Keynote Speaker : Diane Chamberlain


Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of 24 novels published in more than twenty languages. Influenced by her former career as a social worker and psychotherapist, she writes suspenseful stories that touch both heart and mind.



Marcus Amaker

In 2016, Marcus was named Charleston, South Carolina’s Charleston, South Carolina’s first Poet Laureate as appointed by Mayor John Tecklenburg. His seventh book, Mantra, is also an app, featuringaudio, video and new poems. Marcus’ poems have been featured on TEDx, PBS Newshour PBS Newshour, A&E, the Huffington Post, several journals and poetry collections

Johnathon Scott Barrett

Johnathon Scott Barrett, author of two memoirs of Southern food, is a seventh-generation Georgian, and grew up amongst a family that placed high value on fresh, farm-to-table food. He has held onto those roots and become a renowned cook and host in culinary rich Savannah, Georgia.

Jack Barksy

Jack Barsky, author of  Deep Under Cover, was born and raised in East Germany shortly after World War .He was recruited by the KGB and operated as an undercover agent in the US for 10 years. After “resigning” from the KGB he was eventually found by the FBI – he fully co-operated with the FBI and today is a legitimate naturalist US citizen.

Kenneth Benson

Kenneth is an author illustrator who works full-time at Book Tavern doing kid programming.

Kenn Bivins


Kenn Bivins is the best-selling author of “Pious” and “the Wedding & Disaster of Felona Mabel.” His work demonstrates that he has a penchant toward telling multi-layered redemption stories where definition between black and white is cleverly blurred.

Kim Boykin

Kim Boykin is the author of Echoes of MercyA Peach of a PairPalmetto Moon and The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley/NAL/Penguin; Flirting with ForeverShe’s the OneJust in Time for ChristmasSteal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule Publishing Group. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and adores hairstylists, librarians and book junkies like herself.

Charmain Brackett

Charmain Zimmerman Brackett has been intrigued by mystery stories from her earliest encounter with Nancy Drew novels. A veteran journalist with The Augusta Chronicle, she has written several novels as well as children’s stories including the 2015 Georgia Author of The Year Award for her book, Little Pearl’s Circus World. Her mystery series, Grace’s Augusta Mysteries, is set in her hometown of Augusta, Ga.

Beatrice. W. Brown

Bea Brown is a native of Macon, Georgia, has lived in the Augusta area for the over thirty years. Her first book, A Giraffe In the Gym was published in September of 2016 and Who Invited the Bees was published in the spring of this year.

Emily Carpenter

Emily Carpenter is the bestselling author of two thrillers, Burying the Honeysuckle Girls and The Weight of Lies (June 6). After graduating from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication, she moved to New York City. She’s worked as an actor, producer, screenwriter, and behind-the-scenes soap opera assistant for the CBS shows, As the World Turns and Guiding Light. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her family. Visit Emily at

Anthony Carter 

Augusta’s former poet laureate. Sleepy Eyez Carter, born Anthony Carter, is an American Spoken Word Artist from Augusta, Georgia. A lover of the art form of words Sleepy has been presenting in spoken word since 2010, however being no stranger to music he has been presenting in the art of rap since the 6th grade. Blending social-political perspective with deep rooted spiritual teachings Sleepy challenges his listeners to think and take notice to the world around them

Vicki Collins

Vicki Collins teaches English at USC Aiken, where she is also the Director of the Writing Center.  Her book, The Silent Appalachian: Wordless Mountaineers in Fiction, Film, and Television, was published by McFarland in 2017. 

Stephen Corey

Stephen Corey is the editor of The Georgia Review, with which he has worked since 1983. He is the author of ten poetry collections, including The Last Magician (1983) and There Is No Finished World (2003), and most recently published his first prose collection, Startled at the Big Sound: Essays Personal, Literary, and Cultural (Mercer U. Press, 2017). Some three hundred of his poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in dozens of periodical and anthologies, and he has edited or coedited four literary anthologies in three genres. Born in Buffalo and reared in Jamestown, NY, Corey holds English degrees from Harpur College/Binghamton Univ. (BA, MA) and the Univ. of Florida (PhD).

Rick Davis

Rick Davis, professor emeritus at Augusta University, is a playwright who has written six full lengths, 12 children’s musicals, 23 one-acts. Several have won awards and all have been performed, some in NYC, some in LA, and all in theatres across the country. “Joseph Receives Unsettling News” –which just closed in NYC — and The Morphology of the Human Foot are his most recent.

Christine Hurley Deriso

Christine Hurley Deriso, an Augusta native, is a published author of children’s books and young adult books. Her latest novel,  All the Wrong Chords, comes out in December 2017.

Walter Evans

Dr. Walter Evans co-founded Sand Hills literary magazine, edited The Best of Sand Hills and seven editions of The Humanities Handbook, has published a dozen short stories, 16 scholarly essays in books and 17 in academic journals, principally on American literature, many on the American short story.  To promote early childhood literacy he created the and three free apps:  Brainy Words 2000, Brainy Phonics, and Rhyme A Zoo.

Julia Franks

Julia Franks is the author of Over the Plain Houses (Hub City Press), an NPR best book of 2016, winner of the Southern Book Prize, the IPPY Gold Medal for Literary Fiction and the Georgia Author of the Year in Literary Fiction. She has roots in the Southeastern mountains, but grew up mostly on army bases. An outdoors-woman, she has spent years kayaking the rivers and creeks of Tennessee, North Carolina, and West Virginia. She lives in Atlanta and runs an ed-tech company called, a social media site that makes it easy for schools to manage students’ independent reading choices and track those choices from year to year (all part of her fiendish crusade to get more Americans reading).

James Garvey

Dr. James Garvey taught English and journalism for almost 40 years, first at the State University of New York at Geneseo, and since 1979 at Augusta University, where he was also director of the Honors Program and founding chair of the Department of Communication. He retired in 2009. He has written nine plays based on local history, served as writing coach at The Augusta Chronicle for 20 years, and writes for Augusta Magazine. He was one of three editor–writers for In Their Own Words. In 2018, a history of Augusta, written with Dr. Lee Ann Caldwell, will be published.

Karin Gillespie

Karin Gillespie is the author of seven novels and received a Georgia Author of the Year award in 2016. She’s also written for the New York Times, Washington Post and Writer Magazine. She writes a book column for the Augusta Chronicle and a humor column for Augusta Magazine.

Lowell M. Greenbaum

Lowelll Greenbaum is a scientist, political leader, and a writer with a liberal conscience.He has written over 95 OP ED pieces that were published by the local newspaper.

Linda Lee Harper

Linda Lee Harper’s two collections of poetry, TOWARD DESIRE and KISS,KISS, won the Washington Prize and Cleveland State Poetry Press Open Competition, respectively. Her work has appeared in over a 120 journals ie. NIMROD, THE GEORGIA REVIEW and BELOIT POETRY JOURNAL, in addition to her ten chapbooks, which include BLUE FLUTE from Adastra Press.

Terresa Cooper Haskew

Terresa writes short stories and poems from Lake Murray, SC.  Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals such as Atlanta Review, Cold Mountain, and The Fourth River. She was awarded the Poetry Society of South Carolina’s 2015 Starkey Flythe, Jr. Prize; the Emrys Journal 2013 Nancy Dew Taylor Poetry Award; and the Press 53 2010 First Prize for Poetry. Her short story, “Living the Dream” (published in Altered States by Main Street Rag), served as inspiration for a short film (by Ron Hagell) in the 2014 SC Expecting Goodness Film Festival. Terresa is the author of Breaking Commandments, a poetry chapbook published in 2014 by Main Street Rag.

Deron Hicks

As a lawyer, Deron Hicks investigates mysteries for a living. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in painting and from Mercer Law School. He lives in Warm Springs, Georgia with his wife children and writes middle-school mysteries.

Sasscer Hill

Sasscer Hill is the author of Agatha and Macavity nominated murder mysteries set against a backdrop of big money, gambling, and horse racing. She lives in Aiken, South Carolina.

John Jeter

After a 10-year run at the Chicago Sun-TimesSt. Petersburg Times, and other newspapers, John Jeter opened The Handlebar, a concert venue in Greenville, S.C. As talent buyer, he booked unknowns (at the time) like John Mayer, Zac Brown Band, and Sugarland, while promoting the likes Joan Baez, John Hiatt, and Maynard Ferguson. He published all that madness in his memoir, ROCKIN’ A HARD PLACE (Hub City Press), now using it as a textbook for his Music Business class at Converse College.

Sa Jules

Fertilized from the rich soil of Wisconsin and transplanted to savory fields of Georgia, Sa Jules has been writing and assassinating the microphone as a spoken word artist since the age of eleven. She has won several poetry competitions and plans on helping others achieve their poetic goals. Sa Jules is the founder of the poetry showcase entitled L!fe Logues and the founder of Dope Spit & Open Mic which is a Monday night artist showcase. Sa Jules is also an actress with work dating back to 1992 in theater as well as in front of the camera and she has no plans on stopping any time soon.

Kit Loney

Kit’s  poems have appeared in Emrys Journal, Kakalak, Yemassee, Redheaded Stepchild, Qarrtsiluni, Waccamaw, One, Poetry East, and Poetry Society of SCYearbooks. She received the 2012 Carrie McCray Nickens Poetry Fellowship from the SC Academy of Authors. She has just retired from teaching middle school art.

Christopher Martin

Christopher Martin is author of This Gladdening Light: An Ecology of Fatherhood and Faith, published this year by Mercer University Press. His debut received the Will D. Campbell Award in Creative Nonfiction and has been featured in the AJC and Arts Atlanta. Martin’s creative nonfiction and poetry have been published in journals and media across the country. He teaches English at Kennesaw State University and creative nonfiction for the Appalachian Young Writers Workshop.

Man Martin

Man Martin is a two-time winner of Georgia Author the Year for his novels, Days of the Endless Corvette and Paradise Dogs. Booklist calls his third novel, The Lemon Jell-O Syndrome, a “singular joy.”  In addition to writing, he draws an online comic strip, Inkwell Forest, available at his blog, Man Overboard, at


James D. McCallister

James D. McCallister is the author of three Southern literary novels, a baker’s dozen of short stories, and a variety of creative nonfiction publications. An adjunct in creative writing at Midlands Technical College, McCallister lives in West Columbia, SC with his wife and six beloved cats, muses all.

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 and was published in February. 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.

Hildie McQueen

USA Today Bestselling author Hildie McQueen loves unusual situations and getting into interesting adventures. Romance Author of Highland historical, Western Historical and contemporary, she writes something every reader can enjoy.

Jim Minick

Jim Minick is the author of five books, including the novel Fire Is Your Water and The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family, winner of the SIBA Best Nonfiction Book of the Year Award. His honors include the Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian Writing, and the Fred Chappell Fellowship at University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Currently, he is Assistant Professor of English at Augusta University and Core Faculty at Converse College’s low-residency MFA program.

Tom Okie

William Thomas Okie grew up in the Georgia peach belt, studied history at Covenant College and the University of Georgia, and serves as associate editor of the journal Agricultural History and Assistant Professor at Kennesaw State University. He lives with his family in unincorporated Cobb County, Georgia. The Georgia Peach is his first book.

Brian Panowich

Brian Panowich is an award winning author, a Georgia firefighter, and a father to four incredible children. His first novel, BULL MOUNTAIN (Putnam Books) topped the best thriller list of 2015 on Apple iBooks, placed in the top twenty best books of 2015 on Amazon, and went on to win the International Thriller Writers Award (2016) for Best First Novel, as well as the Pat Conroy Award (formally the SIBA Award) (2016) for Best Mystery

Stacia Pelletier

Stacia Pelletier is the author of Accidents of Providence (2012) and The Half Wives (2017).  She lives in Decatur, Georgia with her husband Mark and their border collie Scout.  A finalist for the Townsend Prize in Fiction, Pelletier holds graduate degrees in theology and religion from Emory University, where she currently works as chief writer for the president.

Calvin W. Pennywell, Jr.

Calvin is from Thomson, Georgia by way of Blytheville, Arkansas. He graduated from Augusta University in 2014 with a BA in English-Creative Writing. He currently works at The Dental College of Georgia as an Office Associate. He plans to again attend Augusta University to pursue a MA in Educational Counseling. His latest project is a chapbook of poetry titled The Long Way Home.

Willie Perkins

Willie Perkins, author of  No Saints, No Saviors: My Years With The Allman Brothers Band, was born and raised in Augusta, was educated in the Richmond County public school system and briefly attended Augusta College. He graduated with a BBA degree from the University of Georgia and a Commercial Banking degree from the American Institute of Banking. He worked as a commercial bank auditor in Augusta and Atlanta before becoming tour manager and co-personal manager of Gregg Allman and The Allman Brothers Band. He now lives in Macon, Georgia.

William Rawlings

William Rawlings is a sixth-generation resident of Washington County, Georgia.  He is the author of eight books, including five novels and three works of non-fiction in the field of Southern history.  Rawlings attended Emory and Johns Hopkins Universities, and holds graduate degrees from Tulane and Mercer Universities.  Learn more at

Larissa Reinhart

A 2015 Georgia Author of the Year Best Mystery finalist, Larissa writes the Cherry Tucker Mystery and the Maizie Albright Star Detective series. Her books have been a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, 2012 The Emily finalist, and 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. Her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit, lived in Nagoya, Japan, but just moved back to Peachtree City, Georgia. See them on HGTV’s House Hunters International “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya” episode. Visit herwebsite,, and find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads. She loves to chat with readers

Anna Schachner

A former music journalist, Anna Schachner has published short fiction and nonfiction in many journals and magazines, including Puerto del Sol, Ontario Review,The Sun, The Guardian, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.You and I and Someone Else, her first novel, was released by Mercer University Press in April 2017. She is a longstanding guest lecturer in Emory University’s creative writing program, directs the Townsend Prize for Fiction, runs a series of writing workshops for veterans, and volunteers with Reforming Arts to teach writing in the Georgia prison system.  Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, she grew up in Augusta, Georgia, and now lives in Atlanta, where she is the editor of The Chattahoochee Review. Visit her at

Michael N. Searles—a.k.a. Cowboy Mike

Cowboy Mike is  an Emeritus History Professor at Augusta University, an opinion writer for The True Citizen Newspaper, co-editor of Black Cowboys in the American West—Winner of the Popular Culture Association’s Best Edited Book. Winner of 2016 Stirrup Award for best article published in Western Writers of America’s Roundup Magazine.

Beth Siciliano

Beth Siciliano has been a feature writer and magazine editor for many years and joined the Paine College Humanities faculty in 2008. The daughter of two extraordinary parents, Quentin and Louise Shivers, she is honored to celebrate her mother’s writing legacy.

Kimberly Simms

A graduate of Furman University (BA) and Clemson University (MA), Kimberly’s work has appeared in over 30 literary journals including the Asheville Poetry Review and the Broad River Review. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and her work is included in the South Carolina Poetry Archives at Furman University. She is the proud founder of Wits End Poetry, a non-profit now celebrating 15 years of creating South Carolina poetry events and educational outreach

Tara Rice Simkins

Tara recently left a successful twenty year legal career to pursue a new calling ~ that of teacher, writer and co-founder of the Press On Fund. She lives in North Augusta, South Carolina with her husband, Turner, her three sons, Nat, Brennan and Christopher, and their dog, Lucky

Michael Buffalo Smith

Michael Buffalo Smith ( is an author hailing from Spartanburg, SC. He has penned several non-fiction titles including his latest Capricorn Rising: Conversations in Southern Rock (Mercer University Press). Smith is also editor of Kudzoo Magazine (, a musician, and the founder of The Southern Rock Hall of Fame (

Christopher Swann

A graduate of Woodberry Forest School in Virginia, Christopher Swann, author of Shadow of the Lions, earned a B.A. in English from Washington and Lee University, an M.A. in English and creative writing from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a Ph.D. in creative writing from Georgia State University. He has won awards and recognition from GSU, Washington and Lee University, and the Heekin Group Foundation’s Tara Fellowship for Short Fiction. He lives with his wife and two sons in Atlanta, where he is the English department chair at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.

Michel Stone

Michel Stone is the author of two critically acclaimed novels, The Iguana Tree (Hub City Press, 2012) and Border Child (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2017) as well as numerous stories and essays. Both of her novels have been optioned for film. She lives in Spartanburg, SC with her husband and children and she is at work on her third novel.

Deno Trakas

Deno Trakas is the Laura and Winston Hoy Professor of English and director of the writing center at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He has published fiction and poetry in journals and anthologies, two chapbooks of poems, 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 Prize and a recipient of the South Carolina Academy of Authors Fellowship in Fiction. Messenger from Mystery is his first novel.

Tom Turner

Tom Turner is a publisher and the author of several short stories, poems, plays and feature article. He was the writing partner of Louise Shivers and is currently editing Leaving Cold Harbor, the final novel of Shivers’ trilogy which began with Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail.  Tom plays a principal role in Edgar, an award-winning short by filmmaker Max Siciliano.  He is also developing a stage piece about humorist Joel Chandler Harris. His audio CD recording of Harris’s Uncle Remus is available at

George Van Giesen

George Van Giesen established the chronic dialysis program at Talmadge Hospital, MCG’s main teaching facility and opened The Augusta Dialysis Center. His memoir, Prelude to Change, traces stories about patients with chronic kidney failure and their struggles to survive in a time when there were few dialysis and transplantation facilities.

Richard Wall

Richard “Dick” Wall’s mission has been speaking about his wife’s memoir, Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening, since her death in December 2014. Wall carries on the message of Carol F. Wall’s critically-acclaimed story of two unlikely friends affirming life while facing illness and death. He graduated from Vanderbilt University and University of Virginia School of Law, and he and Carol were married for 42 years. They have three adult children and five grandchildren. Wall lives in Roanoke, Virginia.

Daren Wang

Daren Wang is the Executive Director of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival, the largest independent book festival in the country. Before launching the festival, he had a twenty-year career in public radio, both national and local, with a particular focus on books and authors. Wang has written for the Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPaste magazine, and Five Points magazine, among others. The Hidden Light of Northern Fires is his first novel.


Krystal ValentineKrystal Valentine was born and raised in Augusta, GA. She graduated
from Augusta University’s with a degree in English-Creative Writing, and a minor in Spanish in December 2014. That same year, her poem “Amiri’s Revolution” was published in a Write Bloody Publishing anthology entitled We Will Be Shelter. She currently writes for, a site of film reviews created by women and femmes.


Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has made chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunted for truffles in France. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby, has spoken at SXSW, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Aretha Franklin with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen.

Willis is the author of Lighten Up, Y’allBon Appétit, Y’allBasic to Brilliant, Y’allOkra, and GritsLighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome received a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health category and was a finalist for Best American cookbook by the International Association of Culinary Professionals


Karen Spears Zacharias

Karen Spears Zacharias is a Gold Star daughter whose writing has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, National Public Radio, and Good Morning America. Her novel, MOTHER OF RAIN (Mercer University Press), was adapted for the stage by Paul Pierce of Georgia’s historic Springer Theater. CHRISTIAN BEND is the third book in the Appalachian series.