I love James River Writers.

I serve on the board of directors of this 450-member community-based non-profit in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. James River Writers is supported by volunteers, government grants, foundations, corporate partners, and the generosity of our members, we serve as central Virginia’s literary hub, and we welcome everyone who loves the written word.

The highlight of our year is our annual conference, held every October. We typically host a sold-out crowd of more than 350 writers, editors, agents, and booksellers. Recently, I had the opportunity to moderate three panels:

  • Paths to Publication
  • Bad Words vs. Strong Language
  • What’s Your Platform?

Every month, January through September, James River Writers hosts “the Writing Show” where authors and other literary professionals discuss craft and the business of writing. Below is a glimpse of this year’s Writing Show schedule.

2019 Writing Show Schedule:

  • January 30 – Balancing Writing and Life: Inspiration and Practical Strategies
  • February 27 – How to Permanently Banish Writer’s Block
  • March 20 – Writing a Killer Synopsis
  • April 24 – How to Sell the Heck Out of Your Book
  • May 29 – Making Freelance Writing Financially Rewarding
  • June 26 – Building Relationships with Bookstore Owners and Librarians
  • July 31 – Defining and Finding Your Audience
  • August 28 – I Finished My Book (Poem, Screenplay)—Now What? (Path to Publication Part I)
  • September 25 – People Skills for Writers (Path to Publication Part II)

We also host Master Classes throughout the year, like this one, “The Business of Querying,” where an industry expert teaches writers how to craft a killer query letter, shares best practices when approaching agents online or at a conference, and explains methods of interpreting feedback received while querying.

In the past, James River Writers has partnered with The Poe Museum to host Literary Salons which are intimate gatherings of artists and creatives across multiple disciplines where topics of discussion always inspire and provoke thought. The Poe Museum, located in the “Old Stone House,” Richmond’s oldest home, is dedicated to the life and work of Edgar Allen Poe and boasts the most comprehensive collection of Poe artifacts in the world. We host our Lit Salons at the Patrick Henry Pub in the pre-Civil war Patrick Henry Inn, a block from St. John’s Church, the site of Patrick Henry’s famous speech in support of the Revolutionary War, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

On Thursdays at Writers Farmhouse, our weekly writing group, writers bring laptops and other writing paraphernalia then hang out and get words on the page.

We host Writers Wednesday at Ardent Craft Ales, an award-winning local craft brewery in historic Scott’s Addition, bringing together authors of every genre to laugh, talk, and unwind after a long day of writing.

James River Writers does much more over the course of the year, including partnering with Richmond magazine to host writing contests and awards including:

  • Best Unpublished Novel Contest
  • Best Self-published Novel Contest
  • Shann Palmer Poetry Contest
  • Emyl Jenkins Award

Are you a member of a local community like James River Writers?

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What do you love?