Tom DeMarchi, Director
Sanibel Island Writers Conference
Reed Hall 242
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S
Fort Myers, FL. 33965-6565
Steve Almond is the author the story collections My Life in Heavy Metal, The Evil B.B. Chow, and God Bless America, the novel Which Brings Me to You (with Julianna Baggott), and the non-fiction books, the best-selling Candyfreak and (Not That You Asked). His memoir Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life was published in Spring 2010. His most recent book, Against Football, an anguished manifesto about the dubious morality of being a football fan, was released in fall 2014. He also, crazily, self-published three books: This Won't Take But a Minute, Honey, which is composed of 30 very brief stories, and 30 very brief essays on the psychology and practice of writing; Letters From People Who Hate Me, a collection of letters and responses between Steve and his indignant readers; and Bad Poetry, a collection of previously unpublished verse and accompanying self-criticism. Almond lives outside Boston with his wife, three children, and mounting debt.
For more on Steve Almond, including music recommendations, visit:
Laura Apperson (Editor/Panelist)
Laura Apperson is a narrative nonfiction/adult fiction editor at St. Martin’s Press in New York, NY, working with award-winning journalists and authors, including Dion Nissenbaum, Natalie Y. Moore, Will McCants, and Lawrence Ross. She has worked on a wide range of projects, from literary fiction to currents events to memoir. She was a reporter herself before deciding that she wanted to work with brilliant journalists and writers in a different capacity—to make books that will last forever. In her free time, you can find her devouring as many books as she can, working on her novel, traveling somewhere new, or playing flute with her community orchestra in Brooklyn.
For more info on Laura Apperson, visit:
Andrea Askowitz (General Craft Workshop--Storytelling/Panelist)
Andrea Askowitz is the author of the memoir My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy and the editor of Badass: True Stories, the Double Album. Her stories have appeared in publications including The New York Times, Salon.com, xoJane, Brain, Child and Jewcy.com, and have aired on NPR and PBS. She is the founder of the Knight award-winning, true-stories reading series Lip Service, and is now the executive producer and host of the podcast Writing Class Radio. Andrea grew up in Miami where she lives with her wife Victoria and children Natasha, Sebastian and Beast.
Tweet her at @andreaaskowitz and @wrtgclassradio.
Lynne Barrett (General Craft Fiction Workshop--Plot and Structure)
Lynne Barrett is the author of the story collections Magpies (Gold Medal, Florida Book Awards), The Secret Names of Women, and The Land of Go. What Editors Want, a guide to submitting to literary magazines based on her widely recommended essay in The Review Review, is just out in book form. She edited Tigertail: Florida Flash, co-edited Birth: A Literary Companion, and is editor of The Florida Book Review. She has received the Edgar Award for best mystery story and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and her recent work can be found in Necessary Fiction, The Southern Women’s Review, Fort Lauderdale Magazine, Fifteen Views of Miami, and Trouble in the Heartland: Stories Inspired by the Songs of Bruce Springsteen. She teaches in the MFA program at Florida International University.
For more info about Lynne Barrett, visit:
Sandra Beasley (General Craft Workshop--Food Writing & Small-Group Manuscript Workshop--Poetry)
Sandra Beasley is the author of Count the Waves; I Was the Jukebox, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Theories of Falling, winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize. She is also the author of Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, a memoir and cultural history of food allergy. Honors include a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize; distinguished writer residencies at Cornell College, Lenoir-Rhyne University, and the University of Mississippi; two DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Artist Fellowships; and the Maureen Egen Exchange Award from Poets & Writers. Her prose has appeared in such venues as the New York Times, The Washington Post and The Oxford American. She lives in Washington, D.C., and teaches as part of the University of Tampa’s low-residency MFA program.
For more info on Sandra Beasley, visit:
Richard Blanco (General Craft Workshop--Memoir)
Richard Blanco was made in Cuba, assembled in Spain, and imported to the United States. His acclaimed first book of poetry, City of a Hundred Fires, explores the yearnings and negotiation of cultural identity as a Cuban- American, and received the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press. His second book, Directions to The Beach of the Dead, won the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center for its continued exploration of the universal themes of cultural identity and homecoming. Looking for The Gulf Motel (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012) examines the blurred lines of gender, the frailty of his father-son relationship, and the intersection of his cultural and sexual identities as a Cuban-American gay man living in rural Maine.
In January 2013, Blanco was selected by President Obama to be the inaugural poet, joining the ranks of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. President Obama said in a statement, "It is an honor to have Richard Blanco in our second inauguration. His contributions to the fields of poetry and art have paved the way for future generations of writers. Richard's work is well-suited for an opening that will celebrate the strength and diversity of our great country."
Since the inauguration, Blanco has been named a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow and has received honorary doctorates from Macalester College, Colby College and the University of Rhode Island. His memoir, The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood (2014) received the 2015 Maine Literary Award for Memoir and the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Memoir. His most recent publication is a children’s book of his presidential inaugural poem, “One Today,” illustrated by Dav Pilkey. His latest project, co-created with Ruth Behar, is a blog, Bridges to/from Cuba: Lifting the Emotional Embargo, providing a cultural and artistic platform for sharing the real lives and complex emotional histories of thousands of Cubans across the globe.
Blanco's poems have appeared in top literary journals including, The Nation, the New Republic, Ploughshares, Michigan Quarterly Review, and TriQuarterly Review; and several anthologies including, The Best American Poetry, Great American Prose Poems, Breadloaf Anthology of New American Poets, and American Poetry: The Next Generation. He has been featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. Blanco is recipient of two Florida Artist Fellowships, a Residency Fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and is a John Ciardi Fellow of the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. A builder of cities as well as poems, he holds a bachelors of science degree in Civil Engineering and a Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
Richard Blanco lives in Maine with his partner.
For more on Richard Blanco, visit:
Nickole Brown (General Craft Workshop--Poetry)
Nickole Brown grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and Deerfield Beach, Florida. Her books include Fanny Says, a collection of poems published by BOA Editions in 2015; her debut, Sister, a novel-in-poems published by Red Hen Press in 2007; and an anthology, Air Fare, that she co-edited with Judith Taylor. She graduated from The Vermont College of Fine Arts, studied literature at Oxford University as an English Speaking Union Scholar, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Kentucky Arts Council. She worked at the independent, literary press, Sarabande Books, for ten years, and she was the National Publicity Consultant for Arktoi Books and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. She has taught creative writing at the University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, and was on faculty at the Sewanee Young Writers' Conference. She was an Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for four years until deciding to write full time. Currently, she is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Series in Prose Poetry at White Pine Press and is on faculty at the low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Murray State and at the Writing Workshops in Greece. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs.
For more info on Nickole Brown, visit:
Jim Daniels (General Craft Workshop--Poetry)
Jim Daniels’ fifteenth book of poems, Rowing Inland, will be published in 2017 by Wayne State University Press. His previous book, Birth Marks (BOA Editions, 2013) received the Milton Kessler Poetry Book Award, and the Poetry Gold Medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. His fifth book of short fiction, Eight Mile High (Michigan State University Press, 2014) was a Michigan Notable Book and a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize. “The End of Blessings,” (2105), his fourth film, appeared in many festivals earlier this year. His poems have been featured on “Prairie Home Companion,” Garrison Keillor's "Writer's Almanac," in Billy Collins' Poetry 180 anthologies, and Ted Kooser's "American Life in Poetry" series. His poem "Factory Love" is displayed on the roof of a racecar. He has received the Brittingham Prize, the Tillie Olsen Prize, the Blue Lynx Prize, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and two from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. His poems have appeared in the Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry anthologies. A native of Detroit, Daniels is the Thomas Stockham University Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University.
Dean Davis (Storytelling Panelist)
Dean Davis is Co-Founder and President of DeKa Storytelling Institute LLC. He is also a Professional Trainer/Coach at Summoning Success LLC. Prior to his new ventures, Davis taught Speech and Interpersonal Communication for nearly two decades, first at New York University and, then, at Florida Gulf Coast University where he won a university-wide award for teaching excellence and several awards for excellence in lecturing and mentoring. Davis is an Adler trained life coach from the University of Toronto with an MA in Communication from New York University and a background in theater.
John Dufresne (General Craft Worksho--Flash Fiction/Morning Writing Exercises)
John Dufresne is the author of two short story collections, The Way That Water Enters Stone and Johnny Too Bad, the novels Louisiana Power & Light, Love Warps the Mind a Little, both New York Times Notable Books of the Year, Deep in the Shade of Paradise, Requiem, Mass. and No Regrets, Coyote, and books on writing, The Lie That Tells a Truth and Is Life Like This? His short stories have twice been named Best American Mystery Stories. He's written the screenplays for The Freezer Jesus and To Live and Die in Dixie.
For more information on Dufresne, visit:
Stephen Elliott (General Craft Workshop--Screenwriting)
Stephen Elliott is the founding editor of the popular online literary magazine The Rumpus. He has directed three movies. The first, About Cherry was released by IFC in 2012. In 2013 he directed an adaptation of his novel Happy Baby. His newest movie, After Adderall, will premier in 2016. He is the the author of seven books including The Adderall Diaries and Happy Baby. His writing has been featured in Esquire, The New York Times, The Believer, GQ, Best American Non-Required Reading 2005 and 2007, Best American Erotica, and Best Sex Writing 2006. He is currently Senior Editor for Epic Magazine.
For more info, visit:
Gina Frangello (General Craft Workshop--Fiction/Editor Panelist)
Gina Frangello’s latest novel, Every Kind of Wanting, was released on Counterpoint in September 2016. Her last novel, A Life in Men (Algonquin 2014), was selected for the Target Emerging Authors series, has been optioned by Universal Cable Productions/Denver & Delilah, and was a book club selection for NYLON magazine, The Rumpus and The Nervous Breakdown. She is also the author of two other books of fiction: Slut Lullabies (Emergency Press 2010), which was a Foreword Magazine Best Book of the Year finalist, and My Sister’s Continent (Chiasmus 2006). She has nearly 20 years of experience as an editor, having founded both the independent press Other Voices Books, and the fiction section of the popular online literary community The Nervous Breakdown. She has also served as the Sunday editor for The Rumpus, the Executive Editor for Other Voices magazine, and the faculty editor for TriQuarterly Online. Her short fiction, essays, book reviews and journalism have been published in such venues as Salon, Dame, Ploughshares, the Boston Globe, BuzzFeed, the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, Fence, FiveChapters, Prairie Schooner, the Chicago Reader, and in many other magazines and anthologies.
For more info, visit:
www.ginafrangello.com or @ginafrangello on Twitter.
Ben Greenman (General Craft Workshop--Fiction/Collaboration Panelist)
Ben Greenman is a contributing writer to the New Yorker and a New York Times-bestselling author who has written both fiction and nonfiction. His most recent novel is The Slippage; his most recent collection of stories is What He's Poised To Do. He also has collaborated with Questlove on the hip-hop memoir Mo Meta Blues and Something To Food About, an investigation of the intersection of creativity and food, and he co-wrote George Clinton's memoir BrothasBe, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?
Nathan Hill (General Craft Workshop--Fiction)
Nathan Hill's first novel, The Nix, was published this year by Knopf. His short fiction has appeared in many literary journals, including The Iowa Review, AGNI, The Gettysburg Review, and Fiction, where he was awarded the annual Fiction Prize. A native Iowan, he now lives in Naples, Florida.
For more on Nathan Hill, visit:
Jessica Jacobs (General Craft Workshop--Poetry)
Jessica Jacobs is the author of Pelvis with Distance, a biography-in-poems of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe, which was the winner of the 2015 New Mexico Book Award in Poetry, an Over the Rainbow selection by the American Library Association, a finalist for both the Julie Suk Award and the Lambda Literary Award. Jessica holds an M.F.A. from Purdue University, where she served as the Editor-in-Chief of Sycamore Review. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in publications including Beloit Poetry Journal, The Missouri Review, Rattle,and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series. The 2016 Hendrix-Murphy Writer-in-Residence at Hendrix College, Jessica now serves as faculty at Writing Workshops in Greece. She lives in Asheville with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown.
For more info on Jessica Jacobs, visit:
For more info on Joyce Maynard, visit:
Tom Piazza’s most recent book is the novel A Free State, published by HarperCollins. His other books include the novel City Of Refuge, the post-Katrina manifesto Why New Orleans Matters, and Devil Sent The Rain, a collection of his essays and journalism. He was a principal writer for the innovative HBO drama series TREME, and the winner of a Grammy Award for his album notes to Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey. He lives in New Orleans.
For more info on Piazza, visit:http://www.tompiazza.com
Rob Roberge (General Craft Workshop--Memoir)
Rob Roberge’s most recent book, the memoir Liar (Crown, 2016) was named a Spring 2016 Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” pick. It was singled out in The New Yorker, who wrote, “both the smallest and the biggest pieces of his memoir fascinate,” and was chosen as “One of the Best Books of 2016 So Far” by Powell’s Bookstore. Roberge is also the author of four books of fiction, most recently The Cost of Living (OV Books, 2013), about which Cheryl Strayed wrote is “both drop dead gorgeous and mind-bendingly smart.” He teaches in UC Riverside’s Palm Desert MFA in Writing Program, and his short fiction and essays have been widely published and anthologized, and several of his plays have been produced in Los Angeles. A short film he wrote, directed, and edited Honest Pete has been shown at indie festivals. As a musician, he has released two solo albums, and has played with the LA-based roots rock bands The Violet Rays and The Danbury Shakes, and he also plays guitar and sings with LA’s art-punk band The Urinals.
For more info about Rob Roberge, visit:www.robroberge.com
Christopher Schelling (Literary Agent/Panelist)
Christopher Schelling is a literary agent whose list spans a wide range of fiction and nonfiction, including New York Times bestselling memoirist Augusten Burroughs (Running With Scissors, This Is How) and bestselling YA novelists Rainbow Rowell (Eleanor & Park, Fangirl) and Cinda Williams Chima (The Seven Realms, The Heir Chronicles). Schelling has been representing writers since 1997, and started his own agency, Selectric Artists, in 2011. He is also the publisher of Roadswell Editions, a curated ebook imprint with a list including Jon Katz (Listening to Dogs), Kathe Koja (The Mercury Waltz) and Kim Stanley Robinson (A Short Sharp Shock). Prior to being an agent, he held Executive Editor positions at Dutton and HarperCollins.
For more info on Schelling, visit:
JL Stermer (Literary Agent/Panelist)
After studying theater, working in fashion, and cocktail waitressing for many years, JL Stermer finally got into her groove after she got her degree from Columbia University and headed into the world of publishing. She started at the Donald Maass Agency as an assistant/agent, then moved to Bienstock/UTA as a literary agent within a talent agency, and finally landed at New Leaf Literary & Media, where she is today, growing her list of clients.
JL is adding to her non-fiction list in both YA and adult categories with smart pop-culture, comedy/satire, fashion, health & wellness, self-help, and memoir. She’s also growing her fiction list (a bit more selectively) and is looking for adult and some YA coming-of-age, humor, dark and edgy stories, and new and original voices in commercial and upmarket. She also thinks graphic novels are really cool.
JL is looking for voices that reflect the world as it changes, stories that share the human experience of life, love, growth, and achievement. And they don’t have to all be serious–having fun is important! Some of her favorite reads include: The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood by Janet Mock, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, French Milk by Lucy Knisley, Less Than Zero by Brett Easton Ellis, and Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.
You can follow JL's literary pursuits on Twitter @JLStermer
Darin Strauss (General Craft Workshop--Narrative)
A recipient of a National Book Critics Circle Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Library Association Award, and numerous other prizes, Darin Strauss is a national- and internationally-bestselling author. His books have been New York Times, Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly and NPR Best Books of the Year, among other honors; he has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS’s The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, NBC News, among many others.
Strauss recently finished a short stint as an opinion columnist at Al-Jazeera America, has written screenplays for Disney, Gary Oldman, and Julie Taylor, and currently has a production deal with Sony Pictures Television. He is the Clinical Professor of Fiction at NYU's creative writing program. His work has been translated into fourteen languages and published in nineteen countries.
For more info, visit:
Thomas Swick (General Craft Workshop--Travel Writing)
Thomas Swick is the author of a travel memoir, Unquiet Days: At Home in Poland; a collection of travel stories, A Way to See the World; and, most recently, The Joys of Travel: And Stories That Illuminate Them. His work has appeared in The American Scholar, The North American Review, The Oxford American, The Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Boulevard, The Wilson Quarterly, Smithsonian, National Geographic Traveler and The Best American Travel Writing 2001, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2014.
For more info on Thomas Swick, visit:
Facebook: Thomas Swick
Jeffrey Thomson (General Craft Workshop--Flash Essay/Micro Memoir)
Jeffrey Thomson is a poet, memoirist, translator, and editor, and is the author of multiple books including the memoir fragile, the poetry collection Birdwatching in Wartime, The Complete Poems of Catullus, andtheedited collection From the Fishouse. His next collection of poems, The Belfast Notebooks, is due out early next year. He has been an NEA Fellow, the Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Poetry Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, and the Hodson Trust-John Carter Brown Fellow at Brown University. He is currently professor of creative writing at the University of Maine Farmington.
For more info on Jeffrey Thomson, visit:
Karen Tolchin (Storytelling Panel)
Karen Tolchin has been teaching contemporary literature, creative writing, and film at the college level for a whopping two decades. She holds a doctorate in English and American Literature from Brandeis University and a bachelor’s from Bryn Mawr College, which explains both her vast stores of literary knowledge and her impressive array of nervous tics. Her book, Part Blood, Part Ketchup: Coming of Age in American Literature and Film, was cited in William Safire’s New York Times “On Language” column (2007), while her creative work has appeared in The Rumpus (2013), Gulfshore Life Magazine, Belletrist Coterie, and the Tusculum Review. In 2015, she won a university-wide award for teaching excellence at Florida Gulf Coast University. Her latest venture is the DeKa Storytelling Institute, LLC. in Naples, Florida, with her partner in crime, Dean Davis.
Sarah Tomlinson (General Craft Workshop--Memoir/Collaboration Panelist)
Sarah Tomlinson is the author of the father-daughter memoir, Good Girl, which was released by Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster) in 2015. She has ghostwritten or co-written thirteen books, including the New York Times Bestseller, Fast Girl, with Suzy Favor Hamilton, and two un-credited New York Times bestsellers. Her music criticism, articles, and personal essays have appeared in publications including Marie Claire, MORE, Publishers Weekly, Salon.com, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and The Huffington Post. Her fiction has appeared in Vol. 1 Brooklyn. Her favorite band is T. Rex.
For more info on Sarah Tomlinson, visit:
Nicole Tourtelot (Literary Agent/Panelist)
Nicole Tourtelot is an agent with DeFiore and Company, representing a variety of narrative and prescriptive nonfiction, including food, lifestyle, wellness, pop culture, humor, and memoir, as well as select young adult and adult fiction. Her clients include New York Times bestselling authors Joyce Maynard (To Die For, Labor Day, Under the Influence) and Ben Greenman (Mo' Meta Blues with Questlove, The Slippage), journalists Maureen Callahan and Jennifer Wright, memoirists Piper Weiss and Emily Nunn, James Beard award-winning food writers Jonathan Kauffman, Rebecca Flint Marx, and Nathanael Johnson, as well as cookbook authors, bloggers, chefs, and business owners. A graduate of Columbia University, Nicole began her literary career as a researcher and writer for Stephen J. Dubner (one half of the Freakonomics duo), and then worked in the fiction department at Esquire while writing freelance journalism for various outlets including Esquire, Wired, Glamour, and Time Out New York, where she had a regular column. She began her agenting career at ICM in 2009, working under literary agent Heather Schroder, and with writers such as Candace Bushnell, Ben Fountain and Amanda Hesser. In 2012, Nicole became an agent at Kuhn Projects, working with clients such as Marina Abramovic, Isaac Mizrahi, Tavi Gevinson & Rookie Magazine, Charles Blow, Luke Barr, and Rosie Perez.
In her spare time, Nicole enjoys hot yoga, surfing, cooking, and playing jazz with cowboy chords on her guitar.
For more info on Nicole Tourtelot, visit:
Liza Wieland has published a book of poems, Near Alcatraz (Cherry Grove, 2005), as well as four novels, Land of Enchantment (Syracuse University Press 2015), A Watch of Nightingales (University of Michigan Press, 2009), Bombshell (Southern Methodist University Press, 2001) and The Names of the Lost (SMU, 1992), and three collections of short fiction, Quickening, (SMU, 2011), You Can Sleep While I Drive (SMU, 1999) and Discovering America (Random House, 1994). She has received two Pushcart Prizes and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council. She earned a B.A. from Harvard and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. She teaches creative writing at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, and lives near Oriental, NC, with her husband and daughter.
For more info on Liza Wieland, visit:
Robert Wilder (General Craft Workshop--YA Fiction)
Robert Wilder is the author of two critically acclaimed books of essays: Tales From The Teachers' Lounge and Daddy Needs a Drink. His debut novel, NICKEL, was called “A humorous, poignant, and formidable debut” by Booklist (starred review). He has published essays in Newsweek, Details, Salon, Parenting, Creative Nonfiction, Working Mother and numerous anthologies. He has been a commentator for NPR's Morning Edition, The Madeleine Brand Show, On Point and other national and regional radio programs. Wilder's column, "Daddy Needs A Drink," was printed monthly in the Santa Fe Reporter for close to a decade. He was awarded the inaugural Innovations in Reading Prize by the National Book Foundation. Wilder lives and teaches in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Visit his website at