Keynote Speakers

Conference Keynote: Mark Todd

Wednesday, July 18 / 7:15
University Center Ballroom
"Writing from the Edge of Nowhere"

Writing and living in rural regions doesn’t mean writers are alone or even lonely. Under the umbrella of regionalism, we aspire to use the particular to explore the universal, just as any strong writer does. And our area has its share of denizens who hang their hats both regionally and even locally--not to mention the many authors, poets, and screenwriters who have passed through, wiping the mud from their boots and into the pages of their writing. Writing in and about the West is a culture by choice, a community without borders, and a confluence of literary imagination.

Mark Todd
Dr. Mark Todd, founder of Western’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing, has been a Professor of English at Western since 1988. He currently teaches in the undergraduate creative writing program, and serves as Editor-in-Chief for Western Press Books. He has 25 years of professional journalism experience, having published hundreds of news stories, features, columns, and editorials in local through international markets. He also served as editor and publisher of both a newspaper and a regional magazine and, at one point, digested online news for the Lycos daily news service. Mark has performed his poetry and given fiction readings across the country and in Europe. His books include two collections of poetry, Wire Song (Conundrum, 2001) and Tamped, But Loose Enough to Breathe (Ghost Road, 2008). He is author of the science fiction novel Strange Attractors (Write in the Thick, 2012) and co-author with wife Kym O’Connell-Todd of the paranormal comedy/fantasy trilogy The Silverville SagaThe Silverville Swindle (Ghost Road, 2006), which was reissued as Little Greed Men (Raspberry Creek, 2011); All Plucked Up (Raspberry Creek, 2012); and The Magicke Outhouse (Raspberry Creek, 2013). All were nominated for Colorado Book Awards and Little Greed Men was also nominated for the Colorado Blue Spruce Award. Their latest book is Wild West Ghosts (Raspberry Creek, 2015), a creative nonfiction book about hauntings in frontier mining towns of the Rocky Mountains.

Poetry Keynote: Ned Balbo and Jane Satterfield

 Wednesday, July 18 / 8:15 pm
University Center Theater
"Let Love Rule: Craft, Commitment, and Collaboration in Poetry and the Arts"

As we struggle to find time to write and reflect amid the chaos that surrounds us, it’s easy to forget that the force which anchors our creative lives is the same one that connects us to each other: love. In their keynote presentation, Jane Satterfield and Ned Balbo, longtime partners and collaborators in the arts, will talk about how love defines our lives and generates the vision that helps us to embrace the world through our words.

Jane Satterfield
Jane Satterfield is the author of four books of poetry: Apocalypse Mix, selected by David St. John for the 2016 Autumn House Poetry Prize; Her Familiars, a finalist for the Julie Suk Award for best poetry book on an independent press; Assignation at Vanishing Point, winner of the Elixir Press Book Award; and Shepherdess with an Automatic, awarded the Towson University Prize. Her book of interconnected essays, Daughters of Empire:  A Memoir of a Year in Britain and Beyond, appeared on Demeter Press, and she is the co-editor, with Laurie Kruk, of the recent multi-genre anthology Borderlands and Crossroads: Writing the Motherland (also on Demeter). Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry and three Maryland Arts Council poetry grants, as well as residencies in poetry or nonfiction from the Vermont Studio Center and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Among other awards are the William Faulkner Society's Gold Medal for the Essay, the Florida Review Editors’ Prize, the Mslexia women’s poetry prize, and the Bellingham Review’s 49th Parallel Poetry Prize. Satterfield’s poetry and prose have appeared in American Poetry ReviewAntioch ReviewThe CommonCrazyhorseNorth American ReviewNotre Dame ReviewPleiades, and many more, as well as on Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. The daughter of an American Air Force reservist and a British mother, she grew up near Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, teaches at Loyola University Maryland, and lives in Baltimore.

Ned Balbo
Ned Balbo’s five books include The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems, awarded the Poets’ Prize and the Donald Justice Prize; Lives of the Sleepers, winner of the Ernest Sandeen Prize and a ForeWord Book of the Year gold medal; and Upcycling Paumanok (Measure Press, 2016). 3 Nights of the Perseids, selected by Erica Dawson for the 2018 Richard Wilbur Award, is forthcoming. His poems have appeared in American Poetry ReviewBirmingham Poetry ReviewEcotoneIowa ReviewNew CriterionPoetry DailyAmerican Life in Poetry, and elsewhere, and in anthologies such as the Everyman’s Library volumes Villanelles and Monster Verse. He was a 2017 NEA translation fellow for his version of Paul Valéry’s “La Jeune Parque” (“The Young Fate”), from which a selection, with accompanying essay, appeared in The Hopkins Review. His prose includes reviews in most issues of Antioch Review from 1999-2009; flash fictions in Waccamaw, Gargoyle, and Pleiades; “Walt Whitman’s Finches,” awarded Crab Orchard Review’s John Guyon Literary Nonfiction Prize; and “My Father’s Music,” an essay on ethnicity and adoptive identity included in Our Roots Are Deep with Passion: Creative Nonfiction collects new essays by Italian-American Writers (Other Press). He was recently a visiting faculty member in Iowa State University’s MFA program in creative writing and environment. The recipient of three Maryland Arts Council poetry grants and residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, he received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and an MA from Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins.

Publishing Keynote: ​Kevin Anderson

Thursday, July 19 / 1:15 pm
Taylor Hall Studio Theater
“How to Be an Overnight Success in Twenty Years or Less"

Kevin J. Anderson, International bestselling author and publisher of WordFire Press, tells of his journey from small town dreamer to extremely successful author working in traditional publishing, to forming his own publishing house that uses new technologies to stay one step ahead of the big boys.

Kevin J. Anderson
Kevin J. Anderson​ serves as the Director of Western's Certificate in Publishing. He is the author of 140 novels, 56 of which have appeared on national or international bestseller lists; he has over 23 million books in print in thirty languages. Anderson has coauthored fourteen books in the Dune saga with Brian Herbert and over 50 books for Lucasfilm in the Star Wars universe. He has written for the X-FilesStar TrekBatman and Superman, and many other popular franchises.  For his solo work, he’s written the epic SF series, The Saga of Seven Suns,  and a sweeping nautical fantasy trilogy, Terra Incognita, accompanied by two progressive rock CDs (which he wrote and produced). He has written two steampunk novels, Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives, with legendary drummer and lyricist Neil Peart from the band Rush. He also created the popular humorous horror series featuring Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I., and has written eight high-tech thrillers with Colonel Doug Beason. Anderson holds a physics/astronomy degree and spent 14 years working as a technical writer for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He is now the publisher of Colorado-based WordFire Press, a new-model publisher using innovative techniques and technologies to release books worldwide in print and eBooks. They have released over 300 titles. Anderson is also one of the founders of the Superstars Writing Seminar, which has been one of the premiere professional and career development seminars for writers. He is also an accomplished public speaker on a wide range of topics. He and his wife, bestselling author Rebecca Moesta, have lived in Colorado for 20 years; Anderson has climbed all of the mountains over 14,000 ft in the state, and he has also hiked the 500-mile Colorado Trail.

Creative Nonfiction Keynote: Patrick Pexton

Friday, July 20 / 4:00 pm
Taylor Hall Studio Theater
"How Writers Change History"

In this talk, Pexton examines two cultural transformations, both relating to women, that would not have happened without reporters/journalists/writers. The first is the founding of the #MeToo movement, which was triggered in 2017 by Harvey Weinstein stories in New York Times, one of whose authors was trained by Pexton. The second is an event from the 1990s, the Tailhook scandal. Pexton himself broke this story of sexual harassment in the US Navy, and it led to sweeping changes in the military and the admission of women to most military jobs.

Patrick Pexton
Patrick Pexton is currently defense and foreign policy editor for CQ Roll Call. Before that, he was editor-in-chief of The Frederick News-Post, a seven-day daily newspaper and 24-hour website serving the quarter million people who live in Maryland's largest county by geography. Before that, he was The Washington Post's final ombudsman, managing director of custom content at Connections Media, and deputy editor of National Journal, a nonpartisan magazine and website about politics and policy in the nation's capital.






Genre Fiction Keynote: Rick Wilber

Saturday, July 21 / 1:15 pm
Taylor Hall Studio Theater
“It's All Lies! Writing Fiction in the Post-Truth Era”

These days, Rick Wilber publishes science fiction and fantasy in some of the top magazines in the field, but he started his writing career seeking the truth as a reporter for major newspapers and magazines. Frankly, he’s a little worried about the blurring between fact and fiction in modern America. What happens to fiction when no one trusts the facts? Is everything now just one form of fiction or another? How can a genre writer tell a science-fiction story to readers who think the Earth is flat? And are presidential politics nothing more than high fantasy? He’ll explore these questions and try to find some avenues to writing effective genre fiction in this post-truth era while he’s at it.  

Rick Wilber
Rick Wilber has published some fifty short stories, many of them in the alternate-history genre. Most recently his co-authored alternate-history novella, "The Wandering Warriors," was the cover story for Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine’s May/June 2018 issue, and the novelette, "In Dublin, Fair City,” appeared in the November/December 2017 issue. The novella “The Secret City,” is scheduled for the September 2018 Asimov’s, and continues his alternate-history exploration of the dangerous lure of American fascism during World War II, seen through the eyes of a fictional version of the famous baseball player turned spy, Moe Berg. An earlier Moe Berg story, “Something Real,” won the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History – Short Form in 2012, and  Locus Magazine reviewer Lois Tilton called Rick “a master of historical fantasy set in this era.” Rick is the editor of the anthology, Making History: Classic Alternate History Stories (New Word City, 2018), which features reprinted classic stories from Karen Joy Fowler, Kathleen Goonan, Lisa Goldstein, Harry Turtledove, Walter Jon Williams, Gregory Benford, Eileen Gunn and Michael Swanwick, and many more. Rick’s most recent novel, Alien Morning (Tor, 2016) was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year. The sequel, Alien Day, will be out in 2019. He is the editor of the anthology, Field of Fantasies: Baseball Stories of the Strange and Supernatural (October, 2014, Night Shade/Skyhorse). The anthology explores the influence of baseball on the fantastic, and includes classic reprints from writers like Karen Joy Fowler, Stephen King and Stewart O’Nan, Kim Stanley Robinson, Harry Turtledove, Louis Marley and others. Rick is the administrator, co-founder and co-judge for the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing. He lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Screenwriting Keynote: John Bowman

Sunday, July 23 / 1:15 pm
 University Center Theater
"Can Television Bring America Together?"

The American family has always been the crucible in which we process social change.  From All in the Family to Roseanne television has attempted to portray the power struggles and arguments engaging macro America in the micro family. The Roseanne reboot was watched by sixteen million Americans, the largest audience to watch a sitcom in four years. There's clearly a hunger in America for some kind of dialogue between our fragments. This talk will examine the prospect of television bringing together a country it has mostly divided through its cable news broadcasts.

John Bowman
John Bowman is an Emmy award-winning writer who has been writing and producing comedy for 25 years. He has written for Saturday Night Live, It's Garry Shandling's Show, Fresh Prince of Bel AirIn Living Color, Martin, Murphy Brown, and Frank TV, among others. He created Martin and received two NAACP Awards and a People's Choice Award for his work there. He is currently a trustee of The Harvard Lampoon. In 2008 he received a PEN USA First Amendment Award for his leadership in the 2008 Writer's Strike. He teaches screenwriting in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.