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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Writers Toolkit in Wheeling

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Division of Culture and History in collaboration with the West Virginia Center for the Book, will present a free intensive creative writing workshop on Saturday, May 11, from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., at West Virginia Independence Hall (WVIH), 1528 Market St., in downtown Wheeling. The workshop will focus on history, and is funded in part by the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission.

The Writers' Toolkit workshop will be comprised of a two-hour morning session and a two-hour afternoon session. Each session will feature four concurrent classes. Participants should bring pens, pencils and writing tablets. They also are welcome to bring a bag lunch to eat from noon - 1 p.m. After lunch, there will be a panel discussion with all the presenters from 1-1:45 p.m.


The morning workshops will run from 10 a.m. to noon and include:

     "Writing History: From Tongue to Page" with Sean Duffy

Duffy's session will  help participants to explore oral history research techniques, including developing interview questions based on research goals, conducting and recording interviews, converting raw interviews into narratives, and reviewing ethical issues involved in oral history research.


"Fiction: Session One" with Marie Manilla

Manilla will guide students in ways to identify those "light-bulb" moments in their lives that provide excellent fodder for fiction. She will discuss the importance of emotional honesty and urgency in fiction and how language can propel a story forward or bog it down in minutia. Manilla will include short readings and exercises to help students apply these skills.


"Engage and Encourage" with Colleen Anderson

Anderson's session will focus on how to inspire children to write and how to improve their writing without stifling their creativity. Participants will hear some tried-and-true writing prompts and learn how to create their own prompts for children of all ages. She also will discuss ways to give gentle guidance to beginning writers so that they are motivated to hone their skills.


"What in the World is Geocaching" with John Morrison

Morrison will discuss the rapidly growing phenomenon of geocaching. Geocaching is a free outdoor recreational treasure hunt and a family-friendly activity in which players try to locate hidden containers using a mobile device or Global Positional System (GPS) receiver to hide and seek containers. Geocaches have been placed all over the world, ranging from extremely easy-to-find containers to containers that require more skill and stealth. The workshop will consist of a PowerPoint presentation that teaches the intricacies of geocaching and a hands-on demonstration of different types and sizes of containers used in geocaching. Participants also will gain experience using handheld GPS units.


The afternoon workshops will run from 2 to 4 p.m. and include:


"Picturing History: Incorporating Photographs into Written Histories" with Duffy

Duffy will lead participants in methods for using photographs in research, interviews and writing, including how to handle photographs properly, the basics of scanning, labeling and identifying photographic images and writing captions. Participants are encouraged to bring photographs to the session.


"Fiction: Session Two" with Manilla

Manilla will have students read short selections from authors like Breece Pancake, a native West Virginian, to discover the importance of giving just the right amount of information and characterization while leaving room for the reader to fill in the gaps. She will discuss ways to select appropriate details that can add to characterization, and look at how to weave real historical events into fiction without the story reading like a history lesson. Manilla also will lead students in writing exercises.


"Writing for Your Inner Child" with Anderson

Anderson will discuss some favorite children's stories, including picture books and chapter books that combine real life with real art. She will talk about how she approached the writing of her own children's chapter book, Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom, and offer a writing prompt to get participants started on their own story for young readers.


"What in the World is Geocaching" with Morrison

Morrison will discuss the rapidly growing phenomenon of geocaching. Geocaching is a free outdoor recreational treasure hunt and a family-friendly activity in which players try to locate hidden containers using a mobile device or Global Positional System (GPS) receiver to hide and seek containers. Geocaches have been placed all over the world, ranging from extremely easy-to-find containers to containers that require more skill and stealth. The workshop will consist of a PowerPoint presentation that teaches the intricacies of geocaching and a hands-on demonstration of different types and sizes of containers used in geocaching. Participants also will gain experience using handheld GPS units.


For more information about the Writers' Toolkit workshop, contact Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.


Duffy, who grew up in Warwood, W.Va., is the author of three books on local history: The Wheeling Family: A Celebration of Immigrants & Their Neighborhoods (Creative Impressions, 2006); Wheeling: Then & Now with Paul Rinkes (Arcadia, 2010); and The Wheeling Family, Volume 2: More Immigrants, Migrants & Neighborhoods (Jim Thornton, 2012). A fourth book, Legendary Locals of Wheeling, that he edited and wrote with historian Brent Carney is due from Arcadia in 2013. Duffy represents the Ohio County Public Library (OCPL) on the Wheeling Heritage Roundtable, the Wheeling Civil War 150 Committee, the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation Board, and the City of Wheeling's Arts and Cultural Commission and Hall of Fame board. He lives in Wheeling and works at the OCPL in programming, publicity, archives and special collections and reference.

Huntington native Manilla is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Mississippi Review, Prairie Schooner, Calyx Journal, The Portland Review, Kestrel, South Writ Large, and other journals. Her novel Shrapnel, set in Huntington, won the Fred Bonnie Award for Best First Novel. Manilla's collection of stories, Still Life with Plums, was a finalist for the Weatherford Award and ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year. Her next book, The Patron Saint of Ugly, is scheduled for publication by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2014.

Anderson is a freelance writer, performer, graphic designer and owner of Mother Wit Writing and Design, a creative studio in Charleston. She writes poems, radio essays, fiction, magazine articles and songs. She has taught weeklong workshops on short essays at Ghost Ranch, an arts center in New Mexico, and has written editorial copy for West Virginia's official visitor guide, which earned the designation of "best state visitor guide in the U.S." in 2005. Her book, Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom, won a Moonbeam Children's Book Award.

Morrison holds a bachelor's degree in history from West Virginia State University in Institute, W.Va. He is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa honors society for leadership, the West Virginia Civil War Geo-Trail Board, and the Sesquicentennial Geocaching committee. He works for the Division of Culture and History and is the assistant for Explore West Virginia Geo Challenge. He has taught geocaching to Outdoor Classroom and 4-H groups in the Kanawha Valley and has been geocaching since 2012, finding more than 200 geocaches and placing many of his own.

The West Virginia Center for the Book, a project of the West Virginia Library Commission and an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, brings the national Center's message of the importance of books and reading to audiences statewide. It actively works within West Virginia to highlight the unique literary heritage that abounds from the earliest storytellers to modern novelists and poets.

West Virginia Independence Hall, originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the museum is maintained and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with the exception of major holidays. The museum is located on the corner of 16th and Market Streets in Wheeling.

For more information about programs at West Virginia Independence Hall, contact Travis Henline, site manager, at (304) 238-1300.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division's programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Local Authors appear in Parkersburg

If you're in the Parkersburg area on Saturday, check out the Belpre Woman's Club Meet and Greet Local Authors, 10-3, Stone Administration Building, Belpre, OH. 

At least 15 authors, including Wilma Acree, Patsy Pitman, and Shannon (Tommy) Thomas, will participate.

Friday, April 05, 2013

WV Writers 2013 Summer Conference Presenters

The following are the current line up of presenters for the 2013 West Virginia Writers Summer Conference.

UPDATED 4/5/13

Colleen Anderson is a freelance writer, songwriter, and graphic designer in Charleston, WV. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in Redbook, The Available Press/PEN Short Story Collection, Arts & Letters, Kestrel, Antietam Review, and many others. Two of her short stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and her essays for West Virginia Public Radio have won awards in two national competitions. She has received two Individual Artist Fellowships from the WV Commission on the Arts and a residency fellowship from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of Taos, New Mexico.

Laura Treacy Bentley is a poet, fiction writer, teacher, and book editor for WV Living Magazine (“Conversations”).  She divides her time between Huntington, WV, and Garrett County, Maryland.  She served as writer in residence for the Marshall University Writing Project.  Laura’s work has appeared in the United States and Ireland, and her first book of poetry, Lake Effect, was published in 2006.  She received a Fellowship Award for Literature from the West Virginia Commission on the arts, and her poetry has been featured on the websites of A Prairie Home Companion and Poetry Daily.  In 2003 she read her poetry with Ray Bradbury in Venice, California.  One of her poems, “Keepsake,” was chosen by Maria Shriver and the editors of O Magazine in 2011 to be featured on Oprah’s website. Her first novel, a dark thriller called The Silver Tattoo, will be released soon.  Visit Laura’s website:


Todd Burge's songs are mostly stories that inhabit his invented characters. The scat singing and lyrical humor lighten the mood of some heavy subjects, letting his insights sneak up on you.  Producer Don Dixon said, "With wit and pathos in equal measure, Todd Burge takes on subjects in his songs that never occur to most folks.  Subjects too quirky, too controversial, too obtuse for most writers to get a handle on.” Over the last three decades, Burge, has played everything from Alternative/Punk Rock to Bluegrass, performing over 100 shows per year in venues as diverse as CBGB’s with his band 63 Eyes, to the The Country Music Hall of Fame and the Kennedy Center.  He is a repeat guest on NPR's Mountain Stage and has been called the “dean of WV songwriters”, by the show’s host, Larry Groce.  Burge has performed and toured with Tim O’Brien, Kathy Mattea, Lucinda Williams, Bela Fleck, Mike Seeger, Larry Groce, Ricky Skaggs and many others. In 2013 he is getting together with Bill "Hot Rod Lincoln" Kirchen for a few duo concerts.  In 2012, Burge released two CDs, One for grownups entitled “Building Characters” produced by Don Dixon (R.E.M. Mary Chapin Carpenter) and featuring Tim O’Brien (Hot Rize, Mark Knopfler, Steve Martin) and one for children entitled “Character Building”.  The Children’s CD will serve as an ongoing fundraiser for The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.  His high energy shows are packed with songs and stories of bizarre characters and critters, from dogs to sharks to humans and beyond.  Burge has the ability to twist his catchy tunes into something we can all relate to. Todd Burge also hosts his own radio show and podcast, Songwriter Night with Todd Burge. He resides with his wife Lisa and two young children, Sophia (7) and William (9) in Parkersburg WV.

C. Hope Clark is editor of, chosen by Writer's Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 12 years. Her newsletters reach 35,000 readers each week. She is also author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, to include Lowcountry Bribe (February 2012) and Tidewater Murder (April 2013), published by Bell Bridge Books. Her nonfiction books designed to aid the introverted writer include The Shy Writer and The Shy Writer Reborn. You can find her works or sign up for her newsletters at and Hope lives on the banks of Lake Murray, in central South Carolina.


Christina Freeburn is currently working on two series. Her mystery series, Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series, is published by Henery Press. The first book, Cropped to Death, was released November 2012. The second book, Designed to Death, will be released Sept 4, 2013 and the third Embellished to Death in April 2014. She also writes the New Beginnings series published by Desert Breeze, featuring a skip-tracing business that specializes in relocating abused and stalked women. The first three books in the inspirational romantic suspense series are out, Lost Then Found, Led Astray, and Safe and Sound. Two more are scheduled for release in 2013 (Long Gone - May 2013 and Far and Away - Nov 2013).   Christina has been a judge for the Edgar award for Best Novel category and the ACFW Carol Awards, and previously chaired MWA:Reads, the youth literacy committee of MWA. Her first novel, Parental Source, was a nominee for the 2003 Library of Virginia Literary Award.


Steve Goff is a comedian, actor and writer who has taught creativity and improv workshops for over twenty years. He has recently developed his Improve With Improv workshops which explore the relationship between creativity, improvisation and self expression. Since May of 2011, over 400 people have taken at least one of these innovative, energizing, creative, and fun improv sessions.

Goff is also the coach of the Vintage Theatre Co.'s improv team, Fearless Fools. In July of 2012, in recognition of this inventive approach to improv and creativity, Steve received a 2012 Individual Artist Professional Development grant from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, with funding coming the National Endowment for the Arts and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

In August of 2012, Steve finished his second year of study at The Second City Training Center(SCTC) in Chicago, IL. An accomplished character actor, Steve has been featured in a number of theater productions in WV, PA, NC, MD, and VA. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, and a Masters of Public Administration, both from West Virginia University. He was the first director of Morgantown's very successful Main Street Morgantown and also served as the first Executive Director of the Metropolitan Theater renovation project, also in Morgantown. His Main Street work later took him to North Carolina, and then to Washington, DC where he worked for both the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Main Street Center. While with the Main Street Center, Steve conducted creativity workshops for non-profit organizations, training staff and board members in 15 different states. Besides the workshops, the acting and being a comic, Steve is also a freelance writer and consultant for various regional non-profit organizations. Steve lives with his wife Beth in Harrison County, WV.

Chris Green, Director of Berea’s Loyal Jones Appalachian Center, is a poet and literary scholar whose books include Rushlight: Poems, Coal: A Poetry Anthology (which he had edited), and The Social Life of Poetry: Appalachia, Race, and Radical Modernism (which won the 2009 Weatherford Award for best non-fiction book about Southern Appalachia).  From 2004 to 2012 Chris lived in West Virginia where he worked with poets, students (K-graduate), activists, writers, and citizens of all makes and models to know and celebrate themselves, their heritage, and the mountains, while also encouraging and enabling them to struggle for justice in the face of escalating MTR.

Marc's three poetry chapbooks include ROSE OF SHARON, Mad River, MA.  Periodical publications include Shenandoah, The Georgia Review, The Progressive, and Tuesday: An Arts Journal.  Poems have been anthologized by Kent State University, the University of Iowa, University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona. Short prose works have recently been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  His eleven children’s books include THE STORM, a Smithsonian Notable Book.  A new children’s book is forthcoming from Eerdmans and a new chapbook of poems from the Quarrier Press in Charleston, WV.  In May of 2012 Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Marc as the next Poet Laureate of West Virginia to succeed the late Irene McKinney.

Jolie Lewis is a writer and teacher, and vice president of the Board of Directors at the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace in Pocahontas County, WV. She was raised in nearby Ohio, lived in West Virginia from 2000 to 2012, and now resides in southwestern Virginia. Her fiction has appeared in Tin House, Shenandoah and The Hopkins Review. She holds an MFA in creative writing from The Ohio State University and has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award for emerging women writers and a professional development grant from the WV Commission on the Arts. She divides her time among writing, raising two young children, teaching the occasional workshop and doing volunteer work for nonprofits.

George M. Lies is a short story writer who has served WVW, Inc. since 1983, twice as President. He moderates Critique Workshops for Morgantown Writers Group, founded in 1994. He had directed GoldenRod Writers Conference (1983-2001). His story, Trailer Dogs Barking, was in Mountain Voices (2006) and chosen by Meredith Sue Willis for the 2008 online WV anthology in Hamilton Stone Review.  His story, Keys to Heaven, set in Monongalia County, was published by Steneau in Romania (2005) and a federal university in Brazil (2009).  He has worked with both emerging and published writers and coalesced editorial teams to produce two anthologies, Pokeberry Days (1998) and Janus ’95.  He has led writing and grant workshops statewide.

Joe Limer is a spoken word poet living in California and a 2012 member of the San Diego poetry slam team that reached the semifinals of the National Poetry Slam Championships Summer 2012 in Charlotte, NC. He has performed in several venues throughout the U.S. including Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Morgantown, Oceanside, CA, Charlotte, NC, Hollywood, San Diego, Pomona, CA, Long Beach, Encinitas, CA, and Honolulu. He has won or placed in poetry slam competitions such as the Long Beach Slam, Pittsburgh's Steel City Slam, the La Paloma Slam in Encinitas, CA, and the San Diego Poetry Slam. He also teaches writer's workshops at various high schools, colleges, and community centers throughout the San Diego area. When he’s not doing poetry, he teaches political science at Palomar College in San Marcos, CA. Despite all these activities, West Virginia is his home. He went to high school in Clarksburg, WV and got his degrees at Fairmont State and West Virginia University. Most of his family and friends live in WV so he travels home as much as he can.

Joey Madia is the Artistic Director/Resident Playwright of Seven Stories Theatre Company, Inc. and Resident Playwright at Youth Stages, LLC. His 19 plays for youth and adults have been produced across the United States and two of his plays are currently offered by Dramatic Publishing. He has written and performed pieces about Civil War captains Louis Emilio and Thomas Maulsby. A professional actor and director, he has appeared in or directed over 90 plays.

As a teaching-artist he has worked with, taught, and mentored thousands of students in theatre, playwriting, and creative writing and has spoken at many schools and national conferences. In 2011 he founded the Seven Stories Emerging Playrights Series, which has produced staged readings of new works by nearly a dozen playwrights from across the United States.

His poetry, essays, and short stories have been widely published and have earned him several awards. He has also written four books on using theatre in the classroom. His first novel, Jester-Knight, was published in 2009 and his second, Minor Confessions of an Angel Falling Upward, was published in September 2012. He is a book and music reviewer and the founding editor of, an art and literary site.

Huntington native Marie Manilla is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her Urban Appalachian fiction explores the people and landscapes of her home state, often exploding the stereotypes, at times confirming them. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Mississippi Review, Prairie Schooner, Calyx Journal, The Portland Review, Kestrel, South Writ Large, and other journals. Her collection of stories Still Life with Plums (WVU Press, 2010) was a finalist for the Weatherford Award and ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year. Her novel Shrapnel (River City Publishing, 2012), set in Huntington, won the Fred Bonnie Award for Best First Novel. The Patron Saint of Ugly, her forthcoming novel also set in West Virginia, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in spring 2014. Marie continues to live in Huntington where she teaches off and on at Marshall University. Learn more at

Maynard's novel, Crum, was the first original fiction published by Washington Square Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. In its first month of publication, the novel rose to No. 8 on the Doubleday Best Seller List. The novel has been taught in English literature classes in a score of prestigious universities. Sometimes called "the book that wouldn't die", Crum was republished by Vandalia Press (a commercial imprint of West Virginia University Press) in the summer of 2001. It was the first book published by Vandalia and within a year became the best-selling book in the history of the university.

The National Endowment for the Arts awarded a Literary Fellowship in Fiction to Maynard for Crum's sequel, Screaming With The Cannibals (volume II of a trilogy), published by Vandalia Press in 2002. The third and last volume of the trilogy, The Scummers, was published by Vandalia in spring, 2012.

The Pale Light of Sunset, a work of creative nonfiction, was published by Vandalia in October 2009.

Maynard's short fiction has appeared in such publications such as Columbia Review of Literature, Appalachian Heritage and the literary magazine, Kestrel.

As a journalist, Maynard was an assignment writer for Reader's Digest for more than two decades. His journalism and non-fiction work has appeared more than 100 times in publications as diverse as The Saturday Review, Rider Magazine, Washington Post, Country America, Dual Sport News and Christian Science Monitor.

Much of Maynard's work is highly controversial. His novel, Crum, was banned in his home state and, even today, stirs deep, conflicting emotions among the people of Appalachia. Nevertheless, Maynard's work has been critically acclaimed. His prose has been held in comparison to Hemingway, Twain, Harris, Faulkner and Salinger.

Specializing in the novel, Maynard has taught at many national and regional workshops, including the Appalachian Writers Workshop, Southwest Writers Workshop, and West Virginia Writers Conference. He has served as Writing Master at Allegheny Echoes.

Maynard has been a management and editorial consultant to newspapers, magazines and small publishing companies, and was once a college president. An avid outdoorsman, he is a mountaineer, sea kayaker, skier and former professional river runner. He once rode a motorcycle from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to the Arctic Circle. He lives near Santa Fe.

Phyllis Wilson Moore recently completed a twenty-five year research project identifying the literature of West Virginia and related sites. For the project, Jim served as graphic artist, poster maker, power point program creator, and photographer.  Phyllis’s role included reading the literature and writing about it for websites and journals.  She is an essayist, a poet, and the author of the text for the first official literary map of West Virginia. Her author interviews, author survey information, and personal research serve as the nucleus of the map’s content.  In 2011 the couple donated their extensive West Virginia literary materials to the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State University, Fairmont, WV.

Edwina Dawn Pendarvis lives in Huntington. She has written on various topics—from gifted children to exotic dancers. Her publications include authored and co-authored books of educational research, poetry, fiction, memoir, and biography. Her essays, stories, and poems are collected in periodicals, such as Appalachian Journal, and in anthologies, such as Appalachian Love Stories and The Southern Poetry Anthology. Her poetry collection, Like the Mountains of China, reflects a visit to China, and her four young-adult biographies of Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature are published in dual language editions by Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press. She is book review editor for Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine. (Thanks to Dave Lambert, photographer, for the picture of Eddy at the Sydenstricker House in Hillsboro)

Cat Pleska writes, edits, and blogs from Scott Depot, WV, just a stone’s throw down the road from Hurricane, WV, where she grew up. As a sixth generation West Virginian, her memories and the memories of her family and ancestors have become layered, like a good taco salad or the Almost Heaven 7 layer chocolate bar. Where does the coconut layer begin? Where does it end? Cat is an essayist for West Virginia Public Radio and a regular contributor to Wonderful West Virginia magazine. She’s been published in state, regional, and national journals and is still working on her beloved memoir, The Last Storyteller. She’ll finish it! She promises! She also believes, with all her heart, in the Oxford comma (note examples above—but she also apologizes for the excessive use of exclamation points—sometimes she just wants to fit in :).

A graduate of Georgetown University, Sheila Redling hosted the morning radio program on WKEE-FM in Huntington, WV, for fifteen years. In 2011 she stepped away from the microphone to pursue writing full-time. Writing as S.G. Redling, her first thriller, FLOWERTOWN (Thomas & Mercer, 2012) sold over fifty thousand copies in its first six weeks. Her next book, the sci-fi novel DAMOCLES (47North, 2013) hits the shelves at the end of May; with her third book, the thriller THE WIDOW FILE (Thomas & Mercer, 2013) set for release in late fall. She is currently working on the sequel to THE WIDOW FILE and if she doesn’t have it mostly finished before the WV Writers Conference, expect her to be very nervous and cranky. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at SG Redling.

Marilyn Sue Shank earned her PhD in special education from the University of Kansas, where she majored in learning disabilities and behavior disorders and minored in counseling psychology and families with disabilities. She has taught general and special education at the elementary, secondary, and college levels.

Marilyn’s work has been published in journals, and she coauthored the first four editions of Exceptional Lives: Special Education in Today’s Schools. Child of the Mountains is her first work of fiction. She lives in West Virginia with her three rescued dogs.

Robert Tinnell is a writer/director/producer with experience in a variety of media. Tinnell’s initial claim to fame was as producer on the notorious cult class SURF NAZIS MUST DIE and as a producer of music videos, including the class MTV Award-winner, STRAIGHT UP by Paula Abdul. As time passed, he became better known for his work as a director and screenwriter on feature films including KIDS OF THE ROUND TABLE, FRANKENSTEIN AND ME and BELIEVE, as well as the upcoming productions of SACRIFICE, THE LIVING AND THE DEAD, and THE MOTHMAN CHRONICLES. Tinnell has been equally successful creating commercial and image campaigns for a variety of clients (among them Kawasaki, Clearsil, Pierpont, Fairmont Federal Credit Union, Total Gym), garnering both awards and critical acclaim, including work that was featured on the cover of Adweek. Outside of the film industry, Tinnell is a well-respected graphic novelist, known for such works as THE BLACK FOREST, THE WICKED WEST, SIGHT UNSEEN, FLESH AND BLOOD, and the Eisner Award-nominated FEAST OF THE SEVEN FISHES.

Author R.G. Yoho was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia. While he was still a child, his parents moved the family to a cattle farm in southeastern Ohio.

A graduate of Hyles-Anderson College, R.G. has been employed in manufacturing for almost thirty years. At the same time, he worked as a freelance writer for years in many fields, such as politics and sports. In addition, R.G. also hosted a weekly radio talk show for over four years.

The author has published three Westerns, a passion that began with the reading of Flint, a novel by famed Western author, Louis L'Amour.  In addition, Yoho has also published three works of non-fiction.

His first book, Heroes in Our Midst, received the 2009 James P. Vaughan Award for Historic Preservation from the Wood County Historical Society.

A loving husband, father, and grandfather, R.G. is also a devoted fan of West Virginia University football and basketball.
Marlene Stringer founded Stringer Literary Agency in December 2008. Prior to this time she spent almost seven years with the Barbara Bova Literary Agency. Among her clients are authors Alex Bledsoe (the Eddie LaCrosse series, Memphis series, Tufas -The Hum and the Shiver, Wisp of a Thing); Alyxandra Harvey (The Drake Chronicles, Haunting Violet, and Stolen Away); Bethany Wiggins (Shifting, Stung); Erica Hayes (Shadowfae series and Blood Cursed, The Revelation Series); Michelle Diener (The Emperor’s Conspiracy, Keeper of the King’s Secrets), Andrea Thalasinos (An Echo Through the Snow, Traveling Light), Stephanie Thornton (The Secret History), Gabi Stevens (Fairy Godmother Trilogy); Beth Orsoff (Vlad All Over), Suzanne Johnson (Royal Street series); Susannah Sandlin (The Penton Vampires Series), YA author Shari Maurer (Change of Heart); Liane Merciel (The Ithalas Series); Geoffrey Wilson(The Land of Hope and Glory series);MG authors Jen K Blom (Possum Summer), and Randi Barrow(Finding Zasha, Saving Zasha); and some select nonfiction.

As a full service literary agency based in Naples, Florida, Marlene represents a wide range of commercial fiction in the areas of romance, mystery, thriller, fantasy, women’s fiction, YA and MG, historical and earth-based science fiction. She also reps select non-fiction. The Stringer Literary Agency website is, on Twitter ~ @marlenestringer, and on FB ~

Christine Witthohn is a literary agent and the founder of Book Cents Literary Agency, as well as the U.S. Sales and Licensing Agent for leading French Publisher, Bragelonne, and German publisher, Egmont-Lyx. She is one of the main sponsors of the International Women’s Fiction Festival held annually in Matera, Italy and she teaches brainstorming, branding, and social media classes in the U.S., U.K., France, and Italy. She is member of AAR, RWA, MWA.

Christine is on the hunt for well-written commercial and women’s fiction, romance (rom suspense, contemporary, rom coms), new adult, mysteries (cozy or soft boiled), and thrillers. She is not looking for: middle grade, picture books, inspirational, westerns, sci fi, horror, erotica, poetry, or screenplays/stageplays.

Here are a few of her top 2012-13 titles: Murder For The Halibut (Liz Lipperman), Fury Of Seduction (Coreene Callahan), Flowertown (S.G. Redling), Corpse In The Crystal Ball (Kari Lee Townsend), Temptation Rising (A.C. Arthur), Knight Avenged (Coreene Callahan), The Birthday Scandal (Leigh Michaels), Child of the Mountains (Marliyn Sue Shank), Damocles (S.G. Redling), Memoirs of a Vagabond (Beatrix Kramolvsky). For a complete list of her 2013 published titles, her sales and what she represents, visit Publisher's Marketplace at:

WVW Summer Conference Workshops

(The following are descriptions of workshops for the 2013 WV Writers Summer Conference.)

UPDATED 5/21/13


KISS: Keep It Short and Shapely (essays) (COLLEEN ANDERSON) A good read-aloud essay combines the narrative flow of fiction, the brevity of lyric poetry, and the emotional power of song. Creating such an essay can employ the research skills of a journalist, the critical eye of an editor, and the performance techniques of a storyteller. This workshop will offer examples of successful short essays, suggestions for essay topics, and tips and techniques for revising your own essays.

Chapter Books for Early Readers (COLLEEN ANDERSON)  From picture book to chapter book—what an exciting leap for a child to make! In this workshop, Colleen Anderson will discuss why and how she wrote her award-winning children’s chapter book, Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom, and offer an introduction to the characteristics of this form that bridges the gap between picture books and books for middle-grade readers. The workshop will include a writing prompt to get you started on your own story for early readers.

The Hocus-Pocus of Poetry Part I (LAURA TREACY BENTLEY)  In this session we'll look at some magical/healing and cryptic/confusing poems by some of my favorite and least favorite poets. We'll discuss the arresting poetry of Laura Gilpin, Ted Kooser, Irene McKinney, Stephen Dunn, Sylvia Plath, George Bilgere, Jan Harrington, Wendell Berry, and Billy Collins, among others. I'll also read a few poems by nameless poets that I do not like and tell you why. I hope to simplify, demystify, and help you fall in love all over again with the power of poetry. Ideas and tips to help craft and create new work will be presented. We will shape a poem from a novel excerpt and draft a new poem. The importance of the opening line and the use of distance will be modeled. I believe like Ted Kooser that "Poetry is communication. Poetry's purpose is to reach other people and to touch their hearts."

The Hocus-Pocus of Poetry Part II (LAURA TREACY BENTLEY) The magic transformative powers of poets and poetry will continue to be modeled and discussed. Three poems drawn at random that were created and refined by participants in Part I will be work-shopped. Everyone will participate and benefit from informal and non-threatening critiques. There will be time for questions and concerns in both sessions.

How to Write One Song Everyday (TODD BURGE)  (poetry)  Burge will talk about how writers can get themselves to that “free space” where the pen flows without thinking.  He will take one or two of his most requested tunes and discuss his creative process.

All You Need is a Little Faith: Writing for the Inspirational/Christian Fiction Market (CHRIS FREEBURN)  Writing for the inspirational and/or Christian market is more than just having your characters go to church and praying. Nowadays, there is also a distinction made between Inspirational and Christian novels which depend on how the faith element is included in your story (part of the plot and character development, or as part of characterization). In this workshop, we'll learn about the subtle (but important) difference between the two areas of this genre. We'll also explore how the faith element can be strengthened in your story and woven in a natural way that works for your voice and the story you want to tell.

Writing for Magazines (C. HOPE CLARK) - If you want to write for magazines but don’t know how to start, or if you need motivation, Hope Clark helps you find your spark with a dose of confidence. Learn how to come up with a good idea, find markets interested in your idea, pitch to the right editors, define 'evergreen' topics, write a great query letter.  Learn how writing for magazines can make for some of the steadiest income in writing. . . and be loads of fun.

FundsforWriters Streams for Writers (C. HOPE CLARK) - All too often writers write with tunnel-vision, only focusing on one project, one book, one method of writing. Learn how to earn income from several directions, and how to better organize your writing journey so that it begins to earn an income.

Managing the Business Side of Writing (CHRIS FREEBURN)  Writing a book doesn't stop at writing the book ... especially if a writer is going the independent route.  There is editing, marketing, more editing, designing the cover, book blurbs, managing your writing, personal, and promoting schedule ... and most important handling your finances. In this workshop, we'll explore different ways of handling these other areas of your business ... from hiring out, computer programs, apps ... to a mix that works best for you. It's easy to caught up in writing and ignore the rest -- or as some writers have discovered -- getting caught up in the rest and not having time to write.

Improv Your Writing (STEVE GOFF)  Employing the tools of comedy improvisation, attendees will discover how to utilize this freeing technique to enhance the writing process. You will learn how the skills of improv can help you to develop characters, generate authentic dialogue, and bust up writers' block. We will cover the basic "rules" of improv, and then through a series of fun exercises and improv games, geared specifically to writers, you will experience how an improv approach to writing can help you to explore character emotion, avoid stalled scenes, and, in a humorous piece, help you "get to the funny". Find out what happens when you get out of your own way and give your subconscious the freedom to make the connections that will drive your writing and energize your story. All writers will benefit from exposure to improv techniques, but it can be especially helpful if your interests include performance writing for the stage or screen.

“Hey!  You Write Funny” (STEVE GOFF)  Comedy Writing - Techinques, tips and tricks to help you take advantage of your inner "funny" so you can add humor and insight to your writing.  Using exercises from the Second City Training Center, participants will explore the basics of comedy sketch writing.  Attendees will learn how to develop comic characters and how to put together a funny scene.  Techniques for brainstorming and generating dialogue will also be employed.  Regardless of what you write, this workshop can energize your writing and help jump start your creative process.

Describing Sanctuary (CHRIS GREEN) (poetry) - This workshop will have participants dancing slant-ways through colors, lines, and rhymes into describing what, for them, is a sanctuary in Appalachia.

Breaking Icons Open (CHRIS GREEN) (poetry) - This workshop will show writers techniques for animating the dead (words that is) and how to break the bones (of sentences) so one can smell (and paint with) their marrow.
Prose Poetry/Flash Fiction and . . . (MARC HARSHMAN) In this session Marc Harshman will examine the historic development of prose poetry and flash fiction into the modern era.  He will attempt some definitions, as well as share characteristic examples of this popular, yet elusive genre.  In addition, participants will have the opportunity to write their own short prose works including a six-word memoir.  Harshman will also provide a brief overview of bibliographic resources, as well as briefly survey magazines and journals open to such work.

Get Home as Best You Can (MARC HARSHMAN)  This will mark Mr. Harshman’s first reading at the West Virginia Writers conference since his appointment as the new Poet Laureate of West Virginia.  Marc will present a reading of his poems drawing from each of his three previous chapbooks, as well as from more recent work.  He will also reflect upon the rich legacies of Louise McNeill and Irene McKinney, the laureates who most immediately preceded him. There will follow time for question and answer.

Writing Contests 101 (HEATHER ISAACS)  Entering writing contests are a great way to get our names out into the writing world. These writing contests are for anthologies or magazines or for a certain website and everything in between. Some contests have very specific criteria and others may just have a word limit. A few questions to ask are…. Where do I find these writing contests? Do I pay to enter these contests? Which contests are legit? In this workshop we will discuss all these questions and any other concerns about writing contests we all may have.

Social Media for Writers (HEATHER ISAACS)  Social Media is now seen everywhere. It is used by friends, family, businesses, schools, and libraries just to name a few. Trying to keep up with it all can be tiresome and trying to figure out which social media outlet is best for you can be overwhelming. In this workshop we will discuss the social media world and which social media outlets are good starting points for you as a writer/author to promote yourself and your sweat, blood, and tears (your work).

What’s Your Writing Personality? (JOLIE LEWIS)  Flannery O’Connor rarely wrote more than two hours a day, facing the front of a wooden dresser. Truman Capote was famous for writing while lying down, typically drinking coffee or smoking. Maya Angelou keeps a hotel room, empty except for a Bible, a dictionary, a thesaurus and a bottle of sherry, and goes there every morning at 5:30. Graham Green is rumored to have watched cars until he saw the right combination on a license plate before going inside to write exactly 500 words. Pearl Buck, early in her career, wrote in fifteen-minute bursts anytime she got a break from mothering and running a house, and later devoted hours every morning to her work, producing a prolific 2,500 words a day.  It is interesting to read about the habits of famous authors, but how on earth are we each supposed to find the routine that works for us? Should we follow a set schedule or wait for inspiration? Is there a certain time of day that is best for writing? Do we fly through early drafts or make sure to get every word right the first time around? Should we promote ourselves tirelessly or wait to be found? If you are someone who wonders about the answers to these questions, or wishes your habits were different, or has trouble getting into a routine at all, this may be a good session for you.  Every personality type brings certain strengths and weaknesses to the writing process. In this workshop, presented by the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation, we will look to famous writers and each other for guidance as we explore how writing habits relate to personality. If we can learn to understand ourselves better, maybe we can also learn how to make the most of our time, our energy, our passion and our talent. 

Manuscript Critique Workshops (GEORGE LIES)  This is a Manuscript Critique workshop for fiction and non-fiction that will demonstrate a unique 3 step approach that could be used by writers groups.  This is open to registered conference attendees.  If you send a manuscript, you will receive a 3-page handout describing the unique Manuscript Critique Process and a list of points for critiquing manuscripts. 

Breaking writer's block with spoken word. (JOE LIMER) (for beginners and closet poets). This workshop will emphasize the writing and creative process of crafting a free verse poem. New poets are welcome and encouraged. In this workshop, Joe Limer will introduce spoken word poetry. Students will engage in exercises designed to unlock the creativity and truth within them to produce the beginning of a poem that may be performed at the end of the convention.

Transforming written works into performance. (JOE LIMER)  This workshop could be a continuation of my first workshop. In this workshop, students will take a poetry piece and learn how to be comfortable expressing the poem onstage. There will be exercises in public speaking and recitation.

How Picture Books Work and How You Might Write One (GEORGE ELLA LYON) (writing for children).  We’ll look at the following:  assumptions that get in the way of writing a picture book, the basic elements that define this unique genre, and exercises to get you started.

Exploring Your Material for a YA Novel (GEORGE ELLA LYON) (writing for children).  We'll look briefly at a couple of current and very successful YA novels, then do an exercise aimed at helping you begin to find your material and your voice.

We’re Wrights for a Reason: Crafting the Well-Made Play. (JOEY MADIA) (Beginner)  Using the 3-Act Structure as our model, participants will work with the “3 Threes of Good Storytelling” to ensure the creation of strong characters, interesting circumstances, and sustainable conflict in compelling locales. Participants will learn techniques for outlining, the connection between theme and character choice, the movement from the Lie to the Truth, and giving the play the proper scope using “The Proposition.”

Character and Dialogue: The Light Bulb and the Light. (JOEY MADIA) (Intermediate/Advanced) This workshop gives participants new insights into the nuances of character construction and the importance of meaningful and well-crafted dialogue to the success of the play. Word choice and placement, right emphasis, sound and rhythm, and creating a character continuum to ensure balance and sufficient scope will all be considered.

Every Novel is a Mystery, and the Devil IS in the Details (MARIE MANILLA)  Regardless of genre, most novels contain elements of mystery to keep readers turning pages. From literal secrets, to the puzzle of why the protagonist is the way she is or how he wound up in such a predicament, authors must lead readers on a scavenger hunt for clues so they can solve the mystery for themselves. This workshop will focus on ways to layer in mysteries that will engage readers. We’ll also discuss the importance of adding those crucial—but selective—details that add authenticity to place, time, and characterization.

Igniting Reader Complicity: The Importance of What’s Left Unsaid (MARIE MANILLA)  Most readers enjoy stories that require them to peel back the layers themselves rather than having everything neatly spelled out. The story then becomes a collaboration between the author and the reader. Reader complicity relies on restraint on the author’s part and attention to detail on the reader’s. In this workshop we’ll look at how Breece Pancake insists upon reader complicity in his short story “A Room Forever.” We’ll also examine how he deftly packs his prose with rich layers, textures, and characters so that we can use those tools in our own fiction.

Questions from a Writing Life – Q&A for Beginning and Intermediate Writers (LEE MAYNARD) - Lee will answer and discuss the most frequently asked questions by beginning to intermediate writers. He will also answer questions from those in attendance.

Questions from a Writing Life – Q&A for Advanced Writers (LEE MAYNARD) - Lee will answer and discuss questions most frequently asked by advanced writers. He will also answer questions from those in attendance.

Presentation of “The Un-Civil War: The Stories of the Civil War as Portrayed in the Literature of WV." (20 minute presentation)  (PHYLLIS WILSON MOORE) This presentation includes the work of selected West Virginian authors with family members on either or both sides of the conflict.

Presentation of “West Virginia's African-American Literary Heritage:  From Booker T. to HLG."  (20 minute presentation) (PHYLLIS WILSON MOORE) West Virginia’s rich African-American Literary.

Potboilers, Romance, and Old Buddhas:  Lessons from Pearl Buck on How to Write Historical Novels (EDWINA “Eddy” PENDARVIS) - China Flight, Peony, and Imperial Woman, three of Pearl Buck’s lesser known novels, use three different approaches to historical fiction. Her war story, love story, and fictionalized biography offer valuable lessons for writing historical fiction that engages readers’ imagination in a world of the past. Along with the do’s (and the occasional don’t), this session includes prompts for practice in applying these lessons and to stimulate new ideas for writing historical fiction that maintains readers’ “willing suspension of disbelief.”

Sketches and Maps: Writing Travel Articles (EDWINA “Eddy” PENDARVIS) - “To be a really interesting travel writer, you have to have some small obsession.”  Good travel writing can make the most ordinary place exotic by offering a new perspective on it and by revealing intriguing corners and by-ways.  Discussing two styles of travel writing, the “sketch” and the “map,” this session offers suggestions for using your “small obsessions” to discover the exotic in seemingly ordinary travel destinations. The publishing focus is on developing ideas for travel articles you might like to write and editors might like to publish—either “sketches,” which highlight intriguing features of a place, or “maps,” which offer more detailed guides for tourists.

The Five Minute Memoir! – (CAT PLESKA)  Really? Yes. Today, flash nonfiction is the buzzword, so you might as well try it, too. Take some particular memories (which Cat will help you locate) and compress them to write rich, engaging mini-memoirs, so appropriate for sending to literary magazines that are looking for short shorts (I used to wear those when I was a little girl! The short shorts, I mean). Come join me to learn concise writing about significant moments in your life.

Mountain State Press Reception (CAT PLESKA)  In celebration of its 35th anniversary, Mountain State Press will have a reception with light refreshments on Saturday afternoon.  Cat Pleska will be there to answer your questions.  The new brochure/catalog will be available as well as their latest publication by Belinda Anderson.

“My Evil Plan is Working!” and Other Things Bad Guys Don’t Say: Creating Believable Villains that Readers Secretly Love and Love to Hate (SHEILA REDLING) (craft) - All good heroes need a great villain – especially in the genres of thriller, horror, mystery, and sci-fi/fantasy. So how do you get the most bang from your bad guy? We’ll discuss motivation, pacing, and paralleling, as well as the importance of believable side characters. Participants are encouraged to discuss their current works in progress and maybe even brainstorm a plotline or two.

Finding Your Voice: What I Learned from Child of the Mountains (MARILYN SUE SHANK) - Voice is letting go of rules, preconceptions and expectations to discover meaning, not only for your characters, but for yourself. Also, voice is being as surprised by the words that flow from your fingers as your readers will one day be. How do you find your voice as a writer? In this workshop, Shank explains how she finds hers.

Caught in the Middle: Who Are the Readers of Middle Grade Novels? (MARILYN SUE SHANK) - Children from ages 9 to 12 are beginning to individualize from their families and explore their identities. On the cusp of puberty, they experience emotions at a higher level than they probably will throughout life. This workshop explores this fascinating age and how to write novels to target their needs and interests. Participants will be given an opportunity for a quick write of a memory from this time of life.

Why Doesn’t Anyone Want My Story? (Marlene Stringer, Agent)  You’ve completed a manuscript and sent it out on submission, but had no interest.  Why not? Why can’t you get anyone’s attention?  This workshop will give writers insight into the reasons why their manuscripts are turned down by agents and editors, and how the decision-making process in traditional publishing works. Writers will learn to judge their work with more perception of what goes into the acquisition process, and hopefully up their game so that their manuscript makes it into the acquisition meeting!
Introduction to Writing Graphic Narratives - Okay, Comic Books! – (ROBERT TINNELL)  Beginning with rudimentary sequential art storytelling techniques, the session will progress to efforts at creating a three page story - albeit one with stick figures.

Introduction to Screenwriting – (ROBERT TINNELL) A chance for writers interested in writing screenplays to gain an understanding of the form and format, industry expectations, and methods for starting a screenplay the right way. There will be a strong emphasis on analysis of existing adapted screenplays in an effort to underscore the building blocks of the three-act structure.

Becoming a Better Screenwriter (ROBERT TINNELL) For those who have some understanding of screenwriting, this workshop aims to improve a variety of skills across the discipline. Dialogue, descriptions, and improving action text will all be covered as will discussion of the traps that await writers in the second act. This will be an interactive workshop - not just a lecture as students will be encouraged to participate in exercises intended to make their writing more specific, evocative and economic - three foundations of writing successful screenplays.

Marketing To Your Target Audience (CHRISTINE WITTHON- LITERARY AGENT)  Your publication date is set, so now what? When do you need to start marketing your book and to whom? Who is your target market? Who is your competition? Do you have a catchy brand or a hook you can use to market yourself? How can you make yourself stand out from your competition? Learn tips on how to sell your projects and yourself to your target audience. Learn tips on how to generate book buzz without breaking the bank. We will use real examples from the class, so be prepared to have some fun and learn something in the process.
Western Writing—the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (R.G. YOHO) This workshop will cover all aspects of Western writing, from prairie to the printed page. We will evaluate the markets, cover research, writing techniques, philosophy, and publishing. The class will be targeted for the beginner all the way up to the published author. In addition, a number of the elements of the Western to be presented will equally apply to all genres of writing and publishing.