Special Guests

Ann Edwards Cannon (A.E. Cannon)

Ann (A.E.) Cannon is the award-winning author of a number of books for young readers including Charlotte’s Rose, The Loser’s Guide to Life and Love, The Chihuahua Chase, and Sophie’s Fish, which received a starred review in Kirkus. In addition to writing books, Ann works as a bookseller at The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City. She also writes features for The Salt Lake Tribune, along with an advice column. You know. Just like Doctor Laura, only not as mean, and Ann Landers, only not as dead.

Ann and her husband, Ken, have five sons, four daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. Her interests include gardening, knitting, traveling, reading murder mysteries, watching baseball and football, and collecting antique dolls. She and her husband are also the caretakers of three dogs, two cats, and a talking parrot. You can visit Ann at www.aecannon.com.

Heather Flaherty

Heather Flaherty is a literary agent with The Bent Agency who began her career in editorial and then worked for numerous years as a literary scout where she consulted with foreign publishers and Hollywood to find the next big books. As an agent, she’s thrilled to grow authors for that same success.

Heather represents authors of young adult and middle grade fiction and nonfiction, as well as select adult projects. For YA, she considers all genres from fantasy to contemporary, because she loves it all—YA is her wheelhouse. For MG, she’s looking for realistic stories about coping or coming-of-age where her heart absolutely breaks for the protagonist, be it present day or past. And in nonfiction she leans towards humor, pop-culture, social-media projects, and young memoir.

Alyson Heller

Alyson Heller joined the Aladdin team in 2008 after a 2 year stint in the S&S Associate’s Program. She acquires picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and the occasional YA, but her heart is in contemporary middle grade.

As an only child, she is drawn to stories that explore the nuances of siblings and interesting family dynamics. She is also proud to have many debuts on her list, and she is actively looking for own voices, strong female characters who kick butt and take names, and stories that represent the under-represented in our world today.

Some recent and upcoming books she’s edited range from nonfiction projects (Life in Motion YR Edition by Misty Copeland, The Distance Between Us YR Edition by Reyna Grande) and picture books (Way Past Bedtime by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Rich Wake), to series (Goddess Girls and Thunder Girls, both by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams) to contemporary MG reads (Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee, Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen). Tweet her @EditorAlysonH.

Samantha Millburn

Samantha Millburn has loved books her entire life. As a youth, she would often opt to sit at home and read instead of playing with friends. Things haven’t changed much in her life since then. She has been an editor for Covenant Communications for eight years. She collaborates with extremely talented writers and cherishes not only her friendships with them but also the honor it is to help them turn their manuscripts into masterpieces. She has done so with more than two hundred books from more than seventy authors.

She graduated from BYU–Idaho with honors with a bachelor’s degree in English. She currently lives in Draper, Utah, with her husband, Matthew, and their three beautiful children. Besides reading, Samantha enjoys watching and playing sports, cooking, and being with family.

Kelsy Thompson, Editor for Jolly Fish Press

Kelsy Thompson is a writer and editor from Ogden, Utah. She has served as an editorial intern for best-selling author Robison Wells, copy desk chief at The Signpost, managing editor at distinguished literary journal Weber—The Contemporary West, and is currently an acquisition editor for Jolly Fish Press and YA imprint Flux .

A graduate of Weber State University, Kelsy has worked on dozens of published novels, magazines, journals, and anthologies. When not worshiping the written word, she spends her time gardening, gaming, and wrangling her clowder of cats.

Two-, Three-, & Five-Day Workshop Faculty

Courtney Alameda, Advanced Workshop Instructor

Courtney Alameda is a writer, veteran bookseller, librarian, and WIFYR alumna. Her debut novel Shutter was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award and hailed as a “standout in the genre” by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, Pitch Dark, is a science fiction/horror mashup in the vein of Ridley Scott’s Alien, and was chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection for 2018. Courtney is also the author of Sisters of Sorrow, a graphic novel series she co-wrote with Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter, and the forthcoming Seven Samurai re-telling, Seven Deadly Shadows, a novel she’s co-writing with Valynne Maetani (Fall 2018).

Courtney holds a degree in English literature with an emphasis on creative writing. A northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, legion of books, and a five-pound cat with a giant personality.

Stephanie Black, Novel Workshop Instructor

Stephanie Black’s favorite activity as a toddler was hanging onto her mother’s leg and crying, but fortunately for Mom, that wasn’t Stephanie’s only interest. From the time she was little and screamy, she also loved books. From Dr. Seuss to Nancy Drew mysteries to The Westing Game and The Witch of Blackbird Pond, books were a wonderful part of her childhood. She and her sisters also enjoyed creating long Barbie games filled with intrigue and peril and running around pretending to be detectives or The Bionic Woman. Combine a love of books with a love of creating stories about imaginary people, and it’s no surprise that Stephanie ended up writing fiction.

Stephanie is the author of eight suspense novels (most recently Mind Games, 2017) and two dystopian novels. She is a four-time Whitney Award winner for Best Mystery/Suspense and a finalist for Best Speculative Novel. One of her favorite activities is hanging out with other writers and discussing fiction techniques, and she is delighted to be teaching at WIFYR.

Sharlee Glenn, Picture Book Workshop Instructor

Sharlee Glenn is an award-winning poet, essayist, and children’s book author. She holds an MA from Brigham Young University and taught there for a number of years. Publications include Keeping Up with Roo (Putnam), winner of the Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award, and Just What Mama Needs (Harcourt), which was featured on the Emmy-award winning PBS children’s show Between the Lions. Her first nonfiction picture book, Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America’s First Bookmobile was published by Abrams Books in April of this year, and she has a middle grade novel entitled Beyond the Green coming out this fall with Charlesbridge.

Sharlee lives in the foothills of the Wasatch mountains in Utah. She and her husband, James, are the parents of five above-average children and three perfect grandchildren. Besides reading and writing, she loves hiking, yoga, serving in her church, eating cookies, and playing pickleball.

Heidi Taylor Gordon, Full Novel Workshop Instructor

Heidi Taylor Gordon has been with Shadow Mountain for the past thirteen years. She graduated from the University of Utah where she had the opportunity to study English and creative writing. Heidi works as a publishing manager for Shadow Mountain and as a brand manager for the Proper Romance imprint—Shadow Mountain’s line of clean romances. Her job allows her to work one-on-one with authors to acquire and develop their manuscripts from conception to publication. She loves searching for diamonds in the slush pile!

Christian McKay Heidicker, 3-Day Workshop Instructor

Christian McKay Heidicker is an aspiring wizard. He has one book on the shelf (Cure for the Common Universe) and seven books forthcoming. Some of them are about foxes and some are about magical manors and some of them are about fifty-foot fifteen-year-olds who have to fight their way through a monster movie marathon (okay, just one is about that). If you need Christian, he’ll be at home, sipping tea and reading comics and waiting for his cat Lucifer Morningstar to get off his keyboard so he can keep writing.

Claudia Mills, Getting Ready for the Full Novel Workshop Instructor

Claudia Mills is the author of almost 60 books for young readers, including middle grade novels Zero Tolerance and Write This Down, and two chapter book series: The Franklin School Friends and The Nora Notebooks. Her books have been named Notable Books of the Year by the American Library Association and Best Books of the Year by the Bank Street College of Education, and they have been translated into half a dozen languages and nominated for scores of state readers’ choice awards. When she’s not writing her books, Claudia has been a professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder and at DePauw University in Indiana. She has written all her books between 5 and 7 in the morning while drinking Swiss Miss hot chocolate.

Heather B. Moore, 2-Day Workshop Instructor

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today bestselling author of more than a dozen historical novels and thrillers, written under pen name H.B. Moore. She writes women’s fiction, romance, and inspirational nonfiction under Heather B. Moore. This can all be confusing, so her kids just call her Mom.

Heather attended Cairo American College in Egypt, the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University in Utah. Heather is represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.

Trent Reedy, Novel Workshop Instructor

Trent Reedy served in the Iowa Army National Guard from 1999 to 2005, including a year’s tour of duty in Afghanistan. Based upon his experiences there, he wrote Words in the Dust, which won the Christopher Medal and was chosen for Al Roker’s Book Club for Kids on the Today show. His novels Stealing Air, If You’re Reading This, and the Divided We Fall trilogy were Junior Library Guild selections. His seventh novel, Gamer Army, will be published late 2018. Trent lives and writes outside Spokane, Washington.

J. Scott Savage, Boot Camp Workshop Instructor

J. Scott Savage is the author of 18 published novels including the Farworld series, the Case File 13 series, the Mysteries of Cove series, the Shandra Covington mystery series, and others. His books have received recognition including: Kirkus and PW starred reviews, Junior Library Guild selection, a Whitney award, Amazon Book of the Month, B&N Select book, Young Hoosier Award finalist, and others. He has taught hundreds of writing classes and many conferences.

Afternoon Faculty

Ken Baker, Author & HOW class instructor

Ken Baker is the author of the soon to be released children’s book How to Care for Your T-Rex, as well as Old MacDonald had a Dragon, Cow Can’t Sleep, and Brave Little Monster. His Kid Boss and Zooks and Me series of middle grade short stories are published on Amazon Rapids. He also invests significant writing time on chapter books, MG, and YA. When not writing, he loves playing sports and going on adventures with his family in the mountains, lakes, and red rocks of Utah. When he has the chance, traveling to warm sandy beaches is a vacation favorite. He’s also a firm believer that chocolate and ice cream are the most important food groups.

Ann Dee Ellis, author

Ann Dee Ellis is the author of three young adult titles including This is What I Did:, Everything Is Fine., and The End or Something Like That. Her middle grade debut, You May Already Be a Winner, was released July 2017. Her books have received starred reviews, have been Junior Library Guild picks, and been featured on multiple lists. She teaches as an adjunct creative writing instructor at Brigham Young University and has taught at various writing conferences. When she’s not writing, she’s hanging around with her husband and five energetic children in the foothills of Utah. You can find her on her website anndeeellis.com or on Instagram (@anndeecandy) where she posts memoir writing prompts.

Rosalyn Eves

Rosalyn Eves grew up in the Rocky Mountains dividing her time between reading books and bossing her siblings into performing her dramatic scripts. As an adult, the telling and reading of stories is still one of her favorite things to do. When she’s not reading, writing, or teaching writing at a local university, she enjoys spending time with her chemistry professor husband and three children, watching British period pieces, or hiking through the splendid landscape of southern Utah where she lives. She dislikes housework on principle. Her first novel, Blood Rose Rebellion, the first book in a YA historical fantasy trilogy, is available now from Knopf/Random House; the sequel, Lost Crow Conspiracy, is coming March 2018.

McKelle George

McKelle George is a reader, editor, perpetual doodler, and associate librarian at the best library in the world. She mentors with Salt Lake Teen Writes and plays judge for the Poetry Out Loud teen competitions (but has no poetic talent herself). Her debut young adult novel Speak Easy, Speak Love is out from Greenwillow/HarperCollins, and she currently lives in Salt Lake City with an enormous white german shepherd and way, way too many books.

Kyra Leigh, Author

Kyra Leigh works off and on at the annual Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers workshop. She loves to travel, play classical piano, and talk books with her mom and four sisters. She lives in Salt Lake City. You can visit Kyra on Facebook, Instagram, and on the blog she shares with her mother and Ann Dee Ellis (www.throwingupwords.wordpress.com). Her first novel, Reaper, was published in May 2017.

Tricia Levenseller

Tricia Levenseller is the author of the Daughter of the Pirate King duology, a YA fantasy series. Initially from a small town in Oregon, Tricia now lives in Utah with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing, and she is thrilled that she never has to read another textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing Overwatch, and watching her favorite TV shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.

Dene Low

Dene Low has had several books published, both traditional (national/regional) and indie. Her writing spans the genres of YA historical fantasy, mainstream mystery, historical fiction, romance, poetry, and some scholarly publications. Her books have won numerous awards, including being a finalist for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award and a selection of the Junior Library Guild. She is a retired university professor who still teaches writing. She and her husband love to see their grandchildren and travel. She especially likes riding her motorcycle while thinking about what to put in her books. Go to www.denelow.com to see a list.

Lisa Mangum has worked in the publishing industry since 1997. She is currently the Managing Editor for Shadow Mountain Publishing and has worked with several New York Times best-selling authors, including Ally Condie, Brandon Mull, James Dashner, and Jason F. Wright. While fiction is her first love, she also has experience working with nonfiction projects (memoir, educational, cookbooks, etc.) and some children’s picture books.

Lisa is also the author of four national best-selling YA novels (The Hourglass Door trilogy and After Hello), as well as several short stories and novellas. She has also edited three anthologies about unicorns and dragons. She graduated with honors from the University of Utah, and currently lives in Taylorsville, Utah, with her husband, Tracy.

Yamile Mendez

Yamile (sha-MEE-lay) Mendez is a fútbol obsessed Argentine-American. She’s the mother of five kids and two adorable dogs. A graduate of Voices of Our Nations (VONA) and the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Writing for Children programs, Yamile is also the inaugural Walter Dean Meyers Grant recipient. Her books include On These Magic Shores (Lee and Low’s New Visions Honor Award), the forthcoming picture book Where Are You From? (HarperCollins, 2019), and a yet untitled middle grade novel with Scholastic.

Julie Olson

Julie Olson was born on the East coast, grew up in the Midwest, and settled in the Mountain West. She started out her art career by drawing a mural of tiny circles on her mother’s walls, progressed to canvas by middle school, and then finally on to illustrating picture books.

The first book she illustrated was Hip, Hip Hooray for Annie McRae! by Brad Wilcox in 2001. After years of illustrating other people’s stories, she added writing to her professional career when Tickle, Tickle! Itch, Twitch! hit the shelves in 2010. Even though she had been creating stories as long as she’d been drawing, it took her a while to put her writing out there for publication. Julie’s latest book, Discover America from Sea to Shining Sea, follows a little red balloon across the country while inspiring patriotism through the text. Julie is represented by John Cusick at Folio Literary Agency and loves the world of Children’s literature.

Elaine Vickers, author

Elaine Vickers is a third-generation teacher and the author of Like Magic and Paper Chains, both of which were published by HarperCollins and received starred reviews. She’s a chemistry professor at Southern Utah University (SUU), a mom of three, a winner of the Utah Original Writing Competition, and a founding member of Thinking Through Our Fingers. Visit her online at elainevickers.com.

Carol Lynch Williams, author

Carol Lynch Williams is the author of more than 30 books for middle grade and young adult readers. She runs Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, has an MFA in Writing for Children and Adolescents from Vermont College, and contributes to an active blog with fellow writers Ann Dee Ellis and Kyra Leigh (www.throwingupwords.wordpress.com). She teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University. Her books include The Chosen One, Miles from Ordinary, Waiting, Signed, Skye Harper, and The Haven. Her newest book, Never That Far, will be released in April of this year.

Carol is proudest of her five daughters who are her most perfect creative effort, ever.