place
$25.00 for 3rd place
At the criteria of the jury, Honorable Mentions may be awarded.

Winners: The winning stories will be announced and the writers presented with awards at the Friends of the Library Annual Dinner, on April 19th, 2008. Winners will be asked to share their work. The winning writings will be published on the Ray Bradbury Writing Contest
page of the library web site

Mail To:
Attention: Ray Bradbury Creative Writing Contest
Adult Services Department
Waukegan Public Library
128 North
County Street
Waukegan, IL 60085

Friday, February 15, 2008

Free Fall Literary Ezine Short Story Contest

(This news courtesy Tammy Lynn Whisman)

Free Fall Literary Ezine Presents it’s first ever Short Story Contest (Sponsored by LadyBug Press)

Deadline May 1st, 2008

1st Prize- $150.00 and full spread in Free Fall’s June Issue
2nd Prize- $50.00
Winners will be notified by May 15th

Entry Guidelines: Submit up to 5 original short stories on any subject (1,500 words minimum and 3,500 words maximum) Typed/Computer generated, double spaced on 8 1/2 ½x 11 inch plain white paper with 1 inch margins in 12 point Times New Roman font. Include documented word count at either top of the first page or bottom of the last page. Short Storied that have been previously published may not be submitted. There is a $5.00 Reading fee for each Short Story.

Please send cover page that contains name of the contest in the upper left corner, author’s
full name, complete mailing address with zip code along with area code & telephone number/cell phone number and e-mail address in the upper right corner. Place Short Story title centered below.

Short Biography containing 50-75 words of the most interesting aspects of the author’s creativity and most important points in the author’s life.

Send Short Bio, Cover Page, Short Story, and Self Addressed Stamped Envelope(SASE) , with a Cashier’s Check or Money order in the appropriate amount made payable to:

Jimmetta Carpenter
Free Fall Literary Ezine
4523 Davis Avenue Suite # 201
Suitland, MD 20746

Entries must be received by May 1st.
Any entry postmarked after midnight on May 1st will not be considered.
E-mail submissions are allowed but WILL NOT be considered until the reading fee is received.

Entry Fee is $5.00 per Short Story
(No more then 5 Short Stories may be submitted)

For confirmation of receipt of your entry be sure to include a SASE with your entry

Winners will be notified by May 15th

If there are any questions or comments please e-mail me at

WV Poetry Society Slam Planning in Southridge

The Slam Chapter for the WV Poetry Society is meeting on February 16th at Books-A-Million at Southridge near Charleston around 2:30 to see who is interested in planning and organizing poetry slams and spoken word/performace poetry.

Everyone is welcome to come, hang out and talk about poetry. They want to hear what people are interested in seeing in the Charleston area. Just look for the sign on the WVPS table that says "Slam!" and you will know its them.

National Christian Writers Conference and Book Expo opens soon in Norfolk.


The third annual National Christian Writers Conference and Book Expo will be held Saturday, February 16, 2008, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the Crown Plaza Hotel 4453 Bonney Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Come early to visit with vendors, which include local published authors and specialists in the book publishing and marketing industry. We will also offer private one-on-one consultations for workshop participants. Experts and vendors include: Local Authors, Independent Bookstore Owners, Suppliers, Children's Authors, Editors, Freelance Writers, Graphic Designers, Illustrators, Magazine Publishers, Non-fiction Writers, Poets, Printers, Independent Publishers, Photographers, Web Designers...... and more.

Information and Resources you will find at the Book Expo Book signings: Writer's resource table, Writer's bookstore, Networking with other writers, Networking with editors, publishers, and authors, Internet marketing, Social networking... and more.

Visit the National Christian Writers Conference and Book Expo website for all the details.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

WV Storytelling Institute

(This news courtesy WVW resident storyteller, Granny Sue Holstein)

Writers will find some interesting workshops at the first-ever WV Storytelling Institute. If you're interested in storytelling or folklore, the institute promises to be an exciting learning experience. The low cost and the fact that it is being held at Fairmont SU, site of the WV Folklife Center, add to the attraction, I think. I'd love to see some of my writing friends there. Here's the details:

Fairmont State University Falcon Center
April 4-5, 2008
Fairmont State University and WV Storytelling Guild present Bil Lepp and Joseph Sobol
Mountain State Storytelling Institute

What is the Mountain State Storytelling Institute?

The Institute is a two-day conference featuring scholars and storytelling professionals. Fairmont State University, FSU’s Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center and the WV Storytelling Guild are committed to the use of storytelling to preserve Appalachian culture. The intent of this institute is to provide academic, professional and personal development for those interested in storytelling as scholarship, art, a teaching tool, and a profession or an avocation. Workshops will feature members of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild and FSU Faculty.

How can I participate?
Adults can register through the FSU Community Education Homepage; click on Mountain State
Storytelling Institute. Students may register at the door. ID required.

For scholarship information contact Dr. Kirk:

Fees: $35 for adults/$15 for students

What will I learn?

Keynote Scholar Joseph Sobol will address the preservation of culture through story and storytelling as scholarship. An artist-in-residence for many years in North and South Carolina, Sobol received a Masters in Folklore from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. His book on the American storytelling revival, The Storytellers’ Journey, was published in 1999 by the University of
Illinois Press. Sobol is the Director of the Graduate Program in Storytelling at East Tennessee State University.

Keynote Speaker Bil Lepp will address the preservation of personal history through story. Lepp is a five-time champion of the West Virginia Liars Contest. He tells original, hilarious, tales that will bring a smile to the face of even the most ill-humored person. Bil has been a Featured Teller at the National Storytelling Festival six times, and at The Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Bil is the author of three books of tales, four audio collections, and he has had stories published in several national magazines.

West Virginia Storytelling Guild Presenters Rich Knoblich will address the crafting and adapting
of folktales. Knoblich’s stories have been published in Goldenseal , Reading Today, and Appalachian Life magazines. He holds a B.A. in Education from West Liberty State College and an M.A. of Humanities Literature from California State University, CA. Rich is the recipient of a WV Humanities Council Fellowship for his project, Appalachian Culture: Texture, Text, and Context.

Gail Herman will present “Coal Talk,” a community history project. Herman wrote, with help from Elaine Eff of Maryland’s Cultural Preservation Office, and directed Coal Talk, an oral history project located in the Appalachian Mountains of Western Maryland. Herman holds a Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut.

Kevin Cordi will examine dialogue, “storying” and literature. Cordi holds an M.A. in secondary education with an emphasis in storytelling and literacy from the University of Akron and is a Ph. D. candidate at The Ohio State University. He has contributed to the Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge, English Journal , Storytelling World and Storytelling Magazine. Cordi received the Ann Izard Storyteller’s Choice Award for his book Raising Voices: Youth Storytelling Groups and Troupes.

Ilene Evans will examine the world of symbolic language and hidden meanings in the African American context. Evans is a professional storyteller, playwright, choreographer, actor, dancer and teaching artist. She is the artistic director of Voices from the Earth, an organization which creates historical works of theatre for schools and community groups. Ilene is known throughout WV for her presentations as Harriett Tubman and Memphis Tennessee Garrison

Susanna “Granny Sue” Holstein will share Appalachian and British ballads through performance and discussion and will explore puppets as storytelling partners. Susanna Holstein holds a B.S. in Education (Secondary Social Studies) from WV State College and an MLIS from the University of South Carolina. Holstein was a featured regional teller for the 2000 National Storytelling Network National Conference. She has contributed chapters in several books including “Storytelling with Puppets” in Telling Stories to Children published by NSN Press.

Suzi Whaples will discuss the use of the body to bring stories to life. Whaples, known professionally as “Mama”, is a national storyteller, humorist, and conference speaker with 30 years of experience in public speaking, teaching and entertainment. She organized the “Mountain Women,” and in 1998, Mama & The Mountain Women, a troupe of Appalachian
storytellers, were chosen National Storytelling Champions.

Andy Fraenkel will examine stories across cultures and in healing. Fraenkel holds a B.A. degree in Theater & Film from City University of New York and has a background in regional theater and Off-Broadway. For the last fifteen years he has traveled extensively offering multicultural storytelling programs and workshops at schools K-12, colleges, libraries, museums and special events.

JoAnn Dadisman will examine using storytelling as precursor to written narrative. Dadisman holds a Bachelor’s degree from Shippensburg State College (PA) in Secondary Education. She holds a Master’s degree in English Education from West Virginia University and has done post-graduate work there, with an emphasis on Appalachian Studies. She joined the WVU faculty as the English 102 and English 103 Coordinator for the Center for Writing Excellence. She is also co-director for the National Writing Project at WVU.

June Riffle will examine preserving community history through mixed media storytelling. Riffle graduated from Fairmont State with a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education. She then earned a Master’s degree in Reading from WVU. June performs with JoAnn Dadisman as “Mountain Echoes.” They have told stories to families at the Appalachian Studies Conference, Sumter campus of the University of South Carolina, and presented at the Popular Culture Conference in 2002.

Additional sessions will be presented by FSU faculty and students.

This project is being presented by Fairmont State University with financial assistance from The West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this brochure do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Granny Sue
Stories from the Mountains and Beyond
R2 Box 110
Sandyville WV 25275
tollfree 1-866-643-1353

Friday, February 01, 2008

A letter from Homer Hickam


The Homer Hickam family recently endowed the 'RED HELMET/HOMER HICKAM, SR. Marshall University Scholarship Program'.

The scholarship, named for my novel of the Appalachian coalfields and my father, is for the children of coal miners with an emphasis on mine rescue team members. My dad helped organize some of the first professionally-trained mine rescue teams in the country and RED HELMET is dedicated to "Mine Rescue Teams Everywhere."

Why this scholarship? Let's face it. Miners are ignored by the national media unless there's been a disaster. And as far as the government is concerned, they might as well be invisible. Yet, miners are what I call the "essential Americans," those who do the hard work for our country and sustain our economy on their backs. But unlike the children of so many special interest groups, the children of miners are given very little assistance to go to college. For the most part, they're on their own.

So I guess it's up to us to help out. Please go to and give what you can. Even $25 will help. Can you imagine if every Homer Hickam Newsletter reader gives even this small amount? Many kids, who desperately want to go to college AND deserve to go, will have the opportunity. These are not students who just sit back and wait for a handout, either. To be eligible for the scholarship, they must have worked hard through high school to prepare themselves. Believe me, they will deserve this helping hand. And while you're on my site, please also take a moment to click on the NATIONAL MINERS DAY page and sign the petition to create a special day for these "Essential Americans." I would be most appreciative and so will miners across the country.

A little RED HELMET news. Although so many bookstores got ahead and started selling it early, Feb. 5 remains the official publication date of my new love story of the Appalachian coalfields. Although I'm mostly doing national media events for RED HELMET, I am making some limited appearances at bookstores. Check the website to see where they will be. Here's some scheduled appearances: Thursday, February 216pm Booksmith, Birmingham, AL; Sunday, February 24,1pm Barnes & Noble, Jones Valley, Huntsville, AL; Friday February 29, 1:PM Tamarack Beckley WV; 5pm Hearthside Books Bluefield WV; Saturday March 1,1:PM Empire Books Huntington, WV; 6:PM, Taylor Books Charleston WV; Monday, March 10, 6:PM David-Kidd, Nashville, TN; Thursday, March 27, 1:PM Festival of the Book, Charlottesville VA.

One more thing. I've written the notes for Kathy Mattea's new album COAL which will be out in April. We'll be making some joint RED HELMET/COAL appearances. Keep watch on for more information as it develops.

But mainly, please help me with the RED HELMET/HOMER HICKAM, SR. scholarship at Marshall University and the NATIONAL MINERS DAY campaign. You will have my everlasting appreciation if you do.

Your friend,
Homer Hickam