Log in

Bay to Ocean Writers Conference 2024
Session Descriptions

Fiction / Poetry


9:00AM – 9:50AM
Using Joseph Campbell's ˜Hero Cycle" to Create Character and Develop Plot
Thom Brucie

Focusing on the short story form, this workshop examines the benefits of Joseph Campbell's wisdom as it relates to story telling.  Joseph Campbell's study, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, compresses into one book Campbell's decades of research in folklore, mythology, mysticism, anthropology, psychology, and world religions. This might seem like much. If you think so, you would agree with Campbell's PhD committee. When he proposed this "topic" for his dissertation, they insisted such a project would be too complex, that no one could possibly bring so many disciplines together in one work and make sense. They insisted that he minimize his parameters and write something less complex. He refused, and, as the saying goes, the rest is history. He never finished a PhD, but he did manage to publish more than 30 major works. His influence flows through contemporary thinking in psychology, religion, spirituality, sociology, and the interpretation of history. Utilizing the well-known story structure of the inciting incident through to the climax and denouement, we will look at how to use the components of Campbell's "Hero Cycle" to create characters, as well as help our characters become informed of the consequences of their choices by which we can develop both depth and dramatic tension in our own stories.

THOM BRUCIE's novel, Children of Slate, won the 2023 bronze medal Illumination Award in Catholic literature, and his novel, Obsidian Mirth, won the American Writing Award in fiction in 2022. His poetry chapbook Moments Around The Campfire with a Vietnam Vet was named the best chapbook of 2010. He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and his short stories and poems have appeared in a variety of journals including The San Joaquin Review, Cappers, The Southwestern Review, Pacific Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, North Atlantic Review, and many others. Dr. Brucie is retired Professor of English and Professional Writing at South Georgia State College.

10:00AM – 10:50AM
Be a Plotter AND a Pantser – Plan Your Novel So It’s Easy to Write!
Michele Chynoweth

Think you can sit down and write a novel from start to finish by the seat of your pants? It's nearly impossible, and usually doesn't go well, even for seasoned writers like John Grisham who says he always has a chapter outline to go by. It's usually much easier, especially for first-time novelists, to have a plan in place to avoid writer's block and write a successful novel--namely, a chapter outline, premise, message or theme, main conflict/resolution, climax, character sketches, timeline, synopsis, decisions on audience, genre, title, setting and much more. But the good news is, writing a great novel CAN be learned! Construct your novel so you can let your writing flows and your book sells in this hands-on, informative and fun workshop.

MICHELE CHYNOWETH is the bestselling author of five award-winning contemporary suspense novels that re-imagine Old Testament stories from the Bible in an edgy, modern-day way. She loves helping writers become authors and is a sought-after conference speaker, professional editor with several publishing houses, book coach, and founder of "Your Book Done Right"

11:00AM – 11:50AM
Calm and Chaos: Mastering the Art of Narrative Tension
Ariele Sieling

Narrative tension is not just a storytelling tool--it's the lifeblood of riveting stories, whether you're writing genre fiction, memoirs, or non-fiction. Harnessing it effectively, however, can often feel like capturing lightning in a bottle.  Join author Ariele Sieling on a journey into the heart of narrative tension. Learn what it is and why its role is crucial in storytelling. Delve into the subtle differences between macro tension and micro tension, explore strategies for balancing calm and chaos, and get up close and personal with the arsenal of tools available to keep your reader engrossed in the story. In this workshop, take a deep dive into narrative tension, and emerge with new strategies to keep your reader hooked from beginning to end.

ARIELE SIELING is a Pennsylvania-based writer who enjoys books, cats, and trees. Her first love, however, is science fiction and fantasy, and she has four series in the genres: post-apocalyptic monsters in Land of Szornyek; soft science fiction series, The Zirian Chronicles; scifi fairytale retellings in Rove City; and future fantasy trilogy, Aria's Song. She has numerous short stories published in a variety of anthologies and magazines and is the author of children's books series Rutherford the Unicorn Sheep, and publishes non-fiction books about writing and publishing under the name A.J. Sieling. She lives with her spouse, enormous Great Pyrenees dog, and four cats.

1:30PM – 2:20PM
He Said, She Said: The Art of Writing Dialogue
Kathleen Barber

Realistic dialogue can make your characters feel like living, breathing humans to your readers and conversely, almost nothing brings a reader out of a story more quickly than poorly rendered dialogue. In this workshop, we'll explore what makes dialogue sound authentic, the importance of ensuring different characters have different voices, as well as how to use dialogue tags for maximum impact. This workshop will include an in-session exercise and the opportunity--but not obligation--to share for group feedback.

KATHLEEN BARBER is the author of Truth Be Told (originally published as Are You Sleeping and adapted by Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine as a series on AppleTV+ that ran for three seasons and starred Octavia Spencer) and Follow Me. She lives in Washington, DC, with her family.

2:30PM – 3:30PM
Navigating the Literary Landscape to Land on the Editor's Desk with a Yes!
Panel: Julie Wakeman-Linn, Amy Holman, Lisa Kaplan Friedman

Join three experts as they present an easy system to help you figure out where to send your work for the best fit, and also offer a publication polishing tip sheet. Bring your opening paragraph or a short poem and these three experts will give you immediate feedback, which will be optional and anonymous. An overview of where to search for lit mags will be included.

JULIE WAKEMAN-LINN edited the Potomac Review from 2005 to 2017. Her short stories have appeared in over thirty literary magazines. Her most recent publication is “Unheard Echoes” in Bay to Ocean Journal, and “String Sisters” in Carolina Quarterly. Her novel, Chasing the Leopard, Finding the Lion, a finalist for Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize, was published by Mkuki Na Nyota in 2012. Recently she has taught at The John Hopkins University Osher Program for Lifelong Learning and the Writer’s Center in Bethesda. She teaches creative writing on Viking Ocean Cruises.

AMY HOLMAN is a literary consultant, poet and prose writer, in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of the poetry collections, Captive (Saddle Road Press, 2023) and Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone from Dream Horse Press. Her poems have been on Verse Daily and in The Best American Poetry, and nominated by journal editors for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes. She gives her view on what editors are seeking on her Substack newsletter, What Where: Literary Journals.

LISA K. FRIEDMAN is an award-winning essayist, author and educator whose work appears in newspapers and magazines including the New York Times, Smithsonian, and the Huffington Post. She holds a MA degree in Fiction from the Johns Hopkins University Graduate Program and a BA in American Literature from the George Washington University. Lisa teaches creative writing and mentors professional and beginning writers in the art of fiction. When she is not writing, Lisa is sailing on a sunfish with her dog at the bow.


8:00AM – 8:50AM
Poetic Yoga
Christina M. Rau, Certified Yoga Instructor

On a chair or on a mat, you can join in for a session of meditation, yoga, and writing. Breathe and move to settle your thoughts and find some inspiration. Then pick up a pen and write. Open to all levels, including first-time writers, meditators, and yoga practitioners. Simply listening is also an option. Participants need a notebook and pen and a yoga mat if they are practicing on the floor. *Any physical activity involves a risk of injury. Participants in any physical activity should always have medical clearance.

CHRISTINA M. RAU, a 200-hour Certified Yoga Instructor and Level 1 Reiki Practitioner, has practiced and taught yoga for decades. She is also an award-winning poet who currently serves as Oceanside Library's Poet-in-Residence and was named WWBA's Long Island Poet of the Year in 2020. Her collections include How We Make Amends, What We Do To Make Us Whole, and Liberating The Astronauts.  When she's not writing or teaching yoga, she's usually watching the Game Show Network.

9:00AM – 9:50AM
Fruitful Frustration and Resistance: the Energy of Poetic Constraints
Kari Ann Ebert

In this workshop, we will discuss how employing constraints can free the poet's mind from becoming a mere assembly line. From contemporary poetic forms like the American Cinquain and the Golden Shovel to the strict rules of the OuLiPo poets, restricting oneself to specific parameters "limit[s] the inhibiting power of our logical minds and can open us to a creative energy that feels larger than ourselves." (Annie Finch). Rules or rituals poets assign themselves before writing can also subvert the logical mind. We will discuss the poems of Harryette Mullen, Kimiko Hahn, Terrence Hayes, Adelaide Crapsey, and Wallace Stevens as well as the (soma)tic poetry & rituals of CA Conrad. Participants will have time to write poem(s) using their choice of restraints and share/discuss their work.

Winner of the 2020 Sandy Crimmins National Prize in Poetry, KARI ANN EBERT's work has appeared in journals such as The Night Heron Barks, Philadelphia Stories, and The Ekphrastic Review as well as several anthologies. Her honors include a residency at Virginia Creative Center for the arts, and fellowships from Delaware Division of the Arts, MidAtlantic Arts Foundation, and Brooklyn Poets. She is the Vice President of The Dover Art League where she works to cultivate a thriving literary arts community in Kent County, Delaware. Her chapbook Alphabet of Mo(u)rning (Lily Press) is available on her website

10:00AM – 10:50AM
Braiding Voices: A Collaborative Generative Workshop
G.H. Mosson & Marcus Colasurdo

Come blend your artistic voice with someone else or the world's chorus. This generative workshop will use the concept of T.S. Eliot's "objective correlative" and a fun exercise from improv theatre to frame and prompt collaborative writing.  For collaborative prompts we will use music, quotes, and if you wish, you can collaborate with a peer. Bring two copies of an unfinished poem you had abandoned, or page from prose never used or cut but still enticing, to play with here. This workshop led by G. H. Mosson will guest feature Marcus Colasurdo, with whom he's authored two collaborative chapbooks.

G.H. MOSSON G. H. Mosson is the author of two books and three chapbooks of poetry, including Family Snapshot as a Poem in Time (FLP 2019) and co-author of Simultaneous Revolutions (PM Press 2021).  He has an MA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, where he studied meter and attended as a teaching fellow, and an MFA from New England College.  His poems have appeared in The Tampa Review, Loch Raven Review, The Hollins Critic, and elsewhere.  During the weekday, he's a lawyer, father, swimmer, and householder.  For more, seek

MARCUS COLASURDO is a poet of the page and stage, several collections of poetry and the novel, Angel City Taxi, and co-author with G. H. Mosson of Heart X-rays (PM Press 2019) and Simultaneous Revolutions (PM Press 2021).

11:00AM – 11:50AM
How to Get Out of Your Way and Let the Poem Have Its Say

Nancy Mitchell

Often we approach writing with our own agenda and forget poetry is a collaboration, that we are the reed the wind (poetry) blows through. Evidence is when we editorialize, proselytize, and virtue signal, via tone-deaf language, lack of fresh imagery, and forced form.
     Bring in some of your poems and we'll look at places to get out of your own way and trust poetry to reveal your true intention as it finds its body and voice.

A 2012 Pushcart Prize recipient, NANCY MITCHELL is the author of The Near Surround, Grief Hut, and The Out-of-Body Shop and co-Editor of Plume Interviews I. Her poems have or will appear in journals such as Agni, Green Mountains Review, Ploughshares, Thrush, and Washington Square Review. Mitchell is the Associate Editor of Special Features for Plume Poetry and the Poet Laureate of Salisbury, Maryland. She hosts the Poets on the Poets on the Plaza Reading Series live and on Zoom.

1:30PM – 2:20PM
Getting Unstuck: Experimental Poetic Form & Technique

Matt Hohner

Many writers hit walls, writer's block, and fallow periods. Through a series of experimental forms and techniques via solo and collaborative exercises (some ancient, some modern), we will learn how to make old work new again, new work from the rubble pile of drafts that have gone nowhere, and (re)discover the joy of letting go of intention through the surprise of collaborative composition. These techniques will help participants view their own work, and the work of others, as fertile ground for making fresh starts. Participants will experience the delight in relinquishing the fear of failure with reinvigorated openness to the myriad possibilities of communicating and connecting with readers. Bring 1-3 drafts of your own work to play with (one page each, max).

MATT HOHNER holds an MFA from Naropa University. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart and Best of the Net awards and has won multiple international poetry competitions, with publications in nine countries on five continents. Hohner has held two residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, with one forthcoming at Anam Cara Retreat in Ireland. His publications include Rattle: Poets Respond, Sky Island Journal, Takahe, New Contrast, Live Canon, The Cardiff Review, Narrative Magazine, Poetry Ireland, and Prairie Schooner. An editor with Loch Raven Review, Hohner's first collection is Thresholds and Other Poems (Apprentice House 2018).

2:30PM – 3:30PM
The Poetry of Migration
Indran Amirthanayagam

The migrant is essential to American democracy and to American poetry. In this reading Indran, a migrant from Ceylon, will engage in a poetic dialog with the foundational poet of American democracy: Walt Whitman. Indran will read from his book The Migrant States.

INDRAN AMIRTHANAYAGAM has published 23 poetry books. He edits Beltway Poetry Quarterly and publishes poetry books at Beltway Editions. He has won the Paterson Poetry Prize and fellowships from NY Foundation for the Arts, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the US/Mexico Fund for Culture and the Macdowell Colony.

More Session Descriptions


Connect With Us

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software