2021 A&E Pre-Conference Live Webinars

2021 A&E Conference graphic, September 17-19, 2021, Austin, TX

Join us for a terrific line-up of pre-conference virtual events, including genre sessions featuring a published author and their book editor in conversation (a great way to hone your pitch and meet other writers in your genre), our Practice Makes Pitch Perfect presentation, and the popular Pitch Lab. These sessions will be live webinars on Zoom and will be recorded and shared with all registrants the day after. 

Monday, September 13

6:00 p.m. CDT

Genre Sessions: General Fiction

Stacey Swann headshotStacey Swann’s debut novel Olympus, Texas (Doubleday) is an Indie Next Pick, a Good Morning America Book Club selection, and is on the Long List 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, NER Digital, Epoch, Memorious, and other journals. She is a contributing editor at American Short Fiction.




Lee Boudreaux is a V.P. and Executive Editor at Doubleday. She focuses almost exclusively on fiction and the books she has edited have won or been finalists for the National Book Award, the Booker and Orange prizes, and the Pulitzer Prize. She has worked with authors Madeline Miller (The Song of Achilles, Circe), Andrew Sean Greer (Less), Claire Lombardo (The Most Fun We Ever Had), Ron Rash (Serena) and Stacey Swann (Olympus, Texas).


Genre Sessions: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Christopher Brown headshotChristopher Brown is a writer and lawyer living in Austin, Texas. His 2017 debut novel, Tropic of Kansas, was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for best science fiction novel of the year. Rule of Capture, the first in a series of speculative legal thrillers, was published in 2019, and followed by 2020’s Failed State, which was nominated for the 2021 Philip K. Dick Award. He also writes the popular urban nature newsletter Field Notes, and his stories, nonfiction, and criticism have appeared in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies. He was a 2013 World Fantasy Award nominee for the anthology he co-edited, Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Short Stories of the Fantastic.
He’s also taken two companies public, restored a small prairie, worked on two Supreme Court confirmations, rehabilitated a brownfield, reported from Central American war zones, washed airplanes, co-hosted a punk rock radio show, built an eco-bunker, worked day labor, negotiated hundreds of technology deals, protected government whistleblowers, investigated fraud, raised venture capital, explored a lot of secret woodlands, raised two amazing kids, and trained a few good dogs.
He lives in Austin with his family, in the edgeland woods between the river and the factories, where he works in a 1978 Airstream trailer.

Brittan Jensen headshotBritta Jensen’s debut novel, Eloia Born, won the 2019 Writer’s League of Texas YA Discovery Prize and was long-listed for the Exeter Novel Prize. Reviewers are calling the book “both a dystopian narrative and a quest story; consider it a spiritual successor to Lois Lowry’s The Giver and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village.” The sequel, Hirana’s War released October 1, 2020. Her stories explore themes of persevering through disability, parental separation and the intersection of various cultures on new worlds. Her novella, Ghosts of Yokosuka released this year and her subversive retelling of Hamlet and Ophelia’s story will be forthcoming in the Castle Anthology of Horror- Femme Fatales this October. She earned a BA in Acting Performance from Fordham University and an MA in Teaching of English Literature from Columbia University. For the past seventeen years she has taught creative writing and edited books for both traditional and indie authors. Friends often refer to her as a polyglot—which is a product of living twenty-two years overseas in Japan, South Korea, and Germany before settling in Austin, Texas. She enjoys mentoring writers and editing books with The Writing Consultancy and Yellowbird Editors and teaches freshman composition at St. Edwards University. Learn more about her work at www.britta-jensen.com.

7:00 p.m. CDT

Genre Sessions: Romance

Sajni Patel headshotAward-winning author, Sajni Patel, was born in vibrant India and raised in the heart of Texas. She draws on personal experiences, cultural expectations, and southern flair to create worlds centered around strong Indian women. Once in MMA, she’s now all about puppies, rainbows, and tortured love stories. She divides her time between Hawai’i (where honu is her #1 obsession) and Austin (where she not-so-secretly watches Mathew McConaughey from afar during UT football games.) Queso is her weakness and thanks to her family’s cooking, Indian/Tex-Mex cuisine is a real thing. She’s a die-hard Marvel Comics fan, an ube fanatic, and is always wrapped up in a story. Her debut, The Trouble with Hating You, was featured in Tribeza: Austin Curated and Austin Woman’s Magazine, and was on the cover of AudioFile Magazine as one of the best audiobooks of 2020. Her works have been included in Best Of lists for Oprah Magazine, The Insider, Cosmo, PopSugar, and featured in Teen Vogue, NBC, Apple Books, BookList, and Buzzfeed.


When it comes to romance, Madeleine Colavita is a bit of a late-bloomer, having not discovered the genre until she was a publishing intern. But she’s been making up for lost time, consuming every happily-ever-after she can get her hands on. Since joining the Forever team in 2013, she’s had the pleasure of working with many bestselling and critically acclaimed writers including Bethany Bennett, Christina Britton, Belle Calhoune, Sajni Patel, Reese Ryan, and Karelia Stetz-Waters, among others. As an editor, Madeleine is looking for fun, fresh, diverse voices across all subgenres of romance—especially historical, cowboy, and small-town contemporary—as well as in romantic comedies and women’s fiction. She wants to be surrounded by characters who mostly make her laugh, only occasionally make her cry, and always make her believe in true love. When not helping her authors craft HEAs, she enjoys baking, watching old movies, and needlepointing Christmas ornaments.

Genre Sessions: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Kathleen Kent headshotKathleen Kent is a New York Times bestselling author and a two-time Edgar Award Nominee for her contemporary crime novels, The Dime and The Burn. The Washington Post writes of the series, “Raymond Chandler praised Dashiell Hammett for taking crime fiction out of the drawing room and into the streets.  With Betty Rhyzyk, Kathleen Kent brings those mean streets to life as excitingly as anybody has in years.”  The third Det. Betty book, titled The Pledge, will be released Nov. 2, 2021. Ms. Kent is also the author of three award-winning historical novels, The Heretic’s Daughter, The Traitor’s Wife, and The Outcasts.  She has written short stories and essays for D Magazine, Texas Monthly and LitHub, and has been published in the crime anthology Dallas Noir. In March 2020 she was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters for her contribution to Texas literature.


Helen OHare headshotHelen O’Hare is an Editor at Mulholland Books, where her list includes twisty thrillers, atmospheric mysteries, and character-driven crime and suspense novels. She work with writers including Denise Mina, Adrian McKinty, Lauren Beukes, Kellye Garrett, Zoje Stage, Elizabeth Hand, and astronaut Chris Hadfield. She also edits book club and women’s fiction for Little, Brown and Company, including debuts like Annette Christie’s The Rehearsals and Melissa Fu’s Peach Blossom Spring. She previously held positions at G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Viking/Penguin, and Other Press, and at the Boulder Book Store and the Tattered Cover Book Stores in Colorado.

Tuesday, September 14

6:00 p.m. CDT

Genre Sessions: Historical Fiction

Jennifer Brehl has edited a variety of bestselling, critically acclaimed, and award-
winning books. Among the fiction writers with whom she works are New York
Times bestselling author Linwood Barclay (Find You First); #1 New York Times
bestselling author A. J. Finn (The Woman in the Window); #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman (The Ocean at the End of the Lane); #1 New York Times bestselling author Joe Hill (The Fireman); National Book Award finalist Paulette Jiles (News of the World Fiddler); award-winning author Paul Tremblay (The Cabin at the End of the World); #1 New York Times bestselling author Neal Stephenson (Fall); and New York Times bestselling author Don Winslow (Broken).
Upcoming 2021 titles include thriller Hairpin Bridge by Taylor Adams; literary-historical novel Painting the Light by Sally Cabot Gunning; multi-generational family saga Count the Ways by Joyce Maynard; global thriller Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson; and City on Fire by Don Winslow, the first volume in an epic crime saga.
In addition to fiction, she acquires and edits select nonfiction titles, focusing on narrative nonfiction and memoir, such as How to Forget: A Daughter’s Memoir by Kate Mulgrew; Daring: My Passages by Gail Sheehy; and On Hitler’s Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood by Irmgard Hunt, among others. Her interests are historical/literary/commercial fiction and narrative nonfiction/memoir – fiction with real-life resonance and nonfiction that tells a great story.

Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World, which was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award. She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas.


Genre Sessions: Nonfiction

Josiah Hesse is an investigative journalist who covers breaking marijuana news as well as the intersection of marijuana and athletics, politics, economics, and culture. He has written for publications including Vice, The Guardian, Politico, and Esquire, and for cannabis-specific outlets such as Ganjapreneur, High Times, Big Buds, The Fix, The Cannabist, and many more. He lives in Denver, Colorado.




Michelle Howry joined Putnam in 2018 and publishes an eclectic list of nonfiction – from #1 New York Times bestseller I Really Needed This Today by Hoda Kotb, to Reese’s Book Club pick Fair Play by Eve Rodsky, to poet and Instagram sensation Nikita Gill’s Great Goddesses. She acquires both expert-led prescriptive titles in categories like diet, health, wellness, self-help, personal finance, psychology, mindfulness, and parenting, as well as narrative nonfiction titles in history, culture, popular science, nature, and memoir. Authors she has worked with include Denise Kiernan (The Girls of Atomic City), Jon Kabat-Zinn (Meditation Is Not What You Think), Marshall Goldsmith and Sally Helgesen (How Women Rise), Sean Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens), Michele Borba (Thrivers), Harriet Lerner (Why Won’t You Apologize), Kate Winkler Dawson (American Sherlock), and Melinda Wenner Moyer (How to Raise Kids Who Aren’t A**holes).

7:00 p.m. CDT

Genre Sessions: Memoir

Casey Gerald is the author of There Will Be No Miracles Here, a memoir that stands the American Dream narrative on its head, while straddling the complex intersection of race, class, religion and sexuality. TWBNMH was named a Best Book of the year by NPR and The New York Times, and was described by novelist Marlon James as “the most urgently political, most deeply personal, and most engagingly spiritual statement of our time.” Casey’s acclaimed essays include “The Black Art of Escape”, published in New York Magazine, which was selected by Longform as one of the best essays of 2019, and “Leon Bridges After Dark”, a 10,000-word cover story for Texas Monthly’s August 2021 issue. His two TED Talks have been viewed over five million times, and he has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, PBS, as well as on the cover of Fast Company, in Vanity Fair, the New York Review of Books, Italian Vogue and other outlets. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Rebecca Saletan started in publishing at Yale University Press in 1982, then came to New York City in 1984 as assistant to editorial director Jason Epstein at Random House, where she eventually became an editor. She worked at Simon & Schuster, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and Harcourt, where she became publisher in 2006 and continued in that role at the newly merged Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She joined Riverhead Books as editorial director in 2009. There she has edited a wide range of literary nonfiction and fiction, with emphasis on underrepresented and global voices and perspectives. The writers with whom she has worked include Nobel and Man Booker International Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk, National Book Award winner Masha Gessen, Booker Prize finalist Mohsin Hamid, National Book Award finalist David Treuer, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Francisco Cantú, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Junot Díaz, Ivan Doig, Gilbert King, Peter Matthiessen, Diane McWhorter, Danzy Senna, Kamila Shamsie, and Casey

Genre Sessions: Kids Lit

Salima Alikhan has been lucky enough to write and illustrate children’s books for fifteen years now. She attended Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she earned an MFA from their Writing for Children & Young Adults program. Now Salima teaches English and creative writing in Austin, Texas, where she still gets to dream up the words and pictures for stories. Her books and art can be found at www.salimaalikhan.net. Salima is repped by Jacqui Lipton.




Sarah Jane Brian is an Executive Editor at Reycraft Books/Benchmark Education, where she has had the pleasure of working with wonderful children’s authors including Jerry Craft, Joseph Bruchac, Alma Flor Ada, Charles R. Smith, Jr., Jennifer Torres, and many more. Sarah has been a writer and editor of books and magazines for children for more than 20 years and previously worked at Scholastic, Sesame Workshop, and American Girl. She lives in New York City.


Thursday, September 16

7:00 p.m. CDT

Practice Makes Pitch Perfect

Becka OliverBecka Oliver joined the WLT in 2013 as Executive Director after more than sixteen years of experience working in book publishing both inside major publishing houses and as a literary agent.






Lance Fitzgerald headshot

Lance Fitzgerald is the VP, Director of Subsidiary Rights at Penguin Random House based in United States.

8:00 p.m. CDT

Pitch Lab