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.

Please join us in welcoming the following authors to the 2016 Regional Writers program at the Dahlonega Literary Festival:

MBrownMichael K. Brown’s novels explore the universal human condition with a Southern accent. He is the author of three novels: Promise of Silver, Promise of the Hills, and Somewhere a River. For the latter, he was named the 2015 Georgia Author of the Year in literary fiction by the Georgia Writers Association. Mike was born in Alabama, educated at the University of Alabama, and presently serves as President of the Atlanta Writers Club. A long-time resident of the Atlanta area, he now lives in Loganville, Georgia with his wife Judy.

Kelsey01Kelsey Browning writes humorous Southern women’s fiction with a sprinkling of mystery and sexy contemporary romance. Her Georgia-set, co-authored The Granny Series is an Amazon bestseller and is described by readers as “The Golden Girls meet Dirty Harry.” Honey, these are not you momma’s grannies. Her single title romances garner reviews that call her writing funny, sassy, and full of sizzling chemistry. She’s a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she makes her home in Athens, Georgia, with her tech-savvy husband, her smart-talking son, a rescue dog from Qatar, and her (fingers crossed) future therapy pup. Find Kelsey online at

LisaClarkONeillOne fine day in the not-too-distant past, Lisa Clark O’Neill left Wittenberg University with a BA in English, which she promptly neglected. After working as an interior designer, decorative artist, and Montessori art teacher (there may have been a BA in art as well,) she finally settled into the role of mother to two very fine children. However, two years of doing the stay-at-home-mom brain cell melt drove her to pull out a pen and one of her old college notebooks. That turned into ten novels. Lisa currently lives in the Atlanta area, where she’s hard at work on the next installment of her Southern Comfort series.

arcook1A.R. Cook resides in Gainesville, Georgia, and is the author of the young adult fantasy series The Scholar and the Sphinx from Mithras Books. She attended the University of Iowa to study playwriting, and had six short plays and one full length play produced at the university. Her short play “In the Cards” is available through Heuer Publishing, Inc. She also has short stories published in the anthology The Kress Project from the Georgia Museum of Art, and the fairy-tale collections Willow Weep No More and Shadows of the Oak from Tenebris Books. Several of A.R.’s short stories and short plays have placed in various literary magazines, such as Toasted Cheese Literary Journal and Writer’s Digest. From 2009-2013, A.R. was the book review columnist for the Gainesville Times, one of the most widely distributed newspapers in northeastern Georgia, and periodically she writes book reviews for Toasted Cheese Literary Journal.

vconnors01Valerie Joan Connors is the author of three novels, A Promise Made, (Deeds Publishing, 2015), Shadow of a Smile, (Deeds Publishing, 2014) and In Her Keeping, (Bell bridge Books, 2013). She was born in Upper Michigan, grew up in Eugene, Oregon, and moved to Atlanta in 1996. Her novels focus on women’s issues, both historical and contemporary, and are set in the many places Valerie has called home. She is a Past President of the Atlanta Writers Club, and continues to serve on the board as an Officer Emerita and the VP of Programming. Her well-rounded education began at the University of Oregon, continued at San Diego State, and finally resulted in a B.S. in Finance from Portland State University. During business hours, Valerie is the Senior Controller at an engineering firm in Atlanta, where she lives with her husband and two dogs, and is working on her next novel.

edevosEd DeVos, a highly decorated military officer, is an experienced writer of thought-provoking historical fiction. In the summer of 2006, Ed and his wife, Susan, moved to McCormick, South Carolina where he now spends the majority of his time on writing Christian historical novels and being involved in various local community and church activities. His first book, The Stain, was published in 2012 and his second work, The Chaplain’s Cross, became available in 2014. His most recent book, Revenge at Kings Mountain, about a significant Revolutionary War battle, is now available in local and national outlets.

JFishmanFor twenty years Jane Fishman has written a human interest column for the Savannah Morning News. She has owned a Laundromat and a Middle Eastern vegetarian restaurant, written obituaries and feature stories, taught high school English. She is the author of Everyone’s Gotta Be Somewhere, a collection of newspaper columns. She is a gardener who hosts a bi-annual plant swap. She does not plant in rows. A former resident of Chicago; Eureka Springs, Arkansas; and Key West, Florida, she currently lives in Savannah, Georgia.

WaltGriffinRegardless of the situation, Walt Griffin sees the funny side of life. Creative writing comes naturally for the author, just as much as illustration and design. For this project, he has painted pictures with words. In addition, he has included many of his very own hand-drawn caricatures for his first novel, Diggin’ Elroy. He grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating cum laude from Georgia State University, he worked in corporate creative advertising, and as a freelance graphic designer, photographer, and college instructor. Walt began creating comic strips and cartoon characters when he was a child, in elementary school. He continued his craft of both writing and illustrating whatever he imagined for his high school and college newspapers. His comic strips included: Ridley’s Town, Sweet Basil, The Donuts, and King George. As a writer, he has contributed his opinion in articles for a variety of publications.

Jim01Jim Henninger works as a Field Representative in the insurance industry. He lives with his dog in Cumming, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. He has two adult children, Jamie and Evan, who reside in Cumming, Georgia and Chicago, Illinois respectively. Recording a Kill is his first novel, and it is dedicated to his late wife, Linda Montgomery Henninger, who believed in him and encouraged him to pursue his passion to write. He holds a BA Degree from Indiana University and an MBA from Butler University. His second book, currently under construction, will be a biography. Its working title: Bad Fella.

horganKevin Horgan has written two novels of the Civil War, both with unique historical aspects not widely known.  The March of the 18th, published in 2013, tells the tale of crippled heroes who served in the Union Army, and The March of the Orphans, published in 2015, brings to life the famed Kentucky “Orphan” Brigade of the confederacy at the Battle of Stones River.  He was nominated as a Georgia Author of the Year in the First Novel category for 18th.  Kevin served as a Marine Corps infantry officer for five years (’79-’84) and is currently a corporate attorney residing in Roswell with his wife, Maureen. He donates half of all his royalties to charities for wounded veterans.

jringrisano3JR Ingrisano has been a professional business writer, journalist, and writing instructor for 40 years. He has published more than two thousand articles and six books on subjects ranging from money management to selling to faith. Returning to his first love, fiction, after years as a business writer, he has published a handful of short stories and written three novels, the first of which, Captain Jolly’s DoOver, was released September 2015, published by Crimson Cloak Publishing. His second novel, Alicia in Ruins, about a young girl who survives and eventually bests sex traffickers, will be released in 2016. What took JR so long to get back to fiction? In his own words: “I started my first never-completed novel when I was about 14. (Like anyone really knows anything at age 14. Actually, 50 years later, I’m still not sure I know anything … but I sure can fake it!) Well, after decades of getting educated, getting married a few times, and paying for the cost of marriage, divorce, and raising three kids by cranking out business articles and training programs for clients, I finally returned to my first love: Real writing — stories about life, relationships, freedom, that kind of good stuff.” JR grew up on the shores of Long Island’s Great South Bay, where he spent his summers – barefoot, tanned, and salt-crusted — clamming across the low-tide mud flats, fishing for snapper and flounder, netting blue claw crabs along the bulkheads and piers, and exploring the hundreds of inlets and coves tucked into the marshlands. Though he never quite got over this idyllic life — and felt like a modern day Tom Sawyer, free of parental rules, just having fun — he heard rumors that there was life west of the New Jersey Palisades, and “I and never looked back.” Over the years, he earned several college degrees, made and lost a few small fortunes as a business consultant and “markeeteer,” and followed a bad case of wanderlust to a number of tropical islands. Today, he lives with his wife Susan and their dogs Rascal and Max in Georgia on Mythun Mountain, not to be found on any map. Between them, they have four children and seven grandkids. His philosophy: If not now, when?

jfrankjames060815_1 (2)J. Frank James (Jim Johnson) began a career in writing while pursuing his degrees in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Florida. While attending school, he worked for the Gainesville Sun as a reporter, photographer, and plate maker. Subsequently, Jim went on to attend law school and obtained a Doctorate of Law. It wasn’t until later in life that Jim’s journalism skills would again serve him well as he began to write his books. It is in these books that Jim will introduce you to his cast of characters. There you will meet Lou Malloy, Hilary Kelly, Crusher Barnes and the mysterious “Blue” as they fight their way through one intrigue after another. Jim writes under the pseudonym J. Frank James as a tribute to his father Frank Johnson, who gave his life serving his country during World War II. Jim lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

PhilMillerPhil Miller wrote From the Lives We Knew, a work of historical fiction, drawing on his lifelong interest in international affairs and refugees from war-torn regions. A native of Albuquerque,  Phil studied at Texas Christian University and Southern Methodist University. He is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and retired at the rank of colonel from the Air Force Reserve after nearly 26 years as a chaplain. His earlier book, Benjamin in the Forest: 80 Chattahoochee Tales, features a young boy and his Grandpa discovering trees, birds, and bugs in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The stories in that book previously appeared in his blog, Berry Thorns. Phil lives with his wife Paula in Blue Ridge, Georgia.

Ron01Ron Miller was born in East Tennessee in the middle of the last century … actually a couple of years left of that. He moved to Lake City, Florida at the age of eight and grew up there. His first book, Horse Bones, 12 Tales of Secrets, Ghosts and Legends, a book of campfire tales for middle readers, are stories reflecting his growing up years in this sleepy North Florida town. Callie Kinser of Brush Creek is a novel that reflects his family’s Tennessee roots. Callie has won multiple awards, including the FAPA President’s Award for Best Historical Fiction and the Indie Excellence Award. Ron lives with his wife, Linda, in Yulee, Florida. Together they have a “Brady Bunch” family of nine children, twenty grandchildren, and a great grandson.

Pickens picShelley 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 was released in April of 2015. Shelley is finishing up the third book in the Secret series, Unleashed, while she continues her attempts to foster a love for learning with young minds at a large school in Hoschton, GA. When 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.

DebraRogersDebra Webb Rogers (Violet Rightmire) is a former professional ballet dancer who performed with The Birmingham Ballet, The Florida Ballet and The Israel Ballet. She taught for the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program, and currently teaches dance at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. When she is not teaching, she loves sitting with her feet up, writing fiction and non-fiction books. Her publications include: Dancing in Time, (EPIC Award Finalist), Jacksonville’s Southside (Jacksonville Preservation Award), and a Christmas short story, One Single Present (First Place Award, Debra is also the author of a genealogy book on the descendants of Israel Boone (brother of the famous Daniel). She and her husband share a 1920s cottage in Jacksonville with two cats and one rescue dog. You can read more about Debra on her website:, and on her Facebook Author Page:

ScottSeekeScott Seeke is a writer for print and screen best known for the award winning 2010 Sony film Get Low, which starred Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek. He also writes for The Lutheran Magazine and on his blog Uncle Bush’s Live Funeral is his first book. On weekends he serves as pastor of Lutheran Church of the Incarnation in Marietta, GA, where he has learned a thing or two about funerals. A native of upstate New York and passionate Syracuse University fan, he lives in Alpharetta with his wife, two children, and a seventy pound lap dog named Chipper Jones.

simmonFive years ago, Rona Simmons launched her second career drawing on the writing, analysis, and research skills acquired over the thirty-years she spent in corporate America. Since then, she’s acted as ghostwriter for the biography of a prominent Atlanta businessman and wrote magazine articles, a collection of short stories, and two novels. The novels, The Quiet Room and Postcards from Wonderland, were published by Deeds Publishing of Athens, Georgia. Both were set outside the south, yet she considers herself a southern writer. Both were historical fiction, yet she thinks of them as stories that just by happenstance took place in the past. For her next novel, a work in progress, she’s picked a topic ripped from today’s headlines and set in the present day South. You can visit her website at

HollySullivanMcClureHolly Sullivan McClure was raised in the Smoky Mountains by preachers, shaman, storytellers, and bluegrass musicians. Her writing is inspired by the culture and stories of her Cherokee mother’s people and the Scottish heritage of her father. She was the founder of Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency, which was acquired by Lexium Entertainment in 2013, allowing her to focus on her writing. McClure lives in Atlanta, Georgia where she is the VP of Marketing for the Atlanta Writer’s Club.

Tom01Tom Winton grew up in New York City. After living in Florida for many years, he relocated last year to Dahlonega, Georgia, with his wife, Blanche and their ill-tempered but loveable Jack Russell terrier, Ginger.  Praised as “a man who writes with his pen dipped in his soul,” Tom came onto the writing scene late in life. His first novel Beyond Nostalgia was published in 2011, when he was sixty-two years old. Since then he has written five more books, and just as Beyond Nostalgia has, they have all become Amazon bestsellers. Tom has often been listed as one of Amazon’s Top 100 “Most Popular Authors” in both Literary Fiction and in Mystery/Thrillers/Suspense. His novels have been likened to such classics as Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird and more. His titles include The Last American Martyr, Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost, Within a Man’s Heart, A Second Chance in Paradise, Forever Three, and Beyond Nostalgia. He has also written many highly-acclaimed short stories. Visit him at

TwoodTom Wood’s debut novel is Vendetta Stone, a fictional true-crime thriller set in Nashville. The sequel is due out in 2016. As a sports writer and copy editor at The Tennessean, Tom covered area colleges, boxing, the Iroquois Steeplechase, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and other events. His short stories appear in Tennesseans West Vol. 1,Weird Western Yarns Vol. 1, Western Tales! Vol. 3, and Filtered Through Time. He now freelances for the Nashville Ledger, Knoxville News Sentinel, Country Family News, the Naples News and Ft. Myers News-Press and is an extra on the ABC series Nashville as well as The Identical, Providence, Still the King and other multimedia projects. His screenplay for Vendetta Stone was a semifinalist in the 2015 screenwriting competition of the 2015 Nashville Film Festival.


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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