Genre Session Leaders


Paige Britt (Picture Book/Middle Grade/Young Adult) is the author of Why Am I Me?, a picture book celebration of unity and diversity. It received four starred reviews and was named a Best Book of 2017 by Publishers Weekly. The New York Times called it one of five new picture books that “not only embolden children to think, but inspire them to feel.” She is also the author of the middle-grade fantasy, The Lost Track of Time, “an exuberant homage to the power of imagination and creative problem-solving” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

Kate Caldwell (Memoir) is the producer of the monthly storytelling series Testify and a frequent storyteller in Austin.


May Cobb (Mystery/Thriller) is the author of the novel Big Woods, selected as the Winner in the 2015 Writer’s League of Texas Manuscript Contest, the Winner for the 2016 NaNoWriMo Pitchapalooza, and now publishing this July. May earned her MA in Literature from San Francisco State University and has spent the past several years researching and writing a book about the late jazz great, Rahsaan Roland Kirk (forthcoming). Her essays and interviews have appeared in The Washington Post, The Rumpus, Edible Austin, and Austin Monthly.

Kate Winkler Dawson (Nonfiction) is the author of the book Death in the Air. Her second book is due out next year. She joined the University of Texas at Austin's School of Journalism as a senior lecturer in 2009. Before then, she was on the faculty of Fordham University's Marymount College for two years. A seasoned documentary producer, news writer and TV news producer, her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, United Press International in London, WCBS News, ABC News Radio, Fox News Channel, “PBS NewsHour” and “Nightline.” She's on the board of the Texas Center for Actual Innocence.

Jennifer duBois (General Fiction) is the author of the novels A Partial History of Lost Causes and Cartwheel, winner of the Housatonic Book Award for fiction and was a finalist for a New York Public Library Young Lions Award. Her writing has appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Playboy, The Missouri Review, Salon, The Kenyon Review, Cosmopolitan, Narrative, and ZYZZYVA. Jennifer was the recipient of a 2013 Whiting Writer’s Award and a 2012 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 award. She currently teaches in the MFA program at Texas State University.

Anne R. Keene (Nonfiction) is the author of the only known account of this Navy baseball team manned by some of the most famous major-league fighter pilots in U.S. history, including Ted Williams. The Cloudbuster Nine was recommended by Newsday magazine as one of the 12 Reads for Baseball Season and listed by Indigo, Canada's largest book seller, as one of the Top 10 Baseball Reads for Opening Day. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Journalism, Keene focuses on narrative nonfiction and has been honored with the Writers' League of Texas nonfiction award for this work.

Liana LeFey (Romance) is the author of seven romance novels, including the A Scandal in London series. Her books are set in wildly different places and times, including Georgian London and fantasy and science fiction worlds.

Stina Leicht (Historical Fiction) is the flintlock fantasy novels Blackthorne and Cold Iron and the Irish historical fantasy series The Fey and the Fallen. When she was small she wanted to grow up to be like Vincent Price. Unfortunately, there are no basements in Texas -- thus, making it impossible to wall up anyone alive under the house. Alas, she'll have to resign herself to going quietly mad while wearing a smoking jacket. Too bad Texas is hot, she doesn't smoke and therefore, doesn't own a smoking jacket.

Marshall Ryan Maresca (Science Fiction and Fantasy) grew up in upstate New York and studied film and video production at Penn State. He now lives Austin with his wife and son.  His work appeared in Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction and Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over Texas. He also has had several short plays produced and has worked as a stage actor, a theatrical director and an amateur chef. His novels The Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages each begin their own fantasy series, both set in the port city of Maradaine.

Scott Montgomery (Mystery/Thriller) worked on the sales staff of the acclaimed and influential The Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles for four years. After three years as a bookseller at BookPeople, Texas’ largest independent bookstore, he helped develop MysteryPeople, the mystery bookstore within the store. He has moderated panels for the annual Bouchercon mystery conference, Texas Festival Of Books, and other events. He has written articles and reviews for The Weekly Lizard blog, Crimespree magazine, and other blogs and publications. He also hosts The Murder in the Afternoon Book Club and Hard Word Book Club at BookPeople.

Becka Oliver (General Fiction) joined the Writers' League in September 2013 as Executive Director after more than sixteen years of experience working in book publishing. She spent much of her publishing career inside two of the “big six” publishing leaders – Macmillan and Hachette Book Group -- licensing domestic and foreign rights on behalf of countless notable authors, including Sandra Brown, Brad Meltzer, Nicholas Sparks, Jon Stewart and the Daily Show, and more. In 2007, she made the leap from Associate Director of Subsidiary Rights at Grand Central Publishing to Literary Agent, first at Endeavor and then at William Morris Endeavor (WME) after the two powerhouse talent agencies merged in 2009. As a literary agent, Becka represented clients working in both fiction and non-fiction, including Brunonia Barry, Sheryl Crow, Kamran Pasha, Joanna Philbin, Susan Rebecca White, and the popular blog Awkward Family Photos.

John Pipkin (Historical Fiction) is the author of Woodsburner, which won the New York Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Massachusetts Center for the Book Novel Prize, and the Texas Institute of Letters Stephen Turner Prize for First Novel. His novel The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter was published by Bloomsbury in 2016. John teaches at UT-Austin and in the Low-residency MFA Program at Spalding University in Louisville, KY.

Rachel Starnes (Memoir) is the author of the critically-acclaimed memoir The War at Home: A Wife's Search for Peace and Other Missions Impossible. She received her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from California State University, Fresno and her BA from the University of Texas. Her essays have appeared in The Colorado Review, Front Porch Journal, and O Magazine. Born in Austin, Texas, she has lived in Scotland, Texas, Saudi Arabia, Florida, California, and Nevada, and is currently on the move again with her husband, two sons, and a puppy.

Tex Thompson (Science Fiction and Fantasy) was once described as "an explosion of 52 enthusiastic kittens all trying to go in the same direction, but instead latching onto everything at once." In addition to being an instructor for the Writers Path at SMU and the author of the internationally-published Children of the Drought series, Tex is the founder and 'chief instigator' for WORD - Writers Organizations 'Round Dallas. When she's not leading the charge at home in Dallas, Tex brings her particular brand of 'red-penthusiasm' to conferences, conventions, and workshops all over the country - as an egregiously enthusiastic, endlessly energetic one-woman stampede.

Emma J. Virján (Picture Book/Middle Grade/Young Adult) is the author-illustrator of the Pig in a Wig Book series – What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig, What This Story Needs is a Hush and a Shush, What This Story Needs is a Munch and a Crunch, What This Story Needs is a Bang and a Clang and What This Story Needs is a Vroom and a Zoom.

Tracy Wolff (Romance) is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance and erotic romance novels. She also writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy as Tessa Adams and young adult novels as Tracy Deebs.