Speakers

Wendy Welch

Julie Swarstad Johnson

Abby Minor

Lora Zill

Diane Glancy

Hilary Hauck

Mark Saba

Ginny Fite

John Deupree

Lee Doty

Pam Clark

Kecia Bal

Asa Ana

Wendy Welch is the author of The Little Bookstore of Big Stone (St Martin's), Fall or Fly: the strangely hopeful story of adoption and foster care in Appalachia, and co-author of COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories: QAnon, 5G, the New World Order, and other Viral Ideas. Editor of three anthologies about the opioid crisis and healthcare's rural economic challenges, in her spare time she tries not to think about either. Welch teaches writing for The Narrative Project, a national class for memoir and fiction writers.

Wendy Welch

"Anthologizing for Fun and Profit"

Anthologies are often opportunities for writers to break out into first-time publishing or into new genres from their established track records. How do you find good anthologies to submit to? How do you make a good impression when responding to a call to submit? What are the important elements of selling your story inside a larger collection of stories—be they fiction or non?

Welch has edited several anthologies involving health, occupations, and fiction nationally. These books offered a chance to observe how writers from diverse yet linked regions (such as northern and central Appalachia) often compliment the full picture an anthology seeks to draw.


This workshop will use a series of Q&A writing exercises and casual role plays to give participants specific takeaways.

Julie Swarstad Johnson & Abby Minor

"Fire in the Valleys, Then and Now: Central Pennsylvania in Poems"

In this reading, poets Abby Minor and Julie Swarstad Johnson present work that considers the fires of history, place, politics, and community that smolder and flare in the ridge and valley region of central Pennsylvania.

Johnson will read from Pennsylvania Furnace, her debut book of poems based on extensive research conducted in the archives and woods of central Pennsylvania.

Minor will read a selection of poems from a chapbook manuscript titled Infinity Ballot—poems that aim to document, hold, and behold experiences of rural electoral politics, communal art-making, and the social and ecological particulars of these ridges and valleys.

Julie Swarstad Johnson

Julie Swarstad Johnson is the author of Pennsylvania Furnace, a historically engaged collection of poetry and the 2019 editor's choice selection for the Unicorn Press first book series. She has served as Artist in Residence at Gettysburg National Military Park, which led to the chapbook Orchard Light, selected for the Keystone Chapbook Series (Seven Kitchens Press). She is also the co-editor of the anthology Beyond Earth's Edge: The Poetry of Spaceflight (University of Arizona Press). A graduate of the creative writing MFA program at Penn State, she lives in Tucson and works as a librarian at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

Abby Minor

Abby Minor lives in the ridges and valleys of central Pennsylvania, where she works on poems, essays, gardens, quilts, and projects for reproductive justice. The granddaughter of Appalachian tinkerers and Yiddish-speaking New Yorkers, she’s worked as a vegetable delivery truck driver, preschool teacher, landscaper, seamstress, barista, university writing teacher, assistant wedding cake baker, and roadie. Awarded Bitch Media’s 2018 Writing Fellowship in Sexual Politics, Abby is the author of the poetry chapbooks Real Words for Inside (Gap Riot Press) and Plant Light, Dress Light (dancing girl press). She currently serves on the Board of the internationally-active non-profit Abortion Conversation Projects; teaches poetry in her region’s low-income nursing homes; and is the founding director of Ridgelines Language Arts.

Lora Zill, M.A. Gannon University, B.A. Allegheny College, is a teaching artist with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She teaches composition and critical analysis at Gannon University and conducts creative writing, poetry, and music residencies in schools and community centers. Lora was a faculty member of Allegheny College’s gifted programs for middle and senior high school students and a faculty member of Creating Landscapes, a summer arts program.

Lora has served as a writing contest judge and a judge for the Pennsylvania Governor’s School of the Arts. She has taught at national and regional writing conferences including the National Council of Teachers of English. She is the former director of the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference. She also edits and publishes the quarterly poetry journal, Time Of Singing.

Lora is the Regional Coordinator for the poetry recitation competition, “Poetry Out Loud,” sponsored by the National Endowment of the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. She serves on the boards of WCoNa and the Eagles Foundation of Conneaut School District.

Her award-winning writing has been published widely. She is co-author of a chapter in Teaching Creatively and Teaching Creativity (Springer, 2013) and has also appeared in several anthologies.

Lora Zill

“Poetry: Cross Training For Prose Writers”

This class will discuss how we learn from poetry the art and craft of language. We will talk about how to use imagery, strong nouns and verbs, and “writing tight” and discover the rhythm, music, and “feel’ for sentences and paragraphs.


We will look at examples of how writers such as Annie Dillard, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Abraham Lincoln used poetic techniques to add sound, rhythm, and imagery to their work. I will also include some examples from Matthew Ferrence’s Appalachia North, WCoNa’s 2019 Book of the Year. If you want to capture the sounds, sights, and textures of writing for and in Northern Appalachia, this class is for you. It will appeal to all writers who want to learn how to enrich their work.

DIANE GLANCY is professor emerita at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she taught Native American Literature and Creative Writing. Currently, she teaches creative nonfiction in the low residency MFA program at Carlow University in Pittsburgh. In the fall of 2021, she will teach Experimental Prose and Poetry at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Glancy’s latest book, Island of the Innocent: A Consideration of the Book of Job, was published in 2020 by Turtle Point Press. Forthcoming in August, 2021, also from Turtle Point, A Line of Driftwood, the Ada Blackjack Story. Ada was an Inupiat who went to Wrangel Island in the Arctic Sea with four explorers, 1921-23, and was the only survivor. In The Line of Driftwood, Glancy continues her craft of giving voice to those who did not have a chance to speak.

A new book of nonfiction, Home is the Road, Traveling the Land, Shaping the Spirit, is forthcoming in 2022 from Broadleaf Books, Fortress Press. In 2020, Glancy received a fellowship to the American Antiquarian Society where she worked on a history of Native Americans in the East. “The Unsettling" is part of that project. Glancy’s other books and awards are on her website, www.dianeglancy.com.

Diane Glancy

“The Unsettling: Cherokee History in Appalachia”

This presentation is a map for historical writing. It dissects a project into three parts: travel to the place where the event happened (because the land carries memories), research (even though early indigenous people of Appalachia didn’t leave much information about themselves), and imagination (the past speaks to the present).

After I wrote Pushing the Bear, the 1838-39 Cherokee Trail of Tears, I thought the story was over. Then I wrote Pushing the Bear, After the Trail of Tears, about resettlement in Indian Territory. Then I felt the story move again. It was “The Unsettling”— the Cherokee before Removal.

I drove along the Blue Ridge Mountains, and wrote lines directly into the manuscript—“The mountains receding in the distance looked like waves at the edge of the lake. Now the mountains seemed like wings lifting them all away.” I stopped at various places along the highway— took notes on the landscape and wrote more lines— “the lichen on the rocks, on the trees, on the fences.”

“Telling Real Life Stories: How to use storytelling elements to transform real life into compelling fiction and memoir”

Life has a way of serving up an endless source of stories worthy of memorializing in a memoir or works of fiction. Real-life stories are often stranger than anything we could imagine. They enlighten us, teach us, and inspire us through the struggles others have faced.


To capture these stories in works of fiction or memoir, we need to do far more than write down a series of events in chronological order. We need to be intentional in using elements of storytelling, such as structure, theme, character arcs and development. We have to decide what to leave out and how to frame what we include. We need to navigate emotions, vet which characters make the cast, and stretch ourselves to see things from another person’s perspective.


In this session, we’ll delve into the writers’ toolbox for storytelling tips and tricks and discuss how to transform real life events into compelling fiction or memoir.

Hilary Hauck

Hilary Hauck grew up in the UK and lived in Italy for over a decade. After meeting her husband, she came to the US and drew inspiration from Pennsylvania coal history, which became the setting for her debut historical novel inspired by true events, From Ashes to Song.

Hilary is a writer and translator whose work has appeared in the Mindful Writers Retreat Series anthologies, the Ekphrastic Review, Balloons Lit. Journal, and Writer Advice. Women Writers, Women’s Books recently published her article on Real Life and Fiction. Since the release of From Ashes to Song, Hilary has been featured in The Writing Cooperative, Authority Magazine, and Authors Answer, and she has appeared on The Backpack Show and Indiana in the Morning.

Hilary is Chair of the Festival of Books in the Alleghenies and a past president of Pennwriters. She lives on a small patch of woods in rural Pennsylvania with her husband, one of their three adult children, and a cat with a passion for laundry. Follow her at hilaryhauck.com.

I have been writing fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction for 40 years. My book publications include, most recently, Two Novellas: A Luke of All Ages / Fire and Ice (fiction), Calling the Names (poetry) and Ghost Tracks: Stories of Pittsburgh Past. My work has appeared widely in literary magazines around the U.S. and abroad. I am also a painter, and am recently retired from Yale University, where I worked as a medical illustrator and graphic designer for 33 years. Please see marksabawriter.com.

Mark Saba

"Life Between"

I grew up in Pittsburgh and quickly learned, after moving away, that people had misconceptions about my hometown, and about southwestern Pennsylvania in general. I realized that Pittsburgh had given me the gift of seeing both sides of anything. In the East, they said I was Midwestern, but I knew I had very little in common with my Chicago relatives. And I knew, having lived in Connecticut, that Pittsburgh was not "Eastern." This feeling of being in the gray middle has served me well and given me a unique perspective on life. This is the theme I will explore in my presentation. Much of my fiction focuses on duality, or reconciliation of opposites.

The character of Pittsburgh in Northern Appalachia has definable qualities that are unique to the area. Growing up there has imbued me with an appreciation of things that are not extreme but in the gray middle. I've found examples of this in many areas of my heritage and life. This sense has made me a more sensitive writer, allowing me to shun stereotypical characters or plotlines in favor of subtleties that bloom in their own magic. My presentation will delve into these topics.

Ginny Fite, John Deupree, Lee Doty,

Pam Clark


"Angels and Demons: Keeping the Conflict Hot"

The heart of a novel is conflict, yet after years of people telling us to make nice and be kind, conflict is one of the hardest things to keep up in a novel. We’re taught to fix the problem, generate win-win solutions, which leads to saggy middles and resolutions before the novel is over.

In a novel, we have to bring the conflict to a boil, we need a few good crises to test the protagonist, to teach him or her about herself, and a climax that resonates with the reader, and that means the bad guy must be the equal of the good guy. Sometimes, the devil is far more interesting than the angel, and that leads to its own problems.

Ginny Fite

Author of Possession, Blue Girl on the Night Dream Sea, No End of Bad, and Cromwell's Folly, No Good Deed Left Undone, and Lying, Cheating, and Occasionally Murder is an award-winning writer and journalist. Her collaborative novel, Thoughts & Prayers, will be out October 26, 2021.

John Deupree

John Deupree began writing fiction in earnest after retiring from a long career in global education. His stories are inspired by his frequent exposure to diverse cultures around the world. His novella Bougainvillea explores the subconscious. His upcoming novel Fusion imagines a humorous good vs evil battle over climate change.

Lee Doty

Lee W. Doty's novel Tidal Kin, the first in her Norma Bergen mystery series, won a New England Book Festival honorable mention. Her second in the series, Last Casualty, is scheduled for release in early July 2021. Lee is a retired lawyer who divides her time between West Virginia and Cape Cod.

Pam Clark

Pam Clark taught community college English for twenty-six years but always wanted to be a writer. After earning a Master of Arts in Writing from Johns Hopkins University, she started writing in earnest. In 2016, she won the Book Doctors’ Pitchapalooza contest (the American Idol for books) at UNM’s Summer Writers’ Conference and was signed by an agent. Her mystery novel, SHOOT IF YOU MUST, debuted in December 2019, and she is working on the sequel.

AB²

"Summoning the Other: We are all co-writers"

In this workshop, conceptual and multimedia artist Asa Ana and author and ghostwriter Kecia Bal share their co-writing and co-editing process—Collaborative Craft Writing—in the case of their short story “Sugar Maple,” to be published in the forthcoming Northern Appalachia Review. They will share their journey into the woods and their encounter with a tree who asked them for a story. They have also written poetry collectively and designed, wrote, and published a trail map for The Carriage Road Nature Trail at Johnstown Flood National Memorial. The map titled “Tale of Trees,” shares fantastical, romantic, and scientific stories paired with an original piece of cartographic artwork. Among other works, Ana created a permanent installation in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, entitled “Stanza in Blue,” which offers visitors the chance to stay inside the walls of a poem. He also organized a search for the first-ever Poet Laureate of Johnstown. Bal, an author and journalist, has worked for more than 10 years as a ghostwriter and also has co-authored a novel with best-selling thriller author James Patterson.

In addition to tactical and conceptual guidance, attendees can expect vibrant conversation, prompts, and a reminder of the euphoria that can accompany ideas that originate outside oneself.

Asa Ana

Kecia Bal

Kecia Bal is a novelist and journalist, a seasoned ghostwriter, a co-author with best-selling thriller author James Patterson, and one half of the writing duo AB².

Asa Ana is a conceptual artist recognized by the United States Congress for his artistic programming work in the Monongahela Valley in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Ana is a Ph.D. student studying how art and creativity activates deindustrialized communities, and he is one-half of the writing duo AB².

Both are rooted in the ancient Appalachian Mountains, make their homes in western Pennsylvania, and work at the intersections of community, expression, and nature.

Links: Instagram:

talesfortrees.com @keciabal

keciabal.com @asa_ana_art

stanzainblue.org

asaana.org