The following instructors and friends of the The Writer’s Center offer private, one-on-one consultation services.



Your words. Like never before.

We’re a small team of editing and presentation coaches for veteran and aspiring writers. Coaching one-on-one or in pairs, we’re passionate about helping our clients transform their audiences through the written word. Polishing your manuscript, mastering the public reading, or preparing for storytelling or Moth-like events are just a few of our specialties. Learn more about how we can help you bring your most important story to the page, stage, or recording studio. A portion of the initial consultation fee is donated back to The Writer’s Center.

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Amy Abrams

Amy Abrams is an award-winning author, widely-read journalist, literary journal editor (Delmarva Review), and former publishing executive at art magazines (Art & Antiques and Museum & Arts Washington). She has published over 200 articles in major magazines and newspapers including Art in America, The Wall Street Journal, Tribune Newspapers, and Village Voice Media. She has appeared on TV and radio programs including NPR, as well as lectured to university, museum, and writing conference audiences across America. Book releases include a novel, The Cage and The Key, and the coffee table art book, Schenck in the 21st Century: The Myth of the Hero and the Truth of America, which won the 2013 US Literary Award for Fine Arts. Most recently, as a communications consultant, her clients include the World Bank, World Vision International, and George Washington University. Contact her at:

Sara Burnett

Sara Burnett is a poet, writer and educator. She is the author of the chapbook Mother Tongue (Dancing Girl Press 2018). Her poems have appeared in Barrow Street, The Cortland Review, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. She holds a MFA from the University of Maryland and a MA in English Literature from the University of Vermont. A former public high school teacher, she has written on education equity and immigration in print and online publications and designs curriculum. Having several years experience teaching middle school and high school students, she now enjoys tutoring them on creative and analytical writing projects (even those assigned once by teachers like herself). She lives in Silver Spring, MD with her family.

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Carolyn Clark

Carolyn Clark, Ph.D., is a devoted teacher and a personal trainer. Indebted to teachers at Cornell University, Brown University, and The Johns Hopkins University for degrees in Classics-related fields, she enjoys riding, writing woodlands lyric poetry, and finding mythology everywhere.

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Melanie Figg

Writing Mentor & Creativity Coach

Melanie Figg (MFA, CPCC) is a writer, educator, and certified professional coach. She’s received numerous awards for her work including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County. She’s the author of a sold-old chapbook, HURRY, LOVE and a full-length poetry collection, TRACE—which won the Many Voices Project award from New Rivers Press. Her award-winning poems, essays, and reviews have been published in dozens of literary magazines including The Iowa Review, Nimrod, and Quarterly West.

Melanie works 1-1 with people on their writing and also critiques manuscripts—offering specific and helpful feedback for improvement. She has 10 years of substantial experience as a creativity and personal coach. She works with all kinds of writers and people looking to add more creative practices to their lives, finish creative projects (by tackling procrastination, the Inner Critic, poor time management, etc.), write a new chapter after retirement, or achieve other results in their creative or personal lives.

Judith Harris

Writing Coach, Creative Consultant and Editor

Judith Harris, Ph.D  has taught at universities in D.C. such as George Washington, Catholic University, American University, and has held residencies at VCCA, Frost Place, and Yaddo.

She is presently an instructor at the Writer’s Center and associate editor of Clio’s Psyche: The Psychohistory Forum.

Her collections of poetry include Night Garden (Tiger Bark Press, 2013) Atonement (LSU, 2000) and The Bad Secret (LSU, 2006). Her acclaimed critical study Signifying Pain: Constructing and Healing the Self through Writing (2003) was published by SUNY Press, and her articles have been published in many journals, including Tikkun, College English, The Washingtonian, The Chronicle of Associated Writing Programs, Midwest Quarterly, The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, The Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis among many others.

Her poems have appeared in The Hudson Review, The New York Times, Slate, Ploughshares, The New Republic, the Atlantic, The Nation, Southern Review, The American Scholar, Prairie Schooner, Antioch Review and an array of poems appeared in Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” series. In 2006 she presented her poetry at the Library of Congress at the invitation of U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall.

Judith welcomes all levels of writers, from beginners to advanced, to work with her to not only to realize the potential of their writing, whether it be in poetry, fiction, expository, creative non-fiction, or memoir. Each tutorial is tailored to an author’s aspiration and goals; and she guides writers toward possible publishers for their works.

She can be reached at or

Kathryn Johnson

Kathryn Johnson has published 41 novels with major U.S. and international publishers. She is an inspiring speaker at national writers’ conferences and the founder of Write by You, a professional mentoring service for fiction writers who seek support in reaching their publication goals. Her most recent critically-acclaimed novel is The Gentleman Poet: A Novel of Love, Danger, and Shakespeare’s The “Tempest”.

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Katherine McCord

Katherine McCord has been teaching Creative Writing at all levels, kindergarten to graduate school, for a wonderfully long time. She has published four books, two of creative nonfiction and two of poetry, by selective presses. All four have won prizes and/or gotten exceptional reviews. She has both an M.F.A. and M.A. in Creative Writing and has published many poems in nationally-recognized literary journals, including American Poetry Review. She regularly writes reviews for literary books and has won many awards for her work, such as The Autumn House Open Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and a Hoffer Legacy Award. She’s worked as an editor, a consultant, a tutor, and a coach. She was named a finalist for the Faulkner Wisdom Competition for an excerpt from her book-length lyric essay and was named a finalist for an excerpt from her book, Run Scream Unbury Save, for the Frank McCourt Memoir Prize. She has taught workshops for Healing and the Arts; been a literary executor; done creative writing workshops for women transitioning from homelessness and addiction; had her work chosen so that she was teamed with an MFA in Curatorial Practice Program to create an art installation of her work; and, for 10 years, has worked with the Emotional Energy Worker, Dianne Lancaster (, nationally recognized, who has profoundly changed her life, so that she carries this work to all her writing and all that she does. Her manuscript, You Didn’t Know Logic Was a Thing: An Autobiographical Novel, is under consideration at various literary agencies. She’s available to take on any of the roles noted above. Her website is She can be contacted via

Sarah O’Halloran

Digital Marketing Specialist

Sarah O’Halloran ( is an arts manager who works with individuals and organizations in areas including project management, marketing, and communications. These days every writer needs to build an online platform. But sometimes it’s a daunting prospect: some writers are unsure of to build a personal brand, others feel uneasy about self-promotion, and some lack the necessary tech skills. Sarah works with writers interested in promoting their work online helping them to define their personal brand and communicate through social media, a personal website, a mailing list, or other channel. Sarah is an experienced teacher who welcomes tech novices and is happy to teach them about basic topics like setting up a social media account and writing great posts. Sarah also teaches more advanced topics like running a successful mailing list or blog. In addition to teaching writers Sarah also provides services like online marketing assessments, building new websites, and creating marketing content.

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Laura J. Oliver

Laura J. Oliver is an award-winning developmental book editor and writing mentor. She is the author of The Story Within: New Insights and Inspiration for Writers (Penguin Random House), named by “Poets and Writers Magazine” as one of the best writing books ever published. For 20 years, Oliver has delighted in teaching others to write compelling short stories, novels, memoirs, creative nonfiction articles and personal essays both one on one and in workshops. She also guides writers through the submission process, editing successful query letters and proposals. Many of her clients have landed book contracts with major traditional publishers such as Simon and Schuster. Oliver’s own fiction and essays are published in national newspapers, magazines and top-tier literary reviews such as The Washington Post, Country Living Magazine, The Writer Magazine, The Sun Magazine, Baltimore Review and Glimmer Train. Co-creator of The Writing Intensive at St. John’s College, She is the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Fiction, an Anne Arundel County Arts Council Literary Arts Award winner, a two-time Glimmer Train Short Fiction finalist, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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Lynn Schwartz

Lynn Auld Schwartz is a writer, story development editor for fiction and nonfiction works, and has ghostwritten three books. For the last 20 years, Lynn has provided both accomplished and aspiring writers with developmental editing, consulting, and manuscript assessment for the short story, novel, memoir, play, screenplay, and lifestyle article. Her goal is to guide clients to discover the heart of their stories and tell them well, resulting in writing that is ready to be submitted for publication or performed. Lynn’s plays and staged readings have been performed in Atlanta and NYC, including Lincoln Center. She founded the Temple Bar Literary Reading Series in NYC, has received two Individual Artist Awards in Fiction from the Maryland State Arts Council, and an Annie Literary Arts Award from the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County. Her stories have appeared in literary journals and she produces and directs a Page To Stage series, which offers teen and adult regional writers the opportunity to perform their life stories on stage. A graduate of The City College of New York, Columbia University, and The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater, Lynn has taught creative writing at many venues, including St. John’s College, The Writer’s Center, and she is a Writing Guest Artist for Anne Arundel County’s Performing and Visual Arts Magnet program. More about her at:

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Katherine Scott

Katherine Hutt Scott is the 3rd place winner of the 2018 Bethesda Urban Partnership poetry contest and loves all forms of beautiful writing. She has coached officials at the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in good writing practices. She also has edited a book of poetry and helped a retiree with cognitive difficulties write his memoir about surviving brain cancer. Ms. Scott has worked 11 years as an international communications professional and two decades before that as a journalist. More about her at:

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Marilyn Smith

Marilyn Smith has a Ph.D. in Education Policy/Higher Education and an M.A. in Reading Education. She has taken numerous writing classes from The Writer’s Center, and has taught a wide variety of courses/workshops/seminars since 1969. Marilyn retired a few years ago and has recently published two books—her memoir and an anthology of medical memoirs. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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Susan Sonde

Susan is an award winning poet and short story writer. Her debut collection: In the Longboats with Others won the Capricorn Book Award and was published by New Rivers Press. The Arsonist is her fifth collection due out May 2019 from Main Street Rag. Grants and awards include, a National Endowment Award in poetry; grants in fiction and poetry from The Maryland State Arts Council; The Gordon Barber Memorial Award from The Poetry Society of America. Prizes include a Writer’s Digest Award, several prizes from Narrative Magazine, including “Poem of the Week,” The Beulah Rose Poetry Prize, and others. Her collection The Chalk Line was a finalist in The National Poetry Series. Individual poems have appeared in Barrow Street, The North American Review, The Southern Humanities Review, The Mississippi Review, Arts & Letters, Epoch and many notable others. Contact her at for poetry manuscript editing.

Elaine Stromquist

Elaine Stromquist is an educator, editor, and tutor. She has a BA and MA in French Language and Literature. She has taught and tutored all levels of French during her professional career. In addition, she has worked as an Editor and Educational Consultant, editing educational reports and publications and assisting clients with college essays and creative writing projects. She has had a lifelong passion for language, art, and international culture. Contact Elaine at

Scott Swinney

Scott has edited professionally for more than a decade, and he has taught writing and research at the university level for nearly 20 years. He specializes in academic writing and writing for an online audience. In addition to editing and ghostwriting, Scott offers coaching for writers of all levels, and he also designs and delivers writing workshops online or in-person. Scott can be reached by email at