8:00 - 9:00 a.m.   Registration/Coffee Hour & Opening Remarks


9:00 - 10:00  Session One (choose one)

The Word's the Thing - Making the most of the power of words in writing humor, difficult topics, and fiction.  


Angela M. Carter is an author, poet, motivational speaker, spoken word performer, visual artist and activist. Born, and raised, in a Virginia farming town of less than 300 residents. She moved to England, for nearly five years, after receiving a one-month scholarship to study at the University of Bath. She returned to Virginia with a new-found confidence, and voice. Memory Chose a Woman’s Body (unbound CONTENT, 2014) is a poetry memoir, which spotlights the effects of the silences endured after abuse, neglect and depression. Angela is a 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee and has been featured in a multitude of venues, including The KGB Club in Manhattan and Busboys and Poets. She is an advocate of the healing ability of the arts. Angela M. Carter resides in Harrisonburg, VA and has many upcoming speaking engagements relating to abuse and depression awareness. She believes silence is not golden. www.authorangelamcarter.com

Mary Montague Sikes is an award-winning author of eight non-fiction books and nine novels. Holder of a BA degree in psychology from the University of Mary Washington and a MFA in painting from Virginia Commonwealth University, she has many years experience as a free-lance writer and photographer for newspapers and magazines. A former member of the Board of Governors of Virginia Writers Club, she is co-founder and first treasurer of Virginia Romance Writers, is a founding member of Chesapeake Bay Writers Club, and is a member of Chesapeake Bay Pen Women. A past-president of the Richmond Branch, National League of American Pen Women, she has presented state and national NLAPW conference workshops. Soon after the release of her coffee table book, Hotels to Remember, she was featured on a Virginia Festival of the Book travel panel. Her first children's book, An Artful Animal Alphabet, featuring her writing and paintings, is set for a summer release. (http://www.marymontaguesikes.com) 

Kimberly “Kimba” Dalferesis a native Floridian who pretends to be a Virginian. She’s an accomplished king salmon slayer, estate sale junkie, and sometimes writes books, including I Was In Love With a Short Man Once and Magic Fishing Panties. Dalferes’ essays have been featured in diverse publications, such as Feisty After 45, Reflections On Smith Mountain Lake, The Roanoke Times, Better After 50, BonBon Break, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, and Midlife Boulevard. She also contributed to Nekkid Came the Swimmer, a tome created for the sole purpose of being the worst book ever written. Dalferes’ humor column, Dock Tale Hour, appears in Laker Magazine. She’s also had a limerick published in The Washington Post, which Dalferes emphatically claims as a legitimate publication cred. Dalferes divides her time between Fairfax and Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. She also can be found hanging out in The Middle-Aged Cheap Seats—her blog, http://kimdalferes.com/blog. Visit the author at www.kimdalferes.com

It’s a Mystery to Me: Reading Like a Writer - What makes a good story, especially in mysteries where characters, plot, and pacing are critical, i.e., becoming a critical reader.


Maggie King is the author of Murder at the Book Group, a Hazel Rose Book Group Mystery, and the upcoming Murder at the Moonshine Inn (2016, Koehler Books). She contributed to the Virginia is for Mysteries and Virginia is for Mysteries Vol. 2 anthologies. Maggie is a member of Sisters in Crime and the American Association of University Women. She has worked as a software developer, retail sales manager, and customer service supervisor. Maggie graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. These days she lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, Glen, and cats, Morris and Olive. Visit Maggie at http://www.maggieking.com

Mary Miley Theobald is a historian and free-lance writer specializing in history, travel, and business topics. She received her B.A. and M.A. from the College of William and Mary, worked for Colonial Williamsburg for many years, and taught American history and museum studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has written eleven nonfiction books and more than 200 articles for a variety of magazines and newspapers. In 2012, Mary won a national competition for Best First Crime Novel with her Roaring Twenties murder mystery, The Impersonator; the third in the series will be published in August, 2016 and the fourth in 2017. Currently, she is working on a new mystery series, has nearly finished a corporate history for a real estate developer, and is about to start on a book on gunsmiths for Colonial Williamsburg. For fun, she is helping start up a new winery near Afton, Virginia, where she looks forward to stomping grapes in a wooden vat, like Lucy and Ethel. (http://marymileytheobald.com)

Heather Weidner, originally from Virginia Beach, has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She earned her BA in English literature from Virginia Wesleyan College and her MA in American Literature from the University of Richmond. She currently lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers. Heather is a member of Sisters in Crime International, Guppies, and Sisters in Crime - Central Virginia. Visit Heather on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and www.HeatherWeidner.com.

Love is in the Air – Writing Romance - Writing romance, including “heat” levels, writing sensually, romance “rules,” etc.


Ellen Butler twitter style: author, mother, wife, shoe lover, chocoholic, fashion fan, sarcastic wit, autumn enthusiast, dancer, book worm, and good-time devotee. Ellen is an award winning novelist living in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children. She writes sexy, sassy romances with laugh out loud humor and edge of your seat suspenseful women’s fiction. Her recent release includes the Love, California Style series. When she’s not writing Ellen can be found running around after her children, giving interior decorating advice to neighbors, or holed up in her favorite chair with a glass of wine. Ellen admits to having a penchant for shoe shopping and is an admitted chocoholic. (http://www.ellenbutler.net

Kelly Eadon is a contemporary romance author living in Richmond, Virginia.  She writes sweet, small town romance with a quirky sense of humor and lots of laugh out loud moments.  Kelly is represented by Dawn Dowdle of the Blue Ridge Literary Association. (http://www.kellyeadon.com)

Jenna Harte is a die-hard romantic writing about characters who are passionate about and committed to each other, and frequently getting into trouble. She is the author of the sexy, cozy Valentine Mysteries, the first of which, Deadly Valentine, reached the quarter-finals in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013.  Her most recent release, Drawn to Her, is the first book in the romantic Southern Heat series from Penner Publishing. Book two, Meant To Be, will be published in September 2016, and the final book, Wed To You is due January 2017. When she’s not telling stories, she works by day as a freelance writer, author, blogger and online entrepreneur. She lives in central Virginia with her husband, two college-bound children and a fat cat. You can learn more about Jenna, get free ebooks, and join her street team at JennaHarte.com.

10:15-11:15 Session Two (choose one)

Getting Your Book Done - Whether writing a thousand words a day, writing word-by-word page-by-page, or finishing your first draft in six months, get it done!


Mollie Cox Bryan writes the Cumberland Creek Scrapbooking Mysteries. Scrapbook of Secrets, the first in the series, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel of 2012 and was selected by B & N as a mystery to watch.  Mollie is launching a new mystery series in August--The Cora Crafts Mysteries series.  She lives in Waynesboro, Va. with her husband and two daughters. Visit her website: http://www.molliecoxbryan.com

Joanne Liggan is a novelist, public speaker and instructor, event coordinator, and founder of the Hanover Writers Club and the Hanover Book Festival. Her family saga suspense trilogy includes Heir of Deception, Air of Truth, and Err At Sea, and she is a writer of award-winning short fiction and magazine articles. Joanne has been an active member of the Virginia Writers Club for over 18 years and participated as a member of the Board of Governors for 15 of those years. As an instructor, Joanne 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. To learn more about Joanne, visit her website at www.liggan.net.

Greg Smith founded Agile Writers in 2011 with the mission of utilizing a new approach to helping beginning writers complete a first-draft novel in 6 months. The Agile Writer Method is based upon the writings of experts in mythology, screenwriting, and psychology. He also co-authored Reel Heroes & Villains; a book on heroes in the movies. His seminars on the Agile Writer Method have informed and delighted hundreds of writers, scholars, and university students. Since 2011, Agile Writer authors have completed dozens of first draft novels, 8 published novels, and two members have been nominated for the coveted James River Writer Best Unpublished Novel Contest. Learn more at http://greg-smith.com/

Author/Editor Relationships - No matter which publishing route you take—traditional, self, or hybrid—understanding the importance of the author/editor relationship is crucial.


J. Russ Briley combines a military background with thirty years in high tech to produce his real world characters and thrillers. From micro-controllers to internet computer systems and industrial automation, J. Russ’s familiarity with technology covers missile control systems, steel mills, water treatment plants, oil refineries, ship controls, communications, and security systems. Utilizing his MBA and Computer Science background in both hardware and software engineering, J. Russ has had direct working access to multiple Fortune 100 and 500 company executives and designers worldwide, including those from GE, Intel, GM, Chevron, Texas Instruments, and Motorola. J.Russ was a member of the Air Force Academy class of ’79, and the son of a career Air Force Officer. He lived in Guam and India, visiting many foreign countries throughout his life. He received diplomatic corps training from the US government and was trained in photoreconnaissance. J. Russ currently resides in Virginia. (http://jrussbriley.com

Liz Russel is a professional writer and editor, whose work includes video scriptwriting, directing, and producing, as well as editing copy, writing promotional pieces, and working with authors to craft and improve their work. Liz’s wide-ranging experience covers from technical writing to public relations, commercial video, and advertising to novels. Her clients include J. Russ Briley, Federal Express, Motorola, Hall-Mark Electronics, Avnet, Inc., 3M, and the City of Plano, Texas. As an avid reader, Liz is familiar with a variety of genres and markets. Her editing talents allow her to tap into a writer’s style, and assist the writer in polishing their efforts. Liz’s own writing history began with creating stories for her younger sister and brother. An award winning script writer and free-lance editor, Liz currently resides in Virginia, and is working on her own novel.

Janell E. Robisch is a published author and editor with more than 20 years of experience in the publishing industry and more than 15 years of experience as a full-time independent editor. She has performed many types of editing and written in a variety of fields in her career, but she is currently focused on fiction. She is writing a paranormal romance novel and is helping other authors by providing fiction editing and publishing services through her business, Speculations Editing Services. She is a member of the Blue Ridge Writers chapter of the Virginia Writers Club, the Editorial Freelancers Association, and the Association of Independent Publishing Professionals. She is also a homeschooling mother and is raising her three children with her husband in the Shenandoah Valley. (https://speculationsediting.com)

My Book’s Done, Now What? Getting Your Book Sold - A discussion of book marketing, including ideas, resources, and how to fit marketing tasks into your writing career.


Connie B. Dowell is an author of fiction and nonfiction for teens and adults and a cover designer for independent authors. She and her husband Stephen host a history podcast, One Hundred Centuries. She is also the host of an audio fiction podcast, Book Echoes, launching in May 2016. Her latest writing projects include The Poison in All of Us (the first installment of the Emmie McAllister Mysteries, a young adult historical series set in the late 1910s and the 1920s) and Ian and Darlene (a serialized crime fiction/comedy novella). A former university writing center coordinator, she also authored You Can Love Writing: A Guide to Get through Your College Papers and Like It. Connie lives in central Virginia with her husband and son, where both adults drink far more coffee than is probably wise. You can find out more at http://conniebdowell.com.

Linda Ensign is a writer, entrepreneur, software guru, scholar, geek, gamer, cat-lover, tropical fish-keeper, volunteer, wonderer, wanderer, and honey-cheese curl addict.  She is currently querying her thriller novel and revising the first in a contemporary fantasy trilogy.  Her short story, The Storm in The Teacup appears in “Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning”, the seventh in the Agatha, Anthony, Derringer, and Macavity award-winning Chesapeake Crimes series.  You can find her at LindaEnsign.com and YellowHare.com.

Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker, fitness instructor, and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. She is the author of several books, including Digital Writer Success: How to Make a Living Blogging, Freelance Writing and Publishing Online and Jobs Online: How to Find an Get Hired to a Work-At-Home Job. She is currently updating her previously published book, The Work-At-Home Success Bible, for re-issue in 2016. She freelance writes about working at home, telecommuting, home and small business, writing, parenting, and fitness. Her articles have appeared on Entrepreneur.com, Yahoo! Small Business, LIVESTRONG, and more. She speaks and teaches courses on home-based careers, blogging, marketing, freelance writing, publishing, and platform building, and has been featured on The Daily Buzz, CNN.com, Woman's World, Redbook, and Today's Parent. Her alter ego is a fiction writer with a self-published mystery series and a three-book deal with a traditional publisher. You can learn more about Leslie through her website, LeslieTruex.com.

11:30-12:00 noon     Keynote Address

12:15 p.m.-1:00 p.m.    Lunch

1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.     Grand Opening (VWC Symposium's first page critique session)

     To participate (anonymously) in Grand Opening, here are the parameters:

                            1)  First page of your MS (300-400 words double-spaced)
                            2)  Word doc or PDF (no WordPerfect)  

                            3)  Email to jliggan@verizon.net by July 20, 2016


Joanne Liggan (http://www.liggan.net) (Bio listed above in the Getting Your Book Done panel.)

2:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m.     Presenters Book Fair and Signings


2:45 - 4:30 p.m.  (choose one)

Ready to Publish? Let’s Run the Numbers - This workshop has been merged with A Guide to Getting Published with two leaders, Betsy Ashton and John Koehler.

Being a Storyteller – Conflict and Suspense - This workshop will teach you how to create the essential elements of conflict and suspense. and how to use them to keep readers engaged all the way to the end of your tale. 


Austin S. Camacho is the author of six novels about Washington Dc-based private eye Hannibal Jones, five in the Stark and O’Brien international adventure-thriller series, and the detective novel, Beyond Blue. His short stories have been featured in several anthologies including Dying in a Winter Wonderland – an Independent Mystery Booksellers Association Top Ten Bestseller for 2008 - and he is featured in the Edgar nominated African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey. Camacho is also editorial director for Intrigue Publishing, a Maryland small press. Camacho is deeply involved with the writing community.  He is a past president of the Maryland Writers Association, past Vice President of the Virginia Writers Club, and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. (http://www.ascamacho.com)

What’s Creative about Nonfiction? - This workshop will review how to be successful in the nonfiction world.


Kimba Dalferes (http://kimdalferes.com) (Bio listed above in the The Word's the Thing panel.)

Sell It Before You Write It (Writing the Nonfiction Book Proposal) - The basics of the proposal, research, and interviews to make publishers take notice of your nonfiction book project.


Diane Fanning is the Edgar-nominated, best-selling author of twenty-five traditionally published books including ten mystery novels and fourteen true crime books.  Diane appears regularly on Deadly Women and other Investigation Discovery shows.  She has also appeared on the Today Show, 48 Hours, 20/20, Forensic Files, Snapped, the Biography Channel, E! and the BBC as well as broadcast and internet radio stations across the States and Canada.  She received the Defender of the Innocent Award for her book and work that helped a wrongfully convicted women receive a new trial and freedom. Raised in Baltimore, she has spent all of her adult life in Virginia and Texas.  She now lives in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Bedford, Virginia, with her husband Wayne and her Sheltie, Mister Emmitt Otter. (http://dianefanning.com)

Rising Above the Noise (How to Sell 40,000 Books on Amazon) - Now that you’ve got a book, how do you get people to find it among the 800,000+ books that will be published on Amazon this year?


Chris Kennedy’s full-length novels include the “Occupied Seattle” military fiction duology, “The Theogony” and “Codex Regius” science fiction trilogies, and the “War for Dominance” fantasy trilogy. He is also the author of the #1 self-help book, “Self-Publishing for Profit” and the leadership book “Leadership from the Darkside.” A bestselling Science Fiction/Fantasy author and speaker, Chris Kennedy is a former naval aviator with over 3,000 hours flying attack and reconnaissance aircraft, an elementary school principal and an instructional systems designer for the Navy. Chris is also a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Called “fantastic” and “a great speaker,” he has coached hundreds of beginning authors and budding novelists on how to self-publish their stories at a variety of conferences, conventions and writing guild presentations. Keep up with Chris at http://chriskennedypublishing.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/chriskennedypublishing.biz and on Twitter @ChrisKennedy110.  

A Guide to Getting Published -  Author Betsy Ashton and author/publisher John Koehler will cover the truth and fiction about publishing your book, from submission to distribution and marketing. They will also take a look at three types of publishing: 1) traditional with an agent, 2) indie without an agent but with a small publisher, and 3) total self-publishing.  Attendees will receive a free copy of Koehler’s new book,  A GUIDE TO GETTING PUBLISHED.

Betsy Ashton, born in Washington, DC, was raised in Southern California where she ran wild with coyotes in the hills above Malibu. She protested the war in Vietnam, burned her bra for feminism, and is a steadfast Independent. She is a writer, a thinker, the mother of three grown stepchildren, companion and friend. She mentors writers and writes and publishes fiction. Her first mystery, Mad Max Unintended Consequences, was published in February 2013. The second in the series, Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, came out in April 2015. In her spare time, she is the president of the state-wide Virginia Writers Club. (http://betsy-ashton.com)

John Koehler is the president and publisher of Köehler Books Publishing, located in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He is an award-winning graphics designer, and the author of five books. He was awarded the lifetime achievement Silver Medal by the Advertising Federation of Hampton Roads in 2016. He earned a BFA in Communications Arts and Design from Virginia Commonwealth University and attended graduate studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. John’s professional career includes being senior art director of a major advertising agency and running a design studio. He was director of a ministry dedicated to helping children with disabilities, a cause he is still very much dedicated to. John made an international splash in 1991 by winning the Boomerang World Championship in Perth, Australia and was a member of the Foster’s Boomerang 2000 Team, a touring troop that taught professional athletes, and others, the gospel of boomerangs. (http://www.koehlerbooks.com)


PLEASE VISIT THEIR WEBSITES OR OUR FACEBOOK PAGE AT https://www.facebook.com/VWC.2015Symposium/?fref=ts


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