James River Writers Conference 2014: Thanks for Coming!


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Visit our 2014 James River Writers Conference Home Page to learn all about the engaging speakers, informative panels, and hands-on Master Classes we brought to Richmond October 17-19! Thanks to everyone who made 2014 such a wonderful event.

Stay tuned for 2015. We’re already planning a great 13th conference.

JRW Volunteers Talk About Their Experiences

By Jennifer Drummond

James River Writers’ mission states it builds community by connecting and inspiring writers and readers in Central Virginia. While this is certainly true, JRW has also quietly built a community of wonderful volunteers. These volunteers have given, and continue to give, many hours of their time and talents each week. Whether they are keeping the community informed, creating awesome events, or offering a valuable resource, the volunteers are making great things happen.

So it is at this time we say thank you to our volunteers for all they have given and for choosing to be part of JRW. We spoke with a few volunteers who took the time to share their thoughts with us as they move out of their current roles at JRW.

After seven years, Cathy Allen has passed on her role of editing the Lit Calendar for James River Writers.

Jennifer Drummond: How long have you volunteered at JRW and what volunteer role did you fulfill? How many hours per month did you volunteer?

Cathy Allen

Cathy Allen

Cathy Allen: Since 2007, I’ve have proudly served as JRW’s Lit Calendar Editor. For 7 years I devoted 20 hours a month “snipping and clipping” a diverse range of literary events in the metro Richmond area and beyond.

Denise Golinowski: I’ve volunteered at JRW in one way or another for over ten years (maybe longer, but I haven’t a clue when I started). Initially, I helped with registration at the Writing Show when we were meeting at the Science Museum back with Anne Westrick and crew. Then I stepped in to hostess Writers Wednesdays until this year.

Cathy Hill:  I didn’t make a mental note of the year I started volunteering, but it was probably four or five years ago.  The Writing Show was still meeting at the Science Museum.  I served as greeter/hostess, helping set up and clean up, folding and handing out programs, collecting entrance fees, etc.  It took about 4-5 hours a week.

Also, I twice served as a first round reader at the Best Unpublished Novel contest, which was extremely enlightening and enjoyable.  (more…)

Jeff Sadler Joins JRW Staff

JeffSadler-1Just a month after moving into new offices in Church Hill, our literary organization welcomes a new employee. Jeff Sadler is our organization’s Program Director. Jeff is a long-time resident of Richmond. After moving to the city to attend VCU, he never left. Jeff has lived in 7 of the 9 Richmond districts, including Church Hill back in the 1990s. He’s glad to be working back up here.

“The area has changed so much over the years. Broad Street was great back then, but now north of here is so much improved. Having lived in so many Richmond areas, I think of it as the district that most feels like a neighborhood.” (more…)

Part-time Membership Coordinator Opportunity

James River Writers is hiring for a part-time Membership Coordinator to work closely with the Executive Director, Board Members (particularly the membership committee), and volunteers to ensure all aspects of membership outreach are implemented smoothly and professionally. Membership efforts would include monitoring expired memberships and creating an efficient system for renewal; implementing a substantive member benefit program that encourages engagement; creating and implementing a plan for diversifying our member base and reaching a wider segment of underserved or underrepresented populations; producing and sending a monthly members e-newsletter; and engaging in numerous community partnerships that both support other non-profits and bring JRW to the attention of new constituents. Good communication, administration, and organizational skills are a must. $7,800/year (lasting one year; job continuation planned but must be re-assessed). (more…)

New This Year at the JRW Conference: RVA ♥ Writers!



This year we’ll be sharing a portion of our conference with all of Richmond—and sharing Richmond with our conference goers. Saturday, October 18, afternoon and evening hours are set aside for some of our speakers to give open presentations at various RVA locations.

This program is sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.


RVA ♥ Writers will include free presentations from

Kwame Alexander, T. R. Simon, and Stacy Whitman on Multicultural Books: The Importance of Diversity in Children’s Literature.  At Art180, 114 West Marshall St – 4:00 p.m.

Bruce Holsinger, Sarah MacLean, and Kelly O’Connor McNees on Taking Liberties: The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Historical Fiction. VCU Globe Building, 817 West Franklin St – 4:00 p.m.

Hugh Howey on Rapid Fire: Self-Publishing and the Changing Climate for Writers and Readers. UR Downtown. 626 east Broad St – 4:00 p.m.

Brian Jay Jones on Not Just Muppets: Jim Henson’s Cultural Influence. St. Christopher’s School, 711 St. Christophers Rd, in the Playhouse Auditorium located in the Luck Leadership Center – 5:30 p.m.

No registration is required for these events and all RVA Loves Writers events are free and open to the public, so bring friends and family.

Please see below for additional information on these fun and informative panels. (more…)

Joanna S. Lee Interviews Program Director Sheila Sheppard Lovelady

Sheila Sheppard Lovelady

Sheila Sheppard Lovelady

Sadly, our Program Director Sheila Sheppard Lovelady will be leaving us for greener pastures on the Eastern Shore at the end of the month. We wish her well as she takes some time to pursue her own writing goals and dreams, including seeking an MFA in Creative Writing, but at the same time we’re left a bit glum to think that our great-hearted go-to-lady and multitasker-extraordinaire will no longer be with us. Although only with the JRW for a little over a year, Sheila has had a major impact on the efficiency of our programming and administrative day-to-day-ness, and we will miss her hugely!

I sat down with Sheila a few weeks ago to catch up with her before she takes off. Over lunch, we talked writing, life and more, and she shared with me a little piece of her sojourn here as JRW Program Director.

J: What made you want to become involved with the JRW?

S: I felt it was an essential step in furthering my journey as a writer: to make contacts, find inspiration, have opportunities to practice my craft; to learn about the world of writing and writers. Plus, I knew I would enjoy being part of the team, helping guide the organization through transitions and sharing my nonprofit experience. So there was a beautiful give and take.

I never expected to find such a genuine community, though. There’s a real passion here for the cause of inspiring writers to fulfill their dreams. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with such stellar people who are committed to bringing quality literary programs—and to supporting each other on an individual level as well.

J: What do you think has been your greatest accomplishment with us? Your most intense experience?

S: Greatest accomplishment? I don’t think it’s been one major contribution so much as contributing to incremental steps in JRW’s evolution… streamlining processes, helping put our best foot forward to the public, being creative about logistics, making sure our volunteers are engaged and appreicated. I’m also glad I was able to facilitate our office move to the sun-filled space at St. John’s Church.

Most intense… There was a moment at the last hour of the [James River Writers 2013 Annual] Conference… The crew of worker bees behind the JRW table kept growing. People kept pulling up chairs. We were the people in the trenches too tired to even enjoy the experience. Such an unbelievable amount of energy is poured into making an event like that happen… Yet at the same time we were elated that everything had gone so well, and suddenly we had this moment to watch the last moments of the Conference unfold… I can only describe it as an “exhausted joy.”

J: How have we helped your writing?

S: JRW has helped erase the mindset that I wasn’t good enough to be a writer. Becoming so immersed in this world has given me courage. I’ve witnessed so many success stories and been able to interact with authors on a human level rather than on the outside looking in. I’ve also learned more than I ever thought possible about the business side of writing.

J: What’s been the biggest challenge?

S: Transition! 2013 was a year full of changes for JRW, from staffing to internal procedures to venues. Katharine and I worked hard to build on an excellent track record while bringing JRW to the next level. We also had to shape the new role of Program Director, making sure to define tasks clearly while being as flexible as possible to meet the demands of the day.  I took the task of coordinating with volunteers and board members quite seriously—as much fun as we had doing it. These are people donating their time and talent to the organization, on an incredibly deep and broad level here at JRW, and I wanted to be sure to not only utilize their skills well, but to appreciate them.

And of course, Get Your Word On! The e-newsletter takes a lot of time.

J: What will you miss?

S: The camaraderie. Katharine and Kristi and Lana and Joanna and Bill and Julie and Erica and Josh and Charles and Melissa… I can’t name names because it would take all day. It sometimes felt like we were taking on the world together. All the shared challenges and the pride in delivering such quality programming… the satisfaction in being part of such a high-caliber organization. The excitement in being at the forefront of this community and in contact with writers nationwide.

I’m not abandoning you all! I still definitely want to be an active part of the community.

I want to say that Katharine has been an absolute pleasure to work with—for the record my favorite boss of all time. She works intelligently and passionately and we’re lucky to have her at the helm.

On a professional level, being a part of JRW has sharpened my skill set, and on a personal level, it has forged wonderful connections. More than anything, I feel gratitude for the warmth of the people and for being able to do this important work with you all.

J: So what’s next?

S: I’m taking the time to re-fuel my own path as a writer on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. I’m finally going to sit down and work on my craft—no more excuses! I’ve been telling myself this for the past six years, and now I’m going to make it happen—I mean it! I’m saying this to all of you here and now: feel free to hold me accountable—hound me when you see me! I’ll also be doing some freelance writing.

J: We definitely will! We’ll miss you, and are so sincerely wishing you success in all your writing goals! Any last thoughts you’d like to leave us with?

S: To those of you not involved—involve yourself! Being a part of a community like this is so important in your journey as a writer.

Mark Covington on his debut musical comedy, Writers’ Weekend

JRW member Mark Covington, interviewed by Joanna S. Lee, warns us not to take ourselves too seriously in his debut musical comedy, Writers’ Weekend, showcasing at Richmond Triangle Players on Saturday, May 11. Tickets are only $10 and are available for purchase online or via the ticket hotline at 804-346-8113

Elizabeth Brown, frustrated & unpublished writer, has arrived at “The Porches,” an antebellum bed and breakfast and writers’ retreat in rural Virginia, to facilitate a weekend writers’ workshop and whip a group of aspiring writers into literary shape. And she has her work cut out for her. (more…)

Canceled: Interview with Debut Author Carol Wall

We’re sorry to announce that due to an unexpected change in plans for the speaker, our joint event with the Junior League, “Green Thumb, Open Heart: An Interview with Carol Wall,” scheduled for Wednesday, April 30, at 11 a.m., is canceled. Please join the Junior League at their 69th Annual Book and Author Dinner the same day to get your literary fix instead! 

James River Writers and the Junior League of Richmond partner once again to present an exclusive interview with a debut author, in town for the Junior League’s 69th Book and Author DinnerCarol Wall is the author of Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening, a memoir about the unique bond she formed with Giles Owita and the lessons she learned about life and health. Bill Blume, author of Gideon’s Hunt, will guide the discussion about how Carol overcame her assumptions, her dread of flowers, and breast cancer to bring this powerful story of healing to the world.

Please note: Event has been canceled.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
11:00 a.m.
University of Richmond-Downtown


Creativity Toolkit: Master Class with Clay McLeod Chapman


clayCreativity Tool Kit: A Master Class with Clay McLeod Chapman.  The author of Tribe: Homeroom Headhunter will offer a fun workshop examining creativity and how to jump-start yours. Hands-on instruction will leave you with concrete take-aways for defeating the blank page!

June 19; 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., with an hour break for lunch, not included