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News and Events

June 2012 Writing Show: Many Paths to Publication: What Avenue is Right for You?

June 28th, 2012

The Writing Show

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Pencil by Elizabeth Rabin and Melanie Carter


The panelists will address:

  • Publication options: agented or unagented, traditional or self-published?
  • How to determine which path is right for you
  • How to manage your chosen path successfully


Phyllis Anne Duncan

June 26th, 2012

A commercial pilot and former official at the Federal Aviation Administration, Phyllis Anne Duncan now pursues her writing full time from her home in the Shenandoah Valley.  Phyllis has written short stories, feature articles, and book reviews for both print and online publications. She is currently working on several works of fiction, including her “opus magnum” A Perfect Hatred, a trilogy about an act of domestic terrorism in America. The books in the proposed trilogy are End Times, Downward Spiral, and Collateral Damage

Melissa P. Gay, author of the blog This Common Reader, talked to Phyllis about her writing process in June 2012. (more…)

May 2012 Writing Show Recap: To Make a Long Story Short: Writing a Synopsis That Sells

June 15th, 2012

Ironically, the subject of the May 2012 Writing Show — “To Make a Long Story Short: Writing a Synopsis That Sells” — is challenging to discuss in brief. A record number of attendees came to the Children’s Museum of Richmond to hear a seasoned agent from New York and an accomplished author address the challenges of writing synopses. The panelists were Michelle Brower of Folio Literary Management and novelist Stacy Hawkins Adams, and the moderator was Bill Blume, an enthusiast of the fantasy genre.

For the first half of the program, the panelists discussed the difference between queries, synopses, and outlines. A synopsis presents the “movement” of the book. It should reveal the general direction of the plot, the themes, and the development of the characters, and it always gives away the ending. It should also reflect the writer’s voice. In contrast, an outline is an in-depth tool to aid the writer.

Adams noted that the standard format for a synopsis is reminiscent of academic writing: 12-point, double-spaced Times New Roman, with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

The second half of the program was devoted to critiquing synopses submitted ahead of time. As Blume read each one, the panelists offered useful advice for both the authors and the rest of the audience:

  • Skip the set-up and go right to the conflicts in the story.
  • Describe how the tension builds. What events drive the plot forward?
  • Provide context: Why should readers care about the world you have created and its characters?
  • Show, not tell. Reading the synopsis should mimic reading the book.

Melanie Carter, JRW Intern, and Charles Gerena

Back to Writing Show index page


Virginia Pye

June 8th, 2012

What JRW Means to Me


Virginia Pye writes novels, short stories, and poems. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including the North American Review, Failbetter, the Baltimore Review, the Potomac Review, and Arts and Understanding. Ginny shares how she become involved with James River Writers.

Visit JRW at Cultsha Xpo

June 4th, 2012

Cultsha Xpo








On Saturday, June 23, James River Writers will be at the Cultsha Xpo at the Science Museum of Virginia. Sponsored by CultureWorks, this annual event is a celebration of arts and culture in the Richmond area. (more…)

Elizabeth Thalhimer Smartt

June 1st, 2012

What JRW Means to Me

Elizabeth Thalhimer Smartt







Elizabeth Thalhimer Smartt, author of Finding Thalhimers, shares how JRW’s annual conference and a meeting with keynote speaker, Tom Robbins, changed her life. (more…)