Rappahannock Writers Conference

2021 Rappahannock Writers' Conference

Welcome & Keynote in University Hall


Welcome/Conference Introduction/Five Year Retrospective


Keynote - The Land of After: Pandemics, Priorities, and Deep Change

Presented by best-selling author Candice Ransom

Virtual Track

Google Meet links will be sent out to registrants the day before the conference or at registration on the day of the conference.

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About Candice Ransom

Candice Ransom is the author of more than 150 books for children and young adults. 

She has also published dozens of personal essays. 

She wrote a full-length memoir as her thesis to earn her MA at Hollins University. 

She teaches in Hollins University's graduate program in children's literature.

Thank you to platinum sponsor University of Mary Washington Continuing and Professional Studies for supporting the 2021 Rappahannock Writers Conference.

Thank you to sponsors Literature & Latte and Topside FCU for supporting the 2021 Rappahannock Writers Conference.

Workshop Sessions I: 10:00-10:50

University Hall [Hudson Gates Building] - Spot the Scam, Presented by Wendy Latella

No matter what business you are in, there is always someone working a scam. Join Wendy Latella in her award-winning Spot the Scam class that will give you the tools to protect your creative interests and your pockets as you pursue your goals.

Audience: Adult + Teen; Topic: Business; Level: All

Rooms 227/228 [South Building] - Finding Your Voice, Presented by J.S. Furlong

What the heck is a writer's 'voice'? What's it made of? Why do readers and reviewers care about voice, and most importantly, how do you figure out what yours is?

Known for her fresh, funny and honest writing, J.S. Furlong teaches this multi-level class in finding your most clear and authentic voice through your characters and storylines. Whether you struggle with the obvious 'voices' of dialogue or with identifying and discovering your own writer voice, this hands on, energetic, dig-into-your-writing session will help you generate answers.

Topic: General craft; Audience: Adult + Teen; Level: All

Wendy Latella

Workshop: Spot the Scam

Wendy is an award-winning film writer, director, and producer. Her extensive credits include work with Spelling Entertainment, Warner Brothers, and the American Forces Network.

Wendy also serves as the Vice Chairman for the Spotsylvania County Telecommunications Commission.

She is known for her positive, teamwork 'can-do' attitude and ability to turn difficulties into positives.

J.S. Furlong

Rooms 205/206 [South Building] - Gathering: More Important than Writing your Nonfiction Story? Presented by Jim Hall

The nonfiction writer usually focuses on his/her writing. But is "gathering," an earlier stage in the writing process, actually more important than good writing? 

Audience: Adult; Topic: Research; Level: Beginning

Teen Track - Room 226 [South Building] - Editing Essentials: Putting Your Best Foot Forward, Presented by Dawn Brotherton

Before approaching an agent or editor, you want your manuscript to be as “clean” as possible. We’ll discuss some self-editing tips to make your writing more professional.

Topic: Editing; Audience: Teen; Level: Beginning

Jim Hall

Workshop: Gathering - More Important Than Writing Your Nonfiction Story?

Jim Hall, a resident of Fredericksburg, is a longtime reporter and now an author and speaker on lynching in Virginia.

History Press published his "The Last Lynching in Northern Virginia." He is a contributor to a book on Virginia lynchings, scheduled for publication in 2022 by the University of Virginia Press.


Dawn Brotherton

Virtual Track - Three Essentials of Powerful Literary Relationships, Presented by Sarah M Eden

Strong, believable, and dynamic relationships are crucial to any story, whether you are writing about a romantic couple, a friendship, family connections, or co-workers.

This class will cover the three essentials of any written relationship, how to apply them, and how they add authenticity and uniqueness to literary relationships, as well as the role of relationships in plotting.

Topic: General craft; Audience: Adult; Level: Beginning

Sarah M Eden

Workshop: Three Essentials of Powerful Literacy Relationships

Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today best-selling author of witty and charming historical romances.

She is a two-time Foreword INDIES Gold Medal winner, a 2020 Holt Medallion finalist, and a two-time “Best of State” winner for fiction.

Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree in research and loves crafting complex characters and rich historical backdrops.

Workshop Sessions II: 11:00-11:50

University Hall [Hudson Gates Building] - Course Corrections, Presented by Traci Hunter Abramson

You’ve written yourself into a corner, or your story has lost its way. You have a plausibility issue that needs to be addressed. Your editor wants you to change your entire premise. This course will explore how to efficiently tackle rewrites, revisions, and plotting problems. You will learn the skills needed to pull a single thread out of a manuscript and weave a new one in while maintaining the beauty of your work even if it doesn’t look the same as you once imagined.

Topic: General Craft; Audience: Adult + Teen; Level: Advanced

Rooms 205/206 [South Building] - Recipe for a Perfect Romance, Presented by Lisa Swinton

Start with a strong loveable heroine and a swoon worthy hero. Add chemistry, connection, and quirky secondary characters. Mix in conflict, adhesion, and repulsion. Bake at 50,000 words. Frost with a tear-jerking tear apart. Ice with HEA or HFN. Plate your perfect romance that will have your readers leaving rave reviews and craving the next serving of your sweet romance.

Topic: Genre; Audience: Adult + Teen; Level: Beginning

Traci Hunter Abramson

Workshop: Course Corrections

Traci Hunter Abramson was born in Arizona, where she lived until moving to Venezuela for a study-abroad program.

After graduating from Brigham Young University, she worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for several years.

She has written more than thirty bestselling novels and is a seven-time Whitney Award winner.

Lisa Swinton

Rooms 227/228 [South Building] - Verbs in Motion, Presented by Ellie Whitney

Verbs equal action and are the heavy hitters of a sentence, so picking the right verb is paramount to good writing. Learn how to hit a home run with your verbs by replacing weak ones (passive, overused, unevocative, helping, “to be,” or filter verbs) with strong, specific, evocative ones.

Topic: General Craft; Audience: Adult + Teen; Level: Beginning

Teen Track - Room 226 [South Building] - What Not to Write and How It Elevates Your Work, Presented by William Galaini

As with many things, knowing when to do nothing is vital. Writing is no different, and here we will discuss how to avoid rambling descriptions, overdrawn action, and superfluous details. If you fear that you will drown your reader, come to this shop!

Topic: General Craft; Audience: Teen; Level: Advanced

Ellie Whitney

Workshop: Verbs in Motion

After earning a master’s degree in teaching, Ellie Whitney spent over ten years as an English teacher and writing tutor.

She has published in various local, state, and national newspapers and magazines.

Ellie, an award-winning writer, lives in Virginia with her family and freelances as a line editor.

William Galaini

Virtual Track - Pacing: How to Keep Your Story Moving and Your Reader Happily Nervous, Presented by Stephanie Black

Is your story so draggy that readers sneak peeks ahead to see if anything is going to happen? Or is it so crammed with action that readers beg for a break?

In this class we’ll discuss how to pace your story so it sweeps readers on a rewarding journey.

Topic: General craft; Audience: Adult + Teen; Level: Beginning

Stephanie Black

Workshop: Pacing - How to Keep Your Story Moving and Your Reader Happily Nervous

Stephanie Black is the author of twelve novels, most recently Bound in Shallows (Natalie Marsh Mysteries #4).

She lives in northern California.

She enjoys spending time with her family, homemade chocolate-chip cookies, and taking photographs of birds.

After Lunch - Workshop Sessions III: 1:00-1:50

University Hall [Hudson Gates Building] - Creating Memorable Characters from Conception to Delivery, Presented by Paige Edwards

Delivering memorable characters can be a painful process. Learn how to create believable personalities without discomfort. This class provides easy, labor-free techniques. We’ll discuss the Jung Typology Test, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, character questionnaires/bibles, and more to help deliver your perfectly imperfect bundles of joy.

Topic: General craft; Audience: Adult; Level: Advanced

Rooms 205/206 [South Building] - Conflict and Suspense, Presented by Austin Camacho

Without conflict, there is no story. Suspense draws your readers through the story to a satisfying conclusion. I will show you how to use several kinds of conflict in your stories, and how to use suspense to keep your reader involved in your stories all the way to the end.

Topic: General Craft; Audience: Adult; Level: Beginning

Paige Edwards

Workshop: Creating Memorable Characters from Conception to Delivery

Paige Edwards is an award-winning author of contemporary Regencies with a side-order of suspense.

Her books are often set in the UK, and she hops the pond whenever she gets the chance.

She is styled the Lady Paige Edwards when in Scotland, but her favorite title is Grandma.


Austin Camacho

Rooms 227/228 [South Building] - Book Synopsis in a Weekend, Presented by Chris Jones

Books need roadmaps. Learn how to write a book synopsis, complete with book outline, in 48 hours.

Topic: General Craft; Audience: Adult; Level: All

Teen Track - Room 226 [South Building] - Beginning Your Short Story or Novel, Presented by Judy Kelly

You can write. You know you can. Your teachers in all your English classes have praised your writing. You love to read, and you carry stories around in your head. But you ask yourself, How do I begin a novel or a short story? In this work session, we will explore a variety of story openings across genres for teens and see the patterns of writing in the young adult genre. You will learn how to open your short story or novel by following a few steps. From there, you will launch into your story. Come with a good and lengthy summary of your story, your characters, and setting, and be prepared to write or type.

Topic: General craft; Audience: Teen; Level: Beginning

Chris Jones

Workshop: Book Synopsis in a Weekend

Chris Jones helps authors navigate the production, publishing, and promotion side of the craft.

Judy Kelly

Virtual Track - Exposition that Feels Natural and Hooks Readers: Lessons from "Gilmore Girls," Presented by Annette Lyon

How do we get important information to the reader in a way that feels natural and believable while also propelling the story? In short, how do we avoid the dreaded info dump? By analyzing clips from the iconic TV show Gilmore Girls, we’ll learn techniques to keep readers hooked to the page. 

Topic: General Craft; Audience: Adult + Teen; Level: Beginning

Annette Lyon

Workshop: Exposition that Feels Natural and Hooks Readers: Lessons from Gilmore Girls

Annette Lyon is a USA Today bestseller, Whitney Award-winner, and an eight-time recipient of Utah’s Best of State Medal for fiction.

She’s a co-founder and the original editor of The Timeless Romance Anthology series and sub-series and remains a sought-after editor.

Annette is represented by Heather Karpas at ICM Partners.

Workshop Sessions IV: 2:00-2:50

University Hall [Hudson Gates Building] - Writing Memoir, Presented by Doug Jones

Thomas Larson writes that “memoir is most successful when it is not the ‘story of a life,’ but a focused part of that life - a dozen summers spent working on a grandfather’s farm, a long relationship with a dying relative, the first year of law school.”

Topic: Genre; Audience: Adult; Level: Beginning

Rooms 205/206 [South Building] - The Hunt for a Home: Finding the Perfect Place to Publish Your Poetry and Microfiction, Presented by Elizabeth Spencer Spragins

The literary marketplace is saturated with “prime real estate,” so how do you find the best home for your poems, microfiction, and flash fiction? This session will share strategies for locating journals and anthologies that are a good fit for your work.

Topic: Publishing; Audience: Adult +Teen; Level: Beginning

Doug Jones

Workshop: Writing Memoir

Douglas Jones has written more than forty plays and screenplays, including the musical Bojangles (music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Sammy Cahn), The Turn of The Screw, and his award-winning Songs from Bedlam.

His film 1607: A Nation Takes Root is on display at Jamestown Settlement & Yorktown Victory Center.

Elizabeth Spencer Spragins

Rooms 227/228 [South Building] - Dialogue, Presented by Rick Pullen

In fiction writing, there is show and tell. Nothing else. You want to show as often as possible and tell only what you must to move the plot forward. One of the best tools for showing is through dialogue. How do you make it sparkle? How does it contribute to the plot? To character? To story? (Yes, story is different from plot.) Why did Holmes have his Watson? Why was Dashiell Hammett a genius at dialogue? Learn some of the tricks of good dialogue and how it affects everything in a manuscript and why it can never ever be boring. 

Topic: General Craft; Audience: Adult; Level: Advanced

Teen Track - Room 226 [South Building] - 17 Syllables of Truth--Haiku and Senryu, Presented by Kim B. Miller

How can you take three lines and make them powerful? Haiku, that's how. Learn this beautiful, poetic art form and the difference between a haiku and a senryu, both originating in Japan. Explore techniques to write creative, insightful and funny haiku.

Topic: Genre; Audience: Teen; Level: Beginning

Rick Pullen

Workshop: Dialogue

Rick Pullen's first novel, Naked Ambition, was a bestseller, followed by its sequel, Naked Truth and a standalone, The Apprentice. He has just completed the manuscript for his fourth novel. He continues to work on an anthology of famous crime writers, which is being serialized in CrimeReads.com.

Rick spent nearly 40 years as a journalist. He was a finalist for editor of the year in 2015 and was named to the Folio 100, the 100 most influential people in magazine publishing. He was an investigative reporter at The Free Lance-Star for six years when it was named one of the two best small newspapers in America.

Kim B. Miller

Virtual Track - Plotting a Page-Turning Novel, Presented by Janette Rallison

Come learn the six things every author needs to know about their story before they hit the keyboard. We'll cover the do's and don'ts of plotting that will make writing your novel faster, selling your book easier, and keep your readers wanting more.

Topic: General craft; Audience: Adult + Teen; Level: Beginning

Janette Rallison

Workshop: Plotting a Page-Turning Novel

USA Today, bestselling author, Janette Rallison/CJ Hill has written 31 novels that have sold over 1,000,000 print copies .

Her books are fantasy, sci-fi, and romantic comedy because hey, there is enough angst in real life, but there’s a drastic shortage of humor, romance, and hot guys who fight dragons.


Networking & Meet the Speakers: 3:00-3:30

Meet the Speakers

Panel Discussion on Marketing: 3:40-4:40

Panal Discussion on Marketing

Featuring Chandra Gore, Chris Jones,
and Traci Hunter Abramson (as Moderator)

Conference Wrap-up: 4:40-5:00

Conference Wrap Up
Chandra Gore

About Chandra Gore

Chandra Gore has built successful and profitable businesses through her consulting firm by working with entrepreneurs to help them create foundations for success through her boutique consulting and public relations firm, Chandra Gore Consulting.

She is also an author, comedy festival founder, producer and speaker on topics such as Business Strategies, Media Relations and Entrepreneurship.


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