Special Guests

Anne Hillerman - Author

Keynote

Anne Hillerman author-cover-photo.jpg

Anne Hillerman came to New Mexico as a child with her mother, Marie, and her father, Tony Hillerman. She grew up in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, the eldest of the family’s six children. She received a journalism degree from the University of New Mexico and worked as a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist before becoming a full-time author.

She is honored and delighted to continue the mystery series Tony Hillerman created. The Joe Leaphorn stories began with the publication of The Blessing Way in 1970 and continued through The Shape Shifter in 2006. Anne’s debut novel, Spider Woman’s Daughter,  follows the further adventures of the characters her father made famous, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. It places one of Tony’s supporting characters, officer Bernadette Manuelito, in the spotlight to make the series her own. Released by HarperCollins, the book received the Spur Award from Western Writers of America for the Best First Novel of 2013.

Anne also is the author of the award-winning Tony Hillerman’s Landscape: On the Road with Chee and Leaphorn, created with husband/photographer Don Strel, and honored as the best photo book of the year by the Mountains and Plains Booksellers.

In addition to working on the next novel, Anne is a director of Wordharvest Writers Workshops, a past board member of Western Writers of America, and a staunch supporter of public libraries.

Michael A. Stackpole - Author

Keynote

Michael A. Stackpole is the multiple New York Times bestselling author of over forty fantasy and science fiction novels, his best known books written in the Star Wars® universe, including I, JEDI and ROGUE SQUADRON, as well as the X-Wing graphic novel series. He has also written in the Conan, Pathfinder, BattleTech and World of Warcraft universes, among others.

Currently the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University Distinguished Writer-in-Residence, Stackpole’s other honors include: Induction into the Academy Gaming Arts and Design Hall of Fame, a Parsec Award for “Best Podcast Short Story,” and a Topps’s selection as Best Star Wars® Comic Book Writer. Stackpole is the first author to sell work in Apple’s App Store, and he’s been an advocate for authors taking advantage of the digital revolution.

Angie Hodapp - Director of Literary Development, Nelson Literary

Angie Hodapp holds a BA in English and secondary education and an MA in English and communication development, and she is a graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute at the University of Denver. She has worked in publishing and professional writing, in one form or another, for sixteen years and is currently the Director of Literary Development at Nelson Literary Agency. She loves helping authors hone their craft and learn about the ever-changing business of publishing.

Angie is looking to acquire for their agent team: young adult and middle grade (all genres); big crossover novels with one foot squarely in genre (Wool, Station Eleven, Lexicon, Ready Player One); literary commercial novels (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Where’d You Go Bernadette?, A Man Called Ove); voice-driven upmarket women’s fiction; science fiction; fantasy; single-title romance; adult mysteries and thrillers.

 

Not acquiring: nonfiction, memoir, screenplays, short-story collections, poetry, material for the Christian/inspirational market; children’s picture books, early-reader chapter books.

Rhonda Penders, Editor-in-Chief, The Wild Rose Press

Rhonda is President and Editor-in-Chief of The Wild Rose Press.  She and her business partner, RJ Morris, opened the company back in 2006 and continue to be the sole owners today.  TWRP, as it is affectionately known, is home to authors worldwide and currently has over 3000 active titles.  Although started as a romance only publisher, they opened their garden gate to adult mainstream fiction (including historical fiction, science fiction, erotica, thrillers, etc.) in 2013.  They also publish YA but do not work with children’s books, cookbooks, memoirs, or poetry.  They publish in ebook format as well as print and audio.  In January 2018 TWRP was named Best Publisher of the Year by an independent study for the 9th year.

Rhonda lives in Upstate New York in a picturesque hamlet nestled along the Erie Canal. She and her husband, Scott, have been married 33 years and have three adult sons, a cat and an annoying spoiled Siberian Husky.  She enjoys writing, boating, cooking and baking and is never happier then when all her sons are home and around her table.

Agents & Editors

Sharron Belcastro - Agent, Belcastro Agency

Sharon Belcastro was born and raised in Northeastern Ohio.  It only took her 37 years to get sick of the snow, cracked fingers and chapped lips before she picked up and moved to the much warmer and sunnier Tampa Bay area.  Her love of books goes back to early childhood where some of her fondest memories were spent with Gulliver in Lilliput and Ishmael and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod. She has had a book in her hand and her nose in a book ever since. Forced to grow up and face the real world, Sharon earned her Engineering degree from Youngstown State University and her master’s in engineering from Case Western Reserve University.  She spent several years in product development, sales and the development and streamlining key business processes before she returned to her passion for books, attended classes in publishing at NYU and applied her experience to the founding of Belcastro Agency. 

Belcastro Agency is a hands-on editorially focused boutique agency representing most genres of romance, mystery and young adult.

Lauren Bieker - Agent, FinePrint Literary Management

After a brief career in the fashion industry, Lauren made her move to publishing as an intern for agent Paige Wheeler. From there she moved to FinePrint to assist with day-to-day administrative tasks and is now developing her client list and is open to queries.

Lauren is looking for commercial and upmarket women’s fiction and some well-crafted and differentiated YA novels. She is also open to select science fiction, as well as high concept and literary fiction works. She appreciates great storytelling and is a “sucker” for outstanding writing and convincing characters. While primarily interested in fiction, she will consider non-fiction proposals. She is also looking for #ownvoices stories, Feminist lit/ #MeToo stories, and LGBTQIA+ authors in both fiction and non-fiction. Her goal is to ‘hold the mic’ for authors to tell their stories and be a helpful support system. 

Lauren writes during her free time and has been published on various online platforms. She has attended many writing workshops and intensives, including the National Academy of Writing’s intensive at Cambridge University in the UK.

Samantha Wekstein - Agent, Writers House

Samantha graduated from the University of Maryland in 2012 with a B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing.  She interned at Rowman & Littlefield and Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency before landing at Writers House in 2013 with an internship. There, she was the assistant to CEO, Amy Berkower and then to founder, Al Zuckerman. She also briefly worked as an assistant at The Agency Group (now UTA). She's been lucky enough to work with a variety of best-selling and award-winning authors across all genres. She is now in the process of actively building her client list.  

 

Samantha's passion is YA fiction. She loves creative and epic fantasies in the vein of Sarah J. Maas or Leigh Bardugo. But she is also drawn to contemporary YA with multi-dimensional female characters like those of Rainbow Rowell, Julie Murphy and Melina Marchetta.

 

She also loves middle grade of any kind, but especially books that deal with themes of friendship, adventure, or encountering tragedy for the first time. Her favorites are Sharon Creech and Gail Carson Levine.

 

In adult fiction, she is looking for historical, romance, women’s fiction, fantasy, and sci-fi.

 

She doesn't have a huge interest in nonfiction, but is open to humor, and pop culture.

Caroline Bliss Larsen - Editor, Jolly Fish Press/Flux/NSE

Caroline Bliss Larsen edits online courses by day and books by night. She has been editing for six years and has been with Jolly Fish Press since 2015 and Flux since 2016. Her current favorite books are Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle series, Ally Condie’s Summerlost, and B. A. Williamson’s The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray. Her debut novel is a middle grade chapter book releasing August 2019! To clear her head of words from time to time, Caroline likes to Irish dance and snuggle her nieces, nephew, husband, and delightfully clingy cat, Cinder.

Pitch her your middle grade and young adult fiction!

Chantelle Aimee Osman - Editor, Agora

Chantelle Aimée Osman is the editor of Agora, an imprint of Polis Books. Agora focuses on crime novels that delve into the most important issues of our time—exploring society, economy, politics, culture, race, and gender in unique and different ways—from a roster of diverse authors from varying backgrounds. The former Editor-in-Chief of RT Book Reviews Magazine and a freelance editor for over 10 years, she also co-hosts the Crime Friction podcast, and is an instructor at theVirginia G. Piper Center for Creative WritingAuthors at Large and LitReactor. Chantelle is the author of the non-fiction series on writing The Quick and Dirty Guides To… and has also published numerous works of short fiction in addition to serving as editor for several anthologies. She was named a Left Coast Crime Guest of Honor in 2016. Find her online at chantelleaimee.com and on Twitter @SuspenseSiren.

Guest Presenters

Aaron Michael Ritchey

As Aaron Crash, his adult sci-fi/fantasy novels have broken into Amazon’s Top 100 Paid Store, and he was an Amazon All-Star in January of 2018. As Aaron Michael Ritchey, he is the author of seven young adult novels including The Juniper Wars published through Kevin J. Anderson’s WordFire Press.

Alex Harrow

Alex Harrow is a genderqueer, pansexual, and demisexual author of queer science fiction and fantasy.
When not writing diversity with a chance of explosions, Alex is a high school English teacher, waging epic battles against comma splices, misused apostrophes, and anyone under the delusion that the singular ‘they’ is grammatically incorrect.


A German immigrant, Alex has always been drawn to language and stories. They began to write when they realized the best guarantee to see more books with queer characters was to create them.

Their science fiction debut, EMPIRE OF LIGHT, releases on February 4, 2019.
Follow them on Twitter  @AlexHarrowSFF.

Anna F. Marasco

Anna F. Marasco is an award winning author and international award winning poet. She is a teller of stories, some of them true, most of them not. Anna has been working as a licensed clinical social worker for over a decade, which also allows a deep exploration of human behavior and emotion with her characters. She knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she rewrote her beloved cat, Momma Cat, into the ending of Jonathan Livingston Seagull with Momma eating Jonathan. Anna enjoys applying this approach in her life, writing and rewriting sequels until satisfied, often choosing to live in fantasy more than reality when it’s an option. In her spare time, Anna enjoys frolicking with the loves of her life: her horses, Henry and Fancy.  

Blake Casselman

Blake Casselman is an award-winning film producer, screenwriter and comic book writer. He co-owns a film production company, Rare Legend Films and facilitates the Utah Film Writers Facebook page, which includes hosting a screenwriting critique group twice a month. A lifelong avid comic book reader, he co-authored and co-created the Graphic novel, Devil’s Triangle, and is the creator of the Scepter Squad comic book series. He also co-wrote and produced the award-winning comedy feature film, Adopting Trouble.

Bryan Young

Bryan Young has had four published novels and has written more than a hundred short stories. His work appears regularly at Syfy, HowStuffWorks, StarWars.Com and Big Shiny Robot!

Callie Stoker

Callie Stoker is an editor with over ten years of experience with a knack for knowing what makes a story shine, and how to get yours to do the same. Her business, The Manuscript Doctor, specializes in story content editing and mentoring.


Callie has two children on the Autism Spectrum and is a champion for spreading awareness and acceptance for those with disabilities. She has a theater and costuming background with a love for cosplay and is an artist with over twenty years as a calligrapher (check out her Instagram @calligraphic). She is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, the Horror Writers Association, and The League of Utah Writers.

Carolyn Campbell

Carolyn Campbell has published more than 800 articles in local and national magazines such
as Ladies' Home Journal, Family Circle, First for Women, Woman's World, Writer's Digest, Redbook, Family Tree and Guideposts. She is currently a stringer for the Los Angeles Bureau of People Magazine. Her articles have also been published internationally in China, Japan, Germany, England, Denmark, Kenya and Australia. She has received several awards from Sigma Delta Chi, the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional
Journalists. She has twice received a “Top of The Rockies” Excellence in
Journalism Award in a four-state journalism competition hosted by the Colorado Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Charlie N. Holmberg

Born in Salt Lake City, Charlie N. Holmberg was raised a Trekkie alongside three sisters who also have boy names. She is a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukulele, owns too many pairs of glasses, and finally adopted a dog. Her fantasy Paper Magician Series, which includes The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician, and The Master Magician, has been optioned by the Walt Disney Company. Her stand-alone novel, Followed by Frost, was nominated for a 2016 RITA Award for Best Young Adult Romance. She currently lives with her family in Utah. Visit her at www.charlienholmberg.com.

David R Slayton

David grew up in Guthrie, Oklahoma, where finding fantasy novels was pretty challenging and finding fantasy novels with diverse characters was downright impossible. Now he lives in Denver, Colorado and write the books he always wanted to read.

J.H. Moncrieff

Reviewers have described J.H. Moncrieff’s work as early Gillian Flynn with a little Ray Bradbury and Stephen King thrown in for good measure. She won Harlequin's international search for “the next Gillian Flynn” in 2016. Monsters in Our Wake, her deep-sea thriller with Severed Press, hit the top of Amazon’s horror bestsellers list, beating King's re-released It to the top spot. Her supernatural suspense GhostWriters series has earned rave reviews from Kirkus, BlueInk, and Library Journal. Moncrieff began her writing career as a journalist, tracking down snipers and canoeing through crocodile-infested waters. Her articles have appeared in many publications, including Chatelaine, FLARE, Writer’s Digest, and The Globe and Mail. When not writing, she loves exploring the world's most haunted places, advocating for animal rights, and summoning her inner ninja in muay thai class.

James A. Hunter

James A. Hunter is a best-selling fantasy writer and an active member of SFWA with eighteen books currently under his belt. He’s the author of the Yancy Lazarus Series, Legend of the Treesinger, the litRPG epic Viridian Gate Online, and War God’s Mantle. In addition to writing, James also runs a non-traditional publishing company, Shadow Alley Press, with his wife, Jeanette.   

Jef Huntsman

Jef Huntsman is the award winning author of "Heart Attack, Yak, Yak, a Humor-filled memoir of hospital stays and recovery. His books also include "Tattered Portrait," his newest mystery thriller, "Jamaica Rush," published by Belray Books. A new Carson thriller, Mosquito Sands will be out the fall of 2018. He has won numerous awards and voted Writer of the Year" for 2017. he spends most of his time writing, swimming, or enjoying the peace of a raging firepit at his cabin in central Utah. 

Jeff Baker

Jeff has worked as a professional copywriter since 2010 at two different companies with a national presence. His work has involved numerous writing projects, including online curriculum, informational eBooks, sales scripts, product descriptions, blog posts, and more. Part of his professional experience involves WordPress: creating training materials about it, building personal websites, and maintaining a company blog. Jeff has approached his fiction writing with the same energy and enthusiasm he brings to his work as a copywriter, and he has joined two critique groups and sought feedback in numerous places online and offline, leading to responses on his WIP from over seventy individuals. He has served as president of the Utah Valley Legends chapter in 2018. He can be found online under his pen name: Ian Compass.

Johnny Worthen

“I write what I like to read,” says Johnny. “That guarantees me at least one fan.”

JOHNNY WORTHEN is an award-winning, best-selling author, voyager, and damn fine human being! He is the tie-dye wearing writer of the nationally acclaimed, #1 Kindle best-selling ELEANOR, THE UNSEEN. Among his other excellent and very read-worthy titles are the adult occult thriller BEATRYSEL, the award-winning mystery THE BRAND DEMAND, and the genre bending comedy-noir THE FINGER TRAP, winner of the Diamond Quill for best book of the year. And of course the continuation of THE UNSEEN Trilogy, with CELESTE and DAVID which also have won awards. His newest work, WHAT IMMORTAL HAND takes a dark desert journey into madness and faith.

Trained in stand-up comedy, modern literary criticism and cultural studies, Johnny is a frequent public speaker, teacher and blogger. He’s an instructor at the University of Utah, an acquisitions editor for a small press and incoming president of the League of Utah Writers.

 

 

Joseph Batzel

Joseph Batzel attended Brigham Young University where he earned a Bachelor’s and Master's degree in Theater and Cinematic Arts. He has worked as a professional actor, director, casting director, associate producer, and writer for stage and film. He has participated in over 250 major projects in the field of TV, stage, Film, and voiceover.

 

Joseph also is a professional audiobook narrator and his latest audiobook narration, “Redeeming Grace” was recently released.


Mr. Batzel has presented workshops throughout the country in the areas of acting for stage, and film
audition technique. He is presently working for Utah State University as an adjunct professor teaching courses in Creative Arts and Public Speaking. He resides in northern Utah with his wife, Alice, a published playwright, journalist, and freelance writer. They are members of the League of Utah Writers and the Brigham City Writers Chapter.

 

 

Lance Larsen

Lance Larsen is the author of five poetry collections, most recently What the Body Knows (Tampa 2018). His poetry and prose appear widely, in such venues as Southern Review, Paris Review, Georgia Review, APR, Brevity, Poetry, New York Review of Books, and Best American Poetry 2009. He has received a number of awards, including a Pushcart Prize and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His nonfiction has made the Notables list six times in Best American Essays. In May he completed a five-year appointment as Utah's poet laureate.  He teaches at BYU, where he serves as department chair.  He recently directed a theater study abroad program in London.

Lyn Worthen

Lyn Worthen is a professional writer and editor with credentials in both fiction and non-fiction, and an avid short-story reader of many genres. She currently divides her time as a part-time technical writer, part-time fiction editor, and part-time author, writing under various pen names.

 

 

Maxwell Alexander Drake

Maxwell Alexander Drake is an award-winning Science Fiction/Fantasy author, Graphic Novelist, and Playwright. He was also the Lead Fiction Writer and game story consultant for Sony’s massive online game EverQuest Next as well as writing for the Shadowrun game. He is best known for his fantasy series, The Genesis of Oblivion Saga. Drake teaches creative writing at writers’ conferences and fan conventions all around the world, and is the author of the Drake’s Brutal Writing Advice series.

Meg Ashley

Author of five traditionally published novels, four of which were also translated and published in
Europe, interviewed on national television about her fifth novel, Meg went on to work for World
Wide Pictures, writing the script of the full-length film featuring Corrie ten Boom, Ravensbruk
survivor. She continued to write for WWP, writing the treatment for their next film, and writing
promotional articles for a subsequent film. Meg’s credits also include twelve travelogue
television scripts for an internationally known evangelist. Meg just completed her sixth novel,
mythical realism, which is now under consideration by a NY agent.


In addition to writing, Meg developed and successfully taught her class in “Constructing the
Novel”, teaching to adult and collegiate students in Portland, Oregon for seven years and is now
teaching the class in Utah. She also taught a composition class at Snow College in Ephraim, UT.

 

 

Rachael Bush

Rachael Bush published her fourth novel in April with The Wild Rose Press. She writes paranormal, new adult, and contemporary romance erotica that’s sweet, smoking hot, and always happy ever after. 

Shauna Packer-Dansie

Shauna Packer-Dansie has been a professional corporate and freelance writer, researcher, and content editor for over twelve years. She is a multi-award-winning fiction and non-fiction author. Shauna has been published in several commercial anthologies, including Angels to Bear You Up, Utah Voices: A Literary Annual, and Mother's Messages in a Bottle. Her non-fiction book, Destroying Their God, will be published by Zarahemla Books on June 6, 2018.


Shauna resides in South Jordan, Utah and believes in giving back to her local community. She has held many leadership positions within the League of Utah Writers, including Oquirrh Chapter President. A lifelong reading tutor, Shauna has also volunteered as publicist for the Helping Kids with Cancer charity for the past six years.

Sherry Taylor

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Spanky Ward

Born in Ogden, Utah, Dustin Ward, or “Spanky” as he’s known in the film community, has been writing, producing and directing for over ten years. He started out by writing Radio spots, then moved on to short films, feature screenplays, and novels. Spanky’s had many different jobs in the Utah film industry over the years, all while writing, producing and directing his own film projects. He’s written over 70 short films and 25 feature screenplays, four of which have been sold and produced. He also has many other films in different stages of development. He currently lives in Holladay, Utah.

 

 

Theresa Braun

Theresa Braun has a Master's degree in English lit. and lives in South Florida where she has taught literature and writing for almost 20 years. Traveling, ghost hunting, and all things dark are her passions. Her short stories have appeared in several horror and speculative fiction publications. Later this year her novel Fountain Dead, based on her experiences living in a haunted house in Winona, Minnesota, will be released by Unnerving Magazine. 

 

 

Therese Francis, EA

Therese Francis is an enrolled agent, which means she is licensed by the Internal Revenue Service to represent tax payers before the agency. She has been doing taxes for creative people for over 25 years. She has published numerous nonfiction books in subjects ranging from herbology to marketing for self-employed writers. 

Guest Panelists

Heather B. Moore

Heather Meigs

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today bestselling author of more than a dozen historical novels and thrillers, written under pen name H.B. Moore. She writes women's fiction, romance and inspirational non-fiction under Heather B. Moore. This can all be confusing, so her kids just call her Mom. Heather attended Cairo American College in Egypt, the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University in Utah. Heather is represented by Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.

Nancy Peterson

Nancy Peterson, winner of the prestigious Audio Publishers Association Audie Award, is a 25- year veteran actor of stage, screen and recording studio. Nancy has a penchant for dialects; diving deep into the study of language. Her narration style, summed up by AudioFile Magazine, “creates the sense of listening to a play instead of a straightforward reading.” Nancy resides near the foothills of the Utah Rocky Mountains with her husband and their six children, two rats, two dogs, three fish, one turtle, one snake, a hive of bees, and a gecko.

Nathan Smith Jones

Nathan Smith Jones earned a B.A. in English and a Masters in Education. He has also been a voice over actor for over 20 years, and has written several films and novels. His latest novel, Dragonkyn (about a boy who discovers he carries ancient, dragon DNA) was released in 2017. The audiobook was released in July, 2018. Nathan lives at the foot of a beautiful Mountain in Utah with his wife and four children.