LUW Fall Conference, August 28–29, 2015
The Riverwoods Conference Center
615 Riverwoods Parkway
subject to change
DEAN WESLEY SMITH
Considered one of the most prolific writers working in modern fiction, USA Today bestseller Dean Wesley Smith has published far over a hundred novels in 40 years along with hundreds of short stories across many genres. Currently he produces novels in four major series: the time travel Thunder Mountain novels, the galaxy-spanning Seeders Universe series, the urban fantasy Ghost of a Chance series, and the superhero series starring Poker Boy.
His monthly magazine, Smith’s Monthly, consists of his own fiction. It premiered in October 2013 and has not missed an issue with over 60,000 words per issue. Dean has written a couple dozen Star Trek novels, two Men in Black, Spider-Man and X-Men novels. Writing with his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch, under the name Kathryn Wesley, they wrote the novel for the NBC miniseries The Tenth Kingdom. He wrote novels under dozens of pen names in the worlds of comic books and movies, from The Final Fantasy to Steel to Rundown. Dean has worked as a fiction editor at Pulphouse Publishing, VB Tech Journal, and Pocket Books. At WMG Publishing, he and Kristine serve as executive editors for Fiction River anthologies. Read more at: www.deanwesleysmith.com.
MAXWELL ALEXANDER DRAKE
Maxwell Alexander Drake is an award-winning Science Fiction/Fantasy author, Graphic Novelist and Playwright. He is also the lead fiction writer and game story consultant for Daybreak Games’ (Formerly Sony Online Entertainment) massive online game EverQuest Next. He is best known for his fantasy series, The Genesis of Oblivion Saga. Drake teaches creative writing at writers’ conferences and fan conventions around the country.
For more, please visit www.maxwellalexanderdrake.com, more about The Genesis of Oblivion Saga at www.genesisofoblivion.com, more about his latest graphic novel at www.downfallthecomic.com, or read what he is doing for Sony at www.everquestnext.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @MaxwellADrake or Facebook /MaxwellAlexanderDrake.
RaeAnne Thayne is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 50 books. Her books have won many honors, including four RITA nominations from Romance Writers of America, the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence, and a career achievement award from Romantic Times. Her stories, described as “poignant and sweet,” with “beautiful, honest storytelling (that) goes straight to the heart,” have sold more than two million copies and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. She finds inspiration from the beautiful northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her family.
Owen Egerton is the author of the novels Everyone Says That at the End of the World, The Book of Harold, the Illegitimate Son of God, and the story collection How Best to Avoid Dying. As a screenwriter Egerton has written for Warner Brothers, Disney, and Fox Studios. He’s also the writer/director of the thriller Follow. Egerton is the creator of the award-winning Austin-based reading series The One Page Salon and host of public radio’s The Write Up. Egerton is also contributor to the Huffington Post and Salon and has been voted Austin’s favorite author five times by the readers of the Austin Chronicle.
Jack Remick is author of Satori: Poems. His novel Gabriela and the Widow was a finalist for the Book of the Year Award and for the Hoffer Montaigne Medal competition. His work includes The California Quartet—The Deification, Valley Boy, The Book of Changes, and Trio of Lost Souls as well as Blood, Pacific Coast Highway, Doubles in a Game of Chance, and two collections of short stories. He is co-author with Robert J. Ray of The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery, a how-to for pros and neophytes.
Star Coulbrooke, Poet Laureate of Logan City, is responsible for Helicon West, a bi-monthly open readings /featured readers series and Poetry At Three, a local poetry writing group. Her poems appear in journals such as Poetry International, Soundings East, Redactions: Poetry and Poetics, and Sugar House Review. She co-authored Logan Canyon Blend (Blue Scarab Press, 2003) with Kenneth W. Brewer, the late former poet laureate of Utah.
Her chapbook, Walking the Bear (Outlaw Artists Press 2011), is a tribute to the Bear River. She directs the Utah State University Writing Center.
Clint Johnson is a professional writer and educator as well as a freelance editor. He is the author of the middle grade fantasy Green Dragon Codex (Wizards of the Coast) and works in the Salt Lake Community College Writing Center as well as in two pilot English programs at the college. In addition, he is the designer and coordinator for the experimental K-8 author residency program at Endeavor Hall, a public charter school in West Valley City. To round out his writing obsession, he contributes to Salt City Hoops, which is the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate website of the Utah Jazz.
Amy is an Amazon bestselling author and a former co-president of the Heritage Writer’s Guild in St. George. She is best known for her Scottish historical romances and has won several writing awards, including the Spark Book Award and the 2011 League of Utah Writers award for best-in-show. For fun, she hikes, bikes and plays a mean game of golf. Born in California, Amy holds an MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, but now resides in beautiful St. George. You can find out more about Amy on her website: www.amyjarecki.com.
Eric Swedin is a Professor of History at Weber State; he has a doctorate is in the history of science and technology. His publications include numerous articles, six history books, four science fiction novels, and a historical mystery novel. His When Angels Wept: A What-If History of the Cuban Missile Crisis won the 2010 Sidewise Award in Alternate History.
Siân Griffiths lives in Ogden where she directs the Creative Writing Program at Weber State. Her work is forthcoming in The Georgia Review and has appeared in Fifth Wednesday Journal, Quarterly West, Ninth Letter, Versal, The Rumpus, and other publications. Versal nominated her story “What Is Solid” for a Pushcart Prize, and Janet Burroway included her poem “Fistful” in the third edition of Imaginative Writing.
Her debut novel, Borrowed Horses (New Rivers Press), was a semi-finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. For more information, please visit www.sbgriffiths.com.
Johnny Worthen is an award-winning, bestselling author of books and stories. Trained in modern literary criticism and cultural studies, he writes upmarket multigenre fiction. “I write what I like to read,” he says. “This guarantees me at least one fan.”
Johnny is best known (so far) for his award-winning, nationally acclaimed, bestselling young adult novel, Eleanor, the Unseen. It is a great book and if you haven’t read it, you need to. Then you can pick up Celeste, the Unseen. In 2015 Johnny entered the world of political mystery with The Brand Demand, a blackmailing tale of activism and ethics. His comedy noire with The Finger Trap introduces Tony Flaner, a sarcastic detective. Johnny’s stories appear in a number of anthologies including, the Little Visible Delight (The Point), Old Scratch and Owl Hoots (Keep Sweet), and Secrets & Doors (A Thousand Secret Doors). Johnny was named the 2014 Writer of the Year by the LUW; the League awarded Eleanor, the Unseen best in class, Gold Quill Winner for YA Novels. Johnny lives in Sandy with his wife and sons.
Shanan Ballam earned an MFA in Poetry Writing from the University of Nebraska in 2007. She teaches poetry and fiction writing at Utah State; she was named the 2014 Lecturer of the Year for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. She is the author of the chapbook The Red Riding Hood Papers (Finishing Line Press 2010) and the full-length poetry collection Pretty Marrow (Negative Capability Press 2013), a semi-finalist for the 2010 Brittingham and Polk Poetry Prizes, the 2010 May Swenson Award, the 2010 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry, and the 2012 Louise Bogan Award; in 2012 it received first place in the Utah Division of Arts & Museums Original Writing Contest.
In 2013 she was appointed to the Utah Arts Council Board of Directors where she serves as the Literary Arts Representative.
DARREN M. EDWARDS
Darren M. Edwards graduated from Utah State in 2006 and spent the next seven years teaching courses in composition, literature, creative writing, and publication production. He left academia to dedicate time to his own creative projects. Darren served as the editor in chief for both New Graffiti Publishing and The Creative magazine. He has had dozens of poems and essays published in places ranging from trade magazines to literary journals. He was the 2014 Southern Utah Grand Slam Champion and competed at both the 2014 and 2015 National Poetry Slams as a member of the Wham Bam Slam team. He has served as the Slam Master for Southern Utah since 2013.
He writes a weekly writing column for the blog, The Obsessive Bookseller. Darren’s first book, tentatively titled Bolted: A Narrative Exploration of Utah’s Sport Climbing History is due out in 2016 from The History Press.
Patrick Madden is the author of two essay collections from the University of Nebraska Press, 2010’s Quotidiana and Sublime Physick, due early next year. His essays have appeared widely in journals and in The Best Creative Nonfiction and The Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies. He is coeditor (with David Lazar) of After Montaigne: Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays, due this September from the University of Georgia Press. He teaches at Brigham Young University, and he curates the online essay anthology at www.quotidiana.org.
MARGARET BLAIR YOUNG
Margaret Blair Young teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. An accomplished author, she has won numerous awards from the Utah Arts Council, including Best Short Story Collection for Elegies and Love Songs; Best Novel of the Year in 1992 for Salvador, and Best Novel of the Year in 1995 for Merry’s Daughters. She has also written three plays, two of which have been produced at BYU, including Dear Stone and I Am Jane. Margaret teaches at the Spanish Institute at BYU.
Tyler Whitesides is the author of the Janitors middle grade book series. He has always loved telling stories—as a kid he was even willing to do extra chores if his mom would type his stories on the computer. Maybe this is where the original ideas for the Janitors series came from! Tyler enjoys cooking on the barbecue, spending time in the mountains, and vacuuming. He has worked as a music teacher, firework shooter, taste tester, and janitor. He currently lives in Logan with his wife, Connie, who teaches third grade. The fifth book in this Janitors series will be published in 2015.
Chadd VanZanten’s essays on fly fishing can be found in the online journal Eat Sleep Fish, the print journal Big Sky Journal, and in the forthcoming book On Fly-Fishing the Northern Rockies published by The History Press. He is the author of numerous works of short fiction, is a professional editor, and resides in northern Utah. When he is not fishing, he is writing. The opposite is also true.
Eric Bishop grew up dreaming of authoring novels. Prompted by mid-life, he finally sat down and wrote The Samaritan’s Pistol in less than three months. Unfortunately, his manuscript had all the beginner mistakes from passive voice to mind-numbing dialogue. Over the next three years he rewrote his story eight times and eventually won the League of Utah Writers’ Gold Quill award. He understands the frustration and challenge of crafting a publishable manuscript and the joy of finally hearing “yes.” Eric enjoys sharing everything he’s learned from typing the first letter to seeing his words on the shelves of Barnes and Noble.
When he’s not writing he tries to keep up with his wife and four daughters.
LIESEL K. HILL
Liesel K. Hill is a novelist who writes across three genres: sci-fi/fantasy, historical fiction, and crime fiction. Her sci-fi and fantasy, including dystopian, are written under her full name. Her crime and historical fiction are written under her initials, L.K. Hill. She loved to read and write at a young age, and her earliest memories consist of her father sitting in the doorway of her room, relating stories of Frodo, Gandalf, and the One Ring of Power. Her mother also read to her every afternoon, sometimes for several hours a day.
Today she is an award-winning author. All of her published works thus far have won manuscript awards in the prestigious League of Utah Writers annual fiction competition. Persistence of Vision was the winner of the Silver Quill Award for Published Books in 2013, while Citadels of Fire won the same award in 2014.
Jeff served in the U.S. Air Force for 32 years, retiring as a colonel in 2010. He holds an MA in History from Utah State and an MS in Strategic Studies from U.S. Army War College. Following his military career, Jeff worked as a civilian historian at the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force Flight Test Center.
His work as an historian has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Utah Historical Quarterly, Airpower History, and the U.S. Army War College Press. Jeff currently teaches American Military History and U.S. Institutions at Utah State. An active League of Utah Writers member, Jeff is working on his second novel and has dabbled in poetry. Jeff lives on a mini-farm in Hyde Park, where horses, gardening, and playing the bass fill the time he isn’t writing or teaching.
John D. Brown is an award-winning thriller and fantasy writer. He currently lives with his wife and four daughters in the hinterlands of Utah where one encounters much fresh air, many good-hearted ranchers, and the occasional wolf.
CINDY M. HOGAN
Cindy M. Hogan graduated with a BA in education and is inspired by the unpredictable teenagers she teaches. She is the bestselling and award winning author of the Watched trilogy, a young adult suspense series with a dash of romance. She has since branched off to write a mystery, Gravediggers, that won Best YA novel of 2013, a contemporary romance, Confessions of a 16-Year-Old Virgin Lips, and two in a spy series, Adrenaline Rush and Hotwire.
Nathan Croft is a self-proclaimed, first-world-fantasy-anarchist, lover/writer of contemporary, punk, sometimes morbid, dark, weird, super-happy, and literary fantasy and mythology. He is a connoisseur of trope subversion and elegant rule dissection. He's always good for craft discussion, sushi included, preferably. Nathan reads anything resembling “literary fantasy” and adores R. Zelazney, L. Grossman, C. Mieville, T. Pratchett, D. Adams, C. Lewis, U. LeGuinn, and a few Brandons. He is a husband, father, and is nocturnal. Homunculus and the Cat is Nathan’s first book, published by Curiosity Quills.
Cheree Alsop has published 29 books, including two series through Stonehouse Ink. She is the mother of a beautiful, talented daughter and amazing twin sons who fill every day with joy and laughter. She is married to her best friend, Michael, the light of her life and her soul-mate, who shares her dreams and inspires her by reading the first drafts and giving much appreciated critiques. Cheree works as an independent author and mother, which is more play than work! She enjoys reading, traveling to tropical beaches, spending time with her boys before they start school, and going on family adventures while planning her next book.
Dustin Earl is a passionate fantasy and creative fiction writer. He was born in Logan and graduated Utah State with degrees in history, German, Asian studies, and linguistics. An intrepid adventurer, he has taught English in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, China and Japan.
Dustin has explored both real and artificial languages. He has dabbled in Klingon, Dothraki, Esperanto, Na’vi and also created the language, Achaerath. Dustin can often be found writing in a local café, playing the Asian game of Go, hiking in Cache Valley, or enjoying a good sunset.
It was Jason’s love of fantasy epics that inspired him to write his own, and he has wanted to be an author since he was in the third grade, and has always been involved in some sort of storytelling project. He is the author of two books.
Jason holds a Bachelors degree in IT Management, but plans to pursue a Masters in Creative Writing. He currently works as an acquisition editor for Curiosity Quills.
He lives in Salt Lake City with his beautiful wife, and four adorable children. He likes chocolate cake donuts, playing table top games, and his favorite color is green.
MONICA PACHECO, Literary Agent, The McDermid AgencyPitch sessions available
Monica joined the McDermid Agency in 2008 and represents a growing list of writers, focusing on literary fiction, YA, science fiction and fantasy. Her clients include Sarah Polley, Yves, Meynard, Madeline Ashby, Sarah Henstra, Irina Kovalyova, Janice Poon and Eli K.P. William.
The McDermid Agency is a full service agency, active in advising clients in advancing their careers through all forms of digital media, as well as through traditional methods of publishing and promotion. McDermid Agency writers have been nominees and winners of many literary prizes including the Man Booker Prize, the Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Award, the Writers Trust awards, the Charles Taylor Prize for narrative non-fiction, the Orange Prize, the Danuta Gleed Award, the Commonwealth Prize, the Frank O'Connor Award, and the Bram Stoker Award.
MONICA ODOM, Literary Agent, Bradford LiteraryPitch sessions available
Monica Odom is an agent with the Bradford Literary Agency of San Diego. She will accept pitches at the conference and is actively seeking authors to represent in a wide variety of forms and genres.
Specifically, Monica is looking for the following: Nonfiction by authors with demonstrable platforms in the areas of: pop culture, illustrated/graphic design, food and cooking, humor, history, and social issues. She is looking for narrative nonfiction in these areas, and some memoir. Monica is interested in fiction in the areas of literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, compelling speculative fiction and magic realism, historical fiction, alternative histories, dark and edgy fiction, literary psychological thrillers, and illustrated/picture books. Monica is most actively seeking adult projects but is open to all levels of children’s projects and holds the same criteria no matter the age group: original storytelling, incredible voice, compelling characters, and vivid, detailed setting. She also likes to see a strong sense of narrative tension. Monica is serious about the fact that We Need Diverse Books and is looking for authentic representation of all characters, diverse or otherwise.
Monica has an MA in digital and print media publishing from New York University and a BA in English from Montclair State University. We are excited to host her at the conference.
ASHLEY GEPHART, Acquisitions Editor, Cedar Fort PublishingPitch sessions available
After graduating from Utah Valley University with a degree in Creative Writing and theatre, Ashley Gephart has landed her dream job as an acquisitions editor at Cedar Fort. Her life’s ambitions have always pointed her to storytelling, whether through directing, acting, writing, or helping others perfect their manuscripts. When she is not torturing her protagonists, she enjoys history, design, playing hammy roles on the stage, and contemplating what it would be like to be a supervillain. She lives in her native Utah.
Ashley is searching for children’s literature from picture books to middle-grade fiction. She would like to see strong, cohesive plot arcs in picture books with proactive young characters at the helm and strong emotional or comedic ties. In middle-grade fiction, she would like contemporary themes, well-rounded female characters, diversity, and humor. Juvenile fiction (chapter books and early readers) fitting these specifications is also appreciated. Books that can cross over between the LDS and national markets are always welcome.
EMMA PARKER, Acquisitions Editor, Cedar Fort PublishingPitch sessions available
Emma Parker was born and raised in Southern California but currently lives in Utah to work her dream job. She is the fiction acquisitions editor with Cedar Fort Publishing. Emma is the author of Papa’s Book of Mormon Christmas. She graduated summa cum laude from Southern New Hampshire University with a BA in English and Creative Writing. For more information visit www.emmaraeparker.com.
Emma is looking for adult and young adult fiction from authors that have or are willing to build a marketing platform. Realistic fiction, historical, regency, romance, and LDS genres are all appreciated. She is also always accepting fantasy, adaptations, science fiction, thrillers, and all other fiction genres.
McKELLE GEORGE Acquisitions Editor, Jolly Fish PressPitch sessions available
McKelle joined the Jolly Fish team in 2013. She has a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Brigham Young University. She’s previously worked with Friend magazine and A+B Literary Agency as an editorial assistant. In fiction, she’s interested in any story with strong, carefully crafted characters and unique voice, but in particular she’s hunting for young adult novels that are offbeat, quirky, dark, literary in tone, contemporary, or LGBTQ friendly; literary and women’s fiction with uncommon, well-told love stories included; transportive historical fiction in the 20th century.
McKelle recently acquired Anna Silver’s Songbyrd (JFP, Spring 2016) from the Sandra Djikstra Literary Agency, and Mia Chantal Siegert’s acclaimed Jerkbait from The Knight Literary Agency.
KENNA BLAYLOCK Acquisitions Editor, Jolly Fish PressPitch sessions available
Kenna is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a major in English and a minor in editing. She grew up in the small but pleasant town of Brigham City, Utah, after moving from the coastal regions of Oregon. Growing up, Kenna loves fantasy and science-fiction, and they are her favorite genres to read and edit. She is particularly interested in YA sci-fi and fantasy books with unexpected plot twists and unique storyline with strong, well-crafted narrative. She is also interested in larger-than-life love stories with stunning character development she can fall in love with.
Kenna recently acquired Dan Allen’s Crystal Compass series with the first installment, Fall of the Dragon Prince, coming out Fall 2016. She is also working on acquiring Alana Johnson’s latest science fiction novel.
Reece Hanzon Acquisitions Editor, Jolly Fish PressPitch sessions available
Reece Hanzon specializes in science fiction and fantasy. He is especially interested in sci-fi thrillers, space opera, cyberpunk, urban fantasy, sword and sorcery, and epic fantasy. He has a B.A. in communications, with a minor in editing, from Brigham Young University. Reece has been with Jolly Fish Press since 2012, and worked on various projects, including: the Moonlight Trilogy by Teri Harman; the Psionic Earth Series, by Dan Levinson; The Samaritan’s Pistol by Eric Bishop; and Dependent by Brenda Corey Dunne.
Reece’s latest acquisition includes the Tokens and Omens (Spring 2016) series by Jeri Lynn Baird.
CHRISTOPHER LOKE, Panelist
Christopher is the executive editor and publisher for Jolly Fish Press. With at least 10 years of experience in the publishing industry, he leads a team of outstanding editors, designers, and publicists in his pursuit to publishing quality books with unique and outstanding narratives. His goal has always been to help jumpstart and foster the writing careers of local authors. Under his leadership, Jolly Fish Press has moved from a POD-only publisher to a hybrid publisher with partners such as The Gotham Group (film/media), The Schulman Literary Agency (translation, audiobook), and IPG (distribution).
When not reading manuscripts, Christopher can be found submerged in photography and design work on the side.
ZACH POWER, Panelist
Zach T. Power lives in Orem, Utah, where he is Associate Publisher at Jolly Fish Press and is currently working on an MFA in creative writing. He has lost count of the number of manuscripts he’s worked on, and freely admits that he wrote this bio in third-person. He is on the lookout for writing that is whimsical / strange / nostalgic / sentimental / disturbing / contemporary / fresh. In other words, he is looking for manuscripts that feel like a persistent waking dream, and for authors that persistently pursue a waking dream.
ANGELA ESCHLER, Eschler EditingPractice pitch sessions
Angela Eschler and her team conducted practice pitch sessions at our Spring Workshop this year, and they were so popular, we've brought them for the conference to do even more sessions! Practice pitch sessions give you a chance to pitch your project to experienced publishing professionals, receive feedback and advice, and polish your approach before pitching “for realsies.” The 2015 conference will host a variety of literary agents and editors, so we encourage you take advantage of this outstanding resource—it could make all the difference!
Certified word nerd Angela Eschler of Eschler Editing has worked in publishing for 15 years, both in her own company and as a freelance editor for publishers, authors, businesses, and academic organizations. She has traditionally published two nonfiction inspirational books for women and loves connecting with writers and readers.