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2015 Writer’s Conference Recap — Workshop Descriptions & Speakers

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A big thank you to all of you who attended our Writer’s Craft Conference this past July, 2015. The Women Who Write writing conference gets better every year, and our recent conference was one of our best! To get an idea of the topics explored and the speakers who presented, please review the complete 2015 Writer’s Craft Conference overview below. Much was learned and a good time was had by all. It is the intention of Women Who Write to hold our annual writer’s conference every July. Check back in Spring 2016 to learn more about what we will have in store for you in 2016.

2015 Writer’s Conference Overview


Stephen King’s top twenty rules for writers was published in Atlantic Monthly. Neitzsche penned ten of his rules for writers in a letter to his lover and muse, Lou Andreas-Salomé—the first female psychoanalyst, who corresponded with Freud about human nature, and an extraordinary woman to whom Rainer Maria Rilke would later come to write breathtaking love letters. Similar sets of writing commandments have been written by Neil Gaiman, Zadie Smith, and Margaret Atwood. Anne Lamotte wrote a whole book about them. Finally, our own Jan Arnow, author of nine books including In the Line of Fire: Raising Kids in a Violent World, comes forth with her own list of what has kept her relatively sane during her writing career. Sometimes poignant but most often hilarious, Arnow will offer possibly useful advice to anyone who writes, wants to write, or has a friend who has made money writing so is thinking s/he might give it a go.


Jan Arnow is an internationally respected authority on multicultural and interfaith education, violence abatement, prejudice reduction, and leadership. She is an award-winning author of nine books and scores of articles in national magazines. She wrote the comprehensive peace curriculum for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and has taught various issues of creativity and education, interfaith and cross-cultural coalition building, multicultural education and violence abatement throughout the world. Her speaking and consulting engagements have ranged from the Smithsonian Institution to the American Academies of Psychoanalysis. She addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations on the issues of children and violence in 1996, and has been interviewed on numerous radio and television programs including NPR’s Morning Edition and New York’s Channel One. Her continuing work in grassroots program development and child advocacy, particularly for at-risk children, has made her a sought-after speaker and consultant on matters of political mobilization, violence abatement, multicultural education, and prejudice reduction.


An introduction to the cozy mystery genre with Jennie Bentley, author of the New York Times-bestselling Do-It-Yourself home renovation series. Learn to navigate the ins and outs, the do’s and don’ts, and the shoe-ins and pitfalls of this enduring and popular genre, from idea to completed story.

bentleyNew York Times and USA Today-bestselling author Jenna Bennett (Jennie Bentley) writes the Do-It-Yourself home renovation mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime and the Cutthroat Business real estate mysteries for her own gratification. She also writes a variety of romance for a change of pace. For more information, please visit her website,


If you like to eat and drink—and who doesn’t?—then food writing should be right up your alley. Successful food writers know how to take a passion for all things edible and capture that wonder in words. Many people think food writing is limited to critiques and recipes, but there’s much more to it than that. Today’s food writers show that food can inspire a variety of formats including travel articles, business stories, celebrity profiles, social and political commentary, and more. Learn how the genre has grown and how a culinary experience or a tasty memory can be turned into a marketable product. Memoirs, blogs, essays, destination pieces, cookbooks, restaurant reviews—here’s your chance to get an overview of the full spectrum of food writing and to discover how to market your work and get it published.

domineDavid Dominé lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where he teaches foreign languages and translation at Bellarmine University. In addition to an MFA in writing from Spalding University, he has an MA in Spanish literature from the University of Louisville and an MA in German literature from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He also completed studies in literary translation at the Karl-Franzens Universität in Graz, Austria. He has published numerous articles and nonfiction books with topics ranging from folklore and architecture to bourbon, travel memoirs, and regional cooking. His current projects include the novel Peter Paul’s Kitchen and a true crime book about the 2009 murder of Jamie Carroll and the subsequent trials of alleged killers Jeffery Mundt and Joseph Banis. He is also co-founder and regular contributor to the blog Literary Labors (and the Occasional Cheese Dip). See


In this workshop, attendees will respond to an exercise prompt by writing a poem—and then set about immediately revising that poem, using strategies Kathleen Driskell has found helpful in her own work and in teaching Spalding MFA students. At the end of the session, attendees will have a poem that is one step closer to being perfectly polished and a revision checklist to use with other poems to shape them up. For this session, bring paper and something to write with or a laptop.

driskellKathleen Driskell’s newest collection Next Door to the Dead, a Kentucky Voices Selection, will be published by the University Press of Kentucky in August 2015. Her most recently published full-length poetry collection, Seed Across Snow (Red Hen, 2009), was listed as a national bestseller by the Poetry Foundation. In 2012, she published Peck and Pock: A Graphic Poem, a long poem in comic book form. Her poems have appeared in many nationally known literary journals including Poems and Plays, the Southern Review, North American Review, RiverStyx, Shenandoah, Greensboro Review, and Rattle and featured online on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and in American Life in Poetry. Her work has been anthologized in What Comes Down to Us: 20 Contemporary Kentucky Poets and The Kentucky Anthology. She is a professor of creative writing and helps direct the low-residency MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University in Louisville.


Whether you are interested in picture books, young adult fiction, or something in between, it is important to write from a voice that appeals to your target audience. This session will include a brief overview of genres of writing for children, and will focus on the unique challenge of finding a voice that speaks to young readers. We will explore various styles and approaches from other authors, and then will do some in-session writing with prompts designed to explore our own child voices. All you need to bring is a pen and your imagination!

fitzgeraldErin Fitzgerald is a community arts enthusiast and writer of stories, songs, and snapshots. Her creative work has been included in various journals, compilations, and anthologies. Her first book for young readers, Smart Butt: Scenes from a Bold-Faced Life (starring Earlene), was published in 2014 by MotesBooks. The book was adapted into a short play to be performed in schools and community settings. Erin is passionate about the power that can be found by exploring one’s own voice. She facilitates workshops and small group sessions in various community settings, encouraging others to explore their own strengths through creative expression. She lives in Louisville with her brilliant children, who inspire her every day.


We all have heard about the “who, what, when, where, and why” of writing. In this workshop, we will focus on the “where.” In order for a story to be believable, a reader must be able to “see” the location of the story in his or her mind. Without the yellow brick road and the eye-popping colors of the Emerald City, the world of Oz would have just been another fanciful, imaginary city in a children’s book. But through rich descriptions, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum, transported readers to this magical land he wrote about. Whether you are describing a made-up place filled with talking trees and falling houses or the most rural parts of Alabama with its kudzu and magnolia blossoms, this workshop will help you see just how important setting is for your story.

brownAngela Jackson-Brown is an award-winning writer, poet, and playwright who teaches creative writing and English at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She has an MFA in creative writing from the Spalding University low-residency MFA program and she is the author of the novel Drinking From A Bitter Cup.


Writers often have to do a little (or a lot) of research—to add authenticity to a fictional setting or plot, or to build credibility in a nonfiction work. But research can be time-consuming, exhausting, and costly. Nonfiction writer Susan E. Lindsey shares basic tips and techniques to spend your research time and money effectively, and to successfully incorporate your research into your written work.

lindsaySusan E. Lindsey is researching and writing a historical nonfiction book about fifteen former Kentucky slaves who migrated to Liberia in 1836. Her published work includes essays and short stories, and a series of author profiles published in a community newspaper. She also privately published a family history and a biography of her abolitionist great-great grandfather. Susan received a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women for work on her book and was invited to speak about her research at the annual conference of the Liberian Studies Association, the world’s largest group of professionals and scholars working on Liberian issues. Susan is owner of Savvy Communication LLC, which provides editing and other services to authors and publishers (


You want your characters to leap from the page, grab readers by the lapels. You sketch them in broad strokes: their external traits, family relationships, who they love—or hate. The cadence of their speech, their place in plot and trouble unfurls. Yet traps await: stereotype, sluggishness, exposition. Most alluring of all—what I call the Parasitic Flashback. Backstory’s outlandish tendrils—think Little Shop of Horrors’ demon-plant Audrey—can drag down unsuspecting writers, sucking momentum, tension, character. We’ll dissect memorable characters in fiction, see how their pasts, their memories and emotions are incised into narrative as if written with a scalpel. Mining our own memories and emotions, we’ll focus on conveying a lot with a little in-scene. Come prepared to write! Plan to leave with techniques for your own investigations into backstory, emotion, memory; a syllabus for further reading; and fresh ideas for crafting unforgettable characters.

liversPaulette Livers is the author of the novel Cementville (Counterpoint Press, 2014), winner of the Elle magazine Lettres Prize, and finalist for the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and the Chicago Writers Association Fiction Book of the Year. She has received residencies and fellowships from the Artcroft Foundation, Aspen Writers Foundation, Center for the American West, Key West Literary Seminars, and Ox-Bow Artist Residence, among others. Her fiction and nonfiction have been awarded the Meyerson Prize, Denver Women’s Press Club’s Emerging Writers Award, Honorable Mentions from Hunger Mountain, Red Hen Press, and Writers at Work, and have appeared in Southwest Review, The Dos Passos Review, Spring Gun Press, the audio-journal Bound Off, and elsewhere. A member of PEN America and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Livers lives in Chicago, where she’s at work on her next novel.


Learn skills that propel your work to success. In the news world, journalists learn to craft stories, hook readers’ attention, and keep them interested. Journalists, even more than other writers, must be succinct. A snappy lead, the first paragraph of a news story, may help a poem or play. Reporters master rules, then learn when to break them to create powerful prose and imagery. Famous journalists Susan B. Anthony, Nellie Bly, Gloria Steinem, Gertrude Stein, Ida B. Wells, John Peter Zenger, Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Pulitzer, Bob Woodward, and Carl Bernstein helped change the world with their writing outside of news venues. Other authors, like Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and Susan Sontag, started in journalism but are known for their fiction. Time and space is money, whether it’s on the newspaper page, a TV screen, the Internet, or in a book. There’s no extra credit for wasting words.

phillipsDr. Selene G. Phillips is a member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe Nation of Wisconsin and an assistant professor in University of Louisville’s communication department, where she teaches writing and Native American studies. Her poem, “i miss Lac du Flambeau” won the Women Who Write International Contest, appearing in Calliope 2013: The 20th Anthology. Yukhika-latuhse? published her “ceremonial death dance.” She is completing a book of poetry and another on Sacagawea. Her PhD is from Purdue University. Her master’s is from Indiana University’s School of Journalism. Phillips has worked as a television anchor, reporter, producer, business writer, and a communication specialist. Phillips belongs to the Native American Journalists Association, and worked with UNITY: Journalists of Color, an alliance of Asian, Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous journalists. Phillips performs as Sacagawea and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. She also ice skates and has loved to write since kindergarten.


In this workshop, you’ll learn techniques and approaches to get your book in the hands of a reader without leaving the comfort of your home. Whether you are self-published or traditionally published, you will have to do your own marketing. This workshop will highlight strategies to get your book to your target market. You’ll learn what information about your book is necessary to successfully market it. You’ll be given a reality check about the publishing industry today. You’ll learn to view websites with new eyes, evaluating marketing potential for your book. You can use these techniques to launch your book or revive lagging sales for a published book.

powellCheri Powell received her undergraduate degree in marketing from the University of Louisville and her MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. For more than twenty-five years, Cheri worked in the computer industry and garnered an understanding of the power of computers and the Internet. After walking the Camino de Santiago in 2005, she was inspired to write a book to help other prospective pilgrims. The result was Seven Tips to Make the Most of the Camino de Santiago, which is now in its second edition. She has successfully marketed her Camino book and two companion books to a worldwide market. Her latest publication, Marketing Your Book Using the Internet is a compilation of the techniques she used.


Publishing in the 21st century looks a lot different than it did a few decades ago, most notably for writers, because it’s easier to find those pearly gates to publication and cross over to the other side. Yet many up-and-coming authors, even those who have self-published in the past, are still looking for literary agents to support their writing career. We’ll discuss why a literary agent could be an important asset for you, from making the publishing deal, to negotiating the contract and handling subsidiary rights; what the financial arrangement looks like; and how to find the author-agent partnership that’s right for your career goals. You’ll come away with a clearer understanding of what agents do, and a nice start on your quest to secure one. 

speilburgAlice Speilburg founded Speilburg Literary Agency in 2012, bringing with her the editorial and business expertise she had developed in previous publishing positions at John Wiley & Sons and Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators, and she is a board member of Louisville Literary Arts. ( She is currently building her client list and represents a wide range of fiction and nonfiction.


During this interactive presentation, author and illustrator Tytianna N. M. Wells Smith will focus on the ways in which multicultural books help build cultural competency, pride, creative production, and critical thinking skills among readers. This presentation will feature stories from the Sweet Pea and Sugar Tea’s Country Family Adventures, a four-volume book series that imparts moral lessons and cultural values to readers of all ages. 

smithTytianna N. M. Wells Smith is an artist, wife, daughter, sister, and friend who was born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. As early as five years old, Tytianna knew that writing and drawing were a passion. At fifteen, she accepted her first job as a journalist for Yo! Louisville magazine. By senior year, her work as a rising journalist and creative writer landed her a full scholarship to college where she studied abroad as an advocate for children and an ambassador for justice. Tytianna holds a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pan-African Studies, and a Master of Arts degree in Pan-African Studies. She is currently a part-time teacher at the University of Louisville and Frederick Law Olmsted Academy South, founder of Honey Tree Publishing, LLC, and author and illustrator of the children’s book series Sweet Pea and Sugar Tea’s Country Family Adventures: A Collection of African-American Poems.


Producing a book can be expensive. When you add up editing fees, cover art, book trailers, marketing and publicity, proposals, and agent/publisher queries, the total can stretch beyond the range of your budget. What can you do? Is there an option available to bring your book to print? Of course, there is! Crowd-funding is becoming one of the most often implemented tools to help authors fund their work. In this workshop, you’ll learn about various crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Power2Give, the pros and cons of each, how to get started, what to do before your project goes live, during and upon completion. This workshop will help you to understand the need for and work out a plan for creating a project on a crowdfunding site—crucial to achieving a successful campaign.

wrightSheri L. Wright, two-time Pushcart Prize and Kentucky Poet Laureate nominee, is the author of six books of poetry, including The Feast of Erasure. Wright’s award-winning photography has appeared in numerous journals, including Blood Orange Review and Subliminal Interiors. In 2012, Wright was a contributor to the Sister Cities Project Lvlds: Creatively Linking Leeds and Louisville. Her photography has been shown across the Ohio Valley region and abroad. She is currently working on her non-profit documentary film, Tracking Fire, which chronicles an unsolved arson that claimed 32 lives—the worst mass killing in LGBT history in the United States.


Moderator: Paula Dillmann, Associate Director, Women Who Write

luetzowJessica Luetzow is in the second year of a two-year term as director of Women Who Write. During her term, Jessica re-launched the organization’s online presence with a new logo, updated the website, and revitalized the group’s social media presence, increasing membership and community awareness. She worked with other board members to coordinate last year’s writing conference and the annual members-only writing retreat. Jessica earned a Master of Arts in English and American literature at University of California, San Diego; a Bachelor of Arts in English at Marquette University, Milwaukee; and did post-graduate work in literature at the Harvard University Extension School.

odellMary O’Dell is president and founder of Green River Writers, Inc., a 30-year-old writers’ organization located in Louisville. She also teaches classes in poetry, memoir, and fiction for Jefferson County Public Schools Lifelong Learning on an ongoing basis. Mary has published several poetry collections and three novels.

crumKimberly Crum is a published essayist, the owner of Louisville’s Shape & Flow Writing Studio, and president of Louisville Literary Arts. She has two graduate degrees, a Masters in Social Work and a Master of Fine Arts in writing, with professional experience in both areas. She previously taught writing and literature to undergraduates at Spalding University in Louisville, and has served as a writing coach to MSW students at Spalding. At Shape & Flow, she leads memoir workshops, and critiques academic and creative manuscripts. Kim is currently working on a segmented memoir, When I Find Myself: A Life in Eight Stages.

pophamMary Popham’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays, and book reviews have appeared in the Courier-Journal, the Louisville Review, ForeWord Reviews, New Southerner, 2nd and Church, and Appalachian Heritage. She has produced short plays and published short stories in anthologies, holds an MFA from Spalding University, and is an active member in two writers’ groups. Her essay “The Kindnesses We Give Each Other” was published in This I Believe: Kentucky; and her novel Back Home in Landing Run was published by MotesBooks in 2013. She is currently writing a sequel and is submitting a collection of short fiction. Her blog is



  1. Jessica- I was unable to be at the last meeting but would like to volunteer to help with the workshop. Let me know what I can do.

    • Debi,

      You are awesome…we will use your help…let me check with others and get back to you. Plan on coming at 7:45am though, and we will put you to work!

      I look forward to seeing you again…we had an awesome July meeting!


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