While researching her YA manuscript, Kristi Tuck Austin waded New York City sewers, ran from trains, and slid through a water pipe to the Harlem River. She celebrated Thanksgiving 2013 in the Paris catacombs, hiking, crawling, wading (again), and dining by candlelight.
In her daily life, which is dry and above ground, she’s been a JRW member and volunteer for seven years, leading the Writing Show in 2012 and the JRW Conference in 2012 and 2013. She served as vice chair prior to being elected chair.
Kristi has worked as a museum technician at The Valentine Richmond History Center and Henrico Museum Services, where she spent her days in quiet museum storage surrounded by objects from Ellen Glasgow, Edgar Allan Poe, several U.S. Presidents, and a woman who collected hundreds of thimbles. She left this world of historic couture and ceramic dogs to pursue writing. She has also organized events for a local indie bookstore, sold farm supplies, and worked on her family’s farm.
After publishing over 20 novels for adults, Erica Orloff penned the popular middle-grade children’s fantasy trilogy, The Magickeepers (Jabberwocky) under the pen name Erica Kirov. She also writes young adult novels, including the upcoming In Dreams (Penguin). Her books have been noted in Us Weekly, Cosmopolitan, and American Girl, among many other publications, as well as being translated into eight languages. Her contemporary novels have been considered “ground-breaking” (Romantic Times), with complex heroines facing issues from gambling addiction to breast cancer. As a publishing consultant and ghostwriter, Erica is in much demand through her editorial company Editing for Authors and its subsidiary, Dragon Tree Books. A University of Richmond alumna, she also lectures and teaches on writing, including acting as the Writer-in-Residence at Clover Hill High School, and guest lecturing at various schools from elementary through college.
Leila Gaskin is a Senior Executive Administrative Assistant with MeadWestvaco. She’s also a member of the James River Writers and the author of several short stories including horror, speculative fiction, science fiction, and urban fantasy. Hot Flashes is her debut novel.
Bruce Yoder served as the Association Director of Grants and Proposals at the YMCA here in Richmond. He served as the primary speech writer in the early years of Mary Sue Terry’s first term as Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He’s written books and articles on a variety of topics. He helped to direct five capital campaigns and both branch and association-wide annual support campaigns, securing more than $1 million annually to support youth programs and services. His specialties include grant writing, capital campaigns, annual campaigns, and campaign strategy.
Bill Blume discovered his love for the written word while in high school and has been writing ever since. His debut novel Gidion’s Hunt was published last year by Fable Press. His short stories have been in many fantasy anthologies and various ezines. Just like the father figure in his first novel, Bill works as a 911 dispatcher for Henrico County Police and has done so for more than a decade. He’s also a board member for James River Writers and served as the board’s chair in 2013.
Joshua Paul Cane has been a member, volunteer and cheering section of JRW since 2007. As a web developer, he lends his skills to JRW by helping with its current website and planning its future. Word-wise, a short story of his was recently published in an anthology and he is working on a novel.
Karen A. Chase owns 224 Pages, a design studio for authors and publishers, and has worked in the marketing and branding industry for twenty years. She is now writing a historical novel about the Declaration, and pens a monthly column “Will Travel for Words” for ShelfPleasure.com. She independently published “Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log,” for which the book and her author platform have won seven indie publishing awards. Originally from Calgary, Canada, Karen lives in Richmond.
Lindsay A. Chudzik is an Assistant Professor of Focused Inquiry at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Temple University, her MA in Literature from Virginia Commonwealth University, and her MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition, Lindsay has led multiple creative writing classes at Mighty Writers, a nonprofit providing workshops for teens and pre-teens living in the Philadelphia area, and Offender Aid & Restoration in Richmond, VA. Her critical work and conference presentations largely center around community literacy and service-learning in the classroom. Her creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose, Ghost Town Literary Magazine, Haunted Waters Press, and Map Literary, among others. Lindsay is also a contributing writer for Maxwell’s Playbook, covering trending women’s and political issues.
Mary Chris Escobar writes women’s fiction. Her debut novel, Neverending Beginnings, was published in 2012. A novella, Delayed, followed in 2013 and her latest novel, How to be Alive came out in June 2014. Her articles have appeared in The Write Life Magazine and at Women Writers, Women’s Books. Mary Chris moderated the “Copyright & Trademarks: What’s Fair Use and Not” session at the 2014 Romance Writers of America conference. She is a founding member of First Draught, a monthly happy hour via Google Chat about all things writing, publishing, and romance. In addition to her writing career, Mary Chris is also an academic adviser at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), with a masters degree in Counselor Education.
Robin Farmer is a versatile freelance writer with a focus on healthcare, education and business for custom and trade publications, websites and nonprofits. She was an award-winning journalist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Hartford Courant. She is a recipient of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan and a graduate of Marquette University. Robin writes screenplays and poetry and is working on a YA novel. She hopes to help expand JRW membership and programs to include young voices.
Ryan Frazier is a corporate communications and editorial services specialist at Dominion Resources, where he focuses on communications, media, and speechwriting. His background is in politics and editorial journalism. Dominion has a history of sponsoring the JRW conference and programs and Ryan serves as a liaison between JRW and Dominion.
Melissa Gay provides course development support for Reynolds Community College’s School of Business programs. She is currently in the process of publishing her first novel. She blogs about reading and books on her blog This Common Reader and contributes stories and author profiles to JRW’s website.
Julie Geen is a freelance writer for Style Weekly and wrote an award winning fitness column for Belle magazine (ay she rest in peace) despite her hatred for exercise. Her essays have been published in anthologies and a short story about zombies and high heels appeared in Richmond Macabre II. Currently, she is editing her first novel and teaching for Richmond Young Writers.
Charles Gerena has a background in business reporting, editing, and journalism. Since 2007, Charles has managed the web presence of the Richmond Fed’s Research department, developing content and improving information architecture to enhance the public’s understanding of the economy and the Federal Reserve System. Charles currently focuses on using the tools of storytelling and online technology to make economics relevant to people’s daily lives. These tools include data visualizations, podcasts, videos, and social media. Charles holds a bachelor’s degree in technical writing from the New York Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Online News Association.
J.T. Glover has published short fiction in Fungi, Dark Recesses, and Underground Voices, among other venues. He blogs and publishes non-fiction on many topics, including the visual arts, fantastic literature, and research methodology. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, he moved to Richmond at the end of 2006 and is the Humanities Research Librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University. He edits Biblio-Notes,the newsletter of the Literatures in English Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries.
Kristen Green’s debut book, Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County, a hybrid of narrative nonfiction and memoir, is being published by Harper in June 2015. She is a longtime journalist for newspapers, including the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Boston Globe, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She was awarded the Best of Gannett Outstanding Achievement in Writing, and her work has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego, and the National Headliner Awards. She has a Master in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School and lives in Richmond with her husband and their two young daughters. She has been an enthusiastic conference volunteer since 2011.
Douglas Jones writes plays for children and adults, 40 of which have been produced in venues around the country. Jones holds degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Virginia. He has taught at UVA, TheatreVirginia, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Virginia Opera, as well as in private schools in the Richmond area. Doug has also published short stories, poetry, nonfiction, and scripts for radio and video. He is a member of The Dramatists Guild and The Authors League of America. His interests in JRW include The Writing Show, the annual conference, and our writing contests.
David Kazzie is a lawyer and novelist. His self-published debut novel, The Jackpot, has sold more than 11,000 copies since January and spent nine days on Amazon’s Top 100 Kindle Bestseller List, peaking at No. 34. He is the author of several short animated videos, including “So You Want to Write a Novel,” which have more than 2 million YouTube hits. He is represented by the Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency.
Joanna Suzanne Lee has never been formally trained in any kind of writing, thank you very much. She can, however, dissect the brainstem of a neonatal mouse or diagnose your lower back pain. Her first full-length book of poetry, the somersaults I did as I fell, was released in January of 2009. Her work has been recently featured in Right Hand Pointing and qarrtsiluni, among others.
Rebekah L. Pierce is an avid playwright and author with her works focusing on contemporary women and their search for purpose and identity. She received her MA in English with a concentration in Literature from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2002, which is where she wrote her first play, The Myth. Mrs. Pierce placed as an alternate in the 2006 Virginia Commission of the Arts Playwriting Fellowship for her works, Perfect and The Myth, which were produced and staged in local theaters in Richmond, Virginia. Her short play, That Woman’s Child – the story of a confrontation between the love child of an affair and the wife – also made its New York debut in the 2012 Network One Act Festival at the Barrow Group Theatre. Her most recent publication is the self-awareness resource book, Kryptonite Killed Superwoman: Trading in the Cape for an Authentic, Purpose-Driven Life, which features a collection of inspirational blogs and journaling activities designed to empower and encourage women to live and work in their purpose.
Cristina D. Ramirez is the Library Community Services Manager for the Broad Rock Branch Library of the Richmond Public Library. She is a third term, nationally elected member Councilor-at-Large for the American Library Association (ALA). She is the National Member at Large for REFORMA (the National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking) and serves on their Executive Committee. Ramirez is a member of the Initiatives of Change Community Trustbuilding Fellowship Class of 2015, a graduate of the City of Richmond’s Supervisory Leadership Program 2013, and a graduate of the Leadership Metro Richmond (LMR). She serves on the Catholic University Library & Information Science Advisory Board, and on the Family Lifeline Board of Directors. Ramirez is a Ph.D. student in Research & Evaluation, School of Education, VCU.
Jon Sealy is a South Carolina native and author of The Whiskey Baron, which the Richmond Times-Dispatch said reads like “what you’d get if Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner co-wrote the HBO series Boardwalk Empire while on an especially inspired, existentially tinged bender.”
Greg Weatherford is director of student media at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has worked as an editor, reporter, and writer since 1994, including stints as the managing editor and executive editor of Style Weekly and as a business reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He has also written for Virginia Living, HomeStyle, and Inside Business, and his fiction has appeared in literary magazines. He is interested in helping JRW with our PR and media efforts.