Learn from the best with us
We've done everything we can to bring in the best writers, editors, publishers, agents, and musicians available for a variety of discussions and panels.
A #1 New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including The Exiles, Orphan Train, and A Piece of the World, Christina Baker Kline is published in 40 countries. Her novels have received the New England Prize for Fiction, the Maine Literary Award, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Award, among other prizes, and have been chosen by hundreds of communities, universities and schools as “One Book, One Read” selections. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in publications such as the New York Times and the NYT Book Review, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, LitHub, Psychology Today, and Salon.
2020 Conference presenters
Click on a presenter's name for their bio.
Erin Almond is a novelist, short story writer, essayist and reviewer. Her work has been published in The Boston Globe, Colorado Review, Normal School, Small Spiral Notebook, and on Cognoscenti.com and The Rumpus.net. She is a graduate of the UC-Irvine MFA program and Wesleyan University, and a recipient of a St. Botolph Foundation Emerging Artists Grant. Her first novel, Witches’ Dance, will be published by Lanternfish Press in Fall 2019. Erin lives outside Boston with her husband, Steve, and their three children.
Steve Almond is the author of ten books of fiction and non-fiction, including the New York Times bestsellers Candyfreak and Against Football. His latest book is William Stoner and the Battle for the Inner Life. Steve teaches at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard and Wesleyan University and lives outside Boston with his wife and three children.
Andrea Askowitz created Lip Service: True Stories Out Loud, a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Arts Challenge award-winning show. For nine years Lip Service has been playing to audiences 600 strong. Andrea's stories have appeared in The New York Times, AEON, Salon, The Rumpus and have aired on PBS and NPR. She's the author of My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy and editor of Badass.
Julianna Baggott is the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of over 20 books, published under her own name and various pen names. Her novels Pure and Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders were New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Her essays and poems have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times Book Review, Poetry, Agni, Best American Poetry, and on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Here and Now. There are over 100 foreign editions of her books. She teaches screenwriting at Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts. You can find her six-week audio series on Efficient Creativity here; the first episode is free, available on SoundCloud.
Lynne Barrett’s story collection Magpies received the Florida Book Awards gold medal. Her recent stories and essays appear in Orange Blossom Review, Necessary Fiction, Mystery Tribune, Flash! Writing the Very Short Story, The Hong Kong Review, River Teeth’s “Beautiful Things,” The Southern Women’s Review, One Year to a Writing Life, and Grabbed: Poets and Writers on Sexual Assault, Empowerment, and Healing. She’s the editor of Making Good Time, True Stories of How We Do, and Don’t, Get Around in South Florida and wrote the writers’ guide to the submission process What Editors Want. She’s received the Edgar Award for best mystery story, and teaches Creative Writing at Florida International University.
Jenna Blum is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels Those Who Save Us, The Stormchasers, and The Lost Family, as well as the novella "The Lucky One" in the anthology Grand Central and numerous short stories. Jenna is also one of Oprah’s Top 30 Women Writers and CEO/ CoFounder of literary social media company A MIGHTY BLAZE.
Jenna’s first novel, Those Who Save Us, was a New York Times bestseller, the # 1 bestselling novel in Holland in 2011, and the winner of the 2005 Ribalow Prize, awarded by Hadassah Magazine and adjudged by Elie Wiesel. The Stormchasers was an international bestseller, a Borders Book Club Selection, a feature in French Elle, and a Target Pick. The Lost Family was a Target Pick and received starred reviews from all four trades: Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. Jenna is the author of the audio course “The Writer at Work: The Art of Writing Fiction.” Her work has been translated into more than 20 languages.
Jenna is based in Boston, where she teaches master novel and marketing workshops for Grub Street Writers, where she has been an instructor for over 20 years. Jenna earned her B.A. in English at Kenyon College and her M.A. in Creative Writing at Boston University, where she was the fiction editor for AGNI Literary Magazine and taught creative writing and journalism. The daughter of a CBS newswriter and producer, Jenna interviewed Holocaust survivors for the Steven Spielberg Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation from 1993-1997.
Jenna is a professional public speaker, traveling nationally and internationally to speak at universities, libraries, events, and book clubs — for Those Who Save Us, Jenna visited over 800 book clubs in the Boston area alone! Jenna has written the screenplay for Those Who Save Us, currently under option. She has just finished her first memoir, about her black Lab Woodrow, and is working on her fourth novel.
To learn more about Jenna, please follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer & educator. She is Executive Director of Bowery Poetry Club & Artistic Director of Urban Word NYC & Poetry Coordinator at St. Francis College. Browne has received fellowships from Agnes Gund, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research & Rauschenberg. She is the author of Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby & Black Girl Magic (Macmillan), Kissing Caskets (Yes Yes Books) & Dear Twitter (Penmanship Books). She is also the founder of the Woke Baby Book Fair (a nationwide diversity literature campaign) & as an Arts for Justice grantee, is completing her first book of essays on mass incarceration, investigating its impact on women and children. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
After spending the 1990s as a homeless heroin addict in San Francisco, Joe Clifford got off the streets and turned his life around. He earned his MFA from Florida International University in 2008, before returning to the Bay Area, where he currently lives with his wife and two sons. His autobiographical novel, Junkie Love, chronicles his battle with drugs and was published by Battered Suitcase (2010).
Joe Clifford is acquisitions editor for Gutter Books and producer of Lip Service West, a "gritty, real, raw" reading series in Oakland, CA. His bestselling Jay Porter Thriller Series (Oceanview Publishing) has received rave reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among many others. Joe is also editor of Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Stories Based on the Songs of Bruce Springsteen and the forthcoming Just to Watch Him Die: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Johnny Cash. Currently Joe teaches online writing courses for LitReactor and around the country at various conferences and retreats.
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.
Camille T. Dungy’s debut collection of personal essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She
is also the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award. She was awarded a Guggenheim
Fellowship in 2019.
Dungy’s other poetry collections are Smith Blue (Southern Illinois UP, 2011), finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award, Suck on the Marrow (Red Hen Press, 2010), winner of the American Book Award, and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison(Red Hen Press, 2006), finalist for PEN the Center USA Literary Award for Poetry. Dungy edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (UGA, 2009), co-edited the From the Fishouse poetry anthology (Persea, 2009), and served as assistant editor on Gathering Ground: Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade (University of Michigan Press, 2006). Her poems and essays have appeared in Best American Poetry, Best American Travel Writing, 100 Best African American Poems, nearly 30 other anthologies, plus dozens of print and online venues including Poetry, American Poetry Review, VQR, Guernica, and Poets.org. Other honors include two Northern California Book Awards, a California Book Award silver medal, two NAACP Image Award nominations, two Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominations, fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and fellowships from the NEA in both poetry and prose. Dungy is currently a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University. She lives in Fort Collins, CO with her husband and child.
Beth Ann Fennelly
Beth Ann Fennelly, Poet Laureate of Mississippi, teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She’s won grants and awards from the N.E.A., the United States Artists, a Pushcart, and a Fulbright to Brazil. Fennelly has published three poetry books: Open House, Tender Hooks, and Unmentionables, and three books of prose: a book of nonfiction, Great with Child; next, The Tilted World, a novel she co-authored with her husband, Tom Franklin; and most recently, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs, an Atlanta Journal Constitution Best Book. Fennelly and Franklin live in Oxford with their three children. Photo credit: Riley Robinson.
Lisa Gallagher is a literary agent with DeFiore & Company Literary Management Inc. She has more than 25 years of publishing experience and insight from both sides of the Atlantic, and now as an agent, being a champion of authors and their work continues to be her passion. She represents adult fiction, adult non-fiction and some YA projects, including New York Times bestselling novelists Christopher Moore and Charles Todd, Pulitzer Prize winner Julia Keller, national bestseller Hank Phillippi Ryan and memoirist Molly Bloom, author of Molly's Game, released as a major motion picture directed by Aaron Sorkin, and starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba.
Formerly SVP & Publisher, William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins), Gallagher was previously Associate Publisher at Bloomsbury USA, following a move to New York from Bloomsbury’s London office in 1998. Gallagher was educated at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, UK, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Tod Goldberg is the New York Times & international bestselling author of over a dozen books, including Gangster Nation, a finalist for the International Thriller of the Year Award, Gangsterland, a finalist the Hammett Prize, The House of Secrets, which he co-wrote with Brad Meltzer, Living Dead Girl, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the popular Burn Notice series. His criticism and journalism appears regularly in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and many other publications, earning five Nevada Press Association Awards for Excellence. His essays and short fiction have been published widely, including recently in Best American Essays and in the upcoming story collection Gang Related, respectively. His Gangsterland series of books is currently being developed by Amazon for a TV series. In addition, Tod is the co-host of Literary Disco, named one of the top literary podcasts on the planet by the Washington Post, Guardian, Good Housekeeping, and a slew of other folks, inexplicably. Tod holds an MFA in fiction & literature from Bennington College and is a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, where he founded and directs the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts. He lives in Indio, CA with his wife, the writer Wendy Duren. His next book, The Low Desert: Gangster Stories, will be out in 2021.
Allison Langer is a Miami native, University of Miami MBA, writer and a single mom to three children, ages 10, 13 and 14. She is a private writing coach, teaches memoir writing in prison. Allison's stories have appeared in The Washington Post, Mutha Magazine, Scary Mommy, Ravishly, She'SAID' and 50GS Magazine. Allison is currently querying her first novel and is currently writing her memoir.
Ron MacLean is author of the story collections We Might As Well Light Something On Fire and Why the Long Face? and the novels Headlong and Blue Winnetka Skies. MacLean’s fiction has appeared widely in magazines including GQ, Narrative, Fiction International, and elsewhere. He holds a Doctor of Arts from the University at Albany, SUNY, and teaches at Grub Street in Boston.
Joyce Maynard first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story, “An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life,” in 1972, when she was a freshman at Yale. Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in over fifty papers nationwide, a regular contributor to NPR and national magazines and a longtime performer with The Moth. Maynard is the author of nine novels and three memoirs, including the New York Times bestselling novel To Die For and the best-selling memoir, At Home in the World—translated into sixteen languages. Her darkly comic novel To Die For was adapted for the screen by Buck Henry for a film directed by Gus Van Sant. She is currently at work on her tenth novel, and adapting an earlier work, Under the Influence, for the screen. Maynard’s most recent memoir, The Best of Us—about finding her husband and losing him to cancer four years later—was published in Fall 2017. In 2002 Maynard founded The Lake Atitlan Writing Workshop in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala, where she hosts a weeklong workshop in personal storytelling every winter. She is a fellow of The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo.
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.
John Schimmel is in the middle of an extraordinarily diverse career as a writer/producer. He is currently senior producer (narrative content) for Cloud Imperium Games/Roberts Space Industries, an executive producer on the feature film Foster Boy (in post), writer/producer on the film No Time For Kings (in prep), and part of the core screenwriting faculty at the University of California at Riverside's Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts. He's been the President of Michael Douglas' Furthur Films and Ascendant Pictures, an executive at Douglas-Reuther Productions, Belair Entertainment, and Warner Bros, co-penned the Tony-nominated musical "Pump Boys And Dinettes," and published fiction and nonfiction.
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.
Jeffrey Thomson is a poet, memoirist, translator, and editor, and the author of multiple books including: Half/Life: New and Selected Poems from Alice James Books (October 2019), the memoir fragile, The Belfast Notebooks, The Complete Poems of Catullus, and the edited collection From the Fishouse. 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.
Brian Turner’s latest book, My Life as a Foreign Country: A Memoir has been called “Achingly, disturbingly, shockingly beautiful” by Nick Flynn and “a humane, heartbreaking, and expertly crafted work of literature” by Tim O’Brien. His two collections of poetry: Here, Bullet (Alice James Books, 2005; Bloodaxe Books, 2007) and Phantom Noise (Alice James Books, 2010; Bloodaxe Books in October of 2010) have also been published in Swedish by Oppenheim forlag. His poems have been published and translated in Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, and Swedish.
His poetry and essays have been published in The New York Times, National Geographic, Poetry Daily, The Georgia Review, Virginia Quarterly Review and other journals. Turner was featured in the documentary film Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, which was nominated for an Academy Award. He received a USA Hillcrest Fellowship in Literature, an NEA Literature Fellowship in Poetry, the Amy Lowell Traveling Fellowship, a US-Japan Friendship Commission Fellowship, the Poets’ Prize, and a Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. His most recent book of poetry, Phantom Noise, was short-listed for the T.S. Eliot Prize in England. His work has appeared on National Public Radio, the BBC, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Here and Now, and on Weekend America, among others.
Turner earned an MFA from the University of Oregon before serving for seven years in the US Army. He was an infantry team leader for a year in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Prior to that, he deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina with the 10th Mountain Division (1999-2000).
As well as an infantryman, Brian has worked as a machinist, a locksmith’s assistant, a convenience store clerk, a pickler, a maker of circuit boards, a dishwasher, an EFL teacher in South Korea, a low voltage electrician, a radio DJ, a bass guitar instructor, and more. He’s lived and traveled to Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Russia, Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, UAE, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Morocco, Turkey, Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, and the U.K., among others.
He directs the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College and serves as a contributing editor at The Normal School.
Brian is married to Ilyse Kusnetz (poet and author of Small Hours from Truman State University Press). They live in Orlando, Florida.
Steven Womack began his first novel when he was 18 years old. A short 18 years later, he finally published one. His first published novel, Murphy’s Fault, was the only first mystery named to the 1990 New York Times Notable Books List.
Now, ten novels later, Steven Womack continues writing fiction that garners similar critical accolades. Six of the eleven novels published by Womack have received national recognition, including the highest award presented to writers in the field of mystery and crime fiction.
Womack’s latest novel, published in June 2014, was his first collaboration with another writer. He and New York City-based screenwriter Wayne McDaniel partnered on Resurrection Bay, which was based on the real-life story of Alaska’s most famous serial killer, Robert Hansen.
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Womack is a graduate of Western Reserve Academy and Tulane University, where an unpublished novel of his was the first novel ever accepted as an undergraduate honors thesis. He also holds an M.F.A. from the Southampton College writing program.
Womack is also a screenwriting professor at the Watkins Film School in Nashville, where he previously served a five-year term as Chair. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association, has been a Regional Vice-President of the Mystery Writers of America and for several years led a fiction writing workshop at the Tennessee State Prison. He also served on the Board of Governors of the Mid-South regional chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Womack co-wrote the screenplay for Proudheart, an original made-for-cable movie which premiered in August, 1993 on The Nashville Network. Proudheart was nominated for a CableAce Award. He also co-wrote the ABC-TV film Volcano: Fire On The Mountain, which first aired in February, 1997 and was one of the highest-rated TV movies of the year.
Womack is a former president of Novelists, Inc., an organization of multi-published professional novelists. He is still a member of Novelists, Inc. as well as The Writers Guild of America, East. A frequent speaker, Womack regularly appears on writers’ panels and at book fairs.