Julie Berry- Keynote Speaker
Julie Berry grew up in western New York. She holds a BS from Rensselaer in communication and an MFA from Vermont College in writing for children and young adults. Her first YA novel All the Truth That’s In Me was named a Horn Book Fanfare title, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013, a Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of 2013, and a Junior Library Guild selection. It was shortlisted for Carnegie Medal, was named a YALSA BFYA Top Ten Title, and it won Australia’s Silver Inky Award. Her middle grade, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, won an Odyssey Honor and was named one of Wall Street Journal’s best children’s books of 2014. Her latest YA, The Passion of Dolssa, won a Printz Honor, has earned five starred reviews, been nominated for a YALSA BFYA award, and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Her forthcoming middle grade from Roaring Brook is The Emperor’s Ostrich. She’s the author of six other critically acclaimed titles as well. She now divides her time between eastern Massachusetts and southern California with her husband and four sons. Find her online at www.julieberrybooks.com, or on Twitter at @julieberrybooks.
Caitie Flum - Visiting Agent
Caitie Flum joined Liza Dawson Associates in July 2014 as assistant and audio rights manager. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2009 with a B.A. in English with a concentration in publishing studies. She interned at Hachette Book Group and Writers House. She was an editorial assistant then coordinator for Bookspan, where she worked on several clubs including the Book-of-the-Month Club, The Good Cook, and the Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club.
Lisa Rodgers - Visiting Agent
Lisa grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from California State University, Sacramento, in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. She moved to New York City in 2012 to attend NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute and joined the JABberwocky team a few months later. She’s previously worked at San Francisco Book Review and Barnes & Noble, interned at Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency, and was a submissions reader for Lightspeed Magazine. She is a member of Romance Writers of America.
Kathy Gordon - Visiting Editor
With forty-four years of professional experience in corporate and internal communications, public relations, media relations, marketing communications, and publications management, Kathryn Gordon currently serves as the managing editor at Covenant Communications.
Chris Schoebinger - Visiting Editor
Chris Schoebinger is a Publishing Director for Shadow Mountain Publishing. He’s discovered and launched New York Times best-selling authors as well as award-winning authors such as Brandon Mull, Jason F. Wright, Obert Skye, Tyler Whitesides, and Ally Condie. In addition, Chris manages the new faith-based, Christian imprint Ensign Peak.
Traci Hunter Abramson was born in Arizona, where she lived until moving to Venezuela for a study-abroad program. After graduating from Brigham Young University, she worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for several years, eventually resigning in order to raise her family. And though Traci found her passion in caring for her family, she couldn't manage to forget the action of the CIA, so she turned to writing about it. She has written more than twenty bestselling novels and is a three-time Whitney award winner in the mystery/suspense category. She currently lives in Virginia and enjoys reading, writing, travel and coaching the high school swim team.
Ann Acton has spent 12 years in the field of early childhood education. She is the author of the Miracle Maker and the co-author of A Christmas Village.
When Kaylee Baldwin isn’t writing, she’s chasing after her four children, checking her email, trying to get motivated to train for that race she shouldn’t have signed up for, hanging out with her awesome husband, and reading whatever good book she can find. She graduated from Arizona State University with degree in English Lit. Her novel, Meg's Melody was a Whitney Finalist, and she has written three other novellas and a short story included in a Timeless Romance Anthology. You can reach her on Twitter @kayleebaldwin1
Rebecca Blevins is from the Midwest, land of tornadoes and cows--hopefully not mixed together. She is the author of two contemporary romances: Keeping Christmas and The Plus One. Her middle grade books, Captain Schnozzlebeard and the Singing Clam of Minnie Skewel Island and Captain Schnozzlebeard and the Curse of the Werechickens contain hilarious pirate adventures for all ages. Rebecca is currently working on a paranormal mystery series for adults.
Shelly Brown spent high school working on improv, college working on sketch, and adulthood perfecting her pratfalls (sometimes on purpose!). It's a wonder she graduated. Author of middle grade mystery Ghostsitter (Future House Publishing, 2016) and middle grade contemporary Mustaches for Maddie (Shadow Mountain Publishing, 2017)
Rachelle is a mother of five who writes mystery/suspense, nonfiction, and women's fiction. She solves the case of the missing shoe on a daily basis. She enjoys raising chickens and laughing with her husband. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in psychology and a minor in music.
Rachelle is the award-winning author of fourteen books, including The Soldier’s Bride (a Kindle Scout Selection & Whitney Award Finalist), Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things, Veils and Vengeance, Proposals and Poison, Hawaiian Masquerade, What Every 6th Grader Needs to Know, and Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology. Her novella, “Silver Cascade Secrets,” was included in the Rone Award Winning Timeless Romance Anthology, Fall Collection.
Elizabeth's greatest life adventure has been raising four diverse kids. Besides writing, parenting and running a business, Elizabeth is a passionate advocate for the neurodiversity movement. She holds a degree in psychology and many neurodiverse characteristics are represented in her family including Tourette syndrome, language learning disabilities, OCD, anxiety disorders, sensory processing disorders, autism, ADHD, and mental illness. She has generalized anxiety disorder, cyclothyma and depression and actively fights against stigmatizing mental illness, especially in literature. A published author, she currently writes middle grade fiction.
Sarah M. Eden
Sarah M. Eden is a USA Today Bestselling author of witty and charming historical romances. Combining her obsession with history and affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting witty characters and heartfelt romances set against rich historical backdrops. Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree in research and has traveled far and wide in search of just the right details to give her writing authenticity and depth. You can learn more about Sarah at www.sarahmeden.com.
Dennis Gaunt became a writer when he accidentally pulled a magic pen from a stone. At least, that's what he tells people. In reality, he got into writing while working as a slushpile reader for Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain publishers, a position he held for over sixteen years. He is the author of Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon and Bad Guys of the Bible, as well as some articles in the Ensign and New Era magazines. A popular youth speaker, he has several talks for youth recorded on CD, and has taught both seminary and institute classes. When not teaching or writing, he can often be found playing his guitar, watching Godzilla movies, or pin trading in Disneyland. He also hates onions.
Rebecca Irvine is a graduate of Brigham Young University where she earned both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Communications. She worked for over 15 years as a marketing research analyst for various ad agencies and PR firms. In addition to a love of writing, Irvine followed in her father's footsteps and became a college professor, currently teaching at Benedictine University and Scottsdale Community College. Rebecca is married and the mother of three fabulous kids. Reading, blogging (rebeccairvine.blogspot.com), and going to Zumba class are some of her favorite hobbies. Works by Irvine include MTC at Home (Covenant 2014), Follow the Prophets (Covenant 2013), Adventures with the Word of God (Horizon/CFI 2008) and Family Home Evening Adventures (Horizon/CFI 2009).
Wendy Jessen has written over 500 articles for familyshare.com, dozens of book reviews for the Deseret News, and started a website for victims of sexual abuse and their loved ones, https://survivorshopeandhealing.wordpress.com. She loves writing both nonfiction and fiction and consuming Dr. Pepper while juggling life with a husband and 6 kids in southern Utah.
Lisa Mangum has worked in the publishing industry since 1997. She is currently the Managing Editor for Shadow Mountain Publishing and has worked with several New York Times best-selling authors, including Ally Condie, Brandon Mull, James Dashner, and Jason F. Wright. While fiction is her first love, she also has experience working with nonfiction projects (memoir, educational, cookbooks, etc.) and some children’s picture books. Lisa is also the author of four national best-selling YA novels (The Hourglass Door trilogy and After Hello) as well as several short stories and novellas. She has also edited three anthologies about unicorns and dragons. She graduated with honors from the University of Utah, and currently lives in Taylorsville, Utah, with her husband, Tracy.
Heather B. Moore
Heather B. Moore is the USA Today bestseller and award-winning author of more than a dozen historical novels which are set in Ancient Arabia and Mesoamerica. She is not old and doesn’t remember the time period, so Google has become a great friend. Although she has spent several years living in the Middle East, she prefers to forget the smells. Heather writes her historicals and thrillers under the pen name H.B. Moore. She also writes women’s fiction, romance, and inspirational non-fiction under Heather B. Moore, including The Newport Ladies Book Club, the Amazon bestselling anthology series A Timeless Romance Anthology, the Aliso Creek series, and the USA Today bestseller Heart of the Ocean. Heather graduated from Brigham Young University with a major in Fashion Merchandising and minor in Business Management–which has absolutely nothing to do with writing novels. But at least she can balance a mean checkbook and color-coordinate her kids’ school clothes.
Chris Morris speaks and writes about redefining normal and building hope in the face of chronic illnesses and special needs. His work is founded on the belief that circumstances don't prevent thriving, but create opportunities for God to demonstrate his goodness. By day, he is the founder and managing partner of the creatively named CPA firm Chris Morris CPA, so Chris brings a unique analytic perspective to deeply emotional topics.
Tamara Passey is author of two holiday romances (The Christmas Tree Keeper and The Tree Keeper's Promise) and a short memoir (Mothering through the Whirlwind). She was born and raised in Massachusetts around a large family, one that has served as inspiration for most of her writing. She was named Arizona Young Mother of the Year in 2013 and contributes marriage and family articles to FamilyShare.com. She loves most creative endeavors and lives with her husband and three children in Arizona. You can learn more about her at www.TamaraPassey.com
Catherine Jones Payne
Catherine Jones Payne is Quill Pen’s owner and managing editor. She has been editing professionally for four years and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Wheaton College, where she graduated summa cum laude. Her editing portfolio includes over twenty published books, including Katie Cross’s award-winning fantasy novel Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, and she is particularly seeking YA fantasy and fiction that creatively explores themes of gender, beauty, social justice, and religion. In addition, she is experienced with non-fiction, blogs, and writing aimed at a professional audience. Her passions include rigorous editing, polished prose, and exceptional literature. She lives in Waco, TX with her historian husband and a kitten who begs her daily for an Instagram account. When she isn’t editing, she can be found reading, drinking Twinings tea, writing her novel, or playing racquetball.
The writing life was meant to be joyful. But for so many of us, it doesn't often feel that way. Isn't that odd? That's why I became a mindset and creativity coach specializing in helping writers develop a powerful mindset of success, overcome blocks, empower their minds, and craft their future their way. I've also been a professional writer for 25 years, including 16 years as a professional editor and publisher. My articles have been published in 52 languages and with over 40 million copies in print.
Janette Rallison is old. Don’t ask how old, because it isn’t polite. Let’s just say she’s older than she’d like to be and leave it at that. Janette lives in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, five children and enough cats to classify her as “an eccentric cat lady.” She did not do this on purpose. (The cats, that is; she had the children on purpose.) Every single one of the felines showed up on its own and refuses to leave. Not even the family’s fearless little Westie dog can drive them off. Since Janette has five children and deadlines to write books, she doesn’t have much time left over for hobbies. But since this is the internet and you can’t actually check up to see if anything on this site is true, let’s just say she enjoys dancing, scuba diving, horse back riding and long talks with Orlando Bloom. (Well, I never said he answers back.)
Kate Stradling is a structure junkie. She loves style manuals and syntax and can wax eloquent on the virtues of descriptive linguistics. She graduated from BYU summa cum laude with a BA in English in 2001 and completed her MA in English at ASU in 2007. She has been writing since she was thirteen and indie publishing since 2010.
Marsha Ward is an award-winning poet, writer, editor, and author who has published over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories; and six novels. An Amazon best-selling author, she writes authentic historical fiction set in 19th Century America, and contemporary romance. Two of her novels, Spinster's Folly and Gone for a Soldier, were Whitney Award Finalists, and she is the recipient of the 2015 Whitney Lifetime Achievement Award. Marsha was born in the sleepy little town of Phoenix, Arizona, and grew up with chickens, citrus trees, and lots of room to roam. She began telling stories at a very early age, regaling her neighborhood friends with her tales over milk and homemade sugar cookies. She began a career in journalism as a writer and editor working on four different newspapers published for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She also became the editor and publisher of a newsletter for writers, Aztec Peak; and a small magazine, WestWard Quarterly, The Magazine of Family Reading. Marsha works with other writers as a mentor, creative consultant, editor, workshop presenter, contest judge, coach, and teacher. In 1986 she founded American Night Writers Association, Inc. (ANWA), a network for LDS writers. Marsha was the facilitator of the group in the early years, became the first president, and recently retired as the chair of the Membership Committee and a member of the Board of Directors. She has served on the Executive Committee of LDStorymakers, Inc., the guild for LDS authors; and in leadership capacities with other writers’ associations. She is the current president of Rim Country Chapter, Arizona Professional Writers, served on the Executive Committee of Indie Author Hub, and is a member of other professional writers organizations, including Western Writers of America. Marsha makes her home in a small hamlet beneath Central Arizona’s fabled Mogollon Rim. She has four living children and seven grandchildren. When she is not writing, she loves to travel, give talks, meet readers, and sign books.
As the tenth of thirteen children, Kate Watson learned the importance of voice at a very early age. Originally from Alberta, Canada, she has also lived in Utah, Israel, South Carolina, Brazil, and Arizona, where she now lives with her husband and two kids. She has a BA in Philosophy and loves existential geek out sessions about things of no practical use whatsoever. Her experiences have taught her that voice is so much more than the words we say or even the way we say them; it is the core of who we are. She is the author of the YA contemporary Mansfield Park retelling SEEKING MANSFIELD, as well as the forthcoming companion novel, SHOOT THE MOON (Flux, 2018). She is also a contributor to Eric Smith's WELCOME HOME adoption anthology (JFP 2017).
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