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The 2019 Idaho Writers Conference is scheduled for April 25-27 at the Boise Centre. Our faculty includes a dynamic line up of agents, editors, writers, and industry professionals. 

The writing contests are now closed.

The conference offers opportunities for writers to pitch their work, attend workshops and panel discussions, meet one-on-one with literary agents, and have lunch with presenters in a variety of fields and genres. Here are some of the presenters you'll meet.

Conference Faculty

15 Workshop Presenters

Sherry Briscoe | Mystery

Heather Dyer | Sci-fi/Fantasy 

Greg Likins | Short Story/Flash Fiction

J. Reuben Appelman | True Crime 

Donna Cook | Easy Money Mastery

Margo Kelly | YA

Scott Marchant | Non-Fiction 

Susan Rowe | Memoir 

Elizabeth Gutting | Creative Nonfiction 

Kelly Jones | Historical Fiction

Tom Reale | Publishing

Dwayne Blackaller | Playwriting

Rosalind James | Romance 

Elisabeth McKetta | Working with Editors 

Lisa ZelenakZero to Published in 90 Days

Main Stage Emcee

Merilee Marsh

12 Main Stage Presenters

Michael Hollenbeck

J. Reuben Appelman 

Jodi Eichenberger

Christy Hovey

Cheri Copsey

Alan Heathcock

Dwayne Blackaller

Diana DeJesus

Dorian Willes

Gemma Gaudette 

Sheli G

Lisa Zelenak

2 Agents

Weronika Janczuk 

Tom Reale

J. Reuben Appelman

Main Stage Presenter

Workshop: Following the Blood: Discovering your "Why" in the true crime genre. 

Main Stage Talk: How Writing About Serial Killings Taught Me to Love: J. Reuben Appelman spent a decade studying serial killings. Dead on the inside when he started, he emerged with a newly-beating heart.

J. Reuben Appelman is a screenwriter, author in multiple genres, and two-time State of Idaho Literature Fellow. His film industry work includes the Netflix-streamed documentaries, Playground and Jens Pulver | Driven. His true-crime memoir, The Kill Jar, is also the basis of an upcoming four-part docuseries for television, with Appelman serving as on-camera investigator. 

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

Workshop Presenter

Enhance Your Writing and Presentation Skills: Methods for Editing and Presenting Your Work 

It's critical for writers of all stages to master the ability to successfully edit their work along with having the skills to present their final product to an audience. Yet, how does one go about this daunting task? Join author and Harvard Writing Instructor Dr. Elisabeth McKetta for a crash course on editing your work and gaining communication skills that will aid you toward presenting your piece. McKetta will be joined via Internet by former New York TV Reporter and Raymond Foundation Chief of Communications Officer Margaret-Ann Simonetta.

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta is the author of the biography Energy (Univ. Texas Press, 2017) as well as five previous books, including a writing guide. Her poetry and prose have been published in over 50 literary journals around the United States, including Mid-American Review, Raintown Review, and The Coachella Review. She teaches writing for Harvard Extension School, where she won their 2018 teaching award. www.elisabethsharpmcketta.com 

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Michael Hollenbeck

Main Stage Presenter

Redefining Success for the 99%  
Avoiding the emotional blackholes of entrepreneurial endeavors. 

Michael Hollenbeck is CEO and founder of Proskriptive, a software company that uses entirely too many buzz word technologies for the sole purpose of trying to un-cluster f*@k healthcare.  Where some might climb exceptionally tall, snow covered mountains or do ultra-marathons to prove they enjoy being deeply uncomfortable for long periods of time, Hollenbeck chose the path of serial entrepreneur.  Whether as a founded or eager servant to HIGHLY caffeinated tech executives he has participated in 6 startup companies over the last 20 years.  Along the way he has helped raise over $40 million in funding for new ventures and participated in the sale of several companies that collectively grossed nearly $100 million for shareholders.  He truly believes that the road to happiness and success is a journey, and those that are on the “rocket ship ride” generally end up in jail, rehab or on a video that you wouldn’t show your kids.     

Gemma Gaudette

Main Stage Presenter

Happiness on the Other Side
Everyone has a story. The host of Idaho Matters dives into hers with a discussion on how an atypical upbringing fostered resilience, learning through loss, and navigating life's challenges to find happiness on the other side of grief.

Gemma Gaudette has spent the majority of her career in Idaho. Shortly after graduating from Washington State University, she moved to Idaho Falls to take an anchor/reporter position at a local television station. After a stint in Lincoln, Nebraska as a television news anchor, she moved back to the Gem State to start the Fox affiliate at KTRV. She spent two years as the main anchor at KTRV before moving across the street to KIVI television to be their morning anchor. In November 2017 she joined Boise State Public Radio to help launch and host a live weekday talk program "Idaho Matters," which debuted in April of 2018, and in its short time on the air has won Best Talk Show by the Idaho Association of Broadcasters. 

Heather Lee Dyer

Workshop Presenter

Creativity over Perfection: Getting Your Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Done!

Why “write you know” and “writers block” aren’t what you think. Learn about research, podcasts, mentors, sci-fi conventions, and taking hold of awesome opportunities that come your way. 

HEATHER LEE DYER is the award-winning author of the young adult science fiction  Recycling Humanity seriesDelta Fringe series, and the non-fiction book Creativity over Perfection: The World Needs Your Book! She is also a poet, a space enthusiast and fangirl of most things YA, Sci-fi, romance, and paranormal. Heather also enjoys attending and speaking at workshops and conferences and mentoring middle grade and high school classes in creative writing. You can find her at: http://www.heatherleedyer.com.

Merilee Marsh


Merilee Marsh is the current president of the Idaho Writers Guild and spent her professional career in marketing and copywriting. A former member of the National Speakers Association, Merilee writes a monthly “Speaking Tips for Writers” for the Idaho Writers Guild newsletter. She has presented workshops in the United States, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine, and facilitated panels of media, editors, agents, attorneys, and other professionals. Merilee is a member of the Osher Advisory Board, heads up Osher’s Memoir Special Interest Group, and is an active member of several writing groups. 

Sherry Briscoe

Workshop Presenter

Founder and President of the Idaho Screenwriters Association for over 13 years, Sherry grew up watching Alfred Hitchcock and The Twilight Zone. Is it any wonder her stories are dark and mysterious with a hint of the supernatural? She has written and directed several short films that have been produced, and has a music video on YouTube she wrote and directed. Short films she’s worked on for the I48 Film Festival have won First Place and People’s Choice Awards. Her book Mists of Garibaldi: Tales of the Supernatural won first place in the mystery category of the Idaho Top Author Awards.

Margaret-Ann Simonetta

Workshop Presenter

Margaret-Ann Simonetta (co-presenting via satellite) is a passionate and lively communicator, all thanks to her background in television news reporting and creative writing at Harvard University. Margaret-Ann began her career as a television news reporter in New York after finishing her Journalism degree from New York University. She worked through stories such as the 2012 Presidential Election, Hurricane Sandy, along with many other important news stories of that time. Since entering a new degree at Harvard University, Margaret-Ann has worked closely with her dear friend and colleague Dr. Elisabeth McKetta, and has frequently guest lectured alongside Dr. McKetta for two years and counting! Although her passions have shifted off-screen, Margaret-Ann still enjoys researching, writing, and communicating her work to all. 

Christy Hovey

Main Stage Presenter

How to stand out in a noisy world: strategies to get your message heard on social media

  • Are you frustrated by the lack of social media engagement you’re getting?
  • Do you ever wonder why your peers seem to have amazing and loyal supporters and you don’t? 
  • Do you feel like social media is dead?  

In this informative session, you’ll learn tactics to build your social media presence, have meaningful and mutually beneficially conversations with your audience, how to create a loyal tribe, and how to truly become a social influencer.  

Christy is a Boise native—calling the North End home throughout her childhood and then graduating from Boise High School. She then attended BSU, AMU, and UC Berkeley. Growing up, her family owned the oldest and largest department store in downtown Boise, (The Mode Ltd.) and so she’s always had a strong interest in growing healthy local businesses and commerce. She’s been selling real estate since 2005 and manages the new construction division of the #1 real estate team in the state of Idaho. She’s been a consultant for many startups, is a published author, and speaks regularly on the topics of marketing and digital marketing trends and strategies. She loves writing articles about housing, the economy, and social media tips and tricks. She has written many articles for The Urban Liaison magazine and was a real estate contributor for The Eagle Informer. She served as the Idaho coordinator for National Novel Writing Month from 2013 through 2016. In 2014, she was a recipient of the Idaho Business Review’s Women of the Year award.

Christy lives with her husband, two of her four children (her two older children are grown), and her three pets. Christy volunteers extensively within the Treasure Valley and sits as co-VP on the board of The Idaho Writers Guild. She enjoys reading, writing, speaking, camping, golfing, snow skiing, water skiing, and biking on the Boise Greenbelt. 

Weronika Janczuk


Weronika Janczuk serves as a literary agent with D4EO Literary Agency. She broke into publishing in 2009, working with a small imprint in Minnesota (Flux, now North Star), and then interned with a series of agents, including Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency. She built a list of award-winning novelists from 2010-2012, including Hugo-nominated debut Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone (Tor/Macmillan) and Sekret by Lindsay Smith (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan). She has a B.A. in the philosophy of the human person from NYU. Weronika (pronounced Veronica) represents YA and adult fiction, including fantasy/sci-fi, thrillers/crime/mystery, romance, literary, commercial, and women's. In non-fiction she represents memoir and smart, high-concept non-fiction--projects that have a potential for cultural and social impact. She does not consider MG, children's or picture books, or graphic novels.

Cheri Copsey

Main Stage Presenter

Treatment vs. Incarceration:  The New Relationship between Criminals and Judges

Over the last 15 years the Idaho judicial system created a series of specialty treatment courts designed to treat some root causes of criminal behavior.  Research shows that treatment with judicial oversight can be more effective in changing criminal behaviors caused by drug addiction or mental health issues.  

During her 15 years on the District Court bench in Ada County, Judge Cheri Copsey, presided over a drug treatment court for 8 years. Now serving as a Senior Judge she regularly presides over drug and mental health, as well as veterans’ courts across southwestern Idaho.  Drawing on expertise in constitutional law, personal injury, municipal and environmental law garnered over 45 years of practice as an attorney and a judge, she is uniquely qualified to identify and help treat many of the root causes of criminal behavior in our society.  Before coming to Idaho in 1992, she wrote a monthly column for the Alaska Daily News. 

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Rosalind James

Workshop Presenter

Love and Affection and Sex and Romance: Developing Intimacy in Your Romance Novel 

Whether your hero and heroine share a sweet kiss or burn up the sheets, their intimate relationship forms the core of your story. We’ll discuss the stages of intimacy, the point of a love scene, and how to enhance your descriptive powers, as well  as the choices and changes in our genre, including writing romance in a post-#MeToo world.

Rosalind James is the author of 28 contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels published since 2012, some indie and others through Montlake Romance. Her books have sold millions of copies in English, German translation, and  audio, and she has been featured in the KDP monthly newsletter, Publishers Weekly magazine, Romantic Times magazine, and the ACX (audio producers') newsletter. Although perhaps best known for her first novels in the Escape to New Zealand sports romance series, Rosalind has written six successful series in a variety of Romance subgenres and styles, and enjoys pushing her artistic boundaries. It's all about getting better! 


Workshop Presenter

Kelly Jones grew up in Twin Falls, Idaho. She attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, graduating with a degree in English and an art minor. During her junior year in Italy at Gonzaga-in-Florence, she developed a love for travel, a passion she now shares with her husband, Jim. An art history class in Florence fueled a love for the history of art, which has become an integral part of her writing. 

Her Berkley/ Penguin Random House books include Lost and Found in Prague, a novel of mystery, murder, and miracles; The Woman Who Heard Color, a story of family loyalty, banned art, and creative freedom; The Lost Madonna, set in Florence, Italy; and The Seventh Unicorn, inspired by The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries in the Cluny Museum in Paris, France. Her novels have been translated into a dozen foreign languages.

Evel Knievel Jumps the Snake River Canyon . . . and Other Stories Close to Home is Kelly Jones’ first release from Ninth Avenue Press. The title story is set in her hometown of Twin Falls.

She is a mother and grandmother and is married to former Idaho Attorney General and retired Idaho Supreme Court Justice, Jim Jones. They live in Boise.


Margo Kelly

Workshop Presenter

Revising with an Eye for YA

The revision process is one of the most important steps in perfecting your overall story. In this workshop, Margo Kelly will show you how to examine your manuscript from different angles, exploring and developing the intrinsic qualities that will have your young adult audience captivated from beginning to end.

Margo Kelly is an award-winning writer and speaker. Her critically-acclaimed debut, Who R U Really?, was published in 2014, and her second novel, Unlocked, released in October 2016. Both titles are available through Simon & Schuster. School Library Journal has called Margo’s writings suspenseful, realistic, and dramatic. She enjoys writing thrillers for young adults and hopes her stories give readers the goose bumps or the itchies or the desire to rethink everyday things. Visit her online at www.margokelly.net

Scott Marchant

Workshop Presenter

How to Self-Publish Your Passion into a Business
Learn how to take control of your own book—from the initial concept through the journey of your first sale. Topics discussed will include book design, working a marketing plan, getting in front of your customer and "where's the profit?".

Scott Marchant is a Boise-based hiking guidebook author and photographer. He began his current journey while residing in Stanley in 2009. Scott currently has five Idaho hiking guidebooks in print and produces an annual Idaho wilderness calendar.

Donna Cook

Workshop Presenter

The Secret Killer of Author Businesses

Tailored to creatives who feel overwhelmed or intimidated by finances, this unique crash course on cash flow is for both beginning and experienced authors. Learn simple steps  to gain control of your money, feel more confident with financial decisions, and give a power boost to your career. 

Donna Cook has published over a dozen books in two genres including Gift of the Phoenix which won several awards both locally and nationally. She also writes contemporary romance as Jordyn White, concluding her second series of with the novel Beautiful Deep.  

Before going full-time as an author, Donna worked many years as a freelance book editor and publishing consultant. She co-founded the Idaho Editor and Writers Association in 2012 and still leads alongside her co-founders to facilitate the group’s mission to develop and nurture the professional growth of its members. Her publishing house (not open to submissions) published the award-winning, literary novel I Call Myself Coca Joe, by Arrow Keane in 2016. For information about her epic fantasy novels, visit DonnaCookAuthor.com. For information about her contemporary romance novels, visit JordynWhiteBooks.com

Elizabeth Gutting

Workshop Presenter

Creative Nonfiction: The Art of Personal Narrative

In this workshop, participants will discuss what makes a strong and compelling personal narrative. The workshop will include a brief in-class writing exercise, close reading of an exemplary text, and tips and advice for honing the writer's craft.

Elizabeth Word Gutting has published fiction and creative non-fiction in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Humanities Magazine, Juked, Paper Darts, and The Millions, among others. She was a Fulbright Fellow in South Korea and has received writing fellowships from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Vermont Studio Center, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Susan Rowe

Workshop Presenter

Memoir and its Many Forms

We tend to think of memoir as a book-length, nonfiction narrative, but what if poetry, flash, and even fiction could help unlock the stories of our lives? We'll examine memoir in a variety of forms and how experimentation with form can lead to a richer, deeper story. 

Rowe has an MFA in creative writing from Boise State University and an MA in philosophy, politics, and economics from Oxford University. Her writing has appeared in Creative NonfictionBrevity's Nonfiction BlogThe American OxonianPennyLiterary Mama, and the book, Fighting the World’s Fight: Rhodes Scholars in Oxford and Beyond. She has taught creative writing workshops for 10 years. 

Dwayne Blackaller

Main Stage Presenter

The Art of Empathy 

How can words make us weep? What's the specific alchemy that allows language to make our brows furrow, jaws clench, or our lungs burst with laughter? Join Actor, Director, and Playwright Dwayne Blackaller in a discussion about the science of empathy, the power of specificity, and how juicy words can bring us together.

Dwayne has worked as a professional actor, teacher, director and play deviser since 1995. He is the co-creator of the devised pieces The Physics of RegretDestinopolis, and The Acheri, and the author of the plays re/fraction, The Science of FictionAir Heart, and Orofino. He is the co-writer of The Uncanny ValleyNarwhal! Unicorn Of The SeaA Nighttime Survival Guide, and Rabbit/Moon, with Matthew Cameron Clark, and Maggie Lumiere and The Ghost Train, with Tracy Sunderland. He has a passion for teaching young performers and has worked as an acting teacher for The Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Eagle Performing Arts Center, College of Idaho, and the Ohio State University. He was also a puppeteer, sword fighter, and stilt-walker in Las Vegas. Dwayne has trained with Anne Bogart’s SITI Company in New York, and specializes in teaching Viewpoints and Suzuki training for actors. He is now the Associate Artistic Director at Boise Contemporary Theater where he created BCT Theater Lab, a program for youth to find their voices and create new plays. Dwayne earned his MFA in acting at the Ohio State University with a focus on movement and devising new work.

Alan Heathcock

Main Stage Presenter

The Story You're Meant to Write

Even when powerfully drawn to the endeavor of writing, most people are hindered by apprehensions and doubt, which, in turn, keeps them from the story they're meant to write. This workshop will offer a method through which a writer can let go of apprehensions and move into their optimal place of power as an artist.

Alan Heathcock's fiction and features have appeared in many of America's top magazines. His book, VOLT was a New York Times Editor's Choice, finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, and received acclaim from critics both domestic and abroad. Two of VOLT'S stories have been made into short films, and two others, "The Staying Freight" and "The Daughter"  are currently set as a major motion pictures based on Heathcock's screenplays. Alan has won a Whiting Award, the GLCA New Writers Award, a National Magazine Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Lannan Foundation, and the Idaho Commission on the Arts. His new novel, 40, will appear soon from MCD at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. He is a native of Chicago who has called Boise home for nearly twenty years.

Tom Reale

Workshop Presenter

Which Publishing Business Model Is Right for Me?

An exploration of the avenues to publication, from pure self-publishing to Big-Five royalty, and everything in between. Learn the differences, including the advantages and disadvantages of the major models that have emerged in the modern publishing market. 

Tom Reale serves as Chief Operating Officer of Brown Books Publishing Group, the nation’s 2nd-fastest growing independent publisher. Prior to Brown Books, Tom served as Vice President of Special Projects for Academic Partnerships, a premier Higher Education content delivery company. His earlier roles included eleven years with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and positions at Classroom Connect, Miller Freeman Inc., HarperCollins, TVSM, Random House (Crown, Fodor’s), and Mondadori. Tom Reale is an established speaker, thought leader, and fitness advocate.  

Jodi Eichelberger

Keeping the "I' in "WrIting": Personal Narrative and Performance

Jodi Eichelberger works with writers to bring their stories to the stage and often discovers a mysterious drifting away from the first person. Jodi will discuss the cultivation of authenticity and access to the universal by careful focus on the individual.

Jodi Eichelberger is the artistic director and host of Story Story Night and the Program Coordinator at Surel's Place. Jodi was an active storyteller on many stages in the New York storytelling community, including at The Moth. He produced a podcast of personal narratives called “The Acorn People” and is best known for his part in the original Broadway cast of “Avenue Q” and for his role as “Stingy” on the children’s television show “LazyTown” which has aired in the US on CBS, NBC, Nickelodeon, Sprout, and Netflix. He has worked with the Jim Henson Company, composed musical scores and scripts for his company Other Hand Productions and others. Since coming to Boise, Jodi has performed as an actor with Alley Repertory Theater and Boise Contemporary Theater.  He has been published in The Battered Suitcase, The Puppetry Journal, and Portland Parent

Sheli G

Be Open to the Possibility of Possibilities

Life is lifey. It is complex and laden with dragons. And, it always has the potential to be more than we ever imagined. Sheli will take you on a journey into the possible, and inspire you to overcome overwhelm and expand into your full capacity.

Sheli G is the CEO of Women Ignite. She is a Business Consultant, Personal Growth Facilitator and Author. She is also an accidental comedian. She makes her home in Meridian, Idaho.

Greg Likins

A Crash Course in Flash Fiction
Short-short stories pack the punch of meatier tales by tapping into mythic themes and ending with phrases so perfect they resonates for days in the reader's mind. Come read some examples of the best. We'll look at markets that publish micro, nano, sudden and flash fiction, and discover writers who turned their vignettes into full-length novels. 

Greg Likins' tiny stories have appeared in 50 Word Fiction, Every Day Fiction, and in Boise Weekly's annual Fiction 101 issue. A former librarian, he is now the staff writer and editor for Idaho Public Television.

Diana DeJesus

Do It for the 'Gram: How to Authentically Brand Yourself in the Age of Social Media
With the rise of social media, many creators are unfamiliar with how to authentically brand themselves using powerful tools like Instagram and Facebook. Learn how authors can apply strategies, tap into their voice, and confidently share their brand with an engaging community using Instagram. 

Diana DeJesus J.D., MPA is the associate director of admissions at the University of Idaho College of Law and also the founder of Boise Bucket List, an Instagram page and brand highlighting life in Boise. She is the founder of Collaboration Over Competition, a networking mixer for current and aspiring female entrepreneurs. She is also a consultant  on content and  branding strategies, and partnering with local and national brands including Albertsons, UberEats, Idaho Lottery, Washington Trust Bank, and Mai Thai Bar and Restaurant. Diana has been featured in Greenbelt Magazine, Idaho Statesman, KTVB, Idaho Matters with Gemma Gaudette, and You Know the Place Podcast. She is also the chair of the Marketing and Communication Work Team of Boise Young Professionals. 

Lisa Zelenak

Main Stage Talk


As a writer you have big goals but you also have limiting beliefs. What if the #1 reason you haven't succeeded is the same reason you must find a way to make your dream happen?


Zero to Published in 90 Days: How to Use a Book to Double Your Income & Following

A book is THE most important asset you need to double your following and revenue in 2019. In this presentation, Lisa Zelenak from Self Publishing School breaks down the 3 step process used by 4,000+ SPS students to go from no idea to published author in 90 days. 

Lisa is the bestselling author of the book, Find Your Thing. She has the unique ability to coach people through finding a deeper level of fulfillment by supporting them in identifying their purpose. Lisa has worked internationally in the nonprofit world to develop leaders and has grown her own life coaching business to influence thousands of people worldwide. She believes in the power of sharing your truth with the world and encourages other people to find ways to share their stories. Lisa’s daily work in Self Publishing School is the vehicle that allows others to facilitate change and spread their message.

Dorian Willes

Dorian Willes is an athlete, speaker, and survivor. After overcoming life as a homeless criminal, 21 gunshot wounds, time-served, and amputation, he rebuilt his life, body, and outlook. Willes has spoken to hundreds of thousands of children and adults on stages across the US. A record-breaking athlete, he has competed in Track and Field, Jiu-Jitsu, Power Lifting, and Skeleton.  

MAIN STAGE TALK: 21 Shots at Life

In 2008, Dorian Willes was a homeless violent criminal. After being shot 21 times by the Boise Police department, the extensive recovery that followed, and serving time in a Federal Penitentiary, Willes turned his life around and went on to become a record-breaking athlete representing the United States around the world. 

Thanks to the sponsors of the Idaho Writers Guild

 Rediscovered BookshopMill Park Publishing



Idaho Writers Guild

PO Box 8862

Boise ID 83707


Idaho Writers Guild is a 501 (c) 6 non-profit organization committed to providing a safe environment for all its members and guests. The IWG has a zero tolerance policy for any form of discrimination on any ground, and from harassment of any type. This includes all members, presenters, and attendees at any and all IWB functions. 

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