Hampton Roads Writers - Where Characters Connect


Check out our new website and register there so you can access all things HRW.

  1. Click on the log-in/register link at the upper right side of the page
  2. Enter your user name like this FIRST.LAST
  3. Then enter your email address
  4. Make up a password that you can remember (or, if you're like me, write it down and put it in a place you hope you can remember)
  5. Confirm your password by typing it in again
  6. Check the box that says: Send these credentials via email
  7. Click the Register button.
Registering on the website is NOT the same as joining HRW as a member. Registering is free. Becoming a member costs a small, tax-deductible yearly fee; this fee helps to cover some of the yearly operating expenses.

If you do decide to join HRW you will receive discounts when you sign up for a TPS workshop or for the conference. You'll also have access to your own Public Member Profile as part of the Member Directory. More details are available on the HELP page.
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Drop by Drop, WE CAN DO THIS
By Lauran Strait

Anyone who knows me, knows that I really hate to ask for help. And I’m especially loathe to ask for money.

COVID 19 greatly impacted HRW, forcing the cancelation of programs, including our 2020 WRITERS CONFERENCE and the accompanying fundraising auction at the conference social. The usual corporate sponsorships and help from the business community, not to mention donations from past members, disappeared in 2020.

I’m asking for your help now because HRW needs an immediate financial shot in the arm. Though we’re an all-volunteer nonprofit, we still have bills to pay.

Throughout May, and especially on May 11, HRW will be conducting a Facebook fundraising campaign. Why facebook? Simply put, Facebook pays all the processing fees on credit card donations, so 100% of your donation goes directly to Hampton Roads Writers.

Some of you might ask what you can do since you aren’t wealthy and can’t afford to give much. You wonder if your donation might truly impact HRW since what you can afford to donate amounts to a few drops in the bucket. Well guess what? Enough drops tossed into a bucket eventually fills the bucket.

For those of you who don’t have a Facebook account but still want to help, I encourage you to visit our new website and make a donation there. Or better yet if you don't want to use your credit card, you can mail a check to HRW at P.O. Box 56228, Virginia Beach, VA 23456.

Your contribution, whether $5 or $500, will make an impact. Every little drop helps us fulfill our mission. Every donation helps ensure that we can, once again, pull off a stellar in-person conference. Thanks so much!
Our next Zoom Social hour, AKA the Quarantini, is May 7, from 4:30 - 5:30 PM.

If you don't register, we won't know you want to attend. Previous to the debut of the new website, we physically emailed the zoom link to anyone who emailed a request for it. We have changed things. If you'd like to receive a zoom invite, please visit our event calendar and register for the event. It's free to register and free to attend.


to the following HRW Members:

  • Brad Barrett. His story, the "Covered Dish Supper" is live in The Nonconformist.
  • Miko Marsh. She has been awarded a fellowship from the Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing.
  • Ken Poyner. His poem "Productive Exile" is live at Bewildering Stories
  • Pamela Denyes. Three of her poems "All the Faiths of Abraham," "Redeemed," and "Rolling the Stone Away" are featured in Volume One of ThePoetMagazine.org's Anthology, Faith

Newsletter Editor -- Dr. Rita Budrionis. If you'd like to write an article in your area of expertise or have an announcement you'd like to share, please email her.

Traveling Pen Series of Writers Workshops

To attend any of these workshops, you must register for them prior to the workshop. After you make your payment (or are approved for a partial or full scholarship) you will receive a zoom link to the event.

Each 2.5 hour workshop costs $16 for HRW members and $26 for non-members and will be held via ZOOM until it is safe to meet in the classroom again.

Self-Publishing: It’s Not All DIY

May 15 @ 9:30 am - 12:00 pm EDT

Presented by Michelle Garren Flye

Jumpstarting and Revising the Poem

June 19 @ 9:30 am - 12:00 pm EDT Online

Fiction & Creative Nonfiction: Description, Metaphor, and the Narrative Lens

July 17 @ 9:30 am - 12:00 pm EDT Online

Writing Fantasy

October 16 @ 9:30 am - 12:00 pm EDT Online

Scene Building in Novels: Scene by Scene

November 20 @ 9:30 am - 12:00 pm EST Online



By Allie Marie

No, we're not really talking about links to naughty books! But we are about to tell you that there is a certain danger to sharing dirty links on the web.

What is a “dirty link” and how can it hurt you as an author? I’m glad you asked that. I’m not at all a computer whiz, but I’ve learned enough to avoid these costly problems.

First, let’s start with understanding what links are and how they become dirty. “URL" is an abbreviation that stands for "Universal Resource Locator." and is another name for a web address, the text that you type into your internet browser when you want to go to a website.

Links, found in nearly all web pages, are shortcuts that allow users to click their way from page to page[i] without the need to type in the address of a World Wide Web page letter by letter.

I will use the link to one of my books to show you how they can become “dirty” and “dirtier” in three easy steps.

When I use only that URL as a search, or if I place it in a newsletter or on social media, when it is first clicked, it takes you directly to the book page, as a clean link. If you are skittish about clicking links, you can cut and paste this and it will work as a clean link. (Go ahead, you know you want to try it that way too!)

  • However, after you have clicked the link and gotten to the Amazon page, let’s say you click on my Amazon author page for more “about the author” info. After that, when you click on the cover to the same book, Return to Afton Square, that second click on the book will suddenly look similar to this:

Everything highlighted has attached to the link. This has now become a “dirty link” and if that link is shared on my Facebook page, for example, it will change every time someone clicks on it, as it did in this next instance.

  • After clicking the first “dirty” link, the URL happens to look like:

As you can see, the link has grown even longer, as the blue highlight is all new. Imbedded in that highlighted conglomeration of numbers, letters, and symbols are time stamps and other identifiers that could be linked back to me as the author. If the above link continues to be shared, it will continue to collect info that we don’t even see.

A dirty link helps the algorithm at Amazon and other places to determine if there are connections between author and reader that might suggest collusion or partiality. Even if a review is from a verified purchase, a simple connection via a shared link can be enough to make them suspect that it’s not unbiased or from an unrelated party.[ii]

If the link used by multiple customers can be traced directly back to the author, that’s one of the reasons they will start flagging and eventually removing reviews.[iii]

Therefore, it is imperative that an author share only clean links in newsletters, social media, and even in author groups such any author info, such as on the HRW page. As a matter of practice, I review my link before posting anywhere, and ensure that I am using the clean link.

Is your Facebook account linked to your Amazon account or vice versa? If you or your readers have your FB account connected to Amazon and you are also friends on FB, their legitimate reviews can be cancelled if Amazon thinks this connection is a personal friend or relative and therefore considers the review to be biased.

You can check if your accounts are linked at https://www.amazon.com/ap/adam.

Also check your FB settings to limit apps connecting you to third party sources. Check FB at: https://www.facebook.com/settings from your page and go to Apps and Websites to remove third-party sites like Amazon.

More in-depth explanations of the perils of dirty links can be found at these links:

[i] www.w3schools.com/html/html_links.asp
[ii] https://wordynerdbird.com/2019/02/17/the-danger-of-dirty-links
[iii] https://wordynerdbird.com/2019/02/17/the-danger-of-dirty-links

Gaithersburg Book Festival Presents Free Virtual Workshops for Adults, Teens and Children

Saturdays will be for writing workshops during the 2021 virtual Gaithersburg Book Festival. From flash fiction, to poetry, to creative non-fiction and more, the Festival is offering a variety of free workshops for adults and kids alike.

They will take place via Zoom throughout the day on Saturdays, May 8 and 15. Spaces are limited. Registration opens on May 1, 2021 at 9 a.m. EDT. Links to register are located on the GBF website workshop pages. The schedule of adult and children’s workshops include:
Adult Workshops

Funky Forms in Flash Fiction
May 8, 10 a.m. EDT
Have you ever looked at an order form or a recipe and thought “there’s a story there?” Come ready to read unusual forms of flash fiction, and write your own off-kilter creations. This workshop will be led by Tara Campbell, a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow and fiction editor at Barrelhouse. She's the author of a novel, “TreeVolution,” and three collections: “Circe's Bicycle,” “Midnight at the Organporium” and “Political AF: A Rage Collection.” Her fourth collection, “Cabinet of Wrath: A Doll Collection,” is forthcoming in 2021.

Create a Brand New World!
May 8, Noon EDT
World building, once the domain of science fiction and fantasy, is now a requirement for all types of writing, even narrative non-fiction. Through exercises and short instruction, this workshop will help participants create a fully-fleshed world, not just with streets and roads, mountains and waterways, but artifacts, technology, politics, economic systems and the power dynamic between characters. This workshop will be led by Hildie Block, a writer who taught writing at American and George Washington Universities and has published more than 50 short stories in many literary magazines, such as Gargoyle, 0-Dark-Thirty, Cortland Review and the San Francisco Review. Her book, “Not What I Expected,” debuted in 2007.

How to Write a Key Scene
May 8, 2 p.m. EDT
A key scene is an essential building block in any work of fiction. Learn tips and strategies for making the scene you see in your head come alive on the page so that your reader is compelled to keep turning the pages. Writing exercises will give participants a hands-on feel for how to add texture, dynamism and drama to a story. The session also provides practical, hands-on guidance about the rewriting process. This workshop will be led by John DeDakis, a novelist, writing coach, and manuscript editor, who is a former editor on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer." He is the author of five mystery-suspense novels, including “Bullet in the Chamber,” winner of Reviewers Choice, Foreword INDIES and Feathered Quill book awards. In his most recent novel, “Fake,” protagonist Lark Chadwick is a White House correspondent dealing with “fake news” in the era of #MeToo.

This Is What America Looks Like: Writing America in 2021
May 15, 10 a.m. EDT
A generative writing workshop designed for all ages. Via creative prompts, participants will write short fiction or poetry on the idea of America in 2021. This workshop will build off of the excitement surrounding Amanda Gorman's poem for the inauguration, as well as the new anthology, “This Is What America Looks Like: Poetry & Fiction from DC, Maryland and Virginia,” co-edited by workshop leader Caroline Bock. She also is author of "Carry Her Home," winner of the 2018 Fiction Award from the Washington Writers' Publishing House, and the young adult novels: "Lie" and "Before My Eyes." She is currently at work on a novel set in 2050.

Erasure Poetry
May 15, Noon EDT
Discover the scope and range that erasure poems can take (from crossed out words, to incorporating collage and image and filling entire books), as well as the use of erasure poems as a political act. Participants also will create erasure poems of our own. No prior experience with poetry is needed. Texts to “erase” will be provided. This workshop will be led by Melanie Figg, a writer, teacher and certified professional coach. Her award-winning poetry collection, “Trace,” is hailed by Kirkus as a “roaring memorial for the voiceless.” Figg has helped hundreds of writers, from beginners to published authors, to improve, finish and submit their work, rein in their inner critics, and enjoy their writing lives. Her work is widely published and has received many national awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Maryland State Arts Council. Melanie teaches throughout the Washington, D.C., area and also works one-on-one with writers.

Creative Non-Fiction in Under 1000 Words: Writing Your Story in Small Moments
May 15, 2 p.m. EDT
Writing flash allows us to tell our story in manageable chunks, focusing on individual moments and finding ways that those moments connect to the bigger picture. Participants will read a variety of short flash essays, explore the publications that accept these works, and begin two new pieces of their own. This workshop will be led by Hannah Grieco, a writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., area. Her work has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction. Her essays, articles and interviews can be read in The Washington Post, Al Jazeera, The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Parents Magazine, Washington City Paper and more. Her short stories, creative non-fiction, and poetry appear in a wide variety of literary journals. She is the senior creative non-fiction editor at JMWW, the fiction editor at Porcupine Literary, and the founder and organizer of the monthly reading series, “Readings on the Pike.”

Children’s Workshops
Astronauts Zoom! Astronauts Write!
May 8, 11 a.m. EDT
Discover how real astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) live and work every day (and night). In the new book, “Astronauts Zoom!,” you’ll hear and see how they spacewalk, how they have fun, how they sleep and what they see when they look down at Earth. Then imagine you're an astronaut on the station, and write a letter or email to your family or friends. This workshop will be led by Deborah Lee Rose, an internationally published, award-winning children’s author. Her newest book, “Astronauts Zoom! An Astronaut Alphabet,” is illustrated with “you are there” NASA photos of female and male astronauts on the ISS. Her other STEM books include “Scientists Get Dressed,” “Beauty and the Beak: How Science, Technology and a 3D-Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle,” and “Jimmy the Joey.” She also wrote the beloved “The Twelve Days of Kindergarten” and “The Twelve Days of Winter.”

Create Haiku Poetry!
May 15, 11 a.m. EDT
Make artworks and create haiku poetry! Haiku poetry is about one breath long, and often focuses on nature. After reading sample poems and discussing the craft of writing Haiku poetry, we will create mini artworks and write our own. This workshop will be led by Jenny Klein, who has worked as a classroom teacher, gifted and talented teacher, staff developer and reading specialist for Montgomery County Public Schools. She also has taught classes at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn, Glen Echo Park and the Rehoboth Art League; and led workshops at museums and school systems with her co-author based on their two books, “Using Art to Teach Reading Strategies” and “Using Art to Teach Writing Traits.” Her poetry appears in Cricket Magazine and Written in Arlington.

For more details, or to learn how to join the workshops, visit the Festival website, and go to Programs.

About the Gaithersburg Book Festival
Founded in 2010, the Gaithersburg Book Festival is a celebration of books, writers and literary excellence. It is one of the premier literary events in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The 2021 Festival will take place virtually throughout the month of May, featuring author appearances, panel discussions and writing workshops. The Gaithersburg Book Festival also hosts author events in Montgomery County throughout the year as a way to encourage continued appreciation for all things literary. The event is sponsored in part by The David and Mikel Blair Family Foundation. For more information please visit www.gaithersburgbookfestival.org, follow us on Twitter @GburgBookFest or like us on Facebook.

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Thanks for reading. See you soon!

Hampton Roads Writers