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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

Bryan Young - Author

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 - Editor

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.

Charlie N. Holmberg - Author

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.

D.J. Butler - Author

D.J. (Dave) Butler has been a lawyer, a consultant, an editor, and a corporate trainer. His novels include Witchy Eye, Witchy Winter, and Witchy Kingdom from Baen Books, as well as the forthcoming modern fantasy novel, The Cunning Man. He also writes for children: the steampunk fantasy adventure tales The Kidnap Plot, the Giant's Seat, and The Library Machine are published by Knopf. Other novels include City of the Saints from WordFire Press.

 

Dave also organizes writing retreats and anarcho-libertarian writers' events, and travels the country with the Bard's Tower to sell books. He plays guitar and banjo whenever he can, and likes to hang out in Utah with his children.

MichaelBrent Collings - Author, Screenwriter

Michaelbrent Collings is an internationally bestselling novelist, a #1 bestseller in the U.S., and has been one of Amazon's top selling horror writers for years. He is one of the most successful indie horror writers in the United States, as well as a produced screenwriter and member of the WGA, HWA, and several other writing groups with cool-sounding letters. He's also a martial artist, and cooks awesome waffles ('cause he's macho like that).

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