2015 VWC Golden Nib Winners

1.  Ann K. Skelton, Chesapeake Bay Writers - Handsome Maides of Good Repute
2.  Esther Whitman Johnson, Valley Writers - Trucker Wanted
No third place prize awarded.

1.  Esther Whitman Johnson, Valley Writers - Short Weekend at the Hotel Torremolinos
2.  Gail Kenna, Chesapeake Bay Writers - One Face From the Shadows of Millions
No third place prize awarded.

1.  Barbara Stout, Valley Writers - Table for Two
2.  Judy Whitehill Witt, Richmond Chapter - Night Mood Music
3.  Linda Levokove, Blue Ridge Chapter - Chinese Food in Florence, Italy

Fiction:  Bonnie Holmberg
Non-fiction: Nancy Wolf
Poetry:  David Anthony Sam

2015 VWC Summer Shorts Writing Contest
WINNERS & Judge’s comments

1.    Linda Dobkins, Marion, VA - New Woman and Mad Dog: A wonderful character study set amid a traumatic situation
2.    John M. Wills, Fredericksburg, VA -  Monica’s Surprise: A clever, table-turning tale of revenge
3.    Esther Whitman Johnson, Roanoke, VA - The Artificial Mother: The roots of a dysfunctional relationship are examined during a turbulent confrontation
1.    Esther Whitman Johnson, Roanoke, VA - Tempest of Stuff: One person’s quest to take stock of what matters and get rid of what doesn’t
2.   Judy Whitehill Witt, Glen Allen, VA - Foolproof Recipe for a Mind Like a Steel Sieve: A comical metaphor for an aging, forgetful mind
3.    James F. Gaines, Fredericksburg, VA - Shifting Zones: An intriguing philosophical and sociological deconstruction of the Ferguson shooting incident
1.    Esther Whitman Johnson, Roanoke, VA - New Song for El Condor: A captivating poem full of history and wonder and despair over what has been lost
2.    Rod Vanderhoof, Fredericksburg, VA - Hawaiian Undertow: A beautiful sonnet using the sea as a setting for life and afterlife
3.   David Black, Louisa, VA -  For Plato and My Mother: A clever use of Stoic philosophy as a corollary for dealing with loss

Winning entries will be published in the 2016 VWC Online Anthology

BILL GLOSE is the book review editor for Virginia Living magazine and an award-winning writer whose honors include the F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story Award, the Virginia Press Association First Place Award for Sports News Writing, and the Morgantown Chapter Award for Poetry. He is the author of two books of poetry, The Human Touch (San Francisco Bay Press, 2007) and Half a Man (FutureCycle Press, 2013), and editor of the story anthology, Ten Twisted Tales (San Francisco Bay Press, 2008).


VWC Golden Nib Winners – 2014


1st Place          Ann M. Skelton – “Prairie Winds”      (Chesapeake Bay Writers)        

2nd  Place      Carolyn Rowland – “A Rite of Passage”         (Riverside Writers)                             

3rd Place        R.P. Barr – “Dinner Dishes”             (Prince William Co. Writers)


1st Place         Kimberly Dalferes – “Once Again, Naked in Public”      (Valley Writers Chapter)       

2nd Place     Sally Zakariya – “Lone Reader’s Society”           (Northern Virginia Chapter)              

3rd Place       Erin Newton Wells – “The Price of a Pig”               (Blue Ridge Writers Chapter)    

Hon. Mention   Madalin Bickel – “Remembering Lee Chang's Million”  (Riverside Writers Chapter)

1st  Place Sally Zakariya – “In Memoriam:Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles” (No .VA Chapter)

2nd Place Jody Hobbs Hesler – “Famine Cottages: Ireland 2009”   (Blue Ridge Writers Chapter)

3rd Place       Esther Whitman Johnson – “Polishing the Rhino”              (Valley Writers Chapter)        

Hon. Mention   Rod Vanderhoof – “The Echo Waltz: Eulogy for my Jo”   (Riverside Writers Chap)    


Judge of all three categories/genres   

Mary Carroll-Hackett, MFA                                                                                                                       Associate Professor, Creative Writing Editor, The Dos Passos ReviewBriery Creek Press                The Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry                                                                      Department of English & Modern Languages                                                                                       Longwood University




1st: "Driving the Blue Ridge in October" by Ann Skelton 
2nd: "When We Listened" by Sally Zakariya 
3rd: "Sand Castles" by James F. Gaines 
Honorable Mention: "Reaper" by Larry Turner
1st: "The Mongolian Hold" by Esther Johnson
2nd: "Nana's Arm" by Jean Lancaster 
3rd: "The Magic Shop" by Judy Witt 
Honorable Mention: "Peas Behind the Washer" by Kimberly L. Dalferes
Honorable Mention: "April Love" by Liz Williams
1st: "The Passing" by Julie Leverenz    
2nd: "Riding the Tortoise" by Esther Whitman Johnson
3rd: "Beneath My Hats" by Suzan Anderson
Honorable Mention: "Where We Fit In" by Stanley Trice
Honorable Mention: "Petite Small" by Elaine Ruggieri
Honorable Mention: "Lucky" by Jean Lancaster
Honorable Mention: "The Preacher's Daughter" by Susan Elliott




1st: "A Mother's Promise Kept" by Rudolph Keith Dunn (Richmond Chapter)
2nd: "Tupperware" by Jeanne Johansen (Chesapeake Bay Writers Chapter)
3rd: "A Fair-'E' Tale" by JoAnn Meaker (HanoverWriters Chapter)
1st: "Grave Dressing" by Rebecca D. Elswick (Appalachian Authors Guild Chapter)
2nd: "Tramp" by Patricia Asuncion (Blue Ridge Chapter)
3rd: "The Imaginary Ray" by John A. Bray (Chesapeake Bay Writers Chapter)

1st: "Concatenation" by Amelia L. Williams (Blue Ridge Chapter)
2nd: "Valedictory for G." by Sally Zakariya (Northern Virginia Chapter)
3rd: "Redemption" by Bruce Slater (Richmond Chapter)



1st: "Nibbles" by Hayleigh Phillips (Valley Writers Chapter)
2nd: "Machine Gun Wedding" by Sally Zakariya (Northern Virginia Chapter)
3rd: "Doctor's Dozen" by Esther Whitman Johnson (Valley Writers Chapter)
Honorable Mention: "The Case of the Grandmother in the Garden" by Julie Leverenz (Chesapeake Bay Writers)
Honorable Mention: "The Night I Was Forced To Play Poker With Government Agents" by James Lee (Northern Virginia Chapter)
1st: "Journey Into the Heart of Creativity" by Patricia Daly-Lipe (Northern Virginia Chapter)
2nd: "Taking the Water" by Jean Lancaster (Blue Ridge Writers Chapter)
3rd: "Exposed Temptations" by Kimberly J. Dalferes (Valley Writers Chapter)
Honorable Mention: "Hey Girl, Don't Scream" by Esther Whitman Johnson (Valley Writers Chapter)
Honorable Mention: "The Magic Shop" by Judy Whitehill Witt (Richmond Chapter)
1st: "Afire" by Judy Whitehill Witt (Richmond Chapter)
2nd: "Undertakers" by Barbara Stout (Valley Writers Chapter)
3rd: "When We Lived on R St." by Sally Zakariya (Northern Virginia Chapter)
Honorable Mention: "After the Spill" by Sharon L. Howard (Valley Writers Chapter)





2012 Golden Nib Contest Winners
1st: "The Nature of the Sun" by Jody Hobbs Hesler (Blue Ridge Writers Chapter)
2nd: "The Outer Masquerade" by Bob Mustin (Appalachian Authors Guild Chapter)
3rd: "Condemned Memories" by Don Waldy (Hampton Roads Chapter)
1st: "A Federal Case" by Donna Knox (Valley Writers Chapter)
2nd: "Tantilla" by Jean Lancaster (Blue Ridge Writers Chapter)
3rd: "The Burden of Silence" by Rebecca D. Elswick (Appalachian Authors Guild Chapter)
1st: "Heels" by R. L. Russis (Riverside Chapter)
2nd: "Trying on a Dead Wife's Clothes" by Barbara Stout (Valley Writers Chapter)
3rd: "Out of Chaos" by Gary D. Kessler (Blue Ridge Writers Chapter)
Awards were presented at the November 3rd VWC Annual Meeting & Awards Banquet in Richmond, VA.      




2013 Board of Governors Nominees & Bios


President: Betsy Ashton

1st Vice President: Sara Robinson

2nd Vice President: Chuck Lumpkin

Treasurer: Christopher Evans

Recording Secretary: Laurie Jensen

Corresponding Secretary: Being restructured – to be left open at this time

2013-2015 Members-at-Large: Jack Ferguson, Michael Gunter and Becky Mushko


BETSY ASHTON is a free-lance feature journalist for a local weekly newspaper and a radio essayist on WVTF, the local NPR station. Her essays have appeared in local magazines and newspapers.

      Born in Washington, DC, Betsy says she was raised by coyotes in the Malibu Hills, although her mother disputed that. After a conventional suburban life, she enrolled at UCLA in the Asian Studies department. Although her collegiate career was spent against a backdrop of the “Sixties,” she graduated in four years with academic honors and an expunged arrest record (for unlawful occupation of Federal properties).

      Betsy went to graduate school at Keio University in Tokyo, where she took a special certificate in Japanese literature, before beginning her doctoral program in comparative literature at USC. If asked, she will remind you she always will “root for UCLA and anyone who plays USC.”

      Betsy taught for eight years at Occidental College, USC, UCLA and Cal State Northridge. Falling victim to the Nixon shocks of reduced Federal funding for education, she left academia for the military-industrial world. Her professional resume includes such companies as Rand Corporation, LexisNexis, BearingPoint and Deloitte, her current “day job.” She has more than thirty years of experience in public relations, marketing and sales.

      Betsy promotes writing through her participation in two writers groups, one critique group, and the Virginia Writers Club. A member of the Lake Writers and president of the Valley Writers, she writes fiction, mentors writers new to the groups, and attends as many conferences as she can, including the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference, the Sedalia Writers Conference, and the James River Writers Conference. She also uses her public relations background to support not-for-profits including the Smith Mountain Arts Council.

      When not working or writing, you will find her roaring around Virginia highways behind her husband Terry Naylor on his Yamaha, boating on Smith Mountain Lake, playing enthusiastic but bad golf, or reading on her deck. She lives on the lake with her husband of more than 25 years and their one-year-old cat Mocha.


CHRISTOPHER EVANS is a Project & Financial Manager for a defense contractor engaged in Navy initiatives. Over his 22 year career, he has worked for several Fortune 50 companies and governmental organizations as an External Auditor, Financial Manager and Six Sigma Black Belt.

      Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, Christopher grew up on his family’s dairy farm in rural Campbell County, where it was originally established in 1754. Various branches of his family tree reach back to the 1620’s in both Virginia and Maryland. His rich family history has led to a lifelong interest in genealogical research, writing and reading works related to history, philosophy and religion.

      Extensively involved in hereditary societies, Christopher has served in the capacity of Vice President (2 years), Treasurer (6 years), Secretary (6 years) and Historian (2 years) of several different organizations. In these leadership roles, he has planned many events including speaker receptions, membership meetings, formal dinners, a benefit ball and a statewide convention. Additionally, he has published monthly newsletters, produced membership directories and maintained organizational websites.

      Christopher recently finished his first novel entitled Legacy, the first book in his Crusader series. He is currently searching for the appropriate literary agent to handle the project going forward.


JOHN (Jack) FERGUSON is from central Pennsylvania where he earned a BS degree from Penn State in Agricultural Economics. He has worked in the green industry and in health care and served in the VA Army National Guard as a field medic and an OR specialist. He currently works with the sales department of an import car dealership. His writing includes poetry, mysteries and the macabre. He is father of two awesome kids and “husband of a tolerant wife.”


At age ten, MICHAEL GUNTER saw his first episode of "The Twilight Zone" and got hooked on mystery. At eighteen, he had an encounter with Jesus Christ that changed the course of his life. In 2001, he discovered his passion for writing. Michael writes about the mysteries of life from a Christian perspective. He has written five non-fiction books, two novels, and numerous short-stories and essays. His short-story, "One of a Million Things," was runner-up in CJM Books’ Colonnade Writing Contest and was included in their 2011 anthology. He is editing his third novel, a sequel to BLACKWELL: The Encounter Begins. When Michael isn’t writing, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing guitar, and re-filling his favorite coffee cup.


LAURIE JENSEN is an editor, writer, certified teacher with 20+ years experience and small business owner. Additionally, she cherishes her more important roles as wife and mother. An appreciation of good com-munication, in all its various forms, is the cornerstone of her home-based business, Anne’s River Media. She provides editing, proofreading and research services for Virginia writers on both fiction and nonfiction projects and also serves as a proofreader for CreateSpace Publishing Services. Her writing has been featured in special sections of Charlottesville’s Daily Progress, Rural Virginian, Homestyle and Charlottesville Woman.


CHUCK LUMPKIN, born and raised in Virginia, is married to Sue Patterson and has three children - Bert, Chris and Whitney. He graduated from VA Tech in 1964 and taught one year at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, VA. He has served as Assistant Vice President of Marketing at Moore's Super Stores in Roanoke, VA, and then General Manager of City Mill in Honolulu, HI, 1975-1980. He moved to Auckland, New Zealand, in 1980 and founded Apex Manufacturing, Apex Computer Systems and Apex Marketing. He developed software and manufactured off-track betting hardware and software. After selling the company to a public company, he returned to the US in 1989 to New Orleans. He founded PC Training Clinic and trained real estate agents on how to use computers for marketing. In 1993, he formed Parallax Corporation, an IT consulting firm. In 2003, he retired and moved to Smith Mountain Lake, VA, where he joined the Lake Writers, became President in January 2011, and then become a Board Member of the Smith Mountain Arts Council, In 2011, he also joined the Virginia Writers Club and became 2nd VP in 2012.


BECKY MUSHKO, author of Ferradiddledumday and Stuck, won the Lonesome Pine Short Story Contest (five times) and the Sherwood Anderson Short Story Contest (three times), was nominated for a 1997 Pushcart Prize, and won two categories of the infamous Bulwer-Lytton Bad Fiction Contest --“Worst Western” (1998) and “Vile Pun” (2008). Her work appears in A Cup of Comfort for Writers, It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, and Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Vols. II & III.

      After retiring from Roanoke City Schools, she taught English at Ferrum College and was 2006-07 writer-in-residence for Roanoke County Schools. She currently serves as recording secretary for the Virginia Writers Club and vice-president of both Lake Writers and the Franklin County Library Board of Trustees.

SARA ROBINSON released her second book, Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (Cedar Creek Publishing) in March, 2012. This collection of poetry tells of her life experiences from growing up in a small town to how she sees the world today in her later years. Two poems contained in the book won prizes from the Blue Ridge Writers Chapter and the Virginia Writers Club. She is also published in the journal of the Poetry Society of Virginia. Her inaugural work, Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), is a memoir about her famous photographer father and his marriage to her enigmatic mother. Sara has appeared on Artist First Radio Network, the Hilda Ward show, Artistic Expressions, and at numerous book signing events. Born and raised in Elkton, VA, she makes her home near Charlottesville, VA and is a member of the Virginia Writers’ Club, The Blue Ridge Writers’ Chapter, The Poetry Society of Virginia, the Academy of American Poets, and the National League of American Pen Women.


2012 VWC Spring Shorts Writing Contest Winners


FIRST PLACE - "Six Children" by Larry Turner - Fredericksburg, VA

SECOND PLACE - "Waiting for the Ferry at Fort Morgan" by James F. Gaines - Fredericksburg, VA

THIRD PLACE - "Cliff" by Bruce Slater - Richmond, VA


FIRST PLACE - "A Book of Stamps" by Claudia Ware - Morristown, TN

SECOND PLACE - "Komachien" by Rebeca Chapa - Fairfax, VA

THIRD PLACE - "He Sat Alone" by Betsy Ashton - Moneta, VA


FIRST PLACE - "Get the Bitch" by Esther Whitman Johnson - Roanoke, VA

SECOND PLACE - "No Service" by Linda Hudson Hoagland - North Tazewell, VA

THIRD PLACE - "Home Invasion" by Betsy Ashton - Moneta, VA

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