Conference Faculty

Click on faculty photos to read about classes offered!

Keynote Speaker:

Screenwriter, producer, director, playwright and novelist, Bart Baker has been a fixture in the entertainment industry for over 35 years in both film and television. He’s written a dozen theatrical plays that have been produced world-wide. His play Relay, was bought by Warner Bros. for a feature film. He’s also had successful runs of Seacliff, California, Triangles, Witness, and Going Out Of Business, including two feature films, the Pierce Brosnan action film, Live Wire for New Line Cinema, and Supercross with Steve Howey, Mike Vogel, and Channing Tatum for Fox. He has written and produced eleven movies for television, among them the highly successful Bride trilogy (Children of the Bride, Baby of the Bride, and Mother Of The Bride) for CBS, Any Place But Home for USA Network, and Perfect Little Angels for The Family Channel. He landed other projects for NBC, ABC, FX, Lifetime Network, and The Hallmark Channel and worked on four series for the FX Network series, Dirt, which starred Courtney Cox. Bart is presently writing, Sunshine, a movie for the Hallmark Channel, along with his pilot, Scraps, which is set in St. Louis and was recently optioned by Mar Vista Entertainment. Learn more about Bart at


SAVANNAH BROOKS joined the Jennifer De Chiara team in 2018, after interning for a year and a half. She’s a nonfiction MFA candidate at Hamline University and earned her BS in marketing management from Virginia Tech. As well as agenting, she works as an editor at Red Bird Chapbooks, a teaching artist at the Loft Literary Center, and a reader for multiple literary magazines. Her own creative work has been publishing in Barely South Review, Hobart, Lime Hawk, and Every Writer’s Resource, among others. When not immersed in the world of words, she can be found on her motorcycle, at her boxing gym, or lounging at one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. She lives in the most beautiful literary capital: Saint Paul.
Caroline George–Hartline Literary Agency–commits her time and energy to telling stories in their many forms. A Belmont University graduate with a double-major in publishing and public relations, Caroline aims to pursue a career committed to helping authors, publishers and organizations project their stories to their publics. She spends her time agenting, writing for various magazines and authoring young adult fiction books (her current publications include The Prime Way Trilogy and The Vestige). She considers herself a not-so-Southern Georgia peach, coffee-junkie and delights in being best known for writing the phrase, “Coffee first. Save the world later.” Learn more about Caroline at Or visit her website at:
Nikki TerpilowskiHolloway Literary Founder/AgentBased in Raleigh, NC and established in 2011, Holloway Literary is a full-service agency that represents writers in romance, women’s and southern fiction, mystery, thriller, historical, literary, science fiction, and select young adult.

After receiving a B.A. in English, Nikki worked in the marketing communications field for several years as a writer and editor. Deciding she wanted to align her professional career with her lifelong passion for reading and writing, she interned at the Elaine English Agency based in Washington, DC, and then moved into literary management, representing a small group of women’s fiction and romance writers, that has expanded to include a list of YA, literary, historical, southern, mystery and thriller authors. Nikki loves all types of fiction, but is particularly interested in finding fresh Southern voices and ethnically and culturally diverse fiction.

When she’s not working or wrangling her three sons, she enjoys traveling to the beach, mountains and all historical sites in between. She Tweets about her favorite topics: books, wine, craft beer, history, southern culture and travel at @AWomanReading.

Authors / Editors:

Award-winning author Paul William Bass, from Independence, Missouri, graduated from Southwest Baptist College and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as a full-time minister for nineteen years in Arkansas, Alabama, and Missouri. He also served in college administration and faculty positions for an additional nineteen years in Arkansas and Missouri. He retired in 2011 moving to Willard, Missouri, with his wife, Jan. Paul has published twelve books—four of religious nature and eight historical non-fiction. He has received three Walter Williams Major Works awards from Missouri Writers Guild, and was also honored as a Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Fellow by Oklahoma State University in 2007.  His most recent book is Missouri Innovators will be available from Acclaim Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Nobel in 2019. Again retired for the third time, Paul teaches Bible history classes at Mercy School of Nursing in Springfield, MO.
Bill Hopkins’ mystery series featuring Judge Rosswell Carew is up to seven volumes. Bill is a member of Sisters in Crime, Guppies, the Southeast Missouri Writers’ Guild, Heartland Writers, and the Missouri Writers’ Guild. Bill has served as a trial court judge, administrative law judge, prosecuting attorney, criminal defense attorney, and as a private lawyer. He lives on the family compound near Marble Hill, Missouri with his wife, Sharon (also a mystery writer). His second novel RIVER MOURN won first place in the Missouri Writers’ Guild Show-me Best Book Awards in 2014.Visit him at and follow him on Twitter @judgehopkins and on Facebook: and on Amazon
Sharon Woods Hopkins’ mystery series featuring mortgage banker Rhetta McCarter and her ‘79 Camaro hits close to home. Sharon is a former branch manager for a mortgage office of a Missouri bank. She also owns the original Cami, a restored ‘79 Camaro like Rhetta’s. Sharon’s hobbies include painting, fishing, photography, flower gardening, and restoring muscle cars with her son, Jeff. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Guppies, Thriller Writers of America, the Southeast Missouri Writers’ Guild, Heartland Writers, and the Missouri Writers’ Guild. Sharon also spent 30 years as an Appaloosa Horse Club judge, where she was privileged to judge all over the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe. She lives on the family compound near Marble Hill, Missouri with her husband, Bill (also a mystery writer). KILLERWATT was nominated for a 2011 Lovey award for Best First Novel and placed as a finalist in the 2012 Indie Excellence Awards. Her second book, KILLERFIND, was a finalist in the 2013 Indie Excellence Awards, and won first place in the Missouri Writers’ Guild Show-me Best Book Awards in 2013. Her fourth book in the series, KILLERGROUND is now available.

Visit her at and follow her on Twitter @sharonwhopkins and on Facebook: and on Amazon

Award-winning author of Waiting for Butterflies, Karen Sargent is on a mission to use her experience to help other writers on their journey. Whether presenting at conferences, teaching at writing groups, or mentoring individuals, Karen enjoys meeting writers where they are and helping them take their next step. She is a member of the Women Fiction Writers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, the Missouri Writers Guild, and the SEMO Writers Guild. To learn more about her writing or to receive help with yours, visit Karen at
Ellie Searl is a storyteller, writer, former teacher, and a noted book designer. Originally from Westport, NY, in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, on Lake Champlain, she and husband, Ed, moved frequently. During her ventures, she’s held an array of jobs—everything from a reform school childcare worker, orthodontist’s chair assistant, middle school English and literature teacher, to a multi-grade teacher at a private school/daycare center in Chicago, owned by a family that also owned a shady towing service on the North Side.She began designing books over ten years ago when husband Ed, an author who has published with Skinner House and Berkley, asked her to format several of his unpublished manuscripts and prepare them for publication. What began as a hobby for Ellie turned into a thriving, freelance business. Thus was born her book design business—Publishista®. Ellie now works with authors to design their books and covers with Ingram Spark, Kindle Direct Publishing (previously Create Space), Lightning Source, Nook Press, and Smashwords.

Connect with Ellie at:
Twitter:  @EllieSearl


Award-winning author Claudia Shelton writes romantic suspense with alpha heroes, and for 2019 she is trying her hand at writing a thriller/suspense and cozy. She serves on the Missouri Romance Writers of America Board, and enjoys presenting various types of workshops. Besides her current romantic suspense series for Entangled Publishing, she’s editing a contemporary romance and historical western romance trilogy for possible indie publication. Being a hybrid author in genres and publishing is her current focus. Her debut novel, Risk of a Lifetime, released to 5-star reviews, reached Amazon’s Best Sellers Romance Series Top 100 and was named one of eBooks Galore top reads for 2014. She is also a two-time Daphne Du Maurier (Unpublished) finalist for excellence in mystery. On a personal note, Claudia’s main priority is spending time with family, friends, and her two sweet, conniving rescue dogs.Website:
Steve Wiegenstein grew up in the Missouri Ozarks, the setting for his novels, and worked there as a newspaper reporter before entering the field of higher education. The Language of Trees, his third novel, received the Walter Williams Major Work Award from the Missouri Writers Guild in 2018. His first book, Slant of Light (2012), was the runner-up for the David J. Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction, and his second book, This Old World (2014), was a finalist for the M.M. Bennetts Award in Historical Fiction.Steve lives in Columbia, Missouri. He is an avid hiker and canoeist who hits the trails and float streams of the Ozarks every chance he gets. He loves to speak at libraries, civic organizations, and other groups as part of the Missouri Humanities Council’s “Show-Me Speakers Bureau.” Learn more about Steve and his works