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Friday, April 25, 2014

WV Writers 2014 Conference Presenter Bios

(UPDATED 5/30/14)

Belinda Anderson’s enthusiasm for encouraging other writers is evident in her status as a Master Artist with the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, mentoring emerging writers through a matching grant program. She’s also a past recipient of the West Virginia Writers’ J.U.G. award, for mentoring and promoting the written word in West Virginia.  Belinda is the author of four books, published by the nonprofit Mountain State Press, based at the University of Charleston. Her first three books are short story collections: The Well Ain't Dry Yet, The Bingo Cheaters and Buckle Up, Buttercup. Her most recent book, Jackson Vs. Witchy Wanda: Making Kid Soup, is a middle-grade novel. She is serving as this year’s judge for the middle-grade level of the West Virginia Writers contest.  Her literary work was selected for inclusion on the first official literary map of West Virginia, published by Fairmont State University.

Maggie Anderson is the author of four books of poetry, including Windfall:  New and Selected Poems, A Space Filled with Moving, and Cold Comfort. She has edited several thematic anthologies, including A Gathering of Poets, a collection of poems read at the 20th anniversary commemoration of the shootings at Kent State University in 1970, as well as Learning by Heart: Contemporary American Poetry about School and After the Bell:  Contemporary American Prose about School.  Her awards include two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, fellowships from the Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania Councils on the Arts, and the Ohioana Library Award for contributions to the literary arts in Ohio.   The founding director of the Wick Poetry Center and of the Wick Poetry Series of the Kent State University Press, Anderson is Professor Emerita of English at Kent State University and lives in Asheville, NC.  Mrs. Anderson is the judge for the Emerging Writers Poetry category of the 2014 WV Writers Writing Contest.

Laura Treacy Bentley is a poet, novelist, and the book editor for WV Living magazine.  Her debut novel THE SILVER TATTOO - a  psychological thriller set in mythical Ireland – was released in 2013.  She also has a poetry collection called LAKE EFFECT.  Her work has been widely published in the United States and Ireland in literary journals such as The New York Quarterly, Art Times, Poetry Ireland Review, Antietam Review, Rosebut, Nightsun, Blink, Ginseng, Wind, The Stinging Fly, Kestrel, ABZ, Crannog, Now & Then, 3x10 plus, Grey Sparrow Journal, and numerous anthologies, including The Southern Poetry Anthology.  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, Poetry Daily, and O Magazine.  Her poem “The Quiet Zone: Green Bank Observatory” was published on a poster with a photo of the GBT and is available at the observatory’s Galaxy Gift Shop.  She was honored to read her poetry with Ray Bradbury in 2003.  Laura served as writer in residence at the Marshall University Writing Project for three years and taught creative writing during the summer of 2013 at the West Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts at Davis & Elkins College.  Visit her website at

Daleen Berry is a New York Times best-selling author and the co-author of the The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese, which looks at one of the most shocking crimes of the decade. Berry’s professional writing career began at the Preston County Journal in 1988. Two years later, she received a first-place award for investigative journalism from the West Virginia Press Association and continued her work at the Associated Press, the Dominion Post, the Tracy Press, and the Cumberland Times-News.  Berry has covered serious crime including kidnapping and murder and has reported on the subsequent court and civil trials. Berry’s keen insight into the human psyche, her deep compassion, and her sensitivity have allowed her access to personal stories that were off limits to other reporters. Her Appalachian heritage gives her a sense of discernment about the region’s people that outside writers lack.  With a foreword by Ken Lanning, former FBI special agent and profiler, Berry’s memoir, Sister of Silence, has been used by students and instructors at Johns Hopkins University, UC Berkeley, Towson University, and Oklahoma City University. Broadcast journalist and former NPR Morning Edition host Bob Edwards called Berry a “magnificent storyteller.” Kirkus Reviews said Berry was “an engaging writer, her style fluid, with welcome touches of humor and sustained tension throughout.”  Berry is an experienced public speaker and has appeared at TEDx at Connecticut College, Johns Hopkins University, UC Berkeley, and Penn State University. She has written on the topics of filicide-suicide, domestic violence murders, sexual crimes, and mental illness as a contributor to the Daily Beast, the Huffington Post, and xoJane. In 2001, she founded Samantha's Sanctuary, a 501(c)3 charity to help educate and empower abused women and children.

Daniel Boyd is an acclaimed filmmaker with dozens of films, including Chillers, Strangest Dreams: Invasion of the Space Preachers, and Paradise Park (aka, Heroes of the Heart) to his credit. A media studies professor at West Virginia State University since 1983, Boyd has also taught around the world including in Tanzania as a three-time Fulbright scholar.  Producing nearly every genre of film, Boyd’s television work has earned 3 national Telly awards and 2 regional Emmy nominations. He has recently expanded into graphic novel creation with Chillers – The Graphic Novel  (Transfuzion Publishing), which was the 2012 Shel Dorph nominee for Original Graphic Novel of the Year, and Ghastly nominee for Best Horror Anthology.   Chillers 2 was released in 2013, and CARBON, is scheduled for release in May 2014. Boyd also serves as “Artist and Residence” at WV State University’s Economic Developments Center on Charleston’s west side.

Kambri Crews once lived with her deaf parents in a tin shed in Montgomery, Texas. She now owns and operates Ballyhoo Promotions, a PR and production company in New York City specializing in stand up comedy. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Burn Down the Ground (Random House) and a renowned storyteller. She has performed on The Moth, Literary Death Match, Risk! and Mortified and has appeared at SXSW Comedy, UCB Theatre, Gotham Comedy Club. Also a public speaker, she has given speeches at the University of Texas, Texas Book Festival, University of Oregon, SXSW (South by Southwest), DeafHope, and many other schools, colleges, book festivals, and events.

Geoffrey C. Fuller is a New York Times best-selling author and the co-author of The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese. Fuller has made a living as a freelance writer-editor for twenty years and in that capacity has written fiction and nonfiction. His work has appeared in newspapers and radio, in literary and commercial magazines, and in anthologies and textbooks and gift books. He has written two award-winning crime thrillers (Not What They Seem and Caught in the Net), one of which appeared in 2011 (pub. as Full Bone Moon, Woodland Press). He also is completing a memoir (On Balance: My First Twenty-Five Years with Multiple Sclerosis) and getting ready to shop it. He prides himself in being able to write in any form for any venue, and has in the past ghostwritten for a number of individuals, some of them high profile. Fuller is also the only person to have been awarded prestigious West Virginia literary fellowships in all three categories: fiction, nonfiction, and memoir.  Today, Fuller edits for publishing houses and individuals, working in every phase from developmental editing to final proofing, depending on the project. He also writes articles for various literary, trade, and popular magazines, as well as literary and genre short stories.  A complete list of the over 50 book titles he edited and the 30+ fiction and nonfiction he has authored is available on request. He studied anthropology and psychophysiology at California State University, Fresno, and University of California at Santa Barbara.

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.  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.

Pam Andrews Hanson, a former reporter and West Virginia University journalism teacher, is the co-author with her mother/writing partner Barbara Andrews of 40 novels including romance, inspirational women’s fiction, and mystery for Harlequin and Guideposts. This spring Guideposts released Chesapeake Antique Mysteries, Forgotten History and Hidden Treasures, a two-book set by the duo. In addition, she and her partner have several indie inspirational romances for Kindle on Amazon. Currently she is working on a new cozy mystery project of her own. Pam, a past recipient of the JUG Award, now resides in Nebraska where she writes fulltime when she’s not procrastinating on Facebook:

Kirk Judd has lived, worked, trout fished and wandered around in West Virginia all of his life. Kirk was a member of the Appalachian Literary League, a founding member and former president (and JUG recipient) of West Virginia Writers, Inc. , and is a founding member of and creative writing instructor for Allegheny Echoes, Inc., dedicated to the support and preservation of WV cultural heritage arts. Author of 3 collections of poetry “Field of Vision” 1986, “Tao-Billy” 1996, and “My People Was Music” 2014, and a co-editor of the widely acclaimed anthology, “Wild, Sweet Notes – 50 Years of West Virginia Poetry 1950 – 1999”, he is widely published.  Kirk was honored to be one of 5 readers selected for the installation ceremony of Louise McNeill Pease as Poet Laureate in 1979 at the WV Cultural Center on the Capitol grounds in Charleston, WV, and currently sits on the board of the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation headquartered in Hillsboro, WV.  He is internationally known for his performance work combining poetry and old time music, and has performed poetry in Ireland and across West Virginia at fairs, concerts, and festivals for the past 35 years.

Michael Knost. Bram Stoker Award-winner Michael Knost is an author, editor, and columnist of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and supernatural thrillers. He has written many books in various genres, helmed anthologies such as the Legends of the Mountain State series. His Writers Workshop of Horror won the Black Quill and Bram Stoker Awards for superior achievement in nonfiction. Michael is also a finalist for this year’s Bram Stoker Award for Barbers & Beauties, an anthology he co-edited with Nancy Eden Siegel. He edited the critically acclaimed Writers Workshop of Science Fiction & Fantasy in early 2013—a writer’s guide with works by Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, Ursula K. Le Guin, and many others. He has served as ghostwriter for several projects with the Discovery Channel and Lionsgate Media, and he recently released his latest novel Return of the Mothman. To find out more, visit

Joey Madia is a playwright, novelist, teaching artist, director, and actor. He is the Artistic Director/Resident Playwright of Seven Stories Theatre Company, Inc. and Resident Playwright at Youth Stages, LLC. He has appeared in or directed over 80 plays and in a dozen projects on camera. His poetry, essays, and short stories have been widely published and have earned him several awards. His first novel, Jester-Knight, was published in February 2009 (New Mystics Enterprises). His second novel, Minor Confessions of an Angel Falling Upward was published in September 2012 (Burning Bulb Publishing). He is a book and music reviewer and the founding editor of, a literary site. Although he has written several main stage musicals and dramas, he specializes in social justice theatre and participatory plays for youth. His 17 plays for young audiences have been produced across the United States and he has two plays in the Dramatic Publishing catalog. He is the author of a series of four books on using theatre in the classroom (The Stage Learning Series, Accompany Publishing, 2007). He has written and performed pieces about Civil War captains Louis Emilio and Thomas Maulsby and is a Chautauqua Scholar for Voices from the Earth, which does symposia and performances on the African American experience in the Civil War.  As a teaching-artist he has taught and mentored thousands of students in both theatre and creative writing and has spoken at many schools and national conferences. He has worked with organizations including The Epilepsy Foundation of NJ and Camp NOVA to bring theatre to students with disabilities and has won three writing awards from Very Special Arts of NJ.

Dave McCormick is first and foremost, an exceptionally talented singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. A native West Virginian raised in Lincoln County, he began playing drums in the Duval High School Band at the age of 10. By age 12, he was playing guitar and writing songs. Since then, he has mastered guitar, dobro, mandolin, and lapsteel, and  has written over 500 songs in a wide variety of styles. A noted vocalist, his voice ranges from a rich warm baritone to a loud bluesy squall. An extremely versatile musician and entertainer, he is well versed in the genres of country, rock, blues, jazz, r & b, and folk. He is equally at home on stage as an acoustic solo act, or playing screaming electric guitar with his red-hot smokin’ band. An award-winning songwriter, he won the 2006 Mountain Stage New Song Contest and was awarded Best Song for “Where Are You Moses”. In 2008, Dave signed a publishing deal with Sure-Fire Music in Nashville, Tennessee. He has opened for, and shared the stage with many nationally known recording artists. While living in Nashville, Dave had the distinct honor and pleasure of opening for the legendary Merle Haggard on the hallowed ground of the historic Ryman Theater, home of the Grand Ole’ Opry.  He is an accomplished studio musician as well, having played sessions in Nashville and Muscle Shoals, along with countless hours in his home studio.  To date, Dave has recorded three CDs, “Music Man”, “Mountains On The Moon”, and “Ghost Inside My Guitar”. Soulful, eclectic, and well-crafted are terms often used to describe this consummate artist and his work. As a veteran performer, Dave is always seeking to expand his horizons and his fan base!

Renée K. Nicholson lives in Morgantown, WV, splitting her artistic pursuits between writing and dance.  She is on the faculty of the Multidisciplinary Studies Program at West Virginia University and is an American Ballet Theatre certified teacher. Renée was the 2011 Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State-Altoona.  She studied English at Butler University, where she was a University Scholar in Creative Writing and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from West Virginia University, where she won the Rebecca Mason Perry Award for Outstanding MFA Student and the Russ MacDonald Prize for Graduate Writing. She is a member of both the Dance Critics Association and the National Book Critics Circle. She has been Assistant to the Director of the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop since 2007. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Chelsea, Mid-American Review, Perigee: A Journal of the Arts, Paste, Poets & Writers, Crosstimbers, Naugatuck River Review, Honey Land Review, Dossier, Stymie, ABZ, Prime Number, Blue Lyra Review, Switchback, Fiction Writers Review, Moon City Review, Redux, Cleaver Magazine, Barely South Review, Saw Palm, Bluestem, The Superstition Review, The Gettysburg Review and elsewhere. Renée’s collection of poems Roundabout Directions to Lincoln Center is forthcoming from Urban Farmhouse Press. Her website is

Marilyn Shank, winner of the 2013 Christy Award for YA, 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.

David Sloan has a background in neuroscience and molecular biology research, and is currently a project manager for Discern Health, a consulting firm in Baltimore, MD. He published his first novel, [Brackets], in 2012 as an independent work, and is continuously working on novels and short stories in the "technothriller" genre. He won 1st place in the Humor category at the WVW conference in 2012 for his short story "Bunkers".

Naomi Frandsen Sloan
received her BA in English from Brigham Young University and her MA in English from Georgetown University. She turned those degrees into (a little bit of) money by teaching on the high school and college level for several years before receiving a promotion to full-time manager, wrangler, governess, cook, and scullery maid to three children and a husband. While in college, she won enough writing contests to bank-roll a semester abroad to London, and she published a chapter in a book of personal essays about family life. Since then, she's appointed herself editor-in-chief to her novelist husband with the hopes that they'll make it big (or at least scrape together enough in royalties to return to England someday).

Natalie Sypolt lives and writes in West Virginia. She received an MFA in fiction from West Virginia University and currently teaches creative writing, literature, and composition. Her work has appeared in Glimmer Train, Switchback, r.kv.r.y., Ardor Literary Magazine, Superstition Review, Paste, Willow Springs Review, and The Kenyon Review Online, among others. Natalie is the winner of the Glimmer Train New Writers Contest and the Betty Gabehart Prize. She also serves as a literary editor for the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, the High School Workshop Coordinator for the West Virginia Writers Workshop at WVU, and is co-host of SummerBooks: A Literary Podcast.

Sandy Tritt is a writer, editor and speaker. The founder and CEO of Inspiration for Writers, Inc., an editing and critiquing service for aspiring writers, she has edited hundreds of manuscripts and ghostwritten several more. She is a past president of West Virginia Writers, Inc., the state’s largest writing organization, and has given workshops throughout the East and South. Sandy’s short stories have been published in literary magazines and local journals. In addition, she has published Everything I Know (Headline Books), Inspiration for Writers Tips and Techniques Workbook, and seven technical manuals (Phoenix Software, Atlanta, GA).

Rhonda Browning White resides near Daytona Beach, FL and works as a ghostwriter and editor for Inspiration For Writers, Inc. Her work has appeared in Steel Toe Review, Ploughshares Writing Lessons, WV Executive, Mountain Echoes: The Best of the First Year, Gambit, Justus Roux, Bluestone Review and in literary anthologies including Appalachia’s Last Stand. Rhonda blogs about the craft of fiction writing at She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Converse College in Spartanburg, SC, and in her spare time sells real estate and dabbles in investment properties.

Andrew Wheeler received his B.A. in Sociology from Concord College in Athens, WV and his Masters in Forensic Science from The George Washington University, in D.C.  He was a civil and criminal investigator for over a decade before entering academia. He is currently a Visiting Associate Professor of Forensics at WVU Tech. He is a qualified expert in the areas of blood spatter, firearms, and fingerprint techniques.  His research interests include staged crime scenes and the shaping of investigator perceptions.

Patricia Wiles is the SCBWI Assistant Regional Advisor Coordinator and the author of four novels for young readers: My Mom’s a Mortician, Funeral Home Evenings, Early Morning Cemetery, and The Final Farewell. Her essays have aired on public radio and appeared in Writer’s Digest, The Writer, and in the 2001 Writer’s Handbook. She has received several awards from the Kentucky Press Association for her work in print journalism.