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Conference Faculty



Author and Writing Coach      

Larry Brooks is an award-winning USA Today Bestselling Author of six thrillers and four books on fiction craft, including the #1 bestseller 'Story Engineering" and his latest, "Great Stories Don't Write Themselves."  

He teaches regularly at national and international conferences, has published many articles in Writers Digest Magazine, and occasioinally coaches projects individually.

Learn more at



Agent and Founder, Red Fox Literary Agency

Before co-founding Red Fox Literary, LLC with Karen Grencik in 2011, ABIGAIL SAMOUN was an in-house children’s book editor for over ten years. The books she edited received such honors as the CCBC Charlotte Zolotow award, the Ezra Jack Keats award, and the Pura Belpre Honor. As an agent, Abigail represents authors and illustrators working in a range of genres, from board books to young adult novels, novelty to nonfiction. Her clients include Hannah Harrison, Matt Faulkner, Betsy Franco, Elizabeth Haidle, Carlyn Beccia, and Dan Krall.

In addition to agenting, Abigail is the author of several children’s books, including Sterling Publishing’s Little Traveler board book series illustrated by Red Fox’s own Sarah Watts and What’s In Your Purse? (Chronicle).


Agent and Founder, Bradford Literary Agency 

Laura Bradford established the Bradford Literary Agency in 2001. Her clients include both debut and award-winning and best-selling authors. She strives to showcase diverse voices in all genres and would love to bring more LGBTQ+ and BIPOC authors (and protagonists!) into the publishing world. She is actively building her client list and represents work in the following categories: romance (historical, romantic suspense, category, contemporary, erotic), speculative fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, mystery, thrillers, young adult, upper middle grade, illustration as well as some select non-fiction. She is especially interested in acquiring graphic novels and anything #ownvoices. Recent items on her wish list include: plus-sized heroines, manuscripts with disabled rep, a mystery/suspense series with a female protagonist that is an expert in a thinky field (like the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs), deep, juicy middle grade with a lot of emotional gravitas, a historical mystery series with a slow burn romance, multigenerational women's fiction with some cool time periods and settings, middle grade with non-traditional family dynamics, stories of Black joy (any age), funny, escapist YA, forced proximity survival stories (stranded on an island? plane crash in the mountains? snowed in? Any age. She loved Baby Island AND Six Days, Seven Nights.

She is a member of the Association of Association of American Literary Agents (AALA), the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and is an RWA-recognized agent. Learn more at or on Twitter at @bradfordlit



Editor, West Margin Press and Sasquatch Books

As a girl, Michelle McCann dreamed of making books. A proud bookworm, she studied children’s lit at Brown University and got an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College. For the past 30 years she’s been doing what she loves—acquiring, editing and art directing children’s books. Publishers she’s worked with include Simon & Schuster, Sasquatch Books, West Margin Press/Alaska Northwest Books, Blue Dot Kids Press, Trackers Earth Books and Dark Horse Comics. 

McCann has also written many children’s books of her own, including Reading Together: Share in the Wonder of Books with a Parent-Child Book Club (Chronicle, 2022), Enough is Enough: How Students Can Join the Fight for Gun Safety (Simon & Schuster, 2019), Girls Who Rocked the World, Boys Who Rocked the World, More Girls Who Rocked the World (Simon & Schuster, 2012, 2017), Finding Fairies (Beyond Words Publishing, 2001), and a 2023 book about women’s soccer with Sasquatch Books. Her books have won awards like the Oregon Book Award, Jewish Book Council’s Best Illustrated Book, IRA Notable Book, and Simon Wiesenthal’s Once Upon A World Award. For thirteen years, McCann taught Children’s Book Publishing at Portland State University. 

Although she has worked for several Alaskan book publishers, with many of Alaska’s best children’s book authors and illustrators on dozens of books, this is her first trip to the state!


Editor, Before You Hit Send

Freelance editor and publishing strategy consultant Angela James is a veteran of and long-time advocate for digital publishing. She has enjoyed seventeen years of experience in her field, including successfully launching, building and serving as editorial director for first Samhain Publishing and then Harlequin’s Carina Press for a combined 15 years of editorial lead and strategy experience. 

She has edited bestselling books and authors, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Paper Princess by Erin Watt, as well as hundreds of other authors such as Shelly Laurenson/G.A. Aiken, Shannon Stacey, A.M. Arthur, Jaci Burton, Lauren Dane, Alexa Riley, Lisa Marie Rice, Ilona Andrews, Eve Vaughn, Lilith Saintcrow, Josh Lanyon, Jen Frederick, K.A. Mitchell, Lucy Monroe and more. She was profiled in Fast Company magazine as a digital pioneer in the romance publishing industry, has been named New York Romance Writers of America’s Golden Apple Editor of the Year, and is the creator of Before You Hit Send, the popular online self-editing and writing workshop for authors. 

For more information about Angela’s freelance editorial and consulting services, or Before You Hit Send, visit You can also find Angela on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 


Editor and Author, Relevant Publishers

Sharon Aubrey is the Managing Director of Relevant Publishers LLC, an award-winning publishing house in Sutton, Alaska. Aiming to change the world, one mind at a time, Relevant Publishers LLC accepts books in a variety of genres and houses eleven authors. In addition to managing the company, Sharon has personally written and released several books in nonfiction and children’s fiction genres. Her most recent title, Jared the Giant, The Secret was inspired by her love of children’s education. In 2018 and 2019, she served at the Young Writer’s Conference in Palmer, Alaska. A member of the Alaska Writer’s Guild since 2017, she is an ardent promotor of the Alaskan book niche, Alaskan authors, and mentoring others. Sharon was awarded the Lin Halterman Memorial Grant Award in 2020 and the Alaska Adaptation and Innovation Grant in 2021. 


Editor and Publisher, Cirque Press  

Sandra Kleven is publisher and editor at Cirque Press in partnership with Michael Burwell of New Mexico.  For eleven years, they have produced the widely acclaimed journal, Cirque, then, in 2018, they established Cirque Press (CP).  To date CP has published books by 25 literary authors and poets of the region.  Kleven has been published in various journals including, Alaska Quarterly Review, Stoneboat, F- Zine, Oklahoma Review, Praxilla, and Topic. She's been awarded prizes from F-Zines, F'Aire Words contest and the UAA, Alaska Daily News competition.  Her books include Defiance Street: Poems and Other Writing and two titles for children aimed at the prevention of sexual abuse. Since 2013, she has facilitated the long-running monthly event, Poetry Parley.  In 2015, her name was placed on the Wall of Honor for Northshore Schools, near Seattle. Her home is in Anchorage, Alaska where she works as clinical director for a tribal organization.  


Editor and Author, Red Sweater Press  

Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum is a writer, teacher, and publisher from Wasilla, Alaska. She wrote more than 600 stories as a reporter for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, and has taught or substitute taught multiple subjects in 19 different schools throughout the Mat-Su Borough School District. She has published eight books of poetry, photography, and fiction through her company, Red Sweater Press, and currently serves as the Mat-Su Vice President of Alaska Writers Guild. Learn more at and


Editor and Author, Porphyry Press 

Jeremy Pataky is the author of Overwinter, a poetry collection published by University of Alaska Press in the Alaska Literary Series. His poetry and essays have appeared in journals including Colorado ReviewBlack Warrior ReviewThe Southeast ReviewCirqueCamasIce FloeLeft-Facing BirdAnchorage Press, Chatter Marks, and many other journals and anthologies. Jeremy earned an MFA at the University of Montana and a BA at Western Washington University. His new book publishing company is Porphyry Press, and he is co-publisher and co-editor of Edible Alaska magazine. He is a former executive director (and a founding former board member) of 49 Writers, a literary nonprofit in the 49th state. He splits his time between McCarthy and Anchorage, Alaska.  



Anastasia Ward has been working as a freelance illustrator, graphic designer, and small scale animator for the past ten years. Her illustrative work is defined by an eclectic assortment of both whimsical and epic imagery which emphasizes story driven character interactions and emotional states.

While starting out her art career with aspirations of becoming a concept artist in the video game industry, a freelance job introduced her to the amazing world of visual storytelling through children’s books and she has been hooked ever since. In recent years, as more and more authors saw self publishing as a viable option, she stepped up to meet their needs and has become a reliable guide to aide them with every step of their self publishing journey.


Jena Benton Lasley is an elementary school teacher, writer, illustrator, and creator of the Simply 7 interview series, where you can find many interviews with a variety of picture book authors and illustrators on her blog.  She has a BA in Journalism and English, and is a member of SCBWI and 12X12. Visit her at her website at



Shane Castle is an assistant professor of writing at the University of Alaska Anchorage and a senior affiliate editor of Alaska Quarterly Review. His short fiction has appeared in journals including Black Warrior Review, Indiana Review, West Branch, Salamander, Columbia Journal, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency


Kristen Ritter is a playwright and storyteller living and working in Anchorage, Alaska. She has a BA from Vassar College and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Awards and honors include the Alaska State Council on the Arts Literary Award, a Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive residency, a Brazilian literature research grant, the Vermont Ham Humor Award, first place in the ADN/UAA Fiction Contest, and a finalist place for the Hunger Mountain Chapbook Series. 

Her plays have been presented at the Valdez Theater Conference for the past four years and she is a member of the Alaska Writers Workshop Residency with Theater Alaska. She's served on writing panels and presented at writing conferences on topics ranging from joke structure to feminist representations in literature. When she's not writing, she enjoys backpacking, rock climbing, and performing improv comedy.


Lorna is a Pacific Northwest writer and speaker. Her narrative nonfiction and poetry have been recognized by PNWA and the Oregon Poetry Association, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Jellyfish Review, About Place Journal, Motherwell, Third Wednesday, Scary Mommy, and elsewhere. A finalist for the Fishtrap Fellowship in 2020, Lorna is also a certified ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) speaker, and has spoken publicly on finding resilience through writing, motherhood and writing, and her experience in AmeriCorps. She is at work on a memoir-in-essays that began from journaling. More at


Christiane Allison is a multi-award-winning author, public speaker, justice reform activist, and President of the Alaska Writers Guild. The memorable characters of her cyberpunk series, The Infinitus Saga, include a disabled family inspired by her life-long battle with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Sometimes she walks with a cane, sometimes she rides in a wheelchair, and sometimes she needs neither. Her disability is as unpredictable as her life. Her husband was wrongfully convicted in 2015, launching her family into a more than decade-long struggle against injustice. This inspired her award-winning series of picture books for children impacted by the wrongful conviction and incarceration of a loved one. As an activist, Christiane battles for criminal justice and prison reform, and aspires to give prisoner families a voice.


Ethan Jacko Atwater is the son of Stephen G and Barbara J Atwater.  As a lover of stories, Ethan enjoyed listening to his great, great uncle Walter’s fables and learning about the Dena’ina people and culture in this way. Ethan lives in Anchorage but tries to get to Pedro Bay as often as possible.


Barbara Jacko Atwater is the daughter of George and Dolly(Foss) Jacko of Pedro Bay, Alaska.  Her great uncle, respected Dena’ina Elder Walter Johnson, told her many Dena’ina fables that she and her son felt needed to be shared with the greater public.  A retired teacher, she and her husband Stephen divide their time between Pedro Bay and Anchorage, Alaska.  


Alaska author, Dan L. Walker, was raised on the Kenai Peninsula and graduated from East Anchorage high School, where he was sports editor for the school newspaper and wrote sport stories for the Anchorage Times. 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 writers 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 and recounts the adventures of a boy who moves to Anchorage from the bush after his father dies. Walker’s memoir, Letters From Happy Valley uses family letters to tell the story of the Walkers’ journey to homestead in the last frontier. Back Home, the sequel to Secondhand Summer was inspired by the his brothers experiences after serving in the Vietnam War and was released in April 2021. Walker lives and writes in Seward, Alaska.  


Tricia Brown began her writing and editing career in newspapers, then moved into magazines, and then stepped into book publishing (each move lengthened her deadlines!)

She is the author of eleven books for children and many more for adult audiences. Learn more at


Matthew Lasley grew up in the interior of Alaska, living the quintessential Alaskan life of subsistence, dog mushing, outhouses and mining. He currently lives in Anchorage, Alaska with his wife, Jena, where they both teach elementary school. 

In 2019, Matthew debuted as an author with the picture book, Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story, illustrated by Jacob Souva and published by Alaska Northwest Books, an imprint of West Margin Press. Pedro’s Pan tells the story of Pedro, a prospector, through the eyes of his gold pan, teaching the reader about searching for gold while exploring such emotional issues as identity and perseverance while back matter provides educational facts about the real Felix Pedro, panning and gold.

Matthew enjoys sharing his story and experiences whenever he can. He has enjoyed talking to children across the country through World Read Aloud Day and Read Across America Week. If you would like to have him visit your class in person or virtually, please contact him at


Karen Kiely is a lifelong Alaskan who has never lived in an igloo and doesn’t know anyone who has. She generally writes contemporary romances set in Alaska, but has recently tried her hand at paranormal romance. 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.


Twitter:  @kkielyauthor



Lynn Lovegreen has lived in Alaska for over 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 romance is set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.



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