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Save the dates!

The 2020 Idaho Writers Conference will be April 24 and 25 in Boise at the Centre

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Here is the tentative schedule.

Are you going? Help us promote the conference by using these social media posts!

Here are some of the people who will be sharing their knowledge with you: 

Ridley Pearson, Author

Ridley Pearson: A Fiction Writer’s Approach to Storytelling
For being such a private, personal act, all writing shares form and function. Multiple #1 NYT bestseller, Ridley Pearson, discusses the art and importance of story, the craziness of co-writing with humorist Dave Barry, and the insanity of being the bass player in a rock bank with Stephen King.

Edgar-nominee, Ridley Pearson is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of (more than 50) award-winning suspense and young adult adventure novels. His novels have been published in two-dozen languages and have been adapted for network television and the Broadway stage. Ridley’s crime novels have earned a reputation for writing fiction that "grips the imagination."

Ridley’s middle-grade-reader series include, The Kingdom Keepers, Steel Trapp and Lock & Key. The Peter and the Starcatchers series, co-written with Pulitzer Prize winner (and bandmate), Dave Barry, (adapted to the stage by Rick Elice) was awarded 5 Tony Awards.

Ridley’s research has spanned the globe and has included, a prison for the criminally insane in the U.K., exploring the engine room of a cruise liner, and multiple after-hour tours of Walt Disney World and Disneyland. 

Ridley’s latest project is a trilogy of graphic novels—The Super Sons—for DC Comics.

Ridley plays bass guitar in an all-author rock band comprised of other bestselling writers (Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Mitch Album, Scott Turow, Greg Iles, and occasionally, Stephen King). The Rockbottom Remainders, has raised over 2.5 million dollars for various non-profits. He lives--and writes--in the Northern Rockies along with his wife, Marcelle.

Kim Cross

Kim Cross is a New York Times Best-Selling author known for meticulously reported literary nonfiction. A full-time freelance writer, she writes for Nieman Storyboard, Outside, Southwest magazine, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, Bicycling, Bike, ESPN.com, and a few newspapers. Her long-form stories have been recognized in “Best of” lists by the Columbia Journalism Review and included in the Best American Sport Writing. Kim’s first book, What Stands in a Storm, chronicles the biggest tornado outbreak in recorded weather, the April 2011 storm that unleashed 349 tornados on 21 states, killing at least 324 people. What Stands in a Storm won the Fitzgerald Museum Literary Prize for Excellence in Writing and the American Society of Journalists and Authors nonfiction book award. A Barnes & Noble “Discover” pick, it was named one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2015 and was a finalist in the GoodReads Choice Awards. Kim teaches creative nonfiction at Boise State University and writing workshops for The Cabin. 

Dana Thorp Patterson

Dana Thorp Patterson is Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Boise State University and has served for more than twenty years in advanced leadership roles at colleges and universities in Missouri, Oregon, and now, Idaho. As a leader in lifelong learning, Dana has provided training and consulting services to dozens of continuing education programs across the country. Dana was personally impacted by the lack of educational resources during her formative years growing up in rural Alaska, influencing her advocacy and supporting of rural education initiatives in the local community as well as her home area of southeast Alaska. Dana is a first-generation high school and college graduate, completing degrees in criminal justice and sociology at age 19.  She has earned advanced degrees in clinical counseling and higher education leadership, augmenting Dana’s experiences and career choices throughout the years. Her memoir, Logging Camp Kid, is due to be completed in 2020. 

Main Stage Talk: Logging Camp Kid: The Reality of Education
Dana Thorp Patterson shares her colorful journey of education in rural Alaska as a teenager determined to become a first-generation high school graduate and her adventure of going “outside” to complete a college degree at an early age. It’s a tale of hardship, choices, chance, and grace.

Liza Long

Liza Long is an author, educator, and mother of four children, one of whom has bipolar disorder. Her book, The Price of Silence: A Mom's Perspective on Mental Illness (Hudson Street Press, 2014), was a "Books for a Better Life" award winner. Liza's essays have appeared in USA Today, the Huffington Post, Psychology Today, Time.com, The Mighty, MindBodyGreen, Good Men Project, and Boise State University's The Blue Review, among others. Since her essay “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” went viral, she has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, Erin Burnett Out Front, Anderson Cooper 360, Don Lemon, Dr. Oz, the Diane Rehm Show, NPR's Weekend Edition, and other programs. She presented talks on children’s mental health and stigma at TEDx San Antonio in October 2013 and at the National Council for Behavioral Health in March 2016. She was featured in the Peabody award-winning HBO documentary A Dangerous Son in May 2018 and is also part of the 2019 Columbine documentary, An American Tragedy.

Patty Costello

Patty Costello lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, a zany awesome toddler, and a dog named Pippa. She has a BS in Psychology from the University of St Thomas and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Minnesota. She currently works in higher education. Her first book is a picture book called Catalina and the King’s Wall which released in 2018 from Eifrig Publishing.

Stacey Smekofske, Editor

Stacey Smekofske is an energetic, versatile, and responsive editor, helping nonfiction authors build their influence and creative fiction authors craft compelling stories. Stacey has a myriad of life experiences and knowledge that allows her to edit many genres including fantasy, thriller, historical, horror, children’s literature, memoir, business, and self-help. She graduated magna cum laude with a degree in communications and English from BYU Idaho and has been an educator and editor for over 16 years. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, the Idaho Writers and Editors Association, the Northwest Editors Guild, and the American Copy Editors Society (ACES). She has a certificate in copy editing with Poynter University and ACES. She is a huge fan of all creative individuals. With fortitude and compassion, Stacey labors with zealous writers to produce excellent books that thrill readers.

Nate Pedersen

Nate Pedersen is a librarian, historian, and writer in Boise, Idaho. He is the co-author of Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything with Lydia Kang, published by Workman, which NPR dubbed a best science book of 2017. Nate’s nonfiction has appeared in Mental FlossThe GuardianTrail RunnerThe Art of ManlinessPowell’s Books and The Believer, amongst others. His website is http://natepedersen.com.

Tom Reale, Publisher & Agent

Tom Reale is a literary agent as well as Chief Operating Officer and President 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. 

Eric Smith, Agent, Author

Eric Smith is a literary agent and Young Adult author from Philadelphia. An agent with P.S. Literary, he's worked on New York Times bestselling and award-winning books, and focuses on Young Adult, genre-blending literary fiction, select sci-fi and fantasy, and non-fiction in the world of memoir, essays, cookbooks, and pop history. A bestselling author, his books include The Geek's Guide to Dating (Quirk), the Inked duology (Bloomsbury), The Girl and the Grove (Flux), and most recently, Don't Read the Comments (Inkyard Press). His next book, Battle of the Bands, is a co-edited anthology with Lauren Gibaldi, and will be published in 2021 with Candlewick Press. His writing has been translated into ten languages, and he can often be found rambling about YA novels on BookRiot's HEY YA! podcast. If you want to get a sense of his tastes, visit his official website, where he has a manuscript wishlist, as well as querying advice for authors. www.ericsmithrocks.com.

Johnny Worthen

Johnny Worthen is an award-winning, best-selling author, voyager, and damn fine human being! He is the tie-dye wearing writer of the nationally acclaimed, #1 Kindle best-selling Eleanor, the Unseen. Among his other excellent and very read-worthy titles are the adult occult thrillers What Immortal Hand and Beatrysel, the award-winning mystery The Brand Demand, and the genre bending comedy-noir The Finger Trap, winner of the Diamond Quill for best book of the year. The Finger Trap introduces Tony Flaner, the lovable slacking sarcastic detective whose adventures continue in Thicker Than Water and In the Wake of Captain Lord. Trained in stand-up comedy, modern literary criticism and cultural studies, Johnny is a frequent public speaker, teacher and blogger. He’s a writing instructor at the University of Utah and an acquisitions editor for Omnium Gatherum, a publisher of unique dark fantasy, and Dandelion Ink, purveyors of great mystery. He lives in Utah.

Dr. Vincent Muli Kituku, CSP

Dr. Vincent Muli Kituku, CSP, author, international speaker and philanthropist, works with organizations and individuals who want to increase their productivity and stay focused. He is one of the 775 speakers to earn the coveted Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) recognition, the highest designation presented by the International Federation of Professional Speakers. Vincent is the founder/director of Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope (CHHH) a non-profit organization that helps needy orphans and children from poverty-stricken families obtain a high school education in Kenya. He also founded Caring Hearts High School, a boarding facility for vulnerable girls. CHHH sponsors more than 300 students in high schools and in universities or diploma colleges. Dr. Kituku is a widely read influential writer in business, inspiration and education. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nairobi and both his Masters and Doctorate from the University of Wyoming.  

Sherry Briscoe

Sherry Briscoe, an award-winning author, writes suspense with a dash of romance and a pinch of the paranormal. Her childhood heroes were Alfred Hitchcock and Edgar Allan Poe, and she insists that episodes of The Twilight Zone made perfectly fine bedtime stories. In addition to her short story collection, Mists of Garibaldi, Sherry has written for numerous magazines and publications. A native Idahoan with Cajun and Native American heritage, she holds degrees in Journalism, Photography, and Adult Education. She is a world traveler, US Army veteran, founder of the Idaho Screenwriters Association, active board member of the Idaho Writers Guild, and professional speaker and workshop facilitator.

Robin Lee Hatcher

Robin Lee Hatcher is the author of 80 novels and novellas with over five million copies of her books in print. She is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Her numerous awards include the RITA┬« Award, the Carol Award, the Christy Award, the HOLT Medallion, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award. Robin is also the recipient of prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from both American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America┬«. When not writing, she enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, Bible art journaling, reading books that make her cry, watching romantic movies, and decorative planning. Robin makes her home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with a demanding Papillon dog and a persnickety tuxedo cat.

Erica Virvo

Erica Virvo is a purposeful traveler and connector, who loves the thrill of living in countries of which people have rarely heard. She’s spent 5 years studying and working in lesser-visited countries in the Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, and Africa. Erica has been an integral part of the Nomadic Matt team since she moved back to the U.S. in 2013, heading the creation of the series of self-published city, country, and continent Nomadic Matt Guidebooks. Her tips have been featured in publications including Levo League, the Positive Psychology Podcast, and Forbes.

Marcia Franklin

Marcia Franklin has been a producer and host at Idaho Public Television since 1990. She is the producer and host of Dialogue, a statewide conversation program focusing on the humanities, which is beginning its 25th season.

Franklin is also a producer for Idaho Experience, a history series, and Outdoor Idaho, a series that covers environmental and outdoor issues in Idaho. She is also the past managing editor and host of Idaho Reports, the station's legislative program.

Her programs have garnered some of the highest media honors, including a George Foster Peabody Award, the Silver Gavel Award of the American Bar Association, and five regional Emmy Awards.

Marcia is a founding board member of the non-partisan City Club of Boise and a past president of that organization. For many years, she was a “Big Sister” in Big Brothers, Big Sisters. She is a frequent moderator at events around the state.

Malia Collins

Malia Collins, Idaho's Writer in Residence,  grew up in Hawaii and left home for the wilds of Wisconsin where she received her degree in creative writing and journalism from Beloit College. She spent a few years traveling and living abroad until going back home to Kailua, Oahu, to get her Master’s in Literature at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. After finishing her degree, she moved to Grenoble, France, on a Rotary ambassadorial scholarship to study French Literature at L’Universite Stendhal. It was there that she fell in love with snow and skiing. Shortly after returning to the States, she made a three-day stop in Boise to say hello to her grandparents. That was in 1999, and she’s been here ever since. Malia has published short stories in a number of literary magazines, has two Hawaiian children’s books, and is currently working on a guide to Hawaiian culture as well as a novel. She loves to swim in the ocean, walk Kailua Beach, and hike up Table Rock, particularly at sunrise. She lives in Boise with her husband and two children. She is an assistant professor in the English Department at the College of Western Idaho.


Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a popular speaker at writing conferences, colleges, film festivals and entertainment industry conferences around the world. She lectured at Disney Feature Animation and taught the Career Realities course at Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood. She has written articles for over 110 publications, including Cowboys and Indians, Entrepreneur, Los Angeles Times, Art Business News, Costco Connection, U.S. Art, Computer Graphics, Idaho Arts Quarterly, Animation Today, Animation Magazine, Eagle Magazine and Idaho Women’s Journal. Thompson is an internationally-acclaimed recruiter, career coach and animation veteran. She worked on the Emmy-Award winning show The Simpsons, among others, and an episode of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories.

Jim Thomas

As a seasoned Motivational Speaker, Jim Thomas has built a reputation for transforming the lives of those he works with, by opening their eyes to the power we all possess to affect positive change to the culture in which we live or work. By customizing tangible action plans to your conceptual goals, Jim takes a strategic approach combined with an outside-the-box perspective, to help you better understand and empower yourself and your team. In his 7th season as Boise State Women's Soccer Head Coach, Jim has revolutionized the programs perspective towards success.  With back to back regular season championships under their belt and the current Mountain West Tournament Champions, Boise State Soccer is a record setting example of the change Jim can guide you to in your world.

Debunking Buy-In: In an ever changing world, built by more diverse communities and generations, the search for Buy-In across all platforms dominates the desires and directions of all leaders. But what if Buy-In was the problem? Listen in as Jim redefines the key components to aligning groups and creating internal positive, growth driven, cultures by altering the lens on gaining Buy-In.

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Heather Carr, Agent

Heather Carr is an associate agent at The Friedrich Agency. Originally from outside of Portland, OR, she received a B.A. in English from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, and ended her eastbound journey by settling in Brooklyn, NY with her 18-year-old cat. She spent her first few years in publishing at Trident Media Group before joining The Friedrich Agency in March 2018.  Heather is looking for voice-driven narrative nonfiction, especially relating to science, the environment, niche histories, and cultural criticism. She’s also seeking literary and high-concept commercial fiction including that which dabbles in the surreal and suspenseful, particularly about complex women and female friendship. In all writing, she’s on the hunt for a singular voice and new perspectives. She does not represent any work for children or young adults.

Cristen Iris, Editor

Cristen Iris is a craft-oriented, purpose-driven developmental and substantive editor, book collaborator, and author manager. Her clients include a New York Times bestselling debut novelist and Today Show Read with Jenna book of the month pick; a GRAMMY Award-winner; a triple-amputee physician, adventurer, and disability advocate; and nationally recognized social justice and sustainability experts. To date, her clients' books have earned more than twenty well-respected book awards and professional acknowledgments. Cristen works with self, hybrid, and traditionally published authors. She is a serious editor for serious writers and a strategic partner for literary agents and high-quality indie publishers.

Devri Walls, Author

Devri Walls is a US and international bestselling YA author. Having released seven novels to date, she specializes in all things fantasy and paranormal. Settled in Meridian, Idaho Devri lives with her husband, two kids and the cutest mutt you’ve ever seen. When not writing she can be found teaching voice lessons, reading, cooking or binge watching whatever show catches her fancy. Book three in her extremely popular Venators series will release April 30th 2020.

Kate Baray

Kate Baray writes paranormal and urban fantasy and, as Cate Lawley, cozy mysteries and romance. When Kate’s not tapping away at her keyboard or in deep contemplation of her next fanciful writing project, she's sweeping up hairy dust bunnies and watching British mysteries. Kate is from Austin, Texas (where many of her stories take place) but has recently migrated north to Boise, Idaho, where soup season (her favorite time of year) lasts more than two weeks. She's worked as an attorney, a dog trainer, and in various other positions, but writer is the hands-down winner. She's thankful readers keep reading, so she can keep writing! For more information about Kate and the most up to date listing of her books, visit: www.CateLawley.com.

Rick Just

Rick Just is a native Idahoan who grew up on a ranch along the Blackfoot River. He is the author of two adult novels, four YA novels, and has written or edited several books on Idaho history. He does a daily Idaho history blog on Facebook called Speaking of Idaho and writes about history for Idaho newspapers. Some of his recent books include A Kid's Guide to Boise,  Fearless--Farris Lind, the Man Behind the Skunk, and the first book in his Speaking of Idaho series, Symbols, Signs, and Songs.

Amanda Turner

Amanda Turner is a New York Times bestselling author, current President of the Idaho Writers Guild, and part-time digital nomad. Her books include This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor StoreVagabonding with Kids, and Drinking with Dead Women Writers. She is a co-founder of ImpactClub Boise, whose members have given over $225,000 to local charities since 2017.

Limitless: Redefining Your Potential
Don't just think outside of the box. Set the box on fire. Learn three rules to connect, inspire, and open a world of possibilities.

Merilee Marsh

Merilee Marsh is a past 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.

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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) 3 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 IWG functions. 

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