On Saturday, writers of all kinds will converge on Germanna Community College’s Fredericksburg campus for the Rappahannock Writers’ Conference, a day-long event focused on celebrating writers that will include workshops, panel discussions and classes.
Organizers say the annual event, which came to fruition after a discussion between a local library official and a local writer several years ago, has grown every year.
Even when it was forced to go virtual during the pandemic, the conference continued to grow, according to organizers. This year, hundreds of attendees are expected at Germanna’s Workforce and Technology building, and a virtual option will also be available. The conference is free.
Writers and those interested in the craft will have the chance to learn from more than 20 panelists and speakers, including authors, novelists and poets.
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Author and life coach Denise Hill will present the morning keynote, “More Than Just a Book.” Later, Hill will lead a workshop on marketing best practices. In 2021, the media veteran was named one of Yahoo Finance’s top communications coaches, and ChoicePoint named her one of the nation’s top motivational speakers.
Best-selling author Jeffery Deaver, who has published 44 novels, three collections of short stories and a non-fiction law book, will deliver the luncheon keynote on writing commercial fiction. Deaver’s debut novel, ‘The Bone Collector’, became a major film in 1999. Among his accolades are an international award for novel of the year for thriller writers, the Steel Dagger from the Crime Writers’ Association in the UK Kingdom and three Lifetime Achievement Awards. He was also named a Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America.
Participating novelists also include:
Austin S. Camacho, who will approach writing with cultural sensitivity;
Brian Paone, who will lead a session on finding the best vantage point for your story;
Fredericksburg detective novelist Rick Pullen, who will lead a class on dialogue;
local YA novelist JS Furlong, who will lead a workshop on creating believable characters; and
William Galiani, science fiction author from Virginia, who will discuss tracing with diagrams.
Traci Hunter Abramson – a prolific Stafford author as well as one of the catalysts for the annual conference – will also impart knowledge – who will talk about the benefits of bringing romance into a story; and fellow romance novelist Lisa Swinton, who will teach how to pump up the drama of a story.
Several aspects of the craft will be explored in depth in other sessions throughout the day:
Teacher and writer Ellie Whitney will lead a course on improving readability.
Speaker and poet Kim B. Miller will offer tips for freelance writers.
Screenwriter Wendy Latella will present her craft.
Ksenya Swinton, fanfiction enthusiast, will cover the basics of writing on the Internet.
And Chandra Gore will share the journey to a successful book launch.
Another area of focus will be research, as Char McCargo Bah will share what she has learned over 41 years as an investigator and genealogical researcher.
There are designated sessions for writers at all skill levels, as well as beginners and advanced writers. Young people are encouraged to follow the “Teen Track”, and a virtual course is also available.
Virtual sessions include “(Re)Discover Your Poetic Voice,” led by poet Katherine Gotthardt; “Pruning the Tree: Writing Micro-fiction”, taught by Elizabeth Spencer Spragins; and Mary E. Maki’s course, “Make a Scene.” Online attendees can learn about increasing productivity in a course led by novelist Sarah Warburton.
The event will also include signing sessions, networking opportunities and panel discussions. Authors Jeffrey James Higgins, Lane Stone and Stacy Woodson will share their experiences in the detective genre in a discussion moderated by Abramson. Pullen will moderate a discussion between Higgins, Stone and Warburton on finding and working with agents. And Abramson will once again host “The Writer’s Toolbox Panel Discussion,” featuring Camacho, James Noll and Warburton.
The Germanna Workforce Development Center is the platinum sponsor of the event. Other sponsors include Mystery Writers of America, Mid-Atlantic Chapter and Topside Federal Credit Union. The event will be held in partnership with Indie Author Day.
In November 2015, Abramson spoke with Joy O’Toole, adult services programmer at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, about writers’ conferences and the fact that there were none in the area. of Fredericksburg. At the time, local authors had to travel to Richmond, Charlottesville or Washington to find the nearest gathering, they said. Abramson and O’Toole determined that the local library would be the ideal host, so the first conference was held at the Porter branch in Stafford in November 2017.
Nearly 140 writers showed up, and organizers soon realized they were onto something big. The library held a second conference the following year. This time it spilled over from the Howell branch of the library to Stafford. In 2019, the conference was held at the more spacious Stafford campus of Mary Washington University. At this point, library officials renamed the event the Rappahannock Writers’ Conference.
For more information, visit librarypoint.org/rappahannock-writers-conference.