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Bay to Ocean Writers Conference 2023
Session Descriptions

Specialty & Nonfiction


9:00AM – 9:50AM
Tidewater: Writing (and Drawing) Centered in Place; A Poetry and Short Prose Generative Workshop
Lara Payne

We will read and write short poems and prose (non-fiction or fiction) and have time for small group feedback. Some of the writing will be from local authors, some will be chosen because it fits the theme: knowing our place. Authors such as Lucille Clifton, Denise Levertov, Barbara Kingsolver, and others. We will briefly look at combining simple line drawings with writing, with no pressure to draw.

LARA PAYNE lives in Maryland. Once an archeologist, she now teaches writing at the college level, to veterans, and to small children. She has been a resident of the VCCA and a semi-finalist for the Nation/Discovery Award. Her poem “Corn Stand, 10 ears for two dollars” was a winner in the Moving Words Competition. and was placed on buses in Arlington, VA over the Summer of 2018. Recent poems have appeared in SWWIM, Beltway Poetry Quarterly and the Mom Egg Review. Her poems explore the environment, motherhood, mental illness, and the hidden work of women.

10:00AM – 10:50AM
Exploring the Unexpected: Writing with a Magical Twist
Kris Faatz

A session both for writers who work in fantasy and magic, and writers new to those areas. We’ll explore how “breaking real-world rules” can be freeing, and how trying the unexpected—and making it work—can hone craft skills in ways that cross genre boundaries, and can get us out of ruts of overthinking and perfectionism. 
The session will include discussion of a flash-fiction story and how the writer “sells” us on the magic: what craft elements they use, and how those elements apply to other kinds of writing. We’ll also do two or more in-session exercises in which we explore rule-breaking, seeing where ideas lead, and how to make unexpected twists work in story.

KRIS FAATZ (rhymes with skates) is a pianist, writer, and teacher. Her short fiction has appeared in journals including Los Angeles Review, Typehouse Magazine, and Streetlight Magazine, and most recently received NELLE journal’s 2022 Three Sisters Award. Her first novel, To Love A Stranger (Blue Moon Publishers, 2017), was a finalist for the Schaffner Press Music in Literature Award. Her second novel, literary fantasy Fourteen Stones, was published in October 2022 by The Patchwork Raven (Wellington, NZ). Kris teaches classes on creative writing, music, and both together. Visit her online at

11:00AM – 11:50AM
Writing Identity Through Art
Tara Campbell

In this ekphrastic writing workshop, we’ll explore ways of creating characters inspired by visual art. Together we’ll examine two very different types of portraits, one by famed photographer Gordon Parks and another by Puerto Rican sculptor Daniel Lind-Ramos, and discuss aspects of internal and external character development. Participants will create two different characters, with time to write and share their creations.

TARA CAMPBELL is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, fiction co-editor at Barrelhouse, and graduate of American University's MFA in Creative Writing. Her publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Wigleaf, Strange Horizons, CRAFT Literary and The Commuter at Electric Lit. She's the author of a novel and four multi-genre collections including her newest, Cabinet of Wrath: A Doll Collection. She teaches creative writing with American University, Johns Hopkins University, The Writer's Center, Politics and Prose, Catapult, Clarion West, and the National Gallery of Art. ( Connect with her on Twitter: @TaraCampbellCom.

1:30PM – 2:20PM
Diversity in Writing
K. McCoy

Storytelling has the power to shape perspectives and unite people from all walks of life. And with that kind of power comes great responsibility. Learn how to manage telling your stories authentically yet with attention to inclusivity in this Diversity in Writing class.
 After this 60 minute class, filled with upbeat yet real world examples and group exercises, you will not only be able to write diverse characters more effectively, but have a deeper understanding of why embracing all intersections of the characters included within your story is essential.

K. McCOY wants to live in a world where people don’t try to compensate artists with only exposure and every public restroom plays lo-fi music. Women take the lead (as well as center stage) and always come first in their inspiring yet heartfelt stories. K. McCoy’s goals are to travel and to see as much of the world as possible and to continue writing amazing stories for their growing audience. You can find out how to connect with K. McCoy by visiting them on all social media sites under authorkmccoy..

2:30PM – 3:30PM
The Practice of Translation

Nathan D. Horowitz

The boundaries of our linguistic worlds have expanded with the wide availability of translation engines. What are the potentials and limitations of these technologies? How can we use them for literary and non-literary purposes? In this workshop, we’ll look at digital tools for translation including Google Translate, DeepL, and Linguee. We’ll address  possibilities and limitations of each, and we’ll try our hands at translating a poem or two from a language we don’t know into English. It will help to bring a laptop, though a cell phone will work in a pinch. “To translate is to have the honesty to cling to an allusive imperfection.” Pierre Leyris.

NATHAN D. HOROWITZ was born and raised in Michigan. Writer, teacher, translator and proofreader, he has a BA in English and an MA in Applied Linguistics. After four years in Latin America and fifteen in Austria, he lives with his wife and daughter in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the author of two volumes of creative nonfiction about Ecuadorian ayahuasca shamanism and the translator of three volumes of Ecuadorian fiction, one volume of Venezuelan poetry, and the autobiography of the last shaman-chief of the Siekopai people of the Amazon Rainforest.


9:00AM – 9:50AM
Listing Your Way to a (Lyric) Essay
Randon Billings Noble

Join essayist Randon Billings Noble in exploring different ways in which the humble list can be transformed into a creative—perhaps lyric—essay.  In this session we’ll start by talking about the ways list-making can spur your creative practice.  We’ll then look at some examples of list-based essays—from Sei Shonagon’s 11th-century classic “Hateful Things” to more contemporary work by cartoonist Lynda Barry. Then we’ll do some generative writing exercises that will lead you to a list-based essay of your own. Participants will leave with a new understanding of the essay (lyric and otherwise) as well as new work. This session welcomes writers of all genres, interests, and levels.

RANDON BILLINGS NOBLE is an essayist. Her collection Be with Me Always was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2019 and her anthology of lyric essays, A Harp in the Stars, was published by Nebraska in 2021. Other work has appeared in the Modern Love column of The New York Times, The Rumpus, Brevity, and Creative Nonfiction. Currently she is the founding editor of the online literary magazine After the Art and teaches in West Virginia Wesleyan’s Low-Residency MFA Program and Goucher's MFA in Nonfiction Program. You can read more at her website,

10:00AM – 10:50AM
Keys to Successful Nonfiction Publishing: How I Did It and How You Can Too
Jean Burgess, Ph.D.

Introduction: In addition to having a smashing nonfiction manuscript idea, there are several key principles you can embrace to succeed in getting your book published. Discerning the several types of research and analysis required by the process, understanding each aspect of the publisher’s proposal request, being willing to work collaboratively, and maintaining faith in your project—these are essential to your success.
     The presenter will dive into these four key principles using her own stories of both failure and success to highlight important touch points.
     Time reserved at the end of the presentation will allow for a facilitated discussion, encouraging attendees to share their own success stories, additional tips for success, and experiences for what to avoid as well. 

JEAN BURGESS, Ph.D. is a writer, a playwright, an editor, and a former theatre educator. Her nonfiction, Collaborative Stage Directing: A Guide to Creating and Managing a Positive Theatre Environment, was published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis in 2019. She is currently writing a women’s historical fiction about a young woman touring with a swing band in the late 1970s. She holds an MA in Theatre from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. in Educational Theatre from NYU.

11:00AM – 11:50AM
Your Story Matters: The Art and Craft of Personal Essay and Memoir
Rus VanWestervelt

Your story matters. Whether you are sharing it in brief personal narratives or in a book-length memoir, the process of writing and the quest for publication can be overwhelming. This hands-on, writing-immersive workshop gives you the tools you need to writeand publishyour life stories. You will learn the elements of narrative (creative) nonfiction by exploring  the stories of your life and the lives of loved ones. Be ready to write, laugh, and maybe even cry as you dig deep into your life stories that will leave a trace in the world for generations to come.

RUS VANWESTERVELT has been writing and teaching the power of creative nonfiction and fiction for over 35 years. He has lived on the shores of Chesapeake Bay and throughout central Maryland. He is the author of two novels, including Fossil Five set in Southern Maryland, and he is the founder of Maryland Voices, a creative nonfiction journal for high school writers throughout the state. He currently resides in Towson, where he is an adjunct writing professor at Towson University.

1:30PM – 2:20PM
Know 10 Times More Than You Tell: Research, Responsibility, Resources & Rabbit Holes 
Brent Lewis

Whether immersed in archival material or through everyday observations and interactions, all writers conduct research. For fiction and nonfiction authors alike, this session explores the benefits of strengthening the writer’s practical skills as a researcher, as well as the tools and techniques one can utilize to improve their writing with the insight and credibility that only well-executed, ethical research provides. Through helpful handouts, interactive exercises, and constructive conversation, attendees will be encouraged to regard research as an enjoyable part of the writing process that not only yields story-strengthening factual information but can also open creative doors and inspire the imagination. The session is intended to help students discover that conducting better research can lead to achieving their goals and experiencing more success as an author.

BRENT LEWIS is the author of the recently published STARDUST BY THE BUSHEL: HOLLYWOOD ON THE CHESAPEAKE BAY’S EASTERN SHORE, which spotlights filmmaking on Delmarva, as well as two nonfiction books about Kent Island and the indie novel, BLOODY POINT 1976. A fan of history and pop culture, Brent is a native Eastern Shoreman with deep regional roots and has written for magazines, newspapers, and newsletters. A documentarian and a playwright member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Brent’s blog,, is a popular destination for readers interested in Chesapeake Bay storytelling, history, and memoir.

2:30PM – 3:30PM
How to Write Micro Memoir
Laura J. Oliver

Write your life story as you lived it, one moment at a time, each under 850 words. This interactive workshop teaches writers to distill a moment of change, conflict, contradiction, or mystery to its essence, so that the impact on the writer resonates profoundly with the reader.  We will examine inspiring published examples to learn exactly how the writer moved and entertained us. Using the same tools with which we craft fiction, this workshop is an excellent learning environment for both genres. We'll conclude with a review of where to publish. 

LAURA J. OLIVER is the author of The Story Within (Penguin Random House), endorsed by Pulitzer Prize winner, Jon Franklin.  A developmental story editor and individual writing mentor, Oliver has won a Maryland State Arts Council Award and an Annie Award among others. Her stories appear in national newspapers, magazines, and top-tier literary reviews. Oliver has taught at the University of Maryland and at St. John’s College and currently writes a popular weekly column for Spy Media newspapers. 

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