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Speakers & Faculty

Meet the Agents

Raised on a steady diet of Holly Black & Philip Pullman, Jennifer Grimaldi (formerly Jennifer Letwack) has always gravitated toward otherworldly, fantastical novels that reflect our own world’s past and present. At St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne, she edited and acquired S. Jae-Jones’ New York Times bestseller WINTERSONG—a Labyrinth-inspired gothic YA—and worked with numerous bestselling and award-winning authors such as Kate Forsyth. Jennifer’s broad exposure to the domestic and foreign publishing markets as a scout with Barbara Tolley & Associates further shaped her taste for the eclectic. 

Now an agent with Chalberg & Sussman, where she first started her publishing career in 2012, Jennifer is building a list of historicals, romance, horror, and YA & adult sci-fi and fantasy. 

Although the titles on her shelves have changed over the years, the content has not: they are still stuffed with magic and spaceships, fairytales and faraway lands. Across all genres, Jennifer loves strong, voice-driven novels, dark and romantic themes, and books that make her think—and learn. She is particularly excited by books that explore gender and sexuality, especially those with diverse, LGBTA+ leads, and own-voice writers. 

Aspects sure to delight her include: cities and urban-planning, anecdotal histories, that trope where there were supposed to be two rooms at the hotel but they’re all booked up so the leads have to share, spies, thieves, mythological retellings, witches just trying to get by, weird obsessions, and puns. 

Related Sessions:
How to Pitch: Simple Strategies for Putting Your Best MS Forward

Master Class Faculty

Thursday, October 10 - All Genres -Full Day

David Corbett is the award-winning author of the writing guide The Art of Character (“A writer’s bible” – Elizabeth Brundage) and six novels, including 2018’s The Long-Lost Love Letters of Doc Holliday, nominated for the Lefty Award for Best Historical Mystery. His short fiction has been selected twice for Best American Mystery Stories, and his non-fiction has appeared in the New York Times, Narrative, Bright Ideas, and Writer’s Digest, where he is a contributing editor. He has taught at the UCLA Writer’s Program, Litreactor, Book Passage, and at writing conferences across North America and Mexico, and is a monthly contributor to Writer Unboxed, an award-winning blog dedicated to the craft and business of fiction.

Related Sessions:

Master Class - The Compass of Character: Creating Complex Motivation for Compelling Characters in Fiction and Non-Fiction

The "Good Bad Man" - The American West's Contribution to Antihero History

Changing Perceptions of Selfhood - Matching Character to Historical Period

Sunday, October 13 - All Genres -Half Day 

Sandra O’Connell is the co-author of An American Family in World War II, based on the 656 letters written by the five members of the Minker family during World War II.  From basic training the young pilot asked his mother to save his letters, "they are taking the place of a diary."  He shipped all the family letters back home, even from duty in England. Their correspondence is a lively conversation of life on the home front as well as becoming a seasoned B-17 combat pilot. 

Sandra has reached multiple audiences through speaking engagements, museum bookstore signings, book clubs  and school programs. She worked with the Delaware Historical Society to catalogue the entire collection as a digital resource,www.dehistory/Minker-introduction. Programs include the Marshall House, Dover AFB, EEA AirVenture, and the Eisenhower National Historic Site. Ms. O’Connell does regular book signings at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and has published with the journal of the Air Force Museum Foundation and the Eighth Air Force Historical Society. An American Family in World War II won the silver medal for biography from the Military Writers Society of America in 2010 and has sold more than 5,000 copies.

Related Sessions:

Master Class - Who wants to buy my book? How to Develop a Media Savvy Marketing Plan

Stories from the Home Front

Nancy Kotkin writes fiction, nonfiction, and screenplays. Her work is published in several anthologies and won first place at the 2010 & 2014 Philadelphia Writers’ Conferences. She is the founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief of Prose Morsels Press, a small press focused on story cycle novels and book-length collections of short fiction and personal essays. She has completed her MFA in Creative Writing, and is currently pursuing her MA in Publishing, both from Rosemont College. Her MFA thesis was the first novel and a half of a middle grade trilogy.


A seasoned lecturer and presenter, Nancy has taught at Temple University, Rosemont College, various community colleges, and within the corporate sector as well. She has also spoken at many regional and national conferences for organizations including the Society for Technical Communication, United States Distance Learning Association, and HippoCamp. Nancy delivered a version of Cross That Finish Line previously at another writers’ conference, and it was well received.

Related Sessions:

Master Class: And for Homework… Historical Fiction for Children and Adolescents

Cross that Finish Line: Productivity for Writers

Historical Middle Grade Novels: Educational Yet Entertaining


Tamar Anolic has published several books and short stories about the Romanovs. Her first book,The Russian Riddle, was the first published biography of the Grand Duke Sergei. She has since published two novels on the Romanovs:Triumph of a Tsar and Through the Fire: An Alternate Life of Prince Konstantin of Russia. Her short stories about the Romanovs have been published in “The Copperfield Review” and “The Helix.” She has also written other short stories on different periods of history, which have been published or are shortcoming in “Foliate Oak,” “Pen in Hand,” and “The Evening Street Review.”

Related Sessions:

The Romanovs in Historical Fiction

Marlo Ashley is a music journalist, biographer and historian. After graduating from the University of Toronto and receiving a Bachelor of Arts with honours in History, Medieval Studies and the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, she decided to pursue a career in writing. As an academic historian, she primarily focuses her historical papers on the History of Medicine in the Medieval Era. She has been featured at the University of Toronto’s 3rd Annual Medieval Studies Conference as a speaker and presenter for her work on Iatromathematics: The Eighth Liberal Art. She has acquired
multiple writing jobs, such as her work with Exclaim! magazine as a music journalist on artists such as The Louvin Brothers, Willie Nelson and Paul Brandt and additionally, on Lindi Ortega with a full page spread in Exclaim!'s April 2018 edition. She has received Wikipedia mentions for reviewing
Midland's On the Rocks, Meghan Patrick's Country Music Made Me Do It and Jess Moskaluke's Pastthe Past. As well as being a music journalist, she says she has been privileged enough to become a biographer for artists signed to major labels including Universal Music Canada's Chad Brownlee.

Related Sessions:

Iatromathematics: The Eighth Liberal Art

Eileen Bjorkman has been involved with aviation for most of her life. She holds multiple degrees in aeronautical and systems engineering. She was a flight test engineer in the US Air Force and flew more than 700 hours in 25 different types of military aircraft, primarily the F-4, F-16, C-130, and C-141. After 30 years of active duty service, she retired from the air force in 2010 as a colonel. As a civilian pilot, she holds an Airline Transport Pilot rating and is a Certificated Flight Instructor with 2,000 hours of flying time. Her specialties are aerobatics and tail wheel flying, and she owns a 2003 Super Decathlon. She has published articles and essays inAir & Space/Smithsonian, Aviation History, Sport Aviation, the Everett Daily Herald, the Herald Business Journal, Equinox: Poetry & Prose,and a wide variety of technical journals. Her first book,The Propeller under the Bed: A Personal History of Homebuilt Aircraft,was published by University of Washington Press in 2017. Her second book, on the history of combat search and rescue, is scheduled to be published by Potomac Press in 2020.

Related Sessions:

Making the Leap From Military Writing to Historical Fiction

Dorothea Hubble Bonneau is a published novelist, produced playwright and optioned screenwriter. Her plays have been produced throughout the United States and in Canada. Her historical fiction novel,The Heiress of Heaven, won the 2018 Jameson award for best unpublished novel. Mentors include author Andre Dubus III; Sterling Anderson, writer for Disney, HBO, Columbia Pictures and TriStar; Eric Bork, author of the award-winning H.B.O. series,Band of Brothers and Shonda Rimes, show runner, author, and producer of several award-winning television series. Dorothea is a member of Women in Film, Squaw Valley Community of Writers Alumni, Aspen Summer Words Alumni and Historical Writers of America. Dorothea received her training at The University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music and at U.C.L.A.’s Department of Film, Theatre and Television Professional Program in Screenwriting.

Related Sessions
Screenwriting: How to Adapt you Story for the Screen
Story to Stage: Tools for Aspiring Playwrights and Fiction Writers

Barb Warner Deane is the author of four novels. On The Homefront tells of three young women in the U.S. during WW2, one of whom joins the American Red Cross Club mobile program. Killing Her Softly and And Then There Was You (coming in winter 2019) are books #1 & 2 of her Harper’s Glen series of contemporary romantic suspense.The Whistle Stop Canteen(due in late 2019) is set in North Platte, NE during WW2 and tells the story of the canteen where women provided food, drink, and care to six million service members.

Barb graduated from Cornell University and UConn school of Law. After leaving the practice of law, she owned a bookstore and worked as a travel writer and IT specialist. She has researched genealogy and WW2 history for many years, including extensive travel to historical sites and museums throughout the world. She has presented her program, “Women of WWII: On the Front Lines & the Home Front,” 60+ times in NY, IL, MI, IN, & WS for libraries, women's & veteran's groups, and book clubs. She recently started presenting her 2nd program “Women of WWII: At the Whistle Stop Canteen.”

Related Sessions:

What Did You Do in the War,Granny? Why US WW2 HIStory should include more HERstory


Kimberly Conway Dumpson had no idea that the questions she posed to her grandfather as a child would turn into four decades of research and writing about the lives of people of color whose contributions to society had simply faded away. With a rich family legacy as the guide, Kim’s research has taken her along the path of the Underground Railroad from her roots on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Now, with a treasure trove of some 500 family letters dating back to colonial times, this attorney, higher education fundraiser and civic leader has finally decided to add historical writer to her credentials. At long last, she is working on her debut novel, Remember Me, which chronicles the lives of formerly enslaved and free people of color in New England from the colonial period to the turn of the century.


She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Towson State University (MD) and a Juris Doctorate from Ohio Northern University, Claude W. Pettit College of Law.


Deborah A. Green is a retired attorney who spent 40 years writing memoranda of law while running her own firm. In order to avoid boring the judges who were required to read he rbriefs, she studied the craft of writing nonfiction. She also wrote a monthly legal Q&A column for physicians for twenty years in addition to writing numerous legal articles.

In her spare time, Deborah, fluent in Yiddish, translated Yiddish Yizkor [memorial] books that described Jewish life under Nazi occupation into English. While doing so she came across references to Jewish fighters in the Spanish Civil War. Her interest piqued, she translated three books written in Yiddish by Jewish fighters who fought in the Spanish war and is currently
translating three more books as well as other related documents. She is using these books and documents as primary source materials for her own book,The Botwin Boys: The Untold Story of the Young Jews Who Were First to Fight Fascism.

Related Sessions:

Letting Your Subject Find You

  In addition to Historical Writers of America, Theresa”Soni” Guzmán Stokes serves as the Managing
Director of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society. A stickler for facts who loves to tell lies (ok,
stories), Soni uses the rich histories of the early Jewish and African descent peoples she researches to
fill her short stories and novel-in-progress. Her current works in progress are a biography-based history
of African Americans in Newport, RI and a Civil War era novel featuring a free family of color in Richmond, Virginia.
She resides in Newport, RI with her husband Keith, three of their four adult children, and two fur-covered hellions named Knuckles and Freyja.

Vernita Hall is the author of Where William Walked: Poems About Philadelphia and Its People of Color, winner of the Willow Books Grand Prize for Poetry and of the Robert Creeley Prize from Marsh Hawk Press; and The Hitchhiking Robot Learns About Philadelphians (Moonstone Press), winner of the Moonstone Chapbook Contest. She finished second in American Literary Review's Creative Nonfiction Contest, and was second runner-up for the Los Angeles Review Nonfiction Award.


Poems and essays have appeared/are forthcoming in numerous journals, including African American Review,American Literary Review,Atlanta Review,Mezzo Cammin, and Philadelphia Stories; anthologies Forgotten Women (Grayson Books),Not Our President (Third World Press), Dear America: Reflections on Race (Geeky Press), We Real Cool: Philadelphia Celebrates Gwendolyn Brooks (Moonstone Press), Unlocking the Word: An Anthology of Found Poetry (Lamar University Press), Collateral Damage (Pirene’s Fountain),Shame: An Anthology (The Good Men Project), and Black From the Future: A Collection of Black Speculative Writing (BLF Press). She is the recipient of fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center and the Ucross Foundation.


Hall holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Rosemont College, is an alumna of LaSalle University, and serves on the poetry review board of Philadelphia Stories.

Related Sessions:

Explore and Enliven History Through Poetry

Sheila Ingle grew up being mesmerized by her grandmother’s stories about our country. Her other grandmother shared the marvels of historical novels with her. At age 57, she started writing her own stories after her retirement as a teacher of writing and literature. Using storytelling as a teaching tool was second nature to her.

Realizing there was a lack of books about Southern Revolutionary War women, she began research and writing to fill this gap for new generations. She has presented workshops on using historical nonfiction/biographies to the SCCSS, SCIRA, and SCTE. As a speaker at numerous lineage societies, Revolutionary War Roundtables, the Francis Marion Symposium, SC Historical Society, and a panel participant at the American Revolutionary War Museum at Yorktown at its opening.

Courageous Kate,Fearless Martha, and Brave Elizabeth,focus on the bravery of Patriot women living in Revolutionary War South Carolina. Sheila’s husband John is the illustrator of these books.

Her latest book,Tales of a Cosmic Possum, not only shares Ingle family history, but also South Carolina and cotton mill history. The eight short stories are based on the anecdotes of her husband’s family in the early 20th century. SIBA awarded it the 2017 Fall Okra Pick Award.

Related Sessions:

Finding the Heart of the Story in Research

As a history teacher for 33 years, few things get Betsy Iversen more excited or interested than American history coupled with traveling. Our country does a wonderful job of preserving its sites, emphasizing their importance, and encouraging our participation in enjoying them. Betsy says "As I get a bit older, I feel it is more important than ever to learn from our past and appreciate our present. Our country’s landscape is breathtakingly beautiful, and I cannot get enough of seeing it."

Along with learning and traveling, her next favorite interest is writing. She has contributed to several publications and published an anthology of poetry. Her greatest joy is seeing her 29 year old daughter Katie grow from a wonderful child to a most amazing woman. Betsy loves living in the Chicago area of the Midwest, and besides visiting historic cemeteries and Cubs games in the city, she loves biking along the lakefront.

Related Sessions:

Historic and Fantastic Trees in America

L.A. Hider Jones has been writing stories since she was a teenager. Her first and latest novel isMy Interview with Beethoven. While living in the Washington, D.C., area, she consumed as much American history and listened to as much of Beethoven’s music as possible while writing her book. She even had the rare opportunity to sing his Ninth Symphony’s An die Freude at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nev.

Related Sessions:

The Misadventures of a Newly Published Author

With over 25 years of experience in all aspects of the book industry, Randy Kuckuck has a wealth of information that he loves to share with authors and aspiring publishers. Randy began his publishing career when he created Scarborough House out of the assets of Stein & Day Publishers, a major New York publishing house whose 800+ authors included Jack Higgins, E. Howard Hunt, and Elia Kazan. The Scarborough House title The Only Astrology Book You Will Ever Need has sold almost a million copies and remains in print today.

Later, Randy founded Millennia Graphics, one of the first book printers to offer short-run digital printing to complement its longer-run offset web-printing capabilities.

Randy returned to book publishing, founding PublishNext with the mission of enabling authors to independently publish with the quality and professionalism of a major trade publisher. PublishNext took full advantage of the latest trends in book production and marketing while embracing key components of the traditional book business that remain effective and critical to publishing today.

After the sale of PublishNext, Randy founded the Center for Book Publishing. This non-profit is dedicated to improving the publishing industry by providing unbiased, professional information to independent publishers, including self-publishing authors.

Related Sessions:

My Book is Written, Now What? Understanding Today’s Publishing Options

Self-Publishing - How to do it Right

Writer and historian Christina Larocco received her PhD from the Department of History at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is currently editor-in-chief of the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal, and a prose editor for Cleaver Magazine, an online literary magazine. A recognized authority on the history of women and American social movements, she regularly speaks at academic conferences, to civic and professional organizations, and in front of the public. In 2018 she appeared as an expert in the documentary Sisters in Freedom: The Daring Battle to End Slavery. Her work has appeared in both literary and scholarly journals, and she is writing a biography-in-essays of nineteenth-century abolitionist and feminist Martha Schofield.

Related Sessions:

Writing Biography as Creative Nonfiction

Kristin Leonard is a former actress and dancer, a mother, and an adjunct professor who resides in Maine. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine and an M.A. in English from Northern Arizona University, where she is completing doctoral studies. Her critical and creative work (prose, poetry, and plays) have appeared in The Explicator, The Atlantic Online, Journal of South Texas English Studies, The Ekphrastic Review, and more. She is the 2019 recipient of the Maine Literary Award for Drama, the 2019 recipient of Meetinghouse Theatre Lab's Maine Playwright's Award, and Lit Fest's 2019 Dramatic Writing Fellow for Emerging Writers (Lighthouse Writers Workshop, Denver, CO).  Her work can be viewed at

Related Sessions:
Discovery Through Multigenre Writing: How to Use Poetry and Playwriting to Develop Characterization, Conflict, & Plot in Fiction

Born in Georgia and raised in South Carolina,Thomas Ott now resides in Alabama where he taught college history for 40 years. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee in Caribbean history with an emphasis on Haiti. In 1973 he authored The Haitian Revolution, 1789-1804 which stands high with other books on that violent subject. He has spoken to popular and academic audiences about the Haitian Revolution, and has served as a manuscript critic for the LSU and UT Presses.

Since retirement, Thomas has launched a writing career to produce historical fiction. His first work in that genre is Saturday & The Witch Woman, pending publication in 2019. Since then, he has finished another manuscript, and is working on a third.

Related Sessions:

Creating Historical Fiction: The Union of the Novelist with the Historian

Janet Preus’ background includes teaching expository writing, creative writing, literature, speech and theater. She has worked as a news reporter and editor for radio and a daily newspaper and is currently senior editor of a trade magazine. She reviews professional theater for a Minneapolis-based website, writes plays and musicals, and directs and produces plays if she really loves the project. She has personal essays, a musical, a series of children’s books and dozens of magazine articles published and has released two CDs of her original songs. She has won awards in journalism (print and radio), nonfiction and playwrighting. Lillie’s Ghost, a work of historical creative nonfiction, is her first book. It may also be her last.

Barbara Salvatore -Big Horse Woman began over twenty years ago with a dream of a young Native woman, who would go on to reshape Barbara's life.Big Horse Woman- the haunting historical fiction novel about a Ponca woman born in 1833- was a Finalist in the 2009 Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest and was recently awarded First Place, Prairie/First Nations category, in Chanticleer's Laramie Prize for Western Fiction.


Devoted to learning the history and culture of her characters, she is a student of the Ponca language, and served as the first Ponca Language Educator for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. Another core feature of her stories, is the plant knowledge she shares. As a practicing Herbalist and Horse keeper, she offers classes in Plant Medicine and Horse Care. Her art has been exhibited in New York and Nebraska and, along with her writing, been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies.

Related Sessions:

Give Your Characters Voice: Bring your Readings to life!

Language and Culture: The Seed of Language

Plants are Characters Too

Julia María Schiavone Camacho is from Tucson and grew up traveling across the Arizona/Sonora borderlands. She is a historian and the author of Chinese Mexicans: Transpacific Migration and the Search for a Homeland, 1910-1960 (North Carolina, 2012). She teaches history at Goshen College. In 2018, she won a Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education Excellence in Research Award.

She has attended fiction workshops at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and recently finished writing a historical novel. Across the Pacific is about a Chinese-Mexican couple who yearn to reunite after being separated during a vicious anti-Chinese crusade in Mexico. An excerpt from her novel appears in The Hopper and was just nominated for Best of the Net Anthology. Her short fiction appears in a Latinx special feature in The Florida Review and The Coachella Review Blog. She lives with her husband in Michiana. Find her at:

Related Sessions:

Writing Across Genres: Chinese-Mexican Ties and Chinese Expulsion from Mexico in Nonfiction and Fiction

  Keith W. Stokes is a frequent national, state and local lecturer in community & regional planning, historic preservation and interpretation with an expertise in early African and Jewish American history.  Mr. Stokes has been a guest speaker on numerous nationally syndicated history shows most recently C-Span, Fox News Channel Legends & Lies.

As Vice President of 1696 Heritage Group, a historical consulting firm dedicated to helping persons and institutions of color to increase their knowledge and access to the light of truth of their unique American heritage, he writes frequent blog posts on the unique history of African Americans, the early Colonial Jewish experience, and family history.


Mary Ann Trail is an author, traveler, mother and lover of history. She is a lifelong resident of southern New Jersey, where she spent most of her professional life as a college librarian. She loves living equidistant from the Philadelphia and Newark International airports—both jumping off points for travel that allows her to explore, first hand, the settings for her stories.Frequent trips to England with her sister fanned her interest in English history as they strolled through Bath, followed Roman roads in Wales, and wandered prehistoric mounds in Dorset.

The early nineteenth century (1800 – 1815) remains her favorite era because of its similarities to today, especially comparisons in the social and political arenas.She is currently finishing her third novel in her "Enemies" series. Using the Alien Office, a network of information gatherers that predate MI5, as a background, her characters face danger and romance as Napoleon sets his sights on invasion.

She can be reached through her webpage Maryanntrail.comor her Facebook page, Mary Ann Trail, Writer.

Related Sessions:

How Far Can a Horse Walk in a Day?

Alan A. Winter graduated with honors in history from Rutgers College, New Brunswick, NJ. He earned advanced professional degrees from New York University and Columbia University (he was an associate professor at both institutions at different times) that enabled him to pursue dual careers.

As a novelist, Alan has published four novels:Someone Else’s Son, Snowflakes in the Sahara, Savior’s Day, and Island Bluffs.

Alan edited a journal for eleven years, received numerous awards, and published over twenty peer-reviewed papers.

Related Sessions
A Genre-Bending Manuscript: How to Pitch a Duck Out of Water!