Presenter Bios

Liz Adair

Born in southern New Mexico, and mother of seven, Liz began writing as middle age approached. Since then she’s published nine novels and two novellas. She’s won the Whitney Award and has been finalist for another Whitney as well as the Willa Award, Arizona Publishing Association’s Glyph Award, the RONE Award, and the Utah Book Award. In 2017 she was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Whitney Award for her work in mentoring writers. Liz turned indie with her 7th novel, and she’s never looked back.

After living in Washington State for forty years, Liz and her husband, Derrill, moved to southern Utah. Her last four novels have been set in red rock country.

Liz sends out a newsletter that began as weekly and dwindled to occasionally. If you’d like to be on the mailing list, email her at writer.lizadair@gmail.com.

Holli Anderson

Holli Anderson has a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing—which has nothing to do with writing, except maybe by adding some pretty descriptive injury and vomit scenes to her books. She discovered her joy of writing during a very trying period in her life when escaping into make-believe saved her. She enjoys reading any book she gets her hands on.

Besides being an author, Holli is the Chief Editor of Immortal Works Press—a publishing company that strives to bring to readers books that are appropriate for teens and intriguing to adults, publishing books of all fiction genres, middle grade through adult.

Along with her husband, Steve, and their four sons, she lives in Grantsville, Utah—the same small town in which she grew up.

Anika Arrington

Anika Arrington is a devoted wife, mother of six, a Scorpio, a baseball fan (Go D-backs!), and an unabashed pluviophile. Unfortunately, she lives in the deserts of Arizona, so she passes the time with her kids, going to the movies, reading, watching for clouds, and of course, writing. Her first novel, The Accidental Apprentice, was a Whitney Award Finalist. You can read her movie reviews, thoughts on writing, and other short-form pieces at her website, www.anikaarrington.com

Mandy Ballard

Mandy is a prolific and multi-award winning author as well as a highly sought-after editor with Salt and Sage Books. Within both her own work and in her role of supporting other writers, she has found a passion not only for storytelling and sentence structure but for the life-changing practice of detaching from the outcome and embracing the power of choice. When she’s not working on her own stories or those of others’, she can be found reading or doing yoga in the cracks between all that drives life on a tiny wanna-be homestead in Southern Utah.

Sabine Berlin

Sabine Berlin is an avid reader of everything from Asimov to Zusak. She has a degree in history, writes YA fiction, and was selected to attend Orson Scott Card’s Literary Bootcamp, where she studied writing and critiquing. She edits full-time for a local university and has worked with Eschler Editing since 2012. She invites you to visit her blog.

Shelly Brown

A native to the ocean and transplanted to the mountains, Shelly Brown has always loved children and books so it made sense when she started writing books for children. In her spare time she helps her husband, author Chad Morris, write MORE children’s books. In her extra-extra spare time she loves the theater and traveling. She is also one of the worst tap dancers you will ever meet. But she does it anyway. She has no regrets, one husband, three chickens, five children, and sixty-four Pez dispensers.

Raven Chiong

Raven has been writing for as long as she can remember, beginning with love notes – a pen pal to her absent mother.

Raven is a lifelong student, life coach, and educator. She served as a United States Ambassador at the International Olympic Academy in Olympia, Greece and took ten 10-year-olds to Australia for ten days!

Publications include “Nourishing the Wild Woman-El Rio Abajo Rio” (John F. Kennedy University -Holistic Counseling Psychology), “Billy Mills” (University of Florida Archives), “Making a Difference” (Florida Running Magazine), and Kanab City Library’s 100th Birthday Celebration Booklet. Additionally, Raven’s poetry and photography can be found in Kanab’s own Kanab Arts Magazine.

Raven’s chosen homeland is beautiful Kanab, Utah where she is Founding President of the “Willow Wind Poets” – a new chapter of the Utah State Poetry Society. (http://www.utahpoets.com/chapters/willow_wind.html) Her poems “Lowering the Bar” (Kathryn Kay category) and “Ode to Februaro” (Whitaker Award category) were awarded 3rd place and First Honorable Mention, respectively, at the 2018 Utah State Poetry Society contest. Raven continues to follow her calling at Best Friends Animal Society alongside her rescue dogs Dulce, Buddy Chiong, Esq, Sage, and Bean.

Loralee Evans

Some of Loralee Evans’ earliest memories are of her parents reading stories to her when she was little. These memories, as well as great teachers who got her excited about reading, helped her develop a love of books and of writing. She has written eleven books which include The Birthright, The Shores of Bountiful, and Felicity~ A Sparrow’s Tale.

Jared Garrett

Jared Garrett is a family man, full-time dad and professional, and the author of the scifi thriller Beat series, the Guide and the Sword series, and several other books. He grew up as an unwilling cultist and has worked as a world-traveling corporate trainer, technology consultant, high school teacher, firefighter and first responder, BBQ chef, cowboy theater actor, and a bellman. After designing training solutions for Amazon and American Express, he spent a couple years making online classes for BYU’s Independent Study. Jared works full-time from home now as a dad, homemaker, writer, and management trainer. He’s published seven books since 2014 and has lots more to come.

Dennis Gaunt

Dennis Gaunt has been a writer ever since that fateful day he pulled a magic pen from a stone. At least, that’s what he tells people. The truth is that he has been working with Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain Publishers as a slushpile reader since 2000, and in that time, he’s seen it all and then some, and is eager to share what he’s learned. He has published books and talks for LDS young adults with both Deseret Book and Covenant Communications, and is also a long time youth speaker and teacher. He enjoys playing the guitar, going to Disneyland, and Godzilla movies. He also hates onions.

Ashley Gebert

Ashley is an editor at Covenant Communications and has worked in various positions within the editorial department there since 2015. She graduated from BYU with a major in English and a minor in editing. While at BYU, she served on the staff of four student magazines. She loves all things story and is the founder and president of a local writing critique group. She is often crafting her own stories, dabbling in everything from fantasy to suspense to historical romance. When she’s not working on books, she likes to play video games with her husband and learn new things with her daughter.

Kristy S. Gilbert

Kristy S. Gilbert of Looseleaf Editorial & Production has edited genre fiction (especially science fiction and fantasy) and assorted nonfiction for almost a decade and is an intermittent instructor of editing and print publication design at Brigham Young University. She also has a master’s degree emphasizing folklore and enjoys cooking, kayaking, and krav maga.

Cristen Iris

Cristen Iris is an award-winning ghostwriter and developmental editor. Her clients have earned more than 55 book and writing awards; bestseller rankings, including New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon Charts; and nationally recognized media placements, including one being listed by PARADE Magazine as one of the “24 Best Memoirs to Read in 2020.” As a results-oriented publishing professional, Cristen specializes in working with ambitious authors. Her clients include New York Times bestselling debut novelist Etaf Rum whose book is available in 7 languages, 2x GRAMMY Award winner Billy Kilson, Nightlife entrepreneur Steve Adelman, academics, physicians, and attorneys. She loves helping first-time authors find their voice, craft commercially viable books, and find the literary agents or publishing partners that are right for them.Cristen Iris is an award-winning ghostwriter and developmental editor. Her clients have earned more than 55 book and writing awards; bestseller rankings, including New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon Charts; and nationally recognized media placements, including one being listed by PARADE Magazine as one of the “24 Best Memoirs to Read in 2020.” As a results-oriented publishing professional, Cristen specializes in working with ambitious authors. Her clients include New York Times bestselling debut novelist Etaf Rum whose book is available in 7 languages, 2x GRAMMY Award winner Billy Kilson, Nightlife entrepreneur Steve Adelman, academics, physicians, and attorneys. She loves helping first-time authors find their voice, craft commercially viable books, and find the literary agents or publishing partners that are right for them.

Janet Johnson

Janet Sumner Johnson lives in northern Utah with her husband, three kids, and a dog. She is the author of both middle grade novels and picture books, including The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society (Capstone, 2016), Help Wanted: Must Love Books (Capstone, 2020), and the upcoming Braver than Brave (Capstone, August 2022). When she isn’t writing, she loves eating cookies, playing the piano, and singing along with the radio at the top of her lungs. You can learn more about her and her books at janetsumnerjohnson.com.

Angie Lofthouse

Angie Lofthouse went to college with every intention of becoming a particle physicist, but through a series of misadventures, found herself studying Shakespeare instead. After college she combined her love of science and her love of words into a science fiction writing career. She has published numerous short stories in online and print magazines and anthologies, as well as three sci-fi adventure novels.

Betsy Love

Betsy Love graduated from Ottawa University as a Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English. She’s published 17 titles, including her SweetHart’s Cafe Romance series and Mail Order StarBride series. Lizzie Anne Love is her young adult pen name. When not writing, she loves crocheting, creating water colors of her characters, and when the weather is nice in her mountain home, she loves hiking.

Karlie Lucas

A graduate of Southern Utah University, Karlie received a B.A. in Creative Writing, with a minor in art. She is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, The International English Honor Society; ANWA, and SCBWI. Karlie is interested in all things magical and mysterious, especially elves and dragons. She is an avid fan of J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling.When not writing, Karlie can often be found drawing, baking, watching her favorite old school shows, or just spending time with her family. She currently resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband and a cat named Kally.

Annette Lyon

Annette Lyon is a USA Today bestseller, Whitney Award-winner, and nine-time recipient of Utah’s Best of State Medal for novels and short fiction. She’s one of the three co-founders of and the original editor for The Timeless Romance Anthology series and its spinoff series, and one of the authors of The Newport Ladies Book Club series. Though she’s well-known for her editing and word-nerdery skills and appreciated for her cookbook, Chocolate Never Faileth, her heart has always belonged to writing fiction. She has four adult children, one grandchild, and a flame-tipped Siamese cat with an attitude. She’s represented by Jill Marsal of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. Her first suspense novel, Just One More, releases spring 2023 with Scarlet Books through Penzler Publishing.

Gama Ray Martinez

Gama Ray Martinez lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and kids. He moved there solely because he likes mountains. He collects weapons in case he ever needs to supply a medieval battalion, and he greatly resents when work or other real-life things get in the way of writing.  He secretly hopes to one day slay a dragon in single combat and doesn’t believe in letting pesky little things like reality stand in the way of dreams.

Melissa Dalton Martinez

Melissa Dalton Martinez has worked in the entertainment industry since 1998, including television, film, music, online shows, and books. Melissa has a BA in Communications and Business Management and an MA in Publishing. Melissa currently works as the marketing director for Eschler Editing and E&E Books. She also hosts the widely successful online show The Book Break where she interviews authors and others in publishing. As part of her company The Book Break, Melissa serves as a book reviewer for multiple publications, and does monthly book recommendation segments on Utah’s ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX television stations. In addition, Melissa teaches at publishing conferences nationwide; provides publisher and author services in marketing, branding, and media consulting; is a bestselling author; and is a co-owner of Tolwis Publishing. 

Rod Miller

Rod Miller is an award-winning author of novels, short stories, poetry, history, magazine articles, and a screenplay with more than twenty books—including novels, nonfiction, and collections of poetry—and inclusion in numerous anthologies, as well as a feature film, to his credit. Recognition for his work includes Western Writers of America Spur Awards (four, along with six other finalists), Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Awards (two, along with four other finalists), Westerners International Poetry Awards (two), Academy of Western Artists Poetry Book of the Year, and 2012 Writer of the Year for the League of Utah Writers.

Rod can be found online at writerRodMiller.com, writerRodMiller.blogspot.com, and RawhideRobinson.com.

Erin and Michael Mindes

Michael Mindes became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in 2008 after graduating with a degree in Philosophy in 2005. In 2009, he started a business to publish hobby board games. A full-time career, 2 young children, and a new business forced Michael to be more efficient with his time and more productive. Since then he has obsessed about productivity, eliminating waste, has read dozens of books, and tested numerous improvements. He has since returned to financial planning and continues to find ways to make processes at work and at home run more efficiently.

Erin Mindes writes fiction for children and teens putting her English degree to work. She is the author of THE LIFTING BALLOONS, an Award-Winning Finalist in the 2020 International Book Awards. Her newest picture book, BABE THE BALLERINA DOG, released in the Fall of 2021 with Lawley Publishing. In her spare time, she enjoys baking bread for her neighbors and hiking.

Michael and Erin Mindes have been married for almost 18 years. They have 4 children, 2 dogs, a turtle, several fish, and a bunny. While they both grew up in the Arizona desert, Northern Utah is now their home.

Stefanie Molina

Stefanie Molina is an agent at Ladderbird Literary Agency. She is primarily looking for BIPOC stories across all age groups, especially contemporary and urban fantasy, romcom, mysteries, and thrillers. She loves stories that incorporate food, animals/the outdoors, and intergenerational relationships. Outside of agenting, she enjoys hiking, swimming, baking, and playing the piano. Her favorite place in the world is Yosemite National Park! You can find her on Twitter @fiction_tech.

Chad Morris

Chad Morris coauthored Mustaches for Maddie with his wife, Shelly Brown. It is based on the story of their daughter who faced a brain tumor with humor and optimism. He is also the author of the Cragbridge Hall series (The Inventor’s Secret, The Avatar Battle, and The Impossible Race). Books in this series won the Utah Book award and the Silver Foreword INDIES award for Juvenile fiction. Chad also wrote one of the short stories in True Heroes: A Treasury of Modern-day Fairy Tales Written by Best-selling Authors. His story was based on JP Gibson, an amazing boy who faced cancer with courage, heart, and a basketball dream. Chad grew up wanting to become a professional basketball player or a rock star. (Inspired by Animal from The Muppets, he has been banging on drums since he was eight years old.) Neither of those plans quite panned out. After high school, he left the Rocky Mountains to live in Brazil for a few years then returned home to write and perform sketch comedy while going to college. He graduated from BYU with a couple of degrees and became a teacher and a curriculum writer.

Erin Olds

Erin Olds loves to travel, read, and drink boba tea! She currently lives in Seattle, where she homeschools her two young children. Erin is the CEO of Salt & Sage Books, an editing company dedicated to kindness & diversity. With a degree in English and French, Erin has worked with authors of all ages her whole adult life. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in various journals and magazines. She is a hybrid published author, with several indie books out under a pen name and her first traditionally published book (still a secret!) in progress.

Mary Olsson

Mary Olsson chose English over Accounting in college, following her heart rather than all the voices urging practicality and future security. And she’s so glad she did! With a Bachelors and Masters of Arts in English and Literature, she’s taught English composition and literature at BYU and the University of Nevada Las Vegas, participated in the construction of the Paris Hotel and Casino, and is currently an antiquarian bookseller, meaning she deals with lots of interesting first edition books and the accompanying book collectors. Besides books and writing, she enjoys cooking, hiking, and is currently relearning Italian.

James A. Owen

James A. Owen is founder and executive director of the art and design studio Coppervale International. James has written and illustrated two dozen StarChild comics, the award-winning MythWorld series of novels, the bestselling series The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, the inspirational nonfiction trilogy The Meditations, and more. More than a million copies of his publications are in print, and are sold all over the world. James is also in discussions to develop several of his projects for both film and television, and previously wrote a screenplay for Warner Brothers (under the guidance of David Heyman and David S. Goyer) adapting his own novel Here, There Be Dragons, for the screen. His newest release is the eighth Imaginarium Geographica book, THE DRAGON KNIGHT. Currently, he is working the pending release of his thirty-five year art retrospective, ILLUSTRATIONS & ILLUMINATIONS, his Patreon periodical, Words & Pictures, the next Meditations book, EVERYTHING IS SIGNAL, the ninth Imaginarium Geographica book, A DRIVE OF DRAGONS, and his illustrated magnum opus, FOOL’S HOLLOW. All of these projects are being developed at the Coppervale Studio, a 14,000 square foot, century-old restored church in Northeastern Arizona.

Robbin Jensen Peterson

Robbin Jensen Peterson grew up reading Nancy Drew and pretending there were cases to be solved next to her home in Illinois. She graduated with a degree in English Literature from Utah State University. She has six kids, is married to a handsome farmer, and lives in Escalante, Utah.

Adrienne Quintana

As an author who has published both traditionally with a small press, and independently, Adrienne Quintana has experience on both sides. She also works with independent authors on a regular basis through her micro-publishing company, Pink Umbrella Books.

Marilynn Rockelman

Marilynn Rockelman’s passion is helping writers become sensitive to the stories that live in their bodies and to relish the artist’s life. She is a freelance editor, has judged national contests and presented at several writer’s conferences. Helping people in crisis, for more than fifty years, consumed much of her creative energy. Since her retirement, she is adapting the skills she used as a mental health counselor and clinical hypnotherapist to give writers a new perspective. As a member of League of Utah Writers, and founding member of Wasatch Mountain Fiction Writers, she has helped to mentor writers to publication. She believes the key is nurturing ourselves and the stories within us. Her memoir, “Whore’s Blood,” won honorable mention in the Utah Arts and Museums writing contest in 2020. Now she’s busy with the frustrating and exciting process of editing her book. Her home is an urban wildlife preserve in Salt Lake City, Utah where she lives with her husband, Craig, and a menagerie of pets.

Sandra Tayler

Sandra Tayler is a writer of essays, picture books, speculative fiction, middle grade fiction, newsletters, and blog entries. She also teaches online classes and does consulting for small creator-owned businesses from her Zoom corner. Her day job is being the editor, publisher, and business manager for the Schlock Mercenary comic strip. Sandra can be found online at sandratayler.com, onecobble.com, or on twitter @SandraTayler. When not engaged in any of the previously mentioned creative work, Sandra spends time fixing up her house, gardening, and dissecting the creative choices made in TV shows with her cartoonist husband, Howard Tayler. She also seems to have acquired three cats, which wasn’t in the plan at all.

Tiffany Unsworth

Tiffany has loved living in the red rock country of Kanab for seven years now, and in that time has become involved with the Willow Winds Chapter of the Utah State Poetry Society.  

Her love of free verse and the power of words has incited her to write her first book (soon to be published): Carried Through Cancer… My Sick Story, in Verse.  Writing this book was an outlet for Tiffany, as she recorded many of the kindnesses shown to her family while she battled breast cancer.  As a survivor, she hopes to give back to the cancer research community by donating any proceeds from the sales of her book to the Huntsman Cancer Institute, where she was healed.
 
Inspired by local writers, she hopes to include any aspiring authors wanting to find their voice.  Tiffany has a Bachelors Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences Education from Utah State University, and she and her husband own Kanab Tour Company and National Park Tourz.