CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Division of Culture and History in collaboration with the West Virginia Center for the Book, will present a free intensive creative writing workshop on Saturday, May 11, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., at West Virginia Independence Hall (WVIH), 1528 Market St., in downtown Wheeling. The workshop will focus on history, and is funded in part by the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission.

The Writers’ Toolkit workshop will be comprised of a two-hour morning session and a two-hour afternoon session. Each session will feature four concurrent classes. Participants should bring pens, pencils and writing tablets. They also are welcome to bring a bag lunch to eat from noon – 1 p.m. After lunch, there will be a panel discussion with all the presenters from 1-1:45 p.m.

The morning workshops will run from 10 a.m. to noon and include:

”Writing History: From Tongue to Page” with Sean Duffy
Duffy’s session will  help participants to explore oral history research techniques, including developing interview questions based on research goals, conducting and recording interviews, converting raw interviews into narratives, and reviewing ethical issues involved in oral history research.

“Fiction: Session One” with Marie Manilla
Manilla will guide students in ways to identify those “light-bulb” moments in their lives that provide excellent fodder for fiction. She will discuss the importance of emotional honesty and urgency in fiction and how language can propel a story forward or bog it down in minutia. Manilla will include short readings and exercises to help students apply these skills.

“Engage and Encourage” with Colleen Anderson
Anderson’s session will focus on how to inspire children to write and how to improve their writing without stifling their creativity. Participants will hear some tried-and-true writing prompts and learn how to create their own prompts for children of all ages. She also will discuss ways to give gentle guidance to beginning writers so that they are motivated to hone their skills.

“What in the World is Geocaching” with John Morrison
Morrison will discuss the rapidly growing phenomenon of geocaching. Geocaching is a free outdoor recreational treasure hunt and a family-friendly activity in which players try to locate hidden containers using a mobile device or Global Positional System (GPS) receiver to hide and seek containers. Geocaches have been placed all over the world, ranging from extremely easy-to-find containers to containers that require more skill and stealth. The workshop will consist of a PowerPoint presentation that teaches the intricacies of geocaching and a hands-on demonstration of different types and sizes of containers used in geocaching. Participants also will gain experience using handheld GPS units.

The afternoon workshops will run from 2 to 4 p.m. and include:

“Picturing History: Incorporating Photographs into Written Histories” with Duffy
Duffy will lead participants in methods for using photographs in research, interviews and writing, including how to handle photographs properly, the basics of scanning, labeling and identifying photographic images and writing captions. Participants are encouraged to bring photographs to the session.

“Fiction: Session Two” with Manilla
Manilla will have students read short selections from authors like Breece Pancake, a native West Virginian, to discover the importance of giving just the right amount of information and characterization while leaving room for the reader to fill in the gaps. She will discuss ways to select appropriate details that can add to characterization, and look at how to weave real historical events into fiction without the story reading like a history lesson. Manilla also will lead students in writing exercises.

“Writing for Your Inner Child” with Anderson
Anderson will discuss some favorite children’s stories, including picture books and chapter books that combine real life with real art. She will talk about how she approached the writing of her own children’s chapter book, Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom, and offer a writing prompt to get participants started on their own story for young readers.

For more information about the Writers’ Toolkit workshop, contact Caryn Gresham, deputy commissioner for the Division, at (304) 558-0220.

Duffy, who grew up in Warwood, W.Va., is the author of three books on local history: The Wheeling Family: A Celebration of Immigrants & Their Neighborhoods (Creative Impressions, 2006); Wheeling: Then & Now with Paul Rinkes (Arcadia, 2010); and The Wheeling Family, Volume 2: More Immigrants, Migrants & Neighborhoods (Jim Thornton, 2012). A fourth book, Legendary Locals of Wheeling, that he edited and wrote with historian Brent Carney is due from Arcadia in 2013. Duffy represents the Ohio County Public Library (OCPL) on the Wheeling Heritage Roundtable, the Wheeling Civil War 150 Committee, the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation Board, and the City of Wheeling’s Arts and Cultural Commission and Hall of Fame board. He lives in Wheeling and works at the OCPL in programming, publicity, archives and special collections and reference.

Huntington native Manilla is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Mississippi Review, Prairie Schooner, Calyx Journal, The Portland Review, Kestrel, South Writ Large, and other journals. Her novel Shrapnel, set in Huntington, won the Fred Bonnie Award for Best First Novel. Manilla’s collection of stories, Still Life with Plums, was a finalist for the Weatherford Award and ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year. Her next book, The Patron Saint of Ugly, is scheduled for publication by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2014.

Anderson is a freelance writer, performer, graphic designer and owner of Mother Wit Writing and Design, a creative studio in Charleston. She writes poems, radio essays, fiction, magazine articles and songs. She has taught weeklong workshops on short essays at Ghost Ranch, an arts center in New Mexico, and has written editorial copy for West Virginia’s official visitor guide, which earned the designation of “best state visitor guide in the U.S.” in 2005. Her book, Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom, won a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award.

Morrison holds a bachelor’s degree in history from West Virginia State University in Institute, W.Va. He is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa honors society for leadership, the West Virginia Civil War Geo-Trail Board, and the Sesquicentennial Geocaching committee. He works for the Division of Culture and History and is the assistant for Explore West Virginia Geo Challenge. He has taught geocaching to Outdoor Classroom and 4-H groups in the Kanawha Valley and has been geocaching since 2012, finding more than 200 geocaches and placing many of his own.

The West Virginia Center for the Book, a project of the West Virginia Library Commission and an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, brings the national Center’s message of the importance of books and reading to audiences statewide. It actively works within West Virginia to highlight the unique literary heritage that abounds from the earliest storytellers to modern novelists and poets.

West Virginia Independence Hall, originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the museum is maintained and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with the exception of major holidays. The museum is located on the corner of 16th and Market Streets in Wheeling.

For more information about programs at West Virginia Independence Hall, contact Travis Henline, site manager, at (304) 238-1300.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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