The 2021 Line-up of Conference Speakers
In alphabetical order
Kimberly Davis Basso
Kimberly Davis Basso is an author and playwright. She has been honored as 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.
T.L. Bequette is a criminal defense attorney turned writer. Located in Oakland, California, most of his practice involves defending accused murderers. His outlook on the criminal justice system’s need for reform, the unbalanced jury selection process, and his fight for those receiving harsher sentences than they deserve, is what fuels his writing.
Bequette’s writing is inspired by his time in the courtroom where he has tried over 20 murder cases. His skill in delivering closing arguments and presenting the stories of his clients to the jury make him a master storyteller. Good Lookin’ is his debut novel and weaves his expertise from the courtroom into the page of a thrilling mystery.
He holds degrees from The University of the Pacific and Georgetown Law School and serves annually on faculty of the Stanford Law School Trial Advocacy Clinic.
For more, explore: https://tlbequette.com/
Miranda Ditmore is an account representative at BookBub, where she manages relations with independent authors and educates partners on how to use BookBub’s tools to support a wide range of marketing goals. She believes in the power of a good marketing strategy and loves helping authors navigate the ever-changing digital marketing space.
When she’s not chatting away about books, she can be found biking around Boston, scouting new coffee shops, or camping in the nearest mountains.
Alicia Doyle is an award-winning journalist who discovered boxing at age 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 option 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 and is working on her second non-fiction book, The Oath.
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, and Women in Business.
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.
Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential industry newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for F+W Media and the Virginia Quarterly Review. In 2019, Jane was awarded Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World; her newsletter was awarded Media Outlet of the Year in 2020.
Jane’s newest book is The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press); Publishers Weekly said that it is “destined to become a staple reference book for writers and those interested in publishing careers.” Also, in collaboration with The Authors Guild, she wrote The Authors Guild Guide to Self-Publishing.
In addition to being a professor with The Great Courses, Jane maintains an award-winning blog for writers at JaneFriedman.com; her expertise has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, NPR, PBS, NBC, CBS, the National Press Club and many other outlets.
Jane has delivered keynotes and workshops on the digital era of authorship at worldwide industry events, including the Writer’s Digest annual conference, Stockholm Writers Festival, San Miguel Writers Conference, The Muse & The Marketplace, Frankfurt Book Fair, BookExpo America, and Digital Book World. She’s also served on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund, and has held positions as a professor of writing, media, and publishing at the University of Cincinnati and University of Virginia.
In her spare time, Jane writes creative nonfiction, which has been included in the anthologies Every Father’s Daughter and Drinking Diaries. If you look hard enough, you can also find her embarrassing college poetry.
Lisa Green, Associate Editor City Owl Press
Lisa 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.
Deborah Herman is an author, literary agent, and publishing entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Micro Publishing Media, a niche and kitsch indie publishing company. MPM includes a full-service editorial, design, and marketing company for entrepreneurial authors. Herman’s most recent book is as a collaborator with Dianne “Snake” Lake, the youngest member of the notorious Manson Family, who for the first time reveals her story of survival and how she helped put Charles Manson and the other murderers in jail.
Bio and Photograph to come soon
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 also 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. Early in her career, she won prizes for enterprise reporting and interpretive writing from the New Jersey Press Association. A native of New Zealand, Christina grew up as an expat around the world. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she has been a creative writing instructor at a maximum-security prison and to 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.
KATHLEEN KAISER, WPN President
Beginning as a music journalist turned publicist, Kathleen Kaiser’s career spans 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 2011.
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 allow her to continue her volunteerism, which includes being president of the national literary organization Writers & Publishers Network (WPN), Ojai Art Center Literary Branch board member, board member of the Ojai Performing Arts Theater, and organizer of a monthly literary meeting in Thousand Oaks, CA co-sponsored by IWOSC and WPN. In 2021, she launched a podcast, TalkingBookPublishing.Today where she interviews industry professionals about their work and how it benefits authors.
In her free time, ha-ha, she is working on a graphic novel 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.
Jackie Lapin is the world leader in educating, mentoring, and coaching people on Practical Conscious Creation. Her newest book, Practical Conscious Creation: Daily Techniques for Manifest Your Desires (Findhorn Press) follows on the heels of her Amazon.com No. 1 bestseller The Art of Conscious Creation, How You Can Transform the World, which received unqualified endorsements from such personal growth leaders as Joe Vitale and Mark Victor Hansen.
Since that book, Jackie has become a noted speaker, coach, and transformational business consultant. Jackie is also the founder of The Conscious Companies, including Conscious Media Relations, (consciousmediarelations.com) a unique full-service agency specializing in helping authors, companies, and resources that are changing the world.
Most recently, she has launched SpeakerTunity™, the Transformational Speaker Leads Tip Sheet (speakertunity.com), providing direct speaking contact opportunities to transformational leaders, and two other resources: SpeakerTunity Radio Insider™ and SpeakerTunity Summits™.
Toni Lopopolo Literary Management was founded in 1991 by Toni Lopopolo who boasts an impressive 30+ years in the book publishing business. This former executive editor at Macmillan and then St. Martin’s Press combines her many years in publishing with her unique editing skills to provide a full-service literary agency to new and seasoned authors.
Tea with Toni was created in 2011 to help area writers strengthen their writing and self-editing skills, bringing their manuscripts up to professional levels. She holds workshops in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties.
Toni Lopopolo Literary Management partners with authors for the duration of their literary careers and includes: development of fiction projects, creation of nonfiction book proposals, and editing when needed. Toni has helped bring many first-time and published authors to print including Sol Stein, Lee Silber, Lillian Glass, Steve Duno, Nancy Baer, Flo Fitzgerald, Judith Smith-Levin, Howard Olgin, Jeanette Baker, Larry Seeley, Shelly Lowenkopf, Robin Winter, Ehrich Van Lowe, Manuel Ramos, and many others. Publishers include St. Martin’s Press, Simon and Schuster, Crown, Dell, HarperCollins, Kensington, and many others.
Sheila Lowe writes stories of psychological suspense that put ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances. Like her fictional character Claudia Rose in the award-winning Forensic Handwriting series, Sheila is a real-life forensic handwriting examiner who is recognized as an expert in the court system. The Claudia Rose Series is available in box sets now. She also writes the Beyond the Veil paranormal suspense series and nonfiction books about handwriting and personality including the three-book set Handwriting Psychology.
Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.(AME), 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, Geena Davis, with projects at Disney, Universal, MTV, Columbia Pictures, and more.
Growing up in Fargo, North Dakota, Jule created plays in her garage and made short films at the local junior high school. After earning a BFA at Southern Methodist University, and 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 earned her Ph.D. at the University of Exeter, took on a professorship at California State University, Fullerton, teaching Screenwriting classes and World Cinema. 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.
Jule now lives in Portland, Maine. She enjoys being part of the literary and theater communities, sailing, writing for podcasts, cooking, and playing pickleball.
Born and raised in various parts of Los Angeles, Hiram Sims is a poet, essayist, and Creative Writing Professor teaching with the Community Literature Initiative. He graduated from the University of Southern California and received a B.A. in English: Creative Writing and a Masters of Professional Writing in Poetry. In addition to teaching essay writing, creative writing, and literature, he has published three collections of poetry, including Poems of a Young, Troubled Mind (2007), Write or Die: An Anthology of Poetry from the Urban Poet’s Workshop (2008), and PHOTOETRY: Poetry and Photography from South Central (2013), and his creative writing textbook, These Pages Speak (2015). He is the co-founder of World Stage Press, and founder of the Sims Library of Poetry, boasting the largest collection of poetry in Los Angeles.