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Conference Faculty



Rachel Orr is celebrating her twelfth year with Prospect Agency, where she represents both authors and illustrators in projects ranging from picture books through YA. She previously worked for eight rewarding years at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and uses those editorial skills to help prepare her clients’ work for submission. Her clients include Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (Chicks Rule / Abrams), Cori Doerrfeld (The Rabbit Listened / Dial), Jenn Harney (Underwear! / Disney-Hyperion), Samantha M. Clark (The Boy, the Boat and the Beast / Simon & Schuster), and Todd Tarpley (Three Grumpy Trucks / Little, Brown). Rachel lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, with her husband and two young children. She has no spare time—but, if she did, she would spend it dancing, running and reading, of course. You can follow her on Twitter @rachelprospect.


Katie Grimm started as the assistant for Don Congdon Associates in 2007. In Adult, she focuses on Literary and Upmarket Fiction – be it voicey, historical, mysterious or speculative – that has something to say about interpersonal relationships. She's also looking for Narrative Non-Fiction that blends the personal and investigative for a deeper emotional understanding of a topic. In Children’s, she loves the idea of finding new heartfelt and magical Middle Grade classics as well as either urgently contemporary or speculative Young Adult novels with the immediacy of feeling that comes with being a teenager. Across all genres, she’s looking for books with a heartbeat, and she’ll always be interested in the darker and weirder side of human history as well as previously under- or misrepresented voices and experiences.


A former college professor, Eddie Gamarra is a literary manager/producer at The Gotham Group, a multi-faceted management and production company representing some of the most creative and successful screenwriters, directors, animators, authors, illustrators, publishers, and animation studios around the world.  With a primary focus on children’s & family entertainment, Dr. Gamarra's extensive client roster includes numerous New York Times best-selling authors and illustrators as well as Oscar, Emmy, Caldecott, and Newbery award winners.  Throughout his career, Dr. Gamarra has guided his clients in the creative development and sale of projects for a variety of platforms ranging from online shorts to live action feature films.  In addition to his work at The Gotham Group, Dr. Gamarra has served as a consultant for Teen Magazine, National Geographic's TV series Hollywood Science, and MANswers on Spike TV.  He is also the Executive Producer of THE MAZE RUNNER from 20th Century Fox based on the NY Times best-selling book series by James Dashner.



Kat Brzozowski is a senior editor at Swoon Reads and Feiwel & Friends, divisions of the Macmillan Children's Publishing Group (MCPG). She edits books acquired through the Swoon Reads site as well as acquires books traditionally (through agents and conferences) for Feiwel & Friends. She joined MCPG after seven years at Thomas Dunne Books, a division of St. Martin's Press, where she acquired and edited fiction and non-fiction for teens and adults. She edits a wide range of young adult projects, from contemporary romance to thrillers and beyond. 

Kat is passionate about young adult fiction with complicated characters (especially female characters), and is drawn above all to a strong voice, realistic dialogue, and a great hook. She's also looking for non-fiction for teens and young adults that expose readers to new worlds and new points of view. 



Lucas Elliott is an Illustrator based in the frozen tundras of Alaska. His work can be found with such companies as IDW, Upper Deck, and Blind Ferret Entertainment. His largest work to date was illustrating the Alaskan epic MOOSE the graphic novel.  You can find his current project, BATTLE STAR, online at and his portfolio at  Twitter: @LucaseElliottArt  Instagram: @LucasElliottArt.


Kimberly Killion is the CEO/Art Director of The Killion Group. They represent 2,000+ clients, publishing houses and agencies in the publishing world. She has nearly 25 years of experience in design and communications. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Certificate in Web Design, and she is an ACE (An Adobe Certified Expert). In addition to the paperwork, she also taught Graphic/Web Design for over a decade. Kimberly is also a RITA® nominated, award-winning author who is traditionally published as well as indie-published.



Laurie Halse Anderson is a New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous international, national, and state awards. She has been nominated three times for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists, and Chains was also short-listed for the Carnegie medal.


Don Rearden is a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, producer, screenwriter, and the author of The Washington Post Notable novel, The Raven’s Gift, and co-author of the hit memoirs Never Quit and Warrior’s Creed. He lives with his wife and two children in Bear Valley, Alaska.


Douglass Bourne has written several award-winning screenplays and serves as the Screenwriting Contest Coordinator at the Anchorage International Film Festival. He has served on panels and provided screenwriting workshops in the Anchorage community. He is also a published poet and prose writer and has served as editor or judge for national and regional publications or contests. He earned an MFA in creative writing from University of North Carolina Wilmington. 



Once upon a time, Tamsin Ley wanted to become a biomedical engineer, but discovered the stories in her head were way more fun than the tedium of a lab. So, after graduating magna cum laude from Willamette University, she moved back to her home state of Alaska, where she now lives with her husband and an adorable house-rabbit named Abigail. Tamsin has an obsessive green thumb, loves homemade cider, and is a secret zombie prepper. She has published over sixteen science fiction and romance titles and is currently serving her second term as the President of the Alaska Chapter of Romance Writers of America. Learn more about her at



Boone Brux is a USA Today Bestselling author in paranormal romance and urban fantasy. 

She lives in the icy region of Alaska, where she writes full time with her husband, two daughters, and a myriad of animals.  Always looking for the next adventure, it’s not unusual to find her traversing the remotest parts of the Alaskan bush. No person or escapade is off limits when it comes to weaving real life experiences into her books.



Damon Suede has earned his crust as a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director… but writing has ever been his bread and butter. Beyond romance fiction, Damon has been a full-time writer for print, stage, and screen for almost three decades. He has won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year.


For more than 20 years, Geoff Symon has been using his expertise and experience as a federal law enforcement special agent to put away the bad guys. He has specified and certified training in the collection and preservation of evidence, blood spatter analysis, autopsies, and laboratory techniques. He lectures and consults with writers to bring meaningful detail to the depiction of crime and investigation, and his Forensics for Fiction series has become the go-to resource for genre authors. You can reach him at


Kat Shepherd is the author of both the Babysitting Nightmaresand Gemini Mysteriesmiddle grade series. She is a former classroom teacher and a lifelong advocate of bringing joyful literacy to every child. Kat has also spent various points in her life working as a deli waitress, a Hollywood script reader, and a dog trainer for film and TV. Find her at


Erick Mertz is a professional writer, editor and manuscript consultant based in Portland, Oregon. He has over fifteen years experience as a fiction, non-fiction, memoir and business book ghostwriter. He has produced best-selling manuscripts for high profile clients throughout the US and the world.

As a fiction author, Erick produces The Strange Air Series of supernatural mysteries. The debut book in that series, The Lies & Truth of Doctor Desmond Brice came out in January of 2019. His short fiction and poetry has been widely published in literary journals.


Dante Medema is a mother to four girls, an amateur cake decorator, and a Young Adult author. Her debut novel The Truth Project comes out Fall 2020 from HarperTeen. She is a member of SCBWI and 49 Writers, and serves on the board for The Alaska Writers Guild.

You can visit her website for more information at or follow her Alaskan writer adventures on Instagram at @dantemedemabooks.



Brooke Hartman is an Alaskan mom and author of silly, serious, and sometimes strange stories for children and young adults. Her writing has garnered national awards, including honors from Writer’s Digest, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her debut picture book Dream Flights on Arctic Nights (2019, West Margin Press) received a starred review from Kirkus. Future works include Lotte and Her Paper Puppet Pictures (2020, Page Street Kids) and Klyde the Kraken Wants a Hug (2020, The Innovation Press). Follow her Alaska writing adventures on Facebook at @BrookesBooksAK.



Lizbeth Meredith is an Anchorage-based writer and speaker whose work has appeared in Sunlight Press, Jane Friedman's blog, and A Girl's Guide to Travelling Alone by Gemma Thompson. Her memoir, Pieces of Me: Rescuing My Kidnapped Daughters, has sold over 20,000 copies, with the bulk of sales occurring two years post-publication. 


Lynn Lovegreen has lived in Alaska for fifty years. After twenty years in the classroom, she retired to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult historical fiction novels are set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at, or find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Photo credit: C. Bydalek


Cheryl is an International Beauty Queen, a former singer/songwriter, and one of Murfreesboro, Tennessee’s 15 Most Beautiful People (2009). She was raised in a suburb just outside Washington, D.C. She is the youngest of seventeen children and credits her artistic background to her sister Linda, who taught her to read at the age of three! She completed her first novel, a contemporary multi-cultural, in 2016. Cheryl now resides in majestic Alaska with her sexy husband. He is her knight in shining armor and the inspiration behind her novels! Their four children are in college.


Mercy Zephyr (she/her) was born and raised in the Mat-Su Valley, where she and her husband of ten years live today. Together, they enjoy bicycling, spending time with her supportive parents, and spoiling their grandchild and each other. She is an asexual transgender woman of Athabaskan descent who transitioned alongside her husband. She writes sweet, optimistic #ownvoices romance with a spoonful of humor and a dash of grit, centering transgender and sometimes asexual characters.


I used to do other stuff. Now I write sexy books. When I'm not writing, I sing in the shower--terribly, inadvertently kill all the flowers I plant and shop for high end shoes at bargain prices on the internet. I love dogs, although both of mine have long since gone to doggy heaven. I read lots of books in a variety of genres. I make fun of the news and reality TV. I think chocolate should be on the food pyramid as its own category. Dirty martinis are my preferred drink. I think good friends and good conversation over a good meal is the ideal way to spend any free time. I’m not human until and unless I have had my first cup of coffee. And last but not least, I always try to buy flowers for my hotel rooms because it just makes it feel more like home.


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.


Karen Kiely is a lifelong Alaskan who has never lived in an igloo and doesn’t know anyone who has. Her contemporary romances set in Alaska feature a touch of humor and a lot of heart. Once upon a time, Karen’s alter-ego was paid for the privilege of selecting all fiction for her public library. In her spare moments, she reads, travels, and hopes the Chicago White Sox will win another World Series in her lifetime.


Kellie Doherty is a queer science fiction and fantasy author living in Eagle River, Alaska. Her work has been published by Desert Palm Press, Queer Sci Fi, and Pathos Literary Magazine, among others. Her most recent work is an adult fantasy called Sunkissed Feathers & Severed Ties, published on March 27, 2019. It's part of a five-book fantasy series titled the Broken Chronicles, and she's working on the second book now. She currently works full time as an office assistant and part time as a freelance editor. In her (mostly non-existent) spare time, she likes to read, play games, and watch way too much YouTube.  


Lindsay Pierce, MA is the author of the book Trans Liberty Riot Brigade, published by Nine Star Press. She is also an anti-oppression trainer and believes in the radical transformative power of the human relationship, building upon a decade of experience in spheres of social service, mental health, and academia. Her passion for social justice manifests in her work as an author and poet, and she is a traveling speaker on LGBTQ+ representation in literature and current media. She is a queer activist, effusive optimist, and passionate humanist committed to anti-oppression work in all its forms. She has a Masters in Counseling Psychology from Saint Martin’s University.


Kristen Ritter is a playwright and fiction writer based in Anchorage, Alaska. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA from Vassar College in New York. She did her thesis work on comedy, feminism, and emergent tropes in young adult novels for which she won the VCFA Critical Thesis Award. Her plays have been produced locally by TBA’s Alaska Overnighters and the One Minute Play Festival. Three of her plays have received staged readings at the annual Last Frontier Theater Conference in Valdez, Alaska. When she’s not writing, she enjoys rock climbing, Dungeons & Dragons, and casually bringing up gender politics. You can contact her through her website at


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