2019 Washington Writers Conference Volunteers

The Washington Writers Conference is an all-volunteer effort. Here’s a snapshot of all the folks (writers themselves) making the 2019 conference happen:

Audrey Bastian, conference chair, writes history between professional interpreting assignments. Trying to understand the Japanese kids she grew up with in Okinawa turned her toward a lifelong interest in East-West relations. Now she explores these themes through the pages of history. She has published in the Journal of Burma Studies, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and other places. She won an honorable mention in the 75th Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition for a memoir, “Japanese Carp.” In 2017, the Cambridge University Summer Institute chose her creative nonfiction piece about an historical journey at sea for an honorary reading. Twitter: @AABastianWrites

Caroline Bock’s debut short-story collection, Carry Her Home, won the 2018 Fiction Award from the Washington Writers’ Publishing House. She is also the author of two critically acclaimed young-adult novels: Lie and Before My Eyes from St. Martin’s Press. When she’s not writing or teaching at Marymount University in Arlington or the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, she’s doing outreach for the DC area’s premier writing conference. Twitter: @cabockwrites

Tara Campbell is a fiction editor at Barrelhouse, a Kimbilio Fellow, and an MFA candidate at American University. Publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, b(OINK), Booth, Spelk, Jellyfish Review, Strange Horizons, and Queen Mob’s Teahouse. Her debut novel, TreeVolution, was published in 2016, and her hybrid fiction and poetry collection, Circe's Bicycle, was released in spring 2018. Twitter: @TaraCampbellCom

Bob Duffy is a Maryland writer and grandfather of nine. A sometime academic, former ad agency VP, current ghostwriter, book reviewer, and dabbler in short fiction, Bob has written scores of articles for scholarly and business pubs, and led branding teams serving big companies and federal agencies alike. He’s also spoken and hosted workshops on business strategy and tech at conferences throughout the U.S., as well as in the U.K., Canada, and the Far East. Twitter: @brandvistas       

John Grady was a managing editor of Navy Times for more than eight years and retired as communications director of the Association of the United States Army after 17 years. He is the author of Matthew Fontaine Maury: Father of Oceanography, which was nominated for the Library of Virginia’s 2016 nonfiction award. He has contributed to Sea History, Naval History, the New York Times’ “Disunion” series, Civil War Monitor, and was a blogger for the Navy’s Sesquicentennial of the Civil War site. He continues writing on national security and defense. His later work has appeared on USNI.org, BreakingDefense, Government Executive, govexec.com, and nextgov.com, among other places. John has spoken at conferences of the North American Society for Oceanic History, and as part of the Banner Lecture Series of the Virginia Historical Society and the Great Lives series at Mary Washington University. He also has spoken at the Navy Museum, Navy Memorial, Museum of the Confederacy, Mariners Museum, the Maritime Museum of Annapolis, the Fredericksburg Area Cultural Center, and to a number of organizations interested in naval and Civil War history.

Emory Hackman is our legendary Pitch Master who times and controls the pitch room, where authors make brief presentations of their nonfiction proposals and/or their fiction manuscripts. He started our practice of opening the door to the pitch room with the words, “Okay, time to go, go, go! Sell, sell, sell!” He found an agent for his own manuscript, Arabian Storm, a 90,000-word thriller, at our 2017 conference.

Laura Hazan is a librarian at Enoch Pratt, where she runs the bimonthly Light Street Writers Exchange. She completed her first novel, Little Boxes, and is still seeking representation for publication. She has a B.A. in communications from American University, an M.L.S. in library science from the University of Maryland, and attended the “Your Novel Year” program at Arizona State University’s Piper Writing Center. In addition, her work has been published in Natural Bridge, Kirkwood Patch, and Sauce Magazine, and by Not a Pipe Publishing for their #yearofpublishingwomen. She resides in Baltimore with her son, her husband, and their one-eyed dog, Boh.

Helen Horton is a food writer and a recipe-tester for the Washington Post. She inadvertently learned to cook while growing up in Southern California during lean years. Coaxing layers of flavors from simple ingredients, she turned out enticing dishes at a young age. Her cooking journey has taken her to Asia and eight additional states across the U.S. She’s writing a memoir about her food pilgrimage and gig with the Post. A regional manager for a nonprofit, she also helps people find jobs in the Mid-Atlantic region. Twitter: @helenhortondesk

Garinè B. Isassi is the award-winning author of the novel Start with the Backbeat. She grew up with one foot in Texas and the other in New Jersey. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she is a lover of music, chocolate, and altruistic sarcasm, and a writer of post-punk humor. She lives with her family in Maryland, where she works full-time, writes most of the time, and is the Workshops Chair for the Gaithersburg Book Festival. Twitter: @garineisassi

Lisa Lipkind Leibow is author of The Plastic World of Ruthie Rosenblum, a Faulkner-Wisdom Novel Finalist. She’s a grant recipient and resident at the Vermont Studio Center, and winner of Pitchapalooza D.C. Lisa holds a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University with a concentration in fiction. Her short stories have appeared in literary journals including Eleven Eleven, Folly, Griffin, and Diverse Voices Quarterly. She teaches graduate, undergraduate, and community-based writing courses in the DC area.  

Will Pittman has volunteered with the Washington Independent Review of Books since its inception in 2011, and writes a monthly column (under the pseudonym Y.S. Fing) called Finglish. In order to promote the Independent and cultivate the DC literary community, he has been on the Washington Writers Conference committee for each of its seven years. He teaches English composition at the University of Maryland and lives la vida loca literaria.

As a librarian, Laura Puls has enjoyed working in nonprofit, archival, and public libraries, but her favorite job was as a writing consultant in a university writing center. Laura started writing fiction in middle school, referencing HTML 4 for Dummies to create her own *NSYNC fanfic website. Currently, Laura meets with two DC friends twice a month to write fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction and to share ideas for each other’s stories.

Yung Fang Smith works on scripts for graphic novels and collaborates with illustrators. She studied playwriting, writing, and education at Brigham Young University, and she teaches writing and reading in Alexandria, VA. She is Asian American and is passionate about different languages. 



Julia Tagliere is a local writer and editor whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Writer, Potomac Review, Gargoyle Magazine, the Washington Independent Review of Books, SmokeLong Quarterly, numerous anthologies, and the juried photography and prose collection Love + Lust. Winner of the 2015 William Faulkner Literary Competition for Best Short Story and the 2017 Writer’s Center Undiscovered Voices Fellowship, Julia recently completed her M.A. in writing at Johns Hopkins University. She serves as an editor with the Baltimore Review and is working on her next novel, The Day the Music Didn’t Die. Twitter: @juliascribbling

Tommy Triebwasser is a DC-area translator who aspires to bring his multicultural experiences to the world of children's fiction.



Jennifer Bort Yacovissi’s debut novel, Up the Hill to Home, tells the story of four generations of a family in Washington, DC, from the Civil War to the Great Depression. Jenny is a member of PEN/America and the National Book Critics’ Circle, and writes a monthly column and reviews regularly for the Independent. She served as chair of the 2017 and 2018 Washington Writers Conference, and for several recent years was president of the Annapolis chapter of the Maryland Writers Association. Twitter: @jbyacovissi

Volunteer opportunities are now closed, but if you’re interested in volunteering for 2020, find one of us at the 2019 conference and let us know. We look forward to seeing you in May!