Rising Star 2017 First Round Judges


Christa Allan

A true Southern woman who knows any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux, Christa Allan is an award-winning author who writes women’s fiction, stories of hope and redemption. SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE released in October. Her other novels include A TEST OF FAITH, THREADS OF HOPE, WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS, LOVE FINDS YOU IN NEW ORLEANS and THE EDGE OF GRACE. ALL THEY WANT FOR CHRISTMAS is her first indie novella. Christa is the mother of five, grandmother of three, and is recently retired after teaching twenty-five years of high school English. She and her husband Ken recently moved to Houston after a lifetime in Louisiana, schlepping along their three neurotic cats and their dog Herman.

Sara Allen

Sara Allen was born in London to migrant parents who had travelled from the West Indies with hopes for a better future for themselves and their children. An avid reader, literature had always been amongst her first interests. Her writing journey began in 2009, but work and family life got in the way.  She published her first novel in 2015 through indie publishing, and also had her WF historical novel accepted for publishing the same year. She describes herself as an author of novels with a diverse cast of characters, and a multitude of themes and genres. Refusing to be contained has always been her driving force.

Sheila Athens

Sheila Athens writes book club and Southern fiction, usually about characters facing some sort of moral dilemma.  She lives in the coastal south, but looks forward to one day retiring to her mountaintop cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She loves quiet spaces, eccentric people and colorful reading glasses. Visit her at SheilaAthens.com.

Kathleen Barber

Kathleen Barber is the author of ARE YOU SLEEPING, forthcoming from Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster on August 1, 2017. She attended the University of Illinois and Northwestern University School of Law and has practiced bankruptcy law in large firms in Chicago and New York. She now lives in Washington, DC with her husband.

Kathryn Barrett

Kathleen Basi

Kathleen Basi is a jack-of-all trades writer: musical composer and songwriter, columnist for Liguorian magazine, feature writer, essayist, author of a trio of short nonfiction books, and of course, storyteller. Her credits include The Storyteller, Apeiron Review, Chicken Soup for the Soul and NPR's All Things Considered. She won the WFWA's 2016 Rising Star award. Eavesdrop on her juggling act at www.kathleenbasi.com.

Brook Blander

Brook Blander, a native of Savannah, Georgia, is the literary author of multiple books and has had her work appear in several publications and anthologies. Her writing focus spans across the genres of poetry, writing instruction, and women’s literary fiction, with a penchant and passion for Black American historical fiction. Her latest women’s literary historical fiction novel, THE SECRETS OF MERCY, tells the story of how two women work together to survive the brutal commencement of emancipation. Prior to its release, Blander penned now that I’m here: lyrics from the mud to the sun, the latest of her four poetry collections. She is currently working on her sixth book, a sequel to THE SECRETS OF MERCY. Tentatively titled RIVER WIDE, Blander’s upcoming novel is slated for release in early 2018.

Betty Bolté

Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories featuring strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal. In addition to her fiction, she’s the author of several nonfiction books and earned a Master’s Degree in English in 2008. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and the Authors Guild. Get to know her at www.bettybolte.com.

Judi Brett

Samantha Bryant

Samantha Bryant is the author of the Menopausal Superhero series, a series which combines the woman's journey aspect of women's fiction with the punching and flying of superhero fantasy. When she's not writing, she teaches middle school and takes care of her family and her rescue dog. You can find out what she's up to at http://samanthabryant.com.

Nancy Burkey

After practicing psychiatry for many years, I find fiction and fictional characters to be the perfect escape from spending much of my time inside the minds of very real people. I write in the suspense-thriller external genre with strong underlying women’s fiction internal genre themes.
I published my debut novel, RUBBING STONES, in December of 2016—the story of a family taken hostage on a river trip down the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe, where political and personal agendas collide. I am now working on a second suspense-thriller involving a third-year female medical student who begins to suspect that deaths at the university hospital are actually murders, obtaining her clues from her schizophrenic patient with a thought disorder. This story was inspired by my recent experience as a psychiatrist working with psychotic murderers in a large, state-run, public hospital.

Diane Byington

Diane Byington has been a tenured college professor, yoga teacher, psychotherapist, and executive coach. Also, she raised goats for fiber and once took a job cooking hot dogs for a NASCAR event. She still enjoys spinning and weaving, but she hasn’t eaten a hot dog or watched a car race since. Besides reading and writing, Diane loves to hike, kayak, and photograph sunsets. She and her husband divide their time between Boulder, Colorado, and the small Central Florida town they discovered while doing research for her first novel, tentatively called RUN AWAY HOME.

Ute Carbone

Ute began her writing life as a poet and has had a number of poems published in small press magazines and anthologies. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in such publications as Comstock Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, and Bellowing Ark. She is the author of 11 novels and novelllas, including THE P-TOWN QUEEN, which was chosen as Champagne Books novel of the year for 2012, ALL THINGS RETURNED, which was voted best Civil War era historical 2016 by Hearts Through History, the historical branch of Romance Writers of America, and SWEET AURALIE, which was selected for a 2017 EPIC award for best historical fiction. Web page:  http://www.utecarbone.com/

Karen Cino

Karen Cino has been writing since she was fourteen years old. She started her career by writing poetry, short stories and writing articles for her high school newspaper. After reading Jackie Collins’ LOVERS AND GAMBLERS and Jacqueline Susann's VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, Karen found her niche. She wanted to write women's fiction and wrote her first book during the summer before she started college. Her daily walks down at the boardwalk are what gets her muse going.  It clears her mind and helps her find realistic plot ideas and characters boosting up her muse.  Karen loves writing about local places that people can relate to. Her books are written in Staten Island, and take place in various places across Staten Island. Her new series takes place in Barnegat, New Jersey.

Gail Cleare

Lecia Cornwall

Kathryn Craft

Kathryn Craft is the author of two novels from Sourcebooks, THE ART OF FALLING and THE FAR END OF HAPPY. Her work as a freelance developmental editor at Writing-Partner.com follows a nineteen-year career as a dance critic. Long a leader in the southeastern Pennsylvania writing scene, she is an active member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and Tall Poppy Writers. Kathryn leads writing workshops and retreats and blogs at Writers in the Storm and Writer Unboxed.

Rachel Dacus

Rachel Dacus’ debut novel, THE RENAISSANCE CLUB, features the great Baroque sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini, and is forthcoming from Fiery Seas Publishing. Her interest in Italy was ignited by a course and tour on the Italian Renaissance. She’s been hooked on Italy ever since. Her essay “Venice and the Passion to Nurture” was anthologized in Italy, A LOVE STORY: WOMEN WRITE ABOUT THE ITALIAN EXPERIENCE. Rachel studied at UC Berkeley and has remained in the San Francisco area. Her most recent book, GODS OF WATER AND AIR, combines poetry, prose, and a short play on the afterlife of dogs. Her other books are the poetry collections Earth Lessons and Femme au Chapeau. She blogs at Rocket Kid Writing and is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

Carla Damron

Lauren Denton

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren now lives with her husband and two young daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books. Her debut novel, THE HIDEAWAY, is in stores now. Her second novel, HURRICANE SEASON, will release from HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson in spring 2018.

Camille Di Maio

Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of 19 years, she enjoys raising their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending, and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She's lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai'i to feel like a local. She's traveled to four continents (so far), and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, Paul McCartney, too. Camille studied political science in college, but found working on actual campaigns much more fun. She overdoses on goodies at farmers markets (justifying them by her support for local bakeries) and belts out Broadway tunes whenever the moment strikes. There's almost nothing she wouldn't try, so long as it doesn't involve heights, roller skates, or anything illegal. THE MEMORY OF US is Camille's debut novel. Her second, BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS was released in May 2017. 

Susan Donovan

Laura Drake

Laura Drake is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both women's fiction and romance. She sold her SWEET ON A COWBOY series, romances set in the world of professional bull riding, to Grand Central. THE SWEET SPOT won the 2014 Romance Writers of America®   RITA® award in the Best First Book category. Her 'biker-chick' novel, HER ROAD HOME, sold to Harlequin's Superromance line, and has expanded to three more stories set in the same small town. Laura’s first women’s fiction, DAYS MADE OF GLASS, released January, 2016. In 2014, Laura realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours. 

Lisa Duffy 

Leigh Duncan

Leigh Duncan is the award-winning author of more than two dozen novels, novellas and short stories. Her first full-length book, THE OFFICER’S GIRL, was released by Harlequin American Romance in 2010. Leigh went on to write seven more books for Harlequin, including the highly acclaimed Glades County Cowboys series, before she began writing the more complex, heart-warming and emotional stories that have resonated with her readers. An Amazon best-selling author and a National Readers’ Choice Award winner, Leigh lives on Central Florida's East Coast where she writes women’s fiction with a dash of Southern sass. 

Anise Eden

Before becoming an award-winning author, Anise Eden  wanted to be a wildlife photographer. Unfortunately, a strong aversion to large insects, poisonous snakes, and sharks—along with a cat allergy that might well extend to tigers—limited that career option. Also, Anise always roots for the gazelle, and we all know how that usually turns out. Fortunately, Anise’s voracious hunger for reading kept her occupied, eventually morphing into a passion for writing quirky stories filled with heart, humor, and imagination. Anise loves that through writing, she can live out any adventure she likes without the need for antivenom or antihistamines. Visit her online at AniseEden.com. 

Mary Chris Escobar

Award-winning author Mary Chris writes women’s fiction. She was destined to write romantic comedies from a young age (as a child, her stuffed animals always got their happily-ever-afters). She lives in Richmond, Virginia in a renovated parking garage with her husband. Find her on her website, marychrisescobar.com or just about anywhere good coffee or craft beer is served. 

Kelli Estes

Kelli Estes grew up near Yakima, Washington before attending Arizona State University where she earned a degree in business. It took until well into adulthood before she decided to try her hand at writing. Six manuscripts, two babies, and fifteen years later, her dream of being an author came true with the publication of THE GIRL WHO WROTE IN SILK, which is a USA Today Bestseller and winner of the PNWA Nancy Pearl Award and WFWA Star Award in the debut category. Kelli now lives in Woodinville, WA with her husband and two sons. Connect with Kelli on Facebook or at her website: www.kelliestes.com

Donna Everhart

Donna Everhart is a USA Today bestselling author of THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, an Amazon Best Book/Debut Spotlight, Indie Next Pick for November 2016 and long listed for the Southern Book Prize, (formerly the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize)  Her next novel, THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET, January 2018, is a Publisher's Lunch Buzz Book for Fall/Winter 2017-2018 and a 2018 Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Trio pick.

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, she has lived close to her hometown for most of her life. For several years she worked for high tech companies, specializing in project management and product introduction. She carries a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. She lives in Dunn, North Carolina with her husband, Blaine, and a tiny, heart stealing Yorkshire terrier, named Mister. You can find her at www.donnaeverhart.com

Tina Ferraro

Tina Ferraro has been writing since she learned to hold a pencil. After almost 100 short stories published in national magazines, she sold three young adult novels to Random House, two of which were nominated for the Romance Writers of America's RITA award. Her YA short, "One Hot Mess" will appear in the summer 2017 RWA anthology, and she was delighted to see her first adult-themed novella recently, KISS ME, I'M IRISH to Boroughs Publishing Group.  She lives with her NASA physicist husband in southern California, where their two cats rule their roost. 

Tina Ann Forkner

Tina Ann Forkner is the award-winning author of five novels including THE REAL THING and WAKING UP JOY. She is a Tall Poppy Writer and a member of Women's Fiction Writers Association. Tina is mom/stepmom to three and lives with her husband in Wyoming. 

Jennifer Fromke

Stephanie Gangi

Gangi lives, works and writes in New York City.Stephanie Gangi is a poet, essayist and novelist working and writing in New York City. Her acclaimed debut novel, THE NEXT, was published by St. Martin's Press in October 2016. She is at work on her second novel. Website: www.sgangi.com 

Dee Gatrell

Dee Gatrell is the author of SWEET SUNSET. Her short story, “My Beloved, Crazy Relatives,” is being re-printed in A Plus, an online magazine, recently bought by Chicken Soup for the Soul. 

Susan Haught

Award winning author Susan Haught lives in Arizona’s Rim Country and shares her husband with their spoiled Shih Tzu, Mercedes, who believes her princess status earns her the right to sleep on pillows, ride shotgun, and train her peers in the fine art of squeaky toys. Susan writes contemporary women’s fiction & Romance with the belief that Love is Ageless and has the power to change lives—one step, one touch, one kiss at a time. She is the author of A PROMISE OF FIREFLIES, IN THE SHADOW OF FATE (A Promise of Fireflies companion), A THOUSAND BUTTERFLY WISHES, and is a contributing author for DREAM BELIEVE WRITE--A UNIQUE JOURNAL FOR FICTION WRITERS. When Susan isn’t writing, you’ll find her bugging her son to put her grandpuppy, Ryleigh, on Facetime, taming her garden with a notorious brown thumb, or reading—happily immersed in someone else’s words. Discover more about Susan at www.susanhaught.com. 

Brenda Heald

Brenda Heald has a background in journalism and corporate communications. She is published in contemporary romance as Brenda Gayle, and is currently working on her first WF manuscript, a 20th Century historical based on a legend that has obsessed her family for generations.

Pamela Hearon 

Laura Heffernan

Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off: AMERICA’S NEXT REALITY STAR, Book 1 of the Reality Star series, is available now with two books to follow. Laura loves connecting with other readers and writers. Find her tweeting far too often about writing and Canadian chocolate at www.twitter.com/lh_writes or visit her website, www.lauraheffernan.com

Elizabeth Hein

Elizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. HOW TO CLIMB THE EIFFEL TOWER follows one young woman as she navigates the world of cancer treatment with the help of her friends. OVERLOOK and ESCAPE PLAN chronicle how a small group of women bands together to free themselves from terrible marriages and forge their own paths in life. Elizabeth grew up in Massachusetts within an extended family of storytellers. Her childhood was filled with excellent food and people loudly talking over each other. She and her husband now live in Durham, North Carolina. 

Kathy Holzapfel

Kathy Holzapfel has published a number of romantic suspense novels as Cate Noble and Lauren Bach. She is currently working on a women’s fiction novel. A certified Life Strategies Coach and former accountant, Kathy is passionate about the craft of writing and personal achievement. Visit her website: www.BodaciousWords.com or follow her on Twitter: @KathyHolzapfel 

Sandra Hutchison

Born and raised in Florida, Sandra Hutchison survived a transplant to a small New England town during high school and eventually stopped sulking about it, though it's possible she's still working it out in her fiction. She currently lives in Troy, New York, where she teaches writing at Hudson Valley Community College. She is the author of THE AWFUL MESS, THE RIBS AND THIGH BONES OF DESIRE, and BARDWELL'S FOLLY. 

Amy Impellizzeri

Amy Impellizzeri is a former corporate litigator, start-up executive, and award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction. Her debut novel, LEMONGRASS HOPE (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing 2014) was a 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Bronze Winner and a National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist. Her sophomore novel, SECRETS OF WORRY DOLLS (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing 2016) is a Finalist in the WFWA Star Awards, and was recently named a Bronze Winner in the INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards. Amy is represented by Bob Diforio of D4EO Literary Agency. She is a Past President of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and is also a member of the Tall Poppy Writers, an innovative marketing co-op of award-winning, best-selling and acclaimed women writers. Amy is on the faculty of The Yocum Institute for Art Education in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, where she runs the creative writing program for teens and adults. Amy can be found on any given day writing in her home atop a mountain in rural Pennsylvania drawing inspiration from her husband, three kids, an energetic Weimaraner named Cocoa, and a bottomless cup of coffee. 

Sandra Joines

Sandra Joines grew up in a small town along the Northwest Coast of Florida with pencil and paper always in her hand – that’s what her mother says. Retired from the real estate industry, she currently resides in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Denver where she enjoys anything related to writing. When her fingers are not pounding on the keyboard or her mind is not plotting a new novel, you can find her spending time with her family or designing and sewing vintage clothing. Sandra has published both fiction and non-fiction books. 

Karen Jones

Karen (K.S.) Jones is the author of the multi-award winning historical fiction novel SHADOW OF THE HAWK and mid-grade novel BLACK LIGHTNING. She was the first place winner in the 2014 Short Story Contest for Southern Writers Magazine, the recipient of the 2015 Literary Classics International Book Award, the 2015 Chaucer Award, the 2016 RONE Award, the 2016 WILLA Literary Award, as well as a Readers' Favorite. She writes from her home in the beautiful Texas Hill Country where she lives with her husband and their three dogs. 

Barbara Josselsohn

Barbara Solomon Josselsohn is a novelist and freelance writer. Her debut novel, THE LAST DREAMER, was released by Lake Union Publishing in 2015. Her essays and articles appear in a range of publications, including Consumers Digest, The New York Times, American Baby, Parents Magazine, Writer’s Digest, and Brain,Teen Magazine. Online, you can see her work at GrownandFlown.com, BrainChildMag.com, and Road2College.com. She teaches writing workshops at Sarah Lawrence College and other venues and is currently at work on her next novel. Visit her online at www.BarbaraSolomonJosselsohn.com. 

Lisa Kastner

Lisa is a former correspondent for the Philadelphia Theatre Review and Features Editor for the Picolata Review, her short stories have appeared in magazines and journals such as StraightJackets Magazine and HESA Inprint. She founded Running Wild Writers and Running Wild Press (www.runningwildpress.com) and is the former president of Pennwriters, Inc. (www.pennwriters.com). She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University, her MBA from Pennsylvania State and her BS from Drexel University (She’s full of it). Lisa spoke at a TEDx in Seattle on The Power of Connecting and presented at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) on the “You Sent Us What?” panel. Born and raised in Camden, New Jersey she migrated to Philadelphia in her twenties and eventually transported to Los Angeles, California with her partner-in-crime and ever-talented husband. They nurture two felonious felines who anxiously encourage and engage in little sparks of anarchy. 

Crystal Klimavacz 

Orly Konig

After years of pushing the creativity boundary in corporate communications, Orly decided it was time for a new challenge and made the switch to fiction. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two overfed cats. When she’s not writing, she’s a personal assistant and chauffeur to her son which includes lots of hours spent in a chalky climbing gym, crocheting hats and scarves (anyone need a scarf?), and working out plot points on the rowing machine. Her debut, THE MEMORY OF HOOFBEATS, will be released by Forge in 2017. Orly is a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She's rep'd by Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency LLC. 

Patrice Locke 

Kerry Lonsdale

Kerry Lonsdale believes life is more exciting with twists and turns, which may be why she enjoys dropping her characters into unexpected scenarios and foreign settings. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and is a founder of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, an online community of authors located across the globe. She resides in Northern California with her husband, two children, and an aging golden retriever who’s convinced she’s still a puppy. Her novel, EVERYTHING WE KEEP, debuts July 5, 2016 through Lake Union Publishing. She is represented by Gordon Warnock with Fuse Literary Agency. 

Maggie Marr

Attorney, author, and producer, Maggie Marr is the author of The Hollywood Girls Club Series, The Eligible Billionaires Series, The Glamour Series, and The Powder Springs Series. She got her start in Hollywood pushing the mail cart at ICM but quickly rose through the ranks to become a motion picture literary and subsidiary rights agent. She now dedicates her time to her boutique legal practice representing entrepreneurs, entertainers, & authors, writing books, and producing film and TV. She has been reviewed by Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and featured on KCRW's The Business. Maggie is legal counsel for WFWA. She lives and works in Los Angeles. 

Virginia McCullough

Virginia McCullough’s six novels includes both romance and women’s fiction, including the newly released romance, GIRL IN THE SPOTLIGHT (Harlequin Heartwarming). All focus on hope, healing, and plenty of second chances. As a ghostwriter and coauthor all her adult life, Virginia has written more than 100 books for doctors, lawyers, professional speakers, and anyone who has information to share or a story to tell.  A seasoned workshop presenter, she’s also a writing coach. Virginia has lived in many states and the U.S.V.I., and currently calls Northeast Wisconsin home. www.virginiamccullough.com

Leta McCurry

Tale-spinner. Revealer of secrets. A dog’s best friend. Cornbread and fried okra country girl. Lives in Southern Oregon and enjoys writing, reading, the open road on a motorcycle (trike–as a passenger), good food, travel and a large, fun-loving family. Favorite destination: Ireland. 

J. Carter Merwin

J. Carter Merwin is the author of the Tales of Earden, a fantasy/romance series of novels. Of her writing - “ When I start a story each character appears as if they walked around the corner at me, I don’t know who they are or where they came from, they are as much a surprise to me as they are to my readers. When I write I disappear into another world filled with love, hate, conflict, and desire over which I have some control, but not all, for the people who fill this world come to me with a bag full of wishes and demands of their own. I had no interest in pirates and had no plans to write about them when I began THE SWAN AND ARROW, the first book about Earden, yet there they came sailing up the coastline.“ Julie lives in Castleton, Vermont, where she runs a gallery with her artist husband Tom. A tenth of the profits from her novels goes to help support the Rutland County Humane Society of Vermont. Website: www.jcartermerwin.com

Courtney Muir

I'm a New Jersey native who grew up with a passion for reading and writing. After traveling the world, I settled into New York City where I earned my Masters in Publishing. I'm also a member of the National Writers Association and the Women's Fiction Writers Association. I currently live in Hoboken with my husband spending my weekends  seeking adventure through hiking, skiing and traveling. 

Theresa Munroe

Amy Sue Nathan

Amy Sue Nathan is the author of THE GLASS WIVES (2013), THE GOOD NEIGHBOR (2015), and LEFT TO CHANCE (coming in 2017) 

Joy Norstrom

Joy Norstrom is a Canadian coffee addict. She also happens to be the author of OUT OF PLAY, a women’s fiction novel long on humour and short on romance. She enjoys hiking with family, wine with friends and reading late into the wee hours when she should be asleep. A social worker by trade, Joy also writes short stories about lives in transition. Whether she is championing inclusion, parenting her kidlets or popping into the local coffee shop, she can generally be found engaged in conversation. Why? She believes human connection and laughter keep her grounded in a muddled world. Website: www.joynorstrom.ca 

Loretta Nyhan 

Ella Joy Olsen

Ella Joy Olsen was born, raised and currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, a charming town tucked at the base of the massive Rocky Mountains. Most at home in the world of the written word, Ella spent nearly a decade on the Board of Directors for the Salt Lake City Public Library System (and four decades browsing the stacks). She is the mom of three kids ranging from just-barely-teen to just-flown-the-nest-teen, the mama of two dogs, and the wife of one patient husband. Though she’s crazy about words, Ella is also practical so she graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Finance. After years spent waxing on about facts and figures, Ella gave up her corner cubicle and started writing fiction. Interestingly enough, Ella now teaches a course on writing historical fiction at her alma mater. She has also lived in Seattle, Washington & Savannah, Georgia. ROOT, PETAL,THORN (August 2016/Kensington) is her debut novel. And coming in September 2017 – WHERE THE SWEET BIRD SINGS. 

Rebecca Paula 

Nicky Penttila

Nicky Penttila writes stories with adventure and ideas, history and love. She enjoys coming up with stories that are set in faraway cities and countries, because then she *must* travel there, you know, for research. Novels include AN UNTITLED LADY (MANCHESTER 1819) and THE SPANISH PATRIOT (CORUNNA 1809). She lives in Maryland with her reading-mad husband and amazing rescue cat. Chattiest on Twitter, @NickyPenttila; also at nickypenttila.com.

Karen Potter

Jamie Raintree

Jamie Raintree is an author and a writing business teacher. She is also a mother of two girls, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi. Her debut novel, PERFECTLY UNDONE, will be released on October 3, 2017 by Graydon House.

Suzanne Redfearn

Born and raised on the east coast, author, Suzanne Redfearn, moved to California when she was fifteen and currently lives in Laguna Beach with her husband and two kids, where they own a restaurant called Lumberyard. Her debut novel, HUSH LITTLE BABY, was released in 2013. RT Book Reviews chose it as a Top Pick! and nominated it as Best Mainstream Fiction. Target chose it for its Emerging Author Program and as a Target Recommends selection. It has been published in five languages including Hungarian, Slovakian, and Portuguese. Suzanne’s second novel, NO ORDINARY LIFE, was released in February 2016. It was a Target Emerging Author Selection, a Costco Selection, and an RT Book Reviews Top Pick!. In addition to being an author, Suzanne is an architect specializing in residential and commercial design.

Kristin Rockaway

Kristin Rockaway is a native New Yorker with an insatiable case of wanderlust. After working in the IT industry for far too many years, she finally traded the city for the surf and chased her dreams out to Southern California, where she spends her days happily writing stories instead of software. Her debut novel, THE WILD WOMAN’S GUIDE TO TRAVELING THE WORLD, will be released from Hachette Book Group in June 2017. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son, browsing the aisles of her neighborhood bookstores, and planning her next big vacation. 

Kirsche Romo

K.L. Romo writes about life on the fringe: teetering dangerously on the edge is more interesting than standing safely in the middle. She is passionate about women’s issues, loves noisy clocks and fuzzy blankets, but hates the word “normal.” Her historical novel, LIFE BEFORE, is about two women separated by a century who discover they’ve shared a soul. Web: KLRomo.com or @klromo. 

Kristi Rose

Kristi Rose was raised in central Florida on boiled peanuts and iced tea. Today, she's a wife and a mother. She's been lucky enough to travel the world and has lived by an active volcano, almost fallen off a German Alp, and eloped in Arkansas. No matter where she is, she enjoys watching people and wonders about their story. That's what Kristi writes about: everyday people, the love that brings them together, and their journey. 

Aimee K. Runyan

Aimie K. Runyan is a historian and author who writes to celebrate history’s unsung heroines. She is the author of two previous historical novels: PROMISED TO THE CROWN and DUTY TO THE CROWN. Her forthcoming novel, DAUGHTERS OF THE NIGHT SKY, will release from Lake Union in November, 2017. She is active as an educator and a speaker in the writing community and beyond. She lives in Colorado with her wonderful husband and two (usually) adorable children. To learn more about Aimie and her work, please visit www.aimiekrunyan.com

Suanne Schafer

Suanne Schafer completed the Stanford University Creative Writing Certificate program in 2014. Her short works have been featured in Bête Noire Magazine, Empty Sink Publishing and two anthologies, Night Lights and Licked. She is querying her women’s fiction manuscript, A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE, exploring the life of a nineteenth century bisexual artist living in West Texas while starting her next work about a Vietnam vet tortured by PTSD. She is a member of San Antonio Romance Authors, Romance Writers of America, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Her shapeshifter novel finalled in the Four Seasons contest and A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE finalled in the 2016 WisRWA Fab Five Contest, Women’s Fiction category. Suanne reads the slush pile and edits for a romance and mainstream publishing house and is fiction editor for Empty Sink Publishing, an on-line literary magazine. You can follow her at: http://suanneschaferauthor.com 

Lizbeth Selvig

Lizbeth Selvig writes fun, sexy-sweet contemporary romance and women’s fiction. Her novels have won the Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® and been nominated for the organization’s prestigious RITA®  award. Lizbeth lives in Minnesota with her husband Jan and a gray Arabian gelding named Jedi. In her spare time, she loves to hike, quilt, read, horseback ride, and hang with her granddaughter and grandson. She also loves to play with her four-legged grandbabies (including an exotic wallaby, two alpacas, a pot-bellied pig, a goat, a mammoth-eared donkey, and many dogs, cats and horses). She loves hearing from readers – contact her anytime! 


Tracy Stopler, M.S.,R.D.

Tracy Stopler is the Enough Abuse Campaign Coordinator at The Safe Center on Long Island, New York. She is a registered dietitian who earned her Master of Science degree from New York University. She is an adjunct professor at Adelphi University and has published extensively in the scientific literature on nutrition and exercise. Tracy is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Her debut novel, THE ROPES THAT BIND is an inspirational story about overcoming childhood trauma. You can visit her website and watch her book trailer at http://www.TheRopesThatBind.com 

Cynthia Swanson

Cynthia Swanson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of THE BOOKSELLER, which is soon to be a motion picture starring Julia Roberts. An Indie Next selection and the winner of the 2016 WILLA Award for Historical Fiction, THE BOOKSELLER is being translated into a dozen languages. Cynthia's second novel, THE GLASS FOREST, is due from Touchstone / Simon & Schuster in February 2018. She lives with her family in Denver, Colorado.

Lorrie Thomson

Lorrie Thomson lives in New Hampshire with her husband and their children. When she’s not reading, writing, or hunting for collectibles, her family lets her tag along for camping adventures, daylong paddles, and hikes up 4,000 footers. Her website is www.lorrie-thomson.com.

Lorrie’s contemporary women’s fiction works include A MEASURE OF HAPPINESS, WHAT’S LEFT BEHIND, AND EQUILIBRIUM.

Jessica Topper

Jessica Topper is an ex-librarian turned rock n roll number cruncher. By day, she does bookkeeping for touring rock bands. By night, she creates books of her own. She is the author of four novels from Berkley/Penguin: LOUDER THAN LOVE, SOFTER THAN STEEL, DICTATORSHIP OF THE DRESS, and COURTSHIP OF THE CAKE. Jessica lives in upstate New York, and you can visit her at  http://www.jesstopper.com 

Ann Warner

A former Air Force brat turned clinical chemist, toxicologist, and university professor, Ann's life took another turn in 2001, when she began writing fiction. After completing a perfectly dreadful novel (she didn't know it was at the time) she talked her way into a graduate writing seminar and followed that up with several years of study as she continued to write. Along the way she made friends with other writers who have supported, critiqued, and eventually praised her novels. Her debut novel, DREAMS FOR STONES, was a finalist for the Indie Next Generation Book Award.
Ann's novels take advantage of the many unusual settings she's traveled to or lived in including New Zealand, Australia, Peru, San Francisco, Wrangell Alaska, Colorado, Boston, and Puerto Rico. Her experiences as a toxicologist also have added fillips of intrigue to many of her stories. In Ann's novels, the consequence of choosing to love or not to love is an underlying theme, as characters face crises and complications that force them to dig deep within themselves to discover their own resilience. 

Densie Webb

Densie Webb has spent a long career as a freelance nonfiction writer and editor, specializing in health and nutrition, and has published several books on the topic over the years. She grew up in Louisiana, spent 13 years in New York, and settled in Austin, TX, where it’s summer nine months out of the year. The fiction bug bit her a few years ago and she now has one novel, YOU’LL BE THINKING OF ME, published by Soul Mate Publishing, one that’s in the final revision stages and one that can only be described as a WIP. She has arrested development in musical tastes and her two grown children provide her with musical recommendations on a regular basis. 

Rochelle Weinstein

Rochelle Weinstein is a former entertainment industry executive turned full-time author. Her works include WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND, THE MOURNING AFTER, and WHERE WE FALL.  She has recently completed her fourth novel, SOMEBODY'S DAUGHTER, and is busy writing her fifth. 

Barbara Claypole White

Bestselling author Barbara Claypole White writes hopeful family drama with a healthy dose of mental illness. Originally from England, she writes and gardens in the forests of North Carolina where she lives with her beloved OCD family. Her novels include THE UNFINISHED GARDEN, THE IN-BETWEEN HOUR, THE PERFECT SON, and ECHOES OF FAMILY. THE PROMISE BETWEEN US has a publication date of January 2018. She is also an OCD Advocate for the A2A Alliance, a nonprofit group that promotes advocacy over adversity. To connect with Barbara, please visit www.barbaraclaypolewhite.com, or follow her on Facebook. She’s always on Facebook.