Regional Writers

Welcome to the Regional Writer Section. We are now accepting applications for writers interested in participating in the 2016 Festival.

The genres of books that are considered for selection in the Regional Writers section include: Fiction (mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, sci-fi, romance, historical fiction, regional fiction, etc), non-fiction (history, biographies, and memoirs), poetry, travel, the arts, cookbooks, juvenile fiction/non-fiction, and young adult fiction/non-fiction.

Authors who are interested in applying for the 2016  should contact Mr. Ken Smoke at for more information.

Regional Writers who joined us for 2015 Dahlonega Literary Festival include:

Jean Leigh ClaudetteEast TN natives and twin sisters Jean Valentine and Leigh Hartigan learned their love for the arts early, coming from a creative family of musicians and artists. As adults, Jean pursued a variety of vocations including running her own business. Leigh raised her family while pursuing an IT career. After Jean’s husband passed away and Leigh retired, they opened a new chapter in their lives by writing children’s books together using pen name Jean Leigh ClaudetteThey began writing their stories in January 2010. After much hard work and searching for a family-friendly publisher, they successfully landed their first contract with Tate Publishing, a family-based publisher in Mustang, Oklahoma. Their first book was released November 2011 and they now have five books for children published and number six is in production. They also write romance novels using the pen name Valentine Hart, and their first e-book romance is on Amazon.

VconnersShadow of a Smile is Valerie Joan Connors’s third novel, and was released by Deeds Publishing in June of 2014.  In Her Keeping, was released in August of 2013 by Bell Bridge Books. Valerie’s first novel, Give Me Liberty, a historical novel set in New York just after World War II, was self-published in 2010. She is the current President of the Atlanta Writers Club, an organization with more that 700 active members and a 100-year history in the Atlanta area. During business hours, she’s the CFO of an architecture, engineering and interior design firm. Valerie lives in Atlanta with her husband and two dogs

Brandon Daily was born and raised in Southern California. In 2012, he and his wife moved to Central Georgia, where they now live with their newborn son. Brandon teaches high school and college English and Literature there. He holds an M.A. in American Literature and has worked as an adjunct professor and freelance editor. Brandon’s short fiction has been published in several online and print magazines (Prick of the Spindle, RiverLit, Phoebe, One Throne, Birdville Magazine, as well as others), and his one act play “South of Salvation” was performed and won first prize in the CAST Players One Act Play Festival in 2012. A Murder Country (Knox Robinson Publishing, 2014) is his first novel, and tells tBDailyhe story of three violent men living in the late nineteenth century; each man is seeking an understanding of his life and his place within the larger realm of the world. The novel, a Southern Gothic, Literary Thriller examines the tension between nature and man as well as the power and fragility of belief and conviction within humans. Brandon is currently working on his second novel and several more short stories. You can follow Brandon and A Murder Country at

Colleagues and readers alike have dubbed Kerry Alan Denney The Reality Bender. The multiple award-winning author of the paranormal thriller Soulsnatcher (Lazy Day Publishing, April 29, 2014 – ISBN 978-1499251777) and the post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller Jagannath (coming from Permuted Press February 3, 2015 – e-book ISBN 978-1-61868-413-4, trade paperback ISBN 978-1-61868-412-7), as well as numerous short stories and eight novels, Kerry blends elements of the supernatural, paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy, and Denneyhorror in his novels and short stories: speculative fiction at its wildest and craziest. With joy, malicious glee, and a touch of madness, he writes reality-bending thrillers—even when the voices don’t compel him to. His protagonists are his children, and he loves them as dearly as he despises his antagonists… even when he has to kill them. Kerry is currently writing his next supernatural novel and trying to decide which characters he’s going to kill. For more information, please visit

Ed 04 full lengthEd DeVos has had three successful careers. First, he was a highly decorated US Army Infantry officer serving our country for twenty years. Then as a self-employed businessman for seventeen years, he helped hundreds of families achieve financial success. And now Ed is a writer of Christian inspirational novels. His first book, The Stain, Crisis in Conscience was published in October 2012 and then in May 2014, The Chaplain’s Cross, Crisis in Conscience became available. Ed’s books are thought-provoking and inspirational as you discover characters who model courage, locality, integrity, and valor, words not talked about much today in our society. Ed comes to us from McCormick, South Carolina where he continues to write and speak to various civic and church groups about Christian writing and military history.

Kerwin author photo (1)Kerwin Frix is the author of Thoughts of Vandalism.  Kerwin Frix’s goal in life is to experience random good times with her husband, daughter, and girlfriends. Although she usually cherishes her random experiences, some of them were total fails, and she is thankful that those total fails occurred before camera phones came into existence. When placed in socially awkward situations, she pretends she is either starring in a B-movie or an ABC Afterschool Special, depending on the cast. If reincarnated as a book character, she aspires to be a townie in The Emperor’s New Clothes because she enjoys pointing out the obvious to those cultivating delusions of grandeur. She hopes to become independently wealthy one day so she can continue living the simple life, but without the hassle of shopping at three different grocery stores in order to get the best deals.

Lyn Froehlich wrote the beautiful cookbook, Sweeter Roots after family and friends made continuous inquiries about recipes and ingredients she used in her unique and mostly healthy dishes. After a LFroehlichcareer in the business world, Lyn earned a Masters degree in Teaching and currently works at Brenau University. She has traveled throughout the world serving as a missionary, taking cooking classes, and exploring different cultures. She is married with two children and two dogs. She also enjoys gathering around the table and entertaining, painting, writing poetry, and playing Scrabble.

Grace Hawthorne’s first novel, Shorter’s Way, won an Independent Publisher Book Award for Best Regional Fiction and is a five-star Amazon pick. Her writing career stated at the State Times-Morning Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She has written everything from business and industrial news and corporate histories, to ad copy foheadshot bookhouse straightr septic tanks, a libretto for an opera and lyrics for Sesame Street. She was also a copy editor for Time-Life Books in New York. She wrote It’s Cool in the Furnace, the longest selling children’s musical in the history of sacred music—40 years and counting. She also performed as a standup storyteller. She produced two CDs, performed and recorded a one-woman show called The Gift, a tribute to 9/11 and collaborated with a friend to write and perform Pushy Broads and Proper Southern Ladies. She is working on her second novel, Waterproof Justice.

horganKevin Horgan has written a historical novel that chronicles the true movements of an unheralded regiment of invalid union soldiers during the Civil War.  The March of the 18th, A Story of Crippled Heroes in the Civil War, is a tribute to the wounded veteran yesterday and today. Kevin was nominated as a Georgia Author of the Year in the First Novel category, and he donates half of all his royalties to charities for our wounded veterans. Kevin is an attorney and former USMC infantry officer, who served from 1979 to 1984.

MJamesMorgan James was born in middle Georgia and called Atlanta home for many years. After writing for newspapers, magazines, professional publications, and training manuals as part of the necessary paycheck-world, she has returned to her love of telling stories of the human heart. James is the author of the Promise McNeal mysteries, Quiet the Dead, Quiet Killing, and Quiet Hearts, and the contemporary Southern novel, Sing me An Old Song. Her work has been called: “…everything a Southern mystery should be…” Fans may follow her at and on Goodreads.

Dr. Anne B. Jones is the author of STOP; a manual for youth violence prevention; Gold Thunder, an autobiography of 1960 NASCAR Champion Rex White; All Around the Track, a collection of racing mini-memoirs; Brave at Heart, the story of Photographer Walter Victor & the Atlanta Braves; Tides of Fear, a thriller set on the Georgia coast; A Light on Peachtree: A History of the Atlanta Woman’s Club; and Tools for Successful Writing. STOP was published and released by the Atlanta Council on Battered Women, distributed nationwide, and included as part of the television documentary Behind Closed Doors, narrated by Monica Kaufman of Atlanta’s Channel 2 News Team. Both Tides of Fear,Brave at Heart and A Light on Peachtree were nominated for Georgia Author of the Year. Dr. Jones specialized in working with at-risk students for thirty-one years, teaching in a variety of school settings, including Job Corp, Boys and Girls Town (a shelter for status offenders), and Dekalb Alternative School (an educational center for suspended ABJonesstudents). She has been a volunteer mediator, rape crisis counselor, victim-witness assistant, volunteer probation officer, and member of the Gwinnett County Domestic Violence Task Force. She has published over 500 feature articles on topics ranging from crime prevention to personality profiles and makes frequent presentations on writing and publishing topics at bookstores and writing workshops.

Jeremy Logan is the pen name for this author of mystery and suspense novels. He began writing after retiring from a career in the energy industry. Writing fulfills a lifelong ambition that would not go away. What was the impetus to write? It was the challenge. For several reasons he was unwilling or afraid to commit his career to writing as a young man. After much success in business, retirement, and finding a financial comfort zone the time had come. Why mystery/suspense? – it’s what he reads for enjoyment. What makes this author different from others is his background in the energy industry and as a disaster, first-responder. “Knowing some of the most interesting and outrageous characters one could imagine, and after witnessing and hearing of their exploits, he accumulated a treasure trove of experience to draw upon, to entertain others, as their exploits entertainedheadshot copy me,” says Logan. Fiction allows him to blend the reality of his experience with his imagination. Logan has written two novels, Don’t Go There, released in November of 2013 and The Rubik Memorandum, released March of 2014, Part One of “The Disaster Trilogy”.  Both books are available on On December 13th, 2013 the Clarion Review gave Don’t Go There a review of four stars out of five, saying “…what more could you want from an international thriller?”

LottCynthia Lott is a professional researcher and author. She holds a Masters degree in Library and Information Science and loves hearing life stories over a glass of good wine. The Feathers is her debut novel published by Piscataqua Press. She is also a member of both Sisters in Crime, Inc. and International Thriller Writers, Inc.

TMcneelyA former Wallace Stegner and National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, Thomas H. McNeely has published fiction in The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and non-fiction in Ninth Letter; his stories have been included in textbooks and anthologies including What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, and Best of the South: Stories from the Second Decade of New Stories from the South, and shortlisted for the Pushcart, O. Henry, and Best American Short Stories collections.  He teaches in the Stanford Online Writing Studio and the Emerson College Honors Program, and lives near Boston with his wife and daughter. Library Journal describes Ghost Horse, his debut novel, as “sensitive, beautiful, and ominous throughout … as if Cormac McCarthy and Denis Johnson teamed up to write a 1970s Texas YA novel that went off the rails somewhere—in a very, very good way.”  Kirkus Reviews writes: “McNeely beautifully portrays the confusion of a boy doing his best to deal with matters that are beyond his understanding but fully capable of doing him harm…. [T]he novel will be a haunting read for anyone who’s experienced the childhood anguish of divorce and a powerful reminder to mothers and fathers of the unseen damage that their behavior can inflict on their children.  A dark, deeply stirring novel about the quiet tragedy of growing up in a broken family.”

Author Joan Medlicott was born in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, and worked for nine years as director of the hugely successful Division of Beautification for the Virgin Islands Government. She then moved to Boca Raton, FL, where her experiences working in the local senior center inspired her first book, Celibate Wives, Breaking the Silence, which was published in 1992. Since then she has published a number of books, including the popular Ladies of Covington series. Joan says the idea for the first book, The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love, came to her while taking a bath. Today there are eight books in the series, including A Blue & Gray Christmas. Joan has also written two stand-alone novels, including The Three Mrs. Parkers, as well as JMedlicottthree books about the Virgin Island. Her most recent publication is a book of nature photography. Joan and her husband now live in Barnardsville, NC. You may visit her website at

Dianne Mize is a lifelong artist and has been a teacher of painting and drawing for the past fifty years. She chaired the Department of Visual Art at Piedmont College for ten years before co-founding with her life-partner, the late Dr. Howard G. Hanson, the Dianne Mize Studio, where she taught until her retirement in 2007. Throughout her career, Dianne’s driving passion is to empower her students to grow through their own dianne_mize_mugshotinner uniqueness and to keep her own art work authentic. Her recent book, Finding Freedom to Create, reflects an interweaving of these two passions. Dianne lives in the foothills of the Appalachians in Northeast Georgia with her schnauzer, Maggie. She continues to paint, write, play her hammered dulcimer and enjoy the mysteries of nature that surround her. Join Dianne in her myriad journeys at

Full RP shot (compressed)A graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, Rodney Page has always enjoyed writing. In 2005 Rodney authored Leading Your Business to the Next Level…the Six Core Disciplines of Sustained Profitable Growth, a hands-on guide for executives leading their companies through the perils and pitfalls of managing in a high growth environment. As an avid student of history and follower of the American political scene, Rodney authored Powers Not Delegated, a political thriller. The book meshes his knowledge of history, business and current events to produce a relevant and plausible tale of domestic and international intrigue. Rodney is currently working on several projects including an anthology of short stories, a historical novel and a murder mystery. Rodney lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina. His passions include hiking, photography, history, reading, and, of course, University of Georgia football.

LeePassarellaB&W2_lightLee Passarella acts as senior literary editor for Atlanta Review magazine. His poetry has appeared in Chelsea, Cream City Review, Louisville Review, The Formalist, Antietam Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, The Literary Review, Cortland Review, and many other print and online journals. Swallowed up in Victory, Passarella’s long narrative poem based on the American Civil War, was published by White Mane Books in 2002. It has been praised by poet Andrew Hudgins as a work that is “compelling and engrossing as a novel.” Passarella’s has published two poetry collections: The Geometry of Loneliness (David Robert Books, 2006) and Redemption (FutureCycle Press, 2014). Passarella’s first young-adult novel, Storm in the Valley,  was released in February by Ravenswood Publishing. Like Swallowed Up in Victory, the novel is set in Civil War Virginia. Currently, Passarella is hard at work on a sequel.

Ed Payne is an Emmy award- and Peabody award-winning journalist for CNN, who also writes rhyming children’s picture books on the side.  Talk about polar opposites! Ed now has three books in his series. The Daily Rounds of a Hound is the tale of Molly Malone, an adorable mutt adopted from an animal shelter by a new family.  Once home, the family learns that Molly is carrying stowaways, a litter of nine pups.  Molly has no pedigree, but takes her job as family pet seriously. She patrols the house, protects the kids and goes on secret missions (or does she?). It has been reviewed in The Marietta Daily Journal and by the Midwest Book Review. Molly and the Bully – The Daily Rounds of a Hound 2:   Molly and her nine pups have a problem. They live in a neighborhood where it’s dog-eat-dog and the other hounds don’t always play fair. Exploring their new world, the pups aren’t ready for what they encounter — bullying.  They have a choice. Will the pups give in or will they use the power of love to prevail? The Daily Rounds of a Hound Colors the Town:  A Ed_Payne_CNN_Profile_Pixcoloring book featuring more than 100 pages of fun from the first two books in The Daily Rounds of a Hound series. Ed is a Nebraska native, but has lived in Marietta, Georgia, since 1990. You can find the official website for The Daily Rounds of a Hound at and the facebook page at

Shelley Pickens has always enjoyed languages and writing. At the University of South Carolina, her career path took a turn when a professor proclaimed her writing as inadequate and disorganized. After those words, Shelley decided to teach so she could support the development of young minds rather than demolish them. She majored in Spanish education and began her lifelong career as an educator. After years of instructing high school students, she decided to utilize her firsthand knowledge of young adults and apply it to her passion for creative writing and the supernatural. Thus, The Haunting of Secrets was born. Her debut novel was published by Fire and Ice, an imprint of Melange books out of Minnesota, in July 2014 and soon became an Amazon five-star pick for readers. Her sequel, The Haunting of Secrets: Unhinged will be released in April of 2015. Shelley is working on the third book in the Secret series while she continues her attempts to foster a love for learning with young minds at a large school in Hoschton, GA. Pickens picWhen she’s not in the classroom or on her laptop, Shelley escapes from reality with a complex thriller or science fiction series on television. She is also an avid fan of little league baseball. Hook up with Shelley at her website at or like her Facebook page for updates and quirky writing stories.

simmonBorn into a career military family, Rona Simmons moved from state to state and country to country and learned to call 25 different places “home” by the time she graduated from high school. Four years ago, she retired and launched her second career, writing several articles for magazines and a collection of short stories and later ghostwriting the biography of a prominent Atlanta businessman. Her first novel, The Quiet Room, was published by Deeds Publishing, an Atlanta-based publishing company.  Though she set this novel in the Midwest and her most recent in New England, she considers herself a southern writer, drawing inspiration from the wooded acres where she lives with her husband and (she swears) the last member of a passel of cats. And yes, she’s astonished to say she’s called North Georgia “home” for the last twenty-one years. You can visit her website at

DSpiresJ. Steven Spires’s passion for adventure and storytelling began early in his life. As a child, Steve lived in Bangladesh where his parents, Joe and Mona Spires, were Christian missionaries. With a lack of modern childhood toys, Steve turned to one very special gift-his imagination. Steve began his professional career in 2013 when Inspired Books Publishing released Three Little Shrimp-a children’s picture book showcasing the wonder of childhood amidst a backdrop of lurking danger. Steve is the winner of the 2013 Mom’s Choice Award® and the 2014 Family Choice Award. He is currently working on his second children’s picture book The Oak Tree which is scheduled to release Summer 2015. Steve and his family reside in Slidell, Louisiana, where he has been an educator for more than 25 years.

Kimberly Cross Teter is a teacher and traveler by nature and a writer by happy choice.  Her students have ranged from preschoolers to college freshmen, and she has appreciated the unique talents and quirky humor in all ages. One day Kim walked out of a music appreciation class intrigued to learn that the most famous orchestra in Europe in the early 1700s was made up of all females, most of whom had Teter_Author_Photobeen abandoned or orphaned as babies! Her avid curiosity about this remarkable bit of history led to research and eventually to her debut novel, Isabella’s Libretto. Kim is a graduate of West Texas A&M University and completed the Writer’s Loft program at Middle Tennessee State University. She lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with a wonderful husband and a loyal canine kid.

Silent Sisters: Profiles of the Short Lives of Karen Carpenter, Patsy Cline, Cass Elliot, Ruby Elzy, Janis Joplin and Selena Quintanilla-Perez is the title of Ellen Hunter Ulken‘s newest book, published in 2014 through Amazon’s Create Space. In 2005, Ellen published Beautiful Dreamer, The Life of Stephen Collins Foster, the most popular American songwriter of the Nineteenth Century.  Through Arcadia Publishing, in 2009, along with Rebecca Watts and Clarence Lyons, she contributed EUlkento a history with pictures and captions of Peachtree City, Georgia, where she lives with her companion, Jerry Watts, MD. She and Jerry are members of a local chorus called “Music Alive!,” The Peachtree City Writer’s Circle, The Friends of the Peachtree City Library, The Peachtree City Garden Club, The Georgia Writer’s Association, and two historical societies.


Stan Waits‘s first attempt at writing, Another Long Hot Day, was born from an introduction to the Atlanta Writer’s Club at the Dahlonega Literary Festival in 2011. This fortuitous introduction eventually led to an apprenticeship with the great author and teacher and a very great friend, Jedwin Smith. After three years of trials and tribulations, the novel was finally completed and soon after, published. Having been born here in Georgia and being as Southern as the red clay, he realized that the story he had inside was one that needed to be told. Another Long Hot Day is his story, the story of his three brothers and him finding ourselves in a North Georgia orphanage following a tragic night of violence. As southern as the Georgia red clay, the tale involves being mentored by two best friends, two old men, one black and the other white, in pre-civil rights Georgia. The strength of the story was encouragement enough to learn how to write the highly emotional tale, and he hopes that he’s done justice to what became a valued lesson in life. Stan lives on a small farm in the mountains near Dahlonega, Georgia with his wife, Mary and their ten dogs and six cats and a coop full of hens. He believes the south provides a deeply woven tapestry of experience for all of us born here. His experience as a southern writer has just begun, with his second novel, Weed, already in the works.

DWrightDan Wright is a retired public policy writer and Athens resident. He holds a Master of Arts degree in political affairs. Over a quarter-century he dedicated privately some 20,000 hours to the Mutual UFO Network, a respected worldwide nonprofit. For seven years he was MUFON’s deputy director overseeing the investigation of UFO reports by the public across North America. Beginning in 1992, for five years Wright examined nearly a thousand sessions of regressive hypnosis conducted and recorded by psychologists and others. Those tapes uncovered similar physical abduction scenarios by seemingly nonhuman intelligences. Wright is the author of Five Themes, his 1997 final report on the MUFON abduction transcript study, and in 2003 The Marian Visits, analyzing historical accounts in Roman Catholic history of claimed miraculous appearances by the Virgin Mary. He is pragmatically hopeful that worldwide war begun in the Middle East can be avoided.

2 thoughts on “Regional Writers

  1. Dear Rona, I too am a “military brat,” and I look forward to meeting you, perusing your book, and the books of so many others at the Dahlonega Book Festival in just a few days!

    Ellen Hunter Ulken


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