2021 Conference Speakers

Meet our fabulous conference speakers!

Keynote Speaker

Claire KinglseyClaire Kingsley

Claire Kingsley is an Amazon Top 5 bestselling author of sexy, heartfelt contemporary romance and romantic comedies. She writes sassy, quirky heroines, swoony heroes who love their women hard, panty-melting sexytimes, romantic happily ever afters, and lots of big feels. 

She can’t imagine life without coffee, her Kindle, or the sexy heroes who inhabit her imagination. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her three children.

Session: Keynote

Session Speakers

Kilby BladesKilby Blades

Kilby Blades is a USA Today Bestselling author of Romance and Women’s Fiction. Her recent novel, The Secret Ingredient is a finalist in the RWA Vivian Contest.

She has been lauded by critics for “easing feminism and equality into her novels” (IndieReader) and “writing characters who complement each other like a fine wine does a good meal” (Publisher’s Weekly).

Kilby is a feminist, an oenophile, a cinephile, a social-justice fighter, and above all else, a glutton for a good story.

Session: Writing Woke: How to Speak to the 21st Century Reader

Kimberly BrKimberly Brower

Kimberly fell in love with reading when she picked up her first Babysitter’s Club book at the age of seven and hasn’t been able to get her nose out of a book since. She holds a BS in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge and received her JD from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

After spending a decade in the business world, it was kismet that she found herself in publishing. She previously worked for over two years at a boutique literary agency before starting her own.

When not providing individual attention to her clients, Kimberly manages all of the day-to-day operations of the agency. This includes overseeing the management of the foreign, audio and all other subsidiary rights for all the authors in the agency.

Session: Using Subrights to Generate Income

Denny S. BryceDenny S. Bryce

Denny S. Bryce is a historical fiction novelist, and author of WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES. A public relations professional and former professional dancer, part-time singer, and “bad” actress, she minored in history in college.

However, she credits her love of 20th century American history, 19th-century British history and West Africa to her maternal grandmother, Ella Elizabeth, who immigrated from Montego Bay, Jamaica to New York City in 1923, and her father, Leicester Collinwood, born and raised in Bermuda (a British Overseas Territory) who came to America to attend Wilberforce University in the 1950s.

An RWA Golden Heart® winner and two-time finalist, she also is the recipient of a Tin House Winter Fellowship and writes book reviews for NPR Books and entertainment articles for FROLIC Media. She recently relocated from Virginia to Savannah, GA.

Session: 2021 Book Marketing: The Power is in the Plan for Social Media Platforms

Mary BuckhamMary Buckham

USA Today bestselling author, Mary Buckham writes the best selling WRITING ACTIVE series for writers – WRITING ACTIVE SETTING and WRITING ACTIVE HOOKS. She is also the co-author of BREAK INTO FICTION® with NYT author Dianna Love.

Mary is nationally recognized for her online and live writing workshops for writers of all genres around the US and Canada, including the Power Plotting and Plotting for Romance Writers Webinars. She also hosts an exclusive writer’s retreat in Port Townsend, Washington.

Mary doesn’t just teach writers though, she practices what she preaches, writing Urban Fantasy w/attitude. Do you love romance, danger & kick-ass heroines? Find it in her Alex Noziak or Kelly McAllister series!

Session: Primal Branding: 8 Elements That Take YOUR Brand to a whole new level whether you’re published or yet-to-be-published

Abigail DrakeAbigail Drake

Abigail Drake is the award-winning author of sixteen novels. She writes contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and young adult fiction, and is represented by Lauren Bieker of FinePrint Literary Management.

Abigail was the Keynote Speaker at the Pennwriters Annual Conference in 2018, and has taught workshops at several different conferences including Pennwriters, the Maryland Writers Association, and the West Virginia Writers Association. In her spare time, Abigail blogs about her dog and teaches writing classes for children at local libraries.

Session: How to be a Hybrid – and Why It’s the Way of the Future

Beverly JenkinsBeverly Jenkins

Ms. Jenkins is the nation’s premier writer of African – American historical romance fiction, and specializes in 19th century African American life.

She has over forty nine published works, and has been featured in many major publications including the NYT, People Magazine, WSJ, and on NPR and CBS Sunday Morning. She speaks widely on African American history, romance, and writing. Some of her work has been optioned by Sony Television and Al Roker Entertainment.

She’s a USA TODAY best-selling author, an NAACP Image Award nominee, and the 2017 recipient of Romance Writers of America’s Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Session: World Building

Ines Johnson

Lover of fairytales, folklore, and mythology, Ines Johnson spends her days reimagining the stories of old in a modern world. She writes books where damsels cause the distress, princesses wield swords, and moms save the world.

Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.
Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.

Session: How to Earn Six Figures

Tammi LabrecqueTammi Labrecque

Tammi Labrecque is an indie author, editor, and publisher, as well as the author of the bestselling book Newsletter Ninja: How to Become an Author Mailing List Expert.

She writes and publishes her own books under a couple of pen names; freelances in every related field, from plot doctoring to editing to ads management; and teaches newsletter ninjitsu over at NewsletterNinja.net.

She’s been writing since she was a tween, was traditionally published in the olden days (the 90s), and has been doing this indie publishing thing since 2014.

Session: Waking up Married: How to Get (and Keep) Non-Organic Subscribers

Kim LambertKim Lambert

Kim (who writes regency as Arietta Richmond – more than 48 books so far – and paranormal and some short contemporary romance under other pen names) has published more than 100 books, most her own, but also some non fiction for Australian business people, and does editing, formatting and cover creation for others as a business. She also provides mentoring services for those who wish to have detailed one on one support on launching themselves into publishing.

She has now published 27 multi author anthologies, as well as 12 anthologies of her own books. She coordinates and publishes between 4 and 10 multi author anthologies a year, and has, as a result, got things down to a finely tuned process.

She went the indie/ self-publish route from the start, preferring to expand upon her already existing skills rather than enter the never ending submission roundabout of traditional publishing.

She first published a book in 1990, via her family company, when none of it was as easy as it is now!  She worked in the IT industry for over 30 years, and when the current self publishing capability began to be available around 2008, she set herself to apply her graphics, photography, Word and other application skills to this new field.

She lives in Canberra, Australia, and, when the world isn’t plague infested, loves to travel.

Session: How to Build an Anthology

Lucy LennoxLucy Lennox

Lucy Lennox is finally putting good use to that English Lit degree earned way back in the 1900s.

Her debut novel, Borrowing Blue, has won several awards including the A.C. Katt Award for best gay debut. She has released over thirty-five titles, launched into the top twenty of the Amazon Kindle store, and reached the number one spot on the Contemporary Romance chart.

Lucy is also the founder of the PAGE author event and the Gay and MM Author Network group on Facebook. She loves sharing tips and tricks with other authors to help bring the best romance novels possible to fellow readers and has presented to several author groups on topics such as: Using Reader Magnets to Grow Your Business, Better Blurb Writing, How to Keep the Pages Turning, and Putting your Data to Work.

When not writing, reading, teaching, or self-educating, she enjoys naps, pizza, and procrastinating. She has some snarky kids and is married to someone who is better at math than romance but who makes her laugh every single day and is the best dancer in the history of ever.

She stays up way too late each night reading romance novels because she is a sucker for a good love story. For more information, visit www.LucyLennox.com.

Session: How To Use Newsletter Magnets To Grow Your Business

Jocelyn LindsayJocelyn Lindsay

Jocelyn Lindsay is a book coach offering massive support and one-on-one coaching strategies to serious writers ready to roll up their sleeves and get their novels into the hands of readers.

From inspiration to final draft, her clients have kicked their fears and doubts to the curb and gone on to sign contracts with their dream agents and successfully self-publish.  

Session: Love and Money: How to have it all by writing what you love and what your readers want to buy

Alicia RasleyAlicia Rasley

Alicia Rasley is the author of The Power of Point of View and The Story Within Plotbook. Her novel, The Richest Girls in Town, was an Amazon Kindle bestseller from Belle Books. She earned her MA in English Literature from Butler University, with the thesis The Family Vault: Women Buried Alive in Poe’s Short Fiction.

Some other accomplishments:

  • RITA-award-winning and best-selling author.
  • Writing instructor, Ivy Tech Community College.
  • Popular Fiction faculty, University of Southern Maine MFA Program.
  • Writing advisor, University of Maryland.
  • Nationally known writing workshop leader.
  • Small-press acquisition and line editor.
  • Editing blogger: www.edittorrent.blogspot.com.
  • Craft of writing author: Articles archived at www.aliciarasley.com

Session: Building Bolder Scenes with the Magic Rule of 3

Ally Robertson, Wild Rose Press

Ally Robertson has been an editor with The Wild Rose Press since they opened in 2006. She is also a writing coach, freelance editor, and author, under the pen name Alicia Dean, with more than twenty-five published titles. She’s partial to all things dark and creepy…the scarier the better.

She loves meeting authors, discovering fabulous new stories and helping authors realize their dreams.

Many years divorced, with three grown children, she lives alone in Edmond, Oklahoma. She adores editing, writing, reading, Elvis Presley, the MLB, the NFL, and watching her favorite television shows — which she calls ‘research’ so it doesn’t seem as though she’s wasting time.

Session: How to Query/Submit to an Editor

Jessica Royer OckenJessica Royer Ocken

Jessica Royer Ocken is a freelance writer and editor with a master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism and more than two decades of experience. As a journalist, she has covered topics from technology to teenagers and fashion to fine arts.

She has collaborated on several book projects and served as writer for the documentary project Chicago in the Year 2000. She began her fiction editing career with Omnific Publishing and now works independently.

She lives in the Chicago area and devotes most of her time to working with writers on their novels and wrangling her family. Visit www.picturestory.net for more details.

Session: Working with an Editor

Nicki SalcedoNicki Salcedo

Nicki Salcedo has a degree in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University. She is the author of All Beautiful Things and three books of essays. The title piece for her latest collection, In My Father’s Shoes, is based on the bittersweet experience she had wearing her father’s shoes after he died. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Good Housekeeping, and Decaturish.com where she currently writes movie reviews.

She teaches creative writing across the country, including Decatur Writers Studio, CNN, and Turner Broadcasting. She loves connecting with writers and readers. You can find her on all the social media spots including LinkedIn. She lives in Decatur with her husband and 4 kids.

Session: Building Your Characters

Stephanie ScottStephanie Scott

Stephanie J. Scott writes young adult and romance about characters who put their passions first. Her debut ALTERATIONS about a fashion-obsessed loner who reinvents herself was a Romance Writers of America RITA® award finalist.

She enjoys dance fitness, everything cats, and has a slight obsession with Instagram. A Midwest girl at heart, she resides outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband and fuzzy furbabies.

Session: Instagram for Authors

Rachel Smoka-RichardsonRachel Smoka-Richardson

Rachel Smoka-Richardson has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She co-wrote CINDERELLIOT (a picture book romance with an HEA!), which will be published in May 2022 with Running Press Kids. She also writes fiction and nonfiction for Capstone Press.

In her free time, Rachel loves to read, craft, travel, and hang out with her pilot husband and two sweet rescue dogs in Minneapolis.

Session: Developing Characters through Revision

Sherry ThomasSherry Thomas

USA Today-bestselling author Sherry Thomas decided years ago that her goal in life is to write every kind of book she enjoys reading. Thus far she has published romance, fantasy, mystery, young adult, and three books inspired by the martial arts epics she grew up devouring. Her books regularly receive starred reviews and best-of-the-year honors from trade publications, including such outlets as the New York Times and National Public Radio.

A Study in Scarlet Women, A Conspiracy in Belgravia, and The Hollow of Fear, the first three entries in her gender-bending Lady Sherlock historical mystery series, are all NPR best books of the year. The Magnolia Sword, her 2019 release, is the first young adult retelling of the original Ballad of Mulan in the English language.

Sherry emigrated from China at age 13 and English is her second language.

Session: Romance by the Somewhat Structured Pants

Vanessa ValeVanessa Vale

Vanessa Vale is the USA Today bestselling author of sexy romance novels, including her popular Bridgewater historical romance series and hot contemporary romances.

With over one million books sold, Vanessa writes about unapologetic bad boys who don’t just fall in love, they fall hard. Her books are available worldwide in multiple languages in e-book, print, audio and even as an online game.

When she’s not writing, Vanessa savors the insanity of raising two boys and figuring out how many meals she can make with a pressure cooker. While she’s not as skilled at social media as her kids, she loves to interact with readers.

Session: Thrifty Tips for Authors

Skye WarrenSkye Warren

Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dangerous romance with over 1.5 million books sold.

Her author business started as a five-figure struggle with long hours and a constant fear she wouldn’t make enough to pay the mortgage. Investing in marketing and Facebook ads is what transformed her business into a seven figure business working four hours per day.

It’s her goal to empower romance authors to sell more of the books they work so hard to write. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, sweet dogs, and evil cat.

Session: Anatomy of a Bestselling Book Launch

Tiffany Yates MartinTiffany Yates Martin

Tiffany Yates Martin has spent nearly thirty years as an editor in the publishing industry, working with major publishers and New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors as well as indie and newer writers, and is the founder of FoxPrint Editorial and author of the bestseller IntuitiveEditing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing.

She’s led workshops and seminars for conferences and writers’ groups across the country and is a frequent contributor to writers’ sites and publications.

Under the pen name Phoebe Fox, she’s the author of six novels, including the upcoming The Way We Weren’t (Berkley). Visit her at www.foxprinteditorial.com or www.phoebefoxauthor.com.

Session: Seamlessly Weaving in Backstory (without Losing Your Readers)

Ryan ZeeRyan Zee

Ryan Zee is the founder of BookSweeps, one of the largest book giveaway and lead generation platforms for authors, as well as the co-founder of Plottr, the popular visual outlining software. An official MailerLite Email Marketing Expert, Ryan has consulted with bestselling authors including Andrew Gross, Mary Jo Putney, and Kendall Ryan. He is also an aspiring author.

Session: Plottr