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Conference of Writers
sponsored by BWC


Crystal Wilkinson is the award-winning author of The Birds of Opulence (winner of the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence), Water Street and Blackberries, Blackberries. Nominated for both the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, she has received recognition from The Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Kentucky Arts Council, The Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and is a recipient of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including most recently in the Oxford American and Southern Cultures.  She currently teaches at the University of Kentucky where she is Associate Professor of English in the MFA in Creative Writing Program. Crystal will present a workshop on Writing Fiction.

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Teri Carter’s work can be found at The Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Lexington Herald-Leader, as well as in other newspapers and magazines. She teaches memoir and essay writing at The Carnegie Center in Lexington. Find out more at

Teri will present a workshop on Writing Memoirs.

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With nearly a million sales, Hallee Bridgeman is a best-selling Christian author who writes action-packed romantic suspense focusing on realistic characters who face real-world problems. Her work has been described as everything from refreshing to heart-stopping exciting and edgy. Hallee has served as the Director of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, President of the Faith-Hope-Love chapter of the Romance Writers of America, is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), the American Christian Writers (ACW), and Novelists, Inc. (NINC). An accomplished speaker, Hallee has taught and inspired writers around the globe, from Sydney, Australia, to Dallas, Texas, to Portland, Oregon, to Washington, D.C., and all places in between. Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide her. Hallee will teach present a workshop on Self-publishing.

Kenzi Melody is a former literary agent turned social media manager. Ronnell Kay Gibson is an award-winning author and editor for Havok Publishing. Together, they formed The Write Stage to help writers develop into published authors with an emphasis on story coaching and social media development. 

Ronnell and Kenzi will take private appointments throughout the day, and will participate in the panel of professionals.

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Chanda Veno, of Frankfort, is editor of The State Journal. She is the first female to hold this post in the newspaper's 119-year-history. Veno started her career as a journalist as a part-time sports reporter at her hometown newspaper, The Times-News in Cumberland, Maryland, where she worked her way up the ladder via various newsroom positions from obituary clerk to copy editor. She also served as a copy editor at The Ashland Times-Gazette in Ohio and as a reporter at The Owenton News-Herald and The Anderson News in Kentucky. Veno started as a reporter at The State Journal in August 2017 and was promoted to news editor in April the following year. She took over as managing editor in December 2018 and was promoted to editor in June 2021. To see her work, visit The State Journal.  Chanda will participate in the panel of professionals.

Larry W. Moore is co-founder and managing partner of Broadstone Media LLC, a cultural promotion company based in Frankfort.  Under their imprint Broadstone Books, since 2003 they have published over 120 books by authors across North America and England.  Moore is a Frankfort native, an honors graduate of Transylvania University, did graduate work at UK and foreign study in Germany, and is a published poet, translator, literary critic, photographer, and for many years a book reviewer for Choice, a journal of the American Library Association.    

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Michael Embry is the author of 12 books -- three nonfiction sports books, eight novels, and a short-story collection. His latest novel is Darkness Beyond the Light,  which was published in November 2017.  It is the sequel to Old Ways and New Days, an EPIC finalist for Best Contemporary Fiction in 2016. He is currently working on the third book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series.


He worked for Kentucky newspapers in Richmond, Madisonville, and Lexington and a national news service, making stops in Louisville, New York, Milwaukee, and Lexington. He retired as editor of Kentucky Monthly magazine in Frankfort in 2006. He embarked on a new career path in 2009 when he joined the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security as public information officer. He retired from that position in 2014. He is listed in the 2016 edition of Who's Who in America. He is now a freelance writer and novelist. Besides writing, his passions are travel, hiking, photography, and reading.  Mike will participate in the panel of professionals.


Chris Helvey is a novelist, short-story writer, and poet. His works have appeared in numerous reviews and journals. His latest novel, Violets for Sergeant Schiller, was released by Wings ePress (paperback and ebook) in August 2020. The White Jamaican, his next novel, is slated for a January 2021 release. His short-story “One More Round” was a recent winner of the Modern Mountain Magazine Short-Story Contest.

In addition to his own writing, Chris serves as a Writing Coach and served for over a decade as an editor for both Best New Writing and Trajectory Journal. He frequently conducts short-story writing workshops and is a founding member of the Bluegrass Writers Coalition. He is a frequent lecturer on writing success and appears at numerous literary readings and book fairs. Chris will participate in the panel of professionals.

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Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author, publisher, freelance editor, and filmmaker based out of Lexington Kentucky. His works include the Rayden Valkyrie Tales (Sword and Sorcery), the Rising Dawn Saga (Cross Genre), the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Hellscapes short story collections (Horror), The Chronicles of Ave short story collections (Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon Tales (Steampunk), and the Faraway Saga (YA Dystopian/Cross-Genre).

Stephen’s visual work includes the feature film Shadows Light, shorts films such as The Sirens and Swordbearer, and the Rayden Valkyrie: Saga of a Lionheart TV Pilot.

Stephen is a proud Kentucky Colonel who also enjoys the realms of music, martial arts, good bourbons, and spending time with family and two cats, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Twitter: @sgzimmer
Instagram: @stephenzimmer7

Virginia Smith is the bestselling author of forty-five novels, two illustrated children’s books, and many shorter works. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Her books have been named finalists in many international awards. Two of her novels received a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. The first book in the highly acclaimed Goose Creek series, The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade, was Library Journal’s top pick of the month, and a finalist for the prestigious Bookseller’s Best Award. Learn more about her and her books at Ginny will serve as the conference's Mistress of Ceremonies.

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*A limited number of scholarships are available. Send us a note through the Contact page for more information about applying for a  full or partial scholarship.

Stephen Zimmer

Questions? Send us a note through the Contact page.

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