2019 Faculty

Keynote and Workshop Presenters

Keynote and Workshops: Nancy Lohr is Acquisitions Editor at JourneyForth Books.  Nancy has over twenty years of experience in book publishing and was previously an educator and children’s librarian. She is the author of two historical novels for children, Songbird and Pelts and Promises, as well as curriculum stories and articles, book reviews, and articles for parents and educators. 


Keynote and workshops Edie Melson is Director of Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, blogger (The Write Conversation), and author of both devotional and social media nonfiction and recently, a YA fiction novel, Maiden of Iron: A Steampunk Fable. Connect with Edie at https://ediemelson.com/

    Daniel Blackaby, author, blogger, and university instructor   Connect with Daniel at http://www.danielblackaby.com/

Teen Track keynote and workshops

Daniel Blackaby is a fourth-generation author. He grew up on the frozen plains of western Canada but currently lives in the southern United States. As a 23-year old college student he wrote what would eventually become the first book of his award-winning YA fantasy trilogy The Lost City Chronicles. In addition to this series, he has written The Gallowood Files, When Worlds Collide (co-authored with Mike Blackaby), and Two Thankful Turtles (co-authored and illustrated by Sarah Blackaby) A recent Ph.D. he is now on the faculty of Shorter University in Georgia.

When not writing, Daniel is an international speaker, teaching on the topics of creative writing, aesthetics, and Christian apologetics/worldview.

Carol Federlin Baldwin, blogger, educator, and author of Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4 – 8. She will present Teen Track workshops on character development, setting, and fantasy/science fiction. Read her reviews and catch her book giveaways on www.carolbaldwinblog.blogspot.com.


Brenda Covert                                                

Brenda edits for Ambassador International and writes for Union Gospel Press. She is also a freelance author and editor with a wide variety of experience.

Connect with Brenda on her blog, https://brendacovert.blogspot.com/ or at https://www.facebook.com/BrendaCovertEdits/?nr 

Samantha Schweizer Bell is an artist, art and writing teacher, children’s book writer and illustrator, homeschooling parent, and mom of four great kids. In addition to The Perfect Pet, which she wrote and illustrated, she has also written or illustrated It’s Birthday Time, Jake!, Shaping up the Year, As I Watch, Growing Up Dreams, Cinderfella and the Furry Godmother, and One Pelican at a Time. Samantha is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. 

Connect with Samantha at https://www.samanthasbell.com/about-samantha-bell/


Tony Snipes, Artist [Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co.], author, creative and business consultant (Your Creative Mission ; ArtLessonsfromGod).



Jean Matthew Hall lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Her first picture book, Thank God for Fall, is to be released by Little Lamb Books in September 2019. Three more books in this Four Seasons series will follow.

Jean is a member of the SCBWI, Word Weavers International, and the Kentucky Christian Writers. You can visit Jean at www.jeanmatthewhall.com, on Face Book at Jean Matthew Hall Author, on Twitter at Jean_Hall, on Pinterest at JeanMatthew_Hall.

Connect with Jean at her blog, Encouraging Words, https://jeanmatthewhall.com/

Tessa Emily Hall, author, blogger, and literary agent

Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who writes inspirational yet authentic fiction and devotional books to remind teens they’re not alone. Her passion for shedding light on clean literature and media for teens led her to a career as an Associate Agent for Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PursueMagazine.net. Her favorite way to procrastinate is through connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: www.tessaemilyhall.com.


Kim Peterson, writer, freelance editor, and writing mentor

Kim Peterson mentors aspiring writers. She has taught writing for 26 years, working extensively with both published authors and those seeking careers in writing, editing and publishing. She just concluded her 12th year teaching in the online professional writing program of Taylor University (Upland, Indiana). Kim, a freelance editor, also leads two productive online writers groups — one for mixed genres and one for writers of children’s books and articles.

Working as a freelance writer for 40+ years (She started young!), Kim has written for Indiana newspapers and various periodicals and websites, including AppleSeeds, Encounter, Evangel, Vista and devotional markets. Her work has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Rocking Chair Reader and, most recently, the Moments series. A 2018 recipient of a Highlights Foundation Scholarship, Kim spent a week last summer studying with multi-published children’s authors at the Highlights campus.

Kim says of her childhood, “My mom made reading a priority. She surrounded me with books. When my morning chores were finished, she let me disappear up our cherry trees with a good book and a thermos of juice. I don’t climb trees to read any more, but I can still disappear into a great story.”


Lori Hatcher

Lori Hatcher, Editor: Reach Out, Columbia Christian magazine; Author: Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award winner Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time—5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women and Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. Blogger, and freelance writer.

Connect with Lori on her blog.



 Vijaya Bodacha former scientist, has published over a hundred books or magazine pieces and formerly instructed the Institute of Children’s Literature basic magazine writing course.  She writes about the wonders of the natural world, in sometimes countercultural stories infused with the Christian worldview, as she strives to bring the truth of the Gospel to readers. BOUND is her first novel.

Connect with Vijaya at https://vijayabodach.blogspot.com or https://bodachbooks.blogspot.com




 Linda Phillips‘ first book, Crazy, evolved from poems [written] as a therapeutic exercise to understand the mental illness in [her] family.” Her second book, Behind These Hands, also uses the free verse format she says “allowed a difficult subject matter room to breathe.” A retired teacher, Linda is passionate about poetry and realistic fiction. She is active in mental health advocacy, through which Linda has helped found Providence Place, a drop-in center for persons with mental illness and their families in Charlotte. Her second novel, Behind These Hands,(Light Messages/2018) addresses a rare childhood disease called Batten that struck three students attending schools where Linda taught. Linda offers writing workshops and spends time speaking and teaching about the importance of bringing these mental and physical issues into public awareness. 

Connect with Linda at https://www.lindavigenphillips.com/


Vanessa Fortenberry is the author of Mama, I Want to See God and Daddy, I Want to Know God.

Steve Hutson, Owner and Literary Agent, WordWise Media Services, is a self-professed “storyteller almost from birth.” After a wide variety of jobs and a college major in business, he had a couple of books  published. “One thing led to another; I edited dozens of books for others and managed a writers’ conference for several years, making many valuable contacts along the way.” Steve has mentored hundreds of aspiring authors, is a frequent speaker at writers’ events, and writes two blogs. He lives in Southern California with his wife Ruth and son Bradley. 

Connect with Steve at https://www.wordwisemedia.com/team

Terri Kelly, author, educator, freelance editor, speaker, and literary agent (DevoKids)

Educator, author, blogger, and freelance editor, Terri has presented at conferences including Write-To Publish, Carolina Christian Writers’ Conference, and Writers Advance! Boot Camp (now Asheville Christian Writers Conference), of which she is a planning member, as well as at Write2Ignite Conference.

Author of Mary Slessor: Missionary Mother (JourneyForth, 2014), Survive & Thrive teachers’ resource guide, devotionals, and magazine articles, Terri joins W2I 2019 as a freelance editor available for individual appointments and is presenting a workshop called “How to Write Devotions for Children.” Terri has previously served as Acquisitions Editor for Teen/YA: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and is a former editor of Devokids.

You can read more about Terri’s passion for education and her writing at www.terribkelly.com

   Andrea Merrell, Author and Editor:

  • Staff writer and Associate Editor for Christian Devotions Ministries (We are always looking for new devotional writers for both the adult and children’s site.) Visit www.ChristianDevotions.us.
  • Associate Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the CarolinasVisit www.LPCBooks.com.
  • Associate Acquisitions Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC has several active imprints, ranging from romance to speculative fiction and Christian living nonfiction.)
  • Professional Freelance Editor (If you need help getting your manuscript ready to submit to an agent or publisher, I would love to work with you.)
  • Wife, mother, grandmother of six, Hallmark movie junkie, and lover of coffee and dark chocolate

Connect with Andrea at these blogs: https://thewriteediting.blogspot.com// and https://andreamerrell.blogspot.com/

Kenzi Nevins, Artist, Agent for Cyle Young Agency

Todd Williams, Editor-in-Chief, Union Gospel Press

Todd Williams is editor in chief at Union Gospel Press, a century-old publisher that produces Bible exposition material and other related literature for all ages. With a career in editing and publishing that spans nearly 30 years, Bible-teaching resources is his passion. He has a special zeal for communicating biblical truth to children clearly and creatively. His editing experience also includes work on Spyros Zodhiates’ Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament and the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible (AMG Publishers).

Additional editors and agents

 Linda Gilden, writer, speaker, editor, writing coach, and personality consultant. Linda’s books include the Love Notes series, Mommy Pick-Me-Ups, Mama Was the Queen of Christmas, Personality Perspectives – Clues to Building Better Relationships,Called to Write,Why You Do What You Do, Words to Live By, Called to Speak, and Articles, Articles, Articles!  She has written over a thousand magazine articles and has ghostwritten numerous books. A prolific writer, Linda loves to share a great story. She speaks nationally, is a frequent radio and television guest, and welcomes the opportunity to help others become better communicators. Linda also directs the Carolina Christian Writers Conference. Contact Linda at https://www.lindagilden.com/about-me/.

 Dr. Samuel Lowry, President and CEO of Ambassador International

As a young man in Northern Ireland, Samuel Lowry determined to establish a Christian publishing company dedicated to magnifying the Lord through books and materials. Ambassador International, which Sam founded in 1980, soon became well known for its extensive series of Christian biographies and Classic Christian reprints. Each year, Ambassador has printed and released more new titles, including theological, devotional, inspirational, and historical works. The company has also produced videos, calendars, cards, magazines, and pictures for the Christian marketplace. In 1995, Ambassador International opened offices in Greenville, South Carolina, to better serve the US market. Samuel can be contacted at publisher@emeraldhouse.com or via LinkedIn.