National Book Award Winner to Speak at 2011 Conference: John Casey

The James River Conference is honored to have National Book Award winner, John Casey, appearing with us this fall.

It’s been more than two decades since Spartina won the National Book Award and was acclaimed by critics as being “possibly the best American novel . . . since The Old Man and the Sea” (The New York Times Book Review), but in this extraordinary follow-up novel barely any time has passed in the magical landscape of salt ponds and marshes in John Casey’s fictional Rhode Island estuary.

John Casey was born in 1939 in Worcester, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard College, Harvard Law School, and the University of Iowa. Spartina won the 1989 National Book Award for fiction. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he is Henry Hoyns Professor in the English Department at the University of Virginia. He is also the literary executor of the estate of Breece D’J Pancake.

You can read a wonderful interview with John here, in which he explores the eight-year journey to write Compass Rose, as well as about writing in the voice of New England women, and his enduring love of the outdoors. You can read one of John’s essays on canoeing here.

We hope you’ll enjoy this wonderful opportunity to hear and interact with one of America’s finest writers at our conference this fall. Sign up at this direct link today.



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Top 10 Reasons to Come to the 2011 James River Conference

1. The box lunches. Really. They’re delicious!

2. BOOKS! And we’re talking instant gratification. See an author speak at the conference who inspires you and whose book you MUST have, and you can run right over to the book table and buy a copy right then and there. Take that, Kindle and Nook!

3. The speakers. The speakers. The speakers.

4. Just so we’re clear . . . regarding #3, we’re talking about Michelle Bower, April Eberhardt, Hermine Pinson, Belle Boggs, Mike Albo, Tayari Jones, David Henry Sterry, Troy Howell, Derome Scott Smith, Jesmyn Ward, Arielle Eckstut, Michael Park, Eliezer Sobel, Suann Cokal, Lucia St. Clair Robson, Jeff Spyeck, Randy Freisner, Dave Smitherman, David Henry Sterry, John Casey, Karl Marlantes, Julian Smith, Kathi Appelt, Tory Howell, Meg Medina, Leona Wisoker, Robert Goolick, Joe Williams, Kristen Green, Kathleen Graber, Rebecca Schinsky, Zachary Steele, A. B. Westrick, Jason Ashlock, Becca Stumpf, Daniel Custodio, Woody Holton, and more.

5. Moderators. Thoughtful moderators who ask the questions you’re dying to hear answered.

6. Location, location, location. The Library of Virginia is a great space, and it’s convenient in downtown Richmond.

7. Richmond, Virginia, in fall. What can we say? The state of Virginia puts on a fall foliage spectacular. It’s a wonderful time to visit if you’re from out of town.

8. Your fellow conferencees. This is a chance to meet other writers of every genre and experience, to talk writing 24/7 for a couple of days among people “who get you.” Really. We do. We get you.

9. Networking. Meet agents, editors, writers. Pitch your novel!

10. Time for you to fill this one in. Leave a comment and let us know what YOU like about the JRW conference!!!




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A Little Preview of Our Silent Auction

On Saturday June 4th, the James River Writers will hosts its annual literary fundraiser. Like many a gala, there will be a silent auction, but unlike other galas, this one is put together by some extremely creative and wonderful writers–and features some one-of-a-kind items to bid on, many with a literary flavor. Take a look below and plan on coming to place your bid!! Visit us here to order your tickets today.

Silent Auction Preview

For the annual literary fundraiser,

June on the James

Saturday, June 4, 2011

It’s Your Art

Take a private lunch-time tour of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts led by Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, John Ravenal. Bring a group of up to eight people to gain insights into the VMFA’s noteworthy collection.

Relax After Writing

Celebrate your writing success, whether it’s publication or finishing a draft, during a relaxing night’s stay at the Jefferson Hotel, Richmond’s premier hotel since 1895. Complete your stay with Sunday champagne brunch for two.

Know Your City

Learn about Richmond’s history as you enjoy a one and one-half hour cruise along the James River and Kanawha Canal with up to twenty-four of your closest friends and the guide voted Most Popular Boat Captain in 2010.

Limelight to Green Rooms

Tour Richmond CenterStage with nine friends. End your visit with drinks or lunch with the former CenterStage chief financial officer, David B. Robinson, CPA.

A Not So Ugly Duckling

Win an original illustration by Troy Howell, award-winning artist and illustrator. “This accomplished artist’s light-dappled paintings have a dreamy air, as if a long summer afternoon had somehow been captured between the covers of a book.”

Publishers Weekly review of The Ugly Duckling

Treasures of Virginia History

View an early copy of the Declaration of Independence and original material related to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and more during your private, behind-the-scenes tour with Tom Camden, Director of Special Collections at the Library of Virginia.

Brush Up on the Bard

Attend a Richmond Shakespeare performance as the personal guest of the Artistic Director and Treasurer, followed by drinks at Penny Lane Pub with Grant Mudge, Artistic Director for Richmond Shakespeare, and host David B. Robinson, CPA, chair of James River Writers Advisory Board.

Music. Made for You.

Enjoy a Richmond Symphony performance and conversation with David J. L. Fisk, Executive Director of Richmond Symphony, and other Symphony supporters and board members.

Take Home the Final Four

Remember VCU’s climb to the Final Four by taking home an autographed VCU Final Four basketball, keepsake book, and T-shirt.

Worth a Thousand Words

Make your photograph book-cover-worthy with a two-hour photography sitting with Jeff Saxman, a commercial/advertising and fine art photographer whose clients include VCU, The Martin Agency, and Richmond Magazine.

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Introducing . . . Michelle Brower

Our next speaker is the talented Michelle Brower. Like many agents, Michelle went into her field because of a PASSION for literature. We’re lucky to have her on panels at our fall 2011 conference. A little more on Michelle:

Michelle Brower began her career in publishing in 2004 while studying for her Master’s degree in English Literature at New York University, and has been hooked ever since.  During that time, she assisted the agents Wendy Sherman and Joelle Delbourgo, and found herself in love with the process of discovering new writers and helping existing writers further their careers.  After graduating, she became an agent with Wendy Sherman Associates, and there began representing books in many different areas of fiction and non-fiction.   In 2009, she joined Folio Literary Management, where she is looking for literary fiction, thrillers, high-quality commercial fiction that transcends genre, and narrative non-fiction.  She enjoys digging into a manuscript and working with authors to make their project as saleable as it can be, and her list includes the authors S.G. Browne, Julia Wertz, Todd Ritter, and Michele Young-Stone (one of our terrific speakers last year!) among many others.

Folks, we’re about a week away from early conference registration. So we hope we’re whetting your appetite for all things literary in RVA! In the meantime, if you just CAN’T WAIT until fall, why not join the James River Writers at Writers Wednesdays right here in Richmond. The second Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m., writers gather at Cafe Gutenberg. Never been before? It’s a friendly bunch and you’ll feel right at home.

In the meantime, come back to the blog and visit for more on our conference speakers and all sorts of JRW information.


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Exciting New Conference Details . . . .

Welcome to the inaugural post for the James River Writers Fall 2011 conference. Over the next couple of weeks, here at the blog we will be profiling some of the amazing speakers for the conference to whet your writerly appetite. We’ll also be blogging about our silent auction to support the James River Writers mission, as well as posts on why conferences can be such a great source of networking and inspiration.

First, if you are not familiar with the James River Writers and our mission to help make the literary arts come alive in Central Virginia, visit us here.

Our conference this year will again be at the beautiful Library of Virginia in Richmond, Friday and Saturday, October 7-8 (with workshops on Thursday, October 6). If you aren’t from Richmond and would travel from out of town, there is no shortage of fabulous places to stay and enjoy some Southern hospitality.

The quality of our speakers this year is fantastic–this is going to be the conference for everything from how to use social media to promote your work to hearing from great writers of every genre how they broke in to writing, how they find their “voice,” why they write and what makes them tick. Expect to be inspired, enlightened, enriched, and definitely to network with agents, authors, and editors.

The first speaker we want to introduce is Michael Parker. We’re not sure how much more we can say when none other than the New York Times Book Review has this to comment on his work: “What makes Mr. Parker so satisfying a writer: his bone-deep affection for his characters; his love of clear, crisp, pungent language. . . his confidence in the possibility of redemption.”—Frederick Busch

MICHAEL PARKER is the author of five novels – Hello Down There, Towns Without Rivers, Virginia Lovers, If You Want Me To Stay, The Watery Part of the World and two collections of stories, The Geographical Cure and Don’t Make Me Stop Now.  His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various journals including Five Points, the Georgia Review, The Idaho Review, the Washington Post, the New York Times Magazine, Oxford American, Shenandoah, The Black Warrior Review, Trail Runner, and Runner’s World.  He has received fellowships in fiction from the North Carolina Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Hobson Award for Arts and Letters, and the North Carolina Award for Literature. His work has been anthologized in the Pushcart, New Stories from the South, and O. Henry Prize Stories anthologies. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia, he is a Professor in the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Hope to see you at our fall conference! And check back here at the blog for more news on our speakers, more talk on how conferences work and what to expect  . . . link to us and stay informed!

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