Speakers

STEVEN JAMES

Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.

His latest novel, SYNAPSE, a near-future thriller, is now available.

Suspense Magazine, who named Steven’s book EVERY WICKED MAN one of their “Best Books of 2018,” says that he “sets the new standard in suspense writing.” Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game,” and RT Book Reviews promises that “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you.”

Steven deftly weaves intense stories of psychological suspense with deep philosophical insights. As critically-acclaimed novelist Ann Tatlock put it, “Steven James gives us a captivating look at the fine line between good and evil in the human heart.”

Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, he has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades and has spoken more than two thousand times at events spanning the globe.

Steven’s groundbreaking books on the art of fiction writing, STORY TRUMPS STRUCTURE and TROUBLESHOOTING YOUR NOVEL, have both won Storytelling World Awards. Widely recognized for his story-crafting expertise, he teaches regularly as a Master Class instructor at ThrillerFest, North America’s premier training event for suspense writers.

In his podcast “The Story Blender,” he interviews leading storytellers in film, print, and web. Listen now to any of the dozens of archived podcasts for free by visiting his website www.thestoryblender.com.

When Steven isn’t writing or speaking, you’ll find him trail running, rock climbing, or drinking dark roast coffee near his home in East Tennessee.


LUCIENNE DIVER

Lucienne Diver joined TKA in 2008, after spending fifteen years at New York City’s prestigious Spectrum Literary Agency. With her sharp eye and gift for spotting original new voices, Lucienne is one of the most well-respected agents in the industry. A lifelong book addict, she graduated summa cum laude from the State University of New York at Potsdam with dual majors in English/writing and anthropology. She thus came well-equipped for her work as an agent.

Over the course of her dynamic career she has sold over seven hundred titles to every major publisher, and has built a client list of more than forty authors spanning the commercial fiction genres, primarily in the areas of fantasy, science fiction, romance, romantica, suspense and young adult. Her authors have been honored with the RITA, National Readers’ Choice, Hugo, and Romantic Times Reader’s Choice Awards, and have appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. A publishing veteran, Lucienne has superb industry knowledge, numerous editor relationships, and a keen understanding of the foreign rights market. She is a member of the Association of Authors Representatives, RWA, MWA and SFWA.


Amy Brewer

Amy Brewer wears many hats everyday, from senior literary agent and subsidiary rights manager at Metamorphosis, to co-author of the Texting Prince Charming series, to social media manager, to yoga teacher. Her intuitive human understanding can help other writers bridge the communication gap and jump into the publishing world. Her experience in the mental health field and yoga training help her guide and assist clients with stress and anxiety in this highly competitive industry. All of this is pulled together with a multi-tasking and hyper-organized brain, so that at the end of every day she feels accomplished and grateful.


KATE RICHARDS

Kate Richards is a USA Today bestselling author, editor, and publisher. In her decade in publishing, she has been privileged to work with some of the most talented, hardworking authors in the industry and enjoys writing in several genres. A Southern California native, Kate divides her time between Los Angeles and the High Sierras, but she is never without her laptop, even on the road in between. Kate’s degree in education from the University of Southern California has stood her in good stead when conducting workshops or contributing to panels at events in the US and Canada. 


Heather BUrch

With over half a million readers worldwide, Heather Burch is living her dream. She’s the author of nine contemporary novels and is a Dove Award recipient for excellence in fiction. Her title, One Lavender Ribbon was in the top 100 bestselling books for the year on Amazon. She has written for multiple traditional publishers as well as a novella for Princess Cruise Lines. Her work has been featured in USA Today, Booklist Magazine, Romantic Times, Woman’s World and Publisher’s Weekly. Heather’s books have been translated into a dozen languages. She has recently moved from Florida to her hometown of Branson, Missouri where she eats too much chocolate and drinks too much coffee. You can learn more about her at HeatherBurchBooks.com


RENEE GEORGE

USA Today Bestselling author Renee George writes paranormal mysteries and romances because she loves all things whodunit, Otherworldly, and weird. Also, she wishes her pittie, the adorable Kona Princess Warrior, and her beagle, Josie the Incontinent Princess, could talk. Or at least be more like Scooby-Doo and help her unmask villains at the haunted house up the street.

When she’s not writing about mystery-solving werecougars or the adventures of a hapless psychic living among shapeshifters, she is preyed upon by stray kittens who end up living in her house because she can’t say no to those sweet, furry faces. (Someone stop telling them where she lives!)

She resides in Mid-Missouri with her family and spends her non-writing time doing really cool stuff…like watching TV and cleaning up dog poop. Visit her website @ renee-george.com


NIKKI MCSORLEY

NMc. Music Creative consists of one person, Nichole (Nikki) McSorley — a musician, an instrumental composer, a music producer, a sound engineer and a marketer. Based out of the ‘Small Town With A Big Heart’ of Trenton, Ohio, she started making her musical sounds at the age of 9 with the purchase of her first musical instrument, a harmonica.

In the 4th grade, she started playing the flute, which continued throughout high school concert band and then symphonic orchestra. At the age of 19, Nikki started learning how to play the guitar and never looked back. In late 2000, she wrote her first song, which was recorded in a friend’s basement studio with the old analog mixing boards, wired mics and live instruments. She caught the recording bug bad! It has been a long journey filled with trial and error, but she enjoys the fruits of her labor.

Through family connections, she has been writing music for the audiobook industry, opening and closing credits of audiobooks. More than 40 books contain Nikki’s original music so far. The compositions range in genres from dystopian, zombie apocalypse, fantasy, romance, paranormal, mystery, action, and suspense thrillers. She says, “I don’t conform to one genre. I don’t fit into a musical category. I enjoy writing almost all genres of music.” Writing what she calls ‘theme music,’ Nikki aims to capture the essence and genre of the audiobook within a minute or less. She goes on to say, “I want there to be a professional, cinematic feel to the music. I compose high quality, original music that becomes a part of the author’s story and brand.”

NMc. Music Creative provides custom, royalty-free music that you will never see in the public domain. Nikki states, “Once completed, the music is the author’s property. It will never be used for any other purpose other than the author’s audiobook credits or in the promotion of that audiobook.”

After leaving a 15-year career in the IT industry in 2015, Nikki now focuses entirely on music. With the release of her first album in 2016, followed by 8 singles, she continues her musical journey. As she looks toward her future in music industry, she says, “I’m not interested in performing live. I don’t want to be a superstar. I only want to write great, original music for myself and for others looking for original instrumental music. The recording industry is vast and there are so many outlets for music nowadays, your future is what you make of it.”

Lastly, she comments, “If I can’t play, compose or record music I don’t know what I would do. Music is a huge part of who I am. I think it would feel like I’ve lost a limb.”


PAUL MCSORLEY

Paul has had the pleasure and honor working with many award-winning authors, including Missouri writers JC Fields, Kwen Griffeth and Alan Kent. “I refer to those three as “My Missouri Contingent,” says Paul, who now has done over 90 audiobook narrations.

After listening to more than fifty audiobooks, Paul came to the conclusion that he could perform books as well as the narrators he heard. “For two years, I studied the industry, read and recorded magazines and newspapers for the blind, participated in non-profit recording projects to practice for eventual paying gigs.” After taking numerous online training courses, sitting through endless webinars and picking the minds of established narrators, it was time to start auditioning. Now with a successful stable of writers, auditions are fewer. “I am blessed and fortunate to work with the writers I do.”

Paul and his wife Nikki (NMc Music Creative) live in Ohio with their dog Tess. Grandchildren and a small recreational piece of property is close by.


Sharon Kizziah-Holmes

Sharon Kizziah-Holmes started writing songs in her teens. She became an accomplished, professional musician and performed with famous artists like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., and Faron Young and appeared on The Nashville Network. She met her husband Dennis and they spent eight years on tour where they entertained throughout the lower forty-eight states, Alaska and Canada.

In the 1990’s Sharon and her husband moved to the Ozarks. Although she continued to perform, her passion changed from music to writing fiction. After joining Ozarks Romance Authors she attended conferences, seminars and workshops to hone her skills and learn the fundamentals of both the writing and publishing industries.

Today, Sharon shares her knowledge with new and seasoned writers in her own workshops. The success of those ventures led to the creation of indie assist publishing company Paperback Press. She is publishing coordinator and service provider for over sixty authors, in the US and abroad, and has published more than 300 books. Seven of those authors have become best sellers. She loves to help authors realize their publishing dream.

Sharon Kizziah-Holmes is the co-founder, co-owner and CEO of A & S Holmes, Inc and its subsidiaries. Some of which are Paperback Press, The Recording Shop and The Barber Shop. She is currently President of Ozarks Romance Authors, Vice President of Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers, a member of Springfield Writers Guild and has served five consecutive years as a chair person for the American Cancer Society’s SWMO Cattle Baron’s Ball.


J.C. FIELDS

J.C. Fields is the author of the award-winning suspense novels The Sean Kruger Series. His most recent book, A Lone Wolf is the start of a new series.

With a degree in Psychology, five years in the computer industry and a long career of dealing with individuals possessing quirky personalities, J.C. has incorporated these experiences into his writing. The Sean Kruger novels have won numerous awards, most recently two gold Reader Favorite medals and one silver.

He is active in numerous writers groups and serves on the board of the Springfield Writers’ Guild.

He lives with his wife, Connie and their attack cat, Asia, in Southwest Missouri.


HOLLY ATKINSON

Holly was born with a story in her head waiting to get out, and not much has changed since. She spent the bulk of her childhood buried in books—that is, when she wasn’t writing her own. Her earliest professional writing credit came at age thirteen, when she co-wrote scripts for a weekly local access realtor show. She’s adamant that this sounds a lot cooler than it actually was.

Though she had enough self-awareness to realize that few authors can claim they write for a living, Holly was determined to make telling stories a part of her vocation. In 2008, Holly graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor’s in English and an emphasis in Creative Writing. In 2012, she was hired by Samhain Publishing as an acquiring developmental editor, and she remained with the company until it closed in 2016. The same year, Holly launched Evil Eye Editing, which has kept her much busier than she anticipated. When author clients asked for an extended range of services, including formatting, distribution, cover art, and review coordination, Holly partnered with a marketing firm to open NovelSharp, a one-stop shop for indie authors in need of professional publication services.

On the writing side of things, Holly is an award winning romance author of more than twenty books, publishing under the name Rosalie Stanton. Her works include A Higher Education (A Modern Retelling of Pride & Prejudice), the Sinners & Saints Series (an 8-book angels and demons romance series), and In Heat, which was awarded second place in the 2019 PRISM Awards.

Holly lives in Missouri with her husband, with whom she shares many wacky adventures, none of which keep them out past 9 o’clock at night. Above all, Holly loves losing herself in vast, fictional worlds, so she makes a point to do so whenever she can.