Susan Gregg Gilmore is a native of Tennessee and began her writing career at the University of Virginia as a reporter for the school newspaper. She earned an M.A. at the University of Texas and wrote for the Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and the Chattanooga News-Free Press. Her second novel, The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove, was a 2010 SIBA Summer OKRA Pick and part of TARGET’s Emerging Author Program. Her latest novel is The Funeral Dress.
Mark Victor Hansen is probably best known as the co-author for the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series and brand. He is an internationally known keynote speaker and entrepreneurial marketing maven, helping people create massive success for themselves. His many popular books include The Power of Focus, The Aladdin Factor, Dare to Win, and One Minute Millionaire. He has published an extensive library of audio programs, video programs and articles in the areas of big thinking, sales achievement, publishing success and personal and professional development. He has appeared on Oprah, CNN, and the Today Show and in print in Time, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, the New York Times, and Entrepreneur. A philanthropist and humanitarian, he works for Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, March of Dimes, and Childhelp USA, among others. He is a winner of the prestigious Horatio Alger Award, and his Mark Victor Hansen Foundation and his Richest Kids Academy help young people achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. His latest books are You Have a Book in You and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Readers’ Choice Anniversary Edition.
Deron Hicks is an attorney and investigates mysteries for a living, so it’s only natural that he would write about William Shakespeare, one of literature’s most puzzling people. His latest middle grade book, Tower of the Five Orders, is a sequel to Secrets of Shakespeare’s Grave. With his own children’s natural curiosity and inspiration, he set out to reveal a bit of the mystery of the real world and show that many of its secret and stories still wait to be told. He lives in Warm Springs, GA, with his wife and two children.
Isabel Hill, an Alabama native, is an architectural historian, urban planner, photographer, and award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her production company, Building History Productions, specializes in reports, photographs, and documentary films about architecture and urban issues. Her passion is teaching children about architecture and the urban environment, and she has written three children's books about architecture; the latest is Urban Animals of Washington, D.C. She often uses her books as teaching tools in underserved school in New York City, helping children observe and appreciate the beautiful architecture in their own neighborhoods. She lives with her daughter, Anna, and their dog, Dot, in Brooklyn.
Roy Hoffman 's new novel, Come Landfall, is about three women on the Mississippi coast, the men they love, and the wars that shape them. He is also author of the novels Almost Family, winner of the Lillian Smith Award for fiction, and Chicken Dreaming Corn, endorsed by Harper Lee, and the nonfiction collections, Back Home, and Alabama Afternoons. His articles and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Fortune, Southern Living, and his hometown newspaper in Mobile, the Press-Register, where he was a long-time staff writer. A graduate of Tulane who worked as a journalist and speechwriter in New York City before moving back south to Fairhope, AL, he received the Clarence Cason Award in career nonfiction from the University of Alabama and is on the faculty of the Spalding University Brief Residency MFA in Writing Program in Louisville, KY.
Jennifer Horne grew up in Arkansas and has lived for many years in Alabama. She and her husband, literary critic and interviewer Don Noble, live by a lake in Cottondale, AL, and she teaches classes in poetry, memoir and travel writing for the Honors College at the University of Alabama. She is one of today’s presenters for The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul.
Randall Horton, a native of Birmingham, AL, has received the prestigious Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Bea Gonzalez Poetry Award, and a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Literature. He is a Cave Canem Fellow, a member of the Affrilachian Poets and a member of The Symphony: The House that Etheridge Built. An assistant professor of English at the University of New Haven, he has published three collections of poetry, including his latest, Pitch Dark Anarchy.
Peter Huggins teaches English at Auburn University and has published four poetry collections; his latest is South. He has published more than three hundred poems in over a hundred journals, magazines, and anthologies, as well as a picture book, Trosclair and the Alligator, and a middle grade novel, In the Company of Owls. Trosclair has appeared on the PBS show Between the Lions, received a Mom’s Choice Award, and was selected as a best book by CCBC Choices at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and by Bank Street College of Education. Among his other awards and honors, he has been a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and has received a Literature Fellowship in Poetry from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
Robert Inman a native of Elba, AL, earned an M.A. at the University of Alabama and is a former journalist and a novelist, screenwriter and playwright. He has authored seven plays, including the book, lyrics, and music for two musical productions. He has also written screenplays for six television movies, including two Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations. Three of his novels have been Booksense 76 feature recommendations by independent booksellers nationwide, and three received the Alabama Library Association’s Outstanding Fiction Award. His latest novel is The Governor’s Lady.
Chervis Isom is a native of Franklin County and Birmingham, AL, where he delivered newspapers in the Norwood community while growing up. He is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College and Cumberland School of Law of Samford University. He has worked extensively throughout the South with developers and real estate professionals from all walks of life. As a working writer, he has spent countless hours visiting and recalling the Norwood community of his childhood and youth on the north side of Birmingham, and now serves on the Board of Directors of the Norwood Resource Center. His memoir is The Newspaper Boy.
Deborah Johnson was born below the Mason-Dixon Line in Missouri and grew up in Omaha, NE. After college, she lived in San Francisco and then for many years in Rome, Italy, where she worked as a translator and editor of doctoral theses and at Vatican Radio. Her novel The Air Between Us received the Mississippi Library Association Award for fiction, and her latest novel is The Secret of Magic.
Cassandra King's novels have earned awards and accolades. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Callaloo, Alabama Bound: The Stories of a State, Belles’ Letters: Contemporary Fiction by Alabama Women, Stories From Where We Live, and Stories From The Blue Moon Café. She has taught college writing; conducted corporate writing seminars; worked as a human-interest reporter for a Pelham, AL, weekly paper; and published an article on her second-favorite pastime, cooking, in Cooking Light magazine. A native of L.A. (Lower Alabama), she lives in the Low Country of South Carolina with her husband, novelist Pat Conroy, whom she met when he wrote a blurb for her first novel, Making Waves. Her latest novel is Moonrise.
Keetje Kuipers is an assistant professor at Auburn University and has been the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident, a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and the Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College. Her first book, Beautiful in the Mouth, won the A. Poulin, Jr. Prize from BOA Editions. Her most recent poetry collection is The Keys to the Jail.
Jim Lacefield, a retired adjunct professor of biology and earth science at the University of North Alabama, lives in rural Colbert County, AL, with his wife, Faye. He is the author of a popular guidebook to Alabama’s rocks and fossils, Lost Worlds in Alabama Rocks: A Guide to the State’s Ancient Life and Landscapes. This heavily illustrated book has been used as an introductory earth science and geology textbook from middle school through college levels, including nine universities in three Southern states. A revised and expanded second edition of the book has recently been published by the Alabama Museum of Natural History in Tuscaloosa; it contains more than seven hundred color photographs, paleogeographic maps and other graphics that tell the story of Alabama's geological development over the past half billion years.
Celia Lewis is a native of New Orleans with enduring Alabama roots, and she and her husband live in historic Mobile, AL. She is publisher and co-editor of Rette’s Last Stand: The Poetry of Everette Maddox. Her work has most recently appeared in Tributaries, Literary Mobile, and is forthcoming in The Xavier Review. She founded and directed Firehouse Theatre’s Southern Voices poetry series; adapted southern short stories for the stage for South of the Salt Line Foundation; created and presented poetry writing workshops for children; and was the founding editor of the student literary magazine, Azimuth Circle. Her debut collection of poems is We Still Live Here.
Stacey Little is a Southern food blogger. His easy, delicious recipes and heartfelt stories have brought millions to his blog, SouthernBite.com, since he created it in 2008. Stacey’s deep Southern roots have him firmly planted in central Alabama, where he lives with his wife, little boy, two dogs, and his collection of cast iron skillets. His book is The Southern Bite: 150 Irresistible Dishes from 4 Generations of My Family's Kitchen.
Carolyn Maull McKinstry is a native of Birmingham, AL, and was at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church when it was bombed in 1963. An active participant in the Civil Rights Movement, she survived a second bomb that destroyed much of her home. She is a graduate of Fisk University, received a Master of Divinity from Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, and is an associate minister at Trinity Baptist Church. Her memoir is While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age during the Civil Rights Movement.
Charles McNair an Alabama native, lives in Atlanta where he writes full-time, combining freelance literary duties with assignments for corporations and businesses, including “Power of Storytelling” workshops. Since 2005, he has served as Books Editor for Paste magazine and has shared his reviews on Atlanta radio station WMLB 1690 AM. His first novel, Land O’ Goshen, was a nominee for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. His most recent novel is Pickett’s Charge, and he is currently at work on his third novel, The Epicureans.
Stephanie Perry Moore was born in South Carolina, raised in Virginia, educated in Alabama, and now lives in Georgia. A Christian fiction writer, she has published more than thirty-five books set in the South. Her books include Payton Skky series, the first African-American Christian teen series; the Laurel Shadrach series; the Carmen Browne series; the Perry Skky Jr. series; the Faith Thomas ‘NovelZine’ series; the urban collegiate Beta Gamma Pi series; and the hip, teen Yasmin Peace series. Her latest series is the Morgan Love series, and she and her husband, Derrick Moore, write the Alec London series for kids. Stephanie also writes for adults; her latest adult novel is Wearing My Halo Tilted. She was co-editor of Thomas Nelson’s BibleZine, REAL, and is working on a new African-American women’s bible project. A motivational speaker and community activist and lives in the greater Atlanta area with her husband, Derrick, a former NFL player and current sports chaplain for Georgia Tech Athletics, and their three children.
Mary Elizabeth Murphy is a writer, English instructor, and health care worker. She has read her poetry at the Library of Congress’s Poetry at Noon series, while also published as a poet and medical writer. She has found that the two professions people often think of as vastly different, the creative and medical, in fact work very well together. At no time was this more obvious than when her mother, Berniece Simmons Murphy, developed Alzheimer’s. These areas of employment became lifelines in a confrontation challenging emotions and intellect, while watching one of the most influential people in her life battle this devastating disease with courage and determination. Her poetry collection is Blama: Sound of the Wounded Word.
Sena Jeter Naslund is a native of Birmingham, AL, and graduated from Birmingham-Southern College. She has an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa and is Writer in Residence at the University of Louisville, program director of the Spalding University brief-residency MFA in Writing, and Kentucky Poet Laureate. She also founded and is the editor of The Louisville Review and the Fleur-de-Lis Press. She is the author of two collections of stories, Ice Skating at the North Pole and The Disobedience of Water, and six novels, the latest of which is The Fountain of the Court of St. James, Or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Kentucky Arts Council, and has won the Harper Lee Award and the Southeastern Library Association Fiction Award.
Kenneth W. Noe, a Virginia native, received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, taught at West Georgia College, and has taught history at Auburn University since 2000. His major teaching and research areas are the American Civil War and Appalachian history; his latest book is The Yellowhammer War: Alabama in the Civil War and Reconstruction. He has also written many articles and essays, including articles in Civil War History and The Journal of Military History. He has won the 2003 Kentucky Governor's Award, the 2002 Peter Seaborg Book Award for Civil War Non-fiction, and the 1997 Tennessee History Book Award. He is a frequent speaker on the Civil War Round Table circuit, serves on the Board of Editors of Civil War History, and was a consultant to the NBC series Who Do You Think You Are?
Elaine Neil Orr was born in Nigeria to medical missionary parents and spent her growing-up years there. She received her Ph.D. in Literature and Theology at Emory University and teaches at North Carolina State University. She is also on the faculty of the brief-residency MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University. She is a trans-Atlantic writer of fiction, memoir, and poetry; themes of home, country, and spiritual longing run through her writing. Her memoir, Gods of Noonday, was a Top-20 Book Sense selection and a nominee for the Old North State Award as well as a SIBA Book Award. She has published extensively in literary magazines including The Missouri Review, Blackbird, Shenandoah, and Image Journal. Her newest book is A Different Sun: A Novel of Africa.
Mark Huntley Parsons is a long-time writer for national magazines, publishing more than a hundred articles and two nonfiction books. He was also an instructor at a Fortune 500 company. His first novel is Road Rash, a young adult band-on-the-road adventure that draws from his many years of experience as a rock drummer. He and his wife, Wendelin Van Draanen, a children’s book author, live in California with their two sons, two dogs, and two wild imaginations. They will discuss their books, the writing process, and how they’ve managed to share the same office for twenty years without bloodshed.
Lisa Patton is an animal lover, writer, event speaker, walking tour guide, and mother. She grew up in Memphis, TN, and graduated from the University of Alabama. She has written press releases, company newsletter articles, news promotions, and TV and radio spots. Her latest novel is Southern as a Second Language.
Dee Phelps - The Disappointment Room (fiction)
Van Allen Plexico, a native of Sylacauga, AL, is the author or co-author of more than a dozen science fiction, superhero and new pulp novels, five nonfiction books, and too many short stories and novellas to count. He won “Best New Character” at the Pulp Ark Awards in 2012, and his space opera novel Legion I: Lords of Fire is a short-listed finalist for Novel of the Year in the 2014 Pulp Factory Awards. With John Ringer he writes and podcasts about Auburn sports for the War Eagle Reader and the War Eagle Sports Radio Network. His popular Sentinels superhero novels will appear beginning this year as audiobooks on Audible.com and have been incorporated into reading programs for young people in libraries in several states. A two-time graduate of Auburn University, he lives near St Louis, MO, and is an associate professor at Southwestern Illinois College. His latest sports book is Decades of Dominance: Auburn Football in the Modern Era.
Amanda Porter is the author of The Shadow and The Forsaken, the first two books in the teen paranormal Darkness Trilogy. She is studying for an MFA in creative writing. Amanda’s first love is writing, but she likes to dabble in photography and crafting and to watch movies. She lives in Alabama with her husband, Billy, her stepson, Brenton, and their Yorkie, Harley.
Dan J. Puckett is an associate professor at Troy University, where he teaches modern European history. His work has appeared in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Southern Jewish History, and Alabama Heritage, among others. His book is In the Shadow of Hitler: Alabama Jews, the Second World War, and the Holocaust. He has been a Starkoff Fellow at the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and a Chancellor’s Fellow at Troy University. He was appointed to the Alabama Holocaust Commission by Governor Robert Bentley and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Southern Jewish Historical Society and the editorial Board of Southern Jewish History.
Wendy Reed wrote, produced and directed public TV programming and video productions for eleven years at the University of Alabama Center for Public Television and Radio. Her awards include, among others, two Emmys, a Unity Media Award, and fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Seaside Institute. She is one of today’s presenters for The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul.
Charles Salzberg is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Esquire, New York magazine, The New York Times Book Review and Arts and Leisure, Redbook, and other periodicals. He is the author of over twenty nonfiction books, including From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, An Oral History of the NBA, Soupy Sez: My Zany Life and Times, with Soupy Sales, and On a Clear Day They Could See Seventh Place, Baseball's 10 Worst Teams. His novel Swann's Last Song was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel. He has also published the sequel, Swann Dives In, and Devil in the Hole, which was named one of the best crime novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine. His next novel, Swann's Lake of Despair, will be published in fall 2014. He teaches writing at the Writer's Voice and the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member. In addition to talking about his books, he will lead a free workshop for writers on publishing their work.
Ginger Sanders lives in Southside, AL, and is a Chaplain Coordinator with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team and a chaplain for local sheriff and police departments and the Etowah Baptist Association Disaster Team. She and her husband, Denny, have responded to many disasters such as tornados, floods and nature storms as well as the Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings. Before becoming involved with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, she worked in banking for thirty-seven years and retired as vice-president of Heritage Bank in Boone County, KY. She has taught Sunday School and led numerous retreats and marriage seminars. She is the author of He Goes Before Us: Stories from the Front Line, thirty-one faith building stories of when Billy Graham chaplains have seen things only God could orchestrate. She has also written a children’s book, Round Eyes, based on their adopted Korean son’s realizing that he looked different than his parents.
Abraham Smith hails from Ladysmith, WI. He received his MFA in poetry from the University of Alabama and has authored four full-length poetry collections. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, jubilat, Fence, and Denver Quarterly, among others. His creative work has been recognized with fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. His poems are anthologized in a forthcoming Sidebrow anthology, in Tuscaloosa Writes This, and in Taos Poetry Circus: The '90's. His poetry performances are featured in a recent Huffington Post article, “Why Is Contemporary Poetry So Good?”. He winters as instructor of English at University of Alabama and summers as a farmhand at Hawks’ Highland Farm. He will emcee the Poetry Tent.
Clifton Taulbert is perhaps best known for his memoir Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored about growing up in the racially charged Mississippi Delta. His second memoir, The Last Train North, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He has received the 27th annual NAACP Image Award for Literature and the Mississippi Arts and Letters Award for Nonfiction, and Time magazine named him one of America’s outstanding black entrepreneurs. He received a bachelor’s degree from Oral Roberts University and a graduate degree from Southwest Graduate School of Banking at Southern Methodist University. As president and founder of Building Community Institute in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he speaks throughout the world on the timeless and universal ideas he encountered while growing up in the Delta. He has also written three children’s books. His most recent memoir is The Invitation.
Ruth Smith Truss is a professor of history and department chair at the University of Montevallo. She has published several articles related to Alabama history, is president of Friends of the Alabama Archives, and has served on the board of directors of the Alabama Historical Association. She is co-editor, with Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins, of The Journal of Sarah Haynsworth Gayle, 1827-1835: A Substitute for Social Intercourse.
Wendelin Van Draanen has written more than thirty novels for young readers and teens. She is the author of the long running Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes series and two four-book series for younger readers (Shredderman and The Gecko & Sticky). She has written several standalone novels, including Flipped, which was named a Top 100 Children’s Novel for the 21st Century by SLJ and became a Warner Brothers feature film. She and her husband, Mark Huntley Parsons, a magazine writer and young adult book author, live in California with their two sons, two dogs, and two wild imaginations. They will discuss their books, the writing process, and how they’ve managed to share the same office for twenty years without bloodshed.
Sue Brannan Walker (poetry)
Toby Warren lives in Auburn, AL, and serves veterans and their families and communities throughout Alabama in health, education, employment, homelessness, and faith by partnering with state agencies and nonprofit organizations. His book, My Dear Boy, Jack, about the correspondence between Jack, a young polio victim, and George Washington Carver, is the first in his new Leadership for the Soul series.
Horace Randall Williams, an Alabama native, has researched and written extensively about civil rights, segregation, and slavery during three decades as a reporter, writer, editor, and publisher of newspapers, magazines, and books. He is the former managing editor of Southern Changes magazine and was the founding director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Klanwatch Project. He is co-owner and operator of NewSouth Books. He is also the author of the children’s books Johnnie Carr and W.E.B. DuBois and the editor of two of John F. Blair, Publisher’s slave narrative collections. Weren’t No Good Times: Personal Accounts of Slavery in Alabama is this year’s Student Readers Group selection, and the author will discuss the book with college and high school students who have been reading it.
Michael P. Wines is working his way through a master’s degree at Auburn University, studying rare and endangered reptiles and amphibians. He’s helped catch crocodiles in Costa Rica, pythons in Florida, alligators in Georgia, and cottonmouths in Alabama. He focuses on the Red Hills salamander (the Alabama state amphibian) and the Eastern Indigo snake. Before graduate school, he spent several years as a keeper at the Memphis Zoo, where he took care of the Komodo Dragons, venomous reptiles, spiders, giant tortoises, crocodilians, and a few fish and fuzzy critters. He was a recipient of the Crossroads Writer’s Scholarship. He has published several magazine articles, scientific papers, and a short story, and his tween novel is Stupid Alabama.
See who's presented at past Festivals.