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


Anne Adams

Anne Adams (Truth Is Always Stranger Than Fiction in My Neck of the Woods, Friday’s opening talk) has been with The Recorder newspaper covering Bath and Highland counties for 20 years as a sales rep, typesetter, advertising designer, printing coordinator, editor, and director of operations. She purchased the 5,000 circulation weekly and became publisher in March 2007. She has won numerous VPA awards for graphics/design, general news, investigative reporting, feature writing, and editorials, including three D. Lathan Mims Awards for Editorial Leadership in the Community. The Recorder is a nine-time recipient of the VPA Award for Journalistic Integrity and Community Service for newspapers with a circulation under 30,000. She was elected to the VPA's board of directors in March 2008, and currently serves as board vice president. She lives with her husband and six children in Monterey.

Carol Alexander Carol J. Alexander (Writing a Query Letter That Sells) works as a freelance journalist specializing in all things home since 2007. Homeschooling, parenting, natural living, herbal medicine, and frugal living are topics that round out her portfolio. Her work has appeared in BackHome Magazine, Grit, Hobby Farms, Urban Farm, From Scratch, Home Education Magazine, The Old Schoolhouse, and in regional magazines for parents all over North America. She is a columnist for her local newspaper, several highly-trafficked blogs, and a national magazine. She is the author of the new book Homestead Cooking with Carol: Bountiful Make-ahead Meals, and Lessons from the Homestead, a series of unit studies for homeschooling parents. Carol lives outside of New Market with her husband and five of their six children. alexandercarolj@gmail.com
Betsy Ashton, (Writers and Their Communities: A Fusion) who was born in D.C. and raised in California, has spent more than 30 years working in marketing and information management consulting. She earned her undergraduate degree in oriental languages at UCLA in 1968, her first M.A. in Japanese literature at Keio University, Tokyo in 1970, her second M.A. in Asian studies at USC in 1972, and her doctorate in comparative literature at USC in 1977. Since she retired, she has devoted her life to writing fiction and helping others learn to write. She is a member of Lake Writers, the president of the Valley Writers chapter of Virginia Writers Club, and the president of Virginia Writers Club. Her debut novel, Mad Max Unintended Consequences, is a favorite of book clubs.
Betsy Ashton Rod Belcher (Dreaming Big: Avoiding the SF/Fantasy Slush Pile) is the author of Six-Gun Tarot and the new Nightwise, novels published by Tor Books. Six-Gun Tarot was recently released in paperback. 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.
Andrea Brunais Andrea Brunais (Creating Greater Clarity in Your Work; students should bring examples of their work to class) is communications director for Outreach and International Affairs at Virginia Tech, where she writes news releases and newsletter features as well as video news story scripts. In Florida in the '80s and '90s, she was an editorial writer with Media General and an editorial page editor with Knight-Ridder. Her journalism career resulted in awards such as a Robert Kennedy Journalism Award for investigative reporting and a first-place award from the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association. She also edited an alternative weekly in Sarasota with the Creative Loafing chain from 2000 to 2001. Her latest novel, Mercedes Wore Black, came out in June 2014 from Southern Yellow Pine Publishing and tells the story of a backpack journalist covering the Florida governor's race.
Dan Casey Dan Casey (Storytelling on LSD) is the award-winning metro columnist of The Roanoke Times where he has worked since 1994. The Maryland native and University of Maryland grad (English) has won more than 30 regional and national journalism awards. This year his columns took first place in the Virginia Press Association excellence in journalism contest, and won the top award for community service. In 2012 he was named one of the best columnists in America by Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Donna have four children and live in Roanoke's Grandin Court neighborhood.
Karen Chase Karen Chase (Building a Publishing Resume and Network) is an author, photographer, and traveler. Her first book, Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log, garnered seven independent publishing awards. Her latest American historical novel with the working title Carrying Independence is represented by Fletcher and Co. of New York and is currently being pitched to publishers. She has a monthly column called "Will Travel for Words" on the website ShelfPleasure.com and is on the Board of Directors of Richmond’s James River Writers organization. Karen and her partner, Ted, live in Richmond, Virginia, where two cats, Linus and Olive, help manage her writing. Her website is KarenAChase.com.
Alice de Sturler Alice de Sturler (True Crime Reporting: Blog to Business) 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 and taught for years in higher education. Alice has three blogs: Defrosting Cold Cases, unsolved homicides and forensics; Your Blog Coach, about everything you need to know to blog successfully; and Sampler, highlighting artists and authors from the greater New River Valley. In her class "Inspired by True Crime" she will show you how to use unsolved homicides for your works of fiction and will tell you the latest in forensics. Alice works as freelance blogger and blog manager. She lives in the New River Valley. http://www.defrostingcoldcases.com/roanoke-regional-writers-conference-2014/
Diane Fanning Diane Fanning (Interview Techniques for Fact or Fiction) is an Edgar-nominated author of 13 true crime books, as well as seven books in the Lt. Lucinda Pierce crime fiction series and a World War II mystery, Scandal in the Secret City. She has appeared on the Today show, 48 Hours, 20/20, Forensic Files, Snapped, the Biography Channel, Investigation Discovery, E!, and the BBC, as well as numerous cable network news shows and radio stations across the U.S. and Canada. Raised in Baltimore, she now lives in Bedford. crimewriterfanning@gmail.com
Ed Falco Ed Falco, (True Crime Fiction: Isn’t that an Oxymoron?) is professor and director of creative writing for Virginia Tech's M.F.A. program and edits The New River, an online journal of digital writing. His most recent novel is the well-received Toughs, and he is the author of the high-profile The Family Corleone in 2012. Other novels include Saint John of the Five Boroughs, and Wolf Point, and short story collections Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha: New and Selected Stories and In the Park of Culture. He is a playwright, poet, and magazine writer (Atlantic Monthly, among others) and has a number of other longer works, beginning in 1990. He was an early innovator in the field of digital writing and his literary and experimental hypertexts are taught in universities internationally. (And yes, he is the uncle of Edie Falco, known for her role of Carmela Soprano on The Sopranos.) http://www.edfalco.us/
Keith Ferrell

Keith Ferrell (Keynote: The Future of the Book, with Roland Lazenby; class: Being Taken Seriously in a World that Undervalues Writers) had a recent New York Times bestseller, History Decoded with Brad Meltzer. He is the author of more than a dozen and a half 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; he is a frequent speaker to business, academic, and general audiences. Since 1997 Ferrell and his wife, Martha, have been based at a small farm in Glade Hill. His next nonfiction book, American Crazy!, will be published in 2016 by National Geographic Press.



Anita Firebaugh Anita Firebaugh (The Writers' Journal: Fleshing Out the Details) has been writing for local newspapers and magazines for the last 25 years, and has kept a journal for 40 years. She lives on a farm in Botetourt County with a husband and 40 cows.
Sarah Beth Jones Sarah Beth Jones (Kicking Fear in the Pants: Clearing the Path to Your Authentic Writing Voice) is the No BS Biz Coach. By day, she helps creative go-getters and entrepreneurs create their most authentic lives and fulfilling businesses. By night, she generally has odd dreams. She is an occasional freelance writer and has been a regular at the RRWC for the past several years. Send her a howdy-do (and sign up for a free sample business coaching session) at www.sarahbethjones.com.
Saundra Kelly Saundra G. Kelley (Storytelling, Using the Story-Arc Format from the Ancient Oral Tradition) is a graduate of Florida State University and earned an M.A. in storytelling at East Tennessee State University (the only one in the world). She is a professional storyteller and is author of three books: Danger in Blackwater Swamp, Southern Appalachian Storytellers: Interviews with Sixteen Keepers of the Oral Tradition, and The Day the Mirror Cried, a collection of short stories and poetry. She has done one spoken word CD, "Legends of the Wild: Tales of North Florida." She lives in Jonesborough, Tenn., world headquarters for storytelling. www.saundrakelleystoryteller.com
Brad Kelley (Critical Thinking To Improve Writing) has a master’s degree in philosophy from Ohio State and is in a Ph.D. program at Virginia Tech. He has taught critical thinking, logic, philosophy, and ethics for many years at various institutions of higher education. He is writing a book on critical thinking, and is doing freelance technical writing and editing. emerose@gmail.com
Roland Lazenby Roland Lazenby (Keynote: The Future of the Book, with Keith Ferrell, class: How To Secure Foreign Rights and Film Editions for Your Works) is author/co-author of more than 60 titles. His new biography Michael Jordan: The Life was published by Little, Brown and was an Editor's Pick by the New York Times Book Review. The film/TV rights have been optioned by a Los Angeles production house. It was named as one of the best biographies of the year by both Publisher's Weekly and Amazon. It has been translated into six foreign language editions, including Chinese, Italian, and Polish. 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. Lazenby received his M.A. from Hollins University in 1985.
Terri Leidich Terri Ann Leidich (The Latest and Greatest Tools for Marketing Your Books) is the author of three books: From a Grieving Mother’s Heart, For a Grieving Heart, and her debut novel, Family Inheritance, which released in October. She is also the CEO of two publishing imprints — BQB Publishing and WriteLife Publishing — that concentrate on new authors and produce award-winning books. She and her husband Glenn live in Christiansburg.
Liz Long Liz Long (Social Media Marketing for Writers) is the social media strategist for Social Media and PR strategist for LeisureMedia360 (The Roanoker, bridebook, Blue Ridge Country), operating all the blogs, newsletters, and social sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest). She is familiar with these marketing tools, both for work and as an independent self-published author of the Donovan Circus Series, Witch Hearts, and A Reaper Made. In her class, she'll discuss using social media for unique marketing techniques such as blog tours, cover reveals, online parties, and more.
Lindsey Narmour Lindsey Narmour ('So I'm Writing this Love Scene,' a look at sex in writing) has studied literature and writing at Hollins, as well as in England. Her research and speaking focus on aspects of medieval literature, sexuality in literature, creative writing and small-scale publishing. Before college, she was homeschooled. She has published four books with a small independent company. A senior, she is the first full-time student to teach at RRWC.
Margo Oxendine Margo Oxendine (Your Life is a Column — Write it!) is a columnist for The Recorder in Monterey. Her journalistic career spans more than three decades, and has garnered dozens of writing awards for reporting, as well as column writing. She has written a PBS documentary, "Back Road to History: Bath County;" a play, "Over Here, Over There;" and a book, Images of America, Bath County, Virginia. She and her dog, Brownie, live in Hot Springs.
Dan Radmacher Dan Radmacher (Opinions Are Like Noses: Everyone Has One; How To Make Yours Count with Solid Research) is the former award-winning editorial page editor of The Roanoke Times and the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette. He is a writer and consultant for WritingLeft.com, specializing in commentary and progressive advocacy.
Sharon Rapoport Sharon Rapoport (Channeling Voices: Ghostwriting, Copywriting, and Other Not-So-Scary Gigs) is strategist and creative director at Left Brain/Right Brain in Roanoke. She has earned Emmy nominations for her Lifetime television work and high-profile, multi-platform campaigns that range from USA Today to Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercials. Clients include Colgate-Palmolive, Kenneth Cole, NASDAQ, CBS, and General Foods and a number of regional organizations. Recent projects include a rebrand of Gannett; an image campaign for USA Today; and a multi-platform campaign for Miraval Resorts in Arizona; and book and film collaborations with nature cinematographer, Louie Schwartzberg.
Karen Osborn Todd Ristau (An Introduction to Adaptation: How To Turn Your Novel or Poem Into a Stage Play) is a distinguished graduate of the Iowa Playwright's Workshop. His work has been performed in theaters across the U.S. and England, including London's West End. He founded No Shame Theatre in 1986 and oversaw its evolution into a national network of venues for new works in dozens of cities. He has an extensive theater background, with expertise in acting, directing, and design. He worked with Mill Mountain Theatre for six years as coordinator of its second stage, and as literary associate overseeing new works programming. He served as the first artistic director of Studio Roanoke, a storefront theatre space dedicated to new works development in downtown Roanoke. He is an active member of the Dramatists Guild, and member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America.
Neil Sagebiel Neil Sagebiel (Researching Nonfiction) of Floyd is the author of The Longest Shot, named to the Top Ten Sports Books of 2012 by Booklist, and his newest, Draw in the Dunes. He writes the popular Armchair Golf Blog. A former newspaper employee, he has been an advertising copywriter and corporate communications professional. http://headlinesfromfloyd.com/
Kenley Smith Dan Smith, (Conference director) is a 2010 inductee into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, founding editor of Valley Business Front magazine, and author of five books, most recently CLOG!, a novel. A journalist for 50 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. He is an award-winning photographer and public radio essayist. Smith is founder of the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference and was the organizer of the 2011 Women's Forum at Hollins.
Tim Thornton Tim Thornton (Getting the Last Word: Writing a Great Obituary for Yourself or Somebody Else) is a writer, journalist, and teacher with experience at mainstream and alternative newspapers and magazines, on public radio and online. He has won national awards for column writing and environmental reporting, the Phillip D. Reed Memorial Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment, the Virginia Press Association's D. Lathan Mims Award for "editorial leadership and service to the community," a score of state press association awards, and a small stack of ribbons for his dulcimer playing. He teaches English composition and Appalachian literature at Virginia Western Community College and edits Roanoke Business, a monthly magazine.
Greg Trafidlo Greg Trafidlo (An original song for the conference; class, Breaking Writers Block: Some Effective Techniques) 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.