2024 Idaho Writers Conference Presenters

Star Studded Line Up

Our speaker roster for this year’s conference is incredible. You’ll learn about being a lifelong author from some of the best in the business: those who have lived it and who are living it now.

Come see how you can define success, harness your strengths, deal with burnout, and much, much more.

Join us! You won’t want to miss out.

Our Keynote Speaker

James A. Owen

James A. Owen - Bio

James A. Owen is the founder and executive director of Coppervale International, an art and design studio that also published the periodicals International Studio and Argosy, develops television and film projects, and is redesigning an entire town in Arizona, among other ventures. James has written and illustrated two dozen StarChild comics, the award-winning MythWorld series of novels (published in Germany and France),  the bestselling series The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, the inspirational nonfiction book Drawing out the Dragons, and more.  More than a million copies of his publications are in print and sold all over the world.

James began his career in publishing approximately two years before he was old enough to get a driver’s license and was the youngest publisher ever to be an exhibitor at the San Diego Comicon. He founded Taliesin Press in 1992, both writing and illustrating the company’s debut publication, a Dickensian comic book titled StarChild.

In both 1994 and 1995, James was named to the trade magazine Hero Illustrated’s list of the one hundred most influential people in the Comic Book Industry. On July 17, 1995, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Disneyland’s opening, Taliesin Press was renamed Coppervale International — mostly because no one could pronounce Taliesin, and those who could kept asking James if he could design buildings instead of comics.

During the fall of 1995, Coppervale negotiated a marketing arrangement with direct market distributor Capital City that pushed the company to international prominence, which led to an invitation by industry leader Image Comics to co-publish the new StarChild series, Mythopolis. The two dozen StarChild comics James produced remain in print as the six-volume Essential StarChild set, and are being re-released in the spring of 2013 as the one-volume Twentieth Anniversary Nearly-Complete Essential StarChild.

Before the turn of the millennium Coppervale also secured publication rights to the century-old arts magazine International Studio, which debuted in the spring of 1999. After the turn of the millennium, International Studio was relaunched along with a high-end revival of the periodical Argosy, both of which won many design awards in amounts inversely proportional to the amount of money the magazines made. They won a LOT of awards.

The first book in a series of prose novels written by James titled Mythworld (Kai Meyer’s Mythenwelt in Germany) won the 2003 AI award for Best Novel, and was nominated alongside books by Stephen King and Michael Crichton for the prestigious Phantastik Prize for Best International Novel. Steve won, but James got more votes than Crichton, so that’s okay. As of May 2012, MythWorld Book One: The Festival Of Bones and MythWorld Book Two: Invisible Moon are available in English as an ebook from the Coppervale International website, with further editions to follow.

James has written and illustrated six books in the bestselling series The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica: Here, There Be Dragons; The Search For The Red Dragon; The Indigo King; The Shadow Dragons; The Dragon’s Apprentice; and The Dragons of Winter. The series is now being published in more than twenty languages. A seventh volume, The First Dragon, will conclude the series in November  2013.

Often asked to speak at schools, James rarely discusses his books, instead choosing to focus instead on stories drawn from his own life – examples of overcoming obstacles and adversity, about how making choices in life is like drawing a Dragon and how he came to do what it is that he loves most in the world for his job. These stories were made available to James’s readers in Drawing Out The Dragons, a non-fiction collection that was released as an ebook, and thanks to an over-funded Kickstarter project, is also available (in VERY limited quantities) as a hardcover and paperback from Coppervale International.


James will not only be giving our keynote address Saturday night, but he will be with us throughout the conference. He’ll be presenting an amazing talk titled, “How’s Your Eggs Benedict?” talking about marketing, and his presentation, “Drawing out the Dragons,” talking about an unconventional path to an author career.

Becca Syme & Claire Taylor

Present: Building a Sustainable Author Career

One Day Workshop, April 11th

Learn about how Clifton Strengths and the Enneagram can help align your author career, your life goals, your personality, and more.

Take advantage of learning from two of the most professional authors in the business whose programs help thousands of authors around the country.
Come learn from the best.

Becca Syme - Bio

Becca Syme holds a master’s degree in transformational leadership and has been a success coach (primarily utilizing the Gallup Strengthsfinder®) for over fifteen years. She’s coached over 5,000 individual authors and creatives through her Write Better-Faster and Strengths for Writers classes & coaching cohorts: six- and seven-figure authors, major award winners, midlisters, and new authors alike.

Becca is a firm believer that an individualized approach is the most effective, so she’s brought on other certified coaches who are also writers, to help coach even more writers to maximize their strengths. Please find those coaches in the menu and see who would be the best fit for you.

Becca is not currently taking new clients, but please see one of our other coaches!

Claire Taylor

Claire Taylor - Bio

Claire Taylor is a fiction strategist and the owner of FFS Media. She helps authors create aligned and sustainable writing careers, using various tools, including the Enneagram.

You can find all her author services, along with her 30+ fiction books at www.ffs.media. And yes, FFS media stands for exactly what you think it does.

The Conference Presenters

Get taught and coached from well-known and knowledgable professionals that succeed in the authoring and publishing industry, including authors, editors, coaches, and more.

Authors - Editors - Agents - Business Owners

Nick Thacker - Bio

Nick Thacker is a USA Today Bestselling author of thriller and action-adventure novels, and the founder and lead of Conundrum Publishing, a company designed for one thing: selling thrillers.

Nick has also founded and sold businesses, including Author.Email, the only email marketing service exclusively for authors, and RadioWrite, the 24/7 news and music station designed for authors.

He lives in Colorado and Hawaii, and writes in breweries worldwide. Stay up-to-date with his curated author marketing weekly newsletter, ThackStack.

J. Thorn - Bio

J. Thorn has published two million words and has sold more than 185,000 books worldwide. He is an official member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the Horror Writers Association, and the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers.

J. also co-founded the Writers, Ink podcast with J.D. Barker and has interviewed some of today’s most successful authors, including Matthew McConaughey, James Patterson, Dean Koontz, Seth Godin, Joyce Carol Oates, Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, Jodi Picoult, Nicholas Sparks, Lee Child, Stephen Pressfield, Chuck Palahniuk, and many more.

Thorn earned a B.A. in American History from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.A. from Duquesne University. He is a husband, father, full-time writer, part-time professor at John Carroll University, founder of The Author Life Community, podcaster, FM radio DJ, musician, and owner of the Three Story Method Editing Agency.


Lisa Phillips

Lisa Phillips

Lisa Phillips is a USA Today and top ten Publishers Weekly bestselling author of over 60 books that span Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line, independently published series romantic suspense, and thriller novels. She’s discovered a penchant for high-stakes stories of mayhem and disaster where you can find made-for-each-other love that always ends in happily ever after.

Lisa is a British ex-pat who grew up an hour outside of London and attended Calvary Chapel Bible College, where she met her husband. He’s from California, but nobody’s perfect. It wasn’t until her Bible College graduation that she figured out she was a writer (someone told her). Lisa is a worship leader, tea aficionado, and dog lover of two crazy Airedales.

James Mace

James Mace

James Mace is an author, historian, and life-long storyteller. According to his parents, he’s been telling stories since he was six, though it would be many years before he took up writing. This first began as a hobby in the early 2000s, penning physical fitness articles for a bodybuilding website and a now-defunct magazine called Hardcore Muscle.

James wrote the initial draft of his first novel, Soldier of Rome: The Legionary, as a cathartic means of escapism while serving in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. He has since released thirty-one books, including twelve Ancient History best-sellers and five South African History best-sellers. His works currently span his two favorite eras: Ancient Rome and the British Empire. He plans to eventually delve into Medieval times, as well as the First World War.

Outside of his historical novels, James maintains a blog called The Buffed Historian, sharing random fitness and other tales from across history. His hobbies include weightlifting, road cycling, foothills hikes, traveling across the globe, live theatre, video games, and sitting down for a game of Dungeons & Dragons with friends. He lives in Boise with his wife, Tracy, and their cats.

James T. Lambert

James T. Lambert writes science-fiction, urban fantasy, and a little steampunk from his writing office/land yacht ‘Bertrude’. By day, he breaks carefully constructed code conceived by clever coders, while by night, he sorts strings of syllibant sentences for story structure. Since his first novel-length project in the 2011 NaNoWriMo, he’s been polishing his craft, working toward his overnight success after ten years. Other than writing and breaking things, Jim also enjoys reading, movies, comics, theater, boardgames, Scotch, craft beer, hot air ballooning, and having far too many hobbies. His published books include Aether Powered, Proxies, The Tao of Trek, Steam Opera, and Relics of War.

Troy Lambert - Pres.

Troy Lambert is a freelance writer, author of over 30 novels and several works of non-fiction, developmental editor, and book coach. He’s also the education lead for the visual outlining software Plottr, the number one outlining tool for writers. He lives, works, and plays in Boise, Idaho with his dog McClane, and they can often be found at local breweries or exploring the great outdoors. 

Bradlee Frazer

Bradlee Frazer

Bradlee Frazer is a partner with Hawley Troxell and is Chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property & Internet practice group. In addition to emphasizing and focusing on all facets of Internet law, Intellectual Property law, and Information Technology law, he also helps clients with related transactional work and litigation.

Brad is a published novelist, and he has also written extensively for national legal publications and law blogs. He is also a frequent speaker on internet, intellectual property, and computer law topics and is a regular guest lecturer at Boise State University on those subjects.

A Boise native, Brad began his legal career in 1989 as an intellectual property attorney and commercial litigator at a Boise-based law firm. In 1997 he accepted an in-house position as Senior Intellectual Property Counsel with Fortune 1000 company, Micron Electronics, Inc., and remained there through the company’s merger with Interland, Inc. (now Web.com), then the nation’s largest Web hosting company. He eventually became Deputy General Counsel for Micron Electronics, Inc., and Interland, Inc. From June 2003 to February 2006, Mr. Frazer served as Deputy General Counsel to MPC Computers, LLC, in Nampa, Idaho.


Laurie DeSeguirant

Laurie De Sequirant

A Bay Area performer for over 30 years, Laurie is a published author, motivational speaker, awarded actor, commercial voice artist, and patented designer.  Laurie’s musical talents have taken him throughout North America and the Pacific Rim.  He has provided music entertainment for heads of state, charity events, conventions, weddings and private gatherings. 

Through the National Academy of Sports Medicine Laurie has been certified as a Personal Trainer, Senior Fitness Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist and Golf Fitness Specialist.  He blends his love for fitness with his love for life through Luv’n Liv’n, a senior fitness program he developed, now circling the world with 20,000 to 25,000 participants.

Laurie is currently writing the last instalment of his Haughton family trilogy. His first two books, “The Haughtons Adoption of Evil” and “Pauline” are currently available. His voice over narration for, “The Haughtons Adoption of Evil” has been completed, is in production, and will be released the summer of 2024.


Dennis Gaunt

Dennis Gaunt

Dennis Gaunt has been a writer ever since that fateful day he pulled a magic pen from a stone. At least, that’s what he tells people. The truth is that he has been working with Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain Publishers as a slushpile reader since 2000, and in that time, he’s seen it all and then some, and is eager to share what he’s learned. He has published books and talks for LDS young adults with both Deseret Book and Covenant Communications, and is also a long time youth speaker and teacher. He enjoys playing the guitar, going to Disneyland, and Godzilla movies. He also hates onions.


Jonathan Waters

Jonathan Waters

MJ Silversmith

Cristen Iris

Cristen Iris is a developmental editor, nonfiction book collaborator, and author coach who specializes in working with mission-driven and self-motivated but often frustrated and confused clients. She helps them understand the publishing industry, embrace their thinking and work styles, and choose the most effective ways to write to and reach their target audience. The result: high-impact, commercially viable nonfiction books.

Her clients have contracts with Big 5, academic, and respected traditional model independent publishers. Some have found satisfaction and success as self-published authors. They’ve earned more than 60 book and writing awards. Bestseller rankings including New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon Charts. Several of them consistently (week after week, month after month, and for several years) rank between #3 and 100 in one or more of their Amazon sales categories. National media coverage includes Parade Magazine, Rolling Stone, Billboard, and New York Post. And their books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Cristen believes that writing and editing are a way of life, the constant creation and refinement of thought and action that leads to our highest level of contribution.

In addition to her own statement of belief about the value of writing and editing, she embraces as a mantra Ezra Pound’s position that “Fundamental accuracy of statement is the sole morality of writing,” and enthusiastically agrees with Robert McKee that “in a world of lies and liars, an honest work of art is an act of social responsibility.”

Cristen is a serious publishing professional for serious authors because:

This is her passion.

This is her livelihood.

This is her legacy.

Val Roberts

Stacey Smekofske

Stacey Smekofske is an editor and publishing coach who works with authors, striving to develop, polish, and publish their stories. She primarily works as an editor that helps her authors through the entire publishing process. Stacey is passionate about coaching writers and helping them understand that their perspectives make them unique storytellers.

Stacey runs a successful business with over 120 authors, many of whom have won book awards and earned their places on best-seller lists. Some of her clients include a real-estate mogul in Atlanta Georgia who is a closeted philanthropist, a former US Olympic gymnastics coach who healed his paralysis with sheer will, a very sweet and needlessly insecure WWE wrestler with the moniker Killer, and an Idaho Senator who loves to write satire.

Stacey has over a decade of experience editing academic papers, ESL essays and statements, entrance essays and applications, and fiction and non-fiction short stories and novels.  Her background encompasses a smorgasbord of experience and knowledge, including but not limited to finance, special needs, business, fitness, education, marketing, and politics. This variety of experience allows her to give stories the realism needed for a story to become a well-developed adventure that will excite readers.

Ken McConnell

Lisa Mangum

MJ Silversmith

MJ Silversmith

MJ Silversmith is an indie author who loves writing about magic, romance, and coffee without consequences. When she’s not asking her characters wtf they were thinking, she’s spoiling two house panthers and teaching statistics to college students.

Val Roberts

Valerie Robertson

Idaho native Valerie Robertson sold her first science fiction romance to Samhain in 2009; it was orphaned before it was published. Another title went to Harlequin’s Carina Press imprint in 2012, then Val gave up on tradpub and started Wylde Hare Press to publish her work. She currently has 11 titles in print writing as Val Roberts (SFR) and Jane Reynolds (historical romance) She has a day-job background in IT, technical marketing, localization, prepress work and printing, and a B.S. in chemistry.

Ken McConnell

Ken McConnell

Ken McConnell studied film making at the University of Central Florida, and served with distinction as an NCO in the USAF. He resides in Boise, Idaho with his wife Laurie and his dog, Cairo. Ken works in IT by day and writes novels on the side.


Katie Reed

Katie Reed

Katie Reed began her career in publishing with Andrea Hurst and Associates while pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in English at Sacramento State and has worked in the publishing field for over a decade. Boo Walker (The Singing Trees), Suzanne Kelman (A View Across the Rooftops), and international bestselling author Dr. Bernie Siegel, are among the many clients and works the agency represents. She has over a decade of experience in publishing as an agent and developmental editor and has taught courses at conferences across the country. Katie loves discovering new talent, building lasting connections with her authors, and working diligently to represent books readers will love. Katie lives in Lewiston, Idaho with her husband, three children, a Bichon Frise, a Golden Retriever, and two obstinate cats.  In the summer you can find her on the beach upriver in Hells Canyon, preferably with a good book.

Katie is actively building her client list and seeking standout projects to champion. She is looking for stories that hit that sweet spot between commercial and literary, where strong, poignant prose, meaningful messages, and twisty, high stakes plot intersect—“commercial fiction with something to say.” Katie is especially drawn to books with universal human themes that resonate with readers and permeate the plot and character journey. Anything with romantic tension and chemistry and enough suspense to keep her turning the pages is a plus. Katie likes her stories a little on the edgier side when it comes to voice and concept. Own voices authors and stories that spotlight diverse experiences are always welcome.   

She would love to receive pitches in the following areas:

– Upmarket/Literary Fiction with an unforgettable cast of characters and a commercially marketable plot and concept

 – Commercial and Book Club Women’s Fiction that contain elements of deeply relatable internal conflict, romantic tension, suspense, and an unputdownable plot.

– Contemporary fiction/family drama (loved Beartown by Fredrick Backman)

– Historical Fiction like Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus or anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid. She will look at any period in history as long as it has an interesting plot and compelling characters with relatable themes that transcend time and place.

– Suspense/Psychological thriller, specifically female led in the vein of authors like Ruth Ware, Lisa Jewell, Lucy Foley, Alice Feeny, Megan Miranda, Stacy Willingham, and Gillian McAllister. Anything with a unique hook is a plus. Loves dark, edgy, twisty, and sharp!

– Accessible Fantasy in adult or YA with strong romantic elements (think Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros)

– Speculative Fiction that introduces a “what if” world to the reader and makes you think about your own reality in a new light (The Measure by Nikki Erlick, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, or Dark Matter by Blake Crouch) or brings a new flavor to a genre other than SFF (Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister or I’ll Stop the World by Lauren Thoman).

– Contemporary romance/rom coms with lots of emotionality and strong character arcs (in the vein of Abby Jiminez and Rebecca Yarros)

Katie is NOT currently accepting submissions in the following genres:

-Any suspense/thriller not listed above (she doesn’t work with military, spy, police procedural, cozies, eco, etc.)

– YA (other than listed above), Middle Grade, or Children’s

– Memoir

– Hard Sci-fi

Learn more about Katie and the agency at www.andreahurst.com.

Bonnie Jo Pierson

Bonnie Jo Pierson

Gifted with a short attention span, American romance author, Bonnie Jo Pierson, wants to experience and do as much as she can. As a member of Romance Writers of America, the Storymakers Guild, Idaho Sisters in Crime, Idaho Writers Guild, and Manuscript Academy, she’s won the Heart of Denver’s Molly contest, placed third in the Orange Rose contest, was a finalist in the Sheila and Four Seasons contest, and placed multiple times in the contest at Storymakers. She also earned a spot in the RAMP mentorship program. She and her Navy veteran husband have four children and spent several years as military nomads. Now she’s made her home in small-town Idaho, where she’s attempting to resurrect her great-grandparent’s one-hundred-year-old farm. What Happens in Idaho is her debut novel.


Erica Sage

Erica Sage

Erica Sage is an author and educator who lives in Washington State with her family. When not reading and writing, she loves to hike and garden. Her young adult novel JACKED UP was published by Sky Pony Press. She also writes adult short fiction. Her story “Starling” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. You can find her at ericasagebook.com.

Judith Keim

Judith Keim

Judith Keim, A USA Today Best Selling Author, is a hybrid author who both has a publisher and self-publishes. Ms. Keim writes heart-warming novels about women who face unexpected challenges, meet them with strength, and find love and happiness along the way, stories with heart. Her best-selling books are based, in part, on many of the places she’s lived or visited and on the interesting people she’s met, creating believable characters and realistic settings her many loyal readers love.

She enjoyed her childhood and young-adult years in Elmira, New York, and now makes her home in Boise, Idaho, with her husband and their adorable dachshund, Wally, and other members of her family.

While growing up, she was drawn to the idea of writing stories from a young age. Books were always present, being read, ready to go back to the library, or about to be discovered. All in her family shared information from the books in general conversation, giving them a wealth of knowledge and vivid imaginations.

Ms. Keim loves to hear from her readers and appreciates their enthusiasm for her stories.

To sign up for her newsletter, go here: ​https://BookHip.com/RRGJKGN

Her website: http://www.judithkeim.com/

Follow her on Book Bub:https://www.bookbub.com/authors/judith-keim

You can find her on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2999038.Judith_Keim

Laura Delaney

Laura Delaney

As the co-owner of Rediscovered Book, Laura has invested in the reading culture of the Treasure Valley through partnerships with organizations like The Cabin, the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, the Idaho Library Association, and the Boise School District.

Under her leadership, Rediscovered Books has fought censorship in Idaho through the Read Freely Project, author events, education initiatives, and building grassroots’ support for the Freedom to Read.  

In 2023, Laura was part of the keynote panel on censorship with Maya Kobabe, author of Gender Queer at the American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute She was interviewed on All Things Considered on National Public Radio on the topic of censorship in July 2022.  

When not at the bookshop, Laura is often playing board games, making jigsaw puzzles, and trying to find a place for just one more bookcase.



Doug Simpson

Doug Simpson

Doug Simpson has worked as a therapist since 1994. He learned various ways to help people move more efficiently and avoid medication and surgery. A certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist, he knows the best ways to keep your body performing at its best.

Kate Baray

Kate Baray

Kate Baray writes and publishes in several genres as Kate Baray, Cate Lawley, and Gemma Cates. When she’s not tapping away at her keyboard or in deep contemplation of her next writing project, she’s sweeping up hairy dust bunnies and watching British mysteries.

Kate is from Austin, Texas (where many of her stories take place) but migrated north to Boise, Idaho, where soup season (her favorite time of year) lasts more than two weeks.

She’s worked as an attorney, a dog trainer, and in various other positions, but writer is the hands-down winner. She’s thankful her fabulous readers keep reading, so she can keep writing!