For four years now, it has been a tradition for Darlene Pelletier, of Jensen Beach, Fl., to attend the West Virginia Writer’s Workshop, held at West Virginia University in July.

The information and one-on-one instruction provided at the workshops, as well as the “fun and helpful” staff, are what keep her coming back year after year.

“The seminars are very beneficial; they provide a lot of writing knowledge for those who want to become authors,” Pelletier says. “The authors that instruct the classes are very informative, and have solid critiques that keep you inspired and motivated. They just do an overall great job.”

Click to hear more from Pelletier

The workshop, which started in 1996, aims to bring writers from all over the country, at an affordable rate, to study with top writers. Participants can submit their work in order to get feedback from their peers and professional writers in their genre (fiction, non-fiction or poetry).

Pelletier, along with about 40 other writers of all ages, gathered Friday (July 16) to listen and learn as WVU professors Mark Brazaitis and Ren�e Nicholson delivered readings of their own original work during the workshop.

Nicholson, a graduate of WVU’s Masters of Fine Arts program and a former professional ballerina who has been published in the Gettysburg Review and other literary magazines, started attending the workshops as a participant back in the 1990s when it started.

“When I came to WVU as a grad student, a decision I made in part from my experiences at the workshop, I participated as a work-study student,” Nicholson said. “In 2007, the workshop’s director, Jim Harms, asked me to be an assistant to him, and I’ve been working in that capacity ever since.”

For the event, Nicholson chose to read an excerpt of her short fiction, “Pause for Station Identification,” a story about a woman from Parkersburg who is an expert on Quiz Bowls and WVU Football.

Workshop director Brazaitis, author of “The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala,” winner of the 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Award and director of WVU’s Creative Writing program, read an poem titled “Pulitzer” and an excerpt from his essay “Sucker.”

Click to hear Brazaitis read "Pulitzer"

All workshop attendees have the opportunity to listen to readings by WVU faculty. They can also elect to participate in open mic readings of their own works.

A variety of craft lectures, from drafting to publishing, are also available to help writers get educated and be more successful.

“There is another woman here who is attending for her eighth year,” Pelletier said. “It just goes to show you, especially with this economy, that it’s definitely worth your while if you are an avid writer to come back. They really give you good one-on-one instruction attention.”

The workshop originated under the guidance of Jim Harms, a professor in WVU’s Creative Writing program.

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