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Friday, Nov. 3-Sunday, Nov.5

Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center

1101 Lincoln St., Columbia, SC 29201



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Janisse Ray

Janisse Ray is a naturalist, activist, poet, essayist and author. Her early memoir, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, won the Southeastern Booksellers Award for Nonfiction, the Southern Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and the American Book Award in 2000. Since then, she has written or edited over a dozen books and has been published in more than 40 anthologies. Her work has won her a Pushcart Prize and the Nautilus Book Award. She was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2015. Reviewers and writers call Ray a modern-day Rachel Carson and Walt Whitman. “Seriously great,” says author Franklin Burroughs of her 2021 book, Wild Spectacle. She believes in the power of stories to transform a single person, a community, or a nation.

Friday Masterclass: Market Your Book Skyward

Saturday Keynote: Five Challenges to Great Writing and How to Conquer Them

Saturday Craft Class: Write Your Own Story

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Jason Mott

National Book Award winner Jason Mott has received numerous awards and honors for his novels and poetry. The Returned, his debut novel, was adapted for television and aired on the ABC network under the title “Resurrection.” His fourth novel, Hell of A Book, released in June 2021, was a Jenna Bush Hager “Read With Jenna” Book Club pick, a Carnegie Medals For Excellence in Fiction Longlist selection, a 2022 Housatonic Book Award Winner, and a 2021 National Book Award for Fiction winner. He has a BFA in Fiction and an MFA in Poetry, both from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He is the author of two poetry collections and four novels.  Entertainment Weekly calls him one of 10 “New Hollywood: Next Wave” people to watch.

Saturday Keynote

Saturday Panel: Writing the Breakout Novel

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Ashley Poston

Ashley Poston is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of eight books, including The Dead Romantics, The Seven Year Slip, Among the Beasts & Briars, and Soul of StarsAfter graduating from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s in English, she worked in the publishing industry before pursuing writing full-time. Her early novel Geekerella — part romance, part love letter to nerd culture — appeared on Seventeen’s 2017 “12 Life-Changing Books You Have to Read This Summer” list. Her adult debut, The Dead Romantics, was named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2022 by the New York Times. Bestselling author Carley Fortune calls Poston “one of the finest romance writers out there.”

Saturday Keynote

Saturday Craft Class: Writing the Romance Novel


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Yasmin Angoe

Yasmin Angoe is the author of the highly praised Nena Knight series, published by Thomas & Mercer, Amazon’s thriller imprint. The series features a trained assassin who works for The Tribe, a secret organization battling human traffickers and paramilitary groups. A TV series based on Angoe’s killer is in production. Reviewers say Angoe’s books include “blistering” action scenes, suspense, danger and romance. A first-generation Ghanaian American, Angoe received the 2020 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award from Sisters in Crime. She is a member of numerous crime, mystery and thriller organizations, including Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Color and International Thriller Writers.

Saturday Panel: Whodunit? Writing the Mystery Novel

Sunday: A Conversation with Thriller Writer Yasmin Angoe

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Susan M. Boyer

Susan M. Boyer is the author of the USA TODAY bestselling Liz Talbot mystery series. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, won the 2012 Agatha Award for Best First Novel and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. The third book in the series, Lowcountry Boneyard, was a spring 2015 Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick and was short-listed for the 2016 Pat Conroy Beach Music Mystery Prize. She has written 11 books in the Liz Talbot series. The South Carolina writer launched a new series — Carolina Tales — this year with her much-anticipated Big Trouble on Sullivan’s Island, featuring Charleston gumshoe Hadley Cooper.

Saturday Panel: Whodunit? Writing the Mystery Novel

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Amy Collins

Amy Collins, an agent with the Talcott Notch Literary Services agency, has spent more than 30 years in the publishing industry as a book buyer, sales director for a large nonfiction publisher and founder of New Shelves Books, one of the largest book sales and marketing companies in the U.S. She focuses on nonfiction, history, historical fiction, fantasy and sci-fi. Collins, a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, has spent her career working with Barnes & Noble, Target, Costco, Books-A-Million and Walmart as well as bookstores and libraries. She’s a frequent speaker at writing festivals and conferences, including Publisher’s Weekly’s BookCon, NY PitchFest, Dallas Book Con and Writers Digest’s Annual Conference. She critiques writing samples through a boot camp offered each year by Writers Digest.

Friday Masterclass: How Publishing Works: Learn How to Work the System to Your Advantage

Agent Pitches

Saturday Publishing Class: The Dreaded Comp Titles: A Necessary Evil That Can Launch Your Career

Saturday Queryfest

Wanda Craig (Raegan Teller)

Wanda Craig, writing as Raegan Teller, is the award-winning author of the Enid Blackwell Mystery Series. Two of her novels received Honorable Mention in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. ”One of the best I’ve read this year,” said one Digest judge, adding, a “great storyteller.” Craig is a member of Sisters in Crime, Southeastern Writers Association, Charlotte Writers Club and the Alliance of Independent Authors. Her mystery novels include Murder Clause, Time to Prey and The Fifth Stone.  Before becoming an author, she worked as a business writer, copy editor, marketing manager and executive coach. As a student, she even sold burial vaults. Says Craig: “How apropos is that for a mystery writer.”

Saturday Panel: Who Dunnit? Learn How to Write a Page-Turning Mystery from Authors Susan Boyer, Deb Richardson-Moore, Jasmine Angoe and Moderator Raegan Teller

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Renee C. Fountain

Renee C. Fountain champions various genres, ranging from adult thrillers to informative nonfiction and close-to-her-heart YA. Over the years, Fountain has helped launch several crime thriller writers and series, including Sarah Cain’s The 8th Circle, Michel Logan’s Hell’s Detective and Jonathan Fredrick’s Cain City series. Before putting on her agent hat, she spent five years working for the CW television network as a book scout and story analyst for television development. She spent nearly a decade working in major publishing houses, including Harcourt Brace and Simon & Schuster, where she worked with some of the best writers and illustrators in the publishing world.  In addition to looking for the next best-seller, Fountain also can be found on the faculty of Manuscript Academy, providing developmental editing and writing critiques.

Agent Pitches

Saturday Queryfest

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Julia Franks

Julia Franks is the author of Over the Plain Houses, an NPR Best Book of 2016, and the winner of five prestigious literary prizes, including the Townsend Prize for Georgia fiction and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Award. She has published essays in the New York Times, The Bitter Southerner and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Author Wiley Cash calls her 2023 novel, The Say So, “a powerful novel, and an important one too.” The book is part of the Cold Mountain Fund Series in partnership with award-winning author Charles Frazier.

Saturday Panel: Writing the Breakout Novel

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Andrew Geyer

Andrew Geyer is the author, co-author and editor of 11 books, including the novels Dixie Fish and Meeting the Dead and the short story collection Lesser Mountains, winner of the 2020 Independent Publishers Book Award Silver Medal for Regional/Southern Fiction. His short stories have won numerous accolades, including two Spur Awards for Best Short Story from the Western Writers of America.  A member of the Texas Institute of Letters and the South Carolina Academy of Authors Literary Hall of Fame, Geyer chairs the English Department at USC-Aiken and is the fiction editor at the Concho River Review.

Saturday Panel: Short Story 101

Sunday: Slushfest

Manuscript Critiques

Geoffrey Gunn

Geoffrey Gunn is a writer, producer and director specializing in independent film. His past writing and co-writing credits include anime legend “Mamoru Oshii's Garm Wars: The Last Druid” and the dark comedy “Dirty Weekend,” both of which enjoyed international film festival runs before finding their way to theaters, home video and streaming services. Additional writing credits include the Lionsgate release “Siren,” micro-budget darling “Cinema Purgatorio” and the Lifetime thriller “Fatal Family Reunion.” He made his directorial debut with the award-winning short film “Last Night at the Ellington,” which was the recipient of a South Carolina Indie Grant. With over 15 years of experience in the business of independent film, Gunn also routinely works as a panelist, teacher and consultant on screenwriting and filmmaking.

Friday Masterclass: Before Fade In: Pre-Writing Tools To Help You Conquer Page One Of Your Screenplay

Saturday Panel:: Adaptations and Pitching Your Novel as a Script, with screenwriter Brad Land

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Halle Hill

Halle Hill is a PEN/Dau Short Story Prize nominee and winner of the 2021 Crystal Wilkinson Creative Writing Prize, the 2020 Oxford American Debut Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the 2021 ASME Award for Fiction. Her work is featured in Joyland, New Limestone Review, and Oxford American. This year, Hub City Press published her debut collection, Good Women: Stories, which examines the lives of twelve Black women across Appalachia and the Deep South.

Friday Craft Class: Developing voice and emotional truth in fiction, with author Halle Hill

Saturday Panel: Short Story 101

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Claire Jimenez

Claire Jimenez is a Puerto Rican writer who grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island. She is the author of Staten Island Stories, which won the 2019 Hornblower Award from the New York Society Library. Her new novel, What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez, was dubbed a “Most Anticipated Book of 2023” by USA Today, Elle and Goodreads. The book also made the “Best Books of March” list by Time, Ms. Magazine, Popsugar, Bookriot and Powell’s Book Blog. Jimenez is an assistant fiction editor at Prairie Schooner and teaches at the University of South Carolina.

Saturday Panel: Writing the Breakout Novel

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Holly Goddard Jones

Holly Goddard Jones is the author of four books, including her 2022 story collection Antipodes. Her other titles include The Salt Line, The Next Time You See Me, and Girl Trouble: Stories. Her work has appeared in The Best American Mystery Stories, New Stories from the South, and Tin House magazine. She received The Fellowship of Southern Writers' Hillsdale Prize for Excellence in Fiction and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award. “Erase every qualifier: American, living, southern. Holly Goddard Jones is one of our greatest storytellers — period,” says author David James Poissant. Jones teaches creative writing at UNC Greensboro.

Saturday Panel: Short Story 101

Saturday Craft Class

Brad Land

Brad Land’s 2004 memoir, Goat, was a bestselling account of violence and brotherhood in the Deep South. The Orchid Thief author Susan Orlean called Goat “a breathtaking book, a rough ride over the emotions of adolescence and the brutal business of being an American man.” Land’s voice, she added, “is distinct, melancholic, and original; the book is a wonderful debut.” Goat was adapted into a 2016 film starring Nick Jonas and James Franco. Since then, Land has written a novel, Pilgrims Upon the Earth, and received two independent filmmaker grants from the South Carolina Film Commission. He is the writer, director and producer of the short films Boss and Pilgrims. A two-time fellow at MacDowell, he has written for GQ, The Oxford American, Quarter After Eight, Rivendale, Third Coast and Ecotone.

Saturday Panel:: Adaptations and Pitching Your Novel as a Script, with screenwriter Geoffrey Gunn

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Charlie Lovett

Charlie Lovett is a New York Times bestselling novelist and playwright. His plays for children have been seen in over 5,000 productions worldwide. He hosts the podcast Inside the Writer’s Studio. Kirkus Reviews called his debut novel, The Bookman’s Tale, a “pleasurably escapist trans-Atlantic mystery … intricately layered with plots, murders, feuds, romances, forgeries — and antiquarian book dealing.” Since then, Lovett has written seven novels, including two in 2022: The Enigma Affair, a thriller about a small-town librarian and a professional assassin who solve a 75-year-old Nazi mystery, and The Book of the Seven Spells, a middle-grade mystery about four children who discover a magical library.

Saturday Craft Class: Writing Across Genres: Mainstream, Mystery, YA & Thrillers

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Ed Madden

Ed Madden served as Columbia’s poet laureate from 2015 to 2023.  An English professor and director of the women’s and gender studies program at the University of South Carolina, Madden is the author of four books of poetry: Signals, which won the 2007 SC Poetry Book Prize; Prodigal: Variations; Nest; and Ark.  He is An Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow and the recipient of a South Carolina Governor’s Award for the Arts. A proponent of public art, Madden has placed poems on Columbia’s sidewalks and buses. On April Fool’s Day, he put 2,000 fake parking tickets with poems on people’s cars.

Saturday Poetry Panel

Sunday Craft Class

Poetry Critiques

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Kate McMullen

Kate McMullen is the managing editor at Hub City Press in Spartanburg, South Carolina She received her MFA in fiction from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she worked as the publishing assistant for Lookout Books. Her fiction has appeared in Paper Darts, Carve Magazine, The Boiler, Foglifter, The Pinch and elsewhere. A Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee, she is the 2015 recipient of UNCW’s Colbert Chapbook Award. You will find Kate reading short stories, literary oddities, cookbooks and true crime. She lives downtown in Spartanburg with her partner and a pit bull named Holstein.

Saturday Publishing Class: Traditional and Small Press Publishing

Pitch Speed Dating

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Joshua Parks

A photographer, public historian and community organizer, Joshua Parks is the digital programs and community engagement specialist at the International African American Museum in Charleston. His family history is deeply rooted in the Lowcountry, where he is a direct descendant of the people of Sol Legare Island, a historic Gullah-Geechee sea island community. A graduate of Howard University, Parks is the author of The Green Book of South Carolina: A Guide to African American Cultural Sites, which identifies more than 180 African American historic markers, structures, and landmarks.

Saturday Panel: Capturing Southern History

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Glenis Redmond

Glenis Redmond is the first poet laureate of Greenville, S.C. A Kennedy Center Teaching Artist, she has authored six books of poetry, including Backbone, Under the Sun, What My Hand Say and The Three Harriets (and Others). She founded the first Greenville Poetry Slam in 1995 and took the first all-women’s team to the nationals. She also helped start WordSlam, the youth slam movement in Asheville, N.C. She’s received the Governor’s Award and the Peacemaker Award and is a member of the South Carolina Academy of Authors. She describes herself as a poet, an imagination activist, and “a gentle pen pusher.”

Saturday Craft Class

Sunday Poetry Panel

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Meg Reid

Meg Reid is the executive director of Hub City Writers Project in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where she finds and champions new and overlooked voices from the American South, including Carter Sickels, Drew Lanham, Ashley M. Jones and Anjali Enjeti. An editor and book designer, her essays have appeared online in outlets like DIAGRAM, Oxford American and The Rumpus. She holds an MFA in nonfiction from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she served as assistant editor of the literary magazine Ecotone and worked for the literary imprint Lookout Books. Hub City has published over 100 literary works of fiction, poetry and nonfiction. Its books have been praised and featured in The New York Times, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly and Los Angeles Review of Books, among others.

Saturday Publishing Class: Traditional and Small Press Publishing

Pitch Speed Dating

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Chad Rhoad

Chad Rhoad is an editor at the Charleston-based Arcadia Press. He earned an MFA in fiction from the University of South Carolina. The former journalist and newspaper editor has been a project editor for more than 350 titles in history, true crime, fiction and culture. He’s appeared at the Atlanta Writer’s Conference and the Florida Writer’s Association. He teaches writing and literature at the university level. Says James C. Clark, the author of A History Lover’s Guide to Florida: “Chad Rhoad has made scores of books better and their authors more successful with his deft editing touch.”

Manuscript Critiques

Sunday Panel on Southern Writing

Sunday Slushfest

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Deb Richardson-Moore

Deb Richardson-Moore is the author of four mystery novels and a memoir, The Weight of Mercy, about her early years as a pastor at the Triune Mercy Center in Greenville, S.C. A former national award-winning reporter for The Greenville News, Richardson-Moore is a popular speaker at book clubs and universities. “From the first page, she pulls you into her story,” says author John Jeter. Her new novel, Murder, Forgotten, is full of “sneaky twists and turns,” says LoveReading. Adds mystery writer Sally Handley: “Her cast of characters with their many secrets will keep you guessing whodunit right to the end.”

Saturday Panel: Whodunit? Writing the Mystery Novel

Art Turfa

Arthur Turfa is the award-winning author of six books of poetry, including Places and Times, Accents and Saluda Reflections. Originally from Pennsylvania, his writings reflect places where he has lived or traveled, as well as his careers in the Lutheran Church, higher education and the U.S. Army. His novel, The Botleys of Beaumont County, was published on Blurb last year. The Lexington, South Carolina, writer is a fiction reader for the Northern Appalachia Review and a poetry reader for The Petigru Review, SCWA’s literary magazine. His work has appeared in numerous publications, online and in print, nationally and internationally.

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Cecil Williams

Cecil Williams is a South Carolina photographer, publisher, author and inventor. At 9, Williams received a gift that changed his life: a Kodak Baby Brownie camera. At 14, he was one of 25 photographers freelancing for JET magazine. Since then, Williams has documented Harvey Gantt's desegregation of Clemson University in 1963, the civil rights movement in South Carolina in the '50s and '60s, and the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre. A graduate of Claflin University, Williams’ work has been exhibited at many institutions and museums, including the Columbia Museum of Art and the Museum of the New South in Charlotte. The Cecil Williams South Carolina Civil Rights Museum in Orangeburg features hundreds of his photographs.

Saturday Panel: Capturing Southern History

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Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana

Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana is an author, former journalist, Mrs. New York, national speaker, literary agent and book coach. Her blended memoir, Chronically Fabulous, teaches readers how to discover their purpose and thrive despite a disability, chronic illness or trauma. Her nonprofit reaches a half-million people per month, and her story of survival is told as the 35th chapter in Lady Gaga's recent anthology, Channel Kindness. She works as a literary agent and book coach, helping other writers achieve their dream of publishing a book. You can follow her @lupuschickofficial on Instagram or via

Saturday Pitch Speed Dating

Sunday Craft Class

Sunday Publishing Panel

Book Proposal Critiques

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Phoebe Zerwick

Phoebe Zerwick is an award-winning investigative journalist, narrative writer and college professor. Her journalism has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine; National Geographic; The Nation; and Glamour. Her work has been recognized by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Investigative Reporters and Editors, and the Society of Professional Journalists, and others. Her 2022 book, Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt, was shortlisted for the Southern Book Prize in nonfiction. Beyond Innocence is “…meticulously reported and eloquently written, a real page-turner, journalism at its best,” says National Book Review.

Saturday Craft Class: The Spirit of Place in Creative Nonfiction

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Susan Beckham Zurenda

After teaching literature, composition and creative writing to thousands of high school and college students for 33 years, Susan Beckham Zurenda turned her attention to putting a novel in her heart on paper, the genesis of which was a short story that won the South Carolina Fiction Prize a number of years ago. Her debut novel, Bells for Eli (Mercer University Press, March 2020; paperback edition March 2021), has been selected the Gold Medal (first place) winner for Best First Book—Fiction in the 2021 IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards), a Foreword Indie Book Award finalist, a Winter 2020 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, a 2020 Notable Indie on Shelf Unbound, a 2020 finalist for American Book Fest Best Book Awards, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for 2021. Zurenda has won numerous regional awards for her short fiction, including being a two-time winner of the South Carolina Fiction Prize, and has been published in numerous literary journals. Her second novel, The Girl From the Red Rose Motel, was released Sept. 5, 2023, by Mercer University Press. Zurenda received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in English. She lives in South Carolina with her husband Wayne and two Boston Terriers.

Sunday Craft Class: Crossing the Line: The Role of Thresholds in Successful Stories

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