Sessions  &  Speakers
2017 Program
About Us        


February 22, 2014
Chesapeake College
Wye Mills, MD
 Session titles and speakers for the 2014 BTO Conference are listed below, organized by general topics: writing craft, poetry, genre, publishing/marketing, and Internet uses. Several speakers are holding two sessions.

A printable schedule of times and rooms for all BTO sessions
available here as a pdf download.

We can all write a brilliant sentence, paragraph or chapter; the problem is stringing enough of those in a row to construct a solid piece of writing that will get published. How do you build a dramatic arc, and how do you know if it’s working? How can you prevent backstory from taking over, or relocate the story if you lose the thread? What does an opening need to do to get the story jump-started as compared to what the other sections need to accomplish? How do you know if you’re done? Join us for this 90-minute discussion on these and other quandaries, practical hints, the answers to your questions, and a useful check-list to help you stay on track. 
Barbara Esstman  Internationally published and nationally awarded author Barbara Esstman is the coeditor of A More Perfect Union: Stories and Poems about the Modern Wedding (St. Martin’s Press). Her novels, The Other Anna and Night Ride Home, were both published by Harcourt Brace, Harper Perennial, and numerous foreign presses, and they were both adapted for film by Hallmark Productions. Among other distinctions, her short stories have been recognized by the Pushcart Prizes and the REDBOOK Fiction Award. She teaches creative writing and creative nonfiction at universities and The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD. 
Without conflict, you don't have a story. Without suspense, readers have no reason to get to the end of your story. After nine crime fiction novels, Camacho can show you how to set up a conflict that will drive your story forward, and create the kind of suspense that will draw your readers thru that story to a satisfying conclusion.
Crime novelist Austin Camacho is a popular speaker and instructor on the craft of writing at Anne Arundel Community College. The author of five books in the Hannibal Jones detective series and four action adventure novels, he is a past president of the Maryland Writer's Association. He is also author of Successfully Marketing Your Novel in the 21st Century, and his small press, Intrigue Publishing, presents the Creatures, Crimes & Creativity conference for genre fiction in Baltimore. He blogs at 
What to do with your first (or second, or fifth, or tenth) draft? Congratulations on typing “The End” on your novel or memoir! What’s next? Revision, of course, then more revision. Hint: the second draft is not the time to focus on grammar and spelling errors. Melanie Rigney, who has more than three decades of editing experience, will share tips on how to approach revision, from protagonist/antagonist development to pacing and plotting, with minimal pain and maximum benefit.​
Melanie Rigney is the owner of Editor for You (, a consultancy that has helped hundreds of authors, publishers, and literary agents in the past ten years. She’s also a writer (, whose work includes Sisterhood of Saints: Daily Guidance and Inspiration (Franciscan Media, 2013), a page-a-day devotional book for today’s busy women. Melanie also writes for Living Faith, a Catholic devotional publication, and dabbles in fiction in her spare time. Her previous experience includes five years as the editor of Writer’s Digest magazine and nine years with Advertising Age magazine. She lives in Arlington, Virginia.
MELANIE RIGNEY  –  Embrace Your Inner Editor
You’ve worked hard at your writing, but still you aren’t publishing, at least not as much as you’d like. So, what’s the problem? This workshop will cover five common writers’ quirks that get in your way and produce pages that aren’t keepers. Learn how to identify them through simple tests and repair them so your story works the way it should.  

LYNN SCHWARTZ – Demystifying Dialogue  

LAURA OLIVER –  The Essence of Story in Memoir and Fiction 
Laura Oliver, M.F.A., is the author of The Story Within: New Insights and Inspiration for Writers (Penguin Books), named one of the best literary writing books of the year by The Writer Magazine and Poets and Writers Magazine and currently in its third printing. She has taught creative writing at the University of Maryland and currently teaches writing workshops at St. John’s College and The Writer’s Center. In addition, Oliver is an award-winning writer whose fiction and essays are published in national newspapers, magazines, and top-tier literary reviews. Among other distinctions, she is the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Fiction, and an Annie Award for Literary Achievement from the Anne Arundel Arts Council. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Oliver holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing and Literature from Bennington College and has completed writing seminars in creative nonfiction at the University of Iowa. Her website is 

It was Robert Frost who said, “It’s tone I’m in love with; that’s what poetry is.” What is the “tone” of a poem and how is it conveyed? Is it the same thing as style? Voice? Mood? In this 90-minute craft class we will delve into the mysteries of tone, discussing what contributes to a particular poem’s tone and how tone can be used to convey attitude and emotion.​

Sue Ellen Thompson’s fourth volume of poetry, The Golden Hour, appeared in June 2006 and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, her second nomination. She recently edited The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry. Ms. Thompson teaches at The Writer's Center in Bethesda and mentors adult poets who are serious about writing. She was the winner of the 2010 Maryland Author Award.

TEMPLE CONE  –   Leaping Poetry: Imagination and the Persian Ghazal
In this workshop, we will read and discuss examples of the Persian ghazal, a traditional form featuring restrictive formal elements (e.g., each couplet ends with the same word), which is renowned for its wild imaginative associations and which is experiencing a resurgence among contemporary poets. Time will be made to compose and critique ghazals of our own. 

Temple Cone is the author of three books of poetry: That Singing, from March Street Press (2011); The Broken Meadow, which received the 2010 Old Seventy Creek Poetry Press Series Prize; and No Loneliness, which received the 2009 FutureCycle Press Poetry Book Prize. He has published six poetry chapbooks, as well as critical reference works on Walt Whitman, Cormac McCarthy, and 20th-century American poetry. Awards for his work include two Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) Individual Artist Awards in Poetry and the Christian Publishers Poetry Prize. An associate professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy, he lives in Annapolis, Maryland. 

Panel: Submitting Your Poems to Magazines, Online & Off 

​Ever wonder where your poems will have the best chance of being accepted for publication? Do you shy away from online poetry journals because they don’t seem quite as prestigious? This panel discussion features the editors of three potential markets for your work. Get the inside scoop on what they’re looking for and how you can maximize your chances of showing up in their pages or on their website.
Anne Colwell 
Barrett Warner
Le Hinton 
Anne Colwell, a poet and fiction writer, is an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Delaware. She has published two books of poems, Believing Their Shadows (Word Press 2010) and Mother’s Maiden Name (Word Press 2013). In 2013, she received the Established Artist in Fiction Fellowship from the Delaware State Arts Council. Her chapbook, Father’s Occupation, Mother’s Maiden Name, won the National Association of Press Women’s Award for Best Book of Verse. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals. Her critical book, Inscrutable Houses: Metaphors of the Body in the Poems of Elizabeth Bishop, was published by the University of Alabama Press. 

Barrett Warner is an Associate Editor for the print journal Free State Review, as well as Book Review Editor and co-Poetry Editor of the online platform Blood Lotus Magazine. His stories, poems, and essays can be found in Gargoyle, Berkeley Fiction Review, Slipstream, Southeast Review, Chattahoochee Review, and many other publications. His chapbook, Til I'm Blue in the Face, was published by Tropos Press.

Le Hinton is the publisher of the East Coast poetry journal Fledgling Rag, a journal that has featured poets from Maine to South Carolina. Since 2004, he has also published books and chapbooks of poetry through the Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based presses, Iris G. Press and I.Giraffe Press. As a poet, his work has been published in Gargoyle, Little Patuxent Review, Unshod Quills, Watershed, and Fox Chase Review and in the poetry anthology/cookbook,  Cooking Up South. His poem “Epidemic” was the winner of the Baltimore Review’s 2013 Winter Issue contest and in 2012, his poem, “Our Ballpark,” was incorporated into Derek Parker’s sculpture "Common Thread" and permanently installed at Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as part of the Poetry Paths project.  
Publishing, Marketing & 
the Business of Writing
 The Internet for Writers
MINDIE BURGOYNE – How to Build Community through Social Media 

Many use social media platforms to directly "market" their products or services. This use has proven to yield marginal results. The true power of social media is in building communities that serve as a virtual ad agency. Mindie Burgoyne discusses how to build those communities through Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and YouTube, and then how to use the communities to get greater exposure, powerful connections, and results that equal revenues. Learn about the G.A.F. Principle and how it impacts marketing -- especially online and through social media platforms. 

Mindie Burgoyne, former publisher of Trinity Music and The Pastoral Press, has written three books -- all focused on Maryland. Her articles and music compositions have been featured in numerous magazines and on the Today Show. She served as an advisor to National Geographic Television Network and has been a featured guest on National Public Radio affiliates. Her website is:

ANGELA RENDER    Blogging 200: Fine. I Have a Blog. So Now What Do I Do?

Feeling inspired to write a blog post as well as finding the time to do it plague many writers for whom the blog was something they didn't want to do in the first place. Don't worry. From tips on finding inspiration for posts to fitting regular posting into a busy schedule, to planning your content creation in such a way that over time you'll have a volume of work to re-purpose, polish, and publish, in this session we'll sort it all out.

Angela Render is a professional Web developer and Internet marketer who writes nonfiction, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and cross-genre romantica. Her work has appeared in Smithsonian Magazine Online and Writers' Journal. The second edition of her workbook, Marketing for Writers, became available in January 2012. She also teaches classes on Internet marketing for writers at The Writer's Center in Bethesda. Learn more at or
MARY McCARTHY  –  Why Twitter?

This session answers the question for writers: Do we need one more social media outlet? We'll take a look at the differences between Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and the other social media as tools for writers, and specifically how Twitter can help writers get readers, communicate with others in the publishing industry and maybe even land an agent and a book deal.

Mary McCarthy has been a professional writer for nearly 20 years, including work in the Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Victorian Homes magazine, many regional magazines in Maryland (two as Editor: What’s Up Eastern Shore and Chesapeake Family) and several newspaper humor columns. She started blogging in 2004 and created the humor blog in 2007. She is editor at Splice Today ,where she also writes weekly. A contributing blogger for Katie Couric, she has also appeared on The Today Show and Moms Get Real. She speaks at regional and national conferences and is teaching blogging and social media at The Writer's Center in Bethesda. Her first novel, The Scarlet Letter Society, will be published in 2014.
       OTHER: Nonfiction, Magazine Panel,
Books to Film
Regional Magazine Editors Panel  – TERRY PLOWMAN moderates, with 

Publishers from two Delmarva regional magazines and an online publication will reveal what they are looking for from freelance writers. They will focus on what types of stories interest their readers. This panel will also provide the details of their magazines’ submission guidelines, compensation potential, and the best way to develop a working relationship with a magazine editor.  
John Lewis, arts and culture editor/columnist and arts blogger at Baltimore Magazine, is an award-winning writer of magazine profiles and arts criticism. 

KHRIS BAXTER  –  How Books Get Made Into Films 

Agents, Hollywood producers, and publishers are always searching for the next great story, whether it's a novel, a compelling work of nonfiction, or even an article. The challenge for many writers is crafting original work that's not only a great story but also has the best chances for being optioned, adapted into a screenplay, and ultimately a successful movie. 

In this seminar, screenwriter and producer Khris Baxter will examine the process development executives go through as they consider original material for option and adaptation, and how you can create work that has the potential to be turned into a viable and sellable screenplay.
Khris Baxter is a screenwriter, producer, and script consultant. He teaches screenwriting at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, and at the low-residency M.F.A. at Queens University in Charlotte, NC. He's a member of the Virginia Film Office, where he is a judge for the annual Virginia Screenwriting Competition. Khris is also the founder of Story Lab, a film finance and development company based in Washington, DC where he lives in Georgetown.
BARBARA ESSTMAN – Testing the Writing Waters   
AUSTIN CAMACHO ​– Conflict and Suspense   
GREGG WILHELM – Self Wars: Pros, Cons, and Surviving 
                                   Self- Publishing’s Legitimization   
Kindle, Kobe, iBook, Nook. Sounds like a nursery rhyme, but surviving the legitimization of self-publishing is not child’s play. It requires careful planning and sound strategy, business acumen and savvy promotions. Never before have so many vendors been eager to “help” you, the writer, and never before have writers felt so at sea. Are you up for it? Learn about the new publishing frontier where technology allows writers to control how their work is produced, disseminated, marketed, and read.

Lynn Schwartz’s plays have been performed in Atlanta and New York City, including Lincoln Center. Her stories have appeared in literary journals, and she has written numerous lifestyle features. Schwartz founded the Temple Bar Literary Reading Series in New York City, and she has received two Individual Artist Awards in Fiction from the Maryland State Arts Council. She teaches fiction and life stories at St. John’s College and The Writer’s Center and is a story development editor and ghostwriter for private clients.​
BARBARA ESSTMAN – Beginnings, Ends and the Muddle in the Middle    

Good dialogue is a great tool for both fiction and nonfiction writers. Yet many writers avoid it. Let’s demystify dialogue — exploring “real talk” versus written conversation, analyzing what characters should say and how they should say it, and identifying how speech creates action and propels the story forward. The appropriate use of tags, dialects, and direct and indirect dialogue will also be examined in this 90-minute session.
LYNN SCHWARTZ – Wouldn’t Touch It with a Ten-Foot Pole – How to Avoid Cliché
Hackneyed? Trite? Tired? We all fear that the cliché will sneak into our plot, characters, and descriptions. It is a matter of approaching the page with a fresh view — mastering the discipline to put words together that evoke and provoke rather than relying on overused shorthand. Learn how to avoid the cliché at all costs and how to recognize when those familiar phrases are worth their weight in gold.
What’s the difference between a story that takes off and one that fizzles out? What makes a subject compelling? In this reprise of last year's session “The Trajectory of Story,” you will learn how to identify subjects with depth and substance. We will explore techniques for going deeper into personal experience, memory, and imagination to find conflict, mystery, insight, and surprise. Learn to discern between writing about something that happened and writing a story about something that matters. 
JUDY REVEAL The Five Senses (Is Your Description Naked?)
Writing description without considering all five senses is like drawing a stick figure on a piece of paper. You know what it is, but it's as boring as watching paint dry. Judy Reveal will discuss the importance of each sense, and she'll throw in an interesting exercise you won't want to miss, just to make her point.
JUDY REVEAL  – POV (Viewpoint or Point of View or Both?)
These elements are very separate items that are linked at the hip. You can't have one without the other. Judy Reveal will explain the difference between them as well as what makes them so closely related and how to avoid the obvious problems with them.
Judy Reveal is a published author, a book indexer, a freelance editor, and a book reviewer who loves words in all shapes and sizes. She also tutors students in English at Delaware Technical Community College. Her most recent book, The Brownstone, is historical fiction set in a New York brownstone during World War II. 
AUSTIN CAMACHO & CANDICE POARCH – Bringing Diversity to Your Characters

Your fictional universe needs to reflect the world we live in, with a variety of people who have their own individual identity. These two experienced fiction writers will teach you how to introduce characters who reflect various cultures, races, nationalities, and backgrounds. Learn to use dialog, body language, and more to distinguish your characters and make your fiction more believable to all readers.
Candice Poarch is the winner of the 2012 Emma Award for the Suspense Book of the Year for Deadly Intention, the last book in “The Golden Bowl” series. She has published twenty-five novels. Candice grew up in Stony Creek, Virginia, and graduated from Virginia State University with a degree in physics. She is married with three adult children and a precious granddaughter whom she adores. She takes pride in crafting believable stories. As she grew older, her writing centered on families, romance, and suspense. The quest for love is universal, she says. 
KATHRYN JOHNSON  – The Rebirth of Historical Fiction

Authors are discovering renewed interest from readers, agents, and publishers in a variety of historical-fiction blends. Mysteries, romances, Westerns, family sagas, biographical novels, thrillers, stories for young readers, literary fiction, and time-travel adventures – these are just a few of the exciting opportunities open to 21st-century writers. Learn how to add reader appeal by setting all or part of your story in another time as best-selling authors Dan Brown, Ken Follett, or Hilary Mantel have done.

Kathryn Johnson, founder of, an author’s mentoring service based in Silver Spring, Maryland, writes under her own name and as Mary Hart Perry. Over 40 of her novels have sold to major U.S. and foreign publishers. Her series of Victorian thrillers includes The Wild Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria's Defiant Daughter (2012) and Seducing the Princess (2013), based on the life of Victoria's youngest daughter, Beatrice. Previously, The Gentleman Poet: A Novel of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" (2010) received critical acclaim for its innovative blend of historical fact and entertaining fantasy. When not writing or working with her clients on their stories, she teaches The Extreme Novelist, a popular course at The Writer's Center, in Bethesda, Maryland. 
JOHN REISINGER  –  Improving on Reality: Writing Creative Nonfiction or Fiction Based on Real-life People and Events

This 90-minute session will tell you the five things you MUST do, five things you MUST NOT do, and the one most important predictor of success.
What’s involved in writing nonfiction? How is it different from fiction and what are some of the things to look out for? For anyone who wants to write nonfiction, as well as those who haven’t touched nonfiction since their last high school book report, John Reisinger will help make it all clear. He will cover the ins and outs of this demanding but rewarding brand of writing, including selecting a topic and researching, organizing, selling, and promoting it. If you have an idea for a nonfiction work but aren't sure just how to go about it, this session is for you.

Terry Plowman is publisher and editor of Delaware Beach Life, which has won more than 70 awards for writing, editing, photography, art, and page design since its launch in 2002.

Amanda Priestley is a high school English teacher by day and an online news magazine publisher by night. One of the original founders of Eastern Shore Savvy, Amanda has worn every hat from editor to business manager for the Easton-based start-up publication. Focusing on human interest stories that connect the Eastern Shore community, the publication was born out of a writers' group of stay-at-home parents. She has learned the ins and outs of advertising sales and website development along the way. Amanda's driving inspiration is the creative process and a committed group of people with whom she shares that passion.
ALLY MACHATE  –  A 5 Step Self-Publishing Success Strategy 

With so many options, it can be difficult to navigate your way to self-publishing success. But if you want great results, you need to get real! Just copying what indie phenoms like Amanda Hocking or J.A. Konrath are doing may not work for you—you need a plan designed for your type of book and your particular situation and you need to be aware of the unique opportunities and limitations of the industry. This 90-minute presentation will give you a simple five-step roadmap while revealing tips and tricks to help you get past the 100-copy ceiling that disheartens so many self-publishers.

Ally E. Machate is the principal editor, writer, and publishing consultant at Ambitious Enterprises ( and has worked with small and large book publishers, including Simon & Schuster, where she acquired and edited books. Ally loves using her insider knowledge of the publishing industry and fifteen years of experience to help others reach their publishing goals. She offers tips, advice, and news at

Crime novelist Austin Camacho is a popular speaker and instructor on the craft of writing at Anne Arundel Community College. The author of five books in the Hannibal Jones detective series and four action adventure novels, he is a past president of the Maryland Writer's Association. He is also author of Successfully Marketing Your Novel in the 21st Century, and his small press, Intrigue Publishing, presents the Creatures, Crimes & Creativity conference for genre fiction in Baltimore. He blogs at 
JACK DOWNS –   Don’t Let Your Writing Get Too Taxing: Writing as a Business

This 90-minute session provides a layman’s explanation of writing as a business: Do I have to wait until I sell my first book to claim expenses? What is the difference between writing as a hobby and writing as a business? What do I need to know about the IRS? What expenses can I claim, including travel? Why does it make sense to employ my children? What if my ship comes in and I have a windfall? What if I never make a nickel? Come join us as we explore the dollars and $ense of writing. 

Jack B. Downs – Apprentice House of Baltimore published Jack’s first book, Buried Treasure, in 2013. Apprentice House is also publishing his second novel, The Eden Mist Affair. Jack is also the author of several short stories, including “Dream Surfer,” published by Nuvein Magazine, and “As the Crow Flies,” published in 2012 as part of the anthology That One Left Shoe. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland University College, an MBA and CPA. He is working on his third novel, The Hermes Project, scheduled for release in 2014. He lives with his wife, Jen, and their three boys in Carroll County, MD.

DONNA ANDREWS – Getting Started on Your Mystery

Donna Andrews discusses some of the issues writers should consider before beginning to write a mystery. Even if you’re a "seat of your pants" writer rather than a "plotter," you need to make some decisions up front. Series or stand-alone? Hard-boiled or cozy? First person or third? A little planning now can save a lot of rewriting later.

Donna Andrews was born in Yorktown, Virginia and now lives in Reston, Virginia. The Hen of the Baskervilles (July 2013, Minotaur) is the fifteenth book in her Agatha and Anthony winning Meg Langslow series. She has also written four books in the Turing Hopper series from Berkley Prime Crime. For more information: .
John Reisinger is the author of several books based on real events. Master Detective is the story of Detective Ellis Parker and his controversial involvement in the investigation of the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping of 1932. Master Detective has been published in both hardback and paperback and has been published in Chinese editions in both Taiwan and mainland China. Timeframe Films, producers of films for both Nova and the History Channel, is currently planning a feature-length film version of the book. John is also the author of the Max Hurlock Roaring 20s Mysteries, which are based on real-life crimes. John speaks on crime and history-related topics and has appeared on the TV series Mysteries at the Museum.
Craft of Writing
Gregg Wilhelm is Executive Director of CityLit Project, which he founded in Baltimore in 2004. He has been an editor, designer, and marketer with various publishers, and serves as publisher of CityLit Press. Gregg teaches writing and publishing courses at several colleges, and he recently earned his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Tampa.