Rappahannock Writers Conference

Virtual Rappahannock Writers Conference: Building Up Writers

The 2020 Rappahannock Writers’ Conference has concluded.

World building
Character development
Earning a living as a writer

Traci Hunter Abramson

Keynote Speaker
Author Traci Hunter Abramson
"Rising Up: Creating in a Time of Crisis"

Suzi Weinert: “Building Up Writers… From the Inside”

Want to be a writer? Mystery author Suzi Weinert tells how curiosity, imagination, and inspiration are the keys to invention!

Linda J. White: "We Are Writers"

Award-winning local mystery author Linda J. White shares the impact writers' conferences have had on her career.

Conference Schedule


Welcome, Conference Introduction, & Keynote Introduction 


Keynote, "Rising Up: Creating in a Time of Crisis" by Traci Hunter Abramson


Workshop Sessions I


Workshop Sessions II




Workshop Sessions III


Publishing Panel


Conference Farewell & Evaluation

Session Details

9:00-9:15: Welcome/Conference Introduction

9:15-9:45: Keynote: Rising Up: Creating in a Time of Crisis

Join best-selling author Traci Hunter Abramson as she discusses the challenges and the rewards of tapping into our creativity even when life gets tough.

10:00-11:00: Workshop Sessions I

Oh, That’s Your Cover? Presented by Chris Jones

In this workshop, Chris Jones, author and acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, walks attendees through the most common mistakes authors make when writing, producing, publishing, and marketing their books.

Using Description To Bring Your Novel To Life Presented by Paige Edwards

Would you recognize your character if they walked down the street? Can you feel the breeze and hear the crunch of autumn leaves? This course will help you ground your scenes, utilize sensory details, and bring your characters to life through descriptive writing.

Who are These People? – Creating and Developing Characters Presented by Judy Kelly

Some writers create strong characters that seem real and memorable to readers, while other writers create weak characters that don’t hold the readers’ interest. Using examples from well-written published novels, this presentation will discover the nature and representation of character. Attendees will be able to use the information in the creation of their characters in their stories.

What it Takes to Get a Book Written & Published Presented by Bill Blume

Getting a book published requires a lot more work than just writing it. Author Bill Blume shares the journey of his novel Gidion's Hunt, starting with how he got the idea for the story, how he carved out time to get it written, and then the equally daunting challenge of finding someone to publish it and everything that happened after that. He shares what he got right and--just as important--what he got wrong.

11:10-12:10: Workshop Sessions II

Publishing Options and Pointers Presented by Dawn Brotherton

In the digital age, the face of publishing has been transformed. Whether your goal is to reach a traditional publisher in New York City, self-publish, or something in between, we help put you on the right path. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each and help you come up with the answer that is right for you as an author. (Goes hand-in-hand with The Road to Publishing )

Scenes: The Essential Ingredient Presented by M.E. Maki

Well written scenes are essential to any genre of prose. Each scene launches the next and together they are the building blocks of the story. In this workshop attendees will learn how to write scenes that will resonate with their readers, to keep readers turning the pages and asking for more. Also discussed will be character and plot development, editing and scene management techniques.

Make Life Hard For Your Characters: A Few Strategies to Help You Brainstorm and Plot Your Story Presented by James Noll

Some writers are planners: they plot out every last detail of their story prior to the rough draft. Some writers are pantsers: they just start writing and see what happens. Whether you're one or the other (or both!), the strategies in this workshop will help you come up with original ideas and develop them into bonafide stories.

Because Romance is Everywhere Presented by Traci Hunter Abramson

We all love to love, even if we don't want to admit it. Discover how romantic elements can deepen and enhance your characters, add to their motivations, and tug on the heartstrings of your readers. Whether you want to blend the word "romantic" with your genre, or subtly use romance as an undercurrent in your writing, come discover the possibilities that can come through the heart.

12:15-1:15: Lunch Break

1:15-2:15: Workshop Sessions III

Making a Living as a Writer Presented by Rick Pullen

Fredericksburg writer and author Rick Pullen has, well, almost done it all. He’s worked as a press secretary, as an investigative reporter, as a magazine editor (for three different magazines), and as a bestselling novelist and freelance writer. Warning: he’s also been fired four times. Rick has never been a screenwriter, advertising copywriter or worked in corporate PR. So he hasn’t done it all, but he’s done enough to enjoy a comfortable living—something a lot of writers struggle to do. And isn’t that the point, to be able to make a good living at what you love to do?

Recently, Rick has written three thriller novels and is hard at work on his fourth. He now writes about famous writers for CrimeReads.com and The Big Thrill magazine (official publication of International Thriller Writers). He will share his knowledge of the writing life, how he learned to write and edit, and how he learned to make a comfortable living at it. And yes, he ends sentences with prepositions and frequently writes incomplete sentences. And on occasion, he writes in passive voice (but then catches his error and strongly recommends against it). He has spent his life breaking rules and profiting from it. Writing, he says, is not for the faint of heart, which gives you a sense of what this lecture is all about.

Building Fantastic Worlds Presented by William LJ Galaini

Do you wish to produce plausible fantasy and science fiction worlds filled with deep lore and realistic conflicts? Join author William LJ Galaini to build your setting for either fiction or gaming.

Finding Your Editor Self Presented by Elizabeth Ferris

Writer Mary Karr has said that “every writer needs two selves—the generative self and the editor self.” In this workshop we will explore questions and strategies for finding and growing our “editor self.” Elizabeth will walk participants through approaches she uses when editing books, stories, and essays, giving concrete examples from her own work and the work of others. She will also talk about mindsets that writers can embrace to make editing a less fraught experience. This session will include a Q&A at the end.

Poetry in a Plague Year Presented by David Anthony Sam, Elizabeth Spencer Spragins, and Kathy Smaltz

Poets David Anthony Sam, Kathy Smaltz, and Elizabeth Spencer Spragins will discuss the consolations of poetry and contours of the creative journey. The panelists will share their strategies for overcoming the challenge of a blank page and embarking on the path to publication. Submitting poetry to journals, finding a traditional book publisher, and handling rejection are key components of the poetic life. Topics include: the consolations of poetry, overcoming the challenge of a blank page, submitting your poetry to journals, handling rejection, and finding a traditional publisher for your book.

Overcoming Writers’ Block Presented by Wendy Latella

No matter whether you're new to writing or a pro, writer's block affects all of us. Join Wendy Latella to explore some great techniques to beat the block! Wear comfy clothes and be ready to have fun!

2:30-3:30: Panel Discussion on Publishing

Panelists include: Traci Hunter Abramson (Moderator), Dawn Brotherton, Tracy Causley, Paige Edwards, and James Noll

Most writers hope to publish their writing. Join traditionally-published and self-published authors as they discuss the various aspects of publishing a book and answer audience questions.

3:40-4:00: Conference Farewell & Evaluation

Networking Opportunities

Join fellow writers to discuss your writing, your favorite genre, what you’re learning at the Rappahannock Writers Conference, and other writing-related topics.


10:00-10:30: General Fiction

10:30-11:00: Nonfiction and Poetry

11:10-11:40: Mystery

11:40-12:10: Romance

1:15-1:45: Fantasy

1:45-2:15: Science Fiction

Thank you to our 2020 Rappahannock Writers Conference sponsor Scrivener.

Thank you to our 2020 Rappahannock Writers Conference partners:

Tutorials and Troubleshooting Help for Technology Issues

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