20/20 SMIAH Presenters

Who's on your SMIAH

Vision Board?


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.

middle grade fiction author & keynote speaker


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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.

fantasy & sci-fi author


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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/

ya, fantasy, & non-fiction author, editor & author coach


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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. 

ya fantasy 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.”

romance & non-fiction author


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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.

ya fantasy author



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. 

romance author


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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.

fantasy & new adult romance author


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Mary Gray balances dark and twisty plots with faith-based messages. Some of her best ideas come when she’s lurking in the woods, experimenting with frightening foods, or pushing her kids on the tire swing. She is a contributor to THE FAITHFUL CREATIVE magazine and is the membership chair of INDIE AUTHOR HUB. Mary is the author of THE DOLLHOUSE ASYLUM, HER DARK FANTASY, OUR SWEET GUILLOTINE, HUSH, NOW FORGET, HOW TO WRITE FAITH-BASED MESSAGES FOR A SECULAR MARKET, and is a contributor of the rockin’ anthology, THE DEVILS YOU MEET ON CHRISTMAS DAY. All of these books are published through Mary’s small press, Monster Ivy Publishing.

ya author & co-owner of monster ivy publishing


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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!

ya fantasy thriller author


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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.

middle grade, ya, & adult fiction author & editor


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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. 

historical & 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.

contemporary romance author



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.

suspense/thriller author


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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.

suspense/thriller author


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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.

sweet adult & ya romance & fantasy author


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I'm a die-hard romance fan from just south of the Twin Cities in MN. I live with my King and four princes and probably a little too spoiled princess. 

​I've been writing for over 6 years and it is my favorite thing to do besides spend time with my family. 

I love things that make me laugh. I eat Twizzlers when I write. And I think there is a FRIENDS quote for just about every conversation I have. 

​I'm dedicated to bringing you SWEET romance that makes you sigh with kisses that curl your toes. 

So pull up your comfiest chair and open a book. 

contemporary romance author


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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. 

romance author


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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

new adult romance author



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