Presenters and Instructors

This page will be updated as more faculty members are
confirmed for the 2018 Atlanta Writing Workshop.


Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 1.25.24 AM.pngA self-described late bloomer, Susan Sands began writing her first novel at age forty. She describes her challenging journey to publication as “raising another child—a difficult one.”

Susan has published four southern, contemporary women’s fiction novels set in Alabama. She describes her humorous small-town stories as fun, romantic, and filled with big family love. She holds a B.A. in  education, and is a former teacher.

Susan has three grown children and lives with her dentist husband in Johns Creek, GA. She is a member of the Georgia Romance Writers and the Romance Writers of America, the Atlanta Writer’s Club, and the Broadleaf Writers Association. She participates in book festivals, book clubs, and writer’s conferences around the South. Susan is the recipient of the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year award for romance.

At the 2018 Atlanta event, she is teaching on romance writing as well as self-editing. She is also doing critiques of romance novels and women’s fiction (no erotica please).

Susan holds a B.A. in education, and is a former teacher.


Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 1.31.06 AM.pngRicki Schultz is the author of sassy, fun contemporary fiction such as MR. RIGHT-SWIPE (2017) and SWITCH AND BAIT (2018), both published by Grand Central.

At the 2018 ATL conference, she is critiquing manuscripts for women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, literary fiction, mainstream fiction, young adult, and middle grade.

Ricki earned a B.A. in English and an M.Ed. in Secondary Education from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

In addition to writing, she has molded the minds of tweens & teens as a middle school and high school teacher in both the CLE and the ATL — and she also spent a year teaching writing and communications at the college level.

In addition to freelance writing and editing, she has spoken at writers’ conferences and was formerly the coordinator of the now-defunct online writing community, the Write-Brained Network.

Her writing is represented by Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Literary Agency.


Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 1.36.07 AM.pngLatoya C. Smith is a literary agent with L. Perkins Agency.

At the 2018 ATL event, she is teaching the session “So You Have a Book Deal … Now What?” She is also taking pitches at the event.

Before joining the L. Perkins agency, Latoya was an editor for over thirteen years working at publishing houses such as Kensington Publishing, Hachette Book Group, and Samhain Publishing.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Latoya started her editorial career as an administrative assistant to New York Times bestselling author, Teri Woods, while pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree at Temple University. In 2006, Latoya joined Grand Central Publishing, an imprint at Hachette Book Group, where she acquired a variety of titles from Hardcover fiction and non-fiction, to digital romance and erotica. In 2014, Latoya was Executive Editor at Samhain Publishing where she acquired short and long form romance as well as erotic fiction. She was also the winner of the 2012 RWA Golden Apple for Editor of the Year.


Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 12.14.03 AMScott Hawkins is a computer programmer, technical writer and novelist.

At the 2018 ATL workshop, he will be teaching on worldbuilding in science fiction and fantasy. He will also be doing critiques of sci-fi and fantasy manuscripts.

His first novel, The Library at Mount Char, was published in 2015. He
lives in Canton, GA with his wife and a large pack of foster dogs.

Born in Idaho in 1969, Scott grew up in South Carolina and graduated from the University of South Carolina with a B.S.C.S. in computer science in 1991 and an M.S. in 1993.

Since then he has worked a variety of computer jobs, usually having something to do with Unix / Linux, though there have been occasional forays into Windows development.


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

At the 2018 event, he is teaching classes on what to do before you submit, what to do after you submit, writing nonfiction books, social media & book marketing, and the state of the publishing industry today.


Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 4.49.59 PM.pngAngela DeCaires is the director of publishing at BookLogix.

At the 2018 workshop, she is teaching the speech “Book Marketing for Writers.”

In her role with the Atlanta-based publisher BookLogix, she oversees marketing communications and the departments that make up BookLogix’s publishing process, including editorial, design, book marketing, eBooks, and distribution.

Angela’s background includes experience in public relations, writing, broadcasting, and journalism, having spent a number of years as a TV news producer and news writer in New York State, followed by public relations work for health systems in both Florida and New York. She holds a degree in Communication/Journalism from St. John Fisher College.


Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 12.33.52 PM.pngMark Beaver is the author of Suburban Gospel (Hub City, 2016), a memoir about growing up in the 80s Bible Belt.

At the 2018 workshop, he will be teaching on memoir writing. He will also be doing memoir critiques for attendees.

Mark’s prose has appeared in Gulf Coast, North American Review, Tampa Review, Crazyhorse, Southeast Review, Third Coast, Ninth Letter, and many other publications.

He is a graduate of UNC-Greensboro’s MFA program, and lives with his wife and daughters in his native Atlanta.


Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 1.53.26 PM.pngKristy Hunter is a literary agent with The Knight Agency.

At the 2018 workshop, in addition to taking pitches from attendees, she is also teaching a class on query letters and finding an agent.

With a degree in Women & Gender Studies and English Literature from Vanderbilt University, Kristy moved to New York City immediately after graduation to try her hand at publishing. She completed the Columbia Publishing Course and worked in the city for several years—first at Grove/Atlantic and then at Random House Children’s Books—before deciding it was time to make the move back down south. She now takes advantage of her new surroundings by being outside as much as possible with her French bulldog, Gummi.

Kristy is currently accepting submissions from a wide variety of genres, including women’s fiction, mystery, historical romance, romance, young adult, and middle grade. Having spent significant time in the south and New York City, she particularly likes books set in these regions. She also enjoys books that feature horses, boarding schools, sisters, and sororities—to name just a few.


Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 1.55.12 PM.pngSusan Crawford is a published thriller writer.

At the 2018 workshop, she is teaching a class on writing thrillers, mysteries, and crime novels. She is also critiquing manuscripts for attendees in the following genres: thriller, mystery, crime, and suspense.

Susan grew up in Miami, where she spent her childhood reading mysteries in a hammock strung between two Banyan trees. She graduated from the University of Miami with a B.A. in English.

She later moved to New York City and then to Boston before settling in Atlanta to raise three amazing daughters and to teach in various adult education settings. A member of The Atlanta Writers Club and The Village Writers, Susan lives in Atlanta with her husband and a trio of rescue cats, where she enjoys reading books, writing books, rainy days, and spending time with the people she loves.

Susan’s first thriller is The Pocket Wife (William Morrow).


Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 8.48.03 PM.png

Shelli R. Johannes is the coauthor of upcoming picture book with Harper Collins/Greenwillow, Cece Loves Science (6/19/18), illustrated by NAACP winner, Vashti Harrison.

Shelli also writes as S.R.. Johannes and is the award-winning author of the Amazon best-selling Nature of Grace YA thriller series (Untraceable, Uncontrollable, and Unstoppable) and Rewired. She is a winner of various awards including the IndieReader Discovery Award in YA and an IPPY Silver Medalist.

Since leaving Corporate America, Shelli has followed her passion for writing and animals by working with Bosley’s Place, The Dolphin Project, the Atlanta Zoo, other animal rescue organizations, and by weaving conservation themes into her books. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her Doodles, English-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their two children, which she hopes, someday, will change the world.

At the 2018 conference, she is teaching on both Writing Young Adult and Middle Grade, as well as Writing Picture Books.

She is also doing attendee manuscript critiques for young adult and middle grade.