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VWC Symposium Workshop Information

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Register for the Navigating Your Writing Life Symposium.


The Keynote Speaker...

The Virginia Writers Club is very excited to announce that Mollie Cox Bryan will be the keynote speaker for the VWC Symposium on Saturday, August 3, 2019.

Her topic will be "Crafting Your Best Writing Life" 




VWC Navigating Your Writing Life Symposium 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Workshop Schedule

(This is a tentative schedule, subject to minor changes as details develop)

8:00–8:30 a.m.                  REGISTRATION AND LIGHT BREAKFAST                                      

8:30–8:45 a.m.                  WELCOME                                       

9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.          BOOK SALES                                                        

9:00–10:00 a.m.                 WORKSHOP SESSION ONE (Choose One)    

Finding Your Rhythm (Poetry)

Transforming Nonfiction Events into Historical Fiction

Time to Hook Up? (Finding an Agent)                

Developing Streams of Income from Your Books                                                                         

10:15–11:15 a.m.               WORKSHOP SESSION TWO (Choose One)

Character Arc                                                                             

Screenwriting - An Introduction                                             


Breaking Out of Your Shell                                                           

11:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m.        KEYNOTE SPEAKER - MOLLIE COX BRYAN 


12:15–1:00 p.m                   LUNCH  

1:15- 2:15 p.m.                  WORKSHOP SESSION THREE (Choose One)

One-Thousand Words                                                             

Women's Fiction: Creating Original Story                

Making Revisions

Reaching Your Readers From the Start

2:30–3:00 p.m.                  BOOK SIGNING/AFTERNOON SNACK                                         

3:15–4:15 p.m.                  WORKSHOP SESSION FOUR (Choose One)          

Court the Muse: How to Keep Your Writing Momentum to Finish Your Book Fast!  

Writing Horror                                                                                              

Publishing Success in Journals and Magazines                                               

Starting and Growing Your Author Newsletter        

4:15–5:00 p.m..                    GIVEAWAYS AND CLOSING                                               


Register in June to save! 

Register for the Navigating Your Writing Life Symposium.

Workshop Descriptions


Finding Your Rhythm (Poetry)  James D. Cole 

A workshop in rhyme, tone, and musicality in non-traditional forms of poetry. Learn to integrate alliteration, consonance, assonance, and rhyme into experimental, spoken work, or other free forms of poetry.


Bio:  James Cole is a recent graduate of the College of William and Mary, where he studied neuroscience, medieval history, and creative writing. He is currently a neurobiology graduate student at the University of Virginia Medical School. His work has appeared in several publications, including Jump!, Winged Nation, and Talented. In 2016 he won The Gallery poetry prize and in 2017 he was a finalist for the Virginia Writer’s Association Golden Nib Award. In the summer of 2018, he self-produced his first poetry zine, “Jimble Jambles Life in Shambles.” James performs his poetry throughout Virginia, including readings at the Miller School in Albemarle County and The Bridge Arts Initiative. In 2019 he founded the Charlottesville Poetry Critique Circle.


Transforming Nonfiction into Historical Fiction – Solveig Eggerz

This workshop will cover how to take historical events and turn them into historical novels.

Bio: Solveig Eggerz, a native of Iceland, is the author of the award-winning novel, Seal Woman, published in 2014, and Sigga of Reykjavik, published in 2019. She teaches creative writing at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, and in jails in Northern Virginia for Heard, which supports underserved populations. Her essays and stories have appeared in publications such as The Delmarva Review, Palo Alto Review, The Northern Virginia Review. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Catholic University. Her website is www.solveigeggerz.com.


Time to Hook Up? (Finding an Agent) Diane Fanning  

Finding the right agent and publisher and keeping them happy. Learn how to identify, steer clear of the common pet peeves and make them love you even when you mess up.


Bio:  Diane Fanning is the Edgar-nominated author of eleven mystery novels and fifteen true crime books.  She has consulted for 48 Hours and appeared on the Today Show, 20/20, Forensic Files, Snapped, the Biography Channel, E!, the BBC and Investigation Discovery, where she is a regular on Deadly Women.  She’s a recipient of the Defender of the Innocent award from the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project.  Born and raised in Baltimore, she now lives in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Bedford, Virginia.  Her 15th true crime book, Death on the River, was released on April 30.


 Developing Streams of Income from Your Books – April Michelle Davis

NAIWE is an association that focuses on career building for writers and editors by developing multiple streams of income; it helps its members market their products and services through social media, newsletters, etc. as well as offering marketing opportunities such as being featured on the blog, on The Freelance Life radio show, and in The Edge.  


Bio: April Michelle Davis has been the executive director of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE) since 2018. Prior to that, she was NAIWE’s Social Media Marketing Expert. NAIWE is an association that focuses on career building for writers and editors by developing multiple streams of income; it helps its members market their products and services through social media, newsletters, and more. She is also the coordinator for the Virginia chapter of the Editorial Freelancers Association, a lifetime member of the American Copy Editors Society, and a freelance editor, indexer, proofreader and author. April Michelle has taught courses through her own company, Editorial Inspirations, as well as for associations and colleges on topics such as editing, indexing, grammar, writing, and creating macros. Her credentials include a master’s degree in publishing from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Messiah College, as well as certificates in editing (University of Virginia), book publishing (University of Virginia), and professional editing (EEI Communications). April Michelle has shared her insights about her career development by contributing quotes and vignettes to several books. She has presented sessions on various editorial topics to many groups, including the Communication Central conference, Randolph-Macon College, the Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network, the EFA, Copyediting newsletter, RavenCon, and the Hanover Book Festival. In addition, April Michelle has published three books.

Character Arc Mary Patrick

What is meant by character arc? How do you measure your Point of View character's growth? Are they changing, moving backward or staying the same? Come and find out if your character has what it takes to fight a dragon, become a hero, and put aside the hang-ups that keep them from soaring.

Bio: M.J. Patrick was an avid reader for most of her life. She didn’t believe she had what it took to write. But when her son declared himself an author and wrote and published a book, she decided she could too. The House on Moss Swamp Road, her debut novel, won the Maryland Writers Association’s Best Fantasy Novel Award in 2018. As a member of Becoming Writer, an online writers group, she’s entered short story contests and wrote a novel in 100 Days and critiqued weekly submissions for over three years. Last year, M.J. became the Vice President of the Howard County Chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association. Recently, she’s taken on a new daily habit, writing a ‘Very Short Story’ (#vss365) on Twitter. Which is only as long as a single tweet. Born in Sacramento, CA to a military family, she lived in faraway places such as Taiwan and Alaska. Today she lives in the Baltimore Washington metropolitan area during the week. On weekends and holidays lives in Urbanna, VA.


Screenwriting: An Introduction Michael McLeod

This workshop will cover (a) The screenwriter’s job (it’s not what most newbies think it is); (b) The importance of structure; (c) What is in the script, what isn’t, and why; (d) The story-telling elements of a screenplay (there are two, only two); (e) The difference between the writer’s script and a transcript of the released film, and why it’s important to read the writer’s script (the majority of the scripts available online are transcripts); (f) A brief look at format, why it’s done that way, and, in spite of minor changes over the last 100-years, why it remains essentially the same; (g) Agents, managers, producers—what they do, and what you have to do to get them to read your script. (These gatekeepers have their own gatekeepers that you must get past first); (h) Contests, connections, and luck: getting “discovered”; (i) Comments on the suggested reading list (handout), including why those particular materials are on the list; and (j) Q & A.

Bio:  Michael studied screenwriting at UCLA and the American Film Institute. He is a multiple screenwriting award winner, including 2019 Official Selection (short script) and Finalist (feature length) awards from the Richmond International Film Festival (RIFF). Past professional affiliations include NBC Entertainment and the Motion Picture & Television Division of General Dynamics Corporation.  In 2017 Michael moved from California to Virginia, where he continues to write and to teach fiction & screenwriting.


Self-Publishing Greg Smith

Greg Smith will present the latest in self-publishing techniques to help you get your novel, memoir, or poetry into the hands of readers who are looking for it.



Bio:  Greg Smith is a writing coach, editor, and publisher. He founded the Agile Writer Workshop in 2011 with the mission of finding a method to help beginning writers complete a first-draft in 6 months. His seminars on the Agile Writer Method have informed and delighted thousands of writers, scholars, and university students. Greg is a developmental editor and coaches authors through the self-publishing maze. Greg also writes for the movie-review blog ReelHeroes.net. Greg can be reached at greg@agilewriters.com and http://AgileWriters.com. You can buy his book “Agile Writer: Method” at http://AgileNovel.com



Breaking Out of Your Lonely Writer's Shell in Public! Pamela K. Kinney

Most writers/authors are normally shy and uncomfortable in the public eye. In today's social media world, you can no longer think it's about writing the book and that is it. Pamela will teach writers how to act when they do events or book signings, even reacting to readers at online events, blog tours, etc.  How they act in public offering superior customer service will help them know how to communicate to potential readers and can ensure sales of books and garner more readers. Also covered in this workshop will be how to find and set up events, as well as how to attract people to sell books.


Bio:  Pamela K. Kinney gave up long ago trying not to listen to the voices in her head and has written award-winning, bestselling horror, fantasy. science fiction, and nonfiction ghost books ever since. Her horror short story, “Bottled Spirits,” was runner-up for the 2013 WSFA Small Press Award and is considered one of the seven best genre short fiction for that year. Under the pseudonym, Sapphire Phelan, she writes erotic and regular paranormal, fantasy and science fiction romance. Her erotic urban fantasy, ‘Being Familiar with a Witch’ was awarded the 2013 Prism awarded by the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of Romance Writers of America and was runner-up for EPIC Awards 2010. She is a member of Horror Writers Association and Virginia Writers Club. You can learn more about her at http://www.PamelaKKinney.com and about her pseudonym, Sapphire Phelan, at http://www.SapphirePhelan.com.


Women’s Fiction - Creating Original Story  Mary Ellen Jantzi

A presentation of strategies to formulate original ideas within the genre; a handout with examples of how many prominent women's fiction writers are unique; and a checklist of essential elements for the genre. This workshop would fall into the "pondering" stage of writing - how to construct a story idea, confident of its originality (relative to character, plot, setting, theme, etc.)


Bio:  Mary Ellen Jantzi has been writing novels in the Women's Fiction genre for the past five years.  Her primary purpose was to create an original story, based on a combination of her experiences, her interests in a wide variety of topics, and a desire to not copy other authors' work.  Blue Ridge Writers critique group sessions have been most helpful and supportive.  She has completed one of her five stories; completed a novel-writing course by Algonkian Author Salon; attended an AAS writer's retreat on publishing; and hired a professional editor. She is currently seeking a literary agent to represent her work. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, she has a B.S. in Art Education from Ohio State University and a PhD in Art Education from Pennsylvania State University.  She has taught art at all levels (K-12), including adult workshops in drawing and painting.  She currently paints landscape, wildlife, and pet portraits in her studio in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia  (www.jantziart.com).


Making Revisions Joanne Liggan

You have finally completed your manuscript and are facing the dreaded chore of making revisions in order to create a final draft. This workshop will show you how to make this task less daunting with step-by-step ways for winnowing the tares from the wheat.


Bio:  Joanne Liggan is a novelist, public speaker and writing instructor, and founder of the Hanover Writers Club and the Hanover Book Festival. Her family saga trilogy includes Heir of Deception, Air of Truth, and Err At Sea. As an instructor, Liggan has taught writing courses for the Cultural Arts Center of Glen Allen, Hanover Parks & Recreation, King William Parks & Recreation, the Windemere Art Gallery, the VHSL at VCU, as well as area writers groups. After being reared in a Christian home and accepting Christ at a young age, Liggan developed a thirst for Biblical knowledge as a young adult and has spent her life researching various denominations and studying the scriptures. Her spiritual journey led her to write the F.A.C.T.S. (Faith And Commitment Through Scripture) series of study guides. To learn more about Joanne, you may visit her website at www.liggan.net.


Reaching Readers From the Start:  A Successful Book Launch and Early Marketing Strategies  Greg Fields (Koehler Books)

The early days in the life of a new book present an opportunity to generate interest in the work and its author while stimulating new markets. Celebration is always in order, but if done well and backed by strategies to put the new book in front of the right people, a book launch can leverage success, garner attention, and build a platform for continuing recognition.  We get one chance at any launch, so we need to do it right, and to maximum effect.

Bio:  Greg Fields is the author of Arc of the Comet, a lyrical, evocative examination of promise, potential and loss, published by Koehler Books and released in October 2017. Arc of the Comet explores universal themes in a precise, lyrical style inspired by the work of Niall Williams, Colm Toibin and the best of Pat Conroy, who had offered a jacket quote for the book shortly before his death.  The book was nominated for the Cabell First Novelist Award, the Sue Kaufman First Fiction Prize and the Kindle Book of the Year in Literary Fiction.  His second novel, To the Waters and the Wild, is scheduled for release in early 2020. He is also the co-author with Maya Ajmera of Invisible Children: Reimagining International Development from the Grassroots.  He has won recognition for his written work in presenting the plight of marginalized young people through his tenure at the Global Fund for Children, and has had articles published in the Harvard International Review, as well as numerous periodicals, including The Washington Post and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.  His short nonfiction has appeared in The Door Is A Jar and Gettysburg Review literary reviews. Greg was a presenter at the Central Coast Writers Conference, San Luis Obispo, CA, September 2017, and the Twin Cities Book Fair, November 2018.  He has also been a participant or panelist at numerous festivals, including the 2017 Pat Conroy Literary Festival, Beaufort, SC, the 2018 San Francisco Writers Conference, San Francisco, CA  and the 2019 Bay Area Book Fair, Berkeley, CA.


One-Thousand Words – Mollie Cox Bryan


Techniques and exercises for your daily writing practice.


Bio:  Mollie Cox Bryan writes cozy mysteries with edge and romances with slow, sweet burn. The first book in her new mystery series, "Cora Crafts Mysteries." is DEATH AMONG THE DOILIES, which was selected as "Fresh Fiction Not to Miss" and is a 2017 Finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award. The second book, NO CHARM INTENDED, was named a Summer 2017 Top 10 Beach Read by Woman's World. She also wrote the Agatha-award nominated Cumberland Creek Mysteries. Several of the books in that series were short-listed for the Virginia Library People's Choice Award. She's also penned a historical fiction: MEMORY OF LIGHT: AN AFTERMATH OF GETTYSBURG and historical romance: TEMPTING WILL MCGLASHEN. She makes her home at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, Va. You can visit Mollie's website for more info.

Court the Muse: How to Keep Your Writing Momentum to Finish Your Book Fast!    Jenna Harte

Discover how a die-hard pantster, whose writing often stalled for months, learned how to write an 80k book in 20 days without getting stuck or feeling constrained. If your challenge in writing is knowing what to say when you sit down to write, this workshop is for you. After taking a year to finish each of her last two books because of stalled ideas, Jenna Harte figured out how to court the muse at will, and use a basic plotting system that solved the problem of what to write, but still gave her the freedom and flexibility for spontaneous creativity. As a result, she wrote over 430,000 words (7 books) from January to May 2019. 

You'll learn the strategies she uses to court the muse when ideas are needed, as well as how she develops the major story beats and events of each chapter in enough detail to write every day, while still allowing for the magic and creativity that comes from the process of writing. 


Bio:  Jenna Harte is a fan of romance and murder, usually mixed together. She is the author of the Valentine Mysteries, the first of which, Deadly Valentine, reached the quarter-finals in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013. She’s also the author of the Southern Heat contemporary romance series, and the Sophie Parker Coupon Mystery Series. She's a freelance writer and online entrepreneur living in Central Virginia. Keep up-to-date all the passion and mayhem at http://www.jennaharte.com.


Writing Horror - Stacy Kingsley

In this workshop we will define horror and discuss how to write it.

Bio:  Stacy grew up loving the horror genre. When she first saw the movie CUJO she learned that you have to wait because even in those last five minutes something will happen. Stacy loves horror so much she wrote her Master's thesis on The Decline of Horror in Popular Culture and loves to watch every horror movie she can get her hands on, no matter how bad it might be. Her love of zombies stems from her desire to find true monsters, not sparkling vampires, loving werewolves, or ghosts who help you solve cases. Zombies have one thing on their mind, eating people. She loves zombies so much she has done zombie makeup for an ice-skating exhibition, played a zombie in a short independent film, done several zombie themed runs and is working on her zombie series. Zombies Are People Too! is the first book in her "Do Zombies Win?" series. Her second book Zombies Bite! was released 2014, followed by the third book in the series Zombie Wasteland in 2016. She has several stories available as part of the series and is currently working on Zombimerica, the last book in her zombie series, and two other novels to be released soon. Thus far her favorite zombie movie is the Norwegian film Dead Snow, followed closely by Shaun of the Dead and Fido. She is always willing to discuss horror with other fans, authors and those who just enjoy the genre. Currently Stacy lives in Virginia with her husband and two rambunctious boy cats, and she teaches English at a local community college.


Publishing Success in Journals & Magazines - Neva Bryan

Remember those 80s mullet hairstyles? They were short in the front and long in the back. Publishing success is like a mullet: business up front and party in the back. Neva’s creative process is fun and stimulating. It's the party. However, when it comes time to submit and have other eyes look at it, she’s all business. Treating it like a business means learning to love spreadsheets, following the guidelines, being professional in all communications, and shrugging off rejection quickly. Her workshop would tackle practical ways to set yourself up for publishing success. This workshop is for people who want to publish short stories, poems, and essays. It is NOT ideal for novelists looking for publishing advice.

Bio: Neva Bryan is the author of several novels and a children's picture book, The Mystery of the Monster in Oxbow Lake. Nearly sixty of her short stories and poems are published in literary journals, online magazines, and anthologies. She lives in the mountain coalfields of Virginia with her husband and their pets.

Starting and Growing Your Author Newsletter - Janell Robisch


Tips for starting your author newsletter, creating a sales funnel, and getting subscribers.

Bio:  Janell E. Robisch is an editor and designer. She was also the founder and first facilitator of Skyline Writers’ Circle in Luray, which has recently been passed onto a new generation of leaders. Janell writes and publishes a variety of nonfiction, including books and blog posts on writing and self-publishing. Her alter ego, J. Elizabeth Vincent, is the author of myriad short stories, a novella, and Raven Thrall, the first novel in the epic fantasy series, Legends of the Ceo San, the tale of a girl called upon to rescue others when she hasn’t even figure out who she is yet. In both personas, Janell plans to keep writing and publishing as long as she can.

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