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Conference Faculty

Rick Acker
Website: http://www.rickacker.com/
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    WS 4 –  Level D:  Publishing Contracts
    WS 18 –  Level C:  Author Law 101

Rick Acker is a bestselling author who writes during his commute to and from his “real job” as a Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice. In addition to his novels, he is a contributing author on three legal treatises published by the American Bar Association.

He has law degrees from the University of Oslo and the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated with honors. When Rick isn’t writing or lawyering, you can usually find him with his wife, Anette, and their four children.  They’ll be exploring in the hills east of San Francisco, watching a good movie together, or, of course, reading. Visit him on the web at http://www.rickacker.com

Kirk Blank
Website:
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    WS 15 –  Level D: Has The Dust Settled? The Industry’s Perspective on What We’ve Weathered & What’s Yet to Come

Kirk David Blank is the president of the Munce Group (America’s largest association of Independent Christian Retail stores) and publisher of More to Life (http://www.mtlmagazine.com).  “Our mission at the Munce Group is to further the cause of the Kingdom by getting quality Christian products into the hands of people everywhere- as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Our mission at More to Life is to connect people with the products that meet their ‘felt needs’ and direct them to a retailer near them. We know lives can eternally be changed by reading a book, studying a Bible, listening to a song or enjoying artwork. Fiction plays a key role in the success of Independent Christian retailers. Fiction can build traffic, sales and customer loyalty. It’s a great joy to work with authors and publishers to impact literally millions of lives through Munce Group member stores and More to Life subscribers and readers.” Kirk has been married to his best friend, Brenda for nearly 25 years.  They have seven children and five grandchildren.  In addition to populating the earth, they enjoy leading worship, speaking and writing.

Amanda Bostic
Website: http://www.thomasnelson.com
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    WS 12 –  Level B:  Making the Cut: How to Get Signed as a Debut Author

Amanda Bostic is the Editorial Director for Fiction at HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan). She traces her love of story back to her first reading of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when she was in 2nd grade, and she’s still amazed by the fact that she’s been getting paid to read books for more than ten years. She loves any great story, but is particularly drawn to suspense and thrillers, contemporary, women’s fiction, and Southern fiction. She makes her home in Nashville with her husband Randy and their two children.

Sue Brower
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    WS 2 –  Level B:  Empowering the Writer in the Author/Agent Relationship

I love finding and developing authors and connecting them with the reader.  Book publishing has changed dramatically over the past several years and it’s no secret that the novels that create buzz through their unique writing or concepts are the ones that become bestsellers.  Over the past 25 years in publishing, I have done marketing, editing, story development and acquisitions for Zondervan, a division of Harper Collins Publishers. Most recently, I was Executive Editor and had the privilege of working with New York Times bestselling authors Karen Kingsbury, Tim LaHaye, Stephen Carter, and Terri Blackstock and was named ACFW’s Editor of the Year in 2010. And now I am fortunate to partner with Natasha Kern at the Natasha Kern Literary Agency.

I am originally from Arizona and now live in Michigan with my hubby, and three furry “kids,” Shep, Ollie, and Pepper.

Candace Calvert
Website: http://www.candacecalvert.com
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    WS 9 –  Level C: Medicine in Fiction: View From Inside

Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse who believes love, laughter and faith are the best medicines. Her Mercy Hospital and Grace Medical series offer readers a chance to “scrub in” on the exciting world of emergency medicine—along with a soul-soothing prescription for hope. Wife, mother, and very proud grandmother, she makes her home in northern California.

Jennifer Dornbush
Website: http://www.jenniferdornbush.com
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    CE 3 –  Level C:  Forensics and Crime Fiction

Long before American television was saturated with CSI, Jennifer Dornbush was living her own CSI adventure with her family in northern Michigan where her father worked as Medical Examiner from their home. Trained in death investigation from an early age, Jennifer has twenty years insight into the forensic world.

To round out her knowledge of death investigation Jennifer completed over 360 hours of CSI training. She has used these experiences and training to scribe Forensic Speak: How to Write Realistic Crime Dramas, a monumental resource for crime writers and crime drama fans.

Jennifer’s unique childhood and her continued involvement in the forensic field has gifted her with uncanny fodder for storytelling, which she uses to pen crime fiction for film and television. Her newest crime drama, The Coroner’s Daughter, is being produced by 10 West Studios and Fusewire Films.

Jennifer has taught seminars and workshops and hosted panels on crime fiction writing at The Great American Pitchfest, The Writers Store, Scriptwriters Network, and Crime Writers Weekend, Chicago Screenwriters Association, and the University Film and Video Association.

Jennifer serves as adjunct professor of screenwriting at Azusa Pacific University.  She received a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College, Palos Heights, IL; and a Master’s Degree from DePaul University, Chicago.

Learn more and sign up for Jennifer’s free, entertaining, and informative newsletter: Forensic Speak at: http://www.jenniferdornbush.com

Jeff Gerke
Website: http://www.jeffersonscott.com
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    CE 1 –  Level A:  Write Your Novel in a Month

Jeff Gerke trains novelists how to better do what it is they’re trying to do. He trains through his three books for Writers Digest: “Plot Versus Character,” “The First 50 Pages,” and “Write Your Novel in a Month.”
He trains through his video training program called Fiction Academy. He trains through the many writers conferences he teaches at all over the country every year. And he trains through the freelance editing he does for his clients. Jeff is the founder of Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. He lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and three children.

Winnie Griggs
Website: http://www.winniegriggs.com
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    WS 14 –  Level C: Imagery & Subtext: The Subtle Elements Of Fiction

Winnie Griggs is the multi-published, award-winning author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace.  She’s published eleven books with Love Inspired and is contracted to do six more in the next two and a half years.  In 2013 the first book in her Texas Grooms series, Handpicked Husband, garnered a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award.

Winnie grew up in south Louisiana in an area her friends thought of as the back of beyond.  She and her siblings spent many an hour exploring the overgrown land around her home, cutting jungle trails, building forts and frontier camps, and looking for pirate ships on the nearby bayou.  Once she ‘grew up’ she began capturing those wonderful adventures in the pages of her notebooks.  Nowadays, Winnie feels blessed to be able to share her stories with readers through her published books. 

Winnie loves to hear from readers.  You can contact her via her website http://www.winniegriggs.com or find her on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/WinnieGriggs.Author

Rene Gutteridge
Website: http://www.renegutteridge.com
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    CE 4 –  Level D:  Screenwriting for Novelists

Rene Gutteridge is the award-winning and best-selling author of twenty-one novels, including her latest releases Misery Loves Company (suspense), Greetings from the Flipside (comedy) and Heart of the Country (drama). Her recent suspense titles also include Listen, Possession and Escapement. She has novelized seven screenplays and movies, including two new releases due out in 2014, Just 18 Summers and Old Fashioned.  Her romantic comedy with screenwriter Cheryl McKay, Never the Bride, won the Carol Award in 2010 for Best Women’s Fiction.

Her indie film, the comedy SKID which is based on her novel, is in post-production and due to release in 2014.  She is also a creative consultant on Boo, a film based on her beloved novel series, which is in
development at Sodium Entertainment with Cory Edwards attached as director and Andrea Nasfell as screenwriter.  She is also co-writer in a collaborative comedy project called Last Resort with screenwriters Torry Martin and Marshal Younger.

Rachel Hauck
Website: http://www.rachelhauck.com
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    WS 1 –  Level A:  Huddle UP: How to have a successful critique group
        WS 19 –  Level D:  Get Published – STAY published: Building a writing empire

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, best selling author of twelve novels with more to come. It’s her desire for readers to find hope and escape in the stories she writes, and inhale a bit of the fragrance of Jesus’s love.

Rachel is a past president of ACFW and currently serves on the Executive Board, as well as the worship leader for the annual conference.

Jody Hedlund
Website:
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    WS 16 –  Level A:  Keys to Writing A Bestselling Christian Romance

Award-winning and bestselling author Jody Hedlund writes for Bethany House Publishers. She loves books, chocolate, and coffee. Of course, she loves her busy family too. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for over twenty years, and they have five children, with a set of twins in the mix to keep things lively. When Jody’s not teaching her kids or running them around to their many activities, you can usually find her in front of her lap top creating one of her page-turning stories or curled up with a book in hand.

Anita Higman
Website:
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    CE 5 –  Level E:  Creative Marketing Strategies: Innovative Marketing Tips for Authors FROM Authors

CBA best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has forty books published. Some of her publishers are Moody, Abingdon, Barbour, and Guideposts. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA in the combined fields of speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

Daisy Hutton
Website: http://www.thomasnelson.com
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    WS 12 –  Level B:  Making the Cut: How to Get Signed as a Debut Author

Daisy Blackwell Hutton is a native Mississippian and a graduate of Ole Miss, where she earned her B.A. in French and English Literature. She also holds her M.A. in Comparative Literature from Washington University in St. Louis. Daisy has worked in the publishing industry for over 16 years, beginning her career at the Georges Borchardt Agency in New York and also spending time at The Perseus Book Group and Harvard Business School Press in Boston. She joined Thomas Nelson in 2008 and currently serves as Fiction Publisher for HarperCollins Christian Publishing, overseeing all Fiction publishing under the Thomas Nelson and Zondervan imprints. Her reading passions include 19th century and historical fiction, mysteries, literary fiction, and fiction in translation. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Matt, and their two sons, Leo and Silas.

Lisa Jordan
Website: http://www.lisajordanbooks.com
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    WS 1 –  Level A:  Huddle UP: How to have a successful critique group

Married over twenty years to her own real-life hero, Lisa Jordan knows a thing or two about romance. She and her husband have two college-aged sons. For the last fifteen years, Lisa has been a SAHMWAHM—stay-at-home-work-at-home-mom—who owns and operates a state-certified in-home early learning childcare program. In the evenings, Lisa heads to her closet-sized office to write contemporary Christian
romance novels for Love Inspired. Her debut novel, Lakeside Reunion, won the 2012 Carol award for short contemporary romance. She is the My Book Therapy Bleachers Forum Coordinator, overseeing the Monday Night Chats, which feature online weekly workshops for writers. She has spoken to small women’s groups in her area and will be speaking to a local MOPS chapter about balancing life, work and kids. In her free time (ha!), Lisa enjoys good books, romantic comedies, crafting with friends and feeding her NCIS addiction.

Ronie Kendig
Website: http://www.roniekendig.com
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    WS 7 –  Level B:  Mind Magic Writing

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with four children and a Maltese Menace in Northern Virginia. Ronie’s degree in psychology has helped her pen novels of raw, broken characters. Since launching onto the publishing scene, Ronie’s Rapid-Fire Fiction has hit the CBA Bestseller List, won the prestigious Christy Award, HOLT Medallion Award, RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award, Christian Retailing’s Readers’ Choice Awards, and finaled in numerous other awards. Ronie loves people and helping other writers through speaking, workshops, and/or mentoring. Ronie can be found at http://www.roniekendig.com on Fa,cebook (http://www.facebook.com/rapidfirefiction), Twitter (@roniekendig), and Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/RonieK) .

Steve Laube
Website: http://www.stevelaube.com/
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    WS 4 –  Level D:  Publishing Contracts
    WS 6 –  Level A: Walking on Water: How to Rise above an Agent’s Slush Pile

Steve Laube, a literary agent and president of The Steve Laube Agency (http://www.stevelaube.com), has been in the book industry for over 33 years, first as a bookstore manager where he was awarded the National Store of the Year by CBA. He then spent over a decade with Bethany House Publishers and was named the Editor of the Year. He later became an agent and has represented nearly 1,000 new books and was named Agent of the Year by ACFW. He was also inducted into the Grand Canyon University Hall-of-Fame by their College of Theology. In addition, he is the president and owner of Marcher Lord Press (marcherlordpress.com). His office is in Phoenix, Arizona.

Michelle Lim
Website: http://www.thoughtsonplot.wordpress.com/
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    WS 13 –  Level B: Brainstorming Strategies for Writing Nightmares

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented with Books & Such Literary Agency. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

Richard Mabry
Website: http://rmabry.com
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    WS 9 –  Level C: Medicine in Fiction: View From Inside

Richard Mabry is a retired physician, past Vice President of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and author of “medical suspense with heart.” His novels have been a semifinalist for International Thriller Writers’ debut novel, finalists for the Carol Award and Romantic Times’ Reader’s Choice Award, and winner of the Selah Award.  His most recent novel, just released, is Critical Condition.

Gail Gaymer Martin
Website: http://www.gailgaymermartin.com
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    CE 2 –  Level B:  Power and Heart of a Novel

Multi-award-winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin is the author of contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction with 52 contracted novels and over 3-1/2 million books in print. Her novels have received several national awards, including: the ACFW Carol Award and RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. CBS local news listed Gail as one of the four best writers in the Detroit area. Gail is the author of Writer Digest’s Writing the Christian Romance.  She is a cofounder of American Christian Fiction Writers and serves on their Executive Board. She is a member of Advanced Speakers and Writers (ACFW) as well as Christian Authors Network (CAN) and is a keynote speaker at churches, civic and business organizations. In her earlier professional career, Gail was a teacher of English, literature and public speaking at the high school and university levels. She continues to enjoy teaching and is a workshop presenter at conferences across the U.S. Her website at http://www.gailgaymermartin.com offers a comprehensive blog on Writing Fiction for all genres.  Gail lives in Michigan with her husband.

DiAnn Mills
Website: http://www.diannmills.com/
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    WS 8 –  Level B:  Creating the Essential Backstory

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, Faith, Hope & Love, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and is the 2014 president of RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter.

She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

Tamela Hancock Murray
Website: http://www.tamelahancockmurray.com
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    WS 6 –  Level A: Walking on Water: How to Rise above an Agent’s Slush Pile

Tamela Hancock Murray is a full-time literary agent with The Steve Laube Agency (http://www.stevelaube.com). She has worked in publishing for over 25 years. Her authors appreciate that her past experience as an award-winning, bestselling author gives her an understanding of the challenges writers face today.  Her goal is to work with authors over the long term to develop and maintain solid careers. Tamela and her husband of thirty years are empty nesters living in Northern Virginia and are the proud parents of two lovely daughters. She welcomes visits online at http://www.tamelahancockmurray.com and Twitter followers @Tamela_Murray

John Otte
Website:
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    WS 17 –  Level B:  Creating a Story World

By day, John W. Otte is a Lutheran pastor, the father of two geeks-in-training, and the husband of a very forgiving and patient wife. By night, he plays videogames, board games, and writes speculative fiction stories for readers of all ages. He has published three novels through Marcher Lord Press. His debut novel, Failstate, received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly and was a finalist for the Christy Awards in 2013. He has been a member of ACFW for so long he can’t remember when he joined. He lives in South St. Paul, Minnesota.

Cara Putman
Website: http://www.caraputman.com
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    WS 18 –  Level C:  Author Law 101

Cara Putman’s fifteenth novel releases in fall 2013 with a story of her heart releasing in February 2014, and she has also written one non-fiction title (the Complete Idiots Guide to Business Law).

In addition to writing, she is an attorney, lecturer at a Big Ten university, active in women’s ministry, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband and her kids. She graduated with honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!) and George Mason Law School. You can learn more about her books at http://www.caraputman.com.

Jordyn Redwood
Website: http://www.jordynredwood.com/
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    WS 9 –  Level C: Medicine in Fiction: View From Inside

Jordyn Redwood is a pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense novelist by night. She hosts Redwood’s Medical Edge, a blog devoted to helping contemporary and historical authors write medically accurate fiction. Her first two novels, Proof and Poison, garnered starred reviews from Library Journal and have been endorsed by the likes of Julie Cantrell, Lynette Eason, and Mike Dellosso to name a few. Proof was shortlisted for the 2012 ForeWord Review’s BOTY Award, 2013 INSPY Award and the 2013 Carol Award. You can connect with Jordyn via her website at http://www.jordynredwood.com

James Rubart
Website: http://www.jameslrubart.com
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    WS 3 –  Level C:  How to Create a Unique Idea with Spiritual Heft

James L. Rubart is the best-selling and Christy award winning author of ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, THE CHAIR, SOUL’S GATE, MEMORY’S DOOR, and SPIRIT BRIDGE (May ’14). He’s also a professional speaker and owner of Barefoot Marketing which helps businesses and authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand. No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman.

 

Renee Ryan
Website: http://www.reneeryan.com
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    WS 14 –  Level C: Imagery & Subtext: The Subtle Elements Of Fiction

Multi-published, award-winning author Renee Ryan sold her first book by winning the inaugural Dorchester/Romantic Times New Historical Voice Contest. She sold her second book to Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical line in February 2009 and has since published thirteen more books to the historical and contemporary Love Inspired lines and is contracted for four more in the next two years. 

Renee grew up in a Florida beach town where she learned to surf very poorly.  Armed with a degree in Economics and Religion from Florida State University, she explored various career opportunities, including stints at a Florida theme park, a modeling agency, and a cosmetic conglomerate.  She also taught high school Economics, American Government and Latin while coaching award-winning cheerleading teams.  She currently lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband and a large, fluffy cat many have mistaken for a small bear.

Kim Vogel Sawyer
Website: http://www.kimvogelsawyer.com
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    WS 10 –Level D:  Building a Professional Speaking Ministry
    WS 11 –  Level A:  Settings That Live and Breathe

Since the release of Waiting for Summer’s Return in 2006, Kim Vogel Sawyer has become one of the most beloved writers in the inspirational market. More than one million copies of her books are currently in print and have garnered awards including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Readers and reviewers alike are drawn to her “gentle stories of hope” and the life lessons found between the pages. Now retired from teaching to write and speak full time, Kim and her former military husband, Don, run a bed-and-breakfast inn in small-town Kansas with the help of their four feline companions.

Janice Thompson
Website: http://www.janicehannathompson.com/
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    CE 5 –  Level E:  Creative Marketing Strategies: Innovative Marketing Tips for Authors FROM Authors

Janice (Hanna) Thompson is an author who got her start in the industry writing screenplays and musical comedies for the stage.

Janice has published nearly seventy books for the Christian market, most light-hearted contemporary romances.

Beth Vogt
Website: http://www.bethvogt.com
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    WS 1 –  Level A:  Huddle UP: How to have a successful critique group

Beth K. Vogt discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Despite being a nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never writer fiction, Beth’s inspirational contemporary romance novel, Wish You Were Here, debuted May 2012 (Howard Books.) Her second novel, Catch a Falling Star, releases May 2013. Beth is an established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International, as well as a former consulting editor for MomSense magazine. She is also the Skills Coach for My Book Therapy, the writing community founded by best-selling author Susan May Warren. Her blog, In Others’ Words, highlights quotes and conversation on a wide-range of topics.

Susan May Warren
Website: http://www.susanmaywarren.com/
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    WS 1 –  Level A:  Huddle UP: How to have a successful critique group
    WS 19 –  Level D:  Get Published – STAY published: Building a writing empire

Susan May Warren is the Christy, RITA and Carol award-winning author of over forty novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside Press. A six-time Christy award finalist, a three-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol award. A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!

She is also the founder of http://www.MyBookTherapy.com a sto,ry-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at: http://www.susanmaywarren.com

Lacy Williams
Website:
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    WS 5 –  Level A-E:  Scrivener Basics

Lacy Williams is a hybrid author writing for both Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical line and herself. Since 2009, Lacy has sold eleven books to her NY publisher and self-published six, with a slate of several books to come throughout 2014. Lacy’s books have finaled in the RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Awards (2012, 2013, & 2014), the Golden Quill, and the Booksellers’ Best.  Along with being a working author, Lacy is a wife and mother to three. She is a former ACFW Operating Board member and teaches writing classes for a local technical school.

Karen Witemeyer
Website: http://www.karenwitemeyer.com
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    WS 16 –  Level A:  Keys to Writing A Bestselling Christian Romance

Two-time RITA® Finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion and ACFW Carol Award, CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House, believing that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: http://www.karenwitemeyer.com

Kathleen Y’Barbo
Website: http://www.kathleenybarbo.com
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    CE 5 –  Level E:  Creative Marketing Strategies: Innovative Marketing Tips for Authors FROM Authors

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of over forty novels with more than one million copies of her books in print in the United States and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified family law paralegal, she was recently nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well as a Reader’s Choice Award by Romantic Times magazine.

Kathleen has four grown children, seven bonus children, and her very own hero in combat boots.



You must be at least 18 years old to attend conference without a parent/guardian present with you at all times.

Participation of an individual presenter, agent, editor, or publisher in the ACFW conference does not constitute endorsement by ACFW. Conference attendees are advised to use due diligence and take personal responsibility when choosing industry professionals with whom to schedule appointments or enter into agreement.