Our Featured Author lineup for the 2019 Dahlonega Literary Festival is under construction!  Please scroll down to view their pictures and read their brief biographies.  Please come back and visit this page from time to time to see the Featured Authors biographies and pictures as they are added.

Come see them as they participate in our programs (once our Schedule of Programs has been finalized please go to our “Schedule” page for complete Program Schedule).

Go to our “FA Books” page to see our Featured Authors book covers and plot summaries.

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Jacob M. Appel’s first novel, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, won the 2012 Dundee International Book Award and was published by Cargo.  His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize and was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2014.  His most recent books include a novel, The Biology of Luck(Elephant Rock, 2013), an essay collection, Phoning Home (University of South Carolina Press, 2014) and a short story collection, Einstein’s Beach House(Pressgang/Butler University, 2014).  Jacob’s short fiction has appeared in more than two hundred literary journals including Agni, Colorado Review, Gettysburg Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, Southwest Review, Threepenny Review, Virginia Quarterly Review and West Branch.  His prose has won the Boston Review Short Fiction Competition, the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award for the Short Story, the Dana Award, the Arts & Letters Prize for Fiction, the North American Review’s Kurt Vonnegut Prize, the Missouri Review’s Editor’s Prize, the Sycamore Review’s Wabash Prize, the Briar Cliff Review’s Short Fiction Prize, the Salem College Center for Women Writers’ Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award, the H. E. Francis Prize, the New Millennium Writings Fiction Award on four occasions, an Elizabeth George Fellowship and a Sherwood Anderson Foundation Writers Grant.   His stories have been short-listed for the O. Henry Award (2001), Best American Short Stories (2007, 2008, 2013), Best American Nonrequired Reading (2007, 2008), and the Pushcart Prize anthology (2005, 2006, 2011, 2014).  Jacob’s stage plays have been performed at New York’s Theatre Row, Manhattan Repertory Theatre, Adrienne Theatre (Philadelphia), Detroit Repertory Theatre, Heller Theater (Tulsa), Curtain Players (Columbus), Epilogue Players (Indianapolis), Open State Theatre (Pittsburgh), Intentional Theatre (New London), Little Theatre of Alexandria and elsewhere.

Jacob has taught most recently at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop in New York City, and at Yeshiva College, where he was the writer-in-residence.  He was honored with Brown’s Undergraduate Council of Students Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2003.   He formerly held academic appointments at Pace University, Hunter College, William Paterson University, Manhattan College, Columbia University and New York University.  Jacob holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Brown, an M.S. in bioethics from Albany Medical College, an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Columbia, an M.D. from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, an M.F.A. from N.Y.U. and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.  He also publishes in the field of bioethics and contributes regularly to such publications as the Journal of Clinical Ethics, the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, the Hastings Center Report and the Bulletin of the History of Medicine.  His essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Orlando Sentinel, The Providence Journal and many regional newspapers.  Please visit Jacob’s website:  www.jacobmappel.com

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Raymond L. Atkins is the author of four award-winning novels and his first creative non-fiction book South of the Etowah, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2017, Atkins was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Georgia Writers Association. He teaches English at Georgia Northwestern Technical College and Creative Writing at Reinhardt University.  His newest novel is Set List. Set in the 1970s, fellow writer Michael Buffalo Smith summed it up as “A story of life, love, mortality, and music – a rock and roll dream.”  Atkins earlier novels are: The Front Porch Prophets, Sorrow Wood, Camp Redemption and Sweetwater Blues.

He lives in Rome, Georgia. Learn more about him at raymondlatkins.com.


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Version 6Award-winning author of the Jake Pendleton series—The Savannah Project, The Toymaker, Breach of Power, and Disruption,as well as his 2015 award-winning blockbuster, Blown, the first book in his new Gregg Kaplan series. The second in the Kaplan series, Last Chance, is scheduled for release in October 2018. Chuck Barrett also teaches continuing education courses at two Fort Collins colleges, The Craft of Writing Bestselling Novels, Pump Up Your Novel, and Nuts & Bolts of Self-Publishing, at Colorado State University.  Barrett is a graduate of Auburn University and a retired air traffic controller. He also holds a Commercial Pilot Certificate, Flight Instructor Certificate, and a Dive Master rating. He and his wife, D J Steele (also an author), currently reside in Colorado. Learn more about him at chuckbarrettbooks.com.

2016 Writers Digest Self-Published Book Awards

Breach of Power
Winner of the 2013 Indie Excellence Award in Political Thrillers.
Finalist in the 2013 International Book Awards Thriller/Adventure category.

The Toymaker
Finalist in the 2013 International Book Awards Thriller/Adventure & Mystery/Suspense categories.

The Savannah Project
Finalist in the 2011 International Book Awards Thriller/Adventure category.
Second Place in the 2011 Reviewers Choice Awards Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Horror category.
Honorable Mention in the 2011 ForeWord Reviews Book-Of-The-Year Awards Thriller/Suspense category.

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Michael Buchanan~Co-author Stealing First–The Teddy Kremer Story (2016) 
Writer for feature documentaries Spiral Bound(2014) andNature Matters (2016)
Co-author/screenwriter of The Fat Boy Chronicles(2010). Winner of 2010 Mom’s Choice Gold Award, National Parenting Publications Gold Award for Teens and NY Champions of Character Award.  Books Available at Amazon.com and BN.com.
Movie Available on DVD at Amazon, itunes and Netflix.  School Visits Available.  
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Lee Ellis is President and Founder of Leadership Freedom® LLC and FreedomStar Media®. For more than fifteen years he has served as an executive coach, leadership consultant, and keynote speaker in the areas of leadership, teambuilding, and human performance. His past clients include Fortune 500 senior executives and C-Level leaders in telecommunications, healthcare, military, and other business sectors. His speaking and media appearances include interviews on networks such as CNN, CBS This Morning, C-SPAN, ABC World News, Fox News Channel, plus hundreds of speaking engagements in various industry sectors throughout the world. Early in his career, Lee’s interest in leadership was piqued when he served as an Air Force fighter pilot flying fifty-three combat missions over North Vietnam. In 1967, he was shot down and held as a POW for more than five years in Hanoi and surrounding camps. After the war he served as an instructor pilot, chief of flight standardization/evaluation, and flying squadron commander. Additionally he commanded two leadership development organizations before retiring as a colonel. Lee’s combat decorations include two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Valor device, the Purple Heart, and the POW medal. Lee has a BA in History and a MS in Counseling and Human Development. He is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and the Air War College. Lee has authored or co-authored five books on leadership and career development. He and his wife Mary reside in Atlanta, GA and have four grown children and six grandchildren.  

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Anthony Grooms grew up in rural Virginia. His education at the College of William and Mary and George Mason University led him to a teaching career in Georgia, where since 1995, he has taught creative writing and literature at Kennesaw State University, and directs its M. A. in Professional Writing Program.  He is the author of Ice Poems, Trouble No More: Stories and Bombingham, a novel. His stories and poems have been published in Callaloo, African American Review, Crab Orchard Review, and other literary journals and anthologies both in the US and abroad. Reviewing Bombingham for the Washington Post, critic Jabari Asim wrote, “In its insistence that ‘the world is a tumultuous place and every soul in it suffers,’ this powerful, resonant novel offers no consolations. Grooms offers consolation, however, in allowing us to be present at the emergence of a brave and promising talent.”  Grooms is a Fulbright Fellow, a Yaddo Fellow, a Hurston-Wright Foundation Legacy Award finalist, an Arts Administration Fellow from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the recipient of two Lillian Smith Awards for Fiction. Both Trouble No More and Bombingham were selected as All Georgia Reads books. Adopted for study in colleges, Bombingham was the 2013 common book selection for Washington, D. C.  The Vain Conversation, a novel, is scheduled to be published by Story River Books (USC Press) in February 2018. Author Ron Rash said of the novel, that it “vividly evokes the horrors of American racism, but Anthony Grooms never denies the humanity of his characters, whether black or white, young or old. His novel achieves what only the best literature can give us: it refuses too-easy consolations or too-easy condemnations. When we finish the last page, the book is not finished with us. It will haunt us.” Currently, Grooms is finishing novels about Black Americans in Sweden and school desegregation in Birmingham, Alabama.  Grooms lives in Atlanta with his wife and son. For more information about Anthony Grooms, go to www.AnthonyGrooms.com.

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Eric Haney, upon graduating from High School in 1970, embarked upon an all expenses paid, twenty-year world tour, sponsored by the United States Army. During that period, he served in the Infantry, the Rangers, and was one of the original operational members of Delta Force. He retired from active duty in 1990 with the rank of Command Sergeant Major.  Post-military, Eric plied his trade as an international security operative in various areas of the world, with special expertise in the Middle East and Latin America.  In the year 2000 Eric’s life took a much different tack when he moved into the world of literature and entertainment. His best selling book, Inside Delta Force, published around the world, in fourteen languages, became the basis of the hit CBS television series, THE UNIT, of which Eric was writer and executive producer.  In addition to Inside Delta Force, Haney is author of  several other military/political science books: Beyond, Shock, and Awe, Low Country, No Man’s Land (story of Georgia native Kennesaw Tanner), and his latest The Prefect of Panama.  Today, Haney lives in Georgia and works where he pleases.



McCall Hoyle writes honest Young Adult novels about friendship, first love, and girls finding the strength to overcome great challenges. She is a high school English teacher. Her own less-than-perfect teenage experiences and those of the girls she teaches inspire many of the struggles in her books. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with her family and their odd assortment of pets—a food-obsessed beagle, a grumpy rescue cat, and a three-and-a-half-legged kitten.  Hoyle has an English degree from Columbia Collegeand a master’s degree from Georgia State University. She lives in a cottage in the woods in North Georgia where she reads and writes every day.  Her latest book,  Meet the Sky was released in September of 2018. Her debut novel was The Thing with Feathers
For more information, visit her website at mccallhoyle.com.  
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thumbnail_Phil Hudgins

Phil Hudgins and Jessica Phillips have teamed up to co-author Travels With Foxfire: Stories of People, Passions, and Practices from Southern Appalachia.

Phil Hudgins worked as a reporter, editor, and publisher at several newspapers for more than fifty years, retiring as senior editor or Community Newspapers Inc. where he coached writers in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. He was a Neiman Fellow at Harvard University in 1974 where he studied folklore. Phil served on the Foxfire community board when he worked in Rabun County, Georgia. He is a native of Hall County, Georgia and he and wife Shirley have retired there.



thumbnail_Jessica PhillipsJessica Phillips is now a student at Piedmont College (Demorest, GA). She was the 2017 recipient of the Julia W. Fleet Foundation’s Foxfire scholarship. She is a native of Rabun County, where Foxfire began and says Foxfire has been part of her life since she was a little girl when her parents would tell her stories from the books and magazines.

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Jessica Khoury author photo

Jessica Khoury wrote her first book at age 4, a fan fic sequel to Syd Hoff’s Danny and the Dinosaur, which she scribbled on notebook paper, stapled together, and placed on the bookshelf of her preschool classroom. Since that day, she’s dreamed of being an author.

 When not writing, Jess enjoys spending time with family, playing video games, and spending obscene amounts of time on Pinterest. She is very passionate about orcas, Spanish soccer, and choosing the perfect font.

 Jess currently lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She is the author of Origin, Vitro, Kalahari, and The Forbidden Wish.  Visit Jessica at http://www.jessicakhoury.com.


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Erica Gerald Mason is an indie author whose works include the paranormal novella The Place, the poetry collection I Am A Telescope: Science Love Poems, and Or Maybe The Moon, a flash fiction work based on the Edward Lear Poem The Owl And The Pussycat. Her work appears in several publications and journals, and she was a featured poet in the 2016 and 2017 Sundance Film Festival Indie Lounge. She lives in northwestern Georgia.
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Nayomi Munaweera’s debut novel, Island of a Thousand Mirrors, was long-listed for the Man Asia Literary Prize and the Dublin IMPAC Prize. It was short-listed for the DSC Prize and the Northern California Book Prize. It won the Commonwealth Regional Prize and a Godage Prize from its home country. It was a Target Book Club selection. Munaweera’s second novel, What Lies Between Us, a book about a Sri Lanka-American, was hailed as one of the most exciting literary releases of 2016 from venues ranging from Buzzfeed to Elle magazine. It won the Sri Lankan National Book Award for best English novel and the Godage Award for Best English Novel.  Munaweera is the writer-in-residence at the University of North Georgia for Spring 2019 semester.

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D.J. Steele grew up as an Air Force brat. Born in the Philippines, she went to ten schools by the time she graduated high school, living in Germany, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, Florida, Texas, Montana, and Mississippi.  After earning a degree in Forestry from the University of Georgia, she became one of the first female foresters hired in the private sector timber industry, where she worked for over twenty years.   Prior to writing her own thriller, Declared Dead, she edited five books for her husband Chuck Barrett, also a thriller writer. D.J. Steele loves to laugh, to listen to classic rock, and most of all, loves her husband and children (all five of them). She and Barrett now live in Fort Collins, Colorado. They hike as much as possible and folks in Colorado tell them they have southern accents.

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Rebecca Wells’ 1996 novel Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, about mothers and daughters, female friendships, alcoholism, and spirituality, was on the #1 NY Times Bestseller list for over a year, won the American Booksellers Award, and was short-listed for the Orange Prize. It has been translated into 28 languages, has sold over 6 million copies, and is one of the most beloved novels about women written in the 20th century.  The book launched a host of “Ya-Ya” clubs worldwide and was made into a feature film starring Sandra Bullock and Ellen Burstyn in 2002. Wells’ other novels include Little Altars Everywhere (winner of the Western States Book Award) and Ya-Yas in Bloom. The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder introduced an entirely new set of characters from the magical Louisiana town of Le Clair.  Born on a cotton farm in Rapides Parish, Louisiana, Wells comes from a culture where story telling is as essential and as rich as gumbo. A graduate of Louisiana State University, Rebecca studied Tibetan Buddhism and creative writing at the Naropa Institute. She studied acting in New York City, and performed off Broadway. She has been a guest artist, teaching writing and acting at several universities.  After almost forty years away, Rebecca has returned to the South and currently lives in Nashville, TN. She continues to tour her new one-woman show “An Evening with Rebecca Wells and the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”, and is writing her first memoir.  An accomplished actress and playwright, Rebecca has toured her one-woman show Splittin’ Hairs throughout the country. In her play Gloria Duplex, called “one of the glories of the decade” by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Rebecca developed and performed the title role of an erotic dancer in the French Quarter who sees the face of God in the mirror ball above her dance floor.  Wells comments, “I was sprung from the jail of Southern Ladyhood with the help of Janis Joplin, Yellowstone National Park, and Our Lady of Guadalupe.”