SMIAH Mini Presenters
fantasy & sci-fi author
Christine Amsden is the author of nine award-winning fantasy and science fiction novels, including Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective.
Christine has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She believes speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.
At the age of sixteen, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.
In addition to writing, Christine is a freelance editor and a political activist. She currently lives in Olathe with her husband and two kids.
TRACI HUNTER ABRAMSON
contemporary suspense & romance author
Traci Hunter Abramson was born in Arizona, where she lived until moving to Venezuela for a study-abroad program. After graduating from Brigham Young University, she worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for several years, eventually resigning in order to raise her family. She credits the CIA with giving her a wealth of ideas as well as the skills needed to survive her children's teenage years. She has gone on to write more than twenty bestselling novels that have consistently been nominated as Whitney Award finalists and three-time Whitney Award winner. When she’s not writing, Traci enjoys spending time with her husband and five children, preferably on a nice quiet beach somewhere. She also enjoys sports, travel, writing, and coaching high school swimming.
contemporary & sci-fi author
Don Carey is a software engineer by day, a husband and father by night, and an author toiling to give life to the many stories in his head during his all-too-brief lunch hours.
Although his literary heart has always belonged to Science Fiction, his muse has given him a pair of realistic contemporary stories for his first two books, both set in his childhood home of Hawai’i.
Don enjoys music, travel, home-made pizza, and the company of his fellow writers – a group of people by and large as odd as he is.
ya, fantasy, & non-fiction author, editor & author coach
Jessica Conoley is an author, developmental editor, speaker, and Authorpreneurship coach. She writes YA and fantasy novels, creative non-fiction, flash fiction, and essays. Jessica began her publishing career by serving on the executive board of Whispering Prairie Press (a non-profit dedicated to art and literature) and is the former Managing Editor of Kansas City Voices arts and literary magazine. She launched her Authorpreneurship coaching program in 2018 and utilizes her editorial and business skills to prepare authors for the next step of their publishing careers. In 2020 she expanded her services to include virtual workspaces and critique groups for writers as a way to foster creative community from the safety of our own homes. Learn more at: https://jessicaconoley.com/
JESSICA DAY GEORGE
childrens, ya, & fantasy author
Jessica Day George likes chocolate, knitting, books, travel, movies, dragons, horses, dogs, and her family. These are all things to keep in mind if you ever meet her. For instance, you could bring her chocolate to make the meeting go more smoothly. You could also talk about how adorable her children are, even if you have never seen them. You could discuss dog breeds (she had a Maltese named Pippin, and grew up with a poodle mix and a Brittany Spaniel. Right now she has a Coton de Tulear named Sunny). You could talk about Norway, and how it's the Greatest Place On Earth, and Germany, The Second Greatest Place On Earth. You could ask her about yarn, and indicate a willingness to learn to knit your own socks, if you can't already do so.
ya fantasy author
Ali Cross is a USA Today bestselling author of young adult fantasy and frequent speaker at industry events. An expert in story outlining, craft and industry, she’s well-known for her up-beat and engaging presentation style. In addition to presenting at conferences, Ali’s a writing coach with rave reviews and loves to help other writers maximize their potential in every way possible.
Pamela Fagan Hutchins
mystery & romance author
Pamela Fagan Hutchins, Chair of the Board of the Houston Writers Guild, writes award-winning and bestselling romantic mysteries (including ABNA QF 2014 Finding Harmony) and hilarious nonfiction. She is passionate about great writing, smart authorpreneurship and her household hunks, husband Eric and one-eyed Boston terrier Petey. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start.
romance & non-fiction author
Danyelle Ferguson discovered her love for the written word in elementary school. Her first newspaper article was published when she was in 6th grade. Since then, she’s won several awards and has been published world-wide in newspapers, magazines and books. She’s grateful every day to work in her dream jobs – author, editor, and nurturing her readaholic tendencies.
She grew up surrounded by Pennsylvania’s beautiful Allegheny Mountains. Then lived for ten years among the majestic Wasatch Mountains. She is currently experiencing mountain-withdrawal while living in Kansas with her husband and four angels-in-training. She enjoys reading, writing, dancing in the kitchen, and the occasional long bubble bath to relax from the everyday stress of being “Mommy.”
middle grade fiction author & keynote speaker
New York Times Bestselling author, Jennifer Nielsen, was born and raised in northern Utah, where she still lives today with her family, a dog that won’t play fetch, and a cat that hallucinates. She is the author of The Ascendance series, beginning with THE FALSE PRINCE; the TRAITOR’S GAME series, the historical novels, RESISTANCE, A NIGHT DIVIDED and WORDS ON FIRE, and several other titles. She loves chocolate, old books, and lazy days in the mountains.
ya fantasy author
KayLynn Flanders has a degree in English Language and editing, and has been a freelance editor and book designer for over ten years. Clients include award-winning, best-selling authors and respected regional presses. Her debut novel, a YA fantasy, will be published by Delacorte Press (Penguin Random House) in July 2020.
Lorin Grace was born in Colorado and has been moving around the country ever since, living in eight states and several imaginary worlds. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Graphic Design.
Currently, she lives in northern Utah with her husband, four children, and a dog who is insanely jealous of her laptop. When not writing Lorin enjoys creating graphics, visiting historical sites, museums, and reading.
fantasy & new adult romance author
Tamara Grantham is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books and novellas. Book one of the fairytale-retelling trilogy, THE WITCH’S TOWER, launched as a #1 Amazon bestseller. DREAMTHIEF, the first book of her Fairy World MD series, won first place for fantasy in Indiefab’s Book of the Year Awards, and a Rone award for best New Adult Romance.
Tamara holds a bachelor’s degree in English. She has been a featured speaker at numerous writing conferences speaking on the topic of female leads.
Born and raised in Texas, Tamara now lives with her husband and five children in Wichita, Kansas. She rarely has any free time, but when the stars align and she gets a moment to relax, she enjoys reading fantasy novels and watching every Star Wars or Star Trek movie ever made.
JANE ALVEY HARRIS
ya fantasy thriller author
Ms. Harris is the author of the award-winning YA psychological fantasy thriller series, the My Myth Trilogy. Book One, RIVEN, is optioned for a feature film. Jane loves to watch and study what makes us tick as humans. She’s definitely
a dreamer. Her favorite thing to do is use her wild imagination to weave together settings and stories for characters to live and learn in...herself included.
Jane also has half a dozen short stories in various stages of publication. Writing in the short format provides her the perfect opportunity to delve into her emotions and psyche in order to breathe life into the characters and scenes that beckon to her in her waking and sleeping dreams.
When she isn’t working on her own manuscripts, you can find Jane teaching private creative and academic writing classes, and narrating audiobooks. You might say she’s a bit obsessed with the written word!
TAMARA HART HEINER
middle grade, ya, & adult fiction author & editor
Tamara lives in Arkansas with her husband and four children, two crazy boys and two pretty little princesses. She is the author of the young adult suspense PERILOUS series (DELIVERER, PERILOUS, ALTERCATION, and PRICELESS), INEVITABLE, LAY ME DOWN, and the Cassandra Jones saga. Her non-fiction book about the Joplin tornado came out in May, 2014. You can find out more about what she's writing and catch deleted scenes from her books on her blog at: http://tamarahartheiner.blogspot.com.
SARAH LYNN JOHN
childrens & non-fiction author
Sarah Lynne John is a collector of life experiences. A few items in her collection include sky-diving over Hawaii, sampling escargot in Paris, cliff jumping in Utah, paragliding over the Alps, and even eating fruitcake in Siberia.
As you can see, many of her adventures involve heights and food. When she can’t travel to a new thrilling adventure, she does so vicariously through her characters on the page. Along with a rush of adrenaline, her work often explores science, the beauty of the natural world, and family relationships.
Before turning to writing fiction full-time, Sarah’s many careers involved picking Bear Lake raspberries, planning weddings, writing news stories, producing technical videos, designing print and digital media, shooting tourism photography, lobbying state legislators, planning swanky events, and schmoozing film and commercial executives. Follow her at sarahlynnejohn.com
historical & contemporary romance author
An award winning author, including the Praiseworthy top award for Romance and GOLD in Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards, Jen Geigle Johnson discovered her passion for England while kayaking on the Thames near London as a young teenager.
Now, she loves to share bits of history that might otherwise be forgotten. Whether in Regency England, the French Revolution, or Colonial America, her romance novels are much like life is supposed to be: full of adventure.
JOSI S. KILPACK
women's fiction & historical romance author
Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and credits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and has written thirty-three novels, one cookbook, and several short stories since then. She is a four-time Whitney Award winner, including two Novel of the Year awards for Lord Fenton's Folly and As Wide as the Sky and a Best of State winner in Fiction. She writes her national women's fiction under the pen name of Jessica Pack (say Josi Kilpack really fast and you'll see why she chose it). Josi currently lives in Northern Utah and is the mother of 4 wonderful kids.
For more information about Josi or her books, please visit her blog, What is a Sundial In the Shade?
contemporary romance author
Victorine's first book hit the USA Today and NYT's bestseller lists. She loves all things romance, and is currently addicted to Korean Dramas, which are super swoony and romantic. When she’s not writing, she’s designing book covers for authors or making something with her extensive yarn collection.
Gregg Luke grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. He pursued his education in Natural Sciences at SBCC, UCSB, and BYU. He completed his schooling at the University of Utah, College of Pharmacy—including a rotation in the Utah Poison Control Center. He currently practices clinical pharmacy in Logan, Utah.
Gregg has been a voracious reader and a prolific writer since childhood. He has been published in Skin Diver, Destiny, and New Era Magazines. His suspense novels include The Survivors, Do No Harm, Altered State, Blink of An Eye, Bloodborne, Deadly Undertakings, The Death House, The Healer, Infected, The Hunter’s Son, Insidious, and Plague, six of which were Whitney Award finalists.
romance & historical author
Annette Lyon is a USA Today bestselling author, a 5-time Best of State medalist for novels and short stories in Utah, and a Whitney Award winner. She’s had success as a professional editor and in newspaper, magazine, and technical writing, but her first love has always been writing fiction. She’s a cum laude graduate from BYU with a degree in English and is the author of over a dozen books, including the Whitney Award-winning Band of Sisters, a chocolate cookbook, and a grammar guide. She is a regular contributor to and the former editor of the Timeless Romance Anthology series. She has received five publication awards from the League of Utah Writers, including the Silver Quill, and she’s one of the four coauthors of the Newport Ladies Book Club series. Annette is represented by Heather Karpas at ICM Partners. Annette has taught at every Storymakers conference since its inception. She's a founding board member of the Teen Writers Conference in Utah, and taught at that conference every year for about ten years, including two years when she chaired the event. She's taught at other conferences, including the League of Utah Writers, American Night Writers Association, and Book Academy, and has been invited to teach at BYU's teen writer camps and to present to English majors.
Award-winning author Kierstin Marquet grew up fascinated by her dad’s career as a sheriff’s deputy and was always intrigued by why people do what they do—especially criminals. This curiosity led her to pursue a degree in criminal justice and a minor in psychology then a career in law enforcement. When Kierstin and her federal agent husband started a family, she left crime-fighting to him.
Now, she uses her experiences to write about creepy villains and heartwarming heroes and heroines in the Aurelian Society, her families vs criminals thriller series. Kierstin won 1st Place in the Suspense category at the LDStorymaker’s First Chapter Contest and her debut novel and its sequel were published by Soul Mate Publishing. Her favorite types of stories are: clean novels with HAPPY endings because real life is too depressing. Favorite genres: thrillers/suspense/mystery, fantasy/sci-fi, action/adventure, and dystopian.
You can find her at kiersinmarquet.com.
HEATHER B. MOORE
historical, thriller, women's fiction, romance, & non-fiction author
Heather B. Moore is a four-time USA Today bestseller and award-winning author of more than seventy publications. Heather graduated from Brigham Young University with a major in Fashion Merchandising and minor in Business Management–which has absolutely nothing to do with writing novels. But at least she can balance a mean checkbook and color-coordinate her kids’ school clothes.
Heather writes historical novels and thrillers under H.B. Moore. She also writes women’s fiction, romance, and inspirational non-fiction under Heather B. Moore, including the Pine Valley series, The Newport Ladies Book Club, and the Amazon bestselling Timeless Romance Anthologies.
sweet adult & ya romance & fantasy author
Michelle Pennington loves traveling to new places but is always happy to come home to Arkansas. She spends her days quoting movies with her husband and making messes faster than her four kids and two cats. (And that’s impressive.) She writes clean, heart-pounding, sigh-inducing romance across multiple genres. Her books include Young Adult, Contemporary, Regency, and Fantasy. The genre might change, but her characters will always be falling in love. As the author of over thirty titles, Michelle is an active contributor in the indie and clean fiction writing communities. In her effort to support other authors, she co-hosts a weekly YouTube live-cast and Facebook support group as one of The Writing Gals.
fantasy, sci-fi & romantic comedy author
USA Today, bestselling author, Janette Rallison/ CJ Hill writes books because writing is much more fun than cleaning bathrooms. Her avoidance of housework has led her to writing 27 novels that have sold over 1,000,000 print copies and have been on many reading and state lists. Her books are fantasy, sci-fi, and romantic comedy because hey, there is enough angst in real life, but there’s a drastic shortage of humor, romance and hot guys who fight dragons. She lives in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, kids, and enough cats to classify her as eccentric.
Rebecca Talley is a mother of 10 and grandmother of 8 (soon to be more). She lives with her husband and family in Houston, TX (where she often lounges in the pool to avoid the heat and humidity). She is the author of 11 novels/novellas and a children’s picture book as well as numerous children’s stories and articles for online and print magazines.
author & marketer
After graduating from Writers House Literary Agency as their first Digital Marketing intern (I created the position), I started my own book marketing agency in January 2015.
This soon led me to develop BookSweeps.com, now one of the largest book giveaway & lead generation sites for fiction authors, with an email list of approx. 100,000 readers.
Over 4,000 authors have used BookSweeps' services, including top-selling names in romance, mysteries & thrillers, sci-fi & fantasy, Christian fiction, and YA.
new adult romance author
Amey Zeigler is the author of Baker’s Dozen, a Romantic Suspense Mystery, and The Swiss Mishap--a Swoony Award winner for 2019’s Best New Adult Contemporary Romance. Summer of Sundaes and August Blues are coming 2020 through The Wild Rose Press. Follow her on BookBub or Instagram @AmeyZeigler