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We're so excited to announce our stellar lineup of speakers for RWA2023!

More speakers are being added weekly, so make sure to check back often.

Julia AmanteJulia Amante

Julia began her writing career in 2000, writing Latina romance under the pseudonym Lara Rios when Kensington Publishing released a new line of Latino romance books.

Julia sold four romances to this publisher before moving on to write longer chick-lit novels for Berkley Publishing by 2006. Her book Becoming Latina in 10 Easy Steps was optioned by Disney’s ABC Family to become a future TV series.

In 2009, Lara Rios became Julia Amante when she changed her writing style to reach a new audience. Amante wanted to expand her writing to include not only romantic relationships but the more complex bonds women have with parents, children, and friends. These novels continued to feature Latino characters and the cultural flavor of Hispanic life in America, but they also dealt with universal issues that appealed to women of all cultures.

Julia’s other passion is education. She received her B.A. at the University of California, Riverside, and her M.F.A in Fiction from California State University, San Bernardino. She currently teaches writing at California State University, San Bernardino.

Christine AshworthChristine Ashworth

Christine Ashworth has been writing since 2002 and is a two-time past President of the Los Angeles Romance Authors chapter of RWA. She is published in contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and non-fiction.

A popular speaker at metaphysical conferences, Christine loves talking writing together with meditation.

Elle BeauregardElle Beauregard

Elle Beauregard writes het and Sapphic stories where magic is real and everyone deserves a happily ever after.

She lives in the Pacific Northwest with “the hubby” and “the kiddos” where she spends her slivers of non-author, non-mom free time drinking coffee, thrift shopping, and planning for world domination (one story at a time.)

Maggie K BlackMaggie K. Black

Maggie K. Black a self-defense instructor, former journalist and USA Today best-selling author of over thirty heart-pounding romance novels from Love Inspired Suspense.

An avid brainstormer, this spring Maggie wrote seven Harlequin plot synopses over the course of one just weekend.

Michael BuzzelliMichael Buzzelli

Mike Buzzelli is a stand-up comedian and sit-down author. As a comedian, he has performed all around the country, most notably, the Ice House, the Comedy Store and the Improv in Los Angeles. He has performed as a stand up in Pittsburgh for several local charity events such as Cabaret for a Cause, The GLSEN Awards, and Brewing Up A Cure.

As a writer, Mike has published in a variety of websites, magazines and newspapers. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant, Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine. Buzzelli is also a Moth Grand Slam storyteller and actor.

His book, Below Average Genius, is a collection of essays culled from his humor column in the Observer-Reporter.

His book, All I Want for Christmas, is a comedic holiday romance. His short story, “Study Buddy” is featured in the LGBTQ+ anthology, Winter Break.

Megan CraneMegan Crane

USA Today bestselling, multi-award-nominated, and critically-acclaimed author Megan Crane has written more than 135 books, and shows no sign of slowing down. She publishes romance as Megan Crane and M.M. Crane — and Megan has an exciting backlist of women’s fiction, chick lit, and young adult novels. She’s also won a large and loyal fan base as Caitlin Crews with Harlequin Presents, Harlequin Dare, Harlequin Historical, and contemporary cowboy books. And for paranormal fun, Megan partners with Nicole Helm to publish as Hazel Beck for her witchy rom-com novels.

Megan has a Masters and Ph.D. in English Literature, has taught creative writing classes in places like UCLA Extension’s prestigious Writers’ Program, and is always available to give workshops (or her opinion). She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her comic book artist husband, though, at any given time, she is likely to either be huddled in a coffee shop somewhere or off traveling the world. Preferably both.

Alicia DearnAlicia Dearn

Alicia Dearn is a civil trial and business lawyer with twenty years’ experience. In her trial practice, she has won seven figure judgments and defense verdicts. As a business lawyer, she has served as General Counsel for multiple small and medium sized enterprises, recognizable brands, and a national presidential campaign.

Ms. Dearn appears regularly on national TV as a commentator. She speaks publicly and publishes widely on topics of law, business, and politics. She has worked professionally as a ghostwriter, copywriter, editor, author, and technical writer. She has started several businesses. In May and July of 2023, Ms. Dearn published her first two romance novels under the pen name Amelia Elliot.

Emily EvansEmily Evans

Emily writes fun, young-adult romance as Emily Evans, and adult contemporary romance as Emily Bow. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from American College Dublin and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University with a minor in History. A native of Houston, Texas, she loves travel, movies, K-dramas, and books. Find her at or

Jen GraybealJen Graybeal

Jen Graybeal (she/her) is dedicated to empowering authors through encouraging feedback, collaborative problem solving and gently-applied tough love. According to one client, "Talking with Jen leaves me inspired and ready to work on my book with a sense of wonder instead of being stressed and concerned." In eight years of coaching, workshops, and editing projects, she has helped hundreds of romance authors create stories they are proud of and businesses that align with their individual vision of success. Jen has a degree in English, an ever-expanding TBR pile, and a furball assistant that is usually on her lap. She believes there is no one-size-fits-all solution for anything, that volunteering is a good thing, and that every author has a unique story to tell. Visit her website for client testimonials at or follow her on Instagram and TikTok: @JenTheEditor.

Katie GraykowskiKatie Graykowski

Katie Graykowski is a #1 Amazon bestselling and international bestselling author of over twenty novels. She likes sassy heroines, Mexican food, and glitter nail polish. She'd love to hear from you. Visit her at

Debra HollandDebra Holland

Psychotherapist Debra Holland, Ph.D is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of the Montana Sky Series, sweet, historical Western romance. She’s a three-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist and one-time winner. In 2013, Amazon selected Starry Montana Sky as a top 50 greatest love stories pick. Her latest book is Beyond Montana’s Sky.

Dr. Debra is also the author of The Gods’ Dream trilogy (fantasy romance) and the nonfiction books, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving and Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude: A Ten-Minute eBook. She’s a contributing author to The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing.

Learn more about her at

Linda O. JohnstonLinda O. Johnston

Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, has published many books, including romantic suspense novels and mysteries. Her current stories for Harlequin Romantic Suspense include the Shelter of Secrets series as well as books in the HRS Colton series. She has also written several cozy mystery series including her newest, the Alaska Untamed series for Crooked Lane under her first pseudonym, Lark O. Jensen. Linda is a dog lover, and most of her current stories involve dogs.

Clarissa KaeClarissa Kae

Clarissa is the former president of her local California Writers Club after spending several years as the Critique Director. A stint at Writer’s Digest and a Pitch Perfect Conference Coordinator, Clarissa had dedicated countless hours to mentoring fellow authors. Since her first novel, she's explored different writing genres and created a loyal group of fans who eagerly await her upcoming release. With numerous awards to her name, Clarissa continues to honor the role of storyteller. Clarissa lives in the agricultural belly of California with her family of horses, chickens, dogs and kittens a plenty. A graduate of Animal and Veterinary science, Clarissa helms Annie’s Aussies, a kennel providing companion, emotional and medical service dogs. She and her daughters also rescue horses, aiding All Seated in a Barn to help 200+ horses.

Leslie V KnowlesLeslie V. Knowles

A hybrid author whose contemporary novel was traditionally published, Leslie V. Knowles was a Golden Heart finalist (Silent Song, Kensington, 1996) and, most recently, winner of the 2022 Book Buyer’s Best award in the historical category with the Orange County Romance Writers (Scandal’s Choice, October 2021).
Leslie fell into the fear of missing out trap when she followed another author's advice to ride the Bridgerton wave and release the first three books in her historical series in quick succession. What followed was the realization that she is not a rapid, multi-release author, and that a mix of marketing education and strategy play as much a part of authorship as the writing process itself.

Debby LeeDebby Lee

Debby Lee, a member of the Yakama tribe, started writing as a child but never forgets her home, the cozy town of Toledo, Washington, and her Native American roots.

A former president of the Olympia chapter of Romance Writers of America, Debby enjoys participating in both RWA and the American Christian Fiction Writers. Her sixth collection with Barbour Publishing released in December 2019. Both the Courageous Brides and Mountain Christmas Brides series both made the ECPA Bestsellers list. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steven Laube Literary Agency.

A self-professed nature lover, Debby feels like a hippie child who wasn’t born early enough to attend Woodstock. She wishes she could run barefoot all year long and often does when weather permits. During football season, she cheers on the Seattle Seahawks with other devoted fans. She’s also filled with wanderlust and dreams of traveling the world.

Haley Lugo-PichardoHaley Lugo-Pichardo

I have faced many obstacles in life that have thankfully led me to where I am today. Yes, I say thankfully because, without them, I would not be who or where I am today. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at thirteen years old, which led to me facing a dark period of depression and serious self-doubt. Through this dark period, I was able to overcome and learn how to love myself. Now it is my life mission to teach others how to love themselves and see their true worth. I am a certified life coach focusing on one-on-one empowerment coaching. I have a podcast called The Daily with Haley that delivers daily encouragement to people worldwide. I also get the privilege of speaking with groups of people worldwide. My wonderful husband, Iggy, and I reside in a small town in North Carolina, surrounded by friends and family, along with our five fur babies.

Katie McCoachKatie McCoach

Katie McCoach is a developmental editor and book coach based in Los Angeles. She’s been helping authors grow their best stories since 2012. Many of her authors have gone on to land literary agents and publishing deals with Berkley, HarperCollins, Blushing, Immortal Press, Wild Rose, Tule, Boroughs, and several authors have won awards.

She is a founding editor of Revise & Resub (#RevPit). She’s been a featured judge in writing contests and teaches virtually and in-person at conferences and writing organizations such as CRW, LIRW, ORIWA, Emerald Coast Writers, and more.

Listen to the Writing with Coach McCoach podcast and visit her Facebook group under the same name.

Katie is a first-time mother who drinks too much coffee, over-cuddles her allergy-inducing cats, and watches The Vampire Diaries (and its spin-off series) on repeat.

Candie MoonshowerCandie Moonshower

Candie Moonshower loves romance and always has, since her first boyfriend told her she had sexy feet and a great laugh—a definite meet-cute. She teaches writing to freshmen and the modern romance genre literature to sophomores during the day at Middle Tennessee State University, and she writes hometown romances at night, encouraged by her handsome Hubcap and the two cats who rule their lives. Sports, succulents, and coffee are her hobbies—along with writing, of course, and reading the romantic fiction of her favorite authors. Her writing career includes two published books and nearly 200 freelance credits.

Erin NovotnyErin Novotny

Erin Novotny is the author of over a dozen romance and mystery novels writing as Tobi Doyle. A past president of RWA Kiss of Death, a recipient of RWA’s 2022 Service Award and 2022 PRO Mentor of the Year Award for her work on RWA’s Pen to Paper: Guide to Writing Romance. She loves working with best-selling thriller author, Sheila Redling, at, Intensive Genre Workshops, where they provide a writing craft foundation for genre writers.

Kristin OwensKristin Owens

Kristin Owens, PhD, is an award-winning educator and writer living in sticky southwest Florida. She’s a contributor to magazines such as 5280, Writer’s Digest, and Wine Enthusiast. She holds certifications with the Court of Master Sommeliers and Cicerone and travels the world writing about wonderful wines, beautiful beers, and surprising spirits. Her high-energy presentations are geared towards motivating new writers to stick with it. Her debut novel, Elizabeth Sails, launches in 2024 with Rising Action Publishing Co. You can usually find her on a cruise ship.

Caridad PineiroCaridad Pineiro

Caridad Pineiro is a transplanted Long Island girl who has fallen in love with the Jersey Shore. When Caridad isn’t taking long strolls along the boardwalk, she’s also a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author with over a million romance novels sold worldwide. Caridad is passionate about writing and helping others explore and develop their skills as writers. She is a founding member of the Liberty States Fiction Writers and has presented workshops at the RT Book Club Convention, Romance Writers of America National Conference as well as various writing organizations throughout the country. You can connect with Caridad at

Jane PorterJane Porter

New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Jane Porter holds an MA in Writing from the University of San Francisco and has written 75 novels since getting her first sale to Harlequin Presents in 2000. A six-time RITA finalist, and RITA winner in July 2014 for Take Me, Cowboy, Jane is known for her passionate, powerful stories and relatable heroines. In 2008 Jane's runaway bestseller, Flirting with Forty, was made into a Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear, and in 2021 two of Jane's Tule romances became movies on Great American Family. An advocate for writers, Jane founded Tule Publishing in 2013 to give romance and women’s fiction authors support and opportunities. Jane and Tule Publishing are both based in sunny San Clemente, CA.

Sahara SandhuSahara Sandhu

Saharra K. Sandhu is an award-winning author and lover of all things involving chocolate. She pens fast paced paranormal romance and romantic comedies full of adventure, and humor. Her misadventures have taken her from the Caribbean to South America and across the Pacific to New Zealand and beyond. Along the way, she has collected Afro-Caribbean stories and folklore to fuel the imagination that generates her books. There are two series, the paranormal Daughter of the Missing series and contemporary Mama’s Travel Agency series. She aims to give you a good chuckle or even an outright belly laugh with some of the situations her characters find themselves. Her stories have twists and turns designed to keep readers guessing till the end. Be prepared to travel to exotic locals or even out of this world. Her novel, Spice Island, a multicultural romantic suspense, won the 2019 Emma award for Contemporary fiction. The sequel, Queisha’s Cove, won the Romance Slam Jam 2022 Emma award for best Romantic Comedy. To learn more and stay on top of the latest shenanigans, please visit her website at

Penny C. SansevieriPenny C. Sansevieri

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She is the author of 22 books, including From Book to Bestseller, How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, 5 Minute Book Marketing for Authors and How to Revise and Re-Release Your Book!

Paula C ScardamaliaPaula Chaffee Scardamalia

Paula Chaffee Scardamalia is book coach, dream and tarot intuitive and the author of Enchanting Creativity: How Fairy Tales, Dreams, Rituals & Journaling Can Awaken Your Creative Self. She wrote the award-winning Weaving a Woman’s Life: Spiritual Lessons from the Loom, as well as Tarot for the Fiction Writer, and her novel, In the Land of the Vultures. For twenty years, Paula's presented workshops across the country for national and regional Romance Writers of America events; the San Diego University Writers Conference; and the International Women's Writing Guild. Paula publishes Divine Muse-ings, a weekly e-newsletter (since 2009) on writing, creativity, dreams, and tarot, and an author newsletter.

Jon TandlerJon R. Tandler

Jon is a Member of Sherman & Howard L.L.C., Denver, Colorado, and practices intellectual property, publishing, information technology, and business law.  Jon works extensively in copyright and literary law serving as legal counsel to publishers, packagers, agencies, distributors, trade associations and selected authors as to rights, contracts and regulatory matters.  Jon represents for-profit companies, tax-exempt institutions and individuals. 

Jon teaches regularly for publishing organizations, has previously presented for RWA, and serves on the faculty of the University of Denver Publishing Institute.

Sue TothSue Toth

For the past 20 years, my specialty has been in collaborating as an editor with romance authors to turn their books into the ones that readers can’t put down. I work with authors on developmental and line editing. But I’ve been a lover of the English language for as long as I’ve been able to read. You know the kid who had a book and a flashlight under the covers long after she was supposed to be asleep? That was me. The one who carried a book everywhere and had her nose stuck in It whenever possible? Also me. My entire career has been dedicated to either diving into my own editing or teaching others how to do it well. I taught fiction editing at the University of San Diego and journalism and writing at the college level. In the rare times I’m not reading, I enjoy being with my family, dancing to ‘80s rock and roll, and watching New York Mets or Jets games.

Jaye VinerJaye Viner

Jaye Viner lives with a tall human and three fur bombs. She knows just enough about a variety of things to embarrass herself at parties she never attends. She is the author of a standalone romantic suspense, Jane of Battery Park, and the Elaborate Lives contemporary series.

Brooke WillsBrooke Wills

Being a seasoned person herself, Brooke Wills is a retired CFO, controller and consultant who left the corporate world to pursue a second career. Now she spends her days storytelling as a copywriting specialist, creating seasoned characters like herself and enjoying living on an island in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her mostly Maine Coon kitty, Tuxie.

She is actively involved with the Aged to Perfection Seasoned Romance Writers as well as serving as treasurer on the RWA Board.

Danica WintersDanica Winters

Danica Winters is a Publishers Weekly, Walmart, and Amazon bestselling author who has won multiple awards for writing books that grip readers with their ability to drive emotion through suspense and occasionally a touch of magic. Her books have won numerous awards, but she says that her greatest joy is hearing that the worlds she creates have helped to provide escapes for those who need it most.

She loves to travel to meet her fans, sign books, and participate in book festivals, reader events, and industry conferences.

She is also the co-owner of Self-Publishing Services, LLC. SPS is a successful company owned and run by Montana women. SPS is partnered with Apple books, Barnes and Noble, and Draft 2 Digital.

In addition to her writing and publishing, she spends a great deal of her time mentoring up-and-coming authors in every genre from children’s fiction to science fiction. Books are her passion and her life.  

When she’s not working, she can be found in the wilds of Montana with her husband and two children (all love books). Her daughter often helps her handle her fan mail.

Danica Winters is represented by Jill Marsal of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.