We’ve got a great group of participating authors coming to the festival. More are being added everyday.

Gil Allen

Gilbert Allen is the author of six collections of poems, most recently Catma. He received the Robert Penn Warren Prize in Poetry from the Southern Review in 2007 and a Special Mention for fiction in Pushcart Prize XXXVII. He was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors in 2014. A longtime resident of upstate South Carolina, Allen is the Bennette E. Geer Professor of Literature Emeritus at Furman University. The Final Days of Great American Shopping is his first book of prose fiction.

Marcus Amaker

Marcus Amaker is Charleston, South Carolina’s first Poet Laureate. When he was 10, he wrote “When I grow up, I want to be a rock star like Prince.” Since then, his love for the purple one inspired him to pursue art in all of its forms. He’s a well-known graphic/web designer and videographer, producing award-winning work for many local nonprofits and organizations. He’s also the lead graphic designer for the national music magazine, No Depression. In 2016, Marcus was named Charleston, South Carolina’s first Poet Laureate, as appointed by Mayor John Tecklenburg. His seventh book, Mantra, is also an app, featuring audio, video and new poems. Marcus’ poems have been featured on TEDx, PBS Newshour, A&E, the Huffington Post, several journals and poetry collections. In 2017, He was named one of Charleston’s 50 Most Influential people by Charleston Business Magazine. As a musician, he’s recorded more than 15 albums, including a poetry and jazz album with Grammy-nominated drummer Quentin E. Baxter. No matter how old he gets, Marcus’ most famous song will be “Big Butt,” written when he was 10 years old. Marcus graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He worked in newspapers for 12 years. During that time, he was the editor of the Post and Courier’s Charleston Scene entertainment section. But, most importantly, he still loves Prince (RIP) and is obsessed with Star Wars.

Nathalie Anderson

Nathalie Anderson is the author of four books of poetry – Following Fred Astaire, Crawlers, Quiver, and Stain – and libretti for four operas. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Jasper, Atlanta Review, DoubleTake, Natural Bridge, The New Yorker, and The Recorder. Her chapbook Held and Firmly Bound is just out from Muddy Ford Press. Anderson teaches at Swarthmore College, where she is a Professor in the Department of English Literature and directs the Program in Creative Writing.

Frank Baker

Frank is a national Jessie McCanse Awardee and “Leaders in Learning” honoree. He is a consultant to the SC Writing Improvement Network, and former consultant to the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). He has developed a nationally recognized media literacy resource website and is also an avid nature photographer. More at

Terry Barr

Terry Barr is the author of the essay collection, Don't Date Baptists and Other Warnings from My Alabama Mother. His work has appeared on;line and in print with such journals as Full Grown People, Red Fez, The Bitter Southerner, South Writ Large, Hippocampus, Steel Toe Review, and Eclectica. He teaches Creative Nonfiction at Presbyterian College and lives in Greenville, SC, with his family.

Jennifer Bartell

Jennifer Bartell has an MFA in poetry from USCarolina. She has poetry and nonfiction published in Callaloo, PLUCK!, Blackberry: a magazine, decomP, As/Us, Fall Lines, The Raleigh Review, the museum americana, and Limelight. She is a Callaloo and The Watering Hole Fellow and teaches at Spring Valley High School.

Al Black

Al Black was born and raised in Lafayette, IN. He is an administrator at the University of South Carolina. In 2014, he released his first poetry collection I Only Left for Tea (Muddy Ford Press). He has hosted the eclectic open mic venue Mind Gravy in Columbia, SC, since 2010. He has been married 42 years to his wife Carol, and they have four children and nine grandchildren.

David Travis Bland

David Travis Bland is a writer living and working in Columbia, SC. His work has appeared in Front Porch Journal, Bayou Magazine, BLAC, Metro Jacksonville and other publications. His spirit animal is the American Opossum.

Cindi Boiter

Cindi Boiter is a (six-time) winner of the SC Fiction Project, the Piccolo Fiction Project, the Porter Fleming Award, and the 2014 recipient of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts. She is the founder and editor of Jasper Magazine, the editor or co-editor of six other books, co-editor and co-founder of the literary magazine Fall Lines – a literary convergence, author of Buttered Biscuits, and literary author of Red Social. She is the executive director for The Jasper Project.

Kim Boykin

Kim Boykin was grounded for reading Love Story at the tender age of 13 and has been reading and writing romance ever since. Author of 6 contemporary romance novellas and 4 novels, her books have been praised by the Huffington Post, Romantic Times, Kirkus and the Library Journal. In 2016, her novel, A Peach of a Pair, was nominated for the (Southern Independent Bookseller Alliance) inaugural Pat Conroy Award.

D.S. Bradley

D.S. (Shane) Bradley lives and writes in Due West, South Carolina, where he gets to spend time with his wife and two children. He devotes his days (and some evenings) to teaching high school English and directing the writing program at Erskine College, where he also teaches English and writing courses. Shane has had short stories published in Sandlapper Magazine, The Charleston Post and Courier, and Family Circle Magazine; his essay “Weekend with Sadie” appeared in State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love. His latest collection of short stories, Walking in the Shadow: Stories of Life, Death, and the Southern Funeral Home, offers a firsthand glimpse into a world that every person will experience.



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A husband-wife, co-producer and multi-instrumentalist duo blending disco, vaporwave, hip-hop and funk into a genre they call, vapordance, Carpoolparty started as a “throwaway EDM” studio side project but quickly grew into a blissfully upbeat pure-pop act with pseudo-nostalgic overtones. Carpoolparty first formed in 2015 during Danny and Mary’s employment at a local production studio in Provo, Utah. The band was initially nothing more than a side project created for experimenting with EDM ideas, playing only one show of throwaway electronic dance music in the midwest before discovering vaporwave, completely remodeling their repertoire, and moving to Greenville, South Carolina where they claim is Carpoolparty’s true home town. Carpoolparty, at its core became a catalyst of creativity for Danny and Mary, drawing inspiration from their childhood, focusing on luscious layers of concert length music rather than overly-precise "radio-friendly" editing, and an artful detachment, dating themselves with a post-retro soundscape. In August 2016 Carpoolparty released their debut independent album, “Hot Tapes” featuring old school hip hop, beat machine, 80s & 90s Japanese muzak samples, disco & nu-disco percussion, funky synths, and evocative throwback references. With front-woman Mary dancing behind the lead mic and Danny behind the beats and synth with the occasional rap, Carpoolparty aims to create memorable live shows and a recognizable brand. They are currently working on new singles and a spring tour for 2017.

Jim Casada

Jim Casada is a son of the Smokies who grew up in Bryson City, N. C. A retired Winthrop University history professor, he has written 16 books, edited and compiled 20 anthologies, had chapters or selections included in a number of other books, and served as editor for three long-running book series. Currently Casada is completing a biography of Archibald Rutledge and working on a trilogy of books, “Portals of Paradise,” dealing with people, places, and perspectives on his highland homeland.

Stephen Chesley

Stephen Chesley is a semiabstract artist working primarily in oils, charcoal, and metal. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions and has been honored with a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tim Conroy

Tim Conroy was born in 1957 as the second to the youngest and sixth child of a Marine family at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. He worked in the field of special education in South Carolina until retirement. He loves to drink wine with his radically militant law librarian wife, Terrye, and their cheapskate friends. He is currently working on a collection of poems entitled, “The Theology of Terrain.”

Adam Cullum


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Adam Cullum was a self-proclaimed self-obsessed graphomaniac, but then enough people heard his band Can't Kids to where he felt understood. He uses music to explain himself where words can not. His songs primarily express the realisation that you are your own worst enemy and you have to learn to be your own best friend.

Carla Damron

South Carolinian Carla Damron is a fiction writer, clinical social worker, and author of the novel The Stone Necklace, the 2016 One Book, One Community "big read" for Columbia and Richland County, South Carolina. Damron is also the author of the Caleb Knowles mystery novels Keeping Silent, Spider Blue, and Death in Zooville. Her short stories have appeared in Fall Lines, Six Minute Magazine, Melusine, In Posse Review, Jenny Magazine, and, most recently, Jasper’s Marked by Water collection. Named the 2014 South Carolina Social Worker of the Year, Damron holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Queens University and a master's degree in social work from the University of South Carolina. While both careers, social worker and writer, have their challenges, they’ve also become intertwined; Damron uses fiction to explore and raise awareness about social issues.

Tracie Dawson

Tracie Dawson is a third-year fiction MFA candidate at the University of South Carolina. Her work can be found in The James Franco Review, New World Writing, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, and Word Riot.

Julia Elliott

Julia Elliott’s writing has appeared in Tin House, The Georgia Review, Conjunctions, The New York Times, Granta online, Electric Literature, and other publications. She has won a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award, and her stories have been anthologized in Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses and The Best American Short Stories. Her debut story collection, The Wilds, was chosen by Kirkus, BuzzFeed, Book Riot, and Electric Literature as one of the Best Books of 2014 and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her first novel, The New and Improved Romie Futch, arrived in October 2015. She is currently working on a novel about Hamadryas baboons, a species she has studied as an amateur primatologist.

Craig Faris

Craig Faris is a thirty-one -time award-winning author of fiction and plays, including four Best of Issue awards in the 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003 editions of the South Carolina Writers Workshop anthology. He has been published seventeen times. Five of his short stories have won the South Carolina Carrie McCray Literary Award for Best Short Fiction, and his novel, The Spectrum Conspiracy won the 2016 Gold Metal for Best Suspense Novel in the Readers Favorite International Book Awards, and Best Suspense Novel in the 2016 Beverly Hill's International Book Awards. It won Best First Novel Manuscript in the 2010 Carrie McCray Literary Award, was one of Seven finalist in the 2014 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Awards, and was a shortlist finalist in the William Faulkner/Wisdom Pirates Alley competition in 2012, 2010 and semifinalist in 2011. Craig served on the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Writers Workshop from 2000 until 2006 and served as co-chair for the 10th annual and 16th annual SCWW Writers Conferences. He also served as Vice-President of the Southeast chapter of the Mystery Writers of America from 2000 until 2005. He has taught creative writing as an adjunct professor at Winthrop University, teaches digital graphic design at York Technical College, and designs professional book covers for his publisher. His graphic design works have won three national and regional design awards, the printing industry's PICA awards, and the Scholastic Arts Gold Key Award. His writing career began in 1998 when he completed his first novel trilogy, a 226,800-word unpublished sc-fi thriller. His second thriller, entitled, The Spectrum Conspiracy, was published by Bella Rosa Books in 2013. The novel has since received over 92% five-star combined reviews on, Barnes&, and Ted Tally, the Academy Award winning screenwriter of The Silence of the Lambs, called it, “A wild, white-knuckle ride, pedal to the metal right from page one, never letting up. A very impressive novel in ambition and scope, with intricate plotting, relentless pacing, action-filled, with technical and procedural details that bring real authenticity to the story. Bravo for writing this outstanding thriller!” Craig lives in Rock Hill, SC with his wife, Deena. They have two grown children, Katie and Charlie.

Tamara Finkbeiner

Tamara has a love for bringing compelling stories to life through film. She along with co-founder Josetra Robinson started One7evenOne Productions; a videography and photography company. Audience Award Winners at both the 2015 (Eva's Plug) and 2016 (Bait) 2nd Act Film Festivals, Tamara and her team count it a blessing when given the opportunity to creatively speak through this medium. Tamara graduated from Columbia College with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. She has also worked extensively in graphic design and combines her love of writing, music and photography in her filmmaking endeavors. Originally from Barbados, Tamara currently resides in Columbia, SC with her loving husband and three amazing sons.

Alex Flinn

Alex Flinn is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels including Beastly, which has been made into a motion picture. She has six other fairy tale-based novels, including A Kiss in Time, Cloaked, Bewitching, Towering, and Mirrored, a modern retelling of Snow White. Her first novel, Breathing Underwater, was named an ALA Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults and is the only novel included in Liz Clairborne’s “Love is Not Abuse” dating violence prevention curriculum for schools. Her books have received honors including Best Books for Young Adults, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, International Reading Association Young Adult Choices, and Junior Library Guild selection, as well as local and state readers’ choice awards. She is a non-practicing attorney who lives with her husband, daughters, and way too many pets in Miami, Florida. Sometimes, she jogs. Her novel, Beheld, is the latest book about the adventures of Kendra, a 300+ year old witch, who appeared in Beastly.

Herb Frazier

Herb Frazier is the public relations and marketing manager at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens near Charleston, South Carolina. Before he joined Magnolia in November 2010, Frazier edited and reported for five daily newspapers in the South, including his hometown paper, The Post and Courier. In 1990, the South Carolina Press Association named him Journalist of the Year. He has taught newswriting as a visiting lecturer at Rhodes University in South Africa. He is a former Michigan Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. Since leaving daily journalism in 2006, Frazier has led journalism workshops in Sierra Leone, Zambia, Ghana, Suriname, Guyana and The Gambia for the U.S. government and a Washington-based journalism foundation. His international reporting experience includes West Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall, humanitarian relief efforts in Bosnia and Rwanda during its post-genocide. He also reported on the rebel conflict in Sierra Leone. While he was in Sierra Leone, Frazier wrote about the historical ties with West Africa and coastal South Carolina and Georgia. Frazier serves on the executive committee of the board of directors of the Jazz Artists of Charleston, and he holds a federal appointment as a commissioner to the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission. Frazier is the author of “Behind God’s Back: Gullah Memories.” He is also co-author of “We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel” with Dr. Bernard Powers at the College of Charleston and Marjory Wentworth, South Carolina’s poet laureate. Thomas Nelson Publisher in Nashville, Tenn., released the book in June 2016. Thomas Nelson is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. His forthcoming book is “Crossing the Sea on a Sacred Song,” the story of an African funeral song that connects two families; one in Sierra Leone and the other Georgia.

Cynthia Graubart

Cynthia Graubart is a food writer, James Beard Award winning cookbook author, speaker, former cooking show television producer, and most-recently the author of Chicken: A Savor the South™ cookbook (UNC Press), a treatise containing essential information for the home cook, humorous anecdotes, and 53 wonderful recipes for both southern and international chicken dishes.

Aaron Graves


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Started in a dorm room, Aaron Graves established a personal songwriting style full of thoughtful arrangements and delightful quirks that were displayed through a handful of EPs and 2012's "Tomahawk of Praise" under the moniker Those Lavender Whales. 2017 sees Graves releasing "My Bones Are Singing" which was written and recorded after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Though Graves never references his cancer directly, his songs extend thematically, grappling with frustration with ever-decreasing time, questioning your place in the universe, and the possible nonexistence of spiritual authority in a capricious world.

Pattie Welek Hall

Pattie Welek Hall is the author of a children’s book, Believe, translated into Spanish, Creer. A Mother's Dance: One Step Back, Two Steps Forward, Full Circle was a 2013 Shortlist Finalist for the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner award for “Narrative Nonfiction, ” named a Pulpwood Queen Book Club Bonus Pick, and a Finalist in the "Health: Psychology/Mental Health" category of the 2016 Best Book Awards.” She’s been published in International Brain Injury Association 10th World Congress scientific journal, “Brain Injury”, and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries, and she hosts an Internet radio talk show, Joy Radio, from Charleston, South Carolina, where she makes her home.

Liesel Hamilton

Liesel Hamilton loves to explore the outdoors and to write. To satisfy both passions, she has recently earned her statewide Master Naturalist Certification through Clemson University and is pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts from George Mason University where she is studying creative nonfiction writing.

Susan Hamilton

A certified statewide Master Naturalist, Susan Hamilton has completed Master Naturalist trainings in the Upstate, Midlands, and the coastal zones of South Carolina. She is a former journalist who works with several environmental non-profits, both on their boards and in volunteer capacities. In her free time, she enjoys birding as well as trying to identify state wildflowers.

Sasscer Hill

Sasscer Hill, a former Maryland racehorse breeder, trainer, and rider, uses the sport of kings as a backdrop for her mysteries. Her “Nikki Latrelle” novels to earned multiple award nominations, including an Agatha, a Macavity, and the Dr. Tony Ryan Best in Racing Literature awards. Her new series about Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau agent, Fia McKee, debuts with FLAMINGO ROAD on April 18. The second book in this new series won First Place in the Carrie McCray 2015 Competition for Best First Chapter of a Novel, and was a runner up for the prestigious Claymore award. Hill earned a BA in English Literature from Franklin and Marshall College and now lives with her husband, a dog, and a cat in Aiken, SC, where she still rides horses. Contact Sasscer at

Cheris Hodges

Cheris Hodges is a native of Bennettsville, South Carolina and has been writing for as long as she's been reading. She learned at an early age that writing fantastic tales weren't lies, it was fiction. She spent over ten years as a journalist after graduating from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC. Cheris wrote her first romance novel in 2003 and became obsessed with happy endings.

Lorna Hollifield

Lorna Hollifield was born in Asheville, North Carolina, but now enjoys the island life outside of Charleston, South Carolina with her husband, Kimsey, and two mutts, Scarlet and Daisy. She’s been an author from the time she could speak, always spinning yarns for anyone who would listen. She began her professional writing journey as a tourism and travel blogger, before finally deciding to pursue her dream of publishing fiction. She was picked up by Pen Name Publishing in 2016. Tobacco Sun is her first novel, and she’s delighted to share it with the world, June 2017! Lorna also enjoys serving in the South Carolina Writers Association, and loves speaking about her craft at literary conferences and community events (especially charitable ones). When Lorna isn’t writing fiction, she enjoys blogging about writable women at!

Susan Johann

The work of award-winning photographer Susan Johann has been featured in galleries and cultural centers throughout the United States, including the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, The Public Theater, The Pershing Square Signature Center, and the Contemporary American Theater Festival, Condeso-Lawler, and John Stevenson Gallery. Her photographs are in public, corporate, and private collections and have been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, the New Yorker, and American Theatre Magazine.

Sandra Johnson

Sandra E. Johnson is the author of Flowers for the Living and Standing on Holy Ground: A Triumph over Hate Crime in the Deep South that received glowing reviews from O:The Oprah Magazine, USA Today, and Southern Living. She lives in Hopkins, South Carolina, and is currently at work on a novel set in South Carolina’s Low Country.

Cassandra King

Cassandra King is the award-winning author of five novels, most recently the critically acclaimed Moonrise; as well as a book of nonfiction, several short stories and magazine articles. Her books have been Booksense and Literary Guild Book-of-the-Month Club selections, Southeastern Bookseller Association bestsellers, and country-wide bookclub favorites. In addition, King has taught composition and literature on the college level, wrote human-interest articles for a local newspaper, and conducted corporate writing workshops for business executives. A native of L.A. (Lower Alabama) and a mother of four sons, King lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina where she made a home with her late husband, novelist Pat Conroy.

Len Lawson

Len Lawson began pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature and Criticism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2016. Len is co-founder of the Poets Respond to Race initiative and Poet-in-Residence for Sumter County Cultural Commission. A Berfrois Poetry Prize finalist and a Best of the Net nominee, Len has poems appearing in journals and anthologies such as pluck! A Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Poetry on the Comet, Fall Lines, and The Petigru Review. ( Poets Respond to Race exhibits literary arts and holds open forums on race and diversity to offer a gateway into tough conversations that can change communities in the South.

Molly Ledford


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Grammy-nominated Molly Ledford has been a singer and songwriter for the local bands The Verna Cannon and Lunch Money, and she is currently collaborating with fellow musician Aaron Graves and artist Rob Padley on a family-friendly project called Pears 4 Bears. Her children's music has been her most successful venture, but she still loves to sing sad songs in noisy places.

Ed Madden

Ed Madden is the author of four books of poetry--most recently, Ark (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016), a memoir in verse about time spent with his dying father. Madden is a professor of English and director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. Since 2015, he has served as the poet laureate for the City of Columbia.

Maya Marshall

Maya Marshall is a Callaloo Fellow, a Cave Canem fellow, and an alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Her writing has appeared most recently in Foglifter, Blackbird, and RHINO. Currently, Marshall is an MFA candidate at the University of South Carolina where she is the editor of Yemassee Journal.

James D. McCallister

James D. McCallister is the author of three novels, King’s Highway (Red Letter Press, 2007), Fellow Traveler (Muddy Ford Press, 2012), and Let the Glory Pass Away (Mind Harvest Press, 2017) as well as a dozen short stories and a wide variety of creative nonfiction. A two-time South Carolina Fiction Project honoree as well as a Faulkner-Wisdom and Saturday Evening Post short story finalist, McCallister adjuncts in creative writing at Midlands Technical College. In 2014 his papers relating to Fellow Traveler were accessioned by McHenry Library, University of California-Santa Cruz, as an adjunct collection to the Grateful Dead Archive.

Bren McClain

Bren McClain is a writer, who never gave up. After winning a handful of awards over the last two decades for novel excerpts and short stories, her literary novel, ONE GOOD MAMA BONE, found a home with Pat Conroy’s Story River Books. The novel received a starred review in “Booklist,” named a winter Okra pick by the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Alliance and made a Pulpwood Queens selection for May. “Deep South” magazine included it in its recommended list of upcoming Fall/Winter books. Bren is a two-time winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project and the recipient of the 2005 Fiction Fellowship by the South Carolina Arts Commission. She is at work on her next novel, Took, which was named the gold medal winner for the 2016 William Faulkner –William Wisdom Novel-in-Progress. Find her online at

Ray McManus


Ray McManus is the author of three books of poetry: Punch. (published by Hub City Press and winner of the 2015 IPPY for best book of poetry by an independent publisher), Red Dirt Jesus (winner of the Marick Press Poetry Prize), and Driving through the Country before You Are Born (published by USC Press and winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Award). He is the co-editor of Found Anew, an anthology published jointly by Pat Conroy's Story River Books imprint and Nikky Finney's Palmetto Poetry Series. McManus is an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter, where he directs the South Carolina Center for Oral Narrative and works with K-12 educators on teaching creative writing using standard curriculum. Website:

Mimi Milan


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Mimi’s passion for writing was ignited after being faced with the childhood choice of either going outside to play in the sweltering summer heat, or going to her room where to beat boredom she started to fill her school notebook with stories. An enthusiastic lover of all literature, Mimi Milan attended UNCC for a B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and minor in Children's Literature and Childhood Studies. An advocate for women, children and individuals with special needs, she served as a Guardian ad Litem in the county she lived until she had children of her own. Then she became a teacher, adopting the philosophy that "teachers who love to teach, teach children to love learning." She is the author of The Butterfly Butchers, Twice Redeemed, and A Rebel in Jericho.

Eric Morris

A native of Augusta, Georgia, ERIC MORRIS is a writer and a designer and teaches at The University of South Carolina. His professional work includes scenic and lighting design for dance, theatre, opera, live music stages and trade shows. Eric’s writing life includes articles, stories, novels and a collection of song lyrics, as well as the recently released novel Jacob Jump, published by Pat Conroy’s Story River Books and USC Press. In 2016 Eric contributed to the anthology Marked by the Water, published by The Jasper Project, in commemoration of the historic October 2015 flood. He is presently working on memoir stories, and a new book which explores the worlds of ballerinas and bluegrass music. He lives with his wife and son in Columbia, South Carolina.

Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay

Mukhopadhyay was selected as Nashville’s first Youth Poet Laureate in December 2014. As the first Nashville Laureate, she read original works across the city, including for Mayor Megan Barry’s inauguration, the Metro Council, State of Metro address, Nashville Public Library’s StudioNPL opening, TEDxNashville and the MyCity Academy graduation. As part of the honor, she also recently published her first book of poems, “This is Our War.” Mukhopadhyay will find out if she has been selected as the first National Youth Poet Laureate in April 2017. The Nashville Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of the Office of the Mayor, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Nashville Public Library, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Southern Word, and Urban Word. The Nashville Youth Poet Laureate program aims to identify young writers and leaders who are committed to civic and community engagement, diversity and tolerance, and youth voice across Nashville.

Rachel Napolitano

Originally from Dallas, Rachel studied film at the University of Texas in Austin. Since then she has moved to Los Angeles, northern Italy, and South Korea before landing in South Carolina. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from National University, and makes a living as a freelance writer, specializing in narrative screenplays. She belongs to SOCO, Columbia’s collaborative creative community.

Matthew O’Leary

Matthew O'Leary was born in Alexandria, Virginia, and grew up in West Columbia, South Carolina. He is a graduate of Presbyterian College and is a three-time medical school reject. He has had work featured in The Birds We Piled Loosely, Gravel Magazine, and most recently, Fall Lines. Currently, he is working on Symptoms of a Cystic Teratoma, a collection of essays written after the death of his mother from pancreatic cancer. He is also working on another collection written during Hurricane Matthew. You can learn more about him by visiting his website,, or by buying him a cup of coffee.

Bo Petersen


Bo Petersen is an award-winning reporter for The Post and Courier, Charleston, who covers science and environment. He is the author of Washing Our Hands in the Clouds. He also has published poetry, short stories and essays.

Bernard Powers

Bernard E. Powers Jr., PhD, is professor of history at the College of Charleston, where he teaches United States and African American history. He has been a consultant to historic sites and has served on the boards of several history oriented nonprofit organizations. Dr. Powers has been seen in PBS films, such as The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross and Slavery and the Making of America.

Glenis Redmond

Glenis Redmond travels nationally and internationally reading and teaching poetry so much that she has earned the title, Road Warrior Poet. She has posts as the Poet-in-Residence at The Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville, South Carolina, and also at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. During February 2016, at the request of U.S. State Department for their Speaker's Bureau, Glenis traveled to Muscat, Oman, to teach a series of poetry workshops and perform poetry for Black History Month. In 2014-16, Glenis served as the Mentor Poet for the National Student Poet's Program to prepare students to read at the Library of Congress, the Department of Education, and for First Lady Michelle Obama at The White House. Glenis is a Cave Canem Fellow, a North Carolina Literary Fellowship Recipient, and a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist. She also helped create the first Writer-in-Residence at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Glenis believes that poetry is a healer, and she can be found in the trenches across the world applying pressure to those in need, one poem at a time.

Michele Reese

Michele Reese is the author of the poetry collection Following Phia (WordTech Editions). Her poems have appeared in the The Paris Review, Congeries, Blackberry, Smartish Pace, and other literary journals and anthologies. She is a professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter.

Cokie Roberts


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News anchor, political commentator, daughter of political royalty, New York Times best-selling author Coker Roberts is also the author of more than eight books, primarily focusing on women’s roles in political history. Her most recent work, the stunning picture book Ladies of Liberty: The Women who Shaped Our Nation, written with Diane Goode, is based on her acclaimed work for adults and is a follow-up to her children’s book Founding Mothers. Suitable for all ages.

Maggie Schein

Maggie Schein is the research director for HULA at Harvard University and is a research fellow at The Citadel (the first female research fellow!), where she specializes in ethics and education. She is an author of fiction and non-fiction and tends to take in and learn from pretty much any species of animal that will have her, from raccoons and possums to cute kittens or pit bulls. She lives with her Husband and artist, Jonathan Hannah in Beaufort, SC. Maggie loves exploration, kindness, seekers, authenticity, the struggle, music, a belief in balance and peace, and a faith in the absurd. And stories.

Wade Sellers

Wade Sellers in an independent filmmaker and producer living in Columbia, SC. He is a three time Emmy nominee whose production company, Coal Powered Filmworks, focuses on producing documentary and independent film. His work has been seen on PBS stations nationwide and independent theaters and festivals around the country. After graduation from the University of South Carolina he began work in independent film as a cinematographer. In the late 1990’s he followed this work to New York City, where he began establishing a strong resume of independent work and corporate clients. After returning to the south he turned his focus to producing and directing and founded Coal Powered Filmworks; producing work for local, regional and national clients. His work has aired statewide and nationally on PBS and he has been recognized with Addys, Tellys and numerous other awards. His latest project is a three-part biography series focusing on soldiers that fought in Vietnam that will air nationally in 2017.

Kimberly Simms

Kimberly Simms is an award winning poet, speaker, and arts integration specialist. Her first full-length book of history-based poetry is forthcoming from a traditional press in 2017 entitled Lindy Lee: Songs on Mill Hill. She is the 2016 Carl Sandburg National Historic Site Writer-in-Residence, a member of the SC Humanities Council’s Speakers Bureau, a South Carolina Arts Commission Approved Artist, a National Poetry Slam Certified Master of Ceremonies, and a SMART Arts teaching artist. Her poetry has appeared in Aji Magazine, Broad River Review, Poem, The South Carolina Review, The Asheville Poetry Review, Eclipse and many more. She is the recipient of The John Edward Johnson Prize from The Poetry Society of SC, a York County Arts Poetry Award, and an Honorable Mention for her poetry from Ampersand and Kakalak. Her work is included in the South Carolina Poetry Archives at Furman University. You can learn more about her at

Shari Stauch

Founder of Where Writers Win, Shari Stauch has been involved in publishing, marketing, and PR for thirty years. She is the author of four non-fiction books as well as an award-winning essayist and fiction writer. She is the principal author of the WWW blog, and works with authors and publishers around the country, helping them market themselves and their work to find more readers. Where Writers Win offers access to vetted book reviewers, live and virtual book clubs, and other curated resources for authors and publishers.

Cassie Premo Steele

Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D., is the author of 14 books, including most recently Beautiful Waters, poetry about her honeymoon in Oregon with her wife. Her poetry has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize and she has been a columnist at Literary Mama and a blogger for The Huffington Post. She works as a writing coach with writers from around the world and lives in Columbia with her wife and daughter, two dogs and two bunnies. and

Deno Trakas


Deno Trakas is the Laura and Winston Hoy Professor of English and director of the writing center at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC. He has published fiction and poetry in journals and anthologies, two chapbooks of powems, and a memoir entitled Because Memory Isn't Eternal: A Story of Greeks in Upstate South Carolina. Trakas is a five-time winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project Price and a recipient of the South Carolina Academy of Authors Fellowship in Fiction. Messenger from Mystery is his first novel.

TJ Wallace

T.J. Wallace is the Assistant Director of South Carolina Humanities, A native of Orlando, FL, T.J. graduated from Furman University and has now lived in Columbia for more than 10 years. She completed a year of service with the Americorps program City Year Columbia in 2005 and graduated from Francis Marion University’s Nonprofit Leadership Institute in 2009. She currently volunteers with the Midlands Reading Consortium, Shandon Presbyterian Church, and the School Improvement Council at Lake Carolina Elementary. However, she and her husband Joey spend most of their free time supervising the antics of Liam (5) and Lizzy (2).

Emylisa Warrick

Emylisa Warrick is a Poetry MFA candidate at USC. Before pursuing her MFA, she worked in the independent publishing and nonprofit arts industries. Notable places include Coffee House Press, Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, and The Loft Literary Center. You can follow her obsession with art museums on INSTAGRAM @heyemyemy.

Sarah Wendell

Sarah Wendell is co-founder and current mastermind of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, one of the most popular blogs examining romance fiction. She is also the author of the book Everything I Know About Love, I Learned from Romance Novels, and co-author of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels. Sarah is also host of the podcast Smart Podcast, Trashy Books.

Synithia Williams

Synithia Williams has been an avid romance-novel lover since picking up her first at the age of thirteen. It was only natural that she would begin penning her own romances soon after—much to the chagrin of her high school math teachers. She’s a native of South Carolina and now writes romances as hot as their southern settings. Outside of writing, she works on water quality and sustainability issues for local government. She’s married to her own personal hero, and they have two sons who’ve convinced her that professional wrestling and superheroes are supreme entertainment. When she isn’t working, writing or being a wife and mother, she’s usually bingeing on TV series, playing around on social media or planning her next girls’ night out with friends. You can learn more about Synithia by visiting her website,, where she blogs about writing, life and relationships.

Jane Zenger

Dr. Jane Zenger is a teacher, social activist and poet. She spent twenty years at the university level teaching courses in reading and literacy and directing federal literacy projects to improve conditions in rural schools in South Carolina and Texas. She sponsors creative writing workshops, nature retreats and interfaith programs on her farm in Blythewood, SC