Speakers and Moderators


Conference Home  |  Registration Guide – START HERE  |  Speakers & Moderators  |  Conference Schedule  |  Master Classes  |  ShopTalk  |  Agent One-on-Ones  |  First Pages Critique  |  FAQ  | Sponsorship

CHECK OUT OUR 2020 SPEAKERS!

James River Writers is pleased to announce the accomplished slate of presenters for our 18th Annual James River Writers Conference. Join us online!

Confirmed Speakers

Stacy Hawkins Adams

Stacy Hawkins Adams

Stacy Hawkins Adams is an author, journalist and essayist whose writing infuses readers with confidence in their own stories. She has penned nine women’s fiction novels and two inspirational nonfiction books. Her novel Watercolored Pearls has been a featured title in college coursework​;​ Lead Me Home was ​a Target stores “​Recommended Read”​ and ​The Someday List was an Essence magazine bestseller. Along with penning books, Stacy curates an inspirational blog at LifeUntapped.com. 

Website: StacyHawkinsAdams.com


 

Jean Anderson

Jean Anderson

Jean Anderson serves the greater Richmond area as Municipal Liaison for National Novel Writing Month. Every November, she supports local writers who take on the “50,000 words in 30 days” challenge with the Kick-Off Party, TGIO Party, and many write-in style events. For over a decade, Jean has written alongside her fellow Richmond Wrimos, cheering their success as they cheer hers.

Facebook: @nanorva  Twitter: @NaNoRVA  Instagram: @wrimorva


Marc Aronson

Marc Aronson

Marc Aronson has worked as an editor, publisher and author of books for younger readers for over 30 years. He earned his Ph.D in American History at NYU, won the first Robert Sibert medal from ALA for youth nonfiction, and trains youth librarians in the Rutgers graduate MI program. He is the co-author of Poisoned Water, on the Flint water crisis, and the co-editor of 1789, a new nonfiction anthology on the revolutionary year. His history of Manhattan: A Place for Us, will be published in fall 2021.

Website: marcaronson.com


 

Kristi Tuck Austin

Kristi Tuck Austin

Kristi Tuck Austin waded New York City sewers, ran from trains, and slid through a water pipe to the Harlem River while researching her novels. She’s celebrated Thanksgiving in the Paris catacombs, hiking, crawling, wading (again), and dining by candlelight. In her daily life, which is dry and aboveground, she’s founder of Tuck Austin Associates, a company that helps authors connect with readers. She’s a former board chair and conference chair of James River Writers.

Website: tuckaustinassociates.com  Twitter: @KristiAustin


 

Rachel Beanland

Rachel Beanland

Rachel Beanland is the author of the debut novel, Florence Adler Swims Forever, which was released in July of this year by Simon & Schuster. The book was selected as the Barnes & Noble Book Club pick for July, and was named a Featured Debut by Amazon and an Indie Next pick by the American Booksellers Association. It has appeared on the summer must-read lists of Good Morning America and Parade magazine, and was recently named one of the best books of 2020 by USA Today. Rachel has an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and lives in Richmond, Virginia with her family.

Website: www.rachelbeanland.com  Facebook: rachelbeanland  Twitter: @rachelbeanland  Instagram: @rachelbeanland


 

Heather Bell Adams

Heather Bell Adams

Heather Bell Adams is the author of the novels, Maranatha Road and The Good Luck Stone. Her short fiction, which has won the Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Award and James Still Fiction Prize, appears in The Thomas Wolfe Review, Atticus Review, The Petigru Review, Pisgah Review, Pembroke Magazine, Broad River Review, and other journals. A lawyer by day, she also volunteers on the Raleigh Review fiction staff.

Website: heatherbelladams.com  Facebook: heatherbelladams Twitter: @heatherbelladam  Instagram: @heatherbelladams 


 

Lauren Bieker

Lauren Bieker

AGENT –After a brief career in the fashion industry, Lauren Bieker made her move to publishing as an intern for agent Paige Wheeler. She moved to FinePrint to assist with day-to-day administrative tasks, but 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. While primarily interested in fiction, she will consider nonfiction proposals. She is looking for #ownvoices stories, Feminist lit/#MeToo stories, and LGBTQIA+ authors in both fiction and nonfiction. Her goal is to “hold the mic” for authors to tell their stories and be a helpful support system.

Twitter: @LaurenBieker


 

ReShonda Tate Billingsley

ReShonda Tate Billingsley

ReShonda Tate Billingsley is the national bestselling author of 50 books. She writes both adult and teen fiction, as well as nonfiction. Her sophomore novel, Let the Church Say Amen, was made into a film directed by actress Regina King, and produced by TD Jakes and Queen Latifah. Her book, The Secret She Kept, was also made into a movie. A well-respected journalist for more than two decades, ReShonda is a highly sought-after motivational speaker and award-winning poet. She is the recipient of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature. The graduate of The University of Texas at Austin is the mother of three.

Website: reshondatatebillingsley.com  Facebook: ReshondaTateBillingsley  Twitter: @ReshondaT  Instagram: ReshondaTateBillingsley


 

Bill Blume

Bill Blume

Bill Blume’s love for the written word started in high school with an addiction to comic books that was later hijacked by novels such as Frankenstein and Dragonflight. His short stories have been published in many fantasy anthologies and ezines. He’s the author of the Gidion Keep, Vampire Hunter series. Like the father figure in his novels, he’s worked as a 911 dispatcher for more than 15 years.

Website: billblume.net  Facebook: @BillWildcatBlume  Twitter: @billthewildcat 


 

Michael Carr

Michael Carr

AGENT – Michael Carr is a literary agent with a background in editing and writing, working from a home base in San Francisco. He represents writers in a variety of genres, with a special emphasis on historical fiction, mystery and suspense, and science fiction and fantasy. Michael works carefully with clients to produce the cleanest, most professional manuscripts and enjoys teaching at workshops and conferences to help develop emerging writers. He speaks Spanish and conversational French and before joining Veritas had professions as diverse as programming simulators for nuclear submarines and owning an inn in Vermont.

Website: veritasliterary.com


 

Karen A. Chase

Karen A. Chase

Karen A. Chase is an independent author and a Daughter of the American Revolution with the Commonwealth Chapter in Virginia. Her first novel, Carrying Independence, book one of the 3-part Founding-Documents Series, is historical fiction about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was awarded #12 on Shelf Unbound’s 100 Best Indie Books of 2019. Her first book, Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log, garnered seven independent publishing awards. Karen was a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities fellow for the 2019-2020 academic year, with residency at the Library of Virginia. Originally from Canada, Karen is now chasing histories from Richmond, VA.

Website: karenachase.com  Facebook: KarenAChaseAuthor  Twitter: @KarenAChase


 

Shawna Christos

Shawna Christos

MODERATOR Shawna Christos has tackled many things, including writing. Living with right brain and left brain tendencies, brainstorming, tenacity, and research skills has helped, especially with eclectic writing projects, such as story published in an anthology. A long-time supporter of James River Writers, serving on many committees, including the board of directors for many years, has allowed opportunities to meet and learn from many wonderful writers and publishing professionals. Feels destined to read as many books as possible, and pester…er, encourage writer friends to finish she so can also read theirs.

Twitter: @ywrite


 

Joan Davis

Joan Davis

Joan Davis is licensed to practice law in Virginia and New York, but her trademark docket includes clients from all over the U.S. Her practice concentrates on intellectual property transactions in the areas of entertainment, arts, publishing, music, fashion, and luxury goods law. Joan’s background gives her a unique perspective of the literary landscape. The book she co-authored, Feng Shui Love, hit the “Chick-lit” world with complementary merchandise and design lines.     

Email: [email protected] 


 

Wendy DeGroat

Wendy DeGroat

Wendy DeGroat is the author of Beautiful Machinery and is currently revising a docupoetry manuscript about Grace Arents, a Progressive-era philanthropist and educator, and Grace’s companion, Mary Garland Smith. Her poems have appeared in Cider Press Review, Commonplace, the museum of americana, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. She is a librarian and mindfulness teacher in Richmond, Virginia, where she also curates poetryriver.org, encourages writers to find inspiration in quirky artifacts, and serves as a facilitator for Living the Richmond Pledge, a workshop that empowers participants to take an active role in ending racism.

Website: poetryriver.org  Twitter: @poetryriver


 

Athena Dixon

Athena Dixon

Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Athena Dixon is a poet, essayist, and editor. She is the author of The Incredible Shrinking Woman and No God In This Room. Athena is the founder of Linden Avenue Literary Journal and a co-host of the “New Books in Poetry” Podcast.

Website: athenadixon.com  Facebook: AthenaDevonDixon  Twitter: @AthenaDDixon Instagram: @TheMusePaper


 

April Eberhardt

April Eberhardt

AGENT – April Eberhardt is a self-described “literary change agent” and author advocate passionate about helping authors be published in the most satisfying way. After 25 years as a corporate strategist and management consultant, April joined the literary world, where she saw strategic opportunity to play a role in the changing world of publishing. She advises and assists authors as they choose the best pathway to publication, and serves as a consultant to publishing startups serving indie authors. She represents a diverse group of clients in the U.S. and abroad, and speaks at conferences worldwide. April serves on the Advisory Council for The American Library in Paris, and is a reader for The Best American Short Stories series published annually by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. April divides her time between San Francisco, New York and Paris.

Website: aprileberhardt.com


 

Kirk Ellis

Kirk Ellis

MODERATOR – Kirk Ellis  won two Emmys, a WGA Award, a Peabody and the Humanitas Prize for his work as writer and co-executive producer on the HBO miniseries “John Adams.” The miniseries won a record breaking 13 Emmys in total, as well as four Golden Globe awards.  Previously,  Ellis received an Emmy nomination and won the WGA Award and Humanitas Prize for the ABC miniseries “Anne Frank,” which he wrote and co-produced. Miniseries on which he has served as writer and producer have garnered more than 50 Emmy nominations.


 

Lisa Ellison

Lisa Ellison

Lisa Ellison is an editor, coach, writer, and speaker with an Ed.S in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a background in mindfulness. She has spent the last two decades helping clients and students turn difficult experiences into art. She currently teaches courses in memoir, creative nonfiction, and mindful writing. Her life story and essays have appeared on NPR’s With Good Reason and in Hippocampus Literary Magazine, Kenyon Review Online, Huffington Post, and The Guardian, among others.

Website: lisacooperellison.com  Facebook: LisaCooperEllison  Twitter: @LisaEllisonsPen  Instagram: @LisaCooperEllison


 

Robin Farmer

Robin Farmer

A 2019 winner of the She Writes Press and SparkPress Toward Equality in Publishing (STEP) contest,  Robin Farmer’s YA debut novel Malcolm and Me will be published November 2020. A national award-winning journalist, Robin specialized in narrative nonfiction projects as part of the Special Projects/Investigative team for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. A freelance writer since 2009, her clients include corporations and universities.  Robin’s fiction projects include screenplays and poems and focus on girls discovering their voices to advocate for social justice. She is a recipient of residencies at the Rowland Writers Retreat, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. 

Website: robinfarmerwrites.com  Twitter: @Sonewsy  Instagram: @RobinFarmerWrites


MM Finck

MM Finck

Novelist, essayist, & niche editor specializing in queries, pitches, opening pages, & overall story analysis as the “Query Quill.” Offers one-on-one consultation, small group working groups, workshops, and lectures at conferences and retreats across the country. Oversees WomenWriters, Women’s Books’ “Agents’ Corner” & “Author Interviews” segments. Two-time Board Emeritus for Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Advisor for WFWA Rising Star Award for Unpublished Authors. Founder of Penning Suspense, a group for writers of suspenseful & thriller fiction. Also active in James River Writers, Sisters in Crime, & Writer Unboxed. Represented by Katie Shea Boutillier.

Website: mmfinck.com  Facebook:  @MMFinck  Twitter: @MMFinck


 

Cherise Fisher

Cherise Fisher

AGENT – Over the course of her twenty-five year career as an acquiring editor at Simon & Schuster and the Editor-in-Chief of Plume, Cherise Fisher has edited and published several bestselling and award-winning authors. As an agent, she is interested in working with novelists committed to perfecting their craft as storytellers and non-fiction writers who are experts on a variety of topics such as personal development, health and sexuality, racial identity, spirituality, and pop culture.

Website: wsherman.com  LinkedIn: Cherise Davis Fisher


 

Helen Foster

Helen Foster

Helen Montague Foster is a retired psychiatrist with over thirty years of experience in the
psychotherapy of adults. Her poems have appeared in JAMA, the Pharos, Rattle, Hektoen
International, and Tuck Magazine. One of her stories appeared in the Owl Canyon Press
Hackathon 2018 anthology, No Bars and a Dead Battery. Before her retirement, she was
a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at VCU School of Medicine.


 

Lauren Francis-Sharma

Lauren Francis-Sharma

Lauren Francis-Sharma is the author of Book of the Little Axe and Til the Well Runs Dry, awarded the Honor Fiction Prize by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Lauren is a contributor to Marita Golden’s anthology, Us Against Alzheimer’s, and her more recent work can be found at ElectricLit.com, Barrelhouse.com and The Lily. A former corporate lawyer, Lauren is a MacDowell Fellow and the Assistant Director of Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

Website: laurenfrancissharma.com  Facebook: laurenfrancissharma.author  Twitter: @laurenfsharma  Instagram: @laurenfsharma


 

Terry Menefee Gau

Terry Menefee Gau

MODERATOR – Terry Menefee Gau is an accomplished actor & writer, as well as a non-profit professional for the past twenty years.  She has a varied theatre and film resume, spanning over twenty-five years as an actor, producer, writer, and director.  Terry is a proud member of the Virginia Screenwriters’ Forum and has several award-winning scripts under her belt.  As a Richmond native, Terry advocates strongly for her local arts and culture community, and her work on VPM’s Education & Engagement team is an extension of her passion for a strong local arts ecosystem. Terry is a James River Writers Board Member.


 

Paula Michelle Gillison

Paula Michelle Gillison

Paula Michelle Gillison is a Richmond performance artist & writer. Her work has been published by The Billie Holiday Theater & YHMAB. She’s a member of The Writer’s Den, Tuesday Verses, Slam Richmond and teaches at “Life in Ten Minutes.” Her blog “For Lack Of Better Words” is read internationally. The author of “Under” and “Parables & The Gold Plated Things,” she is currently completing a book of short stories & a self-help guide entitled So Shall You Slay.

Website: lackofbetter.com  Facebook: PGArtistry


 

Kristen Green

Kristen Green

MODERATOR – Kristen Green is a longtime journalist and the author of Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County, a New York Times bestseller. Kristen is a Virginia Humanities fellow and former Writer-in-Residence at the Library of Virginia, where her book won the Literary Award for Nonfiction and the People’s Choice Award.

Website: kristengreen.net  Facebook: @kristengreenauthor  Twitter: @kgreen


Valley Haggard

Valley Haggard

Valley Haggard is a writer, teacher, mother, coffee drinker and the founder of “Life in 10 Minutes” journal, podcast and press. She co-edited Nine Lives: a Life in 10 Minutes Anthology and wrote The Halfway House for Writers and Surrender Your Weapons: Writing to Heal and feels like each class she teaches turns into a stunning work of performance art. You can find her writing and writing from people around the world at lifein10minutes.com.

Website: lifein10minutes.com Facebook: @Lifein10Minutes


 

Phil Hilliker

Phil Hilliker

Phillip Hilliker has been a freelance illustrator for eighteen years. While the bulk of his output has been in the role-playing game industry, his focus for the past few years has been shifting toward writing for kids, including middle-grade novels and picture books. He is also the membership coordinator for James River Writers, and teaches at both Visual Arts Center of Richmond and Richmond Young Writers.

Website: philhilliker.com  Twitter: @philhilliker  Instagram: @philhilliker


 

Nate Hoffelder

Nate Hoffelder

Nate Hoffelder has been helping people fix broken tech since 2010. He repairs and maintains Wordpress sites, and acts as a virtual IT department for authors. He also blogs about the Kindle and indie publishing. You may have heard his site, The Digital Reader, mentioned on news sites such as The New York Times, Forbes, BoingBoing, Techcrunch, Engadget, Gizmodo, or Ars Technica.

Website: the-digital-reader.com  or  natehoffelder.com  Twitter: @inkbitspixels  Instagram: thdigitalreader


 

Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins is the nation’s premier writer of African-American historical romance fiction, and specializes in 19th century African-American life. Ms. Jenkins is the 2018 Michigan Library Association Author of the Year, a USATODAY best-selling author, an NAACP Image Award nominee, and the 2017 recipient of Romance Writers of America’s Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. She has over forty- five published novels, and has been named to many Best Book of the Year lists, including NPR and the American Library Association. She speaks widely on romance, writing, and African-American history.

Website: beverlyjenkins.net  Twitter: @authorMsBev


 

Sadeqa Johnson

Sadeqa Johnson

MODERATOR – Sadeqa Johnson is the award-winning author of four novels. Her accolades include being the recipient of the National Book Club Award, the Phillis Wheatley Award and the USA Best Book Award for best fiction. She is a Kimbilo Fellow, former board member of the James River Writers, and a Tall Poppy Writer. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives near Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and three children.

Website: sadeqajohnson.net  Facebook: @SadeqaJohnson


 

Sonia Johnston

Sonia Johnston

MODERATOR – Charmed by words at an early age, Sonia Johnston is an award-winning entrepreneur and short story author in two bestselling anthologies. Convinced she was an octopus in her first life, Sonia is currently completing her debut novel, producing her first song, and finalizing plans for a radio show. In her spare time, she takes Stevie Wonder, word games, and K-dramas very seriously. Sonia lives in Glen Allen, Virginia with her hubby. Her greatest achievements call her mom.

Website: sonialovestowrite.com   Facebook: @sonialovestowrite  Twitter: @sonias_pov


 

Lana Krumwiede

Lana Krumwiede

Lana Krumwiede began her writing career by creating stories and poems for publications such as Highlights, High Five, Spider, Babybug, The Friend, and Chicken Soup for the Child’s Soul. Her first novel, Freakling was named a finalist for SCBWI’s Crystal Kite Member’s Choice Award and an honor book for the International Reading Association’s Intermediate Fiction Award. Freakling was followed by two more novels, Archon and True Son. Lana is also the author of the picture book Just Itzy and editor of the anthology River City Secrets: Stories from Richmond. She lives with her husband and daughter in Midlothian, Virginia and teaches a novel-writing class at Visual Arts Center of Richmond.

Website: lanakrumwiede.com  Facebook: @lana.krumwiede  Twitter: @LanaKrumwiede


 

Heath Lee

Heath Lee

Heath Hardage Lee is an independent historian, biographer and curator. Potomac Books published Heath’s prize-winning book, Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause, in 2014. Heath’s narrative nonfiction book entitled The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home from Vietnam was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2019. Heath’s exhibition “The League of Wives: Vietnam POW MIA Advocates & Allies” is currently traveling through 2021 to museum venues all over the United States. Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine has optioned The League of Wives for a feature film.

Website: heathleeauthor.com  Facebook: HeathLee  Twitter: @HeathLee1  Instagram: @heath_hlee


 

A.M. Mahler

A.M. Mahler

Anne Marie Mahler is a contemporary romance, historical fantasy romance, and YA fantasy romance author. She writes with quick-wit, laughs, sigh-worthy moments, and all the rest of feels. When she’s not creating your next favorite book she enjoys reading, quilting, annoying her teenage son and husband and generally being a slug with her two dogs and one cat. She is a member of James River Writers and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She lives in Richmond, VA.

Website: ammahlerauthor.com  Facebook: @AMMahler3206  Twitter: @AMMahler3206  Instagram: @ammahlerauthor


 

Annette Marquis

Annette Marquis

Annette Marquis is the author of Resistance: A Memoir of Civil Disobedience in Maricopa County, and co-author of over twenty-five software books. Her writing has been anthologized in The Women of Katrina: How Gender, Race, and Class Matter in an American Disaster, Struggling in Good Faith: LGBTQI Inclusion from 13 American Religious Perspectives, and other collections. Annette served as Program Director for James River Writers (2016-2020) and is currently the owner of Marquis Enterprises, LLC, and WanderingWordsWomen.

Website: wordswomen.com  Facebook: @wordswomen  Twitter: @WWordswomen


 

Sarah Glenn Marsh

Sarah Glenn Marsh

Sarah Glenn Marsh is the author of YA novels including the Reign of the Fallen series and picture books Ninita’s Big World, Alice Across America, and many more. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their zoo of four rescued sighthounds, two birds, and many fish. When she’s not writing, she’s in the pottery studio, volunteering with greyhound rescue, and raising awareness about Type 1 diabetes.

Website: sarahglennmarsh.com  Twitter: @SG_Marsh


 

Meg Medina

Meg Medina

Meg Medina is an award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of numerous works for children and teens, including Merci Suárez Changes Gears, which won the 2019 John D. Newbery medal. She serves on the board of advisors for both the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and We Need Diverse Books, and she is on the faculty of Hamline University’s MFA program in Children’s Literature. A proud member and supporter of James River Writers, she lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Website: megmedina.com  Facebook: Meg Medina  Twitter: @MegMedina


 

Sharvette Mitchell

Sharvette Mitchell

Sharvette Mitchell works with entrepreneurs to help them build their online platforms to generate more revenue with an amazing online brand. She does this through skilled web design services, personal branding, social media coaching, and conferences. She is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and hosts a weekly talk radio show The Sharvette Mitchell Radio Show. Sharvette is the visionary author of the new book collaboration, PROPEL – The Essential Handbook for Emerging Women in Business & Leadership. In addition, she is the author of the upcoming anthology, POUR (September 2020) as well as co-author of two books, Mogul In the Making and Get It Done! Design The Business of Your Dreams.

Website: www.SharvetteMitchell.com Facebook: @MitchellProductions Twitter: @Sharvette  Instagram: @SharvetteM


 

Victoria Christopher Murray

Victoria Christopher Murray

A native New Yorker, Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of 30+ novels with Simon and Schuster. In addition, she is a five-time NAACP Image Award nominee for Outstanding Literature. Winner for Stand Your Ground.

Website: victoriachristophermurray.com Twitter: @VictoriaECM Instagram: @VictoriaChristopherMurray

 


 

Porsha Olayiwoia

Porsha Olayiwoia

Porsha Olayiwola is from the future! Black, poet, queer-dyke, hip-hop feminist, womanist: Porsha is a native of Chicago who now resides in Boston. Olayiwola is a writer, performer, educator and curator who uses afro-futurism and surrealism to examine historical and current issues in the Black, woman, and queer diasporas. She is an Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and the artistic director at MassLEAP, a literary youth organization. Olayiwola is an MFA Candidate at Emerson College. Porsha Olayiwola is the author of I Shimmer Sometimes, Too published by Button Poetry and is the current poet laureate for the city of Boston.

Website: porshaolayiwola.com  Facebook: Porsha Olayiwola  Twitter: PorshaOlayiwola


 

Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park is the author of many books for young readers, including the 2002 Newbery Medal winner A Single Shard and The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water. Her most recent title is Prairie Lotus, a historical fiction middle-grade novel. She serves on the advisory boards of We Need Diverse Books, the Society of Children’s Books Writers & Illustrators, and the Rabbit hOle national children’s literature museum project.

Website: lindasuepark.com  Twitter: @LindaSuePark


 

Rebekah Pierce

Rebekah Pierce

A veteran of the armed forces, educator, and prolific writer, Rebekah Pierce is a lover of mystery novels that feature protagonists fight their personal demons as they save the day. She is the author of two historic fiction novels, Murder on Second Street and The Secret Life of Lucy Bosman. In February 2019, Rebekah released, I Love Me More, her memoir on the freeing power of self-love.

Website: thepierceagencyllc.com  FacebookRebekah L Pierce  Twitter: @RebekahPierce


 

DaNika Robinson

DaNika Robinson

DaNika Neblett Robinson is the author of a novella, The Metamorphic Journey, about three teenage mothers’ quest to succeed. The Metamorphic Journey is also the name of a movement she founded to provide individuals with opportunities to foster personal growth. DaNika has served as a higher education administrator for more than twenty years and is currently the CFO of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary. A recent graduate of the Ed.D. program in Educational Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University, she holds several other degrees and uses that knowledge, coupled with her expertise in transformational leadership, to empower young adults to embrace their purpose.

Website: themetamorphicjourney.org   Twitter: @DrDeeRobinson


 

David Robinson, CPA

David Robinson, CPA

David B. Robinson, CPA is the only person that is legally-authorized in the United States to refer to themselves as a GreatCPA® — He is the Brand! For 36 years he has rolled out of bed every single day and wanted to be the most passionate CPA around–period–and he brings that to every single tax return that he has prepared and he thinks he has done about 12,000 of them. David is an extremely well-rounded CPA whose greatest strength is that he has actually done and participated in what most other CPAs only consult and advise about.  David always looks to design his professional service business models to provide empathetic and enthusiastic custom-created solutions to solve difficult situations. His ears are not just sympathetic, they are experienced. He started his first entrepreneurial venture at age eleven, and has owned other companies ever since that complement his professional accounting, tax preparation and business consulting activities.  

Website: www.GreatCPA.com


 

Brian Rock

Brian Rock

MODERATOR/MC – Brian Rock is a children’s author of seven picture books and three chapter books. He live in Richmond, VA with his wife, daughter and his many imaginary friends.

Website: brianrock.net  Twitter: @brianrockwrites 


Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hank Phillippi Ryan is an on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, winning 36 EMMYs. Nationally bestselling author of 11 mysteries, Ryan has five Agathas, three Anthonys, and the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Hank’s 2018 Trust Me is an Agatha nominee. Her newest book, The Murder List, is an Agatha and Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee. The Library Journal starred review says, “Masterly plotted—with a twisted ending—a riveting, character-driven story.” Coming: The First to Lie.

Website: HankPhillipiRyan.com  Facebook: HankPhillippiRyanAuthor  Twitter: @HankPRyan  Instagram: @HankPRyan


 

Katharine Sands

Katharine Sands

AGENT – Katharine Sands has worked with a varied list of notable authors, who publish a diverse array of books including fiction, memoir and non-fiction. Katharine prefers books that have a clear benefit for readers’ lives in categories of food, travel, lifestyle, home arts, beauty, wisdom, relationships, parenting, and fresh looks, which might be at issues, life challenges or popular culture. When reading fiction she wants to be compelled and propelled by urgent storytelling, and hooked by characters. For memoir, femoir, and himoir, she likes to be transported to a world rarely or newly observed. In addition, Katharine is the agent provocateur of Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye, a collection of pitching wisdom from leading literary agents.

Website: sarahjanefreymann.com  


 

Melissa Sinclair

Melissa Sinclair

Melissa Scott Sinclair is a fiction writer and award-winning journalist. Her recent work has appeared in Richmond magazine, Parhelion and the anthology Life In 10 Minutes. Her short story “Everything Must Go,” a ghost story set in the decaying corporate headquarters of Circuit City, was published in the anthology Richmond Macabre.

Website: melissascottsinclair.com  Facebook: @MelissaScottSinclair  Instagram: @mssinclair


 

Maya Smart

Maya Smart

Maya Payne Smart is an early literacy advocate who works to increase families’ access to books, authors, and evidence-based reading instruction. She muses about life, literacy, and literature at MayaSmart.com. Her book, Reading for Our Lives: Why Early Literacy Matters and How to Achieve It, is forthcoming from Avery/Penguin Random House.

Website:  MayaSmart.com  Twitter: @mayasmart


Eric Smith

Eric Smith

AGENT – Eric Smith is an author and literary agent from Philadelphia with a love for young adult books, literary fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, and non-fiction. An agent with P.S. Literary, he’s worked on award-winning and New York Times bestselling books. A frequent blogger, his ramblings about books and the publishing industry regularly appear on Book Riot, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. His latest novel in his author life, Don’t Read the Comments, published with Inkyard Press in January 2020. 

Website: ericsmithrocks.com  Twitter: @EricSmithRocks


 

Patty Smith

Patty Smith

MODERATOR – Patricia (Patty) Smith is the author of the novel The Year of Needy Girls, a 2018 Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her nonfiction has appeared in such places as Hippocampus, Broad Street, Salon, Prime Number, Parhelion Literary Review and others. In addition, her work appears in several anthologies. A native New Englander, she lives in Chester, VA with her wife and teaches Creative Writing and American Literature at the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School in Petersburg, VA.

 Website: patricia-smith.com  Facebook: @theyearofneedygirls  Twitter: @pattysmith711


 

Kat Spears

Kat Spears

Kat Spears is the author of three novels for young adults, with a fourth title, The Tragedy of Dane Riley, forthcoming from Wednesday Books. Her novels have been included on the recommended reading list for young adults by the American Library Association and as finalists for the Nutmeg and Virginia’s Reader’s Choice Awards and have received critical acclaim from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus. Kat lives in Richmond, VA with her three children and has served on the James River Writers Conference Committee.

Twitter: @KatWritesBooks  Instagram: @katwrites


Kris Spisak

Kris Spisak

Kris Spisak wrote her first book, Get a Grip on your Grammar: 250 Writing and Editing Reminders for the Curious or Confused, with a goal to help writers of all kinds sharpen their craft and empower their communications. Her “Words You Should Know” podcast and “Grammartopia” events follow the same mission, as does her latest book, The Novel Editing Workbook: 105 Tricks and Tips for Revising Your Fiction Manuscript. A former college writing instructor, having taught at institutions including the University of Richmond and VCU, Kris is now an active speaker and freelance editor. She is a member of James River Writers, the Alliance of Independent Authors, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

Website: kris-spisak.com  Twitter: @KrisSpisak


 

Saba Sulaiman

Saba Sulaiman

AGENT – Saba Sulaiman holds a BA from Wellesley College and an MA from the University of Chicago, where she studied modern Persian literature. She joined Talcott Notch after working at Sourcebooks, where she worked primarily on their romance line. She’s looking primarily for Picture Books, Middle Grade Fiction and Young Adult, and is particularly (although not exclusively) interested in contemporary realistic stories. She’s also open to romance, literary, upmarket, and commercial fiction, tightly plotted, character-driven psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries ala Agatha Christie, and memoir. 

Website: sabasulaiman.com  Twitter: @agentsaba


 

Terese Svoboda

Terese Svoboda

Author of 19 books of fiction, poetry, memoir, biography, and translation of Nuer song, Guggenheim fellow Terese Svoboda published Great American Desert (stories) in 2019, and Theatrix: Play Poems is forthcoming from Anhinga Press in 2021. “Terese Svoboda is one of those writers you would be tempted to read regardless of the setting or the period or the plot or even the genre.”–Bloomsbury Review.

Website: teresesvoboda.com  Twitter: @teresesvoboda


 

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan is a New York-based journalist and author of the international bestseller Sarong Party Girls, named one of Amazon “Best Books of the Month” for July 2016. She also wrote A Tiger in the Kitchen, which New York magazine called a “Top 25 Must-Read Food Memoirs of All Time,” and was editor of the anthology Singapore Noir. She was a staff writer at the Wall Street Journal, In Style magazine and the Baltimore Sun.

Website: cheryllulientan.com  Facebook: CherylLu-LienTan  Twitter: @CherylTan88  Instagram: @CherylTan88


Ran Walker

Ran Walker

Ran Walker is the author of twenty books. He is the winner of the 2019 Indie Author of the Year and 2019 Black Caucus American Library Association Fiction Ebook Awards. He teaches creative writing at Hampton University and lives with his wife and daughter in Virginia. 

Website: www.ranwalker.com  Twitter: @RanWalker 

 


 

V. Helena Yancey

V. Helena Yancey

V. Helena Yancey is the author of two books of poetry and short stories (His Love Is Freedom and His Love Is Complete) and her debut novel, The Women of Woodmost, will be released in Spring 2020. She is the executive producer and host of The Writer’s Haven Show with V. Helena, which is broadcast on 23 channels and podcast on iHeartRadio, iTunes, Spreaker, Spotify and the American Legacy Network. For more information, visit www.vhelena.com.

Website: vhelena.com  Facebook: @vhelena.writershavenshow  Twitter: @AuthorVhelena  Instagram: @authorvhelena