Festival of the Written Word and Some Exciting News!

On November 5th, I will be one of the featured writers at this year’s Festival of the Written Word, hosted by the Chesterfield County Public Library.

festival of the written word 2016

Festival of the Written Word has something for the reader and writer in you! Embrace your creativity and immerse yourself in literacy, ideas and imagination. The 2016 Festival of the Written Word will include live readings, workshops, panel discussions with local authors and food. It’s an activity that the whole family can enjoy.

I was involved with the festival last year, speaking on a panel about romance and mystery. I’m excited to hear the other panelists and the featured speaker, Kristen Green, this year!

In addition to the events listed on the flyer above, the festival will include readings by various authors, workshops for writers of all ages, panel discussions with local authors (including me!), and, of course, delicious food provided by Firehouse Subs.

It’s a great idea for readers (and writers!) to take advantage of such festivals and literary events at their local libraries. They are typically free and open to the public!

Other featured authors include:

Stacy Hawkins Adams
Jean Anderson
Nancy Wright Beasley
Bill Blume
Tina Glasneck
Kristen Green (Featured Presenter)
Valley Haggard
Ann Marie Halstead
Lorraine Heath
Doug Jones
Pamela Kinney
Lana Krumwiede
Vivian Lawry
Cathy Maxwell
Fiona Quinn
Steven Smith
Guy Terrell
Heather Weidner

For more information and a detailed schedule, check out the festival’s website. Hope to see you there!

(Also coming up is the CCPL’s “Murder at the Library” event!)

In other news, I recently wrote an article for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. They have a weekly column entitled “In My Shoes.” I wrote an article, “Repair or redecorate after breast cancer?,” about the process following radiation, multiple surgeries, and a “persistent non-healing wound” after my breast cancer diagnosis. Check it out!

Wrapping Up Nimrod, 2016

 Energy is always high when I arrive at Nimrod on Sunday: getting settled, reuniting with friends, meeting the new writers, and getting the schedule for the week ahead.

 I was in Square House again this year, my favorite room!  It’s downstairs, dim, and I know where my things will fit and how many extension cords I’ll need.


Monday through Thursday at Nimrod is intense: focused writing, talk with fellow writers—who often ask how your work is going, which certainly reinforces that focus and productivity are expected and rewarded—reading every day for workshop, sharing opinions with other readers, then listening to the 8:00 readers after dinner…


All of this happening across varied genres leaves me feeling worn. I suspect others do as well.
flowers nimrod hall
So an open day on Friday was cherished! I walked in sunshine for the first time.


imaginative writing janet burroway
Imaginative Writing by Janet Burroway
It’s also a chance to tie things up. I (finally) turned to to the reference Cathy Hankla had given me on Monday! Unfortunately, I could not send off “Repair or Redecorate?” because my computer went all wonky. The touch-pad didn’t control the cursor. Damn! But at least it’s ready to go. I started packing to leave on Saturday.


Thurday's readers at nimrod hall: Kristy Bell, Ruth Gallogly, Kit Wellford, Jane Shepherd, Judy Bice
Thurday’s readers L-R: Kristy Bell, Ruth Gallogly, Kit Wellford, Jane Shepherd, Judy Bice
I got a photo of Thursday’s readers on Friday evening, in the course of a most entertaining variety show! This was new to my years at Nimrod. Kristy Bell did an incredible job as MC! We had multiple readings of poetry, fiction, memoir, and all the other genre’s represented here, up and down the emotional spectrum. But we also had musical interludes!


Terry Dolson accompanied Judy Bice, Amelia Williams, and Sheri Reynolds while the rest of us joined in as well as we could on such classics as “Country Road” and “Bobbie McGee.” I’m here to tell you, Sheri Williams does a mean Janis Joplin!


Most year I’ve gone to the Jefferson Baths. This year, I mourn missing it. But several of us had accepted a neighbor’s invitation for drinks and a visit to the champion sycamore tree: 10 feet across, 33 feet around. It was good viewing and very good scotch!
Every year we take a group picture. This one came was Saturday morning, just after breakfast.


nimrod hall summer arts program 2016
L-R, kneeling: Foust, Kristy Bell, Nancy Hurrelbrinck,Jennifer Dickinson, Judy Bice, Ruth Gallogly; L-R standing, Terry Dolson, Jane Shepherd, Kit Wellfod, Charlotte Morgan, Cathy Hankla, me, Sheri Reynolds, Molly Todd, David Cooper, Betsy Arnett, Amelia Williams, Frances Burch.
Unfortunately, several people left on Friday. Oh, sigh. Maybe next year!


By 10:00 Saturday morning, Frances Burch and I were on the road. We followed our usual routine: we stopped in Crozet, Virginia for shopping at Over the Moon Bookstore and lunch at Crozet Pizza. For the first time ever, we had their specialty pizza that is a white base, topped with herbs, summer squash, and peanuts! It was excellent.


I was home by 3:00, but Nimrod lingers. There’s always a long re-entry time!


Nimrod Hall, established in 1783, has been providing summer respite from everyday stress since 1906. It has been operating as an artist and writer colony for over 25 years. The Nimrod Hall Summer Arts Program is a non-competitive, inspirational environment for artists to create without the distractions of everyday life. 

Writers at Nimrod, 2016

What a week it’s been! Where to begin? Well, I guess with this message:

Begin Anywhere Nimrod Hall
“Begin Anywere.” -John Cage
So, how about walking through a typical day? As you know, I’m fond of before-breakfast walks—usually damp and misty. But glories abound, from wildlife and flowers along the way, to the little graveyard up the hill, to the Cowpasture River down the hill.

People gather to await the breakfast bell, still slightly groggy. But after a coffee infusion and a more-than-ample breakfast, we are hyped for the sacred writing time, which lasts till 1:00 lunch.
This year I finished and revised a 6K word short story mystery AND submitted it! So thanks to my fearless leader Cathy Hankla and my workshop/critique group members for comments and suggestions.
One of Cathy’s great strengths as a teacher is that she always seems to come up with targeted reading for specific writers. This year she brought Imaginative Writing for me. It contains “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri, a wonderful example of showing an incident from the POV of a hired worker. But of course, Cathy is incredibly talented herself.
I tend to be a cave-dweller, so while others hike, run, do yoga, or go tubing on the river, I keep writing. And everyone understands.

Happy half-hour was typically celebrated with our workshop group, followed by dinner during which we dispersed among the other writers present. Then we adjourn to the renovated Rec Hall for 8:00 readings. On Sunday night, Cathy Hankla and Sheri Reynolds read and Charlotte Morgan gave us our marching orders about the week’s structure.

David Cooper and I read the first night. I read 600 words on “Repair or Redecorate?” which I hope you’ll have an opportunity to read in the Richmond Times-Dispatch sometime soon. David is a “retired” man of the cloth and counselor who bicycles, does yoga, and seemed perfectly comfortable surrounded by all these writer women!

Tuesday night’s readings were by Frances Burch, Jennifer Dickinson, Nancy Hurrelbrinck, and Molly Todd.
Frances Burch Jennifer Dickinson Nancy Hurrelbrinck Molly Todd Nimrod Hall
Wednesday night we had Betsy Arnett, Foust, Amelia Williams, Heath Lee, and Terry Dolson.
Betsy Arnett Foust Amelia Williams Heath Lee Terry Dolson Nimrod Hall
Thursday night it was Judy Bice, Jane Shepard, Ruth Gallogly, and Kristy Bell—and I didn’t get a picture! Maybe I can rectify that later.

This diverse group of writers includes poets, fiction writers, memoirists, inspirational writers, historians—you name it. Several are from the Richmond area, and therefore likely to be available for local readings, signings, etc. Besides me, Elizabeth Smart, Frances Burch, Judy Bice, Molly Todd, Kristy Bell, Terry Dolson, David Cooper, Foust, and Suzanne Munson fall into this category. But we also had writers from Roanoke, Boyce, and Afton, Virginia (Heath Lee, Betsy Arnett, and Amelia Williams, respectively), and two from Charleston, WV (Jane Shepherd and Kit Wellford). And then there were the outliers, Ruth Gallogly (Brooklyn, NY) and Denny Stein (Freemont, CA).

These are wonderful, interesting, dear people. What are the chances that I’ll see them again before next year?

One reason I love Nimrod is that I never know what I’ll come across. It might be riders from Vinyard Farms next door. These are Amber and Frankie—the horses, not the riders.

Amber and Frankie horses Vinyard Farms
It might be fellow walkers…
…or it might be an abandoned barn and gas pump. It’s always something!

Barn Nimrod hall
And it’s always great company, great energy, and unstinting support! We don’t leave till tomorrow, but I’m missing it already! Stay tuned next week for a final wrap-up.
Nimrod Hall, established in 1783, has been providing summer respite from everyday stress since 1906. It has been operating as an artist and writer colony for over 25 years. The Nimrod Hall Summer Arts Program is a non-competitive, inspirational environment for artists to create without the distractions of everyday life.

Nimrod Writers, 2016

I treasure the constancy of Nimrod—all the things that stay the same. The physical surroundings have been spiffed up a bit from five or so years ago, but it’s basically unchanged: the main building, where hummingbirds gather and people wait for meal bells…
. . . the Old Post Office—which is the only pace where smoking is allowed. You will notice that the smoking porch doesn’t get much business!
Square House Porch nimrod hall
The Old Post Office porch
. . . and all the spaces where people could lounge but aren’t, for these pix were taken during the morning, which is sacred writing time, and therefore all good little writers are sequestered in their rooms…
Lawn chairs Nimrod Hall
Another thing that hasn’t changed about Nimrod is, as Charlotte Morgan says often, “There’s no such thing as a forced march!” So if one chooses not to write in the morning, that’s fine—as long as one is quiet and doesn’t encourage others to sluff-off.
hammock lounger nimrod hall
And one more thing that hasn’t changed: every year there are new t-shirts!
Once upon a time, Nimrod was a hunting camp, and reminders of that past are here still. As you can see from the following pix, the image has morphed over the years from the traditional trophy head to my personal favorite:
There are two new deer this year:

What’s new at Nimrod Hall?

This year, for the first time, there are three writers in residence present at the same time—Cathy Hankla, Charlotte Morgan, and Sheri Reynolds. Oh, if I could work with them all!
This year, all the writers mingle over meals and at the 8:00 evening readings:
Other meeting are much as before—i.e., critiques in small groups and a one-on-one conference with one writer-in-residence. I will meet with Cathy. I’m happy to be here!
Vivian Lawry Nimrod Hall
Nimrod Hall, established in 1783, has been providing summer respite from everyday stress since 1906. It has been operating as an artist and writer colony for over 25 years. The Nimrod Hall Summer Arts Program is a non-competitive, inspirational environment for artists to create without the distractions of everyday life. 

Radford Reads: Not Your Usual Book Festival!

Collage of images from Radford Reads Festival
Yes, the Radford Reads Festival had the expected panels, speakers, and workshops (which I’ll get to soon), but it had so much more–just ask any of the attendees who came for the classic cars. . .
Classic cars at Radford Reads Festival and Celebrate Radford Festival
Classic cars at Radford Reads Festival and Celebrate Radford Festival
. . . or the blacksmithing, music, quilters, or Civil War reenactors.
There were crafters selling soaps, lotions, jewelry, and leather goods—and books, of course.
two books, Escape from Indian Captivity, Follow the River
Books I purchased at the Radford Reads Festival
This breadth resulted from the joining of Radford Reads with the Celebrate Radford Festival, two events in their 3rd and 4th years, respectively. Both events are free and open to the public.

And then there was the location!

Glencoe Museum

Glencoe Museum
Glencoe Museum hosted Radford Reads
Both events were held on the grounds of the Glencoe Museum, housed in the post-war home of Brigadier General Gabriel C.Wharton, C.S.A., built in the 1870s. The museum includes an art gallery, and for the festival, there was art on the grounds as well.
painted door on display during Radford Reads Festival
Artwork on the lawn of Glencoe Museum
I arrived a day early and toured the museum and art gallery with great pleasure. Even in the midst of preparing for the festival the next day, Scott Gardner, director of the museum, and Maryann Whited graciously guided me.
I loved the woodwork—and the 12 to 13-foot ceilings—as well as the objects, such as this horn, carved in the shape of a fish.
And fascinating historical artifacts—fascinating for me  anyway. Note the exhibit about niter (also called saltpeter). I mentioned train loads of niter in my story “War and Murder at Nimrod Hall” in Virginia is for Mysteries: Volume II.
Vivian Lawry standing by signing table at Radford Reads with Virginia is for Mysteries: Volume II
Signing Virginia is for Mysteries: Volume II at Radford Reads
But to the book festival itself.

Radford Reads

Because you are reading this, I assume you are a reader and/or writer, so these are the things that might interest you most.

Karen White presented the keynote address. She was terrific! If you have an opportunity to hear her, do. She’s had a number of best-sellers. Her most recent is Flight Patterns. A number of seats had slips of paper taped under them, each giving the holder a free copy of her book—and I was lucky enough to get one! This seems like a great ploy for speaking events. Karen White’s favorite author is Diana Gabaldon, and she says she tries to write the sort of book she likes to read, so I am looking forward to this gift read.
Immediately after that, Linda Thornburg and I presented our workshop on pathways to publication. I thought the attendance was a bit light, but the festival organizer was quite pleased with our attendance compared to the subsequent workshops. Several members of various Sisters in Crime chapters were there, even though our Central Virginia Chapter members were all busy elsewhere. Other workshops covered writing poetry and memoir.
Linda Thornburg and Vivian Lawry holding copies of Virginia is for Mysteries at Radford Reads festival
Linda Thornburg and I signing Virginia is for Mysteries
At 1:00, I spoke on the mystery panel. The moderator/host of all the book sessions was David Horton. He was amazing. He had really done his homework on all the presenters. He even mentioned that we share a love of carved wooden Santas!
I enjoyed sharing the panel with Webb Hubbell, Stewart Goodwin, and Mollie Cox Bryan. Check out their books. This panel was sponsored by the Rockwell family.
Other sessions were for writers of children’s and young adult fiction, Southern fiction, memoir, history, and poetry.

The festival had many sponsors. Radford Reads was inspired by the Rockwell family in honor of Jean Rockwell, a former Radford Public Library employee who loved the Virginia Festival of the Book. Besides the Rockwells, other sponsors were the Cheryl Blackwell Book Club, the Jervey Family, Ben Crenshaw Art Studio, The Lamplighters, Radford University Foundation, the Radford Heritage Foundation, Ridge and Valley Reader, the Radford Visitor’s Center, and LaQuinta Inn & Suites—at which I had a very pleasant stay!
It was a real community and family event. Reader or Writer, next year, check it out!  It’s a two-fer, and the price is right.

The Gaithersburg Book Festival: A Premier Event for Writers and Readers!

 Collage of photos taken at Gaithersburg Book Festival, May 21, 2016
Last weekend I participated in the 7th Annual Gaithersburg Book Festival, and I cannot praise it too highly. It had something for everyone! There were writing workshops for adults, teens, and children. The Children’s Village features storytellers, puppeteers, jugglers, authors, and magic, all encouraging reading, writing, and a love of books. There were exhibitor booths catering to adults and children, a variety of food vendors, and live performances by poets and singer-songwriters. And there were book sales!



The official bookseller for the even was Politics and Prose. They sold all of the books represented on the program. I bought two, having been captivated by the authors’ presentations I attended after finishing my own presentation and signing. Thomas Murphy by Roger Rosenblatt, who had an engaging conversation/interview with Alice McDermott.



The second book I bought was “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs” by Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf. They presented jointly. She is the author of The Hemingses of Monticello, and a professor at Harvard. He is the Thomas Jefferson Foundation professor of history at the University of Virginia. They were a dynamic duo, talking about what promises to be an atypical biography of Jefferson (e.g., covering music and religion), and answering questions clearly—and patiently!


There was also a used book sale by Friends of the Library Montgomery County, MD. I bought two books related to three of my passions: popular culture, old books, and dictionaries! For which I spent a total of $8.


Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms was published in 1848! It explains what a chore is (the equivalent of char in England), and polk, meaning sack. Needless to say, it’s my oldest slang dictionary, and it nicely illustrates that what was slang 200 years ago has moved into—and sometimes through—mainstream English!


GBF drew participants from near and far. I met authors from New York, Texas, and London—to name a few. Some of the famous authors were highlighted on the festival poster, for example, Juan Williams.


Well-known or not, everyone was articulate and professional.


But enough about attending. As an author presenting there, I couldn’t have been treated better!


Before the event, my primary contact was Carolyn Crosby, the Senior Program Supervisor. She was not only friendly and gracious but well-organized and responsive. She made sure I had all the info I needed ahead of time, from hotel reservation to maps to advice on rain gear.


The festival hotel, Homewood Suites by Hilton, was spacious, comfortable, and provided shuttle service to all events. They gave us our GBF book bags, containing all the important stuff (program, shuttle schedule, maps) and no throw-away junk. It’s a classy bag, heavy canvas.


On Friday evening, there was a VIP Reception from 7:00 till 10:00. The food was great and plentiful, and there was an open bar. Presenters mingled with those involved in producing the event. I met Jud Ashman, Founder and Chair of GBH and currently mayor of Gaithersburg. He is articulate and humorous! He’s shown here with me and M.Tara Crowl, who writes fantasy fiction for middle-schoolers.
Vivian Lawry, Jud Ashman, M.Tara Crowl at Gaithersburg Book Festival VIP party
Vivian Lawry, Jud Ashman, M.Tara Crowl

Gaithersburg Book Festival is a rain-or-shine event.

All of the programs are under tents—and this year it was rain, with temperatures in the low-50s. GBH is a class act, and they provided all the presenters with umbrellas.


umbrella with Gaithersburg Book Festival logo
Gaithersburg Book Festival umbrella


The weather dampened people but not spirits. Attendees could choose among 10 presentations at a time, each in a tented pavilion: Dashiell Hammett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe, H.L. Mencken, James Michener, Gertrude Stein, Rachel Carson, Jim Henson, Willa Cather, Ogden Nash.
Dashiell Hammett Pavilion at the Gaithersburg Book Festival
Pavilion where I spoke


I was on at 10:00 a.m. in the Dashiell Hammett Pavilion. Debbiann Holmes and I talked about Making Fiction Real. We seem to make a great sister act. Maybe we should take it on the road.
Vivian Lawry speaking at Gaithersburg Book Festival, holding copy of Virginia is for Mysteries
Virginia is for Mysteries was with me at Gaithersburg Book Festival
Enthusiastic, upbeat volunteers were everywhere.They kept the presenters on time starting and ending. We were escorted to the pavilion for the presentation, then to the signing area after. People seemed okay waiting in the rain to get books signed.


Readers at the Gaithersburg Book Festival waiting in line for author signing
Signing line
By definition, presenters were VIPs. Besides umbrellas and book bags, we had reserved parking, special registration, and a VIP lounge with refreshments all day.


Gaithersburg Book Festival information and parking pass, "Author/VIP Parking"
Gaithersburg Book Festival information and parking pass
But perhaps the most striking aspect overall was the universal enthusiasm and the breadth of community support. Just look at the number of partners and sponsors they have!


List of Gaithersburg Book Festival partners and sponsors
Partners and Sponsors
I want to go again! And you should go, too. It might even be sunny!

Virginia is for Mysteries Events

The Virginia is for Mysteries: Volume II book tour is here. I’ll be speaking at events in bold.


March 12, 2016Virginia is for Mysteries: Volume II Book Tour

Slover Library

235 East Plume Street

Norfolk, VA 23510

1 – 4 pm


March 15, 2016

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Arts

2200 Parks Avenue

Virginia Beach, VA 23451

5 – 9 pm


March 19, 2016

Coastal Crime Fest

Russell Memorial Library

2808 Taylor Road

Chesapeake, VA 23321

10 am – 4 pm


March 19, 2016

Virginia Festival of the Book

Sisters in Crime Table

Omni Hotel Atrium

212 Ridge McIntire Road

Charlottesville, VA 22903


April 2, 2016

Barnes and Noble

Libbie Place Shopping Center

5515 West Broad Street

Richmond, VA 23230

12:00 noon – 2 pm


April 9, 2016

Fountain Bookstore

1312 East Cary Street

Richmond, VA 23219


June 25, 2016

Churchland Public Library

4934 High St W

Portsmouth, VA 23703

10 am – 5 pm

Virginia Is For Mysteries, Volume II Launch: A Good Time Was Had By All!

Libbie Mill Library hosted the Virginia is for Mysteries launch
On Saturday, February 27, Libbie Mill Library hosted the launch of Virginia Is For Mysteries, Volume II. We were the first author event at the new library!


The launch included a panel presentation on Pathways to Publication, moderated beautifully by Mary Burton. Panelists included both traditionally published and independently published writers of short stories and novels. I served on the panel along with Meriah Lysistrata Crawford, Kristin Kisska, Adele Gardner, and Teresa Inge. We represented a wide range of genres: romance, fantasy and horror, historical fiction, memoir—and of course, mystery!
Vivian Lawry at Virginia is For Mysteries launch
Besides those on the program, a number of Sisters in Crime contributors attended, along with more than seventy others.
Sisters in Crime Central Virginia at Virginia is for Mysteries launch party
L-R: standing, Yvonne Saxon, Meriah Lysistrata Crawford, Kristin Kisska, me, Ken Wingate, Heather Weidner, Rosemary Shomaker; seated Teresa Inge, Adele Gardner, Maggie King, and Lee Wells
Virginia is For Mysteries: Volume II launch (Photo from Sisters in Crime--Central Virginia
Virginia is For Mysteries: Volume II launch (Photo from Sisters in Crime–Central Virginia)
The audience was thoroughly engaged and asked lots of good questions—before buying books and devouring the cake!
Virginia is For Mysteries book launch cake
All the authors present signed books on request.
Vivian Lawry signing her book at Virginia is For Mysteries book launch
We were especially pleased that Sherlock showed up—and tolerated being womanhandled with great stoicism.
Virginia is For Mysteries book launch with Vivian Lawry, Kristin Kisska, and Sherlock
Visit the SinC-CVA website and the individual authors’ websites to see more photos and read more about the event.


Do join us for all the fun at the next event!

Festival of the Written Word, November 7th

Writers Conference poster: Festival of the Written Word, November 07, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Midlothian Library
Festival of the Written Word, November 7, 2015

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ll be at The Festival of the Written Word on November 7th, where I’ll speak on a panel with a title something like “When Romance Meets Mystery.”

The Festival of the Written Word is a celebration of the power and beauty of writing. Embrace your creativity and immerse yourself in literacy, ideas and imagination. The festival will include live readings, writing tips, panel discussions with local authors and food vendors. It’s an activity that the whole family can enjoy.

Authors scheduled to speak at this year’s event:

  • Dean King
  • Cathy Maxwell
  • Howard Owen
  • Heather Weidner
  • Vivian Lawry
  • Fiona Quinn
  • Lana Krumwiede
  • Brian Rock
  • Nancy Wright Beasley
  • Greg Smith
  • Kitty Snow
  • Susan Hankla
  • Guy Terrell
  • Raymond Lescault
  • Jean Anderson
  • Brant Huddleston
  • Bill Blume
  • Sally Kirk
  • Wynn Mercere
  • Sadeqa Johnson
  • Stacy Hawkins Adams

I hope to see you there!

Don’t forget Chesterfield County Public Library’s Murder at the Library on October 30th.

Chesterfield County Public Library Murder at the Library fundraiser October 30
Murder at the Library hosted by Chesterfield County Public Library and Sisters in Crime