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In This Issue:

Shann Palmer (1950-2013): What Remains

Welcome to our new board members

Come to Writers Wednesday Tomorrow!

Thank you: JRW Annual Fund

January Writing Show: The Realities of Self-publishing

2014 Writing Show Season Pass

Henry Hart to judge Best Poetry Contest

Member News


Literary Events Calendar

Did you get a Membership Newsletter?

If you made a membership donation in the past year (and we have your email address), you will receive JRW's fifth Members-Only Newsletter this Friday. It will include insider tips like how to enter contests, goal-setting for 2014, and insight from a self-published author.

We want you to love being a JRW member, and we'll continue to add benefits and perks. Don't miss out! Sign up now to get January's Members-Only Newsletter.
Join or Renew Today
Membership questions?
Write to us at

Come to Writers Wednesday

Join us the second Wednesday of every month for JRW's casual meet and greet for writers of all genres. 
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
5:30-7:30 p.m.
Capital Ale House Downtown
623 E. Main Street

Please note: The location schedule has been updated; please disregard the calendar you may have received in the mail. 
View the updated 2014 Writers Wednesday Calendar

Thank you to everyone who donated to our Annual Fund

James River Writers extends our warm appreciation to each of you who contributed so generously to our Annual Fund! We raised $3660, nearly 75% of our goal. 

Mr. & Mrs. W. B. Armstrong
L.S. and J.S. Bryan Fund of the Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia
Josh & Monica Cane
Anita Crean
Yvonne Crenshaw
Carla Davis
Jessica Evans
Susan Folkes
John Glover
A. Lawrence Goldman
Dottie Graham
Denise Golinowski
Elizabeth Horsley
Mary & Tom Horton
Paula Jarvis
John Kneebone
Meg Medina & Javier Menendez
Katherine Neville
Brad Parks
Lin G. Rasmussen
Rosemary Rawlins
J. Howard Rock
Ellen Shuler
Gregory Smith
Martha Steger
Guy Terrell
Annie Tobey
Julie Valerie
Helene Wagner
Nan McRee Williams
Robin Williams
Susan E. Wiltshire
Mr. and Mrs. James Ukrop

With your support, we will continue our work of connecting, inspiring, and educating writers and readers in Central Virginia. Thank you.

Calling all open critique groups

Do you have an open critique group that you would like JRW to advertise? Send us your information, and we will spread the word! 

Submit the following information to Sheila Lovelady, JRW Program Director, at programdirector@

Group Name:
Group Description: (less than 25 words)
Number of active members:
Meeting Place:
Meeting time:
Contact person and email address:

We look forward to hearing from you!
January 7, 2014
I'm excited for what's to come in 2014 and grateful for the year we finished. Thank you to outgoing chair, Bill Blume, and executive committee members, Josh Cane and Charles Gerena, for their outstanding work. We welcome a new year, new executive committee, and new board of directors, while remembering Shann Palmer, our friend and board member whose seat can never be filled. For years, Shann greeted me at the Writing Show with a bite of chocolate or sip of wine and always a loving word. She made JRW feel like home. 

JRW has filled my life with words and, most importantly, inspiring people like Shann. I wish you a year of friendships and writing milestones. I hope to see you soon.

— Kristi Tuck Austin, JRW Chair

Shann Palmer (1950-2013): What Remains

A Remembrance by Erica Orloff

Every time I think I am all cried out about the death of my beloved friend, poet Shann Palmer, it turns out I am not. As I fell into bed last night, again I sobbed for missing her. She left us far too soon, collapsing in mid-December from a heart attack, lingering in a coma for about ten days, before passing on December 21st, just before her birthday. This was a spitfire of a woman.  I fully expected her to be raising hell well into her nineties, or to be sitting side by side with her in rocking chairs laughing and talking poetry and words.

But I know, because that is how mourning works, that time will lessen the intensity of the grief, until it feels less like a blade and more like a butter knife. I, and all who loved this amazing woman, will cry less often. And then we’ll have What Remains.

Her funeral was a glimpse of What Remains.  Everyone, it seemed, had a “Shann Story.” How she got this person or that person to start writing again—or perhaps for the first time. How she lured this writer or that one out of the Poetry Closet. After not writing poetry since my twenties, she pulled me into an online poetry group—and there I was writing poems again.

The stories were many—and nearly all of them accompanied by laughter. Because you could not be in Shann’s presence for very long before you were  laughing—and not giggling, but full-on belly laughs. Her wit was legendary. That woman could whisper a zinger under her breath, off-handed, that most comic writers would have to work on for days. 

Like most writers, she mined her own life for her work. She had an eccentric Texan family and a colorful life—and she used that “material.” I attended a reading of hers at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, when she had “curated” a poetry reading. Suddenly, she was her eccentric aunt, embodied in a poem. She pulled out her drawl, affected a different person, became someone else as she read. I was in awe. She took my breath away. This was not only a poetess but a performer. She left boxes of her poems and writings that her family will now have to sort through and catalog, like archeologists at the dig of a legendary pharaoh. And those poems and writings are part of What Remains. 

The reception after the funeral was a veritable tapestry of the different facets of Shann’s full and rich life. You could tell—even if you never met her—that this was a woman who lived life in living Technicolor. There were the musicians. Over there the James River Writers’ folks (she was a very active and devoted board member). Her personal friends. Her poetry friends. Those she organized poetry events for and with at places like art 6 and cafes and coffee shops. The open mic poets. The slam poets. 

Those she sang with. The Virginia Chorale singers who beautifully sent her off in the church where her funeral was held. Her church friends, from the years she was the organist and choir director at Grace Episcopal in Goochland, and other churches throughout the area. Her teacher friends from the years she taught music at schools throughout Richmond. Her former students.

All trading stories about one amazing woman.

And of course, her much-loved family. Because you couldn’t spend very long in Shann’s company before she was bragging about Alia and Paul, talking about her husband and children and her love for them, how proud she was of both her kids as they were making their way in their world, not to mention Paul’s writing and Alia’s incredibly creative gifts working in the theatre in costume design (as well as the fabulous haircuts she gave Shann). Most of all, Shann was pleased they were good people. Because if you knew Shann well, you knew a couple of things. She didn’t suffer fools or pretentious people gladly. And she was good people. She valued the things that are truly important: friends, family, a beautiful poem, love, laughter, the things that count.

When someone lives a life well, their passing leaves a gaping hole. I am not sure I will ever be able to attend any James River Writers gathering and not keenly feel the missing of my partner in crime, the woman who became one of my closest friends. But I know What Remains.

Her beautifully written poems. Her words. And the smiles that are stronger than the tears. Those smiles and the laughter and joy that are the remembrances of a woman who, all four-foot-eleven inches of her, lived large. 

What Remains of my dear friend and poet . . . is simply Love.

Erica Orloff with Shann Palmer, poet and devoted JRW board member and volunteer

Welcome to our new JRW Board Members

We are pleased to welcome new board members to our team.

Karen A. Chase owns 224 Pages, a design studio for authors and publishers, and has worked in the marketing and branding industry for twenty years. She is now writing a historical novel about the Declaration, and pens a monthly column "Will Travel for Words" for She independently published "Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log," for which the book and her author platform have won seven indie publishing awards. Originally from Calgary, Canada, Karen lives in Richmond.

Leila Gaskin is a Senior Executive Administrative Assistant with MeadWestvaco. She’s also a member of the James River Writers and the author of several short stories including horror, speculative fiction, science fiction, and urban fantasy. Hot Flashes is her debut novel.

J.T. Glover is an academic research librarian specializing in the humanities at Virginia Commonwealth University. He’s published short fiction in FungiDark Recesses, and Underground Voices, among other venues. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, he lives in Richmond, Virginia with his wife.

David Kazzie is a lawyer and novelist. His self-published debut novel, The Jackpot, has sold more than 11,000 copies since January and spent nine days on Amazon’s Top 100 Kindle Bestseller List, peaking at No. 34. He is the author of several short animated videos, including “So You Want to Write a Novel,” which have more than 2 million YouTube hits. He is represented by the Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency.

Bruce Yoder is the Association Director of Grants and Proposals at the YMCA here in Richmond. He served as the primary speech writer in the early years of Mary Sue Terry's first term as Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He’s written books and articles on a variety of topics. He helped to direct five capital campaigns and both branch and association-wide annual support campaigns, securing more than $1 million annually to support youth programs and services. His specialties include grant writing, capital campaigns, annual campaigns and campaign strategy.

We extend our appreciation for their service to those board members whose terms have ended or who are stepping down: Carol BillingsleyDiane BlackJanice CampbellChristina S. Draper, and Kris Spisak.

We also welcome Rebecca Joines Schinsky to our advisory board.

JRW is pleased to announce our Executive Committee for 2014:

Chair: Kristi Tuck Austin
Vice-Chair/Conference Chair: Lana Krumwiede
Secretary: Melissa Scott Sinclair
Treasurer: Bill Blume

Thank you to our board members who are continuing their service to our literary community.

Learn more about our 2014 board

January Writing Show: Great Expectations: The Realities of Self-publishing

January 30, 2014, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
The Camel, 1621 W. Broad St.

Doing it yourself can bring big rewards and big challenges. Navigating both writing and publishing your book can be tricky, especially if you don’t know what to expect. Learn from the experiences of self-published authors as they discuss what worked and what didn’t, including a realistic look at expectations.

Featuring David Kazzie, Rosemary Rawlins, and Leila Gaskin. Moderated by Bill Blume.

Thursday, January 30, 2013
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. 
The Camel
1621 W Broad St, Richmond, VA 23220

Ample parking available in the Lowe's parking lot across the street. Lowe's and the Camel have a parking sharing agreement.

Tickets are $10 in advance 
$12 at the door 
$5 for students (must have a valid ID)

Register now for the January Writing Show

Season Pass to the 2014 Writing Show Series

This year, The Writing Show, held at the Camel (1621 W. Broad St.) on the last Thursday of every month January through September, will focus on the changing industry of writing and publishing. For the first time ever, we're offering a season pass. For a one-time purchase of $80, you are guaranteed admission into all nine Writing Shows in 2014 (tickets are $12 at the door, $10 in advance).

In February, The Writing Show joins the Richmond International Film Festival for an evening with independent filmmakers and a discussion on the one thing even harder than getting a book published: getting your script to the screen. Our July show will be devoted to the expanding opportunities for YA authors.

The finale in September features an agent Q&A and allows you to put your networking skills to the test. One lucky winner will be selected by a mystery judge and will give his or her pages to the agent joining us on the show.

Stay tuned for other authors and topics you won’t want to miss.

Reserve your spot—space is limited.

Buy Your Season Pass to the Writing Show today

Henry Hart to judge the Best Poetry Contest

James River Writers is pleased to announce that the 2014 Best Poetry Contest will be judged by Henry Hart. Hart is the Mildred and J.B. Hickman Professor of English and Humanities at the College of William & Mary.  He has published four books of poetry, his latest being Familiar Ghosts from Orchises Press. He has also published numerous essays on modern poets; scholarly books on Seamus Heaney, Robert Lowell, and Geoffrey Hill; and a biography of James Dickey, which was a finalist for a Southern Book Critics’ Circle Award in 2000.  His poems have appeared in Blackbird, The Southern Review, The Denver Quarterly, The New Yorker, Poetry, and many other journals.

The Best Poetry Contest is conducted by James River Writers and Richmond Magazine in alternating years with the Best Unpublished Novel Contest.

First prize is $500, publication of winning poem(s) in Richmond Magazine, and a ticket to the annual James River Writers conference. Two finalists will each receive $200. 

Deadline (postmark):  Friday, February 28, 2014

Learn more about submission guidelines for the Best Poetry Contest

Member News

JRW member and author A.B. Westrick is participating, along with 42 other YA authors, in Lucky 13s New Year's Bash. To enjoy giveaways, autographed swag, critiques, and more, visit this facebook page: To enter to win A.B. Westrick's book, BROTHERHOOD, and to like her page if you haven't already, just scroll through the "Day Six" post, select the link to BROTHERHOOD, which takes you to the Rafflecopter entry form. Scroll down and click the "+1" on the Enter to Win.  

JRW member Sandra Willess published her first non-fiction novel, Overdue Aircraft, available on as a paperback and as an e-book and at the Clover Hill Library in Chesterfield County. 


Improve your craft and gain exposure for your work, thanks to JRW volunteer Jennifer Drummond who co-edits Get Your Word On.

Submissions are now being accepted for the sixth William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. This award, given by Stanford University Libraries in partnership with the William Saroyan Foundation, recognizes newly published works of fiction and nonfiction with a $5,000 award for the winner in each category. The prize is designed to encourage new or emerging writers and honor the Saroyan literary legacy of originality, vitality and stylistic innovation. Entries must be received by January 31, 2014.

Literary Events Calendar

Literary Events Calendar Editor Cathy AllenCheck out our Literary Events Calendar, edited by volunteer Cathy Allen, to learn about all things literary in Central Virginia. Here's just a sampling:

Agile Writers Open Meetings
Various dates throughout the month: Write your first draft novel in six months. Free and open to the public. At Martin's Food Market, upstairs, 11361 Midlothian Turnpike. More info.

Book Launch: Virginia is for Mysteries
Thursday, January 9 at 5:30 p.m.: 
This collection of 16 short stories all take place across the state of Virginia. The anthology is a joint venture by Sisters in Crime Central Virginia and the Virginia Beach Mystery by the Sea Chapters. Reception (wine and cheese) 5:30–6:00 p.m., book talk 6:00–7:00 p.m., and book signing  7:00–7:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. Limited free underground parking available. At Library of Virginia, 800 E. Broad St. 

Riding to Camille: Book Signing 
Friday, January 10 at 12:30 p.m.: Mary Buford Hitz presents Riding to Camille: A Novel of Love and Perseverance Through One of Virginia's Most Devastating StormsAt Fountain Bookstore, 1312 East Cary Street. 

Writing Tall: Adding Height to the Short Story 
Saturday, January 11 at 11:00 a.m.: Sisters in Crime Central VA Chapter Celebrates Virginia is for Mysteries with a Short Story Panel featuring some of the anthology's authors: Quinn (Capri Smith), Maggie King, Maria Hudgins, Vivian Lawry, and Heather Weidner. A short business meeting and election precedes the event. Free and open to the public. Please bring your own lunch and beverage. At Central Library, 9501 Lori Road, Chesterfield. To attend email Heather Weidner: by Friday, January 10th. 

Poetry Slam Open Mic 
Saturdays at 5:00 p.m.: SlamRichmond's "Poetry Slam Workshop and Open Mic." Every Saturday night. Workshop begins 5:00 p.m. Performers may sign up for the 8:30 p.m. Open Mic from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. At The Shop, 0 East 4th Street (brick building in the parking lot across from Artspace). For more details visit SlamRichmond.

Murder on Second Street: The Jackson Ward Murders
Wednesday January 15 at 6:30 p.m.: Rebekah L. Pierce Presents Murder on Second Street: The Jackson Ward Murders. Q & A will follow the signing. At Richmond Public Library (Gellman Room), 101 E. Franklin Street. 

Low and Slow: Down Home Cooking 
Wednesday, January 15 at 7:00 p.m.: Low and Slow: Down-home Cooking with Kendra Bailey Morris. Bookseller: Fountain Bookstore.

Family and Survival in Fiction 
Thursday, January 16 at 6:30 p.m.: Kelly Justice moderates a conversation with Virginia Pye and Mary Kay Zuravleff on novels that show us how families survive (or don't) those random moments that change everything. At Fountain Bookstore. 1312 East Cary Street. 

Virginia's Writers Club Meeting: Jump Start 2014
Saturday, January 18 at 10:00 a.m.  Richmond Chapter Virginia Writers Club meeting. Writers will participate in a check up/tune up session to assess and plan what needs to be done in 2014 to take their writing or publishing projects to the next level. Free and open to the public. Location: Gayton Baptist Church, 13501 N. Gayton Rd. 

View the Full Literary Events Calendar
JRW is grateful for general operating support from:
          Virginia Commission for the Arts

Your well-chosen words are welcome! For the next issue January 28, 2014, please submit items for the Member News and Opportunities sections no later than 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 22, 2014. Late submissions cannot be accepted.

Please send items for the Literary Events Calendar a minimum of three weeks prior to the event to, and include the following:  who, what, when, where, a description in fifty words or less, contact, cost, and web address (if applicable). Events not included in our online Literary Events Calendar will not be included in Get Your Word On. Events must be open to the public. 
Get Your Word On is the twice-monthly newsletter of James River Writers. For general inquiries, e-mail James River Writers provides listings as a service to the literary community. JRW does not endorse or recommend any program not produced or sponsored in part or in its entirety by JRW. Listings are for informational purposes only. JRW reserves the right to review all submissions to determine if appropriate for GYWO and the Literary Events Calendar.
Copyright © 2014 James River Writers, All rights reserved.
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