Use what you know and where you come from in fiction. Come to the April 24th Writing Show to learn how to Color Between the Lines. Writers, are you practicing the art of looking? Learn how to see at the April 25th Master Class with Carrie and John Gregory Brown! You were brave enough to self-publish your book. Now, prove it's the best. Enter JRW's inaugural Best Self-Published Novel Contest.

News and Events

Are You Our Next Program Director?

April 3rd, 2014

We are sad to share that our program director, Sheila Sheppard Lovelady, is stepping down as of May 31st due to a relocation and to focus on her own writing. Her recent move to the Eastern Shore will bring her the opportunity to achieve her dream of pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and we wish her well on this new leg of her journey! In the meantime, though, we are starting the job search right away so that our next program director can benefit from her expertise before she leaves us.

Please see the overview of this part-time position below as well as more detailed information that follows. If you are interested in applying, please send your resume, cover letter, and three letters of recommendation to Katharine Herndon at by 5:00 on April 25.

Overview: A 25 hour/week position, the program director will work closely with the executive director, board members, and volunteers to ensure all aspects of programming are scheduled, publicized, staffed, and implemented smoothly and professionally. Good communication, administration, and organizational skills are a must. $22,000/year

Skills Needed: Candidates should have 3-5 years of experience in 1) event planning and management, 2) communicating and working well with an active board and membership, 3) utilizing a computer for word processing, spreadsheets, donor database access, and internet, 4) managing volunteers, and 5) writing and editing press releases and newsletters.

Additional Qualifications Desired:

  • Experience utilizing MailChimp, WordPress, Dropbox, and Google Docs
  • Familiarity with James River Writers programs
  • Exceptional writing skills


Five Questions with Carrie Brown and John Gregory Brown

April 22nd, 2014

Married novelists Carrie Brown and John Gregory Brown have spent their working lives writing and teaching side by side in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains at Sweet Briar College, where John is the Julia Jackson Nichols Professor of English and directs the College’s Creative Writing program. Carrie now serves as Distinguished Visiting Professor at nearby Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. Carrie and John have published ten books between them and raised three children on the campus at Sweet Briar. 

James River Writers recently spoke with Carrie Brown and John Gregory Brown, who will discuss “using what you know and where you’re from in fiction” at JRW’s Writing Show on Thursday, April 24. The couple also will teach Learning to See: A Master Class for Writers in the Art and Practice of Looking on Friday, April 25.




Five Questions with Carrie Brown and John Gregory Brown

Question One:

K: John, you wrote in the voice of a young girl (Meredith Eagen), a woman (Meredith’s stepmother Catherine), and a black man (Murphy Warrington) in your first novel, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, and you earned praise for creating authentic voices for these three characters. Writing in the voice of a person of another race can be risky, and you did not attempt to write Murphy’s dialogue the way a black New Orleans man of his time and class would have spoken. (more…)

Announcing the Inaugural Best Self-published Novel Contest

April 22nd, 2014

James River Writers recognizes the writing talents and entrepreneurial skills of indie authors by creating The Best Self-Published Novel Contest, new in 2014.

The contest will be conducted in alternating years with the Best Unpublished Novel Contest.

Contest Details

One first-prize winner will receive $500 and a ticket to the annual James River Writers Conference. The winner will be announced in October 2014 at the James River Writers Conference. Press releases will also recognize the winner.

Two finalists each receive $200.


To submit an entry, the author must be a JRW member or a student at a Virginia college or university. Join JRW.

Submissions for the 2014 contest will be accepted from May 1 through June 30, 2014 (postmark deadline of Monday, June 30). (more…)

April Writing Show: Coloring Between the Lines: Using What You Know and Where You’re From in Fiction

April 7th, 2014

“Write about what you don’t know about what you know,” instructed Eudora Welty. But how exactly do you dig deep into the familiar to create an extraordinary experience for your readers?

Veteran novelists and professors—and husband and wife—Carrie Brown and John Gregory Brown talk about mining your own geographical and personal history as writers, as well as tools and techniques for finding out more about what you already think you know about your place—or places—in the world.  

Virginia Pye, author of River of Dust, will moderate the discussion about anchoring your writing through environment and experience. The second half of the panel welcomes questions from the audience.

Coloring Between the Lines: Using What You Know and Where You’re From in Fiction
Thursday, April 24, 2014
6:30-8:30 p.m., with complimentary hors d’oeuvres
The Broadberry (note the new location we’re trying out for April’s show!)
2729 W. Broad Street
Ample parking available in the Children’s Museum parking lot across the street, on street, and in the lot adjacent to the Broadberry

$10 in advance, $12 at the door, $5 students