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Conference Chair

Linda Apple believes in the power of story. She holds that everyone has a story and those stories matter because they are the threads that weave humanity together and help us to understand each other.  Her personal experience stories have been published in sixteen Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She wrote and published two workbooks: Writing Life ~ Your Stories matter and  Writing from Your Soul, in order to help people to write their stories using the Creative Nonfiction style. She also tells her stories through fiction. Women of Washington Avenue, Avalee's Gift, and Lexi's Choice are the first three books in what will be a five-book Moonlight Mississippi series.


Linda also writes for children. In her popular chapter books, she teaches valuable social and emotional learning stories through the point of view of her feisty Scottish Terrier, Winston, the Top Dog in Charge of Apple security or TDIC. 


In addition to writing, she teaches writing workshops and is a motivational speaker where she encourages, affirms, nurtures talent, and equips people in hopes of helping them achieve their goals and follow their dreams. Linda has had the pleasure of conducting her workshops across the United States Midwest as well as in Lincolnshire, England and Galway, Ireland.


Treasurer ~ Contest Chair

Clarissa Willis is an author, consultant, and professional developmental specialist. She provides workshops, keynote addresses, and customized professional development nationally and internationally. She writes early childhood curricula, teacher resource books, books for children, and nonfiction books in her spare time.

She was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas and has lived all over the United States. Clarissa has an extensive background in early childhood education. She was a Senior Vice President at Kaplan Early Learning Company for five years overseeing intellectual properties and curriculum development. She has worked for several major publishing houses and is the owner of CW-International Rights. 

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Max McCoy is an award-winning journalist and author. He’s won awards for his reporting on unsolved murders, serial killers, and hate groups. In addition to his daily newspaper work, McCoy has written for publications as diverse as American Photographer, True West, and The New Territory. He’s the author of four original Indiana Jones adventures for Lucasfilm/Bantam and the novelization of the epic TNT miniseries, Into the West. His novels, including Damnation Road, have won three Spur awards from the Western Writers of America. His novels, Hellfire Canyon and Of Grave Concern, have also been named Kansas Notable Books by the state library.


He's a tenured professor of journalism at Emporia State University, in east central Kansas, where he specializes in investigative reporting and nonfiction narrative. He's also director of the university’s Center for Great Plains Studies. His most recent book is Elevations: A Personal Exploration of the Arkansas River, from the University Press of Kansas.




Johnny D. Boggs Booklist has called Johnny D. Boggs "among the best western writers at work today."  He has won the prestigious Spur Award from Western Writers of America a record nine times, as well as a Western Heritage Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.


He also writes for numerous magazines, including True West, Wild West, Boys' Life and Western Art & Architecture, speaks and lectures often, studies old movies (Westerns and film noir) and even finds time to coach and umpire Little League.


A native of South Carolina and former newspaper journalist, he lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his wife and s​on.

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Tiffany Schofield, a University of Maine graduate, joined Thorndike Press in 1999. She currently manages Thorndike’s Youth Large Print program. 
Tiffany oversees the editorial process of acquiring large print rights from Trade publishing houses to 156 middle-grade and young adult novels annually, and 120 adult fiction projects for Thorndike’s large print western, romance, and women’s fiction lists. 
When Tiffany isn’t working, she’s either reading a good book, cuddling with her Goldendoodle dogs, or both. 
Learn more about Thorndike Press and Youth Large Print—

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Micki Fuhrman grew up in a river town in northwest Louisiana, where stories hung in the air at church picnics, back porch family singings, and country store counters. She was first published in the fourth grade–a poem in the school newspaper–and by her teens was a professional singer/songwriter, headlining the venerable “Louisiana Hayride,” recording for MCA Records, and twice guest-starring on “The Grand Ole Opry.” Micki has lived in Nashville for many years and expanded into literary writing in 2014. Her western short stories (writing as Vonn McKee) have been named finalists for both the Western Writers of America Spur Award and Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award. She loves road trips, antiquing, photography, anything historical, and cooking for family and friends.


Micki Fuhrman, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, writes westerns as Vonn McKee, and is a Spur and Peacemaker award finalist.

Louisiana-born singer/songwriter Micki Fuhrman expanded into literary writing in 2014. Her western short stories (written as Vonn McKee) have twice been named WWA Spur finalists. Based in Nashville, Micki enjoys road trips, antiquing, photography and exploring historic sites.



Sharon Kizziah-Holmes started writing songs in her teens. She became an accomplished, professional musician and performed with famous artists like Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Jr., and Faron Young. She has also appeared on The Nashville Network. She met her husband Dennis and they spent eight years on tour where they entertained throughout the lower forty-eight states, Alaska and Canada. 


Sharon Kizziah-Holmes is the co-founder and co-owner of Paperback Press, an indie assist publishing company. She serves as the publishing coordinator. Sharon has provided service for over sixty authors, in the US and abroad, and has
published more than 300 books. Seven of those authors have become best sellers. She loves to help authors realize their publishing dream.


She is currently President of Ozarks Romance Authors, Vice President of Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers, a member of Springfield Writers Guild. 

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