MTSU Write Director and Faculty


 Jennifer Wachtel Kates


 Jennifer Wachtel Kates, Director

Jennifer is a Tennessee native who earned her M.A. in creative writing from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers and her Ph.D. in creative writing from Georgia State University.  She teaches fiction writing at Middle Tennessee State University, where she has taught in the English department since 1997.  Her short stories have appeared in The Southwestern Review and GSU Review, where her story “Egg and Spoon” earned the short fiction award.  She is the recipient of the Allen Tate Creative Writing Award, and serves as faculty advisor for Collage.  She is a volunteer and advocate for Autism Speaks Tennessee, for which she earned the MTSU Faculty Outstanding Public Service Award in 2011.  She is the current President of the Southern Literary Festival, which will be hosted at MTSU in March of 2016.  She lives in Murfreesboro with her three sons.

MTSU Write Faculty

Given the intensity of one-on-one mentoring, we cannot promise that all mentors listed here are available to you in any given trimester, but please make your request known and we will do the best we can to secure the mentor of your choice. 

Gloria Ballard

Gloria Ballard

Nashville, Tennessee--non-fiction, personal essay, travel writing

Bachelor of Arts in English / Journalism

The University of Tennessee

Gloria Ballard enjoyed a 32-year career at The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville as a copy editor, reporter and columnist covering a variety of features and lifestyle topics; features editor, travel editor and garden columnist. She began a second career as a freelance writer specializing in garden and travel writing, and as an editor, teacher and workshop leader.

Her fiction has been published in Drafthorse literary journal. She is an alumna of Sewanee Writers' Conference. She writes a weekly online column, The Garden Bench, and a garden calendar that appears once a month in The Tennessean. Gloria is also an avid gardener, and speaks to classes, clubs and groups on a variety of garden topics. She is a member of Garden Writers Association.

Related websites:

Bill Brown

Bill Brown

from Greenbrier, Tennessee--poetry

Bill Brown is the author of three chapbooks, four collections of poetry and a writing textbook. His most recent titles are Late Winter (Iris Press 2008) and Tatters (March Street, 2007). 

During the past twenty years, he has published hundreds of poems and articles in college journals, magazines and anthologies.

In 1999 Brown wrote and co-produced the Instructional Television Series, Student Centered Learning, for Nashville Public Television. He holds a degree in history from Bethel College and graduate degrees in English from the Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College and George Peabody College.

For twenty years, Brown directed an award winning writing program at an academic magnet school in Nashville. He retired in 2003 and accepted a part-time lecturer position at Vanderbilt University. In 1995 the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts awarded him The Distinguished Teacher in the Arts. He has been a Scholar in Poetry at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, a Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and a two-time recipient of Fellowships in poetry from the Tennessee Arts Commission. He and his wife Suzanne live in the hills north of Nashville with a tribe of cats.


Charlotte Rains Dixon

from Portland, Oregon --fiction
MFA in Writing, Spalding University 
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon

Charlotte Rains Dixon is free-lance journalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, and author who also teaches and coaches writers. She is the author of a dozen books, including a book on fund-raising to be published by Atlantic Publishing, and Oregon Coast, for Beautiful American Publishing. 

Her fiction has appeared in The Trunk, Santa Fe Writer's Project, Nameless Grace, and Somerset Studios. Her articles have been published in Vogue Knitting, the Oregonian, and Pology, to name a few. She is currently seeking an agent for her novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior. 

Along with fiction and creative nonfiction, Charlotte will be a mentor in the new Blogging writing track at The Loft.

Visit her blog at

Kory Wells

Kory Wells

from Murfreesboro, Tennessee --poetry

BS in Computer Science and MS in Industrial Studies 
Middle Tennessee State University

Like many Loft students, Kory began to pursue her long-time interest in writing after her formal education was complete, her primary career was well established, and her children were old enough to make themselves a sandwich if she became lost in the creative moment and forgot to make supper. 

Her poetry collection Heaven Was the Moon, from March Street Press, features 28 poems that explore Southern small town life, contemporary suburban sprawl, music, motherhood, prejudice, faith, and more.

Her poems and stories have appeared in Now & Then, New Southerner, Literary Mama, Pindeldyboz, Ruminate, and other publications. Ladies Home Journalpraised her "standout"; essay that leads the anthology She's Such a Geek, and her novel-in-progress was a finalist in the William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition. A former software developer, Kory is now chief communications officer for a software company, a job that blends her interest in writing with her degrees in computer science (B.S.) and industrial studies (M.S.) from MTSU. 

Related websites:


Jeff Hardin

Jeff Hardin

from Columbia, Tennessee--poetry 

Jeff Hardin teaches at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, TN. His recent and forthcoming poems appear in The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, Grist, Measure, Smartish Pace, Iron Horse Literary Review, Sou'wester, Zone 3, Meridian, The Florida Review,and Southern Poetry Review, among others. He is the author of two chapbooks, Deep in the Shallows(GreenTower Press) and The Slow Hill Out(Pudding House). His first collection, Fall Sanctuary, received the 2004 Nicholas Roerich Prize from Story Line Press.


Linda Busby Parker

from Mobile, Alabama --fiction

MFA in Writing, Spalding University 
Ph.D. in Communication Studies, University of Michigan 
M.A., University of Michigan 
B.A. in English and Creative Writing, University of South Alabama

Linda has taught on the faculties of Eastern Michigan University, Iowa State University, and the University of South Alabama. She is the author of two college-level textbooks. Her novel, Seven Laurels, was published in April 2004 by SEMO press (Southeast Missouri University Press). 

Seven Laurels (under the title The Sum of Augusts) won the 2002 James Jones First Novel Fellowship. Linda has served as a student editor of The Louisville Review and was the publisher and editor of Mobile Bay Monthly.

She is a book reviewer for The Mobile Press Register and her short fiction appears frequently in publications and journals. She has studied at the Sewanee Writers Conference at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. 

Related Web Sites:


J. Terry Price

from Springfield, Tennessee --fiction 
MFA in Writing, Spalding University 
J.D., Nashville School of Law 
B.S. in Mass Communications, Middle Tennessee State University

Terry Price does not believe in standing still. An accomplished photographer, long distance cyclist, traveler, Appalachian Trail hiker, and sailor – he keeps things moving. He’s earned his living as an optician, a radio and television sports anchor and play-by-play announcer, and an attorney.

During his 24 years of practicing law, he completed The Writer's Loft creative writing program at Middle Tennessee State University and earned an MFA in writing from Spalding University in Louisville.  He serves as Director Emeritus and a mentor of The Writer’s Loft program.   

Terry has published several short stories, one of which was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is currently revising a short story collection for publication and is writing his first novel. Set in Nashville, its working title is An Angel's Share. You can follow its progress at

Terry personally mentors writers one on one, leads workshops and retreats and is available for speaking engagements on writing and spirituality. You can visit his website at

He lives on a small farm in Springfield, Tennessee with his family and two dogs, two goats, a small herd of Longhorns and lots of squirrels.

Related Web Site:


Jennifer Chesak

MSJ from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism 
BA English Literature with an emphasis on Creative Writing from Minnesota State University Moorhead 
BA Mass Communications from Minnesota State University Moorhead

Jennifer Chesak is an East Nashville-based freelancer and editor. Through her business Wandering in the Words, she assists writers in honing their manuscripts for publication and manages the editorial, PR and social media content for several adventure-based companies. She has been published in Field & Stream online, Trail Runner, Motorcycle Cruiser, Escape, Baggers, Whaler, Sea Ray Living, ATV Rider, Lund and Renew magazines to name a few. Jennifer is also the editor at large for a custom publishing firm and travels the world writing about myriad topics ranging from boating and fishing to cooking and architectural design. Her experience as both a creative, editorial and marketing writer allow her to do what she loves for a living, play with the written word. She is currently working on her first memoir, Gurney Through Life, a collection of short stories about medical mishaps. Jennifer is passionate about helping others grasp the writer within and achieve the satisfaction of creative thinking and production. When not tethered to her pen or computer, she's usually out gardening or training for her next marathon.

 Karen Alea Ford  

Fiction, Essays--Karen Alea Ford

Karen Alea Ford has her MFA from Bennington College and is an alumna of Sewanee Writers' Conference. Her short stories have been published in various magazines including Eureka, Stickman Review, Riverwalk Journal and the anthology, Catch Fire in the Treetops. Her short story "The Next Guy" won The Nashville Scene fiction contest judged by Ann Patchett, which led to a guest column in the publication.

She has written non-fiction for Images Magazine, Jacksonville Magazine, Catholic Journal and Auto Restorer. She teaches English as an adjunct at Middle Tennessee State University and writes for Murfreesboro Magazine.

Her book For Which I Stand: The True Story of the CIA, Castro and a Catholic was released in 2001.



Marcus Jackson

Poetry--Marcus Jackson

Marcus was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. After earning his BA at the University of Toledo, he continued his poetry studies in NYU's graduate creative writing program and as a Cavem Canem fellow. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Harvard Review, and The Cincinnati Review, among many other publications. His chapbook, Rundown, was published by Aureole Press in 2009. His debut full-length collection of poems, entitled Neighborhood Register, was released in 2011. Marcus lives with his wife and son in Columbus, Ohio.

David LumpkinD.T. Lumpkin--Memior and Fiction

D. T. Lumpkin spent the first sixteen years of his life in Delta, an unincorporated community in east Alabama of less than two hundred inhabitants. He attended the University of the South—the first member of his family to attend college—where he was also fortunate enough to participate in one of the few creative writing workshops led by late author William Gay. After graduating with a B.A. in English, he attended the Sewanee Writers Conference and went on to earn a M.A. in Literature from the University of Alabama and a M.F.A. in Fiction from the Ohio State University. His prose has earned numerous awards and honors, including publication in The Mid-American Review and the Oxford American, the AWP Intro Journals Award, an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence grant, and notable mention in Best American Essays 2013. Gail Hochman of Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents, Inc, is currently representing his memoir, Shiloh Church Road. He is a lecturer in the English Department at Middle Tennessee State University and a facilitator of the creative writing workshop on Unit 2—the death row unit—at Riverbend Maximum Security Penitentiary.

Rick Reichman photo  Rick Reichman--Screenwriting

Rick Reichman graduated MFA in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. He has optioned a screenplay, been a Coverage Editor, taught at various conferences and schools from Hawaii to Virginia, been a script judge for several contests, written documentaries and training films for a production studio in Virginia, had published two award winning books on screenwriting, and won several national screenwriting contests. He has also sold many articles to national magazines, and published several short stories.

His students have sold scripts to Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Columbia Studios, ABC, HBO, Showtime, PBS. They have also sold scripts to and/or been on staff at Home Improvement, Roseanne, The Nanny, Cupid (with Paula Marshall and Jeremy Piven), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xena—Warrior Princess, and Crossing Jordan, to name a few. One of his former students is presently Co-Executive Producer of the CBS show Person of Interest.

Questions or Comments

Please send an email to