Presenters and Instructors

This page will be updated as more faculty members are
confirmed for the 2020 Atlanta Writing Workshop.



Screen Shot 2019-11-20 at 1.10.41 PMBob Mayer is a former Green Beret and the NY Times Bestselling author of over 75 books across a wide range of genres and nonfiction. He’s been on bestseller lists in thriller, science fiction, suspense, action, war, historical fiction, nonfiction, and is the only male author on the Romance Writers of America Honor Roll.

At the 2020 event, Bob will be teaching courses on building your author platform and also writing great characters. Bob is also offering manuscript critiques for attendees.

Born in the Bronx, Bob attended West Point and earned a BA in psychology with honors and then served as an Infantry platoon leader, a battalion scout platoon leader, and a brigade recon platoon leader in the 1st Cavalry Division. He joined Special Forces and commanded a Green Beret A Team. He served as the operations officer for 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and with Special Operations Command (Special Projects) in Hawaii. Later he taught at the Special Forces Qualification Course at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, the course that trains new Green Berets. After leaving active duty, he was often called back to service as national interests dictated a need for his specific skill set. He began writing while living in the Orient, as he earned a Black Belt in Martial Arts. He’s also earned a Masters Degree in Education.

His novels include the bestselling Area 51, Green Beret, Atlantis, and Time Patrol series and collaborations with Jennifer Crusie. Bob draws on all of his experiences to write his novels and his nonfiction books, including The Novel Writer’s Toolkit: A Guide To Writing Great Fiction; and Write It Forward: From Writer to Successful Author and Who Dares Wins: Special Operations Tactics for Success; Bob has presented for over 1,000 organizations both in the United States and internationally, including keynote presentations, all day workshops, and multi-day seminars. He teaches both writing and publishing topics as well as presentations on his Who Dares Wins concepts, bringing the tactics and techniques of Special Operations into the civilian world. He also presents workshops on the Area Study, the first step in preparing for natural and man-made disasters based on his survival manuals and Special Operations experiences.

He has taught organizations ranging from the Maui Writers Conference, to San Diego State University, to the University of Georgia, to the Romance Writers of America National Convention, to Boston SWAT, the CIA, Fortune-500, Microsoft, the Royal Danish Navy Frogman Corps, Rotary, IT Teams in Silicon Valley, the Nursing Program at Ohio State Univ. and many others. He has also served as a Visiting Writer for NILA MFA program in Creative Writing. He taught technical writing for the University of Washington as adjunct faculty. He has done interviews for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Sports Illustrated, PBS, NPR, the Discovery Channel, the SyFy channel and local cable shows. For more information see He offers The Writers Conference Guide: Getting the Most of Your Time and Money for free in eBook format on all eBook platforms and to conference attendees.


Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 1.31.06 AMRicki Cardenas is the author of two humorous women’s fiction novels, Mr. Right-Swipe (2017) and Georgia Author of the Year finalist Switch and Bait (2018), both published by Grand Central (Hachette) under the name Ricki Schultz.

She’s currently working on a Young Adult series. Among other publications, she has contributed to Writer’s Digest Books, and she is also a freelance editor. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.Ed. in Secondary Education from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, and she’s taught English for most of her adult life. She lives in Atlanta now with her husband and two beagles, and her writing is represented by Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

At the 2020 event, the popular Ricki will be critiquing manuscripts for many different categories.


Screen Shot 2019-12-19 at 11.08.52 AMAward-winning author and speaker Marian L. Thomas has penned six women’s fiction novels to date. Her books have been seen on national television stations such as the Oprah Winfrey Network, Ovation, and the A&E Network.

She has been featured in print magazines, newspapers and a guest on local, national and online radio stations. For her book, I Believe In Butterflies, Marian ranked among the top 100 Most Popular Authors in Literary Fiction on Amazon.

She spent most of her teen years in Oak Park, Illinois, but now resides in a suburb of Atlanta with her husband. She enjoys a good bag of popcorn, a plate full of pasta, and a grape pop. Also, her books have no profanity and a whole lot of drama.

At the 2020 ATL event, Marian is teaching on how to self-publish your book and do it well.


Screen Shot 2020-01-06 at 6.26.00 PMKimberly Belle is the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of six novels, including her forthcoming domestic suspense, Stranger in the Lake (June 2020).

Her third novel, The Marriage Lie, was a semifinalist in the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Mystery & Thriller, and a #1 e-book bestseller in the UK and Italy. She’s sold rights to her books in a dozen languages as well as film and television options.

A graduate of Agnes Scott College, Belle divides her time between Atlanta and Amsterdam. Keep up with Kimberly on Facebook (, Twitter (@KimberlySBelle), or Instagram (@KimberlySBelle).

At the 2020 ATL conference, Kimberly is teaching and offering critiques as an add-on element for attendees.


Screen Shot 2019-12-02 at 9.49.26 PMSally Kilpatrick is a published romance novelist.

At the 2020 TN event, Sally is teaching two classes and also critiquing manuscripts as an add-on for attendees.

Born and raised in a small town in West Tennessee, Sally writes to go home. She lives with her husband, a Georgia boy, and her two kids in Marietta, Georgia, but her heart has never left Tennessee, and her books reflect the small-town shenanigans and memorable characters she grew up around.

Her latest novel, Oh My Stars, was described by RT Book Reviews as written in a way that “makes readers feel as if they are hanging out with their best friend.” With five novels under her belt, Sally has been a Golden Heart® Finalist and has won multiple awards, including the 2018 and 2019 Georgia Author of the Year, the Maggie Award of Excellence, the Booksellers’ Best, and the 2016 Nancy Knight Award for Mentorship. Visit her author website at or follow her on Twitter as @SuperWriterMom.


Screen Shot 2019-12-11 at 6.20.01 PMWhen Reem Faruqi taught second grade, her favorite time was “Read Aloud” time. Originally an elementary school teacher, Reem stopped teaching to stay at home with her daughters. Now, her favorite time is watching her daughters read their own books.

Of Pakistani origin, she moved to Peachtree City, Georgia, from Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, when she was 13 years old. Reem based her first award-winning children’s book Lailah’s Lunchbox on her own experiences as a young Muslim girl immigrating to the United States.

She has two new books projected for 2021, Amira’s Picture Day (Holiday House 2021) and I Can Help. (Eerdmans 2021). Currently, she is working on a middle grade novel. Reem also works as a photographer at ReemFaruqi Photography and a Scheduler for the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta. She lives with her husband and three daughters in Atlanta.


Screen Shot 2018-08-30 at 5.59.32 PM.pngCaroline George is a literary agent with CYLE Literary Elite.

She acquires many genres of fiction, including: all subgenres of middle grade and young adult. For adult fiction, she seeks historical, women’s, mystery, thriller, romance, Christian/inspirational fiction, literary fiction, and mainstream fiction.

(She no longer seeks picture books, crime, horror, or adult science fiction and fantasy. In nonfiction, she no longer seeks memoir.)

At the 2020 ATL workshop, she is teaching a class on what publishers want. She is also meeting with attendees for one-on-one pitches.

Regarding nonfiction, she hopes to acquire YA and MG nonfiction, self-help, inspirational, and projects with unique hooks.

Her wish list: Caroline would love to represent more YA books with strong voices and high-concept nonfiction projects. She wants to partner with authors who understand their genres and know how to grow their platforms.

Caroline is a literary agent and multi-award-winning author of YA speculative fiction. She graduated from Belmont University with a degree in publishing and public relations, and now travels the country, speaking at conferences and writing full-time. A Georgia native, Caroline aspires to one day host The Great British Baking Show and delights in being best known for writing the phrase, “Coffee first. Save the world later.” Find her on Instagram @authorcarolinegeorge and Twitter @CarolineGeorge_.



Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 3.23.45 PM.pngBrian A. Klems (@BrianKlems) is the former online editor of

He is the coordinator of the 2020 Atlanta Writing Workshop. At the event, he is teaching a class and also offering query critiques as an add-on element for attendees.

His blog during his tenure there, The Writer’s Dig—which covered everything writing and publishing—was one of the largest blogs in the writing community.

Brian’s first book, Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Guide to Raising Daughters (Adams Media) was released in 2013. It received high-level buzz and praise from some of the funniest writers alive, including Dave Barry and Bruce Cameron. Brian is also a proud graduate of the Ohio University E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, a husband, softball infielder, perennial fantasy sports underachiever, and father of three lovely little girls.


Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 2.16.13 PM.pngBeth Marshea is a literary agent and the founder of Ladderbird Agency.

At the 2020 ATL event, she will be meeting with attendees for one-on-one pitches, and also teaching a class on writing science fiction and fantasy.

Ladderbird is a boutique literary agency. Beth has a long love of literature, which started as part of a family of bookworms. After obtaining an undergraduate degree in literature, Beth earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration. She became determined to find a way to merge her business passion and her love of literature, which she did as an agent. Beth is passionate about writing that pushes genres and boundaries and challenges the reader to accept a new point of view.

To learn more about what genres & categories Beth represents, see her agent page here.


Screen Shot 2019-11-30 at 11.44.03 AMKatharine Sands is a literary agent with the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency in New York City.

At the 2020 ATL conference, Katharine will be meeting attendees one-on-one for pitches, and she is also teaching a class on pitching.

She is the author of Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye and has been a guest speaker on writing and publishing for Poets and Writers, The American Society of Journalists and Authors, UCLA, New York University, and the New York State Council on the Arts.

Katharine is seeking all types of fiction, memoir and nonfiction. Katharine likes books that have a clear benefit for readers’ lives in categories of food, travel, lifestyle, home arts, beauty, wisdom, relationships, parenting, and fresh looks, which might be at issues, life challenges or popular culture. When reading fiction she wants to be compelled and propelled by urgent storytelling, and hooked by characters. For memoir, femoir, and himoir, she likes to be transported to a world rarely or newly observed. Katharine has worked with a varied list of authors who publish a diverse array of books including fiction, memoir and non-iction. Among the books she represents are: The Apothecary’s Curse, by Bram Stoker Award nominee Barbara Barnett; and Girl Walks Out of a Bar, a memoir by Lisa Smith that was featured by People as Notable Nonfiction.


Screen Shot 2019-12-20 at 10.38.06 PMNicki Salcedo has a degree in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University. She is the author of All Beautiful Things and three books of essays. The title piece for her latest collection, In My Father’s Shoes, is based on the bittersweet experience she had wearing her father’s shoes after he died. (See her books on Amazon here.)

At the 2020 ATL workshop, she is teaching a class, and also offering critiques for writers.

Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Good Housekeeping, and Decaturish. She is a two-time Maggie Award recipient and a Golden Heart Finalist. Nicki is active in writing communities across the country. She has taught creative writing from Los Angeles to Washington D.C., most recently at Decatur Writers Studio, CNN, and Turner Broadcasting.

Nicki works in the corporate world by day and writes at night. She loves connecting with writers and readers.


Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 11.27.21 AMSally Apokedak is a literary agent with Apokedak Literary (formerly with The Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency)

At the 2020 ATL workshop, she is meeting with writers for one-on-one pitches. She is also teaching a class on writing great characters in young adult and middle grade.

What She is Looking For (in Her Own Words):

Picture Books: I’m looking for author/illustrators. Not really looking for authors only right now.

Middle Grade Books: I love boy-centric middle grade books. I love boys who love science, boys who go on adventures, and boy geniuses. I love fantasies. I love any genre if the voice is strong–if the author is strong and not stumbling.

YA Books: Fantasy is my favorite, and if there’s romance, I love it even more. I still like dystopian, and fairy tales. I love mysteries and don’t see many of those for young adults. Books with characters who are spiritual and books set in worlds with established religions always strike me as being deeper and more realistic than books with no religion. We are more than physical beings, after all.

Nonfiction For All Ages: I’m interested in devotional books, Christian living, science for young children, and biography. But you may try me on anything.

Adult Inspirational: I’m looking for adult books for the Christian market, particularly fantasy and romantic suspense.

What I Don’t Like: I am not a huge fan of issue books, preachy stories,  gay lit, or sexual content. I read novels  for fun, not to grow. If the fun story makes me grow, that’s a plus, but I’m not looking for overt lessons in regards to how to be saved from sin, love gay people, or recycle my garbage and save the world. Supernatural books, with angels, demons, or any mix thereof, will probably not catch my fancy. I’m not salivating for werewolves, vampires, ghosts, fairies, or zombies. (Orcs, hobbits, and dragons are what I love.) I’m not into dark and angsty books, and I really like endings that, if not completely happy, are at least full of  hope. For young boys, I’m OK with some scatological humor, but I like characters older than ten to be a little more mature and a little less enamored with their own bodily functions than the real-life boys they are patterned after. Any picture books that rhyme where all the rhyming words are one or two syllables, are not going to be right for me, I’m pretty sure.