The Rutgers University–New Brunswick Writers' Conference will feature speakers ranging from bestselling novelists to highly experienced field experts. For a full list of speakers and conference schedule, please visit our sessions page.
Speakers - Presenters
American phenomenon Billy Collins has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The American Scholar. His last three collections of poems have broken sales records for poetry. His readings are usually standing room only, and his audience – enhanced tremendously by his appearances on National Public Radio – includes people of all backgrounds and age groups.
Collins has published twelve collections of poetry, including Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, Sailing Alone Around the Room: New & Selected Poems, Nine Horses, The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems, Ballistics, Horoscopes for the Dead and Picnic, Lightning. A collection of his haiku, She Was Just Seventeen, was published by Modern Haiku Press in fall 2006. He has also published two chapbooks, Video Poems and Pokerface. In addition, he has edited two anthologies of contemporary poetry: Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry and 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, was the guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2006, and edited Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems about Birds, illustrated by David Allen Sibley.
His book, Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems 2003 – 2013, was a New York Times bestseller. His most recent book of poetry is titled The Rain in Portugal, and is a New York Times bestseller. Collins has won numerous awards for his poetry and was appointed U.S. Poet Laureate 2001-2003.
Jane Smiley is a novelist and essayist. Her novel A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992, and her novel The All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton won the 1999 Spur Award for Best Novel of the West. She has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1987. Her novel Horse Heaven was short-listed for the Orange Prize in 2002, and her latest novel, Private Life, was chosen as one of the best books of 2010 by The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post.
She has contributed to The New Yorker, Elle, Outside, The New York Times, Harper's, The American Prospect, The Guardian, The Nation, and Real Simple, and regularly blogged for The Huffington Post.
In addition to adult novels, she has written several works of nonfiction, including Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel, a history and anatomy of the novel as a form, and The Man Who Invented the Computer, an account of the complex and sometimes amazing circumstances that led to one of the most important inventions of the 20th century. She has also published a five volume horse series for young adults. Her most recent novels Some Luck, Early Warning, and Golden Age comprise The Last Hundred Years trilogy covering one hundred years in the life of an Iowa family.
Aimee Lurye LaBrie
Aimee LaBrie writes short fiction and is working on a novel. Her first short story collection, Wonderful Girl, was chosen as the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction. Her stories have appeared in Story Quarterly, Zoetrope, Pleiades, Beloit Fiction Journal, Minnesota Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Permafrost, and other literary journals. She lives in Princeton, NJ and teaches creative writing at Rutgers University and for the Princeton Adult School.
Alex Dawson is full time faculty at Rutgers University, where he teaches creative writing courses geared towards fantasy, folklore, and weird fiction and curates/hosts "Inside the Writers House," a weekly video chat with authors from all over the world. He also helms a fantasy fiction winter workshop/retreat in Ireland and Scotland with authors Dave Rudden (12 Angels Weeping) and Lev Grossman (The Magicians). Until 2012, Dawson was the owner of The Raconteur, a now-defunct bookshop and performance venue hailed by The New York Times, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and The Star Ledger. Dawson's sci-fi live show/podcast Parker Highland Always Wins has been called "Buckaroo Banzai by way of Buffy." His forthcoming memoir, Room to Swing an Axe, about growing up in 80's Alabama, has been called "a Johnny Cash song directed by Steven Spielberg," and his novel, Welcome to White Hart, has been called "Charlotte's Web meets Winter's Bone." Both books are due out 2020. Dawson has been a bouncer and a bartender in some of the roughest joints in NJ and has ridden a motorcycle for almost forty years.
Andrea Hurst, president of Andrea Hurst Literary Management, LLC, works with both bestselling and emerging new authors to help polish their book, obtain publication, increase sales, and build their author brand. She brings over 25 years experience in the industry as an agent, an acquisition and development editor, and published writer. As a literary agent, she selectively represents well-crafted fiction and high-profile adult nonfiction. Her clients and their books have hit the Amazon Bestseller charts, NY Times, and appeared on Oprah and the Ellen DeGeneres Show. She is an instructor for MFA creative writing programs, a webinar presenter for Writers’ Digest, and a frequent presenter and instructor nationwide at writer’s conferences Andrea represents clients in the following genres: Women’s Fiction: Upmarket/Book Club, Romance, Historical, Contemporary Commercial Fiction. Thriller/Suspense/Mystery Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy: Space Opera, Military Science Fiction, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy Prescriptive Non-Fiction and High Profile Memoir and Cookbooks For fiction she looks for experienced authors with a strong voice and a commitment to the craft of writing, and self-published authors with strong sales and marketing presence. www.andreahurst.com
April Eberhardt is a self-described "literary change agent" and author advocate passionate about helping authors be published in the most satisfying way. After 25 years as a corporate strategist and management consultant, April joined the literary world, where she saw strategic opportunity to play a role in the changing world of publishing. She advises and assists authors as they choose the best pathway to publication, and serves as a consultant to publishing startups serving indie authors. She represents a diverse group of clients in the U.S. and abroad, and speaks at conferences worldwide. April serves on the Advisory Council for The American Library in Paris and is a reader for The Best American Short Stories series published annually by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. A proud native of New Jersey, April divides her time between San Francisco, New York and Paris, as well as with family in New Jersey.
Belinda McKeon is a novelist and playwright. Her debut novel Solace won the 2012 Faber Prize and was named Irish Book of the Year. Her second novel, Tender, was an Irish bestseller and was nominated for the Encore Prize. A new novel, Lost Things, will be published in 2021. She is an Associate Teaching Professor of Creative Writing at Rutgers University.
Carol is an MBA with twenty years’ experience in marketing, strategy and insights. Plus, she works in chocolate (there's no 'sweeter' job!)
Carol has taught book marketing at Writers’ Digest, Women Who Write, Authorpreneur, Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, NJ Romance Writers, Sisters-in-Crime, Liberty States Fiction Writers, Rutgers Conference & more.
Carol consults with publishers and serves on a non-profit Board. She, her husband and twins live in New Jersey with their Siberian rescue cat. Sign up for Carol's marketing newsletter at www.carolvandenhende.com
Christopher Ernest Vogler
Christopher Vogler is a veteran story consultant for major Hollywood film companies and a respected teacher of filmmakers and writers around the globe. His book The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers has helped to shape the way people in movies, TV, computer games and publishing think about stories and is required reading at many film schools and literature programs. He has influenced the screenplays of movies from The Lion King to Fight Club to The Thin Red Line. A native of St. Louis and a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Vogler served as a U.S. Air Force officer and made documentary films on the military space program before doing graduate work at the University of Southern California film school. He started work in the film industry as a story analyst for Twentieth Century Fox and went on to work for most of the major studios. As part of the animation story staff at Disney he influenced the scripts of The Lion King, Aladdin, and Hercules. His book, The Writer’s Journey, grew out of a short memo he wrote while at Disney, pointing out the usefulness of Joseph Campbell’s concept of The Hero’s Journey. The memo was influential and became part of Hollywood story lore, while the book is a standard text for literature students and storytellers in all media. In 1995 Vogler joined the Fox 2000 unit at 20th Century Fox and became a development executive, working on Courage Under Fire, Volcano, Anna and the King, Fight Club and The Thin Red Line. He was executive producer on Steve Guttenberg’s directing debut, P.S. Your Cat is Dead, and he wrote the screenplay for the German-French animated feature Jester Till. He has consulted on films such as 10,000 BC, Hancock, I am Legend, Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, The Karate Kid remake, Helen Hunt’s directorial debut Then She Found Me, David O. Russell’s The Fighter, and Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. His latest book, co-written with Columbia University film professor David McKenna, is Memo from the Story Department: Secrets of Structure and Character, published by Michael Wiese Productions.
Daniel José Older
Daniel José Older is the award-winning author of both YA and adult books. His most recent book is Dactyl Hill Squad (Scholastic, 2018), his first middle grade book, which Publisher's Weekly called, "a delightful historical fantasy" in a starred review. The second book in the series, Dactyl Hill Squad Book 2: Freedom Fire, will be published by Scholastic in May 2019. The Book of Lost Saints (Macmillan), Older’s evocative multigenerational Cuban-American family story of revolution, loss, and family bonds will be published in November 2019. His New York Times bestselling Young Adult novel, Shadowshaper (Scholastic, 2016), was a New York Times Best Book of the Year. His other books include Shadowhouse Fall (Scholastic, 2017), Star Wars: Last Shot (Del Ray, April 2018), and the Bone Street Rumba novels, including Midnight Taxi Tango and Half-Resurrection Blues (Penguin). Winner of the International Latino Book Award, he has been nominated for the Kirkus Prize, the Locus and World Fantasy Awards, and the Andre Norton Award. Shadowshaper has been optioned by Tony-winning actress Anika Noni Rose. His journalism on social justice, diversity, and gentrification appears regularly in The Guardian. He offers multiple workshops on storycraft, as well as a series of workshops entitled, “Shape Your Shadow,” which engages diversity and literature in a much needed conversation. In a description of the workshop, Older notes, “Moving into a new era of a more equitable book world means strategizing new ways to change the demographics of writing and publishing, and lifting up voices that haven’t been heard enough.” He lives, writes, and composes music in New Orleans.
Eva Lesko Natiello
Eva Lesko Natiello is the award-winning author of New York Times and USA Today bestseller, The Memory Box, a self-published psychological thriller which has sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide. The San Francisco Book Review says: "...be prepared to toss that suburban fairy tale away, grab on to the steering wheel, and hope that you get through this obstacle course with all your mental faculties . . . Eva Lesko Natiello shows tremendous talent and courage in her creation of a powerful dichotomy, reaching beyond boundaries." Eva draws on her 20+ years of experience in PR, marketing and branding to market her own books, offer private author consultations and teach workshops on devising and executing marketing plans that get books noticed, increasing the chances for success in an ever-expanding market. She is a sought after speaker on self-publishing and book marketing, and her articles have appeared in the HuffPost. Eva is thrilled to empower authors to create greater visibility for their books. She is a member of The Author’s Guild, International Thriller Writers, and Alliance of Independent Authors. Eva recently completed her forthcoming novel.
Gregory Pardlo's collection Digest (Four Way Books) won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts for translation; his first collection Totem won the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. He is Poetry Editor of Virginia Quarterly Review and Director of the MFA program at Rutgers University–Camden. His most recent book is Air Traffic, a memoir in essays.
Holly Day has worked as a freelance writer for over 30 years, with over 7,000 published articles, poems, and short stories and 40 books and chapbooks—most recently, the nonfiction books, Music Theory for Dummies (John Wiley & Sons) and Tattoo FAQ (Backbeat Books); her recent poetry books include A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press), I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Press), Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds (Cyberwit), and Cross-Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing). Her writing has been nominated for a National Magazine Award, an Isaac Asimov Award, a 49th Parallel Prize, fifteen Pushcart awards, five Best of the Net awards, and a Rhysling Award, and she has received two Midwest Writer’s Grants, a Plainsongs Award, a Sam Ragan Prize for Poetry, and a Dwarf Star Award from the Science Fiction Poetry Association.
Jamie Brickhouse is the author of the critically acclaimed Dangerous When Wet: A Memoir of Booze, Sex, and My Mother (St. Martin’s Press, 2015), which was an Amazon “Best Book of May 2015,” a Book Chase “2015 Nonfiction Top 10,” and it’s “Required Reading” in Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir. It was critically-acclaimed by publications such as the Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, and Out. His essays and articles have been published multiple times in the New York Times, as well as the International Herald Tribune, Washington Post, Daily Beast, Salon, and Huffington Post. A comedic storyteller, Brickhouse is also a four-time Moth StorySLAM champ, has recorded voices on Beavis and Butthead, appeared on PBS-TV’s Stories from the Stage, and is the writer and performer of an award-winning solo show based on Dangerous When Wet, as well as the award-winning solo show I Favor My Daddy, based on the forthcoming memoir about his father Earl. He grew up in Beaumont, Texas, graduated from Trinity University and lives with his common-law husband Michael in New York City. You can find Brickhouse on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube @jamiebrickhouse, or www.jamiebrickhouse.com.
Jeffrey Scott Copeland
Jeffrey S. Copeland has authored and edited over thirty books, including Plague in Paradise: The Black Death in Los Angeles, 1924: Inman's War: A Soldier's Story of Life in a Colored Battalion in WWII; Olivia's Story: The Conspiracy of Heroes Behind Shelley v. Kraemer; Shell Games: The Life and Times of Pearl McGill, Industrial Spy and Pioneer Labor Activist; Ain't No Harm to Kill the Devil: The Life and Legend of John Fairfield, Abolitionist for Hire; I'm Published! Now What? An Author's Guide to Creating Successful Book Events, Readings, and Promotions, and Finding Fairfield. He has also conducted over three hundred book readings/events world-wide and loves the “travel and jazz” of a writer’s life on the road. In the world of writing, Literary Nonfiction is his true love. When not writing, he is a professor at the University of Northern Iowa. He lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa and St. Louis, Missouri.
Jenny Johnson is the author of In Full Velvet, published by Sarabande Books in 2017. In both their lyrical force and breathtaking formal sophistication, her poems are powerful meditations on love, the body, queer culture and identity, vulnerability and community. Featured in both the New York Times and by the Academy of American Poets, In Full Velvet was one of the most highly praised collections of 2017. Johnson’s honors include a 2015 Whiting Award and a 2016-17 Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. She has also received awards and scholarships from the Blue Mountain Center, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo. Her poems have appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly, New England Review, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, and elsewhere. After earning a BA/MT in English Education from the University of Virginia, she taught public school for several years in San Francisco, and spent ten summers on the staff of the UVA Young Writer’s Workshop. She earned her MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College. A contributing editor at Waxwing Literary Journal, she teaches at the University of Pittsburgh and at the Rainier Writing Workshop, Pacific Lutheran University’s low-residency MFA program.
Jessica Handler is the author of the novel The Magnetic Girl, shortlisted for the 2020 Southern Book Prize. The novel is one of the 2019 “Books All Georgians Should Read,” an Indie Next pick, Wall Street Journal Spring 2019 pick, Bitter Southerner Summer 2019 pick, and a SIBA Okra Pick. Her memoir, Invisible Sisters, was also named one of the “Books All Georgians Should Read,” and her craft guide Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss was praised by Vanity Fair magazine. Her writing has appeared on NPR, in Tin House, Drunken Boat, The Bitter Southerner, Electric Literature, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Newsweek, The Washington Post. A founding member of the board of the Decatur Writers Studio in Decatur, Georgia, she teaches creative writing and coordinates the Minor in Writing at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, and lectures internationally on writing.
Jez Lowe is a singer, writer and broadcaster, from County Durham in North East England. His writing is inspired by the rich folk traditions of his native area, both in song and more recently in fiction. He has released more than twenty albums of original music over the last thirty years, and has now published two novels. He is also a regular writer and broadcaster for BBC Radio, and performs in concert all over the world. His compositions have been recorded by over a hundred of his fellow artists.
Lisa Zeidner is the author of five novels, most recently LOVE BOMB (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012), and two books of poems. She is also a screenwriter. Her essays, stories, and reviews have appeared in THE NEW YORK TIMES, SALON, SLATE, GQ and elsewhere. Her book WHO SAYS?: A GUIDE TO POINT OF VIEW FOR FICTION WRITERS is forthcoming in 2020. She is a professor at Rutgers University-Camden.
Meg Fee is a Texas-born writer who spent her formative adult years in NYC. In 2018 she published her first book, a memoir, with Icon Books. The book was based on a small collections of essays she published in ebook form on her personal blog in 2015. That ebook led to a Twitter message from a publishing house in the UK, and the rest is - as they say - history. In 2019 Meg graduated with a Master of Public Policy from Duke University, and she now works as a Design Researcher and Strategist for The New York Times.
Meghan Daum is the author of several books, most recently THE PROBLEM WITH EVERYTHING: MY JOURNEY THROUGH THE NEW CULTURE WARS, a New York Times notable book. She has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Vogue. A Los Angeles Times opinion columnist from 2005 to 2015, she is now a biweekly columnist for Medium's GEN Magazine. She is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2016 NEA Fellowship and is an adjunct associate professor in the Graduate Writing Division At Columbia University's School of the Arts.
Sarah Weinman is the author of The Real Lolita: A Lost Girl, An Unthinkable Crime, and a Scandalous Masterpiece, which was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR, BuzzFeed, The National Post, Literary Hub, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Vulture, and won the Arthur Ellis Award for Excellence in Crime Writing. She also edited the anthologies Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s (Library of America) and Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives (Penguin), as well as the forthcoming Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Obsession (Ecco, July 2020). Weinman has written for the New York Times, Vanity Fair, the Washington Post, New York, and many other outlets, including CrimeReads, where she is a columnist and contributing editor. Weinman also writes the “Crime Lady” newsletter, covering crime fiction, true crime, and all points in between. She lives in New York City.
The Book Doctors
Arielle Eckstut is a co-founder of The Book Doctors, a company dedicated to helping authors get their books published. She is also a co-author of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How To Write It, Sell It, and Market It… Successfully (Workman, 2010). Arielle Eckstut has been a literary agent for over 20 years at The Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. She is now the agent of Newberry award winner, Alexander. She is also the author of nine books and the co-founder of the iconic brand, LittleMissMatched. She’s taught their workshop on how to get published everywhere from Stanford University to Smith College. She has appeared everywhere from The New York Times to NPR’s Morning Edition to USA Today.
David Henry Sterry is a co-founder of The Book Doctors, a company dedicated to helping authors get their books published. He is also a co-author of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How To Write It, Sell It, and Market It… Successfully (Workman, 2010). He is the best-selling author of 16 books, on a wide variety of subjects including memoir, sports, YA fiction and reference. His first book has been translated into 10 languages, his latest book was featured on the cover of the Sunday New York Times Book Review. He’s taught their workshop on how to get published everywhere from Stanford University to Smith College. He has appeared everywhere from The New York Times to NPR’s Morning Edition to USA Today.