Conference Panelists


Stephanie Barko

Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist was voted Preditors & Editors Best Book Promotion Service in 2011. Her award-winning clients include traditional publishers and their authors, small presses, and independently published authors. Visit with Stephanie at



Chris Barton

Chris Barton is the author of the picture books SHARK VS. TRAIN (a New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller) and THE DAY-GLO BROTHERS (winner, American Library Association Sibert Honor), as well as the young adult nonfiction thriller CAN I SEE YOUR I.D.? TRUE STORIES OF FALSE IDENTITIES. Next up, in 2014: ATTACK! BOSS! CHEAT CODE! A GAMER'S ALPHABET.


Robert Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett‘s 2010 debut MR. SHIVERS won the Shirley Jackson award as well as the Sydney J Bounds Newcomer Award. His second novel, THE COMPANY MAN, won a Special Citation of Excellence from the Philip K Dick Award, as well as an Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original. His third novel, THE TROUPE, has topped many “Best of 2012” lists, including that of Publishers Weekly. His fourth novel, AMERICAN ELSEWHERE, is now out to wide acclaim. Robert can be found on Twitter at @robertjbennett.




Frank Campbell

Frank Campbell has been with Barnes & Noble since 1991. He has been a Community Relations Manager since 1999 and has served in this capacity at the Round Rock location since 2000. In addition to his work at Barnes & Noble, Frank has been a freelance writer since 1992. His work as appeared in the Austin Chronicle, the Austin American-Statesman and Texas Highways magazine. He wrote the film notes for the Paramount Theatre’s Classic Summer Film series for more than 15 years. Frank currently writes a pop culture blog where he reviews books and films.  



Lindsay Cummings

Lindsay Cummings is the 22 year old author of THE MURDER COMPLEX series from Greenwillow/HarperCollins, as well as the MG trilogy THE BALANCE KEEPERS from Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins. She lives in Texas with her husband, 2 dogs, a wolf cub, a draft horse, and a hedgehog. Visit her at



Shennandoah Diaz

Shennandoah Diaz is an author, copywriter, writing teacher, and consultant from Austin, Texas. Diaz received her first paid copywriting gig at the age of 15. Since then she has worked with experts, small businesses, publishers, and Inc 500 companies producing content and marketing strategies. Passionate about education, Diaz empowers writers to take charge of their careers by teaching them about writing, marketing, and publishing. Learn more by visiting


Donna M. Johnson

Donna M. Johnson is the author of HOLY GHOST GIRL, a critically acclaimed memoir deemed “enthralling” by the New York Times and “compulsively readable” by Texas Monthly. Oprah named the book to her Memoirs We Love list twice. HOLY GHOST GIRL won the Mayborn Creative Nonfiction Prize and took top honors at the Books for a Better Life Awards in Manhattan.Donna’s work had been collected in several anthologies. She has written about religion, family and culture for Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Shambhala Sun, the Psychology Today blog, the Dallas Morning News, and other publications.


Jacqueline Kelly

Jacqueline Kelly is the author of THE EVOLUTION OF CALPUNIA TATE, which one the Newbery Honor, and RETURN TO THE WILLOWS, a compainion to THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS. She was born in New Zealand and raised in Canada, Vancouver Island, and El Paso, Texas. Kelly attended college in El Paso and medical school in Galveston. After practicing medicine for many years, she went to law school at the University of Texas, and after several years of law practice, realized she wanted to write fiction. She now makes her home with her husband and various cats and dogs in Austin and Fentress, Texas.


Sara Kocek

Sara Kocek is the founder of Yellow Bird Editors and the author of the YA novel, PROMISE ME SOMETHING. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University, where she taught fiction and poetry to undergraduates. Prior to pursuing her MFA, Sara graduated with a B.A. in English from Yale University, where her fiction was published in the Yale Literary Magazine and where she was awarded several of the university’s top writing prizes: the Elmore A. Willets prize, the Francis Bergin Memorial Prize, and the McLaughlin Memorial prize. A former full-time editorial intern at Random House and Penguin, she now lives in Austin, Texas.


Gillian Redfearn

Gillian Redfearn has been in the book business since the ripe old age of 15-1/2 years old and has been a sales rep for the last 25 years after a short stint as a publicist. She currently works for Macmillan Publishing as a key account manager servicing a varied account base from national chains to truck stops to independent booksellers thus proving that there are readers and book lovers to be found just about everywhere. Being in the book business means having the good fortune of working with the finest people on the planet. 


Deanna Roy

Deanna Roy has been a member of the Writers’ League since 1995. She is the author of BABY DUST and FOREVER INNOCENT for adults. She also authored middle grade novels JINNIE WISHMAKER and MARCUS MENDER. Deanna makes her home in Austin, Texas.  Visit her website at and her blog at



Laura Cottam Sajbel

Laura Cottam Sajbel is drawn to the rich and colorful narratives of individuals we need to know, and has turned those stories into articles, poetry, and fiction for more than twenty years. A Plan II grad of UT-Austin, with a master's degree from USC, Laura has written for magazines, taught college English courses, and run a small press. Laura's first nonfiction book, BUOYANT, debuted in September, and her second, with an academic press, is due out in 2014.



Janice Shefelman

Janice Shefelman, daughter of a German professor, grew up in a university neighborhood of Dallas. Her father read to her from an early age, beginning a love affair with books that led to careers as teacher, librarian, world traveler, and writer. Her books have won many awards including New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age, Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List, and, with husband/illustrator Tom Shefelman, the International Reading Association Children's Choices. Her first book for grownups is Honeymoon Hobos, a travel memoir.


Rusty Shelton

Rusty Shelton first spoke at Harvard on the changing world of public relations at the age of 23. An NSA speaker and book industry veteran, he founded Shelton Interactive in the summer of 2010. In four short years they have handled digital strategy for more than 20 New York Times, Inc Magazine & Wall Street Journal bestsellers, including Big Data, The Confidence Code, The One Thing, Take the Stairs and Tom Rath's most recent book, Eat Move Sleep and worked with clients like IBM, Amazon, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Harvard Health Publications and many others.


Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of the Tantalize series, the Feral Nights series, and other acclaimed books and short stories for young readers. Her website is a popular and comprehensive children’s-YA literature resource site, and her blog, "Cynsations," at  is the most well-read blog in her market.


Greg Leitich Smith

Greg grew up in Chicago and graduated from a science magnet high school. He went on to complete degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Texas at Austin, and a University of Michigan degree in law. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Author Cynthia Leitich Smith, and four cats. He is the author of NINJAS, PIRANAHS, AND GALILEO and its companion book, TOFU AND T-REX, as well as the newly released LITTLE GREEN MEN AT THE MERCURY INN.


Natalia Sylvester

Natalia is the author of the novel, CHASING THE SUN (New Harvest, June 2014). Born in Lima, Peru, she came to the U.S. at age four and grew up in South Florida, where she received a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Miami. A former magazine editor, she now works as a freelance writer in Austin, Texas. Her articles have appeared in Latina Magazine, Writer's Digest, The Writer, and



Lee Thomas

Lee Thomas is the Bram Stoker Award and Lambda Literary Award-winning author of THE DUST OF WONDERLAND, IN THE CLOSET UNDER THE BED, THE GERMAN, TORN, ASH STREET, LIKE LIGHT FOR FLIES, and the newly released, BUTCHER'S ROAD (2014). He is also the author of teen novels such as MASON, SHIMMER, THE CALLING, and the Wicked Dead series for HarperTeen, writing under the names Thomas Pendleton and Dallas Reed. Lee lives in Austin, Texas, where he is at work on a new book. You can find him online at


Lisa Wingate

Lisa Wingate is a former journalist, inspirational speaker, and the author of over twenty mainstream fiction novels, including the national bestseller, Tending Roses, now in its nineteenth printing. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, and a two-time Carol Award winner. Lisa's novels take on gritty subjects while offering redemptive and uplifting themes. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with eight others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.



Brian Yansky

Brian Yansky writes both Young Adult and adult fiction. He is the author of three YA novels: My Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World, winner of the Texas Institute of Letters Best YA Novel, 2003, Wonders of the World, and Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences and its companion novel, Homicidal Aliens & Other Disappointments. Another YA novel, Utopia, Iowa, will be published in fall, 2014. He has and MFA in Writing from Vermont College and is an associate professor at Austin Community College where he teaches writing.