2024 Authors

All times are Eastern (ET)

 

Twila Belk

The Gotta Tell Somebody Gal
The Writer’s Champion
Author, Editor, Speaker 


Known as The Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, Twila is a writer, speaker, encourager, editor, and champion for writers. She has authored eight books (including the bestselling Raindrops from Heaven and The Power to Be) and contributed to many others, as well as written numerous articles and promotional materials. 

Since 2007, she has worked closely with veteran author Cecil Murphey as his executive assistant, which has provided her with a wide range of industry knowledge, connections, and experience. Twila is also a former bookstore owner and writers conference director. She has had the pleasure of teaching and speaking at dozens of conferences across the nation and enjoys brainstorming and working with aspiring writers. 

 

Learning Lab LL1 — A Working Writer (Wednesday, 2:30 – 4:30)   ALL
Few authors make a living from writing books alone. The rest of us who want to be working writers need to diversify. In this class, we’ll discuss potential streams of income, the importance of connections, business practices, and self-care for working writers. We’ll also include plenty of tips and ideas.

Continuing Session CS, Grow Your Speaking Ministry — (1) Getting Started as a Speaker  (Thursday, 11:15 – 12:15)   B
Writing and speaking are a natural fit. Learn what it takes to get started and grow as a speaker.

Workshop 2B — Unleash the Writer Within (Thursday, 5:15 – 6:05)   ALL
Beloved author Cecil (Cec) Murphey says, “The best kind of writing occurs when it comes from the heart. It’s called being authentic or transparent.” He also advises, “Be you when you write.” We’ll discuss how to do that and learn from some of the important points he makes in his book Unleash the Writer Within.

 


Terry Brennan
Award-Winning Author
www.terrybrennanauthor.com


A Pulitzer Prize is one of the many awards Terry Brennan accumulated during his 22-year newspaper career. The Pottstown (PA) Mercury won a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing for a two-year series of editorials published while Terry was the newspaper’s editor.

Starting out as a sportswriter in Philadelphia, Terry became an editor and publisher for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York. In 1988 he moved to the corporate staff of Ingersoll Publications (400 newspapers in the U.S., Ireland, and England) as Executive Editor of all U.S. newspaper titles.

In 1996 Terry transitioned into the nonprofit sector, spending twelve years as VP Operations for The Bowery Mission and 6 years as Chief Administrative Officer for Care for the Homeless, NYC nonprofits that serve homeless people.

Terry began writing fiction in 2005. His first novel, The Sacred Cipher, was released by Kregel Publications in July, 2009. Responding to many reader requests, Terry wrote a sequel, The Brotherhood Conspiracy, which was released by Kregel in June, 2013. What had now become the Jerusalem Prophecies Series was concluded with The Aleppo Code in October, 2015. The Aleppo Code won ACFW’s 2016 Carol Award as the best mystery/suspense novel of the year.

Terry’s second fiction series, The Empires of Armageddon, was released in its entirety by Kregel Publications in 2020: Ishmael Covenant in February; Persian Betrayal in June; and the concluding novel, Ottoman Dominion, in November.

Terry and his wife, Andrea, live in western Connecticut.
 

Learning Lab LL3 — Honest Fiction that Honors the Father (Wednesday, 2:30 – 4:30)   ALL
Lately, many of the novels offered in the Christian market, both Indies and those from traditional publishers, have overstepped the edges of content that many Christians find objectionable. The new normal includes sexually charged scenes and language that not only mimics cursing but that a few years ago would never be found in a Christian book.

So . . . how do we write ‘honest’ characters … scenes that ring true to today’s readers . . . tackle ‘gritty’ subject matter . . . without incorporating situations and language that weaken our witness and tarnish the faith we are commanded to share? How can we get real and remain pure in heart?

This interactive Learning Lab will dive into this timely and controversial topic by appraising what Christian publishers are saying about their current standards, reviewing examples of both honest and over-the-edge Christian fiction and exploring a revolutionary element of character and plot development that—if adopted by more authors—would dramatically reverse these current trends . . . and could very well change the way you approach your writing.

Continuing Session CS6 — The Novelist’s Toolbox   ALL
Both professionals and do-it-yourselfers know that the right tool makes any job easier. In this continuing session, Carol Award winner and multi-published author Terry Brennan will share some essential tools for The Novelist's Toolbox: Mastering the timeless story structure called The Hero's Journey; How to use The Plot Skeleton to build a satisfying story; Structure for Gardeners - Designing order for those who work by the seat of their pants; Bit Players Steal the Show - Creating minor characters to drive plot (show, not tell); and the many layers of compelling Character Development. Along with exercises and class participation,  this continuing session will help you acquire some essential tools to build better novels.  

Keynote — Courage for Dry Bones (Friday 7:00 pm)   ALL
Writing is often a long, lonely journey with fear, doubt, and anxiety as our only companions. But God calls us to “be strong and courageous.” A Carol-award winning author of suspense thrillers, Terry takes us on a quest to find God’s blueprint for courage, regardless of our destination.

 


Beatrice Bruno 
Speaker, Author, US Army Veteran
Drill Sergeant of Life

 

Beatrice is an Army veteran and former (but always and forever) Drill Sergeant. An ordained gospel minister and Grief and Writing Coach, Beatrice finds satisfaction in helping folks travel the paths of grief and writing and maneuver into the fresh seasons God has for them.

Beatrice is the author of six books—Christian Living, Motivational/Inspirational, and Fiction—and counting. She has ghostwritten ten books for various clients in various genres, and is an editor and book reviewer as well. She is the founder and leader of Writer, Thou Art Loosed! Writers Conferences where she helps seasoned and potential writers, Write On for the Glory of God!

In the current season, Beatrice has crossed over into an area few, if any, look forward to—widowhood. Married for twenty-seven plus years to SFC John P. Bruno (US Army Retired) who passed away August 2018, Beatrice has raised four children—his,  hers, and theirs—to adulthood. She is now looking for her new normal . . . if there is such a thing . . . after losing her beloved husband. Discovering what grief is all about and what it entails, Beatrice lets her audiences know, “You don’t have to traverse the path alone.”

Beatrice has traveled the country, ministering in the style she has been given for such a time as this. As a result of this major shift in her life, Beatrice has served as a volunteer at a Christian Conference Center; lived at the home of one of her beloved soldier-sons in Brush Prairie, Washington; and recently spent a season in Hampton, Virginia, where she met new faces and received a new purpose. Many changes are in front of Beatrice. Some of the changes are very disconcerting. But Beatrice knows her relationship with the Lord will carry her through to God’s destination for her, always giving her something to write about.
 

Continuing Session CS9 — Writer, Thou Art Loosed   ALL
Get unstuck and focused on the books you know you have inside of you. Oftentimes, writers get side-tracked when life happens. It is then, though, when writers must push in even more to write what is in their hearts for people who are waiting to read their words. Writer, Thou Art Loosed! is designed to jumpstart writers in refocusing and gaining a different perspective so they can be the writers they were called and created to be. 

Have you not yet published your first book? Or, have you published your first book but still doubt the gifting God has placed on the inside of you to write more books? Beatrice Bruno, The Write Drill Sergeant for YOU, is here to help you be loosed from those infirmities that would hold you in bondage so you can complete God’s mandate for your life. Through interactive exercises, timed writings, and perspective illustrations and exercises, Beatrice will lead you on a 5-hour phased writing experience to show you how to embrace the Writer-You and move forward to accomplish great writing exploits for the Lord. In this mini-bootcamp experience, you will write, laugh, cry, and expand as you sit in a writing atmosphere created for you to receive, believe, and trust God for the writing anointing that is yours! 
 


Michele Chynoweth

Award-Winning Author, Speaker, Book Coach
www.michelechynoweth.com

 

Michele is the bestselling author of several award-winning contemporary suspense novels that re-imagine Bible stories in a modern-day way. She loves helping writers become authors and is a sought-after conference speaker, professional editor with several publishing houses, book coach, and founder of “Your Book Done Right” Master Class and Elite Coaching. A former news reporter and marketing director, she lives with her husband in North East, Maryland.


Workshop 7D — Making It Into a Movie (Friday, 5:15 – 6:05)   ALL
Have you ever dreamed of making your book into a movie? Best-selling author Michele Chynoweth has too and can teach you how to write a book so that it’s more adaptable to the screen and how to pitch your book to TV and movie producers! Michele has been coached by Michael Hauge, author of “Writing Screenplays that Sell” and “Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds” who has coached hundreds of screenwriters and producers including Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Val Kilmer, Morgan Freeman and more, and has consulted on projects for studios like Warner Brothers, Disney, Columbia, CBS and Lifetime.  Michele has pitched her own books and had them accepted for review by TV and movie producers now considering them for production. Just like the book world is diversifying and growing, so too is the television and movie industry and the entertainment world is hungry for good stories – and books – to make into good movies and TV shows. Michele can lend her experience and knowledge to help you get on your way to seeing your work on screen!

Continuing Session CS3 — Grow Your Speaking Ministry — (4) Speakers Sell More Books! (Friday, 3:15 – 4:15)   I / ADV
Public speaking has always been the number one way to promote your books. Does that cause you concern, or do you have  a little stage fright (like most authors)?!  Bestselling author and award-winning Toastmasters speaker Michele Chynoweth learned early speakers sell more books . . . then started landing speaking gigs at churches, Rotary Clubs, , women’s groups, writers conferences, book festivals and more! She’ll teach you how to get your own gigs . . . and how to write a good speech, engage your audience, even incorporate humor—so you’ll have them hanging on every word—and then lining up to buy your books!

Workshop 9E — Marketing 101 (Saturday, 2:00 – 2:50)   ALL
In addition to being an award-winning published author, Michele Chynoweth has worked in the field of marketing and public relations for more than thirty years, including owning her own marketing firm for twenty years. Her marketing expertise has helped her in her own career as an author, landing her numerous book signings, television and radio interviews, newspaper articles, blog guest appearances and speaking engagements! She will take on an informative journey on how to think like a business, brand yourself, create your own website, engage in social media, write a blog, get radio, TV and newspaper coverage, and much more! She’ll show you how to light the match so you can set your world on fire and increase your exposure – and book sales!

 


Melanie Dobson
Award-Winning Author
www.melaniedobson.com



Writing fiction is Melanie’s excuse to explore old houses, tour unique locations, and immerse herself in research. The award-winning author of almost thirty inspirational novels, Melanie enjoys stitching together both historical and time-slip stories including The Wings of Poppy Pendleton, The Curator’s Daughter, and The Winter Rose. Five of her novels have won Carol Awards and both Catching the Wind and Memories of Glass were nominated for a Christy Award. When she’s not writing, Melanie enjoys traveling and teaching as an adjunct professor at Corban University. For more information about her story or to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website. 

 

Workshop 2D — Brick by Brick: How to Build Your Story (Friday, 5:15 – 6:05)
How do you build an engaging story from the opening image to your closing scene? This practical workshop will lay down the foundational bricks of narrative structure, conflict, and character transformation by providing the tools needed for both novelists and creative nonfiction writers to construct a compelling and unique story, one layer at a time.

 


Victoria Dorshorn
Author, Award-Winning Scriptwriter
VictoryThroughLight.com

 

Vicki has written several scripts that have placed well in major contests and have won awards, including Good MedicineFaith HouseA New Heart BeatingThe Partnership, and ReachDeep which is based on a story by Amy Deardon. She also writes and publishes Christian nonfiction, including Victory through Light: How to Overcome the Growing Cultural DarknessVictory through Voice: How to Speak Truth When the Culture Demands Silence, and Called into Light: An Allegory. She has published a novel, Out of the Prison House, and a collection of poetry, Angel Unaware: Poems, under her maiden name. Her blogs appear on her website.
 

Continuing Session CS7 — Fundamentals of Screenwriting   ALL
From an initial, active discussion of what screenwriting is and how it differs from writing prose, we will establish the first things to consider when planning a script: premise, logline, and synopsis. We will proceed to learn about plot structure and character arcs. We’ll study dialogue and action, as well as set-ups and pay-offs, subtext, and MacGuffins. Hands-on practice and Q & A time will be included. 

 


Michael K. Gantt                          
Pastor, Author, Speaker
Radio Host, Monday Mornings with Mike
www.mkgantt.com

 

Michael has served in pastoral ministry for fifty-three years. Forty-three of those years were served in one pulpit – Agape Christian Fellowship, Brattleboro, Vermont. In 2017, he retired from his position as Lead Pastor, turning the reins of the church over to his oldest son, Michael Bryan. Michael now serves as Pastor Emeritus and is still very active in the life of the church. He is married to Barbara, his wife of fifty-four years and they have five children and seventeen grandchildren.

In addition to his continued work with Agape Fellowship, Michael travels extensively speaking at mission conferences, writers’ conferences, and local churches. He acts as a mentor/advisor to several pastors up and down the east coast from Maine to Florida. He is the author of seven books including such titles as Makutano, Over and Above, and Old Paths and Ancient Markers. Pastor Michael and his son Bryan are currently working to build a coalition of likeminded churches covering the states of Vermont and New Hampshire to train evangelists to reach men for the Kingdom of God. The stated goal is to get the ministry center out of the pulpit and into the pews, releasing men into the harvest fields for a new wave of evangelism in the least “churched” states in the union. 
 

Keynote — Cry Mercy (Wednesday, 7:00 pm)   
The Body of Christ has chosen to battle the forces of darkness with the arm of flesh, and because of it the spirit of darkness has been emboldened in their subversive agendas, and the wicked feel that there is nothing to limit or oppose them in their quest to turn America away from its godly roots. We cannot vote evil out of office and we cannot defeat spiritual wickedness in high places with weapons of flesh.
 


Krysten Lindsay Hager
Award-Winning Author
Writing Clean & Wholesome Fiction for the YA Market
www.krystenlindsay.com

 

Krysten is an author, blogger, and podcast guest host for Michigan Avenue Media. She writes about friendship, dating, self-esteem, fitting in, fame, and values. Her work includes YA contemporary books, new adult, and middle grade fiction. Krysten’s book, Cecily in the City, won the 2023 Readers’ Favorite Award for best young adult romance. Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers’ Favorite award for best preteen book as well as the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for children/teens. Competing with the Star is a Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist. Best Friends...Forever? is a 2019 Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal Winner. Landry in Like is a Literary Classics Gold Medal recipient and a 2020 Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner. Can Dreams Come True and True Colors were both Wishing Book Shelf Finalists. She received her BA in English and master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Krysten's work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on Living Dayton. She is a frequent guest host on the Michigan Avenue Media podcast with Marsha Casper Cook.

Workshop 6B — Writing Clean YA Fiction (Thursday, 5:15 – 6:05)   B
This workshop will focus on writing clean young adult novels with characters and plotlines that both entertain as well as inspire YA readers. We’ll discuss how to pick topics, themes, as well as how to create memorable characters and settings that feel real to readers. 
 


Evelyn Johnson-Taylor, Ph.D., RN
Award-Winning Author, Writing Coach
Theology Professor

CEO, Evelyn J Taylor Ministries
 

 

Evelyn  is an award-winning author, writing coach, and theology professor with decades of experience. Dedicated to guiding writers through their creative journey, she excels in helping individuals transform their thoughts into compelling narratives. Her unique approach blends her profound faith and rich personal experiences, offering writers invaluable insights and encouragement deeply rooted in spiritual growth. 

Anticipating her sixth book, In and Out of Seasons, Thriving in Life’s Transitions, traditionally published by Elk Lake Publishing, scheduled for release in the summer of 2024, Dr. Johnson-Taylor aims to inspire, motivate, and encourage readers. The book is centered on providing reassurance to individuals that God’s plan for their lives remains steadfast and unwavering. By embracing trust and faith, they can successfully navigate challenging seasons with God’s guidance. 

Her other literary works include Women of PromiseSeven Blessing Blockers, Discover How You Can Overcome Hindrances to the Abundant Life, Identity Crisis Discovering Your True Identity in Christ, A Woman’s Call Living a Life of Purpose, See Me Hear Me Know Me from the Heart of a Caregiver, and she is a contributing author to She Writes for Him Black Voices of Wisdom. She has published articles incaregiver magazines and online devotionals, and she writes a monthly newsletter that reaches several hundred subscribers. 

A sought-after speaker at writer’s conferences, Dr. Johnson-Taylor’s presentations are infused with faith, practical wisdom, and motivational support. 

Workshop 1B — Writing Through a Hard Season (Thursday, 5:15 – 6:05)   ALL
Are you in a difficult season and can’t seem to concentrate on your writing? Do you want to use the challenges of your life to help others? Do you want to know how God can turn your mess into a message? As writers, we must understand why we write. Having a clear vision and mission statement can help keep you focused during the hard seasons.
     Get ready to experience the power of a clear plan, the purpose of your writing, the promises from God’s Word, and the provisions He gives for you to continue writing during the hard seasons. As a ten-year caregiver for my late husband, I know firsthand what it’s like to write through a difficult season.

Workshop 1D — Overcoming Imposter Syndrome (Friday, 5:15 – 6:05)   ALL
Do you struggle with an identity crisis? Do you ever think, if people knew who I was, they wouldn’t like me? It’s important to remember that each writer has their unique style, voice, and perspective. Comparing yourself to others can be detrimental to your self-esteem and creativity.
     In this workshop, we will explore imposter syndrome and provide steps to help you overcome it. It’s crucial to embrace your true self and show it to your readers authentically. Remember, God created each of us uniquely, and there are no carbon copies. You can learn how to discover your true identity in Christ and find the confidence to overcome any feelings of intimidation.

 


Louise L. Looney
Award-Winning Author
www.louisellooney.com

 

Louise is a 92 year old award winning author who wrote her first book when she was 79. The book was chosen as "The Best Book on Christian Living" at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. A few years later, she was awarded the title of "Writer of the Year" at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. 

 A couple of her books give unique ways to deal with discouragement and depression. Two other books focus on a different way to look at aging. Her books are filled with humor and sprinkles of tears reflecting the ups and downs of life. 

Louise currently lives in a retirement center where she teaches four Bible classes a month and writes a devotional each week for those who live there.


Workshop W5 — Still Climbing – Not Over the Hill (Wednesday, 5:00 – 5:50)   ALL
Wisdom gleaned from your past experiences contains a warehouse of stories to pass on to future generations. Press in and polish these jewels. Keep on writing!


Ava Pennington

Author, Speaker, Freelance Editor
Certified Writing and Speaking Coach
www.AvaWrites.com

 

Ava is an author, speaker, freelance editor, and certified writing and speaking coach. She also teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class of 200 women. Ava is the author of Reflections on the Names of God: 180 Devotions to Know God More Fully (Revell Books). She has also been published in numerous magazines and more than thirty-five anthologies, including thirty Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Ava has a heart for God’s Word and God’s people. She is a passionate speaker and enjoys encouraging writers to use their gifts for His glory. 

Workshop W1 — 7 Steps to Support Your God-Given Calling (Wednesday, 5:00 – 5:50)   B
Learn how to follow these seven steps to support your God-given calling. Discover how to find God's will, step out by faith in love, manage your time, and press through the tough times.

  1. Nurture Your First Love
  2. Find God's Will
  3. Guard Against the Enemy's Lies
  4. Persevere Through Dry Times
  5. Time Management vs. Time Stewardship
  6. Step into Your Calling in Faith
  7. Trust God's Timing

Workshop 6E — A Winning Recipe: Writing for Anthologies (Saturday, 2:00 – 2:50)   B
Build a portfolio of publishing credits by writing short stories for anthologies! Inspirational books such as Chicken Soup for the Soul are always looking for terrific, true stories that will touch the hearts of their readers. Join us as we discuss the recipe for a winning story.

 


Deborah Raney

Award-Winning Author
Teacher, Freelance Editor
www.deborahraney.com

 

Deborah’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched Deb’s writing career. Forty books later, she's still creating stories that touch hearts and lives. A three-time Christy Award finalist, Deb’s books have also won the RITA Award, Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, and National Readers Choice Award. Deb served on the executive board of American Christian Fiction Writers for eighteen years and is a recent transplant to Missouri, having moved with her husband, Ken Raney, from their native Kansas. They love road trips, Friday garage sale dates, time with their kids and grandkids, and breakfast on the screened porch overlooking their wooded backyard.

Workshop W3 — Writing Women's Fiction (Wednesday, 5:00 – 6:00)   ALL
This workshop will cover many writing tools that apply to all genres: writing cinematically, strong characterization, complex plots, and deft use of point-of-view. But it will also key on elements unique to contemporary women’s fiction: exploring social issues in fiction, writing realistic likeable-yet-flawed characters, strong dialogue, page-turning (despite a lack of explosions or car chases), and a life-changing message without being preachy.

 


Tim Riter    
Author, Pastor, Speaker, Teacher
www.timriter.com


Tim has served as a preaching pastor for over twenty years. He has a MA in Ministry and MA in Communication. He taught high school English for eleven years including five years teaching AP English Language (focus on style and persuasion). He also has sixteen years of experience as an adjunct professor teaching Composition and Commnication on both the graduate and undergraduate level. Tim has ten royalty published books in Christian nonfiction with total sales of 115,000 that have been translated into eight languages. His blog, Unconventional, has an audience of 15,000.

Continuing Session CS6 — Style: Make It Subtle . . . and Memorable   I / ADV
Kknowing and intentionally using the six classic elements of style (syntax, diction, sound, rhythm, imagery, figurative language) will help writers make major improvements to their craft with both a Christian and a secular culture. The class will include both principles and practical application.

Keynote — The Truth, The Whole Truth, Nothing But the Truth (Thursday 7:00 pm)   ALL
In our lives, in our writing, we need to speak truth regardless of the cost.

 


Robert N. Ruesch
Author, Speaker, Chaplain, Humorist
http://robertnruesch.com

 

Robert grew up in a paradise called Estes Park. He is a multi-published author with declining sales numbers and a storage locker full of books to sell. He has been down this path and now has room in his garage for his car. OK, he lives in a condo with underground parking, but that doesn't count. Robert understands the competitive book sales market and has ideas to increase sales.

He started his writing career writing with Bethany Press in 1968. Since then, along with a career at the YMCA of the Rockies, he is blessed with articles in emergency medical magazines, Workamper, and several local, regional, and national newspapers on various Christian subjects. His hobbies are people watching, serving others, and giving grace with every step. (And he loves dark chocolate.)

Today, Robert continues to write articles and has three new books in various forms of production. He and his lovely wife, Barbara, live in Littleton, Colorado.


Workshop 1F — Achieve Your Writing Goals in 100 Difficult Steps (NOT) (Saturday, 3:45 – 4:35)   ALL
Info coming!

 


David Sluka
Author

For over 20 years, David Sluka has worked with Christian authors to help them prepare, write, and share the messages God has entrusted to them. He is the author of two books and has ghostwritten others. He was the editorial director for BroadStreet Publishing and senior acquisitions editor with Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. He makes is home with his wife and children in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
 

Workshop 6A — Devotional Writing (Thursday, 2:15 – 3:05)  ALL
In this inspirational and practical workshop for all writers, David Sluka will discuss how you can write from your heart, stay true to God’s Word, and encourage others through devotional writing. Topics will also include: