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Planning for the 2015 Conference is underway and Biographies will be posted as we receive them.  

Below are the speaker biographies from the 2014 Conference


Jana Bommersbach
Keynote Session: Uncovering the Truth about Cattle Kate–125 years later
Breakout Session: Stretching and Bending the Lines with Creative Non-fiction 

Jana Bommersbach is one of Arizona’s most acclaimed journalist.  The Arizona Press Club has recognized her lifetime of achievement with its highest honor–The Distinguished Service Award. And the Society of Professional Journalists have inducted her into the ORDER OF THE SILVER KEY as an “inspiration to the state’s media community.”

She has been Arizona Journalist of the Year and twice was recognized as the nation’s top city magazine columnist.

Jana is a communications expert who has won accolades in every phase of her career: journalist, author, broadcaster and speaker.


Bill Konigsberg
Session: The Seven Deadly Sins of Dialogue

Bill Konigsberg is the author of two young adult novels, “Openly Straight, published in 2013 by Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic) won the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor, was a finalist for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award, Lambda Literary Award, Georgia Peach Award, and North Carolina Young Adult Book Award and made dozens of best fiction lists. It was optioned for television by Fremantle Media. His first novel, “Out of the Pocket,” published by Dutton Books for Children in 2008, won the Lambda Literary Award. Prior to turning his talents to fiction, Bill was a sports journalist for TheAssociated Press and ESPN. He lives in Chandler, Arizona, with his husband, Chuck, and their Australian labradoodles, Mabel and Wally.


Judith Starkston
Session:Writing Successful Historical Fiction 

Judith Starkston writes historical fiction and mysteries set in Troy and the Hittite Empire. Her novel, Hand of Fire (Fireship Press September 2014), tells Briseis’s story, the captive woman who sparked the bitter conflict between Achilles and Agamemnon in the Iliad. There was more to her than the handful of lines Homer gave her. Imagine a woman who can both challenge and love that most conflicted of heroes, the half-immortal Achilles.
Starkston is a classicist (B.A. University of California, Santa Cruz, M.A. Cornell University) who taught high school English, Latin and humanities. She and her husband have two grown children and live in Arizona with their golden retriever Socrates. An excerpt from Hand of Fire, book reviews, ancient recipes, historical tidbits as well as on-going information about the historical fiction community can be found on Starkston’s website

Laura Ellen
Session: Writing from Personal Experience: Letting it Ignite Your Writing without Getting Burned

Laura Ellen writes YA contemporary mysteries and thrillers from her home in Scottsdale, where she also freelances as a manuscript consultant for aspiring authors. She has a MA in Children’s Literature and began her career as a teacher in both Language Arts and special education. Diagnosed with juvenile macular degeneration as a teen, she drew upon her own experiences with vision loss to write her debut YA thriller Blind Spot, an emotional and suspenseful page-turner. Laura is represented by Jill Corcoran at Jill Corcoran Literary Agency and is part of the Sleuths, Spies, and Alibis blog crew as well as an active member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers and SCBWI. You can learn more about her on her website:

Karen Grove
Session: How to Capture an Editor’s Attention When She Has Ten Other Manuscripts on Her Desk?

Karen Grove has been an editor for 30 years, working with authors at Harcourt and then Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, concentrating in young adult fiction. She has worked with such prestigious authors as Han Nolan, Carol Plum-Ucci, L. A. Meyer, Nancy Garden, Ann Rinaldi, Adele Geras, Kathryn Reiss, Gary Paulsen, and New York Times bestselling author Susan Beth Pfeffer. The majority of her books have earned starred reviews from major review journals and such prestigious awards as the National Book Award, Michael L. Printz Honor, multiple Edgar Allan Poe Awards (Mystery Writers of America), and a RITA Award (Romance Writers of America). Recently, she was Editorial Director for Entangled Publishing’s Embrace imprint, a line of New Adult romance fiction, and currently edits both New Adult and Adult romance across all lines for Entangled Publishing. In addition to her editing, she owned and operated a local business newspaper for 10 years. She recently moved from Southern California to Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and college-age son.

Landon J. Napoleon
Session: The 7 Golden Rules of Book Structure 

the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of fiction and nonfiction books. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Arizona State University, a master’s degree in creative writing from University of Glasgow in Scotland, and has been an author for more than two decades.

His debut novel ZigZag received starred reviews, was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” finalist (1999), was translated into multiple foreign editions, and was adapted for a motion picture (Franchise Pictures, 2002) starring John Leguizamo, Oliver Platt, and Wesley Snipes.

His nonfiction biography Burning Shield: The Jason Schechterle Story was the March 2014 “Arizona Republic Recommends” selection. Interweaving narratives of human triumph, medical marvels, police procedure, and high-stakes legal showdowns, this “inspiring true story” (Kirkus Reviews) chronicles the odyssey of a rare human being with an undeniable will to live. The book is “An inspiring true story of triumph” (Publishers Weekly).


Grael Norton
Session: Choosing a Publishing Service

Grael Norton is director of marketing at Wheatmark and a senior faculty member of the Authors Academy, where he’s helped thousands of authors prepare their projects for market and launch effective marketing programs. Grael is the author of The Author’s Guide to Choosing a Publishing Service. Prior to joining Wheatmark, he worked as an editorial assistant for Fodor’s Travel Guides, a division of Random House, and self-pubbed a series of e-book titles, all B.K. (Before Kindle!)



Jessica McCann
Session: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers

Jessica McCann’s debut historical novel, All Different Kinds of Free, was awarded the 2009 Freedom in Fiction Prize and was published in 2011. She has worked as a journalist, editor and communications professional for 25 years, and has been a full-time freelance writer since 1998. Her award-winning nonfiction work has been published in dozens of magazines, including Business WeekThe WriterPhoenix and ASU Research. McCann also dabbles with short fiction; her award-winning short story Night Window was published in the River Styx literary journal.

She has eclectic reading interests, though she is most passionate about historical fiction and is a member of the Historical Novel Society. McCann has taught an online workshop on writing historical fiction for Arizona State University’s Piper Writers Studio. She enjoys interacting with fellow readers and writers at her website and on Twitter @JMcCannWriter.


Reese Monroe
Session:  Mind Mapping Your Way to Strong Characters

Reese Monroe holds a psychology degree from Southwest Minnesota State University and a master’s degree in Mental Health Therapy from the University of Iowa. Her experience as a former Addictions Therapist and competitive athlete lends to stories about complex heroines and the men who dare to love them.

Growing up in the land of 10,000 lakes and cold, snowy winters, Reese has been known to weave a little of that cool Minnesota climate into her stories, but these days, she much prefers desert living. She resides in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, and when she’s not busy writing her next trilogy, she can be found pounding the pavement, training for her next endurance event.

Connect with Reese on Twitter (@Rush_Monroe), through Facebook ( or her website


Susan Pohlman
Session:  Scene Study: Strengthen Your Writing with Compelling Scenes

Susan Pohlman is a freelance writer, writing instructor/coach and Transformational Travel Retreat leader based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her memoir Halfway to Each Other was the winner of the Relationships category and runner-up in the Memoir category in the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. It was shortlisted for the 2010 Inspy Awards.

She has written six short films for the Baltimore 48 Hour Film Project and her essays have been published in The Washington Times, Family Digest, The Family, Raising Arizona Kids, Guideposts Magazine, Homelife Magazine, AZ Parenting, and

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