Imagine having your work critiqued by nationally acclaimed southern West Virginia author Pinckney Benedict or award-winning poet Jean Valentine.

Kate Van Zant did, and says the experience was”fascinating.”

She plans to join an estimated 60 other aspiring writers at the fourth annual West Virginia Writers Workshop being held on the campus of West Virginia University Aug. 3-6.

“The workshop is a fascinating experience. Youd think it would be intimidating, but the atmosphere is very congenial and the camaraderie amazing,”said Van Zant, who writes mostly fictional short stories.

“You quickly realize youre among friends there, and that everyone is in the same positionwere there to learn from the pros.”

Van Zant, who is working on her masters degree in creative writing at WVU , says the feedback and suggestions she received helped her in both her personal and professional life as the assistant to the vice president for facilities.

“While I eventually want to publish, the writing workshop also dovetails into my job, keeping me up to speed in language usage and in touch with the University community,”she noted.

Now in its fourth year, the popular workshop is designed for aspiring writers like Van Zant who are interested in receiving feedback and advice on their poetry, fiction or nonfiction, said workshop director and head of WVUs creative writing program James Harms.

Featured authors such as Benedict and Valentineas well as short story writer Janice Eldus and award-winning poet David Wojahnwill be on hand to share their expertise with participants and also offer one-on-one tutorials.

In addition, WVU faculty authors Gail Galloway Adams, John Hoppenthaler, Mark Defoe, Ethel Morgan Smith, Cheryl Ware and Harms will share their time and talent.

Several registration options are available for participants:

* Full participation costs $270 and includes a place in a poetry, fiction or nonfiction workshop for three days; an intensive, one-on-one tutorial with the workshop leader; a welcome luncheon; and full access to all panels, craft classes and readings.

* The 4-day workshop also offers a reduced rate of $110 for participants who would like to attend the luncheon, panels, classes, lectures and/or readings without enrolling in a workshop/tutorial.

* Participants may also register by the day$40 per day on Thursday, Friday and/or Saturday, and $20 for Sunday.

* Housing in WVUs historic Stalnaker Hall is an additional $73.90 (double) or $116.74 (single)for all three nights.

Several partial scholarships will be awarded to participants (selected on the basis of merit) to help defray tuition.

Brochures and applications are available from the WVU Department of English by calling 304-293-3107 ext. 401 or via email: .