Presenters and Instructors

Presenters and Instructors for the Fall 2023 Online
Atlanta Writing Workshop



Laura Benedict is the Edgar- and ITW Thriller Award-nominated author of eight books, including When I Make Love to the Bug Man (stories) and novels of suspense, including The Stranger Inside.

Her Bliss House gothic trilogy includes: The Abandoned Heart, Charlotte’s Story (Booklist starred review), and Bliss House. Her short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and in numerous anthologies like Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads, The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers, and St. Louis Noir. A native of Cincinnati, she lives in Southern Illinois with her family.

At the 2023 online ATLWW, Laura is teaching a speech and also meeting with attendees for optional add-on manuscript critiques.


Shelli R. Johannes is the author of 18 books (out and forthcoming). She is the co-author (with Kimberly Derting) of the popular CECE LOVES SCIENCE series and PENNY (An Engineering Tale of the Fourth Pig). In addition to her tween and teen novels, she is also the author of the THEO THESAURUS series and SHINE LIKE A UNICORN. Her new chapter book in Chelsea Clinton’s “She Persisted” series on FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE comes out in March 2023. See all her kids books here and all her teen novels here.

At the 2023 online ATLWW, Shelli is teaching a class. She is also offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.

Shelli can often be found on highways and country roads saving strays and other jaywalking critters or volunteering with animal conservation groups. After earning a master’s to follow her passion of writing.

She lives in Atlanta with her own pack of unicorns: a British husband, two teens, two Goldendoodles, one sassy bird, and the many loud characters that “live” in her head. Shelli is addicted to exclamation points, puns, unicorns, and anything sciencey. You can always count on her to laugh at her own jokes, at least once.


Shannon Snow is a literary agent with Creative Media Agency.

At the online 2023 ATLWW, Shannon is teaching a class. She is also meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitches.

“I especially love stories with compelling, well-drawn characters that pull me in and are memorable because I have to love the characters to love the book. Send me slow burn romances that keep me pining for the satisfying conclusion (either single-title or series where the romance is stretched across multiple books. Make me earn it!) Send me light-hearted stories that will make me laugh, and darker stories where the characters must overcome. Just make me feel, and if I reach for the tissue box, even better! I would love to see a one person survivalist psychological thriller. I’m also hunting for stories with diverse characters living every day life, and am actively looking for POC and LGBTQ+ authors. I want to see stories that push boundaries and deal with taboo issues.

“Some of my favorite non-client authors include: Dean Koontz, Jennifer Estep, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Elle Kennedy, Linda Kage, Beth Revis, David Eddings, Margaret Weiss & Tracey Hickman, Kristen Callihan, Julie Kagawa, Wendy Higgins, Jennifer Echols, Michelle Rowen, Rick Chesler, Eloisa James, Lisa Kleypas, Sherilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward, Ronald A. Lindsay, Kristin Hannah, and many more.

I love to find projects that are unique. Well-rounded characters I can root for are key to engaging me, as well as a writing style/voice that will captivate me. I need to love your work! Some specifics include:

  • New take on older tropes
  • Well-crafted and sparkling characters that engage me and make me root for them
  • A well-crafted story that keeps me enmeshed from start to finish]
  • An engrossing author voice and/or a unique approach to storytelling


Carlisle Webber is a literary agent at Fuse Literary.

At the 2023 online ATLWW, she is teaching a class. She is also meeting with attendees for one-on-one virtual pitches.

Carlisle refused to major in English in college because she didn’t think there was anything fun to read on the required lists. No Stephen King? No R.L. Stine? No thanks! After college, she took her love of commercial, YA, and middle grade fiction to the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences, where she earned a Master of Library and Information Sciences. She worked as a public librarian for years before deciding to move to the business side of publishing. She attended the Columbia Publishing Course and holds a Professional Certificate in Editing from UC-Berkeley.

Carlisle is looking for: high-concept commercial fiction in middle grade, young adult, and adult. If your book is fresh and exciting, tackles difficult topics, reads like a Shonda Rhimes show, or makes readers stay up late turning pages, she’s the agent for you.

Diverse authors are encouraged to submit their fiction. Within the genres she represents, Carlisle is especially interested in stories by and about people of color; with both visible and invisible disabilities and illnesses; who are economically disadvantaged; who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer; or who are members of religious minorities. Take a look at her manuscript wish list. But if you don’t write exactly what’s on her list, don’t worry! She’s happy to look at any work that falls into the categories she represents.

She wants:

Middle grade (any genre)
Young adult (any genre)
Women’s fiction
Pop/mainstream fiction


Diana Giovinazzo is the co-creator of Wine, Women and Words, a weekly literary podcast featuring interviews with authors over a glass of wine. Diana lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband and menagerie.

She is a published author of historical fiction. See all her books here.

At the 2023 online ATLWW, she is teaching classes, and also offering add-on virtual manuscript critiques.

You can find Diana on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok: @dianagauthor.


Kristin Bartley Lenz is a writer and social worker who has lived in Michigan, Georgia, and California.

At the 2023 online ATLWW, she is teaching a class. She is also offering add-on in-person critiques for attendees.

Her debut young adult novel, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go, was a Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize winner, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and a Great Lakes Great Books Award honor book. Her writing has been published in a YA poetry anthology (Rhyme & Rhythm: Poems for Student Athletes), The New York Times, Writer’s Digest, Hunger Mountain, Lunch Ticket, Michigan Reading Journal, Great Lakes Review, Literary Mama, Women On Writing and more. She also writes freelance for Detroit area nonprofits, teaches creative writing for teens and adults, and escapes to the woods and lakes in northern Michigan whenever she can.


Screen Shot 2019-10-22 at 9.40.30 PM.pngGabrielle Prendergast is a writer, teacher and designer. She is the author of many books for kids (young adult, middle grade, and picture books). She is represented by Barbara Poelle at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. In 2018 she won the BC Book Prizes Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize and toured the province as part of the BC Book Prizes Tour. In 2017 Gabrielle took part in the TD Canada Children’s Book Week Tour. In 2015 she was nominated for the BC Book Prizes and chosen to tour the province to promote BC Books. In 2014 she was the Writer in Residence at Vancouver Public Library. She has also been nominated for the White Pine Award and the CLA Award.

Gabrielle won the Westchester Award for Audacious. Audacious was included in CBC’s list of 100 YA Books That Make You Proud to be Canadian. A poem from Capricious was chosen for the 2014 Poetry in Transit Program. Pandas on the East Side was chosen as an Ontario Library Association Best Bet for Junior Fiction in 2016. It was also nominated/shortlisted for the Chocolate Lily Award, The Red Cedar Award, the Diamond Willow Award, the Myrca Award and the Vancouver Book Award. Her most recent book is the YA sci-fi Zero Repeat Forever, which won the 2018 BC Book Prizes’ Sheila A Egoff Award.

At the 2023 online ATLWW event, she is teaching a class.


Kesia Lupo is a literary agent with The Bindery.

At the 2023 online ATLWW, Kesia is teaching a class. She is also meeting with attendees for add-on one-on-one pitch meetings.

“I’m currently Associate Literary Agent at the Bindery, a boutique agency based in Colorado – although I’m personally based in the Bay Area. I am actively building my list of primarily fiction writers. Although I started at the Bindery in May 2023, I have over ten years of experience in the publishing industry.

“In my last job, I was Senior Editor at UK children’s book publisher Chicken House, where I’d been working my way up from Junior Editor since 2015. Here, I acquired and edited children’s fiction for middle-grade and YA readers and worked with wonderful writers including Jasbinder Bilan, James Nicol and Emma Read (MG) and Ben Oliver, Molly Morris, Naomi Gibson and Mellissa Welliver (YA). I consider middle-grade and YA my specialty and would love to represent authors writing for these age-groups.

“I started my career as an assistant at Pan Macmillan London back in 2013, largely working for wonderful SFF/Horror imprint Tor – I loved the authors I worked with there who included Adrian Tchaikovsky, Adam Nevill and Genevieve Cogman. I’d love to return to my roots and represent adult genre fiction in SFF and Horror.”

She is seeking:

“I’m an omnivore in my reading taste and I would love my list to reflect that – so, while I’ve tried to be exhaustive, if you have something that doesn’t quite fit then please don’t hesitate to query anyway! In general, I’m looking for fiction for middle-grade, YA and adult readers – with a smattering of popular, accessible non-fiction.

“Across age groups, I’m a big fan of original fantasy, accessible but smart science fiction, paranormal or creepy horror, thrillers (especially if they have a shocking twist!), dark academia and basically all stories that help me escape or make me question everything.

“I majored in History so I love a bit of historical fiction too, as long as it’s done in a fun and accessible way – and I enjoy romance. For nonfiction, I’m looking at narrative nonfiction with broad appeal – I love books about psychology and big political, cultural or historical topics.”


Literary agent Kat Kerr joined Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2019. She graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelors in English in 2009 and is drawn to literary and commercial voices within the adult and YA markets, as well as adult nonfiction.

At the 2023 online ATLWW, Kat is teaching a speech.

Kat feels strongly about supporting programs like We Need Diverse Books and is passionate about creating space in this industry for those from historically marginalized communities.

She is actively seeking to grow her client list and is particularly hungry for magical realism, literary leaning speculative and science fiction, women’s fiction, YA works with a lot of heart, and narrative nonfiction with something to say.


Swati Hegde is a desi adult romance and YA author. By day, she’s a mindset coach and freelance editor. She is also a self-proclaimed coffee shop enthusiast who lives in Bangalore, India, and can usually be found at the nearest café with a hot mug of tea.

At the 2023 online Atlanta WW, Swati is offering add-on manuscript critiques for attendees.

Swati is represented by Rachel Beck at Liza Dawson Associates. Her debut romantic comedy novel MATCH ME IF YOU CAN is out 2024 from Ballantine Bantam Dell, Penguin Random House.

“I write funny romance novels featuring strong heroines, sweet-as-honey heroes, and happily-ever-afters that will make you tear up and laugh all at once. Oh, and did I mention they’re all desi characters? I live in Bangalore, India, and my writing always centers people like me living in my home country. Right now, I’m working on MATCH ME IF YOU CAN, my desi romantic comedy out 2024 from Random House, ft. an aspiring matchmaker heroine, a pub owner hero, and tons of mis-matchmaking and misunderstandings.” See her website here.


Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 3.23.45 PM.pngBrian A. Klems (@BrianKlems) is the former online editor of He is current the director of Writing Day Workshops.

He is the coordinator of the 2023 online Atlanta Writing Workshop. At the event, he is offering add-on query critiques 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 girls.