Agents Share the Conferences and Writing Events They Will Attend this Year + Interview with Sara Ackerman ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌


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- N.K. Jemisin is a Nebula Award nominee for THE STONE SKY.

- LOST BOY by Christina Henry and THE LAWRENCE BROWNE AFFAIR by Cat Sebastian are up for Best Male Protagonist in a Leading Role in the Bookish Awards.

- The 2018 Audie Awards finalists include Faith Hunter's CURSE ON THE LAND, Nalini Singh’s SILVER SILENCE, Christie Golden's BATTLEFRONT II: INFERNO SQUAD and N.K. Jemisin's THE STONE SKY.

- David Mack had an article on Tor's blog about choosing a title for your novel.

- The cover of TWICE DEAD by Caitlin Seal was revealed on YA Interrobang.

- Sara Ackerman’s ISLAND OF SWEET PIES AND SOLDIERS was featured in Buzzfeed, Shereads, Culturalist, and Writers Digest.

- VEILED MENACE by Deborah Blake was chosen to be a Fresh Pick at Fresh Fiction.

- HOME WITH YOU by Shirlee McCoy received an excellent review from Booklist.

- Lucy Parker’s ACT LIKE IT was mentioned in Jezebel as one of the romance novels to "speed date."

THE RUIN OF A RAKE by Cat Sebastian is on the 2018 Recommended Book List at Rainbow Books, while Sebastian's IT TAKES TWO TO TUMBLE received an excellent review from Booklist.

- The cover for Terri-Lynne DeFino's THE BAR HARBOR RETIREMENT HOME FOR FAMOUS WRITERS (AND THEIR MUSES) was revealed on Terri-Lynne's Modesty is for Suckers blog.

- SOMEWHERE STILL by Denitta Ward was named a finalist for The Wishing Shelf Book Award.

- DRIFTWOOD COVE by Debbie Mason is an Amazon Best Book for February in Romance and THE MIDNIGHT FRONT by David Mack is an Amazon Best Book for February in SF/Fantasy.

- Nalini Singh's SILVER SILENCE made #7 on the Spiegel bestseller list (One of Germany's top newspapers).

- I BELIEVE IN HEALING by Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk has gone back for its sixth printing with Baker Books.

- Don and Eva Piper's daughter, Nicole, sat down with Harry Connick, Jr., and talked about her battle with cancer. She discussed how her father's experience of dying, as described in his memoir 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN, has helped her cope with the illness. 


Round Table

Which conferences or writing events will you likely be attending this year?

Deidre Knight

March 23–24: Do Tell! Storytelling Festival in Madison, Georgia

April 16–18: The Futurescapes Writers’ Workshop at Sundance Resort in Provo, Utah

July 18–21: RWA2018 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel in Denver, Colorado

October 13–20: Cruising Writers in the Western Caribbean

Pamela Harty

July 18–21: RWA2018 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel in Denver, Colorado




Elaine Spencer

April 10–12: London Book Fair

July 18–21: RWA2018 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel in Denver, Colorado



Lucienne Diver

March 18, 2 PM – 4 PM: Tips from a Literary Agent presentation at the W. T. Bland Library in Mount Dora, Florida

March 29, 6:30: Queries and Cover Letters presentation at the Hart Memorial Library in Kissimmee, Florida

April 10–12: London Book Fair

June 9–10: DFWCon at the Hurst Conference Center in Hurst, Texas

August 4, 9 PM – 5 PM: Florida Writing Workshop, Crowne Plaza Westshore in Tampa, Florida


Nephele Tempest

May 12th: In-person critiques on for the San Diego chapter of SCBWI




Melissa Jeglinski

September 6–9: Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in Denver, Colorado




Kristy Hunter

March 10: Atlanta Writer’s Workshop in Atlanta, Georgia

March 11: SCBWI Southern Breeze in Birmingham, Alabama

June 8–12: The Southeastern Writers Conference at St Simons Island, Florida


Janna Bonikowski

July 18–21: RWA2018 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel in Denver, Colorado




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Author Interview

Born and raised in Hawaii, Sara Ackerman studied journalism and later earned graduate degrees in psychology and Chinese Medicine. ISLAND OF SWEET PIES AND SOLDIERS is her debut novel.

TKA: Please share a little about ISLAND OF SWEET PIES AND SOLDIERS and how the novel came about.

Sara: Having been born and raised in Hawaii, I grew up hearing my grandmother’s stories about the war. One of my favorites involved a lion named Roscoe. Roscoe was my inspiration and one of the main reasons I wrote this book. I love animals and I write about them extensively in all my novels. The story of how the Marines brought him over from the Los Angeles zoo and how he lived with them and became a mascot at Camp Tarawa was so appealing to me.

I remember my grandmother talking about stopping to pick up the soldiers as they trudged up the hot and winding road from Kawaihae (the beach) to Waimea where their camp was. She was terrified to have a lion in her car, but the men persuaded her that he would be fine. That was how she ended up with a lion breathing down her neck as she drove them up the hill. She never tired of telling this story, and as a young girl, I never tired of hearing it. What also always stuck with me was how the war so deeply impacted my grandparents. It was such a frightening and dark time, and yet such a meaningful time. People here banded together and befriended the soldiers before they sailed off to Iwo Jima and Saipan. For many of those men, this was their last stop before dying in battle. I wanted to write a book that showed both sides of the coin.

TKA: ISLAND OF SWEET PIES AND SOLDIERS is filled with vivid details and authentic characters, making readers feel like they're really in 1944 Hawaii. What were some of the ways you were able to achieve this, and did it require a lot of research?

Sara: I was lucky in that I had my grandmother’s stories, as well as the ability to ask my parents and my uncle, among other people, about details during that time here in Hawaii. Also, the small towns here on the Big Island have changed, but not that much. So, I am quite familiar with the lay of the land. I also pored over books, articles, and old photos. Old school yearbooks are also great resources. As for the characters, I draw a lot from people I know or see around and they often seem to come to life of their own accord. That is one of my favorite parts about writing, watching my characters turn into living, breathing people between the pages!

TKA: What is your favorite part of the writing process, and what do you find most challenging?

Sara: I love the magic that happens when you sit down every day (or almost every day) and write. Though it is not always easy, it fascinates me how the story carries itself along if you let it. Often times, I have no idea where it’s going, and I’m the one who is writing it! I enjoy the creative part of the story writing and the first draft stage the most. Revisions are a necessary evil and as important as the writing, but I find that things get much more challenging at that stage, when you often have to rearrange all these pieces and hold so much in your brain. A change in the early part of the book often requires changing entire threads throughout. To me, that is the hardest part.

TKA: What books have influenced you most in life?

Sara: Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and Alice Hoffman novels. As a girl, I also loved Nancy Drew mysteries and read each one of them several times. There are countless others but these are the ones that stand out most in my mind. I love to be transported to faraway places and I also love to read about nature, animals, and food. I’m a sucker for good imagery! I’m also a fan of magical realism and I love how Alice Hoffman has such a lyrical quality to her writing, as well as great stories. These authors are my writing idols and I spend time with their books over and over again. In fact, I think my copies of Practical Magic and The Secret Life of Bees are so worn that they are missing their front covers and are coming apart at the seams.

TKA: Have you always had a special interest in World War II, and can we expect more novels from you set in this era?

Sara: Actually, ISLAND OF SWEET PIES AND SOLDIERS is my fourth novel written (the others are not published, YET!) and it was the only one that is historical. My others are all a blend of love, suspense, and adventure, and all are set in Hawaii. However, in my book deal with MIRA, they requested another historical novel, so the one I just finished writing takes place in 1941, both on the S.S. Lurline and on Oahu around the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. I enjoy writing historical fiction, especially about Hawaii, and find that I learn so much in the process but it is definitely more challenging.

TKA: Finally, could you please share a writing tip for aspiring authors?

Sara: My writing motto is Patience & Perseverance. I had this posted on my wall for years. Good writing is something that takes time to cultivate. Focus on strengthening your writing rather than getting published and not only will you enjoy it more, you just might find that you end up getting that book deal anyway at the perfect time in your life. I set a ten-year goal for myself and it took five to get my deal with MIRA, an imprint of Harper Collins. Don’t be afraid to dream big!

Also, my favorite piece of writing advice is to always finish mid-scene, or begin a new scene before you sign off for the day. That way, you can have a jumping-off point when you start up the next day. This has made all the difference for me in not getting writer’s block.

And one more thing ... attend as many writers conferences as you can!

To learn more about Sara, visit



- Maggie Black's launch book in a new mini-continuity about witness protection set amidst the Amish community, to Emily Rodmell at Love Inspired Suspense, in a nice deal by Melissa Jeglinski

- Darcie Wilde's three new mysteries in the Rosalind Thorne series set in Regency England, to Wendy McCurdy at Kensington, in a nice deal by Lucienne Diver

- David B. Coe's original tie-in to the History Channel’s new Knightfall series about the Knights Templar, to Gary Budden at Titan Books via Lucienne Diver

- Turkish rights to Rachel Caine's PAPER AND FIRE, to Alfa, in a nice deal by Fusun Kayi of Kayi Literary Agency on behalf of Lucienne Diver

- David Coe's TIME'S CHILDREN and TIME'S DEMON, the first two books in an epic fantasy series set in a world of island nations, shifting alliances and bitter rivalries, where time travel may well turn the tide, but only at a steep cost, to Phil Jourdan and Marc Gascoigne at Angry Robot, in a nice deal by Lucienne Diver

- Sally Malcolm's PERFECT DAY, a contemporary male/male retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion starring a now-famous Hollywood actor and the man he left behind—his first true love—to Kerri Buckley at Carina Press, in a two-book deal by Deidre Knight

- Julia Watts's QUIVER, in which an evangelical Christian teen befriends her new neighbor—who is gender fluid—and re-examines her future and her beliefs, to Peter Carlaftes at Three Rooms Press, in a nice deal by Janna Bonikowski

- Ella Quinn's I'LL ALWAYS LOVE YOU, a novella featuring characters from her ongoing series, The Worthingtons, to John Scognamiglio at Kensington by Janna Bonikowski

- Bryan Kozlowski's THE JANE AUSTEN DIET: Discovering Austen's Secrets to an Incandescently Happy Life, a retrospective look at Austen's unique (and scientifically brilliant) approach to food, fitness, and total body "bloom," to Stephanie Beard at Turner Publishing by Deidre Knight

- Peter Vronsky's ORIGINAL SONS OF CAIN, to Brilliance Audio by Elaine Spencer

- Japanese rights to Nalini Singh's HEART OF OBSIDIAN, to Fuso, by Whitney Lee at The Fielding Agency on behalf of Elaine Spencer

- Elizabeth Mowers's MOON OVER MARQUETTE, in which a struggling single mother, fighting to protect her son from her abusive ex-husband, comes face to face with a man on the run—her first love, lost to her twelve years earlier—to Kathryn Lye at Harlequin Heartwarming, in a nice deal by Pamela Harty

- Michelle Dayton's FAST RIDE, in which an argument over a fender-bender turns into a hot one-night stand and the resulting fake relationship turns very real, to Tara Gelsomino at Crimson Romance, in a two-book deal by Janna Bonikowski

- USA Today bestselling author Marilyn Pappano's next two books, to Patience Bloom at Harlequin Romantic Suspense, in a nice deal by Melissa Jeglinski

- Anne Marsh's ROYALLY HUNG, about a European prince who marries an unroyal American bride, to Kristine Swartz at Intermix by Deidre Knight

- Jules Bennett's book five in the new Texas Cattleman's Club: Houston continuity series, to Stacy Boyd at Harlequin Desire by Elaine Spencer

- Cassie Miles's THE GIRL WHO COULDN'T FORGET and THE GIRL WHO FEELS NO PAIN, to Allison Lyons at Harlequin Intrigue, in a nice deal by Melissa Jeglinski

- Wendy Roberts's A GRAVE PERIL, book three in the Bodies of Evidence series, about a woman who struggles with personal issues even while solving crimes with the help of divining rods, to Kerri Buckley at Carina Press, in a two-book deal by Melissa Jeglinski




Michelle Visser

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Aside from being an author, wife to her high school sweetheart, and full-time homeschool mom, Michelle is an editor, photographer, blogger, professional storyteller, New England homesteader, and backyard sugarmaker. In her 200-year-old farmhouse, overlooking the cold river water through drafty, wavy-glass windows, she often falls asleep at the computer while she’s trying to write. Because she’s always tired.

Michelle McLean

Michelle McLean (also writes as Kira Archer)

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Michelle McLean is the author of humorous and heartwarming historical and contemporary romances. She resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kiddos, and far too many animals in the house. She tends to laugh at inappropriate moments and break all the rules she gives her kids (but only when they aren’t looking), and would rather be reading a book than doing almost anything else.

Jana Cristofano

Jana Cristofano

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Jana Cristofano is a food and wine blogger residing in Virginia Wine Country. A graduate of the University of Maryland, she is certified in Plant-based Nutrition from Cornell's T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. Her popular food blog,, features original recipes that are 100% gluten-free and plant-based. Her recipes and writing have been featured by numerous outlets, including Redbook, Country Living, Huffington Post, and MSN.

Lynn Katz

Lynn Katz

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Lynn Katz lives in Connecticut where she writes novels for middle grade readers and adults. She is a former teacher, curriculum writer, and school principal. When she is not working at her computer, Lynn can be found curled up with a great book, hiking in the woods, or volunteering at her local library.


Amber Morrell

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Amber Morrell is a writer and librarian based in Orange County, California, and an alumna of Idyllwild Arts Academy, where she studied creative writing. She then received her BA in English Literature from California State University, Fullerton. She writes middle grade, YA, and adult fantasy.


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Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers

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Wynn Sheehan planned to change the world—not return to Alabama alone and pregnant. Her life is in shambles, but at least she can help take care of Latham Grant’s ailing grandpa. Latham isn’t ready to trust the woman who eagerly left him and their small town behind. But can they ignore the spark rekindled by unexpected Family Blessings?

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