2017 Conference Faculty

We have keynote speakers, agents, editors and a few surprise guests for the 2017 Silver Jubilee Conference! Workshop planning, special events and–what? a costume night?–are all coming along at a furious but fun pace.

Please keep in mind that some things are out of our control. We do our best to provide you with the most up-to-date information as possible but ALL faculty is subject to change at any time without notice.


Keynote Speakers


Donald Maass

Donald Maass founded the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York in 1980. His agency sells more than 150 novels every year to major publishers in the U.S. and overseas. He is the author of The Career Novelist (1996),Writing the Breakout Novel (2001), Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (2004), The Fire in Fiction (2009), The Breakout Novelist (2011) and Writing 21st Century Fiction (2012). He is a past president of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, Inc.

Darynda Jones

For reasons known only to the Big Guy upstairs, NYTimes and USA Today Best Selling author Darynda Jones won both a Golden Heart and a RITA for her manuscript FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT. But even before that, she couldn’t remember a time she wasn’t putting pen to paper. When she was five, she would pick up a pencil and notepad, scribble utter chaos onto the page and ask her mom to read her masterpiece aloud. Thankfully, her mother would play along. Later she wrote plays for the neighborhood kids, made up stories for her brother as he played cars, and fell in love with Captain Kirk. Those raging, seven-year-old hormones only fueled her imagination, prompting her to create fantastical stories for Barbie and Ken to enact. Ken was such a bad boy back then.

After years of being repeatedly sent to the principal’s office for daydreaming in class, she managed to make it to high school where she almost finished her first manuscript. Life was good. Writing was good. Then she graduated and the real world came crashing through. She forced the dream aside in favor of sustenance and shelter, got married to a local rock star, and had at least two kids that she can think of, the oldest of whom was born Deaf, probably to spite her. When he was five, she packed up her boys and moved to Albuquerque to put him in a Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing program. The rock star stayed behind with the business, and they took turns going back and forth on the weekends to see each other for seven really long years.

While in Albuquerque, Darynda decided to see the cup half full and go back to college while she still had enough brain cells to make it worth her while. After graduating Summa cum Laude from the University of New Mexico with a degree in Sign Language Interpreting, she moved back to her hometown and got a real job. Several in fact, mostly teaching at a local college and interpreting pretty much everywhere. Based on personal experience, she does not recommend having more than three jobs at any given time.

But bit by bit, the desire to write needled its way back to the surface. Unable to squelch it any longer, she started writing seriously again in 2002 with one goal in mind: A publishing contract. Unfortunately, she sucked. Thank goodness practice makes almost-perfect and three complete manuscripts later, she won that Golden Heart, landed an amazing agent and sold to St. Martin’s Press in a three-book deal.

She currently has two series with St. Martin’s Press, the Charley Davidson series and the Darklight Trilogy. She hopes you enjoy reading them as much as she enjoys writing them.

Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of almost 30 years and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.

Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne is the famous author of the popular series The Iron Druid Chronicles which is a series of urban fantasy novels that is set in present day Tempe, Arizona. The popular series follows a character Atticus O’Sullivan who is the last of the Druids. Atticus has to deal with different obstacles throughout the series such as angry gods from multiple pantheons, vengeful witches, werewolves, and vampires.

Kevin hugs the hell out of trees and loves doggies and living in Colorado with his family. He is also fond of comic books, whiskey, beer, tacos, fresh air, clean energy, and friendly people. He’s prone to singing in parking lots if you get him drunk enough and has been told that his handwriting is really quite lovely.

Tess Gerritsen

Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, “Adrift”, which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.

Tess’s first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), Last To Die (August 2012), Die Again (January 2015) and Playing With Fire (coming October 27, 2015). Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.

Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as “Pulse-pounding fun” (Philadelphia Inquirer), “Scary and brilliant” (Toronto Globe and Mail), and “Polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the “medical suspense queen”.

Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series “Rizzoli & Isles” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.

Acquiring Editors


Esi Sogah

Esi Sogah joined Kensington Publishing in January 2013 as a Senior Editor, working with such authors as Sally MacKenzie, Jennifer Dawson, Christine d’Abo, and Dana Bate. She is looking to acquire mainly romance, mystery, and commercial fiction. Prior to Kensington, Esi worked at William Morrow & Avon, helping to launch the Avon Impulse digital-first imprint. When not reading or editing, you can find her on Twitter at @esisogah, usually dissecting a Broadway show, or at @Kensingtonbooks. You can also find her on facebook.com/kensingtonpublishing, Instagram.com/esogah or Instagram.com/kensingtonbooks

Cheryl Klein

Cheryl Klein is the executive editor at Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, where she edits and publishes books for children, teenagers, and discerning adults. She is also the author of The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults (W. W. Norton) and Second Sight: An Editor’s Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults (self-published). She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and cat, and can be found online here and as @chavelaque.

Kate Brauning


Kate is a senior acquiring editor at Entangled Publishing and an author of young adult fiction (How We Fall, Merit Press). Kate acquires YA, NA, and adult fiction across Entangled’s imprints. She’s especially interested in funny/charming or dark YA, and high-concept stories with literary writing, regardless of genre. In adult fiction, she’s looking for small-town or community-driven romances with clever or hilarious meet-cutes, and romance-driven women’s fiction. Authors Kate has worked with include Lydia Kang, Ingrid Paulson, Julie Hammerle, Tristina Wright, Erica Cameron, MK Meredith, and Golden Heart finalist Kimberly Bell.

In her spare time, she makes three-tier cakes, hunts down new music, and reads just about everything. Kate can be found on Twitter (@KateBrauning) and runs the group publishing blog Publishing Hub.

Image courtesy of www.jenniophotography.com

Mike Braff

Mike Braff is an editor at Del Rey Books, a science fiction and fantasy imprint of the world’s largest English-language trade book publisher, Penguin Random House. Perhaps best known for his work on Pierce Brown’s #1 New York Times Bestselling Red Rising Trilogy, Mike has edited and published critically acclaimed works by Jason M. Hough, Indra Das, Sylvain Neuvel, Alan Smale, Ted Kosmatka, and Matthew Stover. Raised on a steady diet of Tolkien, Crichton, King, Miéville, and Star Wars, he is searching for commercial science fiction and fantasy that appeals both to casual and core genre readers. Born and raised in the New York metro area and educated in Montréal (McGill University, B.A. 2007), Mike now spends his days in Brooklyn, NY with his rescued pit bull Ruby–photos of whom will be provided in abundance upon request.



Sharon Pelletier

Sharon Pelletier grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan and moved to New York in 2009 to pursue a career in publishing. She joined Dystel & Goderich Literary Management in 2013 after working for Europa Editions, Vantage Press, and Barnes & Noble. At DGLM, in addition to growing her own client list, Sharon oversees digital projects and social media. While her interests are broad, Sharon’s list focuses on upmarket fiction, including suspense categories and book club fiction. She is also interested in narrative nonfiction and YA suspense.

Kristin Nelson

Kristin established Nelson Literary Agency, LLC, in 2002 and over the last decade+ of her career has represented over thirty-five New York Times bestselling titles and many USA Today bestsellers. Clients include Jamie Ford, Hugh Howey, Gail Carriger, Josh Malerman, J.D. Barker, Marie Lu, Ally Carter, Stacey Lee, Simone Elkeles, Jasinda Wilder, Jana DeLeon, Courtney Milan, and RITA-award winners Kristen Callihan, Sherry Thomas, and Linnea Sinclair.

She is currently looking for literary commercial novels, big crossover novels with one foot squarely in genre, upmarket women’s fiction, lead title or hardcover science fiction and fantasy, single-title romance (with a special passion for historicals), and young adult and upper-level middle grade novels in all genres.

When she is not busy selling books, Kristin attempts to play golf & tennis. She also enjoys playing Bridge (where she is the youngest person in her club), and can be found hiking in the mountains with her husband and their dog Chutney.

Please visit www.nelsonagency.com for submission guidelines and her popular blog Pub Rants for her latest post: http://nelsonagency.com/pub-rants/. Kristin can also be found on Twitter @agentkristinNLA and on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/agentkristin

Sam Morgan

Sam is the Right Hand of Darkness at JABberwocky. He is a native of Shelby, North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Communications – Media Studies and Production. Before joining Jabberwocky in late 2012, Sam worked throughout New York City as a television critic, pizza guy, and several other glamorous positions. He’s an active nerd across all media from British television (Doctor Who and Black Mirror), to videogames (Injustice and Nintendo), to SF and fantasy novels (Pratchett, Adams, Gaiman), to college basketball (Go Heels, Go America). Sam is also active in the New York comedy scene at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater and making his own little rinky-dink videos in his spare time. He is ridiculously handsome, gut-busting witty, and prone to hyperbole.

You can also follow him on the ole twitter @samroebuck.

Sam is looking for Fantasy, Science Fiction, Literary Fiction, Humor and more. He does NOT accept YA, MG or NA. For more details on what he likes: http://awfulagent.com/agents/sam-morgan

Natalie Lakosil

Natalie is an agent at Bradford Literary Agency. Natalie is drawn to talented, hard-working new authors with a fresh, unique voice and hook. Her specialties are children’s literature (from picture book through teen and New Adult), romance (contemporary and historical), cozy mystery/crime, upmarket women’s/general fiction and select children’s nonfiction. Her interests include historical, multi-cultural, magical realism, sci-fi/fantasy, gritty, thrilling and darker contemporary novels, middle grade with heart, and short, quirky or character-driven picture books. She is always drawn to an open and positive attitude in an author, professionalism, good grammar, and fantastical, beautifully written, engaging and sexy plots.

Natalie is not looking for: Inspirational novels, memoir, romantic suspense, adult thrillers, poetry, screenplays

Blog: www.adventuresinagentland.com
Twitter @Natalie_Lakosil

Heather Flaherty

Heather Flaherty grew up in Massachusetts, between Boston and the Cape, and started working in New York City as a playwright during college. After much country hopping and some work in editorial, Heather became a YA and Children’s Literary Scout, consulting with foreign publishers and Hollywood regarding what the next big book will be. Now as an Agent, she’s thrilled to grow authors for that same success.

Currently, she’s looking for authors of Middle-Grade and Young-Adult fiction, as well as select Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction projects. For YA, she’s looking across all genres, and loves an excellent and authentic teen voice. For MG, she’s looking for more realistic stories (either contemporary or period), about coping, coming-of-age, or situations seen through the eyes of a young person. In Adult, she’s specifically wanting female-centric thrillers and commercial woman’s fiction with solid storytelling and strong voices. She’s also always on the lookout for fantastic upmarket projects that bridge the gap between commercial and literary lists. On the Non-fiction side, she leans towards pop-culture, humor, and social-media based projects, as well as teen memoir. @HeddaFlaherty

Lisa Abellera

Lisa Abellera joined Kimberley Cameron and Associates in 2013 with a background in management, marketing, and finance. She has studied creative writing, design and business, earning her B.A. in Strategic Management from Dominican University of CA and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from University of San Francisco.

Lisa had a successful career in the corporate world before joining the world of publishing. After editorial internships with an independent press and Kimberley Cameron & Associates, she now follows her true passion for books and writing. She leverages her business and marketing expertise to help authors navigate the complexities of publishing.

Lisa is seeking to represent upmarket fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, mystery/suspense/thrillers (especially if it has a dose of science or the supernatural), science fiction, fantasy, most speculative fiction except for paranormal fantasy (no demons, angels, vampires, zombies, werewolves, etc.), romance if it’s an element or part of another genre, NA, YA and middle grade.

Lisa does not represent nonfiction (this includes memoir), short story or poetry collections, picture books, early readers, chapter books, screenplays or other works of drama, nor does she represent self-published books.

Authors and Specialists