The 2022 Line-up of Conference Speakers
In alphabetical order
Kimberly Davis Basso is an author and playwright. She has been honored as a Book of the Year Finalist for Humor from Foreword Reviews, a Writer’s Digest Honorable Mention Author for Life Stories, an International Book Awards Finalist, and others, none of which impress her children. When she isn’t writing or freelance editing, she grows vegetables because she likes to eat her work.
William Bernhardt is the bestselling author of more than forty books, including the blockbuster Ben Kincaid series of novels; the historical novel Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness, currently being adapted into an NBC miniseries; a book of poetry, The White Bird; and a series of books on fiction writing. In addition, Bernhardt founded the Red Sneaker Writing Center, hosting writing workshops and small-group seminars and becoming one of the most in-demand writing instructors in the nation. His monthly eBlast, The Red Sneaker Writers Newsletter, reaches over twenty thousand people.
Bernhardt is the only writer to have received the Southern Writers Guild’s Gold Medal Award, the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award (University of Pennsylvania), and the H. Louise Cobb Distinguished Author Award (Oklahoma State), which is given “in recognition of an outstanding body of work that has profoundly influenced the way in which we understand ourselves and American society at large.” In addition to his novels, he has written plays, a musical (book and music), humor, nonfiction, children’s books, biography, poetry, and puzzles.
A former trial attorney, Bernhardt has received several awards for his pro bono work and public service. In 1994, Barrister Magazine named him one of the top 25 young lawyers in America. In his spare time, he has enjoyed surfing, digging for dinosaurs, trekking through the Himalayas, zip-lining over the canopy of the Costa Rican rain forest, and in 2013, becoming a “Jeopardy” champion. OSU named him “Oklahoma’s Renaissance Man.” He lives in Oklahoma with his wife Lara and their children.
A.G. Billig is a published author, self-publishing expert, and book publishing coach specializing in author branding, public appearances, and success mindset. She is also the founder of the award-winning blog Self-Publishing Mastery and a member of the Black Château Enterprises team. For over a decade, she has hosted and produced radio and TV shows, built awareness, and driven sales for various international brands as a PR and marketing expert.
She is also a frequent guest speaker at prestigious writers’ conferences and book festivals such as The Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference, Genre LA Creative-Writing Conference, Digital Author & Indie Publishing Writers’ Conference, ALLI Self-Publishing Advice Conference, Louisville Book Festival, The International Dublin Writers’ Conference, and The Writers’ Conference at Pacifica. Her writing and publishing career spans Europe and North America.
Alicia Doyle is an award-winning journalist who discovered boxing at the age of twenty-eight in the late 1990s when she went on assignment at a boxing gym for at-risk youth called Kid Gloves. For two years, she simultaneously worked as a newspaper reporter while training and competing as a boxer, making her one of only a few hundred women in America at the time who infiltrated this male-dominated sport.
During her boxing career, she won two Golden Gloves championship titles and earned three wins by knockout—and her pro debut at age thirty in the year 2000 was named The California Female Fight of the Year. Alicia’s first book, Fighting Chance, has won three awards since it was published on Valentine’s Day in 2020: 1st Place for Creative Nonfiction in the 2020 North Street Book Prize-Winning Writers Competition; 2020 WBAN Awards “Cool Story of the Year”, and “Best of Los Angeles Award” for Best Autobiographical Book of 2021. The book was recently optioned for a movie.
A journalist for more than two decades, Alicia has earned a reputation as “The Writer Specializing in Good News” for authoring thousands of stories about inspirational people and efforts that have a positive impact. Alicia is based in Southern California. Her second non-fiction book, The Oath, was published in February 2022.
Desireé Duffy is the Founder of Black Château, a marketing and public relations agency; Books That Make You, a multi-media brand that promotes books and authors through its award-winning website, podcast, and radio show; The BookFest®, an online bookish adventure that brings together booklovers from around the world, and is the license-holder and lead organizer for TEDxResedaBlvd.
Duffy is an advocate for spreading stories, ideas, and making the future awesome. She is a speaker on topics such as branding, marketing, digital and traditional media. In addition to holding the license and being the lead organizer for TEDxResedaBlvd, she produces events including The BookFest®, the annual Beach-Bound Book Bash, Scary Stories Around the Fire, Jingle Books, and has programmed panels and placed speakers for The West Coast Writers Conferences, Digital Hollywood, the Alliance for Women in Media, Women in Business, and the Independent Writers of Southern California.
Duffy contributes to Equities.com, ThriveGlobal.com, and Business2Community, where she writes about marketing, technology, writing, entrepreneurship, and digital media. She also hosts and is the executive producer for, the Books That Make You Show.
LISA GREEN, Associate Editor City Owl Press
Lisa Green brings over a decade of experience in the publishing industry from the author’s side of things. As co-founder of The First Five Pages Workshop online, she is no stranger to helping authors put their best work forward. Lisa is a lover of all things paranormal and fantasy related. Not only does she read and write it, she also lives it: Lisa is a practicing psychic.
As far as taste, Lisa adores anything with at least a touch of magic and romance. She is currently acquiring for the Mystic Owl imprint, so will prioritize those manuscripts that check all the following boxes: within 50-75K words, hot romance in any subgenre of fantasy or sci-fi, HEA or HFN, and adult or NA only.
JAY A. HARTMAN
Untreed Reads was founded by Editor-in-Chief Jay A. Hartman in 2008 as a way to promote ebooks, with an emphasis on independent authors and publishers. He has been writing about the ebook industry for 20+ years and was previously the Content Editor for KnowBetter.com, one of the Internet’s oldest sites reporting on ebooks and epublishing. Jay and his business partner at the time were hired by Random House and Simon & Schuster to provide statistical data when both publishing houses were building their ebook divisions.
Jay is known as a respected innovator in the ebook industry—constantly ahead of the curve. Because of his expertise and instincts, he is a regular speaker and interviewed expert on ebooks and all things in the ebook industry—at conferences in person and online, including Litquake; the University of Colorado, Boulder as a Keynote Speaker; and multiple writers groups.
With his love of literature and his knowledge of all aspects of the ebook industry, he is an author’s best friend in this industry. Because of his background and his nature, instead of doing what most companies do and building a business on what they “think” a customer wants, he listens to the customer and gives them not only what they want now but anticipates what the customer will want 10 years from now—and gives it to them now.
A former journalist, Christina Hoag has had her laptop searched by Colombian guerrillas, phone tapped in Venezuela, was suspected of drug trafficking in Guyana, hid under a car to evade Guatemalan soldiers, and posed as a nun to get inside a Caracas jail. She has interviewed gang members, bank robbers, thieves, and thugs in prisons, shantytowns, and slums, not to forget billionaires and presidents, some of whom fall into the previous categories. Now she writes about such characters in her fiction.
Her noir crime novel Skin of Tattoos was a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award for suspense, while her YA thriller Girl on the Brink was named one of Suspense Magazine’s Best of YA. She co-authored Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, which is being used in several universities. Her essays and fiction have won prizes from the International Human Rights Arts Festival and the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition.
A graduate of Boston University, she’s a former staff writer for the Miami Herald and Associated Press and wrote from Latin America for Time, Business Week, New York Times, Financial Times, Times of London, Houston Chronicle, and other news outlets. A native of New Zealand, Christina grew up as an ex-pat around the world. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she has been a creative writing instructor at a maximum-security prison and for at-risk teen girls.
Constance Hood retired from teaching with five filing cabinets of family memoirs – tales of war, love, and adventures. Her first book, Off the Tracks: A Beatnik Family Journey, was constructed from a 1961 girl’s diary and a mother’s memoirs. Set in the Cold War and Berlin Crisis, mother and a boyfriend led two children on a jaunt through European railroads for ten months, no tickets. >
Years later the author’s estranged father wrote out 21 pages of narrative summarizing his activities as a military intelligence operative in World War II. Islands of Deception: Lying with the Enemy resulted, a tale constructed from those notes, confirmed in military records, and verified in long conversations and photos.
Into Dark Corridors: A Tale of Hands, Heart, and Home is a memoir. Saving an abandoned house involved bulldozing a Los Angeles hillside, and moving the large structure in pieces. A year after the house was moved, true love showed up at the front door and the Hoods spent 25 years restoring the 1909 home. A story of risk and commitment, catastrophes and small miracles, weaves itself into a tale of resilience.
Prior to writing books, Ms. Hood wrote technical proposals and grants for more than twenty years.
Catherine Ann Jones holds a graduate degree in Depth Psychology and Archetypal Mythology from Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she has also taught. After playing major roles in over fifty plays on and off-Broadway, she became disappointed by the lack of good roles for women and wrote a play, On the Edge, about Virginia Woolf and her struggle with madness in a world gone mad, Hitler, and WWII. The play won a National Endowment for the Arts Award. Twelve of her plays, including Calamity Jane (both play and musical), The Women of Cedar Creek, and Freud’s Oracle, have won multiple awards and are produced both in and out of New York.
Her films include The Christmas Wife (Jason Robards and Julie Harris), Unlikely Angel (Dolly Parton), and the popular TV series, Touched by an Angel. A Fulbright Research Scholar to India studying shamanism, she has taught for several years at The New School University (NY), University of Southern California (Los Angeles), and the Esalen and the Omega Institutes. Her books, The Way of Story: the craft & soul of writing; Heal Your Self with Writing (Nautilus Book Award 2014); What Story Are You Living?; True Fables: Stories from Childhood; Buddha and the Dancing Girl: A Creative Life; and East & West: Stories of India, are used in many schools, including New York University writing programs. Based in Ojai, California, she leads The Way of Story and Heal Your Self with Writing workshops throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
Beginning as a music journalist turned publicist, Kathleen Kaiser has forged a career spanning over 40+ years of involvement in the most exciting industries of her generation. From rock and roll in the ‘60s and ‘70s to the digital/internet revolution of the late ‘80s and ‘90s, she has been a marketing professional for Fortune 100 companies, small startups, and conferences/tradeshows around the world. In 1993, she opened Kathleen Kaiser & Associates, an emerging technology-marketing firm, which now focuses on working with the arts nonprofit communities and marketing authors. She has produced the 805 Writers’ Conference since 2010.
Named Publicist of the Year in 2016 by the Book Publicists of Southern California for her contributions to the literary community, Kathleen maintains a small list of clients that allows her to continue her volunteerism, which includes being president of the national literary organization Writers & Publishers Network (WPN), and organizer of quarterly literary meeting co-sponsored by IWOSC and WPN. In 2021, she launched a podcast, TalkingBookPublishing.Today, where she interviews industry professionals about their work and authors.
In her free time Kathleen if finishing a memoir about her years in rock and roll, a new historical novel, and occasionally writes articles for regional publications. Kathleen is a proud fourth-generation small businesswoman.
Angelina Leaños is the 2021-2022 Ventura County Youth Poet Laureate and a student at California Lutheran University. In high school, she won the Poetry Out Loud competition at both the school and county levels and has since returned as a recitation coach for Ventura County. She is a board member for the Ventura County Arts Council and is also the youngest poet in California Poets in the Schools’ history on their Board of Directors.
BETT LOU LEAVER
Betty Lou Leaver, PhD, co-founder of MSI Press LLC, has been managing editor since 2003. She also serves on the advisory board for Georgetown University Press and as a manuscript reader for Cambridge University Press and Springer Publishing (London). She has published more than two dozen of her own books with Cambridge University Press, Georgetown University Press, LARC Press/San Diego State University, and, of course, MSI Press LLC. She has served as editor for several journals and newsletters, for which she was awarded the Elsevier Prize (with two co-editors for an edition of System) and Service to the Field by the American Council of Teachers of Russian. In the non-publishing arena, she has also served as chief academic officer/provost of two universities and consulted extensively (24+ countries) for the US Department of State, US Department of Defense, NASA, Russian Space Agency, Ministries of Education, and private schools and associations.
MSI Press LLC (www.msipress.com) focuses on bringing the public unique books of recognized high quality by new authors with considerable talent. We take pride in our authors and book publication specialists for the awards they continually win for the quality of their work. We publish 10-20 (average: 16) nonfiction books annually, generally 60,000-90,000 words, in the areas of foreign language and culture, health and fitness, humor, inspiration and religion, parenting, teaching, lay psychology, general interest, and self-help.
Award-winning author Sheila Lowe is a real-life forensic handwriting examiner whose character, Claudia Rose, mirrors her career. She writes stories of psychological suspense that put ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances and tests them to their limits. Sheila also writes paranormal suspense, with the third book in the Behind the Veil Series, The Last Door, set for release in 2022. She serves on the board of directors of Sisters in Crime Los Angeles Chapter and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Thriller Writers, and Crime Writers Association (UK).
Her other works include six nonfiction handwriting analysis books and handwriting analyzer software. Besides being a certified forensic document examiner and certified handwriting analyst, Sheila holds a Master of Science degree in psychology. She served as president of The American Handwriting Analysis Foundation from 2012-2022 and is a current member of the board of directors of the Scientific Association of Forensic Examiners. Originally from England, Sheila lives in Ventura.
Suzie Newell has her doctorate specializing in coping mechanisms. Her work as a nurse anesthesiologist on obstetric units in the epicenter of the opioid crisis exposed her to the day-to-day roadblocks people face not just within the world of substance use disorder, but in everyday life as well. Her own journey began with a degree in political science working in social justice. Suzie has always championed people’s journeys. While in Guatemala during the 500 Years of Resistance campaign, she met a woman who inspired her to return to school and ultimately work in anesthesia.
This all sounds perfect on paper, but along the journey, she lost half her family, lost a good portion of her mind, and fell down hard. She was lucky enough to get back up, and then get back up again. The work put into developing The Path 365: Daily Direction for Ladies and Mothers, Witches and Others is the culmination of a lifetime of work in healthcare, in peer support, and within her own personal journey. Sharing this work through a daily direction book is an honor for her.
The Path 365 is a guide to life that can help everyone become their best selves. Find out more on The Path 365 website.
MARK H. PARSONSMark H. Parsons has written primarily nonfiction for several years, penning over two hundred articles for national publications as well as a pair of nonfiction books before turning to book-length fiction. His first YA novel, Road Rash (Knopf/Random House), was named to the ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list, as well as Bank Street College’s Best Children’s Books of the Year list. His latest YA novel, The 9:09 Project, is coming from Delacorte/Random House this November. He also has a writing blog on his website which deep dives into several aspects of the writing life.
“I love the writing process, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction,” Parsons says. “Please don’t tell my editor, but I would pay to write. I’m specifically drawn to the YA genre because it allows you the freedom to explore important issues in-depth and because teens have better bullshit detectors than any other audience. I would argue that in terms of veracity and impact, kidlit is not less than adult lit, but more than.”
Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME), Penny Sansevieri is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon Optimization programs as well as Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the “leading guide to everything Internet.”
AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal. To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.
Jule Selbo is a multi-award-winning novelist, playwright, and screenwriter whose original work explores an individual’s need for justice, love, and a sense of belonging. She’s written for legends like George Lucas, Aaron Spelling, George Romero, Sissy Spacek, and Geena Davis, with projects at Disney, Universal, MTV, Columbia Pictures, and more.
After earning a Masters at UNC, Chapel Hill, she made her way to New York City, where her plays ran off-off-Broadway. Productions in regional theaters and Los Angeles opened opportunities for writing and producing gigs in network television and major film studios in Hollywood.
In the early 2000s, she began teaching Screenwriting classes and World Cinema at CSU Fullerton. Her three books on screenwriting are curriculum in universities across the globe. She taught in Florence, Italy – and this is where her first novel, Find Me in Florence (Chatelaine First Place Award in Women’s Fiction and Romance), was born. Other books include award-winning historical fiction: Dreams of Discovery, Based on the Life of Explorer John Cabot and Breaking Barriers, The Life of Laura Bassi (Finalist for the Goethe Award). Short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.
In 2021, Jule released 10 DAYS, the first in the Dee Rommel Mystery series, which won five awards including Kirkus, BookLife, Foreword, and more. The second in the series, 9 DAYS, will released in September 2022. Jule now lives in Portland, Maine where she enjoys being part of the literary and theater communities, sailing, writing for podcasts, cooking, and playing pickleball.
Inspiration is a curious, complex emotion. It is different for everyone. For S.R Strickland, it flared when she moved to Europe: London, Munich, Augsburg… travel was the magical key. It took her from her country and culture yet somehow freed her. No expectation, no labels other than the American. “I became a sponge soaking up the exposure to unfamiliar disciplines: literature, music, architecture, and fashion. Yet, the writing bug didn’t bite until I returned to the United States. Scribbling fictitious tales kept my traveling experiences alive. A vortex of data always churning in my mind.”
But it was the sixteen-year-old Muse, a runaway American slave, who presented herself and absorbed all of my attention. Who was she? What did she want? Where was she going? But most of all, how would she survive? Peltier, the bounty hunter – driven by hate in pursuit of her… his prey. What fears and mental disorders possessed him? And the city of Paris circa 1855, a time of renovation and re-creation, evolving into the modern city we recognized today.
The Awakening of La Muse, historical fiction, is my debut novel. A five-year creative journey. What a ride!
Jeniffer Thompson is a personal branding expert, digital marketing strategist, and publishing consultant. She is an author and speaker who delivers strategy-rich content and actionable tools that educate and empower authors. She co-founded Monkey C Media in 2004, an award-winning book cover and website design house. She is also a co-host of The Premise podcast, co-founder of the San Diego Writers Festival, and serves on the San Diego Memoir Writers Association board. Visit MonkeyCMedia.com for author services, and subscribe to Jeniffer’s author marketing tips at JenifferThompson.com.
WENDELIN VAN DRAANEN
Wendelin Van Draanen is the multi-award-winning, bestselling author of more than thirty novels, all published by Knopf/RandomHouse. Her titles include the long-running Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes mystery series, and Flipped, which became a Warner Brothers feature film, directed by Rob Reiner. A former classroom teacher and the mother of two, her nonfiction books, Hope in the Mail, Reflections on Writing and Life, is part memoir, part craft guide, and part publishing insight, designed to inspire writers to keep pursuing their dream. Find more info at http://www.wendelinvand.com/.
Ravven White is a gothic poet and novelist specializing in love, grief & growth, and her beloved darklings. She dabbles in mystery and magic and spends most of her nights reading books or scribbling crazed stories from her pen. The founder of Curious Corvid Publishing, Ravven has a special love for the odd, the unusual and is deeply passionate about indie publishing and fair representation. Ravven lives in a castle by the sea with her husband, daughter, and their two hellhounds. You can usually sense her arrival by a curious flapping of wings.
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