Presenters & Instructors

This page will be updated as more faculty members are
confirmed for the 2020 Tennessee Writing Workshop.


 

Screen Shot 2019-11-20 at 1.10.41 PMBob Mayer is a former Green Beret and the NY Times Bestselling author of over 75 books across a wide range of genres and nonfiction. He’s been on bestseller lists in thriller, science fiction, suspense, action, war, historical fiction, nonfiction, and is the only male author on the Romance Writers of America Honor Roll.

At the 2020 event, Bob will be teaching courses on building your author platform and also writing great characters. Bob is also offering manuscript critiques for attendees.

Born in the Bronx, Bob attended West Point and earned a BA in psychology with honors and then served as an Infantry platoon leader, a battalion scout platoon leader, and a brigade recon platoon leader in the 1st Cavalry Division. He joined Special Forces and commanded a Green Beret A Team. He served as the operations officer for 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and with Special Operations Command (Special Projects) in Hawaii. Later he taught at the Special Forces Qualification Course at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, the course that trains new Green Berets. After leaving active duty, he was often called back to service as national interests dictated a need for his specific skill set. He began writing while living in the Orient, as he earned a Black Belt in Martial Arts. He’s also earned a Masters Degree in Education.

His novels include the bestselling Area 51, Green Beret, Atlantis, and Time Patrol series and collaborations with Jennifer Crusie. Bob draws on all of his experiences to write his novels and his nonfiction books, including The Novel Writer’s Toolkit: A Guide To Writing Great Fiction; and Write It Forward: From Writer to Successful Author and Who Dares Wins: Special Operations Tactics for Success; Bob has presented for over 1,000 organizations both in the United States and internationally, including keynote presentations, all day workshops, and multi-day seminars. He teaches both writing and publishing topics as well as presentations on his Who Dares Wins concepts, bringing the tactics and techniques of Special Operations into the civilian world. He also presents workshops on the Area Study, the first step in preparing for natural and man-made disasters based on his survival manuals and Special Operations experiences.

He has taught organizations ranging from the Maui Writers Conference, to San Diego State University, to the University of Georgia, to the Romance Writers of America National Convention, to Boston SWAT, the CIA, Fortune-500, Microsoft, the Royal Danish Navy Frogman Corps, Rotary, IT Teams in Silicon Valley, the Nursing Program at Ohio State Univ. and many others. He has also served as a Visiting Writer for NILA MFA program in Creative Writing. He taught technical writing for the University of Washington as adjunct faculty. He has done interviews for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Sports Illustrated, PBS, NPR, the Discovery Channel, the SyFy channel and local cable shows. For more information see http://www.bobmayer.com. He offers The Writers Conference Guide: Getting the Most of Your Time and Money for free in eBook format on all eBook platforms and to conference attendees.

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Screen Shot 2019-12-26 at 4.30.36 PMErica Waters grew up in the pine woods of rural Florida, though she now resides in Nashville, Tennessee. She has a Master’s degree in English and works as a university writing tutor. Erica writes young adult and middle grade fiction with a Southern Gothic feel.

Her debut novel, Ghost Wood Song, will be published by HarperTeen in July 2020, followed by a second novel in 2021.

At the 2020 TN workshop, Erica will be presenting on young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as creating great atmosphere in your novel (using voice, setting, tension, and language).

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Screen Shot 2019-12-02 at 6.24.47 PMVictoria Griffin is a full-time professional editor and has worked with genres including literary fiction, suspense, horror, thriller, romance, historical fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, and memoir. She adores any work that blends genres. Victoria’s clients have gone on to land traditional book deals and launch successful writing careers through self-publication.

At the 2020 TN conference, she is teaching on self-editing.

Victoria’s short fiction has appeared in more than forty publications, including A Journey of Words, Apeiron Review, FLARE: The Flagler Review, NonBinary Review, Sweatpants & Coffee, Synaesthesia Magazine, Torrid Literature Journal, and Unbound Octavo. She is passionate about Appalachian culture, and most of her writing is set in the South. She is represented by Sandy Lu of L. Perkins Agency. She is also the author of Craft Your Query: A Workbook and Edit Like a Pro: A Self-Editing Guide.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Campbell University, where she graduated with honors while playing D1 softball. Victoria is an active member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, the Knoxville Writers’ Guild, and the Tennessee Mountain Writers.

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Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 11.08.52 AMAward-winning author and speaker Marian L. Thomas has penned six women’s fiction novels to date. Her books have been seen on national television stations such as the Oprah Winfrey Network, Ovation, and the A&E Network.

She has been featured in print magazines, newspapers and a guest on local, national and online radio stations. For her book, I Believe In Butterflies, Marian ranked among the top 100 Most Popular Authors in Literary Fiction on Amazon.

She spent most of her teen years in Oak Park, Illinois, but now resides in a suburb of Atlanta with her husband. She enjoys a good bag of popcorn, a plate full of pasta, and a grape pop. Also, her books have no profanity and a whole lot of drama.

At the 2020 TN event, Marian is teaching on how to self-publish your book and do it well.

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Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 3.23.45 PM.pngBrian A. Klems (@BrianKlems) is the former online editor of WritersDigest.com.

He is the coordinator of the 2020 Tennessee Writing Workshop. At the event, he is teaching a class and also offering query critiques as an add-on element for attendees.

His blog during his tenure there, The Writer’s Dig—which covered everything writing and publishing—was one of the largest blogs in the writing community.

Brian’s first book, Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Guide to Raising Daughters (Adams Media) was released in 2013. It received high-level buzz and praise from some of the funniest writers alive, including Dave Barry and Bruce Cameron. Brian is also a proud graduate of the Ohio University E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, a husband, softball infielder, perennial fantasy sports underachiever, and father of three lovely little girls.

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Screen Shot 2019-11-15 at 4.23.30 PMKenzi Nevins is a junior literary agent with CYLE Literary Elite.

At the 2020 TN workshop, she is teaching on platform and marketing, and also meeting with writers for one-on-one pitches.

Kenzi personally seeks picture books (text only is fine, but author-illustrators are her favorite), middle grade (all kinds), young adult (all kinds, including graphic novels with images), and adult fantasy. She is also happy to take pitches on behalf of her many co-agents, and pass on great submissions to them after the event. That means she will take pitches for romance (all kinds), literary fiction, mainstream fiction, science fiction, high & low fantasy, historical, mystery, thriller, suspense, women’s, and Christian/inspirational. For nonfiction, she will take pitches for parenting, leadership, ministry, devotionals, and self-help. She will also take pitches for board books and chapter books

“My personal interests lie in mythology and retold fairy tales, so I would say that fantasy and magic realism generally get me the most excited, but I will look at anything.”

Kenzi is an award-winning writer with a passion for magic realism and mythology. A graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing and theatre programs, she spent two semesters studying in the story-laden Wicklow Mountains of eastern Ireland. Previously, she won second place for theatre journalism and critique from the Kennedy Center for American College Theatre, and her short story, “The Last Freedom,” was published in eBook and paperback by StoryShares.

When she isn’t writing, Kenzi can be found watering her fairy garden, experimenting with little-known tea flavors, or wandering the aisles of her Kentucky library.

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Screen Shot 2018-11-30 at 8.14.05 PM.pngAlyssa Roat is a literary agent with CYLE Literary Elite.

At the 2020 TN workshop, she is teaching on how to avoid common mistakes. She is also meeting with writers for one-on-one pitches.

She is seeking:

  • any kind of young adult (but especially fantasy and speculative)
  • middle grade fiction (any kind)
  • fantasy
  • women’s fiction
  • contemporary fiction
  • unique historical fiction
  • children’s picture books (nonfiction or STEM elements are great)
  • some nonfiction (large platform only)
  • occasional Christian titles
  • a rare thriller/mystery/suspense

She does not want to receive Western, horror, or erotica.

“I’m especially interested in anything with these elements: Southwestern settings; non-western contemporary, fantasy, and historical settings; Amish fiction; lesser-known mythologies and mythological creatures; humor.”

Hailing from Tucson, Arizona, Alyssa’s love of words blossomed while she spent her days hiding from the scorching desert sun in dim rooms with thick books. She emerged from her dark, bookish cave to attend college, where her articles were featured in several publications. Now, she is often found writing and editing in the much cooler sunlight of the Midwest.

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Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 12.53.46 PMEric Smith is a literary agent with P.S. Literary.

At the 2020 TN workshop, Eric is teaching on writing science fiction & fantasy. He is also taking one-on-one pitches from attendees.

Eric began his publishing career at Quirk Books in Philadelphia, working social media and marketing on numerous books he absolutely adored. Eric completed his BA in English at Kean University, and his MA in English at Arcadia University. A frequent blogger, his ramblings about books appear on BookRiot, The Huffington Post, Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads blog, Paste Magazine’s Books section, and more. A published author with Quirk Books and Bloomsbury, he seeks to give his authors the same amount of love his writing has received.

Eric is seeking: Eric is eagerly acquiring fiction and nonfiction projects. He’s actively seeking out new, diverse voices in Young Adult (particularly sci-fi and fantasy), New Adult, and Literary and Commercial Fiction (again, loves sci-fi and fantasy, but also thrillers and mysteries). In terms of nonfiction, he’s interested in Cookbooks, Pop Culture, Humor, essay collections, and blog-to-book ideas.