Saturday-Sunday, Oct 28-29, 2017


OVERLAND PARK, Kansas -- Ad Astra is a new conference for those aspiring to write professionally, with an eye toward commercial publication, or as the foundation for personal growth and self-expression. With that in mind, we welcome writers of all ages, education backgrounds, and skill levels. Each year, the theme of the conference will change, and for our 2017 premiere conference—on the weekend before Halloween—the theme is horror. Our faculty is composed of writers and editors who have had a wide range of both commercial and critical success, and who have a talent for teaching writing to others. Offered by the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University, the conference is co-sponsored by the Department of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism. Max McCoy is the director of the conference. To register, go to the conference blog.


Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 14-17, 2017


EUREKA SPRINGS, Arkansas -- Max McCoy is a keynote speaker at Ozark Creative Writers, one of the largest and most well-known writing conferences in the Ozarks. Max was on the board of directors for this conference some years ago, and is delighted to be returning to see old friends and make new ones. HIs keynoted, "The Unexpected Journey," is about his forthcoming book on the Arkansas River from the University Press of Kansas.


Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017


EMPORIA, Kansas -- Max McCoy will talk about Mark Twain biographer Albert Bigelow Paine, who left Kansas in 1890s for New York, to avoid one of the state's most notorious divorce cases. This is part of a lecture series at the Red Rocks State Historic Site, 927 Exchange St., which was home to newspaper editor William Allen White family, who was a friend of Paine's early in their careers. The talk will begin at 2 p.m.


Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 3-5, 2017


ELMIRA, New York -- Max McCoy will present his paper, “Adventurous Beginnings: The Secret Life of Albert Paine,” as part of a panel addressing the plenary session on Saturday at the Eighth Annual International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

SATANTA, Kan. -- Author Max McCoy will present “The Unexpected West” here at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 25, at the Happy Agers Center. The event is hosted by the Dudley Township Public Library.

McCoy, who is noted for his dark westerns, will discuss his research into some surprising and sometimes gruesome chapters in history, from the Goat Doctor to the Bloody Benders. He will also be available to sign books and, as time permits, coach writers.

McCoy is the author of more than twenty books, including four original Indiana Jones adventures for Lucasfilm and three Ophelia Wylde paranormal mysteries. Of Grave Concern, the first mystery, was named a Kansas Notable Book by the State Library of Kansas. He won the Spur Award in 2011 from the Western Writers of America for Damnation Road, the last book in the Hellfire western noir trilogy. Hellfire Canyon, the first book in the trilogy,  won a Spur and was also named a Kansas Notable Book.

McCoy is an associate professor of journalism at Emporia State University.


Friday, Dec. 16, 2016



"Twain's Mysterious Stranger" at Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore, Emporia


Author Max McCoy will speak on his newly published article about the secret life of Mark Twain’s biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine, at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, at Ellen Plumb’s City Bookstore, 1101 Commercial.

Max McCoy, an associate professor of journalism at Emporia State, is the author of “The Man Who Was Twain’s Mysterious Stranger,” which appears in the current issue of The New Territory, a quarterly magazine devoted to the lower Midwest. It features narrative journalism, literature, and art. The article reveals how Paine, a native of Fort Scott, left behind a scandal when he went to New York in 1895, and eventually became the biographer of America’s favorite author. Paine’s official story, told and retold over the decades, is that he went to New York to pursue a literary career, but the truth is that he was also taking with him a new family and leaving behind an unhappy wife, Minnie, and a divorce case resolved only by death.

The centerpiece of the article is a 1943 letter written by Paine’s daughter, Louise, that was recently discovered in an uncatalogued collection at the Bancroft Library at Berkeley, California. The letter, written to her sisters, tells the story of the “adventurous beginnings” of their parents’ romance. Their mother, Dora, was a dental assistant at Fort Scott when she met Paine.

By 1908, Louise was a member of Twain’s “Angelfish Club,” the author’s collection of young girls. As an adult, she was a best-selling author and the fashion editor of the Ladies Home Journal. She died in 1968.

The editor and the publisher of The New Territory, Tina Casagrand, of Jefferson City, Missouri, will also be on hand for the event. Copies of the quarterly will be on sale. The magazine can be previewed at .


Oct. 7 & 8, 2016

'Paths to Publication" at Dodge City Public Library



WWA Ersfeld Symposium Presents Paths to Publication

      DODGE CITY, Kansas – Five award-winning authors, including historian R. Eli Paul and novelist Max McCoy, will discuss writing about the American West in a two-day symposium scheduled Oct. 7-8 at the Dodge City Public Library.

     In addition to Paul, author of Battle at Blue Water Creek and Eyewitness to Wounded Knee, and McCoy, other scheduled presenters for the Dodge City program include novelist Susan K. Salzer, and Melody Groves and Monty McCord, both of whom write fiction and nonfiction. Joining them for the opening session Oct. 7 is New York Times best-selling nonfiction writer Chris Enss.

     “We encourage writers of all levels of experience to attend,” WWA executive director Candy Moulton said. “This is a chance to have one-on-one contact with some of the leading authors in the field of Western Literature who will provide insight and specific information to aid both new and established writers.”

     The symposium is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Oct. 7 with a The Paths to Publication” panel in which the authors discuss how to write a good Western and how they got their own Westerns published. Enss will moderate.

     A reception and book signing are scheduled after the panel.

     Workshops follow on Oct. 8, beginning with two morning sessions (9:30-11:30 a.m.): McCoy’s “The Unexpected West, and What It Means to Your Writing” and Salzer’s “How to Bring Your (fictional) Characters to Life.”

     McCoy will give tips on how to write a non-traditional Western. Salzer shows ways to make historical characters compelling and multifaceted.

     Afternoon sessions (1:30-3:30 p.m.) are Paul’s “Opportunities in Western History, or ‘Not Another Custer Book!’” and Groves and McCord’s “So You Want to Get Published?”

     Following a lunch break, attendees will have an opportunity to tour the Ford County Historical Archives.

     Paul will show the best ways to research primary historical sources and online collections. Groves and McCord will discuss dos and don’ts of writing, pitching and selling a fiction or nonfiction Western.

     The Oct. 7 event at the Dodge City Public Library, 1001 N. Second Ave., is free. There is a $50 fee for all events associated with the Oct. 8 symposium. To register fill out the attached registration form Ersfeld_DodgeCity_Registration Form.docx (or obtain a copy of it by sending an email