Conference Team

All-volunteer planning board


Samantha Bell

Author, Illustrator, and W2I Webmaster

Samantha Bell is a homeschooling mom by day and an author and illustrator by night. She’s written or illustrated more than 100 books for children, including picture books and nonfiction for the school and library markets. Her articles, stories, and poems appear in magazines both online and in print, including Boys’ QuestHopscotch for Girls, and Kids’ Ark, and she is a regular contributor for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr.

You can find her online at SamanthaSBell.com.

 

 

 

Cathy John Biggerstaff 

Author and W2I Financial Director/Registrar

Cathy is passionate about children and the God who creates them. He has called her to write for children, both literature and church curriculum. Cathy’s devotions, poems, and articles have been published in print and online. She also shares the Good News of Jesus through “Jewel the Clown” in her Christian clown ministry, Silly over the Savior. Cathy lives in Western North Carolina with her husband, the love of her life for 45 years. She has three grown children, four grandchildren and one great-grand.

 

 

 

 

Gail Wofford Cartee

Author, Blogger, Educator, and W2I Web Content Contributor

Gail is a pre-K teacher in the Upstate of South Carolina. She holds a degree in Early Childhood from USC-Upstate and an MEd from SWU. She enjoys teaching a teen Sunday School class and writing. Her passions—creation, family, and teaching—often appear in her writing.

Gail comes from a family of storytellers—a background which sparked her interest in writing. She has contributed to Guardian Angel Kids and Country. In 2016, she self-published Tsali: Legendary Hero of the Eastern Band Cherokee, a historical-fiction picture book for ages 8 and up. Gail’s currently working on picture books about her beloved Appalachia. And she writes a weekly blog of family devotions at GailCartee.blogspot.com.

 

Brenda Covert

Critiques and Twitter Maven

Freelance author and editor Brenda Covert was first published for pay in 1999 with an article in the May/June issue of Today’s Christian Woman and a Thanksgiving poem in Clubhouse Jr. Since 2002, Brenda has written more than 400 short children’s stories for Union Gospel Press’s Sunday school curriculum. Her stories, most of which are written for the 9–11 age group, entertain as well as offer a lesson on living for our Savior. She also published numerous scripts for use in schools, the two most popular being K.C.’s Dream and The Constitutional Convention. Additionally, she has written poetry for the Adult Bible Study published by Union Gospel Press.

Brenda has been editing since 2002, first in the educational field, and then in the Christian/family-friendly market. Her editing experience goes from picture books to chapter books—including Johanna’s Journey: Call to Freedom (a finalist for the 2015 Selah Award)—to YA novels, as well as adult fiction and nonfiction, including inspirational books and Bible studies.

Brenda has two grown children, a new grandchild, two blogs that she promises to devote more attention to, and more cats than an allergic woman should have! (Want one?)

You can find Brenda online at BrendaCovert.blogspot.com. If you’re especially fond of Christmas, you’ll enjoy her blog at ChristmaswithBrenda.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter, where she is @radiantsunset7.

 

Deborah S. DeCiantis, PhD

W2I Director

Debbie DeCiantis first connected with Write2Ignite Conference when she was called on to act as liaison between North Greenville University and W2I in 2009. She accepted the role of acting director in 2016 and the role of director in 2017. While most of her writing has focused on nonfiction articles and poetry, both volunteer and paid work with children and young adults has sparked her continuing interest in writing for children and young adults. Attending the W2I Conference each year has inspired her to write stories for younger audiences, including her six grandchildren.

Debbie has loved books since she was old enough to hold one. Her many years in teaching include teaching English and French on both middle-high and college levels, homeschooling her own children, and serving as K–12 school librarian at two Christian schools. Most recently, she taught English at North Greenville University and advised the student literary-art journal from 2006 to her retirement in 2017.

 

Mary Jane Cobble Downs

Author, Blogger, and W2I Prize Coordinator

Mary Jane is a speaker, teacher, and writer of poems, short stories, devotionals, and children’s stories. She’s been published in Awe Magazine, at InspiredMoms.com, in Writer’s Advance! Boot Camp’s blog, at Schoolbox.com, and in The Muffin blog and has judged the weekly writer’s contests for FaithWriters.com. In addition, Mary Jane has been published in two books, Pearls of Promise and Ancient Stones, Timeless Encouragement. She also writes a weekly inspirational blog, Joy in the Morning.

 

 

 

Grace Geide

Editor and W2I Web Content Contributor

Grace Geide is a freelance writer and editor. She holds a master’s degree in English from Bob Jones University, and she served as an editor at BJU Press for over five years, specializing in secondary history materials. As the oldest of six children and the mama of a little boy, Grace knows the value of providing good literature to children. She loves writing—and reading—children’s stories. (In fact, her trips to the bookstore often include long visits to the children’s section.)

 

 

Robyn Grage

Graphic Designer

Robyn Grage has worked in the field of graphics and printing since the age of fourteen, when her father offered her a summer job making a quarter per page for setting type. She has been involved with his company, Millennium III Publishers, ever since. She is now co-owner and manager of the company.

She has also worked for several printing companies over the years and has been with the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities for more than two decades. She currently works part-time running the school’s in-house print shop.

Robyn is on her church’s music team and also assists with the Sunday School curriculum and other publications. She and her husband live in Simpsonville, South Carolina, and enjoy bicycling, hiking, and especially spending time with their children and grandchildren.

 

Darcy Hendrick

Author, Blogger, and W2I Research and Public Relations

Darcy Hendrick, a native of Dover, New Jersey, spent most of her adult life in the High Desert of California, often wishing she could return to the East
Coast. Her wish came true in 2007, when she moved to South Carolina.

Darcy is the mother of four grown sons. During the hectic years of raising them, she began to find stories “running through [her] brain”: “Stories of children and adventures. Of squabbling siblings (go figure) and their canine companions. Silly poems, and mysteries involving spunky kids with quirky friends.” She signed up for the Institute for Children’s Literature (ICL) correspondence course, eventually completing it after the cross-country move from California to South Carolina and her first experiences attending the Write2Ignite Conference.

Darcy writes nonfiction articles, short stories, and middle-grade chapter books as well as her much-admired Facebook and blog posts, often featuring her wonder at the beauty of God’s world and lessons learned through interactions with dogs. Currently, she is eagerly awaiting the birth of her first grandchild.

 

Jan Prahl

Homeschool Educator, Blogger, and W2I Social Media Director and Bookstore Manager

As a wife, mother, and nana, Jan sees the importance of worthwhile literature for children and the need for sharing our faith through positive stories and stories that actively encourage spiritual growth. Passing our faith to future generations and investing in those who will influence children through written words is why she is involved in Write2Ignite. At the Write2Ignite conference, you’ll find her at the book sales table.

 

 

Cindy Lynn Sawyer

Author, Educator, and Graphic Designer

Cindy Lynn Sawyer is a writer, designer, creative planner, adventurer, and lover of all things chocolate. As CEO of Duh Moments (a self-inflicted title), she finds herself experiencing more than her fair share of embarrassing situations. This title pairs nicely with her directionally-challenged superpowers, giving her the not-so-supernatural ability to turn the wrong way 100 percent of the time.

In spite of the oddities in life, Cindy has discovered that God works through both the big and little “duh” moments. She’s also learned that, amid the unanswered questions, surprising twists, embarrassing moments, and unexpected turns, He blesses us with truth, enlightenment, and new adventures.

Cindy has published more than 400 articles, including ones purchased by Clubhouse Jr. and Focus on the Family’s Single Parent Magazine. Her articles include “Showdown at the Homestead Corral,” “The Road Off Welfare,” and “Forgiving the Other Woman.” Currently, she’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and two exclusive writing critique groups.

Cindy recently began working for Child and Parent Services (CAPS) in Indiana. Read more about Cindy’s writing adventures and duh moments at NeveraDuhMoment.com.

 

Helen Jimmie Weigt

Graphic Designer and Educator

Helen Jimmie Weigt considers it a joy and privilege to serve Write2Ignite Conference as one of the graphic designers for the resource manual. She has considered it a blessing to communicate with the conference Team during her four years of involvement. She homeschools her two teen daughters and recently relocated from North Carolina to Nova Scotia.

 

 

 

 

 

April Williams

Homeschool Educator and W2I Bookstore and Media Adviser