Home : Events : Writers Conference : Presenters

Jeff Hodges
Director of Public Relations
Hollins University
P.O. Box 9657
Roanoke, VA 24020-1657
(540) 362-6503
Fax: (540) 362-6500

Office location:
Cocke Memorial Building, Third Floor

Brittany Foutz
Special Programs Coordinator
(540) 362-6021

Office location:
Bradley Hall


Michael Abraham Judy Light Ayyildiz (Oral History/Memoir: Unlocking the Words) is the author of the recent novel Forty Thorns, a 2012 Literary Fiction winner in International Book Awards. Her other books are First Recital, Smuggled Seeds, Mud River, Creative Writing across the Curriculum, Easy Ideas for Busy Teachers, The Writers' Express, Nothing but Time, Some of My Ancestors are Ottomans and Turks. She has taught creative writing at all education levels for 30 years and has been published internationally. She was editor of Artemis for 13 years and was a founder of the Blue Ridge Writers Conference. She has won prizes for poetry and was a 2010 Educator of the Year.
Betsy Ashton Rod Belcher (Getting the Book to Print with a Major Publisher) is the author of Six-Gun Tarot and Nightwise, novels published by Tor Books. Six-Gun Tarot was recently released in paperback and has been optioned as a movie. He is a freelance writer with a long list of credits and a graduate of George Washington University in forensic science. He lives in Roanoke.
Carrie Brown Carrie Brown, (The Basics of the Short Story) Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University, is the author of six novels—Rose’s Garden, Lamb in Love, Confinement, The Hatbox Baby, The Rope Walk and the new The Last First Day—as well as a collection of short stories, The House on Belle Isle. She has won awards for her work, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, The Great Lakes Book Award, and, twice, the Library of Virginia Award. Her short fiction has appeared in journals including One Story, Glimmer Train, The Georgia Review, and The Oxford American. A graduate of Brown University and the M.F.A. program in Creative Writing at the University of Virginia, where she held a prestigious Henry Hoyns Fellowship, she has taught creative writing at Sweet Briar College, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and at summer conferences.
Dan Casey Dan Casey (Telling Stories: "The Greyhound bus, the Swedish gal and the flophouse in Seattle") has been metro columnist of The Roanoke Times since 2009, and he's been telling stories for much longer than that. The best ones, he insists, can’t be published in the newspaper for both legal and taste reasons. In this session he'll spin one of his favorite career yarns: "The Day Pat Robertson's Bodyguard Pulled a Gun on Me." He'll also run down good story-telling strategies writers can employ. Casey was honored in 2011 for column writing from the national Society of Professional Journalists and the Virginia Press Association.
Karen Chase Karen Chase (Doing It Yourself) is a writer, designer, photographer, and traveler. Her first book, Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log, garnered seven independent publishing awards. She is working on an historical novel about the Declaration of Independence and owns 224 Pages, a design studio for the publishing industry. She has a monthly column called "Will Travel for Words" on the website ShelfPleasure.com. Karen and her partner, Ted, live in Richmond, Virginia, with their two cats, Linus and Olive. Her website is KarenAChase.com.
Bonnie Cranmer Bonnie Cranmer (Channeling Voices, Ghostwriting for Profit, with Sarah Beth Jones) is a Hollins Horizon Program graduate and green living and travel enthusiast. She is marketing director for Blue Ridge Green Media, publishers of Natural Awakenings. She is a business strategist for professionals, businesses and nonprofits for more than 20 years. She is prolific with social media and shares best practices advice for today's professionals.
Kathleen Grissom Doug Cumming (Writing for Magazines) is an associate professor of journalism at Washington & Lee University with 26 years experience at metro newspapers and magazines. Since getting a Ph.D. at UNC-Chapel Hill in mass communications, he has taught multimedia reporting and feature writing at Loyola University-New Orleans and at W&L. He worked at the newspapers in Raleigh, Providence, and Atlanta, was editor of the Sunday Magazine in Providence and helped launch Southpoint monthly magazine in Atlanta. He won a George Polk Award and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. His book, The Southern Press, came out in 2009, and more recently, he edited and wrote the foreword to Bylines, a selection of magazine articles by his father, Joe Cumming, who was Newsweek’s Southern bureau chief in the '60s and '70s.
Alice De Sturler Alice de Sturler (Using Social Media To Promote Your Writing) is a Dutch lawyer with a long history in human rights and cold cases. She worked for the Swiss Section of Amnesty International on capital punishment and women’s rights cases. After emigrating to the United States, she incorporated those cases in her lectures at the College of Law from the University of Illinois and at Virginia Tech. She started digging into cold cases at the Champaign Police Department (IL) in the late 90s. Since then, she started blogging about unsolved homicides worldwide and recently turned her blog into a business. Her talk proposal "Using blogs to give cold cases renewed media attention," was chosen to be presented this summer at the law conference ReInvent Law, London. Her blog is "Defrosting Cold Cases." Read her blog post about the 2014 Roanoke Regional Writers Conference. She lives in the New River Valley.
Keith Ferrell

Keith Ferrell (Finding the Few Remaining Good Writing Jobs) has a current New York Times bestseller, History Decoded with Brad Meltzer. He is the author of nearly 20 books, including novels and biographies, has also written more than two thousand magazine, newspaper, and encyclopedia articles and essays on scientific, technical, historical, and cultural topics. He is the former editor of OMNI Magazine and has won many awards, including Software Publishers’ Association as computer journalist of the year. He is former host of an in-flight television program, "Tech Talk," and has served on the boards of directors of various companies and organizations. Since 1997 Ferrell and his wife Martha have been based at a small farm in Glade Hill.



Keith Finch Keith Finch (Your Legal Rights and Responsibilities) works at The Creekmore Law Firm in Blacksburg, focusing on intellectual property, contracts, corporate organization and business lawsuits. A Blacksburg native and 1992 graduate of William & Mary Law School, he worked in D.C. for a federal trial judge and for a business and maritime law firm before moving to Japan, where he spent eleven years in sophisticated international practice with one of Japan’s premier international law firms. He is fluent in French and Japanese.
Mary Crockett Hill Mary Crockett Hill (What Makes the Young Adult Novel Work?) writes young adult novels as Mary Crockett. Her novel Dream Boy, co-written with Madelyn Rosenberg, is forthcoming summer 2014 from Sourcebooks Fire. A graduate of Roanoke College and the Master of Fine Arts program at University of Virginia, she is also an award-winning poet and works as a commercial freelance writer.
Rob Jones Rob Jones (No BS Guide to Photography for Freelancers) is co-owner of Nary Ordinary Business Services. During his 20 year career in Information Technology, Rob rediscovered his love for photography when he purchased his first digital SLR in 2006. Through its viewfinder Rob found an irresistible marriage of his technological expertise and his need for creative expression. Reach him at www.vizify.com/robert-jones-1#.
Sarah Beth Jones Sarah Beth Jones (Channeling Voices, Ghostwriting for Profit with Bonnie Cranmer) co-owns Nary Ordinary Business Services (No BS). As a No BS business coach and geek for communication, she helps people get in touch with their inner wisdom in order to remove whatever it is blocking them from their most fulfilling, authentic lives. She also guides people through the Myers Briggs Type Inventory, builds websites, and writes: for her blog, for other businesses, bits of fiction, and even the occasional tanka. She’s at www.vizify.com/sarah-beth-jones.
Bill Kovarik Bill Kovarik (Who Killed the American Newspaper and Where Do We Go From Here?) is a professor of communication at Radford University, teaching journalism, media history, media law, digital photography and web design. He has written extensively about media and environmental history for publications ranging from the New York Times to Earth Island Journal. His most recent claim to fame is that he was quoted in musician Neil Young's book Waging Heavy Peace. He has degrees from VCU, South Carolina, and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. He has written four books (most recently Brilliant! A History of Sustainable Energy) and working on a history of sustainable energy.
Roland Lazenby Roland Lazenby (Finding the Story) is author/co-author of more than 60 titles. His 2010 biography, Jerry West, The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon, was an LA Times bestseller. He is at work on a biography of Michael Jordan that will be published by Little, Brown in May 2014. He is a former publisher, journalist, and force behind a Virginia Tech student website that garnered acclaim for its coverage of the Tech shootings. He has taught journalism at Virginia Tech and Radford University. He recently became the marketing director for six ESPN radio stations covering central and western Virginia.
Terri Leidich Terri Leidich (Take Charge of Your Marketing No Matter How Your Book is Published) is the president of BQB Publishing, an independent hybrid publisher with multiple award-winning books. She is also the author of two non-fiction books and a novel that is scheduled to be released in October of 2014. She lives in Christiansburg with her husband Glenn.
Liz Long Liz Long (Using Social Media) is the social media editor for LeisureMedia360 (formerly Leisure Publishing), operating all the blogs, newsletters and social sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) for all publications, including The Roanoker, Blue Ridge Country, and Bridebook. She is familiar with these marketing tools, both for work and is an independent self-published author of Gifted, a Donovan Circus Novel and Witch Hearts.
Beth Macy Beth Macy (From Article to Book) is the longtime families beat reporter for The Roanoke Times. Since 1989, her reporting has more than a dozen national awards, including two Casey medals, several Society for Features Journalism awards, diversity writing honors from Columbia University, and a 2011 Associated Press Media Editors international reporting prize. She was a 2010 Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard. Her first book, Factory Man, about the globalization of the American furniture industry is scheduled to publish by Little, Brown and Company in June of 2014. Her freelance work has appeared in Oprah magazine, Parade, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Christian Science Monitor, American Journalism Review, Poynter Online, Salon and Garden & Gun. She blogs at intrepidpapergirl.com.
Brooke McGlothlin Brooke McGlothlin (How to Build a Platform and Market Your Self-Published Book) is cofounder and creator of the online M.O.B. (Mothers of Boys) Society. Her best-selling eBook, Warrior Prayers: Praying the Word for Boys in the Areas They Need it Most was re-released with over 80 percent new as her first traditionally published book (from Bethany House Publishers), with a brand new title: Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most. She is co-author of Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess and several other self-published books. A native of Giles County, she, her husband, and two sons live in Roanoke. She’s at www.themobsociety.com.
Cara Modisett Cara Ellen Modisett (The Rebellious Essay) completed an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction from Goucher College in 2012 and has bachelor's degrees in English and piano performance from James Madison University. Former editor (now editor at large) of Blue Ridge Country magazine, she is an adjunct instructor in English and advisor for the student paper, The Iron Blade, at Ferrum College, an on-air announcer for WVTF public radio, and a performing collaborative pianist. She runs Writers at Liminal, a monthly reading series in downtown Roanoke. Her work has appeared in two issues of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel; Still: The Journal; Braided Brook; Artemis; Pluck! Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture and Flycatcher.
Karen Swallow Prior Karen Swallow Prior (Memories Worthy of Your Memoir) is Professor of English at Liberty University, is the author of the memoir Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me. She earned her Ph. D. and M. A. at the State University of New York and her bachelor’s degree at Daemen College. She is a contributing writer for Christianity Today, The Atlantic, and Think Christian. Her writing has also appeared at Comment, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Salvo. Her scholarly work has appeared in 1650-1850: Ideas, Aesthetics, and Inquiries in the Early Modern Era; The Shandean; The Scriblerian and various literary encyclopedias. A biography of the 19th-century social reformer and abolitionist Hannah More is forthcoming from Thomas Nelson in 2014. She has earned several significant teaching awards. She lives near Lynchburg with her husband, dogs, horses, and chickens.
Karen Osborn Sheri Reynolds (Keynote: Giggling at the Funeral Home: A look at what makes us laugh; class: Dreamwork for Writers: Using your dreams to deepen your stories) is the author of the play, "Orabelle's Wheelbarrow," and the novels Bitterroot Landing, The Rapture of Canaan (an Oprah book club selection and New York Times bestseller), A Gracious Plenty, Firefly Cloak, The Sweet In-Between, and most recently The Homespun Wisdom of Myrtle T. Cribb. A graduate of Davidson College and Virginia Commonwealth University, she teaches creative writing and literature at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, where she serves as the Ruth and Perry Morgan Chair of Southern Literature. She lives in the Cape Charles area on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
Kenley Smith Dan Smith, (Conference director) is a 2010 inductee into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, and founding editor of Valley Business Front magazine. A journalist for more than 45 years, he has won awards in every significant journalistic discipline: Virginia Business Journalist of the Year 2005; awards for business ethics, environmental education, environmental journalism, support of the arts and the first (2009) Perry F. Kendig Literary Award, given by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge. He is also an active community volunteer and member of a number of boards of directors. Has had four books published and recently finished his first novel. He is an award-winning public radio essayist and photographer. Smith is founder of the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference and was the organizer of the 2011 Women’s Forum at Hollins.
Greg Trafidlo Greg Trafidlo (Writing Funny Song Lyrics) has performed musically from Beijing, China to Cork, Ireland — the historic, Ryman Auditorium in Nashville to Wrigley Field. His songs have been performed by folk icons such as Pete Seeger, Steve Gillette, and Cindy Mangsen, and recorded by numerous performers. He has performed with Bill Monroe, Peter Yarrow, Tom Paxton, Janis Ian, and with Kathy Mattea on Nashville’s WSM-Radio. He has opened for Emmylou Harris, John Prine, John Hartford, John McCutcheon, Robin and Linda Williams, and others. He has credits as a publisher and record producer of more than 45 releases and he appears on over 60 albums. He has won the USA Songwriting Competition and Louisville Songwriting Competition.
Tiffany Trent Tiffany Trent (Science Fiction and Fantasy in YA) is a Roanoke native and the author of the young adult fantasy novels, The Unnaturalists (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) and the Hallowmere series (Wizards of the Coast/Mirrorstone). Her short stories have appeared in Magic in the Mirrorstone, Corsets & Clockwork, Subterranean Magazine, and Willful Impropriety, among others. She is the editor of Breaking Waves, a charity anthology for Gulf Coast relief. She lives near Blacksburg with her husband and various animals, including thousands of bees.