Panelists, Moderators, and Special Guests

The 2024 A&E Conference will include panel discussions and presentations featuring notable authors and industry professionals.

Panelists

Wendi Aarons is a humor writer and satirist whose work regularly appears in McSweeneys Internet Tendency and The New Yorker Daily Shouts. She is the author of the humorous memoir, I’m Wearing Tunics Now (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2022), the middle-grade book, Ginger Mancino, Kid Comedian (BookBar Press, 2022) and the funny gift book Socks (Chronicle Books, 2023).

Wendi will be a panelist on “Writing Outside the Box: Publishing in Multiple Genres.”

Aaron H. Aceves is the author of the young adult novel This Is Why They Hate Us and a professor creative writing at UT Austin.

Aaron will be a panelist on “Letting Go: When to Share, When to Submit.”

 

Chris Barton (www.chrisbarton.info) is the author of picture books including bestseller Shark vs. Train, Sibert Honor-winning The Day-Glo Brothers, and Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, celebrated on 21 state lists. His newest nonfiction books include Glitter Everywhere! (one of NPR’s “Books We Love” for 2023), Moving Forward (an SLJ Best Book of 2022), and How to Make a Book (about My Dog). Chris and wife Jennifer Ziegler, author of Worser, live in Austin and co-host the children’s literature video series “This One’s Dedicated to…” He also serves as vice president of the Texas Institute of Letters.

Chris Barton will be a panelist on “Kid Lit Genre Session” and “Playing the Long Game: Building a Sustaining Writing Career.”

Christopher Brown is the author of A Natural History of Empty Lots: Field Notes from Urban Edgelands, Back Alleys, and Other Wild Places, forthcoming in October 2024 from Timber Press, and of the novels Tropic of Kansas (a finalist for the 2018 John W. Campbell Award), Rule of Capture, and Failed State (a finalist for the 2021 Philip K. Dick Award), all available from Harper Voyager.

Christopher will be a panelist on the “Nonfiction Genre Session” and “Writing Outside the Box: Publishing in Multiple Genres.”

Robert Jackson Bennett Robert is the author of American Elsewhere, The Troupe, The Company Man, Mr. Shivers, as well as The Divine Cities trilogy and The Founders Trilogy. His latest novel, The Tainted Cup, is available in bookstores as of February 2024. His work has received the Edgar Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the Phillip K. Dick Citation of Excellence, and he has been shortlisted for the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Locus Awards. He lives in Austin with his wife and two sons, one of whom is very large and one of whom is very loud, and he focuses on writing and not maintaining his website.

Robert will be a panelist on the “Science Fiction / Fantasy Genre Session” and “Leave Them Wanting More: Writing Genre Series.”

Amanda Churchill is the author of The Turtle House (Harper Books). Her work has been featured in Lit Hub, Hobart Pulp, Witness and other outlets. She was a Writer’s League of Texas 2021 Fellow, has received support from Tin House and Community of Writers, and holds a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of North Texas. She lives in Keller, Texas, with her family.

Amanda will be a panelist on “It’s a Partnership: The Agent/Author Relationship” and “Debut Authors Dish: Publishing Your First Book.”

Samantha M Clark is the author of 7 books for children, including The Boy in the Boat, and The Beast and Arrow (both published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster), American Horse Tales: Hollywood (Penguin Workshop/Penguin Random House), and the Gemstone Dragons chapter book series (Bloomsbury). She lives in Austin, Texas, where she mentors other writers to tell their own stories. Find her at www.SamanthaMClark.com.

Samantha will be a panelist on “The Writer as Architect: Structuring Your Story” and “Getting to Page One: Researching, Outlining, & Other Prewriting.”

Callie Collins is a writer and editor from Texas. She cofounded A Strange Object, a small fiction-focused press based in Austin, and shereceived her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won several Hopwood Awards. She was a 2018-2019 Zell Postgraduate Fellow in the Helen Zell Writers’ Program and a 2019-2020 Fiction Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Her first two books—Walk Softly on This Heart of Mine, a novel, and, a story collection—are forthcoming from Doubleday.

Callie will be a panelist on “Writing & Publishing Short Fiction.”

Kelsey Cox received her MFA in Fiction from Purdue University and lives with her husband and two daughters in the Texas Hill Country. Her debut thriller, Party of Liars, is forthcoming from Minotaur in Summer 2025.

Kelsey will be a panelist on the “Mystery/Thriller Genre Session.”

Mac Crane is a writer, sweatpants enthusiast, and basketball player. Their debut novel, I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself (Catapult, 2023), was an Indie Next Pick and NYT Editors’ Choice, and their second novel, A Sharp Endless Need, is forthcoming from Dial Press in March, 2025. They currently live in San Diego with their family.

Mac will be a panelist on “Finding Your Audience: The Author’s Role” and ” It’s a Partnership: The Author/Editor Relationship.”

Elizabeth Crook, a recipient of the Texas Writer Award, has published six novels, including The Night Journal, which received a Spur award from Western Writers of America, Monday, Monday, which received the Jesse H. Jones Award from The Texas Institute of Letters and was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2014, and The Which Way Tree, currently in development for film and selected by the Texas State Library and Archives as the 2024 adult Great Read. Her most recent book, The Madstone, was published last year and lauded in The Washington Post as “the perfect adventure to curl up with on some desolate winter night.” Elizabeth has written for The Southwestern Historical Quarterly and Texas Monthly and is co-writer, with Stephen Harrigan, of the screenplay for The Which Way Tree. She lives in Austin.  

Elizabeth will be a panelist on the “Historical Fiction Genre Session” and “Playing the Long Game: Building a Sustaining Writing Career.”

Nan Cuba is the author of Body and Bread, winner of the PEN Southwest Award in Fiction and the Texas Institute of Letters Steven Turner Award; it was listed as one of “Ten Titles to Pick Up Now” in O, Oprah’s Magazine and was a “Summer Books” choice from Huffington Post. Other work has appeared in Antioch Review, Harvard Review, Columbia, Quarterly West, and Chicago Tribune’s Printer’s Row. As an investigator of the causes of extraordinary violence, she is a featured journalist in the Netflix documentary, The Confession Killer, and another by Hulu, Wild Crimes: Murder in Yosemite. Cuba is included in Texas Monthly’s “Ten to Watch (and Read)” and has received a Dobie Paisano Fellowship and an artist residency at Fundación Valparaiso in Spain. She is founder and executive director emeritus of Gemini Ink, a nonprofit writing arts center, and was Writer in Residence at Our Lady of the Lake University.

Nan will be a panelist on “Applying to Residencies, Fellowships, & Grants.”

Lisa Doggett is a family and lifestyle medicine physician, writer, and MS Warrior based in Austin. Her first book, Up the Down Escalator: Medicine, Motherhood, and Multiple Sclerosis was published in August 2023 by Health Communications, Inc. This award-winning memoir chronicles Lisa’s transformation from doctor to patient with MS while directing a safety net clinic and raising two young kids. Lisa graduated from Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas School of Public Health. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, NPR.org, Motherwell, the Dallas Morning News, and the Austin American-Statesman. She is a columnist for Public Health Watch and blogs for the National MS Society’s Momentum Magazine. She lives near downtown Austin with her husband Don, a hospital-based pediatrician, and their two daughters.

Lisa will be a panelist on “The Writer as Architect: Structuring Your Story.”

Jennifer duBois’s debut novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, was the winner of the California Book Award for First Fiction, the Northern California Book Award for Fiction, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award, and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction. Her second novel, Cartwheel, was a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award and the winner of the Housatonic Book Award. DuBois’s third novel, The Spectators, was a recipient of a National Endowments for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship and a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Stanford University Stegner Fellowship, duBois teaches in the MFA program at Texas State University. The Last Language is her fourth novel. 

Jennifer will be a panelist on “Writing Character-Led Stories.”

Kristin Dulaney has worked in book publishing for 20 years on the rights and licensing side of the business. Over the course of her career, she has worked with properties across all age ranges including The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, Mattel’s Monster High, Supercell’s Clash of Clans and bestselling authors Leigh Bardugo, Aiden Thomas, Gene Luen Yang, Judy I. Lin and Dan Santat. Kristin’s wide-ranging licensing experience includes translation, audio, film/tv, merchandise, educational, and digital rights. As Vice President of Subsidiary Rights at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Kristin works with nearly 300 new titles per year along with the rich backlist of award-winning, New York Times-bestselling authors and illustrators, including many children’s literature classics and bestselling series like Investigators and The Pout-Pout Fish. 

Kristin Dulaney will be a panelist on “A Look Inside: The Day to Day of a Publishing House” and “A Look at Kid Lit Today.”

Dina Gachman is a Pulitzer Center grantee, an award winning journalist, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Texas Monthly, Texas Highways, Vanity Fair + more. She’s a NYT bestselling ghostwriter and the author of the book of essays So Sorry For Your Loss: How I Learned To Live With Grief, and Other Grave Concerns. She lives in Hutto.

Dina will be a panelist on the “Nonfiction Genre Session” and “Writing & Publishing Personal Essays.”

Meg Gardiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of sixteen novels. Her thrillers have won the Edgar Award and been summer reading picks by The Today Show and O, the Oprah magazine. In August 2022 Heat 2, co-authored with Michael Mann, debuted at #1 on the New York Times best seller list. A former lawyer, two-time president of Mystery Writers of America, and three-time Jeopardy! champion, Gardiner lives in Austin. 

Meg will be a panelist on “Crafting Undeniable Opening Pages.”

Casey Gerald is the author of There Will Be No Miracles Here, a memoir that stands the America Dream narrative on its head, while straddling the complex intersection of race, class,  religion and sexuality. TWBNMH was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR and The New York Times, among others. It received starred reviews from Kirkus, Shelf Awareness, and Booklist, and was the December 2018 pick for the PBS NewsHour-New York Times Book Club. The book was a finalist for the LAMBDA Literary Award, a longlist selection for the Carnegie Medal for excellence in Nonfiction, and was described by novelist Marlon James as “the most urgently political, most deeply personal, and most engagingly spiritual statement of our time.” 

Casey will be a panelist on “Finding Your Audience: The Author’s Role.”

Carmen Giménez joined Graywolf as Publisher and Director in August 2022. She was previously the founder and publisher of Noemi Press and professor of English at Virginia Tech. She is the author of six collections of poetry, including Be Recorder, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry and Milk and Filth, a finalist for the NBCC Book Award in Poetry. She has been awarded fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, Guggenheim Foundation, the Howard Foundation, and the Hermitage Foundation.

Carmen Giménez will be a panelist on “Beyond the Big 5: The Independent Press Experience.”

Stephen Harrigan is the author of twelve books of fiction and non-fiction, including the New York Times bestselling novel The Gates of the Alamo and Remember Ben Clayton, which among other awards won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for best historical fiction from the Society of American Historians. Big Wonderful Thing, his sweeping narrative history of Texas, was published by the University of Texas Press in October 2019, and was named best non-fiction book of the year by the Philosophical Society of Texas. His most recent novel, The Leopard is Loose, was released by Knopf in 2022, and won the Philosophical Society’s fiction award. Harrigan’s work as a journalist and essayist has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and many other publications–especially Texas Monthly, for which he is a writer-at-large and long-time contributor. Many of his magazine pieces are collected in his career-spanning essay collection, The Eye of the Mammoth. Harrigan has received lifetime achievement awards from the Texas Institute of Letters and the Texas Book Festival and was presented in 2019 with the Texas Medal of Arts. His book, Sorrowful Mysteries: The Shepherd Children of Fatima and the Fate of the Twentieth Century, will be published by Knopf in April, 2024.

Stephen will be a panelist on “Playing the Long Game: Building a Sustaining Writing Career.”

Julia Heaberlin is the internationally bestselling author of six psychological thrillers based in Texas, including Black-Eyed Susans, Paper Ghosts, We Are All the Same in the Dark, and Night Will Find You. Her thrillers have sold to 22 countries. We Are All the Same In the Dark won the Writers’ League of Texas Award for Best Novel, and Night Will Find You was recently long-listed for the Gold Dagger. Julia is a former journalist who believes in accuracy in her fictional thrillers—she has examined the Texas death penalty, the use of mitochondrial DNA to identify bones, high-tech prosthetics, astrophysics in the age of Elon Musk, and our bent toward conspiracy theories. She is currently at work on her next thriller at her home in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Julia will be a panelist on the “Mystery/Thriller Genre Session” and “Writing Page-Turners: How to Build Tension & Suspense.”

Allison Hunter began her publishing career in 2005 working for the Los Angeles-based literary publicity firm Kim-from-L.A, and was an agent at InkWell Management, the Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency, and Janklow & Nesbit before co-founding Trellis Literary Management in the fall of 2021. Allison is actively acquiring literary and commercial adult fiction, especially focusing on upmarket book club and women’s fiction, romance and rom coms, thrillers and domestic suspense. She loves great storytelling and unforgettable characters, and is always looking for female friendship stories, campus novels, great love stories, family epics, and books about class and cultural identity. She would especially love to find a smart beach read by an author underrepresented in that category. In the non-fiction space, Allison is acquiring select memoir, narrative nonfiction, and the occasional prescriptive project. She loves working with journalists and with experts in their field, and is always looking for pop culture, women’s issues and for books that speak to the current cultural climate. Allison has a B.A. in American Studies and Creative Writing from Stanford University and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she now lives in Austin, Texas, after over a decade in New York City. 

Allison will be a panelist on “Beyond the Book Deal: Other Ways an Agent Supports Your Writing Career.”

 Amanda Johnston is a writer, artist, and the 2024 Texas Poet Laureate. She has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. She is the author of two chapbooks, GUAP and Lock & Key, and the full-length collection Another Way to Say Enter. Her work has appeared in numerous online and print publications, among them, Callaloo, Poetry Magazine, The Moth, Puerto del Sol, Muzzle, and the anthologies, Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry and Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism. She has received fellowships, grants, and awards from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, Tasajillo, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Watermill Center, American Short Fiction, and the Austin International Poetry Festival. She is a former Board President of Cave Canem Foundation, a member of the Affrilachian Poets, cofounder of Black Poets Speak Out, and founder of Torch Literary Arts.

Amanda will be a panelist on “Write, Submit, Repeat: Getting Published in Literary Journals & Magazines.”

Margaret Juhae Lee is the author of Starry Field: A Memoir of Lost History (Melville House). A former editor at The Nation magazine, she received a Bunting Fellowship from Harvard University and a Korean Studies Fellowship from the Korea Foundation and attended the Tin House and Writer’s Hotel workshops. Her articles have been published in The Nation, Newsday, Elle, ARTnews, The Rumpus and Writer’s Digest. She lives in Oakland with her family and Brownie, a rescue dog from Korea. 

Margaret will be a panelist on the “Memoir Genre Session” and “Debut Authors Dish: Publishing Your First Book.”

J. Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) is the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal and #1 International bestselling author of well over one hundred novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres. JK has been praised by Publishers Weekly as an author with a “flair for dialogue and eccentric characterizations” and by RT Bookclub for having “cornered the market on sinfully attractive, dominant antiheroes and the women who swoon for them.” A five-time finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award, JK took home the first RITA trophy awarded in the category of erotic romance in 2014 for her novel, Claim Me (book 2 of her Stark Trilogy) and the RITA trophy for Wicked Dirty in the same category in 2017. Several of her works have been optioned for film/television and are in various stages of development. In her previous career as an attorney, JK worked as a lawyer in Southern California and Texas. She grew up in Austin and currently lives in the area with her husband, two daughters, and two rather spastic cats. Learn more at www.jkenner.com

J. Kenner will be a panelist on the “Romance Genre Session.”

Stephanie Macias is a writer living in Austin, TX. She is a graduate of the New Writers Project at the University of Texas. Her work has appeared and is forthcoming in No Tokens, Brink, Southern Humanities Review, Crazyhorse, and more. Between the years of 2003 and 2016, she made her living as a touring singer-songwriter, an illustrator, a photographer, and a painter. She is the managing editor at American Short Fiction.

Stephanie will be a panelist on “Write, Submit, Repeat: Getting Published in Literary Journals & Magazines.”

Alison Macor received a Public Scholars grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to write her latest book, Making The Best Years of Our Lives: The Hollywood Classic That Inspired a Nation (University of Texas Press, 2022), about the making of the 1946 blockbuster. She’s also the author of Rewrite Man: The Life and Career of Screenwriter Warren Skaaren (UT Press, 2017) and Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids: Thirty Years of Filmmaking in Austin, Texas (UT Press, 2010). She holds a PhD in film history and taught at the college level for more than 20 years before focusing on writing full-time. 

Alison will be a panelist on “Getting to Page One: Researching, Outlining, & Other Prewriting.”

Greg Marshall is a graduate of UT-Austin’s Michener Center for Writers. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Essays he has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell  and the Corporation of Yaddo. His memoir, Leg, is a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post. He lives in Austin with his family.

Greg will be a panelist on the “Memoir Genre Session” and “It’s a Partnership: The Agent/Author Relationship.”

Jennifer Mathieu is the critically acclaimed author of seven novels for young adults including Moxie, which is now a major motion picture directed by Amy Poehler (Netflix). Her first novel for adults, The Faculty Lounge, is published by Dutton/Penguin Random House. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. A former journalist, Mathieu is a graduate of Northwestern and has been a teacher for nearly twenty years. She lives with her family in Houston.

Jennifer will be a panelist on the “General Fiction Genre Session” and “Writing Outside the Box: Publishing in Multiple Genres.”

Jill Meyers is the editorial director of A Strange Object, the Austin-based imprint of independent publisher Deep Vellum. Her acclaimed writers have received numerous awards and honors, including the Whiting Award, The Believer Book Award, and the Discovery Award from the Writers’ League of Texas. Titles from A Strange Object have appeared on NPR’s Best Books of the Year list and have been selected as best debuts from Poets and Writers. Formerly, Jill served as editor for the celebrated literary magazine American Short Fiction and worked on staff at Texas Monthly. Jill is the cofounder of Lit Crawl Austin, a freewheeling literary showcase, and she serves on the advisory board for the Texas Book Festival. 

Jill will be a panelist on “Beyond the Big 5: The Independent Press Experience.”

Ehigbor Okosun (Eh-hee-bor Oh-koh-soon), or just Ehi, is the #1 International Bestselling author of Forged by Blood, the first in a Nigerian mythology epic fantasy duology. Raised across four continents, she now resides in the US, where she writes speculative fiction, mystery thrillers, and contemporary novels for adult and YA audiences. She writes in hopes of doing justice to the myths and traditions she grew up steeped in, and to honor her large, multiracial and multiethnic family. She is a graduate of the University of Texas with degrees in Plan II Honors, Neurolinguistics, and English, as well as Chemistry and Pre-Medical studies and is a Cynthia Leitich Smith Mentorship Award finalist. When she’s not reading, you can catch her bullet journalling, gaming, baking, singing, doing yoga and spending time with her loved ones. At the moment, she is hard at work at Forged By Blood’s sequel, Exiled by Iron, which is available where books are sold on 22 October 2024.

Ehigbor will be a panelist on the “Science Fiction / Fantasy Genre Session” and “Debut Authors Dish: Publishing Your First Book.”

Ursula Pike is the author of An Indian among los Indígenas: A Native Travel Memoir. She teaches Memoir and Personal Essay at Austin Community College and has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Ursula was featured as one of Poets & Writers Magazine’s 5 over 50.

 Ursula will be a panelist on “Getting to Page One: Researching, Outlining, & Other Prewriting.”

Julie Poole received a BA from Columbia University and an MFA in poetry from The New Writers Project at The University of Texas at Austin where she was a finalist for the Keene Prize for Literature. Her first book of poems, Bright Specimen, was published by Deep Vellum in 2021. In 2022, Bright Specimen was a finalist for the Writers’ League of Texas Book Award. Her second book, Gorgeous Freak, is available for preorder. She has received fellowship support from the James A. Michener Center, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, The Corsicana Artist and Writer Residency, and Yaddo. She helps writers apply for residencies, fellowships, and grants.

Julie will be a panelist on “Applying to Residencies, Fellowships, & Grants.”

Andrew Porter is the author of four books, including the story collections The Disappeared (Knopf) and The Theory of Light and Matter (Vintage) and the novels In Between Days (Knopf) and The Imagined Life (Knopf, 2025). A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has received a Pushcart Prize, a James Michener/Copernicus Fellowship, and the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. His work has appeared in One Story, Ploughshares, Narrative, The Southern Review, The Missouri Review, and on Public Radio’s Selected Shorts. Currently, he teaches fiction writing and directs the creative writing program at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. 

Andrew will be a panelist on “Writing & Publishing Short Fiction.”

Tonia Ransom is a horror writer and World Fantasy Award-winning creator of horror podcasts Nightlight and Afflicted. Tonia has been scaring people since the second grade, when she wrote her first story based on Michael Myers. She lives in Austin, Texas. You can follow Tonia @missdefying on all the socials. Risen is her debut book.

Tonia will be a panelist on “Writing Page-Turners: How to Build Tension & Suspense.”

Gillian Redfearn is a National Account Manager for Macmillan Publishers, specifically responsible for all Books-A-Million and 2nd and Charles Stores located in 31 states. She has, however, worked with every type of book retailer in her 35-year career as a sales person. Currently responsible for all categories of books, she will tell you her favorite categories are children’s, historical fiction and biographies. 

Gillian Redfearn will be a panelist on “A Look Inside: The Day to Day of a Publishing House.”

Kelis Rowe is a stay-at-home mom and former homeschooler who writes sweeping, classic teen romance novels from the points of view of Black girls who are stronger than they know and the Black teen boys who just gotta love ‘em. Her debut novel, Finding Jupiter, a contemporary literary romance novel is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, September 2023 Pick for The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents’ ALAN Review, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of 2023 and the 2023-2024 winner of the Keystone to Reading Book Award in the High School category. Kelis writes out of her home in Leander, TX.  

Kelis will be a panelist on “Writing Character-Led Stories.”

Deanna Roy is the six-time USA Today bestselling author of romantic comedy, new adult romance, and women’s fiction under four pen names, both independently and traditionally published. She is a regular speaker about marketing, self-publishing, and building a sustainable full-time author career.

Deanna will be a panelist on the “Romance Genre Session” and “Going Traditional: Signing after Self-Publishing.”

Patrice Sarath is an author and editor living in Austin, Texas. Her novels include the fantasy books The Sisters Mederos and Fog Season (Books I and II of the Tales of Port Saint Frey), the series Books of the Gordath (Gordath Wood, Red Gold Bridge, and The Crow God’s Girl) and the romance The Unexpected Miss Bennet. She is also a filmmaker with an award-winning short film, Do Over. Find out more about her at patricesarath.com

Patrice will be a panelist on “Leave Them Wanting More: Writing Genre Series.”

Scott Semegran  is an award-winning writer of nine books. BlueInk Review described him best as “a gifted writer, with a wry sense of humor.” His latest novel, The Codger and the Sparrow (Paperback from TCU Press, Audiobook from Vibrance Press), is a comical yet moving story about a 65-year-old widower’s unlikely friendship with a 16-year-old troublemaker. His eight previous books include The Benevolent Lords of Sometimes Island, which was the first-place winner for Middle-Grade/Young Adult fiction in the 2021 Writer’s Digest Book Awards, and To Squeeze a Prairie Dog, which was the winner of the 2020 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award Gold Medal for Humor. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife. They have four kids, two cats, and a dog. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English.

Scott will be a panelist on “Going Traditional: Signing after Self-Publishing.”

Chaitali Sen is the author of the novel The Pathless Sky and the story collection A New Race of Men from Heaven, chosen by Danielle Evans as the winner of the 2021 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction. Her stories and essays have been published by American Short Fiction, Boulevard, Catapult, Colorado Review, Ecotone, Electric Literature, Los Angeles Review of Books, New England Review, and many other publications. She holds an MFA from Hunter College – City University of New York, and currently lives in Central Texas. 

Chaitali will be a panelist on “Crafting Undeniable Opening Pages.”

Stacey Swann‘s debut novel Olympus, Texas (Doubleday) was a Good Morning America Book Club selection, an Indie Next Pick, and was longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Swann holds an M.F.A. from Texas State University and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her writing has appeared in LitHub, Electric Literature, Texas Highways, Epoch, and other journals. 

Stacey Swann will be a panelist on “Writer as Architect: Structuring Your Story.”

 

Sherry Thomas is a USA Today-bestselling author. She decided years ago that her goal in life is to write every kind of book she enjoys reading. Thus far she has published romance, fantasy, mystery, young adult, and three books inspired by the martial arts epics she grew up devouring. Her books regularly receive starred reviews and best-of-the-year honors from trade publications, including such outlets as the New York Times and National Public RadioA Study in Scarlet Women, A Conspiracy in Belgravia, and The Hollow of Fear, the first three entries in her gender-bending Lady Sherlock historical mystery series, are all NPR best books of the year. Sherry emigrated from China at age 13 and English is her second language.  

Sherry will be a panelist on “Writing Character-Led Stories.”

Jenny Tinghui Zhang is a Chinese-American writer and author of the internationally bestselling novel Four Treasures of the Sky (Flatiron Books), which has been translated into 12 languages and named a New York Times Notable Book, Good Morning America Book Club Buzz Pick, and Idaho Book of the Year. Her work has appeared in The Cut, The New York Times, Texas Highways, and The Rumpus, among others. She is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree and has received support from Kundiman, VONA/Voices, Tin House, and the University of Wyoming, where she completed her MFA. Her second novel Superfan is forthcoming.

Jenny will be a panelist on “Writing & Publishing Personal Essays” and “Letting Go: When to Share, When to Submit.”

R.L. Toalson grew up running wild through corn rows and cow-grazing fields and recording true and wildly exaggerated false tales to entertain her friends, family members, and anyone who would listen. She still runs (literally) wild through the streets of her city and spends most of her days recording true (if a little exaggerated) and false tales to entertain anyone who will listen. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her one brilliant husband, six delightful children, and two arrogant cats. She’s the author of The Colors of the Rain, which won the Arnold Adoff Poetry Honor Award for New Voices in 2020; The Woods, which received a starred review from Booklist; the highly acclaimed The First Magnificent Summer; and the recently released Something Maybe Magnificent.

R.L. Toalson will be a panelist on the “Kid Lit Genre Session”.

James Wade is the award-winning author of Beasts of the Earth, All Things Left Wild, and River, Sing Out. He is the youngest novelist to win two Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America, and the recipient of the MPIBA’s prestigious Reading the West Award. James’s work has appeared in Southern Literary Magazine, Texas Highways, Writers’ Digest, and numerous additional publications. James lives and writes in the Texas Hill Country with his wife and children.

James will be a panelist on the “General Fiction Genre Session”, “Finding Your Audience: The Author’s Role”, and “Letting Go: When to Share, When to Submit.”

Sasha West is the author of two books of poetry, most recently How to Abandon Ship (Four Way Books). Her first book, Failure and I Bury the Body (HarperPerennial), was awarded the National Poetry Series, a Texas Institute of Letters First Book of Poetry Award, and a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Fellowship. Her multi-media eco-arts exhibits with visual artist Hollis Hammonds have been exhibited at the Columbus College of Art and Design, Texas A&M, ArtPrize 2023 Michigan, and elsewhere. She is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at St. Edward’s University, where she founded and runs the Environmental Humanities program.

Sasha will be a panelist on “Write, Submit, Repeat: Getting Published in Literary Journals & Magazines.”

Kirk Wilson’s books include the story collection Out of Season, the poetry collection Songbox, the poetry chapbook The Early Word, and Unsolved, a nonfiction crime study published in six editions in the US and UK. Kirk’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry are published in anthologies and in literary journals that include Conjunctions, Idaho Review, New England Review, Story, and many others. His awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Elixir Press Fiction Award, the Trio House Press Trio Award, Editor’s Awards and other prizes in all three genres, and two Pushcart nominations. His website is www.KirkWilsonBooks.com. 

Kirk will be a panelist on “Writing & Publishing Short Fiction.”

David Wright Faladé  is the author of the novel, Black Cloud Rising, selected by the New York Times and the New Yorker as one of the Best Books of 2023. His first book, Fire on the Beach, was one of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Best Books of 2001. His second, Away Running, was named an Outstanding International Book by the US Board on Books for Young People. His stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Village Voice, Newsday, and elsewhere. His new novel, The New Internationals, will be published in the winter, 2025. He teaches at the University of Illinois. 

David Wright Faladé will be a panelist on the “Historical Fiction Genre Session” and “Applying to Residencies, Fellowships, & Grants.

Jennifer Ziegler is an author of over two dozen books of various genres and markets. Her latest novel, Worser, was named one of the best books of 2022 by the New York Times, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews. Other titles include How Not to Be Popular, Revenge of the Flower Girls, and Sass and Serendipity. Jennifer also serves on the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA program on Writing for Children and Young Adults. When not writing or teaching, she can be found reading, exploring, making salsa, and trying to keep her Wordle streak going. Visit her at jenniferziegler.com.

Jennifer will be a panelist on “Getting to Page One: Researching, Outlining, & Other Prewriting.”

Moderators

Aaron H. Aceves is the author of the young adult novel This Is Why They Hate Us and a professor creative writing at UT Austin.

Aaron will be moderating “Crafting Undeniable Opening Pages.”

Sam Babiak earned a B.A. in English Literature with a certificate in Creative Writing with Honors from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining Aevitas Creative Management as the Operations Assistant in 2023, she was the Program Director for the Writers’ League of Texas. She loves talking to writers about their craft and has moderated panels and conversations with the WLT, the Texas Book Festival, the San Antonio Book Festival, HavenCon, and BookPeople. Originally from Laredo, Texas, she is based in Austin, Texas.

Sam will be moderating “A Day in the Life of an Agent” and “The Deal’s Done, What Now? What Happens After Acquisition and Before Publication.”

Beverly “Bev” Chukwu is a Nigerian American writer, director, and script consultant. Her past projects have screened at the Women in Horror Film Festival, Cine Las Americas, AGLIFF, and more. Bev’s screenplay, Prince of Lavebdale Street, was the feature winner in the 2021 BlueCat Screenplay Competition, and her video essay, Sometimes Black, is now used as educational material at the University of Texas at Austin. She has spent over seven years working in various mental health arenas and nearly a year providing behavior therapy to neurodivergent youth and adults. Bev has received fellowships from the Black List x WIF Episodic Lab, Google’s YouTube Originals Black Voices Creator Program, and the James A. Michener Center for Writers, where she also received an MFA in screenwriting and fiction. In Spring 2024, Bev completed production on her short film Princess, which received financial support from YouTube Originals and will serve as a proof of concept short for her psychological horror series, Foreverland. She served as writer and director on the project. Bev continues to advocate for filmmakers as EA to the Head of Film and Creative Media at the Austin Film Society and through her relationships teaching for the Writers League of Texas, Austin Bat Cave, and other local non-profits.

Bev will be moderating “Leave Them Wanting More: Writing Genre Series.”

Samantha M Clark is the author of 7 books for children, including The Boy in the Boat, and The Beast and Arrow (both published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster), American Horse Tales: Hollywood (Penguin Workshop/Penguin Random House), and the Gemstone Dragons chapter book series (Bloomsbury). She lives in Austin, Texas, where she mentors other writers to tell their own stories. Find her at www.SamanthaMClark.com.

Samantha will be moderating “A Look at Kid Lit Today” and “Getting to Page One: Researching, Outlining, & Other Prewriting.”

Hannah Gabel is a Literary Director at Texas Book Festival, Hannah works year-round to curate literary programming for TBF’s annual fall festival, which hosts 250 – 300 authors and 40,000+ attendees, and other year-round author events. Hannah holds a double bachelor’s degree from Boston University in Advertising and History. She is the founder of the book blog and social community Bookmarkparty, where she connects with authors, publishers, and fellow book lovers around the world about a wide range of books across many genres. Prior to joining Texas Book Festival, Hannah founded HLG Creative, a freelance graphic design and marketing agency. She previously directed events and marketing strategy at The Real Estate Council of Austin and Stream Realty Partners. In her free time, she enjoys checking out the latest Austin hotspots, reading as much as possible, and pursuing various creative projects.

Hannah will be moderating “A Look Inside: The Day to Day of a Publishing House.”

SG Huerta is a queer Xicanx writer and editor from Dallas. A 2023 Roots Wounds Words Fellow and 2024 Tin House alum, they are Poetry Editor for Abode Press, Nonfiction Co-Editor for ANMLY, and Marketing Co-Director for Split Lip Magazine. SG is the author of two poetry chapbooks and the forthcoming nonfiction chapbook Good Grief (fifth wheel press 2025). Their work has appeared in places such as Barrelhouse, The Offing, and Infrarrealista Review. Find them at sghuertawriting.com or in central Texas with their partner and cats.

SG will be moderating “Writing Outside the Box: Publishing in Multiple Genres” and “Beyond the Big 5: The Independent Press Experience.”

Hillery Hugg is a writer and editor based in Austin, Texas. She received an MA in English Literature from UT Austin, where she was also a Michener Fellow, and she is a graduate of the MFA program at Columbia University. Her stories have appeared in American Short Fiction, 3rd Bed, The American Reader, Caketrain, NANO Fiction, The Lifted Brow, and The Vassar Review, and her non-fiction has been published in Guernica and The Believer. 

Hillery will be moderating “Debut Authors Dish: Publishing Your First Book.”

 Amanda Johnston is a writer, artist, and the 2024 Texas Poet Laureate. She has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. She is the author of two chapbooks, GUAP and Lock & Key, and the full-length collection Another Way to Say Enter. Her work has appeared in numerous online and print publications, among them, Callaloo, Poetry Magazine, The Moth, Puerto del Sol, Muzzle, and the anthologies, Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry and Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism. She has received fellowships, grants, and awards from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, Tasajillo, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Watermill Center, American Short Fiction, and the Austin International Poetry Festival. She is a former Board President of Cave Canem Foundation, a member of the Affrilachian Poets, cofounder of Black Poets Speak Out, and founder of Torch Literary Arts.

Amanda will be moderating “Finding Your Audience: The Author’s Role.”

Sara Kocek is the founder of Yellow Bird Editors, an Austin-based collective of independent editors and writing coaches, and the author of the novel Promise Me Something (Albert Whitman, 2013). She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University, where she taught fiction and poetry to undergraduates. Prior to pursuing her MFA, Sara graduated with a B.A. in English from Yale University, where her fiction was published in the Yale Literary Magazine and where she was awarded several of the university’s top writing prizes. A former full-time editorial intern at Random House and Penguin, she now lives in Austin, Texas, where she worked for several years as the Program Director for the Writers’ League of Texas before launching Yellow Bird.

Sara will be moderating “Going Traditional: Signing after Self-Publishing.”

Maya Perez is a writer and television producer. Maya Perez was most recently a co-producer on a romantic drama series starring Joshua Jackson and Lauren Ridloff, produced by Ava DuVernay for Starz. Prior to that, she was an executive story editor on Showtime’s American Rust S2 and an executive producer on the Lone Star EMMY Award-winning interview series Austin Film Festival’s On Story on PBS for eleven seasons. Maya’s feature screenplays have been optioned for production and recognized by fellowships from SFFILM/Westridge, Sundance Institute, and NY Stage & Film. She currently has a pilot in development with Berlanti Productions. Maya received her BA from Vassar College and her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at The University of Texas at Austin, where she is an Assistant Professor of Practice and Area Head for Screenwriting.

Maya Perez will be moderating “Before You Sign: Questions to Ask an Agent” and “Beyond the Book Deal: Other Ways an Agent Supports Your Writing Career.”

Bianca Alyssa Pérez was born and raised in Mission, Texas – a small southern town bordering Mexico. She holds her MFA in Poetry from Texas State University, where she also teaches and coordinates the MFA in Creative Writing program. She was the 2022-2023 Clark House Writer-In-Residence in Smithville, TX. Her chapbook, Gemini Gospel, is published with Host Publications. She is also the co-host of the horror podcast, Basement Girls, with writer Steph Grossman. Find more chisme about Bianca at her website: biancaalyssaperez.com.

Bianca Alyssa Pérez will be moderating “Writing & Publishing Personal Essays” and “Applying to Residencies, Fellowships, & Grants.”

 

Ursula Pike is the author of An Indian among los Indígenas: A Native Travel Memoir. She teaches Memoir and Personal Essay at Austin Community College and has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Ursula was featured as one of Poets & Writers Magazine’s 5 over 50.

 Ursula will be moderating the “Memoir Genre Session” and “The Writer as Architect: Structuring Your Story.”

Tonia Ransom is a horror writer and World Fantasy Award-winning creator of horror podcasts Nightlight and Afflicted. Tonia has been scaring people since the second grade, when she wrote her first story based on Michael Myers. She lives in Austin, Texas. You can follow Tonia @missdefying on all the socials. Risen is her debut book.

Tonia will be moderating the “Mystery/Thriller Genre Session” and “Letting Go: When to Share, When to Submit.”

Lori Ryan writes contemporary romance novels and romantic suspense novels. She lives with an extremely understanding husband, three wonderful children, and two mostly-behaved dogs in Austin, Texas. It’s a bit of a zoo, but she wouldn’t change a thing.

Lori published her first romance novel in April of 2013 and has loved every bit of the crazy adventure this career has taken her on since then. She is a hybrid author, publishing both as an indie author and through SilverHart Publishing. She also has a new side hobby of creating coloring books for adults! Lori loves to connect with her readers. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to her blog. Oh, and if you’ve read Lori’s romantic suspense books and thought it was one of the best romance novels you’ve read, please consider leaving a review with the retailer of your choice to help other readers find her work as well! It’s a tremendous honor to have her romance novels recommended to others or written up in reviews. Lori promises to do a happy dance around her office every time you write one!

Lori will be moderating for “Romance Genre Session.”

Leila Sales is an author, editor, and story creator. She writes books and other stuff. She also speaks about books and writing all over the world. She’s nice—you should get to know her. Or you can follow her on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. At the very least, you should sign up for her newsletter.

Leila will be moderating for “Kid Lit Genre Session.”

Richard Z. Santos‘ debut novel, Trust Me, was a finalist for the Writer’s League of Texas Book Awards and was named one of the best debuts of the year by Crime Reads. He’s the editor of the collection, A Night of Screams: Latino Horror Stories. He is the Executive Director of Austin Bat Cave, an organization that provides creative writing workshops to students in under-resourced areas. He is a former Board Member of The National Book Critics Circle and has judged contests for The Kirkus Prize, The NEA, and many more. Recent work can be found in Austin Noir (Akashic Books), Lone Stars Rising (Harper Collins), Texas Monthly, and more. In a previous career, he taught high school English and Social Studies.

Richard will be moderating for “Writing Character-Led Stories” and “Writing Page-Turners: How to Build Tension & Suspense.”

Rose Smith‘s fiction and nonfiction can be found in The Missouri Review, CRAFT and Five Points. She was the winner of The Missouri Review’s 27th Annual Editors’ Prize and was named a finalist for Narrative Magazine‘s 2018 Story Contest. As a film producer, her work has aired on PBS and Sundance Channel among others, and has screened at various festivals, including Sundance, SXSW and MoMA Documentary Fortnight. She received her MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. Rose lives in Austin, Texas and is currently at work on a novel.

Rose will be moderating for “What Am I Writing? High Concept, Book Club, Upmarket, & Other Buzzwords” and “It’s a Partnership: The Editor/Author Relationship.”

Stacey Swann‘s debut novel Olympus, Texas (Doubleday) was a Good Morning America Book Club selection, an Indie Next Pick, and was longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Swann holds an M.F.A. from Texas State University and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her writing has appeared in LitHub, Electric Literature, Texas Highways, Epoch, and other journals. 

Stacey will be moderating for “It’s a Partnership: The Agent/Author Relationship” and “Playing the Long Game: Building a Sustaining Writing Career.”

Alex Temblador is the Mixed Latine award-winning author of Half Outlaw, Secrets of the Casa Rosada, and Writing an Identity Not Your Own: A Guide for Creative Writers, forthcoming from St. Martin’s Essentials on August 13. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma and was a contributor to Living Beyond Borders: Growing Up Mexican in America and Speculative Fiction for Dreamers: A Latinx Anthology. Her creative work has appeared in Colorado Review, PALABRITAS, D Magazine, among others. Based in Dallas, Alex is the executive director of Write Here DFW and the moderator and founder of the LitTalk series. 

Alex will be moderating for “Science Fiction / Fantasy Genre Session.”

Madeline Vosch is a writer, translator, and teacher. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Rumpus, and The Offing, among others. She contributed translations of Lida Yusupova’s poetry, published in the collection The Scar We Know (Cicada Press, 2021). Her first book, Undead: A Memoir, is forthcoming from Beacon Press. She was awarded a fellowship to Aspen Words in 2020 and 2021 on the basis of this manuscript, and an excerpt was selected as the winner of the Ploughshares Emerging Writer Contest in Nonfiction in 2021.

Madeline will be moderating for “Writing & Publishing Short Fiction” and “Write, Submit, Repeat: Publishing in Literary Journals & Magazines.”

James Wade is the award-winning author of Beasts of the Earth, All Things Left Wild, and River, Sing Out. He is the youngest novelist to win two Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America, and the recipient of the MPIBA’s prestigious Reading the West Award. James’s work has appeared in Southern Literary Magazine, Texas Highways, Writers’ Digest, and numerous additional publications. James lives and writes in the Texas Hill Country with his wife and children.

James will be moderating for “Historical Fiction Genre Session” and “Shelf-Talk: Finding Your Perfect Comps.”

Jennifer Ziegler is an author of over two dozen books of various genres and markets. Her latest novel, Worser, was named one of the best books of 2022 by the New York Times, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews. Other titles include How Not to Be Popular, Revenge of the Flower Girls, and Sass and Serendipity. Jennifer also serves on the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA program on Writing for Children and Young Adults. When not writing or teaching, she can be found reading, exploring, making salsa, and trying to keep her Wordle streak going. Visit her at jenniferziegler.com.

Jennifer will be moderating for “Plucked from Slush: Agents on the Compelling Query.”