2020 Washington Writers Conference Committee

It’s with sadness that we announce the 2020 Washington Writers Conference is canceled. Please read the full announcement here. Contact us at [email protected] with questions.


The Washington Writers Conference is organized by writers for writers. Here is a snapshot of our 2020 volunteer committee:

Audrey Bastian (AA Bastian) will chair the Washington Writers Conference for the second year in 2020. She owns a business interpreting for deaf clients specializing in international content and settings. She also speaks Mandarin and Arabic at varying levels of fluency depending on how often she’s using them. She has spent the last seven years working on a nonfiction history of Elam Luddington and the story before Anna Leonowens met the king of Siam, popularized by the musical “The King and I.” She explores the historical context of her own childhood in Okinawa, Japan. While Audrey spends a significant portion of her time interpreting, researching and writing her book, and running the conference, she publishes on the side when she has time. Audrey has published in the Journal of Burma Studies, the Washington Independent Review of Books, By Common Consent, 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 University of Cambridge Summer Institute chose her creative nonfiction piece about an historical journey at sea for an honorary reading. Audrey wants to foster other writers and build community. If she hasn’t gotten back to you, she may be spending time with her 4-year-old and 2-year-old nieces, reading them stories, pretending, and taking them to gym class. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Jennifer Bort Yacovissi’s debut novel, Up the Hill to Home, which won INDIEFAB and Readers’ Favorite 2015 gold writing awards, is the story of four generations of a family in Washington, DC, from the Civil War to the Great Depression. Jenny writes a bimonthly column and reviews frequently for the Washington Independent Review of Books and serves on its board of directors. She also writes a bimonthly column for Late Last Night Books. Her short fiction has appeared in Gargoyle and Pen-in-Hand. Jenny is a member of PEN/America and the National Book Critics’ Circle. Previously, she served as chair of the Washington Writers Conference and as president of the Annapolis chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association. Stop by Jenny’s website for a collection of her reviews and columns, and follow her on Twitter. At the Washington Writers Conference in 2020, Jenny oversees the dynamic slate of programs and panels as the senior programming chair.

Caroline Bock’s debut short-story collection, Carry Her Home, was the winner of the 2018 Washington Writers’ Publishing House Fiction Prize. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed young-adult novels LIE and Before My Eyes. Educated at Syracuse University, where she studied creative writing with Raymond Carver, she spent two decades as a marketing and public relations executive at Bravo, IFC, and IFC Films. For her second act, she earned an MFA in fiction from the City College of New York in 2011. In 2018, the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County awarded her an Artists & Scholars grant for her novel-in-progress set in 2097. Currently, she is a lecturer in creative writing at the English Department at Marymount University in Arlington, a workshop leader at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda and Politics and Prose in DC, and a 2019/2020 fellow with the PEN/Faulkner Writers in Schools program. At the Washington Writers Conference in 2020, she oversees marketing, public relations, and sponsorships as the senior outreach specialist.

Tara Campbell is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction editor at Barrelhouse. Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Jellyfish Review, Booth, Strange Horizons, and Escape Pod/Artemis Rising. She's the author of a novel, TreeVolution, and two collections, Circe's Bicycle and Midnight at the Organporium. She received her MFA from American University in 2019. At the Washington Writers Conference in 2020, Tara shares her talents as a senior conference advisor.

Will Pittman has volunteered with the Washington Independent Review of Books since its inception in 2011 and writes a monthly column there (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. At the Washington Writers Conference in 2020, Will lends his experience and expertise as a senior conference advisor.

Helen Horton is a food writer and recipe tester for the Washington Post. She learned to cook while growing up in Southern California. 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 United States. She’s writing a book offering an inside look at testing recipes with the Post. She spent five years recipe blogging, sharing stories and cooking tips. Her writing journey began in fifth grade, working on the Bassett Hound’s Howl, her elementary school rag. During her career, she accumulated a couple decades’ worth of technical writing experience creating and editing policies, procedures, and communications for several organizations. A resume writer, LinkedIn profile builder, and career coach at Thunder Resume, she helps people find their dream job. Since 2017, she has volunteered for the Washington Writers Conference, first assisting with agents. In 2019, she carved out a new position as schedule designer and designed a new Publishing Pros Track. In 2020, she and her team are expanding options for writers who want to know more about publishing their manuscripts and hear from editors, publicity, and marketing. In 2020, she was also promoted to lead scheduling designer, to capture and make accessible the growing offerings at this year’s conference, and serves as publishing pros lead. Find her on Twitter at @helenhortondesk.

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. She is the pitch-room director for the Washington Writers Conference in 2020 and will manage all our literary agents and their pitch sessions.

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. At this year's Washington Writers Conference, she serves as both a publishing pros assistant and a scheduling designer assistant. Find her on Twitter at @garineisassi.

Former academic Bob Duffy, who writes regularly for the Washington Independent Review of Books, is a Maryland author and ghostwriter. His previous writing credits include scholarly articles about 16th-century European literary history, discussions of movies and pop culture 1935 to 1960, and commentaries on business strategy and emerging online technologies. As vice president at a national ad agency from 1996 to 2004, Bob founded and led a research and brand-strategy practice serving large ($1 billion+) corporations and other prominent organizations. He has spoken and led workshops on digital branding throughout the U.S., Europe, and the Far East. He also makes occasional forays into short fiction, with seven stories appearing online or in print journals. He lives with his wife, Zenette, in Columbia. They have nine grandchildren, half of whom are already pushing relentlessly into adulthood. In 2020 at the Washington Writers Conference, Bob will work with the programming team.

Catherine Bloom, agent liaison, studied writing at Rhodes College and has freelanced for magazines, digital cultural-heritage projects, and a fashion website. She has graduate degrees from the University of Liverpool and the University of Maryland. Currently, Catherine works as a librarian for the federal government in Washington, DC, and writes traditional mysteries the rest of the time.

A native of Chicago, Tracy Hamblet moved to the DC area in 1987 to attend Saint John’s College in Annapolis, MD. Over the past 25 years, she has worked as an economist and analyst for the federal government, including serving under Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, President Bill Clinton, Attorney General Janet Reno, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She fulfilled her lifelong dream to be a writer and attend the University of Iowa, Iowa City for an MFA. Her work has been published in a book of short essays, and she has won poetry contests in Washington, DC. Tracy currently lives with her orange tabby cat, Patrick, in DC. She completed her first novel in November 2018. She serves as a social-media coordinator for this year's conference.

Dr. Ida E. Jones is university archivist at Morgan State University. During the course of her career, biographies appealed to her inner journalist and historian. Her initial work on Kelly Miller, 1863-1939, rose from a desire to celebrate an accomplished man whose legacy was relegated to snippets. As she continued to probe historical events and process archival collections, the framework to craft biographies surfaced. Committed to service within the profession and the larger field of education, she continues to probe historical events. Her scholarship is evident in numerous speaking engagements, as well as radio and television appearances. She has published four books: The Heart of the Race Problem: The Life of Kelly Miller; Mary McLeod Bethune in Washington, D.C.: Activism and Education in Logan Circle; William Henry Jernagin: Faith in the Fight for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.; and Baltimore Civil Rights Leader Victorine Q. Adams: The Power of the Ballot. Dr. Jones is a consummate scholar who believes deeply in the words of Mary McLeod Bethune, who stated, “Power must walk hand in hand with humility and the intellect must have a soul.” Dr. Jones will be integral to the grassroots outreach at the 2020 Washington Writers Conference as a publishing pros assistant, scheduling designer assistant, and assistant agent liaison.

Danielle Stonehirsch works on special projects for First Book, a nonprofit with a mission to bring diverse, low-cost books to kids in need around the country. Her short fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Bethesda Magazine, Montgomery Magazine, Washington City Paper, Tin House online, Roar: True Tales of Women Warriors, and Reflections. She reads in English, French, and Spanish, and, these days, mostly reads books for children and teens. In 2020, she will be the social media manager for the Washington Writers Conference and urges everyone to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Julia Tagliere’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Writer, Potomac Review, Gargoyle Magazine, Washington Independent Review of Books, SmokeLong Quarterly, WritersResist, various 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 Writers Center Undiscovered Voices Fellowship, Julia recently completed her M.A. in writing at Johns Hopkins University. Founder of the new MoCo Underground Reading Series in Montgomery County, Maryland, Julia serves as an editor with the Baltimore Review and is working on her next novel, The Day the Music Didn’t Die, which was shortlisted for the Faulkner Society’s 2019 Wisdom Competition. Contact her at [email protected]. In 2020, she will be author liaison for the Washington Writers Conference.

Drew Smith, an IT specialist at the Washington Writers Conference, has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and has worked in the industry as both a systems and application engineer. While living in Japan for a couple years, he became fascinated with languages and learned to speak and read Japanese; he also learned some Mandarin Chinese after returning home to the U.S. Drew has honed his technical writing skills through his profession. His favorite book genre is science-fiction/fantasy, which, he admits, is stereotypical of an engineer.

Questions or comments? Email [email protected] for more information!