Hampton Roads Writers - Where Characters Connect

Hampton Roads Writers 15th Annual Writers Conference
November 9 – 11, 2023

Holiday Inn VA Beach & Norfolk Hotel & Conference Center
5655 Greenwich Road
Virginia Beach, VA

Registration open!

Basic Conference Rate—Includes 2 plus-day admission (November 9 - 11), daily continental breakfast and lunch, (no outside food permitted), all-day beverages, no-fee writing contests, First 10-Line Critique Sessions, two 10-minute pitches with any of the five agents, 90-minute social, and open mic.
  • Early Bird (until Aug 11, 2023) Member = $279, Early Bird Nonmember = $319
  • Aug 12 - Oct 27, 2023 Member = $329, Nonmember = $369
  • Oct 28 - Nov 9, 2023 = $409
  • 2-day FULL TIME Student = $199
  • 1-day FULL TIME Student = $150
  • 1-day (Friday OR Saturday) member or nonmember = $209 (may attend Thursday evening session for free)
  • Thursday evening only = $59
Golden Ticket includes everything in the basic conference rate plus a dedicated parking space, dedicated front-row seating, Nov 9 pre-conference dinner at 4:45 PM with conference presenters and HRW board members, one free drink at the social, guaranteed entry of work into one of the First 10-Lines Critique Sessions, and an opportunity to pitch to all agents/publishers. LIMITED TO 6 PEOPLE. (ONLY 2 LEFT)

Member or Nonmember $469

A few need-based full and partial scholarships for tuition are available; scholarships do NOT cover hotel lodging or transportation to and from the conference. Contact us to inquire and be prepared to show the financial need.

NOTE: Members must be logged in to receive discounts.

Next Zoom Social hour, AKA the Quarantini, is Friday, July 7, 4:30 - 5:30 PM.

Get your Zoom Link
martini glass

Traveling Pen Series of Writers Workshops for 2023

Our 2.5 hour workshop (9:30 AM thru noon EST) cost $10 for middle and high school students, $20 for current HRW members and $30 for nonmembers. Scholarships always available for those people with a true financial need. ALL workshops are zoomed.

July 15, 2023 — TPS workshop — Outlines, Treatments, & Synopses (Oh, My!) A Workshop on Structure for the Brave, the Frightened, and the Doomed, by Dr. Dennis Bounds

Often writers hear the terms “outline,” “treatment,” and “synopsis” used interchangeably. This is far from the truth. This workshop will present tools for creating an outline to guide your writing of a story – whether it will be a short story, novel, or screenplay. Further, we will present the purpose and elements of the standard treatment. We will conclude with a guide to writing a synopsis of your work for selling it. After taking part in this workshop, you will know the difference between these terms and how you can fashion each into useful tools in starting, writing, finishing, and shopping your story. There will be handouts and times given to designing and writing during the workshop.

Presenter Bio

Dr. J. Dennis Bounds has taught in the areas of cinema and TV history, aesthetics, and writing at universities both nationally and internationally for over 30 years. At Regent University, Bounds developed and was the first director of the Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting. Bounds is currently an adjunct professor in film at Regent University when he is not working with his wife as a media specialist and freelance writer.
Bounds’s book Perry Mason: The Authorship and Reproduction of a Popular Hero (Greenwood Press, 1996) serves as a key text on the character “Perry Mason” in literature, broadcasting, and film. His recent publications include an essay in the anthology The Silence of the Lambs: Critical Essays on a Cannibal, Clarice, and a Nice Chianti (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and a book he co-wrote titled Divine Film Comedies: Biblical Narratives, Film Sub-Genres, and the Comic Spirit (Routledge, 2016). He is currently writing a novel titled The House of Trent Adderley – a Horror/SciFi novel – and a second edition of his book on “Perry Mason”.

Bounds lives in Suffolk, VA, with his wife, Margaret, and attack poodle, Della.



August 19, 2023 — TPS workshop — The Invisible Narrator, presented by Caroline Leech

In this class, authors will learn how to limit the narrator’s presence, allowing the Viewpoint Character to invite readers directly into the story and keep them there until the very last page.

Have you ever been sipping some dark and delicious coffee in a sunny sidewalk café in the heart of Paris . . .

. . . or been hiking through dank, dark jungle to reach a waterfall where the magical runes are hidden . . .

. . . or been running down a New York alley, desperate to escape from the bad guys who are desperate to get their hands on the precious . . .

. . . and suddenly you’re YANKED out of the story and thrown back into your reality – the reality in which you’re sitting with your book on a subway train, or on a sofa beside a rain-drenched window, or at your office desk at lunchtime? Did the voice of the Narrator start shouting over the voice of the viewpoint character and remind you that you’re only READING the story, that you’re not IN the story?

No one likes to read a book in which the narrator gets in the way of the viewpoint character, but sometimes it happens. How do we authors avoid that happening to our own books? In writing-craft books and blogs, Narrative Voice and Point of View are often reduced to simple decisions between First Person and Third Person limited or full-blown omniscient, and between Past Tense and Present, but there is so much more to it than that.

Join YA author, Caroline Leech, as she guides you toward the best Point of View from which to let your story happen while allowing your viewpoint characters the freedom to complete the narrative and character arcs with the least amount of narrative intrusion as possible. Attendees will learn how to get into their viewpoint character’s head and stay there until the final page. Using writing prompts and fun exercises, she’ll show you how to become a truly invisible author so you can let your viewpoint character experience their own story without need of a highly visible narrator.

Presenter Bio

Caroline Leech is a Scottish/Texan author, podcaster, and coach who not only helps authors write, but then helps then present themselves and their books in public with confidence and professionalism.
In the UK, she was a Press & PR consultant and trainer in strategic press, media, and presentation skills, working with major performing and literary arts organizations. She edited the photographic book, WELSH NATIONAL OPERA – THE FIRST SIXTY YEARS, and the souvenir book of Wagner’s Ring Cycle by Russia’s Mariinsky Opera at Wales Millennium Centre.

Once in Texas, she began to write fiction, and her young adult WW2 novels, WAIT FOR ME and IN ANOTHER TIME, are published by HarperCollins. WAIT FOR ME won the 2014 Joan Lowery Nixon Award at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in Houston, as well as the YA categories of both the Romance Writers of America Emily and Lone Star competitions. IN ANOTHER TIME was named a Junior Library Guild Pick in fall 2018. Caroline was also a featured author for both of her books in the TXLA Spirit of Texas High School reading program 2019.
In 2021, she launched her own business, Caroline Leech Writes . . . , through which she serves her clients as a ghostwriter, copywriter, editor, and coach. She has designed and presented workshops on creative writing craft, social media strategy, and presentation skills for individuals and organizations such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Inprint, The Writing Barn, Houston Grand Opera, Rice University School of Literacy and Culture, as well as schools in Houston ISD and the UK.

In 2022, she launched her podcast, Authors & Audiences, on which she chats to authors, illustrators, booksellers, librarians, publishers, and other guests, and invites them to share the secrets of their public speaking confidence and their media/social media strategies. She also shares her own extensive knowledge of publishing, public speaking, storytelling, event planning and media strategy.



September 16, 2023 — TPS Workshop — HORROR WRITING: Creating Light in the Darkness, presented by Craig Spector

Best-selling author and screenwriter CRAIG SPECTOR leads a fun and free-ranging examination of writing horror and all things dark and delirious for publishing as well as film and television.

Presenter Bio
CRAIG SPECTOR is a best-selling novelist and editor, screenwriter, and musician, with millions of copies of his work in print and reprints in nine languages. His first novel, The Light at The End, was a New Tork Times bestseller for mass market paperback; his first anthology, Book of The Dead, featured stories by Stephen King, Rick McCammon, Joe R. Landsdale, and others.
He has published with such major mainstream publishers as Bantam Books, Avon Books, and Tor/St. Martins Press, as well as leading independent publishers such as Crossroad Press, as well as many specialty presses.

His novel Underground won the Masterton Award for Best Translated Novel of Horror for 2008 (Bragellone Press, fr. edition.) His film and television work includes A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and the ABC TV movie Volcano: Fire on The Mountain, as well as projects for New Line Cinema, Beacon Pictures, Anonymous Content, ABC, NBC, Fox Television, and others.

As a musician, Spector is an honors graduate of the Berklee College of Music. He has written, performed, produced, and released four indie solo albums since 2017, all part of his project The Art of Not Dying, charting Spector’s ongoing battle with Stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer.

Spector lives and creates in Virginia Beach, Virginia


Tenth in a series of essays about steps taken by HRW member Drema Deòraich on her way to indie publication success with her debut novel, Entheóphage.

To Newsletter, or Not?

When another indie author asked me, back in early 2022, whether I planned to have a newsletter, I laughed. When, exactly, was I going to have time for yet another ongoing task? But as it turns out, he was right. Newsletters are awesome tools to promote your work, keep your supporters up to date on coming events and appearances, create excitement for your future releases and short stories, and build a following.

A number of mailing list programs exist. Most articles I found online that give comparisons and rate the services are over a year old, and some of the details they list are outdated, but they are a good place to start. Check the individual services’ sites to be sure of current data. A few are free up to a certain number of subscribers. Once you hit that ceiling, you’ll be charged a monthly fee, but you’ll also have access to a greater selection of tools to make the job easier. (For the record, I chose MailChimp and am still running my list free.)

You’ll need a “reader magnet,” something to entice readers to sign up. Reader magnets can be anything you think your book’s audience might enjoy. In the beginning, I used the first three chapters of Entheóphage. Now I use an as-yet unpublished flash fiction story. Wanna read it? You gotta subscribe. Check authors’ list signups to get other ideas.

It’s also important to set an expectation for your newsletter mailings. You can choose to use it only to announce upcoming appearances or other important dates. You can also post weekly or monthly to keep your name and work in the forefront of your audience’s mind. If you choose the latter option, you’ll need content that will interest them. Mine is a monthly (more or less) article about sustainability and green living, which fits with the theme of my book. Another author sends articles about geeky science stuff that appears in his book’s storyline, and its real-world foundation. Others I’ve seen include tidbits like “what I’m reading,” quickie reviews, recipes, or even “beer of the month.” Try signing up for a half-dozen newsletters to get additional ideas on how to make yours unique to you and your work.

That’s it for now. See you next month!


By: Heather Brown Barrett

Ken Poyner
His new collection, titled Winter’s Last Apple, was recently published at Barking Moose Press. It’s comprised of poetry, prose poetry, and micro-fiction. Available now at Amazon for paperback and e-book formats, and at Smashwords for e-book. The e-book will soon be available on other platforms.
Two poems (“Half-Way” and “Original Sin”) published in The Rye Whiskey Review.

Carol Parris Krauss
Her poem, titled “Those Just Beyond the Backyard”, was awarded Honorable Mention in the Broad River Review 2023 Rash Awards Contest.

Her micro chapbook, titled Martha June and Me, was published at Ghost City Press for their Summer Series.

Sandra Julian Barker
Recently published her 15th book, titled Rainbows & Raindrops – Celebrating Grace. It’s an inspirational book featuring stories and color photos that illustrate God's grace through people, places and things. Available for purchase on Amazon


Do you have a recent writing publication or writing award you’d like to share for the Kudos section of the Hampton Roads Writers monthly newsletter? If so, please email your name and publication information to Heather Brown Barrett.

Author Spotlight

Heather Brown Barrett

by: Sandy Robinette
Heather Brown Barrett lives in rural Southeastern Virginia, where she loves the quiet on her daily run and the closeness of nature. She was born in Newport News and attended Christopher Newport University. Heather and her husband chose to live in the outer county to be near family. Wonderful for their little boy to be raised in that beauty and freedom.

A private person, Heather was once hesitant to share her work, but has dared to accept her talent and rekindle her love of writing! Poetry lets her fire glow the brightest. Now she has twenty-one poems published in a variety of journals and anthologies, and there is a chapbook almost ready for publication. She characterized the collection as a multi-layered look at motherhood. Her son is two now, so we can expect more on that subject. She mentioned that her first chapbook was a class assignment in the fourth grade.

Heather’s reawakened talent is part of her creativity from childhood. She wrote short stories and poetry as a child and teenager. Always an avid reader and journal keeper, she also knits and creates beadwork. Perhaps that is why she writes about the tiny, meaningful moments of life. Duality and juxtaposition and connections weave through many story lines in her poetry.

Heather and her husband discovered Hampton Roads Writers and The Muse in 2018. They attended HRW’s Annual Conference in 2019 and both agreed that it was a first-class event with worthwhile, interesting classes. She won an Honorable Mention Award for her Poetry submission.

I asked for her advice to writers. “I think it’s important to be patient with yourself and your writing process, including revision. And have a thick skin for the inevitable rejections.”

Hampton Roads Writers IN-PERSON Social

Saturday, July 22, 2023 @ 2pm

Kelly's Tavern
Haygood Shopping Center
1049 Independence Blvd #14A
Virginia Beach, VA 23455

Friends, Fellowship, Food, FUN!

If you'd like to attend, please RSVP via the link so we can make sure the restaurant has enough staff there to take care of us.

Looking for another writer group?

Here are just a few in our local area.

Virginia Beach Writers

The mission of Virginia Beach Writers is to provide a forum for writers—both published and unpublished—to read original prose or poetry and be given critiques of their work. Alternating between Zoom and in-person, the group meets every Tuesday from 10-12. Members who want to submit for that week need to email their work by Sunday afternoon. Submissions are limited to 1200 words.

Their members have different levels of experience and competence. They offer a positive environment to encourage writers to improve their craft. For more information, see their Facebook page or email them at virginiabeachwritersATgmail.com.

Sisters in Crime-Mystery by the Sea

Mystery By the Sea is the Local Hampton Roads area group of mystery writers. Sisters in Crime is the national affiliate. Yes, Misters in Crime are welcome too! Meetings are either in person or via Zoom the second Monday of each month from September through June at 7pm. Summer break happens usually July and August.

Poetry Society of Virginia

There are no set meetings. Instead, the state is divided up into regions and each region hosts several poetry events through the year. Check out their website to see what district you are a part of and upcoming events. Poetry Society of Virginia

Chesapeake Romance Writers

The Chesapeake Romance Writers meetings are the second Saturday each month at the Russell Memorial Public Library, 2808 Taylor Road, Chesapeake, VA 23321. You have the option of joining in-person and via Zoom. The next meeting is Saturday, July 8 at 10:30 am at the Russell Memorial Public Library where Hannah Carey will be speaking on 'Going Wide-Building Your Author Business.'

KPC Writers

Looking for a Writing Group in Virginia Beach? Perhaps the KPC Writers Group is for you. Their goal is to encourage and nourish your God-given talents for writing. All genres, ages, and levels of experience are welcome! Even if you haven’t written anything yet but are interested in learning more about writing, you are welcome. There is something for everyone. They have a range of speakers each month who cover topics related to writing, from craft to publishing, along with writing exercises and prompts, readings and discussions.

They meet in-person and on Zoom each month. Please email Evelyn for the Zoom link or if you have any questions.

Where: Kempsville Presbyterian Church
805 Kempsville Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23464
When: 3rd Tuesday of each month

They just celebrated their 19th year! Come join the fun. Meet other writers and make new friends among the “write-minded” folks at KPC. They look forward to meeting you.

Chesapeake Bay Writers

The Chesapeake Bay Writers group endeavors to help all aspiring and established writers achieve their individual writing needs and goals. Founded in 1991, Chesapeake Bay Writers is a chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. CBW serves writers from the Middle Peninsula, the Northern Neck, and Williamsburg and adjacent areas. Become a Member

If you are in a local writing group that you would like to include in HRW's list, please email a short blurb.

Lancaster Community Library Author Expo

July 8, 2023, 1-4 p.m.

Co-sponsored by Lancaster Virginia Historical Society

The Lancaster Community Library is located at 16 Town Centre Drive, Kilmarnock, VA 22482.

Hampton Public Library has two upcoming FREE (in-person) writing workshops led by local award-winning author Ran Walker.

JULY 24 at Noon: Using Fairy Tales to Create New Stories
JULY 25 at Noon: Tips for Writing Horror Stories

Each workshop will take place at the Hampton Main Public Library (4207 Victoria Blvd., Hampton , VA 23669) in Meeting Room A.

Ran Walker is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Hampton University and teaches with Writer's Digest University. He also serves as a principal writer with Worldspark Studios. Learn more about Ran.

To register, please follow these Eventbrite links:

Using Fairy Tales to Create New Stories
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/writing-workshop-with-ran-walker-using-fairy-tales-to-create-new-stories-tickets-632318400357?aff=ebdssbdestsearch [eventbrite.com]

Tips for Writing Horror Stories
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/writing-workshop-with-ran-walker-tips-for-writing-horror-stories-tickets-632334638927?aff=ebdssbdestsearch [eventbrite.com]
Thanks for reading. See you soon!

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