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2024 Conference Faculty



Author and Writing Coach 

C. S. Lakin is the award-winning author of more than 30 books. Her Writer’s Toolbox series helps writers craft unforgettable fiction stories, and she teaches online video courses and master classes at her school Writing for Life Workshops ( Her novels include the seven-book Gates of Heaven fantasy series, The Front Range Historical Western Romance series (under pen name Charlene Whitman), and an assortment of thrillers, sci-fi, and literary and women’s fiction. Lakin works as a freelance copyeditor and writing coach, doing more than 200 manuscript critiques a year (her specialty!). She lives in California surrounded by tall pines, wild rivers, and unpredictable weather with her husband of 40 years, a rescued lab who has a fetish for basketballs, and an old cat, who (like most cats are wont to do) drives her crazy in myriad ways. She loves nothing more than to help writers develop and polish their stories.



Editor & Literary Agent at Belcastro Literary Agency

A literary agent for Belcastro Literary Agency, Kaitlyn is also a freelance editor at her own company, Strictly Textual. Kaitlyn started her literary journey as a copyeditor for academic publisher codeMantra, a YA editor for Accent Press, a Conference Assistant for GrubStreet, Boston, and has been agenting since 2016. She has written various articles for Writer’s Digest and has had a flash fiction story published in the anthology A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed.


Literary Agent at Speilburg Literary

Sera Rivers (she/her) is a Literary Agent at Speilburg Literary Agency, an AALA member, and a writer. She represents middle grade, young adult, children’s graphic novels (author/illustrator only), and select picture books. She does not represent adult fiction/nonfiction. She holds an MFA in writing for children from Simmons University. Prior to agenting, she worked in educational publishing for seven years and launched Avenue A Books, a children’s book imprint at Center for Responsive Schools. As Avenue A’s acquiring and managing editor, she worked with new and established children’s book writers and illustrators to create picture books and middle grade graphic novels. Sera only accepts queries through referrals, conferences, and pitch events. Check out her full MSWL and status updates at Follow her on Twitter @writeloudly.


Literary Agent at Speilburg Literary

Eva Scalzo was born in New Jersey, but has lived in Houston, Buenos Aires, San Juan, and Boston before settling down outside of Binghamton, New York. She has a B.A. in the Humanities from the University of Puerto Rico and a M.A. in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College. Since graduating, she has spent her career in scholarly publishing, working for Houghton Mifflin, Blackwell Publishing, John Wiley & Sons, and Cornell University in a variety of roles. She has been with Speilburg Literary since 2013, and started accepting clients in 2017. Eva is a member of SCBWI and the AALA. She serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the AALA Newsletter and is a member of the Communications and USBS Committees.


Laurent Linn

Art Director, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Laurent Linn’s love for puppets led him to become an Emmy Award–winning puppet designer and builder in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop, creating characters for various productions, including the Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island films, eventually becoming creative director for the Sesame Street Muppets. Originally from Dallas, Texas, his love for art led him to New York City where he is currently an art director/designer for children’s and teen books. And his love for transformative stories (and superheroes) led him to write and illustrate Draw the Line, his first novel. Visit him at and on Twitter/Instagram at @LaurentLinn.



Adventure; romance; spunky, kick-ass heroines; hunky, take-charge heroes; a dash of humor… Elizabeth Allyn-Dean writes paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and fantasy stories that blend these elements to get to a happily ever after. From the first time she lost herself in a fantasy novel in her self-built treehouse, Elizabeth knew she wanted to be an author. After a detour into the world of archaeology, she returned to her true love--writing. Elizabeth still enjoys losing herself in a good book, as well as exploring her artistic side, gardening, beachcombing for interesting treasures, indulging her inner nerd, and playing with her two dogs and cats. For the last twenty years, she has called Alaska home, enjoying the adventures, gorgeous scenery, and fascinating people and places it offers. Learn more at


Richard Chiappone is the author of three story collections: Water of an Undetermined Depth (2005), Opening Days (2010), Liar’s Code (2016). His fourth collection, Uncommon Weather, will be published in September 2024 by the University Press of Colorado, and the University of Alaska Anchorage Press Literary Series Chiappone’s stories have appeared in national magazines including, Playboy, the Sun, Gray's Sporting Journal, and others; and in literaries including Alaska Quarterly Review, The Catamaran Literary Reader, The Missouri Review, South Dakota Review, Sou’wester, ZYZZYVA and more. His stories have been performed on BBC Radio and made into an award-winning short film. His debut novel, The Hunger of Crows, was published in 2021. Chiappone taught in the MFA program at University of Alaska Anchorage for fifteen years, was a senior associate editor at Alaska Quarterly Review, and a long-time organizer of the Kachemak Bay Writer's Conference. He lives with his wife in Homer, Alaska. 


Valerie Ihsan, Story Analyst and Transformation Coach for Creatives, writes memoirs, women’s fiction, and nonfiction for writers. She co-chaired the Eugene Chapter of Willamette Writers for over eight years, diagnoses manuscripts as a Certified Three Story Method Editor, and helps authors write great memoirs. She podcasts at the Writer Craft Podcast, loves dogs, and runs an annual writing retreat and workshop in Marcola, OR. Her published works include Focus and Finish: Goal-Setting and Strategic Planning for Writers; You Can’t Dance a Lie: A Memoir of Stepping into My Truth; The Scent of Apple Tea; How to Grieve: Even When You Don’t Want To; Smell the Blue Sky: Young, Pregnant, and Widowed. She's been teaching workshops for over a decade, with such titles as: Transform Your Manuscript from Boring to Badass, Finding the Core Message of Your Memoir, Accountability for Authors, Long-Term Marketing Techniques for Writers, and The Nitty-Gritties of Indie Publishing. She lives in Oregon with her husband and three dogs.

Juliana Miller

Juliana Miller is a self-taught artist living in North Pole, Alaska. Blobs originated one day in middle school Biology class while she was looking under a microscope. Tasked with drawing and labeling the parts, she drew the amoebic shape and decided to add eyeballs and a smiley face. That day in school, the blob was born. It was pretty cute, so she continued drawing them in other classes as well. Soon, she was drawing classmates and teachers as blobs. It all eventually led her to write and illustrate her Blobbify book series for children.

Juliana got a degree in Advertising from the University of Idaho, moved back to Alaska and began work as a graphic designer. She got married, freelanced illustrations and design commissions, had twins, and still felt the "draw" of the blobs. With the experiences  she'd gained through professional and personal life, she formed the business of blobs.


Born and raised in Anchorage, M.A. Nichols is a lifelong Alaskan, though she did take a hiatus for a few years in Utah to get a fancy university education. Currently, she writes sweet historical romance and fantasy, but as a lover of many genres, she'll eventually write in more. Since starting in 2016, she has published over 25 novels and sold over 300,000 books. During that time, she taught classes at the Storymakers Conference, American Night Writers Conference (ANWA), the APEX Writers Group, SMIAH Conference, and Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium (LTUE).


Neva Post grew up in a log house in Interior Alaska where she walked uphill both ways to school at temperatures of negative forty Fahrenheit with only the aurora borealis to light her way. At least, that’s how she remembers it. She’s equally happy on a snowy trail or coaxing vegetables to grow in her garden during the long Alaskan summer days. When she’s not waxing skis or chasing voles out of her cabbage, she’s at her computer. Neva’s novels include paranormal elements–she can’t help it–with smart and dependable characters who always get their HEA.


As a hybrid author, Lois Simenson has published eleven titles in the romance genre, both independently and traditionally with The Wild Rose Press. As a freelance, her writing has appeared in Erma Bombeck, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Magazine, The Anchorage Press, Alaska Star, The Hill Congress Blog, and the Santa Fe Writers Project. In 2016, her true story about wildland firefighting received an Alaska Press Club award. Her books have topped Amazon bestseller lists in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Three have received several awards for best indie-published romances, and Publishers Weekly has featured her novels in their Booklife section. 


Sherri Trask is a writer of historical novels with a romantic thread, and a member of AKRWA. She also serves on the conference planning committee.


Alaska author, Dan L. Walker, was raised on the Kenai Peninsula, and Dan has more than thirty years in Alaska education and was named Teacher of the Year for Alaska in 1999. Walker has guided and motivated writer from kindergarten to prison inmates. A son of homesteaders, Walker has published in Last Frontier Magazine, Alaska Magazine, Cirque Literary Journal, and the Journal of Geography. His debut novel, Secondhand Summer, was published in 2016 by Alaska Northwest Books. Walker’s memoir, Letters form Happy Valley uses family letters to tell the story of the Walkers’ journey to homestead in the last frontier. Walker lives and writes in Seward, Alaska. Back Home, the sequel to Secondhand Summer was released in April 2021. The final Chapter in his Sam Barger story is due out this fall.


Relishing opportunities to create worlds of adventure, romance, and horror, C.G. Williams' research has led to interesting places, experiences, and wonderful friends. C.G. Williams found it very beneficial to be raised in a large family that valued learning and intellectual pursuits. Finding music, film, books, culture and science, informing creative work to house ideas, emotions, and ideologies. Writing has been an expansive journey, helping C.G. Williams to understand the world within and without.





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