• Annette Marquis

Wandering WordsWomen Writing Retreat Featured Speakers

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

I'm honored to announce the amazing authors who are joining us as featured speakers at the Inaugural WordsWomen Writers Retreat, at Misty Mountain Camp Resort, in Greenwood, Virginia, March 29-31, 2019. All are talented writers who bring amazing energy and generous spirits. You won’t want to miss them!

Note: This post was updated March 8, 2019.

Julie Valerie

Julie Valerie will be our Featured Speaker to kick-off our retreat Friday evening. I invited Julie to speak because I’ve been so impressed with watching her chip away at a goal she set two years ago to hike the Appalachian Trail (AT). As a mother with four young children with an active and growing writing career, she knew she couldn’t take the time to thru-hike the trail. So rather than throw away her dream, she devised a plan—an 18-year plan—to hike every section of the AT! I have so much to learn from her about goal-setting to accomplish my dreams and I knew you would, too.

Here’s a description of Julie's talk:


Running from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, the 14-state Appalachian Trail has entranced hikers since its completion in 1937. Captivating day hikers, section hikers, and thru-hikers since that time, it is believed the mastermind behind the development of the trail dreamed of it while sitting in a tree. Flat sections are few and far between and the treachery of the trail leads to both blisters and breakdowns. Join Julie Valerie, writer, wife, and mother of four, as she shares her in-progress plan to section hike the Appalachian Trail. Began at Springer Mountain in Georgia in April 2017 and scheduled to finish at Mount Katahdin by Fall 2035, Julie will share her itinerary as well as her equipment and food prep tips, while following a narrative thread that asks: How do we, as women writers and lovers of the outdoors, tackle projects and challenges that are large in scope, difficult to finish, require commitment, and a whole lot of planning?

In addition, Julie will offer a pre-retreat intensive workshop on Friday, March 29, from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm on STRUCTURING A STORY. Here’s the workshop description:

Build a narrative arc that engages your readers from the first to the last page. Form, not formula. Structure, not template. Map the journey your readers will take as they move through the stages of story design. From the opening scene to the last, learn how the common structural elements found universally in myths, fairy tales, dreams, novels, and movies entice and engage readers. Dive deep into the mythic structure of the Heroine's Journey. Explore how the archetypical roles of hero/heroine, mentor, threshold guardian, herald, shapeshifter, shadow, ally, and trickster enhance plot points. Learn the components of classic story design and the heroine's journey. Leave knowing how to apply these elements in your work in ways that reach a modern audience.

Don’t you want to know more about this amazing woman? Here’s Julie's bio:

Julie Valerie, an avid Scrabble player who once played QWERTY on a triple word, writes humorous women’s fiction and is developing a series set in the idyllic Village of Primm.

She is the founder of the 85K Writing Challenge, providing writers an enriching environment in which to pen 85,000 words in 90 days, supported by a full calendar of writing support. Julie also serves on the board of directors for James River Writers, a multi-faceted non-profit organization based in Richmond, Virginia, that serves as central Virginia’s literary hub. A voracious reader, Julie has reviewed 200+ books in her genre and recently won the BookSparks 2015 Summer Reading Challenge Grand Prize.

Deepening her love of the written word, Julie earned an editing certificate from the University of Chicago Graham School and is constantly humbled by the nuances of language and the nitty-gritty of grammar while strengthening her proficiencies in the Chicago Manual of Style. With a master’s degree in education and a certification in wilderness first aid, Julie enjoys reading, the study of wine, section hiking the Appalachian Trail, and travel.

Writing amid the mayhem and merriment of her motley crew, Julie is married to her college sweetheart, has four children (two girls, two boys) and two English Labradors (one yellow, one chocolate).

You can find Julie on the web at www.julievalerie.com, on Facebook at JulieValerieAuthor, and on Twitter @julievalerie.

Karen A. Chase

Karen is a research and history geek—that’s one of the many reasons I love her! We connected when I learned she had received a fellowship to the American Antiquarian Society in Worchester, MA, the same place my wife and I were planning to go for our vacation that coming summer (yes, I’m that geeky, and so it Karen)!

I’m delighted Karen will be our Featured Speaker on Saturday. Here’s a description of her Karen’s talk.


We often go on vacation to get away from work and disengage from life. For a novelist, travel is the means by which we venture beyond the page. With examples from her travels for research and writing projects, Karen will take participants through how to plan a trip that allows you to bring home deeper, richer memories from unforgettable travel experiences.

Here's Karen's amazing bio:

Karen A. Chase is an author and photographer, and owner of 224Design, a branding and design studio. Her historical novel, Carrying Independence, debuts summer 2019 and her southern upmarket women’s fiction (Decoys) is in production. Her first book, Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log—a memory and travel essay—garnered seven independent publishing awards. Originally from Canada, Karen is now chasing histories from Richmond, VA.

Wendy DeGroat

Wendy will be teaching a workshop for us on Saturday called Writing with your Senses, and also leading Mindful Mornings for those who would like to start each day mindfully.

Here's a description of Wendy's workshop:

Whether you write poetry, essays, blog posts, fiction, or creative nonfiction, incorporating sensory details (i.e., sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste) into your writing helps the reader connect more deeply with your words by triggering their own sensory memories. In this workshop, we’ll practice techniques for heightening awareness of sensory details and explore ways they can be integrated into your writing.

Wendy's bio:

Wendy DeGroat’s poetry has appeared in Cider Press Review, Rust + Moth, Common-place, Raleigh Review, Mslexia and elsewhere. Her chapbook Beautiful Machinery was published in 2016 and she has a completed documentary poetry manuscript. Wendy is a librarian in Richmond, Virginia, where she also teaches workshops, is a certified Koru Mindfulness teacher, and curates poetryriver.org, a resource site for contemporary American poetry and docupoetry. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, you’ll find her on the river or in the woods.

Annette Marquis

On Friday, March 29, 2019, I'll be offering two intensive workshops, Writing Memoir and Paths to Publication. On Sunday, March 31, 2019, I'll wrap up the weekend with a featured presentation, Not Anonymous Anymore.

Researchers tell us that for as long as writing has existed as a form of communication, women have written. But for centuries, women’s writing was ignored, stolen, destroyed, disguised, or anonymized. In the 20th century that started to change. Now in the 21st, women have the tools and opportunity to self-publish and make their work available to anyone who wants to read it. In this presentation, Annette will share concrete ideas for how we are women writers can make our voices heard and why it’s imperative for us to do so.

Annette Marquis is an author, public speaker, blogger, and community builder. She is the author of Resistance: A Memoir of Civil Disobedience in Maricopa County, and co-author of twenty-five software books. Her writing has appeared in anthologies, including The Women of Katrina: How Gender, Race, and Class Matter in an American Disaster, Struggling in Good Faith: LGBTQI Inclusion from 13 American Religious Perspectives, Coming Out in Faith, and Bless the Imperfect, and in various magazines and journals including The Other Journal.

When she’s not on the road in her Winnebago Travato camper van, Annette lives in Henrico, VA, with her poet-wife Wendy, and works as Program Director for James River Writers. She is the owner of Marquis Enterprises, LLC., which includes, among other ventures, the website and community WanderingWordswomen.com.

This is just some of the inspiration, education, and connections you’ll find at the Wandering WordsWomen Writers Retreat. See the full schedule here:

Full Wandering WordsWomen Writers Retreat Schedule

I hope you’ll register today.

More information and to register for the Wandering WordsWomen Writers Retreat

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