2021 Rising Star Award First Round Judges

Paula Adler is living her dream, one book at a time. She traditionally published a lifetime ago and after a long hiatus, returned to her passion to write Women’s Fiction. Her books and novellas include WELCOME TO MAGNOLIA BLOOM, RETURN TO MAGNOLIA BLOOM, MISTLETOE AND MAGNOLIA, and LOVE AT LAST IN MAGNOLIA BLOOM. Book 3 in the series, SPRINGTIME IN MAGNOLIA BLOOM, will launch in April, 2021. If she’s not writing, you can find her on a dance floor or SCUBA diving anywhere warm. This is her second year as a Rising Star judge. Follow her on Facebook, Amazon, and BookBub, or visit www.PaulaAdler.com.
Erica Alexander is a Romance and Women’s Fiction author. Her published works include, SEVENTEEN WISHES, BECAUSE OF LOGAN, BECAUSE OF LIAM and BECAUSE OF DYLAN. She’s a member of the Liberty States Fiction Writers, WFWA and a former judge at RWA.
This is her second year as a Rising Star judge. Follow her on Twitter @author_erica, Instagram and Facebook @AuthorEricaAlexander or stop by her website at www.authorericaalexander.com.
Ellen Green Andrews has always had a penchant for reading, with a broad and eclectic genre choice. After many years of nursing, she left that field and began writing, encouraged by her husband and five grown children. She has two published novels, AN HONORABLE DECEPTION, and ALL THE WORDS WE DIDN’T SAY and is currently working on her third, IN THE MARGINS.
She is an accomplished seamstress and has acquired a textile collection from around the globe from her travels and one globetrotting friend. She is a certified landscape designer with a concentration in residential design.
She grew up in Northern Indiana but has lived throughout the United States, following her husband’s military career. She resides at present in North Central Florida.
This is her third year as a Rising Star judge. She is a member of WFWA and ALLi.
Kathleen M. Basi is a women’s fiction author and musical composer. Her novel, A SONG FOR THE ROAD, publishes May 11, 2021. This is her first year as a Rising Star judge. Visit her website, Facebook, and Instagram
Lara Bernhardt is a Pushcart-nominated writer, editor, and audiobook narrator. She is Editor-in-Chief of Balkan Press and also publishes a literary magazine, Conclave. Her debut novel, THE WANTLAND FILES, was a finalist for the 2017 Oklahoma Book Award for Best Fiction. The sequel, THE HAUNTING OF CRESCENT HOTEL, was a 2019 semi-finalist for the KBR Awards Horror/Suspense category. SHADOW OF THE TAJ, her first women’s fiction, was a 2020 Oklahoma Book Award finalist. This is her second year as a Rising Star judge. You can follow her on all the socials @larawells1 on Twitter and @larabern10 on Facebook, BookBub, and Instagram.
Betty Bolté is a best-selling, award-winning American author and editor of fiction and nonfiction books. She has published 25+ books, most recently BECOMING LADY WASHINGTON: A NOVEL, NOTES OF LOVE AND WAR, CHARMED AGAINST ALL ODDS, and UNDER LOCK AND KEY. She earned a Master’s Degree in English in 2008, emphasizing the study of literature, and has judged many writing contests for both fiction and nonfiction. She’s been published in essays, newspaper articles/columns, magazine articles, and nonfiction books but now enjoys crafting entertaining and informative fiction, especially stories that bring American history to life. This is her seventh year as a Rising Star judge. She’s a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and Historical Novel Society among other professional organizations. Find out more about her and her books at www.bettybolte.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter @BettyBolte, or Instagram @bjbolte.
Sarahlyn Bruck is the author of two novels, DAYTIME DRAMA (TouchPoint Press, 2021) and DESIGNER YOU (Crooked Cat Books, 2018). DESIGNER YOU won the Indie Star Book Award for 2019 and was included on the 2018 “35 Over 35” list. When she’s not writing novels, Sarahlyn moonlights as a full-time writing and literature professor at a local community college. A California native, she now lives in Philadelphia with her husband, daughter, and cockapoo. For the latest book news, events, and announcements, check out her website: sarahlynbruck.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @sarahlynbruck.
Carole Brungar is a multi-awarding-winning New Zealand author. She loves to write heart-wrenching love stories set in one of the harshest environments of our time, the Vietnam War. This is her second year as a Rising Star judge. Find her at www.carolebrungar.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolebrungarauthor
Lynne Bryant is an American author, educator, and member of WFWA. She holds a PhD in Nursing from the University of Colorado. Lynne’s debut novel CATFISH ALLEY (2011) “…tackles the racial divide of both 1920s and current-day Mississippi in a page-turning narrative that has, at its heart, the search for personal connections as the path to both survival and understanding,” said Lalita Tademy, author of Cane River.Lynne’s second novel ALLIGATOR LAKE (2012) was described by Natalie Baszile, author of Queen Sugar, as "a gutsy examination of southern race relations. Bryant is provocative and unflinching as she reveals her characters' private hopes and fears....”Lynne and her wife live in Manitou Springs, Colorado, where Lynne writes novels, teaches nursing, and continues to be inspired by the generative power of women.Visit her on Facebook at Author Lynne Bryant, Instagram @lynnebryantauthor, or her website at www.lynnebryant.com.
Regina Buttner is a registered nurse-turned-writer and the debut author of ABSOLUTION, a domestic drama about marriage, secrets, and betrayal, set in Seattle during the 1990s dot-com boom. She recently traded the snowy winters of Upstate New York for the fabulous sunshine of Southwest Florida, where she enjoys running, biking, and kayaking among the mangroves. She loves to support her fellow writers and this is her second year as a Rising Star judge. You can learn more about her at reginabuttner.com. Follow her on Instagram: @reginabuttnerbooks, or Facebook: ReginaButtnerAuthor.
Ute Carbone writes women’s fiction under her own name and romantic comedy as Annie Hoff. Recent titles include THE TENDER BONDS and THE FALL LINE as Ute and SECONDHAND LOVE and the soon to be rereleased CONFESSIONS OF THE SAUSAGE QUEEN as Annie. When not writing or reading one of the many books on her to be read list, Ute enjoys walking in the woods, feeding her photography habit, and drinking more coffee than she should.
J.Carter Merwin is an illustrator and author of the adult fantasy series THE TALES OF EARDEN as well as children's books, THE WELLSPRING and PARROT: A SHELTER CAT and the popular FANNY'S SCOTTISH COOKBOOK. She also runs a small publishing company MacGregor House which promotes the work of Vermont authors such as poet Michael Alter's THE MONKEY TREE and POET RESIDING. A member of The Independent Publishers of New England and the WFWA her pen and ink illustrations for THE LEGEND OF NOW:WINGLESS was praised by the judges of The Independent Book Awards 2020.
She can be found on Amazon at her author's page, on Facebook at Tales of Earden, or Merwin Gallery, on Instagram at Julie.Merwin, and www.jcartermerwin.com.
Barbara Conrey is the USA Today Bestselling author of NOWHERE NEAR GOODBYE, published on August 4th, 2020, by Red Adept Publishing.
NOWHERE NEAR GOODBYE is Barbara Conrey’s debut novel.Previously, Barbara worked in the health care industry before opting for an early retirement, which lasted all of three months. She then accepted a finance position, for which she had absolutely no background, and four years later, she decided to write a book. But not about finance. Travel is her passion, along with reading, writing, hiking, and exploring antique shops. Her greatest love is Miss Molly, her rescue beagle. There are stories to be told about beagles, and Barbara hopes to incorporate some of them into her books. Barbara lives in Pennsylvania, close to family and friends.
Social Media Sites: www.facebook.com/baconreywriter, www.Twitter.com/barbaraconrey, www.Instagram.com/barbara, Barbara Conrey Books - BookBub, Website www.barbaraconreyauthor.com
Amber Cowie is a novelist living in a small town on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, The Globe and Mail, Crime Reads, and Scary Mommy and has been endorsed by numerous bestsellers including Samantha M. Bailey, Shannon Kirk, Kerry Lonsdale, Catherine McKenzie, Robyn Harding, and Blake Crouch. Her first novel, RAPID FALLS, was a Whistler Book Awards nominee, hit number one overall on Amazon, and was a top-100 bestselling Kindle book of 2018. She has presented at several regional and crime-writing conferences and served on the board of her local Sisters in Crime chapter. This is her third year as a Rising Star judge. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @ambercowie.
Shelly Davis is a developmental editor and copyeditor specializing in women’s fiction and historical fiction. With clients ranging from Big 5 publishing to independent authors, she loves to dive into the details of a novel to determine what’s working and what needs a little polishing in order to shine. In addition to WFWA, she is also a member of Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) and American Copy Editors Society (ACES). This is her first year as a Rising Star judge. Visit her website at www.thedetaildevil.com and follow her on Twitter at @DetailDevilSD.
Grete DeAngelo is the author of GIVING MYSELF AWAY (2013) and a high school history teacher living with her family in Pennsylvania. She has served as a Rising Stars judge since 2016.
Casey Dembowski is the author of WHEN WE'RE THIRTY (Red Adept Publishing, 2021). She writes contemporary love stories focused on the intricacies of relationships--whether they be romantic, familial, or platonic. She is an active volunteer for WFWA, and this is her third year as a Rising Star judge. Follow Casey on Twitter and Instagram @casey_dembowski and on Facebook.
Laura Drake is a New York and self-published published author of Women's Fiction and Romance.
Her romance series, Sweet on a Cowboy, is set in the world of professional bull riding. Her debut, THE SWEET SPOT, was a double-finalist, then won the 2014 Romance Writers of America® RITA® award. She’s since published 11 more books. She is a founding member of Women’s Fiction Writers Assn, as well as a member of Western Writers of America and Women Writing the West.
Laura is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She realized a lifelong dream of becoming a Texan and is currently working on her accent. She's a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.
Molly Dwyer’s debut novel, Requiem for the Author of Frankenstein, was nominated for the 2009 Northern California Book Award in Fiction and won the Independent Publishers Book of the Year Award and an Indie Book Award for Historical Fiction. In 2010, Molly was honored for “Writing Women Back into History” by the National Women’s Political Caucus of Mendocino County. She’s the Founding President of the Writers of the Mendocino Coast, a branch of California Writers Club, and teaches creative writing at Mendocino College. Molly works as an editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator. She has an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College and a PhD in Humanities from the California Institute of Integral Studies. She’s written three novels and is working on a fourth, based on her ancestry and family history. Molly’s online creative writing class is open to all comers. Contact Mendocino College or [email protected] for more information.
Judith Erwin is an award-winning author, freelance writer, retired family law attorney, and member of WFWA. Her seven published novels include women’s fiction, SHADOW OF SILENCE; romance; romantic suspense; and Book One of a crime-solving mystery series, CAPITOL MURDER. Follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Judith-Erwin-Books-1734991323412346 and her web site: www.juditherwinofficialwebsite.com.
Elizabeth Everett lives in Upstate New York with her family. She likes going for long walks or (very) short runs to nearby sites that figure prominently in the history of civil rights and women’s suffrage. A Lady’s Formula for Love is her first novel, inspired by her admiration for rule breakers and belief in the power of love to change the world. Elizabeth is a mentor in WFWA’s mentorship program and this is her first year as a Rising Star judge. Please visit her website elizabetheverettauthor.com or read about inspiring secret scientists on her Instagram @elizabetheverettauthor.
Donna Everhart is the USA Today bestselling author of Southern fiction with authenticity and grit, including the Southeastern Library Association Award-winning THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET and her most recent novel, THE MOONSHINER’S DAUGHTER. Her fifth novel, THE SAINTS OF SWALLOW HILL, will be released in February 2022. Donna is a member of WFWA, and the North Carolina Writer’s Network. This is her fourth year as a Rising Star judge. Along with her husband and a tiny, heart-stealing Yorkshire terrier named Mister, she lives just an hour from where she was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. Please visit her online at DonnaEverhart.com.
Liz Flaherty is the USA Today Bestselling author of romantic fiction, women’s fiction, and—most recently—a book of essays, WINDOW OVER THE SINK. She is a member of WFWA. This is Liz’s second year as a Rising Star judge. Find her on Facebook and Twitter or visit her blog at https://windowoverthesink.blogspot.com/.
Erin Flanagan is the author of two short story collections: THE USUAL MISTAKES and IT’S NOT GOING TO KILL YOU, AND OTHER STORIES. Her novel, DEER SEASON, is forthcoming in fall 2021. She is an English professor at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and you can find her on Twitter @erinlflanagan. This is her first year as a Rising Star judge.
S.M. Freedman is a #1 Amazon bestselling author of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense. Her first novel, THE FAITHFUL (published by Thomas and Mercer) was awarded “Best Debut of the Year” by Suspense Magazine. Her latest, THE DAY SHE DIED (published by Dundurn Press and Tantor Media in April 2021), is a mind-bending psychological thriller about a woman who is hit by a car and wakes with a brain injury that leaves her doubting the spotty memories of her dark past. S.M. studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, and worked as a private investigator on the not-so-mean-streets of Vancouver, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is an active member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America. Find her at www.smfreedman.com.
Jennifer Fromke writes from North Carolina where she wishes for colder temperatures all year long. Northerners by upbringing, she and her husband of 29 years managed to raise 3 kids who are “Almost Southern.” Addicted to stories from a young age, Jennifer is a firm believer that reading books can change your life – even fiction. Especially fiction. As one of those people who recommends books to almost everyone she talks to, Jennifer writes book reviews at shetalksbooks.com. When she grows up, she wants to be a book apothecary…guess where she got that idea?
Jennifer wrote an award-winning novel right out of the gate. She joined WFWA in its first month, and this is her 5th year judging the Rising Star. She is represented by Jane Dystel and is hard at work on her next novel. You can find Jennifer online: FB: https://www.facebook.com/jenniferfromke/; IG: shetalksbooks, www.jenniferfromke.com
Elaine Gallant travels the world armed with a Journalism degree, is founder of “808 Writers” in Hawaii and the West Maui Book Club, a founding member of Maui Writers Ink, and a member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association. With the début of her thriller The 5TH C: A CIA NOVEL available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/5th-C-CIA-Novel-ebook/dp/B01N0PJQ2B, this Maui girl now treks within the more complicated world of fiction. Her freelance work appears in print and in various online publications while her short stories have landed in four, going on five anthologies. Elaine’s helpful podcast at: https://youtu.be/s_-oBK97yks on the dangers of an author sitting too long is sure to add years to your writing career. Follow Elaine Gallant at: www.WestMauiBookClub.com and ElaineGallantBlog.wordpress.com
LG O’Connor is a marketing executive at a Fortune 250 company who spends her free time spinning stories that touch the heart with themes of family, redemption, forgiveness, and most of all, hope. She’s the author of the urban fantasy / paranormal romance series, THE ANGELORUM TWELVE CHRONICLES and the award-winning CAUGHT UP IN LOVE trilogy: CAUGHT UP IN RAINE, SHELTER MY HEART, and SURRENDER MY HEART, which follows three women who must confront ghosts of the past to find redemption and their second chance at love. A native ‘Jersey Girl,’ LG is always searching for fancy coffee drinks and fine Italian leather. In her books, her heroes always keep the heroine fed. You can find recipes from the sexy hero of CAUGHT UP IN RAINE in his cookbook, RECIPES FROM RAINE’S ROOST AKA JILLIAN’S KITCHEN. Find all things LG at https://www.lgoconnor.com.
Donna Goodin is a writer, college instructor, and book coach. She has been coaching writers since 2006. This is her second year serving as a judge for the Rising Star Competition. These days she works in fiction, but she has also worked in nonfiction with academic writers. She holds a Ph.D. in Spanish literature and is a certified Author Accelerator book coach. She loves helping women writers tell their stories. Her favorite moment as a coach is the instant when a writer’s manuscript clicks, when it goes from a collection of loosely connected scenes and characters to a story that pops. You can view her website at http://www.goodincoaching.com. Donna coaches writers in both English and Spanish.
Jean M. Grant has a penchant for the misunderstood be it sharks, microbes, or people (fictional and real). A former scientist, she now writes historical & contemporary romances, women's fiction, and freelance articles on family traveling/outdoors. If stranded on an island, she’d need flower & vegetable gardens, hiking trails, lip balm, and coffee. Find her on jeanmgrant.com, @JeanGrant05 on Twitter, and jeanmgrant on Instagram.
Lita Harris spends her time between New Jersey and the Endless Mountains region of Pennsylvania, with two rescue dogs in tow.
Her current release, ALWAYS, is a work of contemporary women’s fiction. She also re-released a collection of short stories of women’s fiction with a touch of romance titled, CHASING ROMANCE, previously published in the Timeless Anthologies.
Not a person to settle on one genre, she writes women’s fiction, contemporary, and some with paranormal elements. She is working on her first cozy mystery and having fun with the process. Will a ghost pop up in the series? Most likely. Buried in edits of a women’s fiction, family saga, takes up much of her writing time. With so many characters in the story, it may be years before the novel is completed.
Nadia Hashimi is a pediatrician turned internationally bestselling author with novels for adults and children. Her works include THE PEARL THAT BROKE ITS SHELL, WHEN THE MOON IS LOW, ONE HALF FROM THE EAST, and her most recent SPARKS LIKE STARS. This is her first year as a Rising Star judge. Connect with @nadiahashimibooks on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram to see what she’s reading and writing.
Elizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. Her novels include HOW TO CLIMB THE EIFFEL TOWER, OVERLOOK and ESCAPE PLAN. When not writing her own books, Elizabeth teaches basic fiction writing courses at her local community college. This is her fifth year as a Rising Star judge.
Lori Henriksen is a long-time member of WFWA. This is her third year as a Rising Star judge. In 2018, her novel, THE WINTER LOON, was a finalist in the Star Award Debut category. Her WIP is a novel about a woman suffering from PTSD who must travel back in time to heal old wounds. When she isn’t writing she can be found hiking with her rescue dogs, puttering in her garden or out and about doing research for her next novel. To learn more, visit www.lorihenriksen.com
Robin Henry is a librarian, adjunct professor, independent scholar, book coach, and member of WFWA. She has been a book reviewer for SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL and LIBRARY MEDIA CONNECTION and is a past member of the Tayshas committee for the Texas Library Association. This is her first year as a Rising Star judge. Follow her on Instagram @readerlybooks or check out her reviews at www.readerly.net.
Rebecca Hodge’s debut novel WILDLAND has received rave reviews from readers and was selected by Apple Books for their ‘Best of the Year So Far’ list. Her next book, OVER THE FALLS, about a woman searching for the sister she hates, will release in September, 2021.

Rebecca is a former veterinarian and clinical research scientist who lives and writes in North Carolina. She has three grown sons, two crazy dogs, and one patient husband. When not writing on the back porch or brewing yet another mug of tea, she loves hiking, travel, and (of course) curling up with a good book.

Follow her on Facebook and Instagram and check out her website to sign up for her newsletter, which offers a book giveaway in every issue.
Jacki Kelly has been writing since her fourth-grade teacher made her keep a journal for a grade. Now she does it to keep track of all the fascinating and heartbreaking moments that life throws our way. Poetry, personal essays, short stories, and novels have all occupied space in her heart and on her hard drive. She has published over fifteen books in women’s fiction and romance.
Leslie Lehr is author of seven books, including three novels and her critically acclaimed new memoir, A BOOB’S LIFE: HOW AMERICAN SHAPED ME AND YOU, being developed by Salma Hayek as a TV comedy series for HBOMax. Leslie’s essays have appeared in the New York Times, HuffPost, Yourtango, and in anthologies including MOMMY WARS.
With a BA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and an MFA from Antioch University, Leslie. taught in the Writers Program at UCLA for over a decade. In addition to working on a new novel, she is a Writing Consultant/developmental editor and the Novel Consultant for Truby’s Writers Studio. Leslie contributed an article on query letters to the Winter 2021 edition of Write On, the WFWA magazine, and this is her second time as a volunteer judge for Rising Star.
Visit Leslie at www.leslielehr.com and on your favorite social media platform.
Lyn Liao Butler is an author of multi-cultural women’s fiction as well as a certified personal trainer, fitness and yoga instructor. Her debut, THE TIGER MOM’S TALE, will be released on July 6, 2021 by Berkley (Penguin Random House), followed by her second book, RED THREAD OF FATE on Feb 1, 2022. This is her third year as a Rising Star Judge. For more information, please visit her website at www.lynliaobutler.com and follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @lynliaobutler.
Tami Lowe writes a weekly blog of connection, in her best London accent, titled IAmNotBritish, found at tamilowe.com/blog. Her book, MAKING SPACE FOR ME, MY MORMON ADOPTION STORY, was published in 2018. As a Board Member of the Florida Writers Foundation and Chair of their Silent Auction, she helps raise money for literacy in the state of Florida. Tami is a member of the Florida Writers Association and Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She is the FWA RPLA Submission Coordinator. She judges for the RPLA competition and for WFWA’s Rising Star Award. Check out her website: tamilowe.com. Follow her on social media: Facebook @tami.l.whiting and @Positive.Writing.Vibes, Instagram @peacegenie, and Twitter @tamiloweauthor.
Kim Lozano is an editor, creative writing teacher, and coach from St. Louis. She works with private clients, leads group workshops, and has taught classes for the St. Louis Writers Workshop and St. Louis Oasis. Her work has been published in The Iowa Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, North American Review, DIY MFA, CRAFT, and many other publications. This is her first year as a Rising Star judge. She blogs about writing at kimlozano.com and you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @KimberlyNLozano.
Kamakshi Pappu Murti is a retired professor of German Studies. She is an author of fiction and non-fiction. Her fictional writing includes children’s books and murder mysteries. Her scholarly writing is devoted to multi-cultural issues, as well as gender studies. 2017 saw the publication of her first children’s book LALLI’S WINDOW her first murder mystery MURDERS MOST MATRONLY. MURDERS IN THE IVORY TOWER has been accepted for publication by Pegasus.
Murti is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA), Modern Language Association (MLA), American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), and the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE).
Murti’s scholarly writing includes the following monographs: INDIA: THE SEDUCTIVE AND SEDUCED 'OTHER' OF GERMAN ORIENTALISM (Praeger, 2000) and TO VEIL OR NOT TO VEIL: EUROPE'S SHAPE-SHIFTING 'OTHER' (Peter Lang, 2012).
Lorraine Norwood worked as a professional journalist for over 20 years before making a career change to archaeology. After many years of participating in fiction classes and writers’ workshops, she began writing an historical fiction trilogy, the first of which is being submitted to publishers. She won an Emerging Artist Award for Western North Carolina and published short stories and essays in Minerva Rising, New Southerner, and Talking Writing. She also won awards in Atlanta Writers Club contests. She is the author of DULUTH (Arcadia Publishing 2011). This is her second year as a Rising Star judge. She is happy that at long last, after two marriages, two children, eight jobs, three college degrees, and twenty-six moves (one of which was abroad), she has a room of her own in which to write. She can be found at www.lorrainenorwood.com where you will find links to social media.
Michele Orwin is a book coach, publisher, editor, author and teacher. She has published two novels; WAITING FOR NEXT WEEK and under a pen name; several short stories, and numerous nonfiction articles. She has been working with writers one way or another for the past 30 years. She started Bacon Press Books 8 years ago to help already published authors make their books available in paperback and eBook. And she started book coaching 4 years ago to help authors complete their novels and memoirs. She can be reached on her coaching website http://www.micheleorwin.com/ or her publishing site - Bacon Press Books http://www.baconpressbooks.com. This is her third years as a Rising Star judge.
Shelby Riley is an author, speaker, licensed marriage and family therapist, and owner of a group family therapy practice in Chester Springs, PA. Her debut novel, ANGEL FALLS, won the WFWA Rising Star Award in 2018, and is currently out on submission. She is represented by literary agent Chris Tomasino at The Tomasino Agency. This is Shelby's third year as a Rising Star judge. Follow her on Twitter @ShelbyLRiley and on Instagram @shelbyrileywrites.
Canadian author Patricia Sands writes award-winning women’s fiction that carries you away. Her heart remains in the south of France no matter where else she may be; a fact clear in her best-selling LOVE IN PROVENCE trilogy, novel DRAWING LESSONS, and VILLA DES VIOLETTES series. She also writes articles and shares her photography on popular France-related websites as well as Instagram. Every summer she co-leads a highly popular 12-day tour in the south of France for 16 women based on her novels. This is her third year as a Rising Star judge. Connect with her at her website and sign up for her monthly newsletter http://www.patriciasandsauthor.com/
Karen Sargent is the author of WAITING FOR BUTTERFLIES, which was named the 2017 Independent Authors Network Book of the Year and received a Foreword Reviews Gold award. She writes for Guideposts publications and Chicken Soup for the Soul. As a side hustle, she leads book launches for authors.
Suanne Schafer’s world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her writing. A genetic distrust of happily-ever-afters gives rise to strong female protagonists who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them. Suanne has served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for a literary magazine as well as published several novels. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE depicts an early 20th century artist in West Texas while HUNTING THE DEVIL explores the plight of an American physician during the Rwandan genocide. THUNDER AND ASH, due out in 2021, is a contemporary Texas Hill Country slow-burn romantic suspense. Her current work-in-progress, BIRDIE, looks at women’s rights in the 19th century through the eyes of a teenager committed to an insane asylum because she refuses the man her father has chosen for her.
Rosemary Shomaker mulls story ideas in and exercises her writing craft from Central Virginia. Her work features the mysteries of seemingly everyday, banal surroundings, circumstances, and routines, and her stories often include dogs and trees. She’s a member of national Sisters in Crime, the online Sisters in Crime “Guppies” chapter, and her local Sisters in Crime chapter. See muttmysteries.com for two of her novellas and the Virginia is for Mysteries series (Facebook @VirginiaIsForMysteries) for a few of her short stories.
Lorrie Thomson is the award-winning author of three novels from Kensington Books: A MEASURE OF HAPPINESS, WHAT’S LEFT BEHIND and EQUILIBRIUM. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and their youngest offspring. When she’s not reading, writing, or hunting for collectibles, you can find her climbing indoor walls, hiking outdoor trails, and pedaling upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.
To learn more about Lorrie and her books, sign up for her newsletter, and arrange a book club chat, visit her website at www.lorriethomson.com.
Connect with Lorrie: www.twitter.com/LorrieThomson, www.facebook/lorriethomsonauthor, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6880966.Lorrie_Thomson, https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lorrie-thomsson.
Elizabeth Wafler writes evocative women’s fiction and is represented by Pamela Harty of the Knight Agency. The author's published novels include IN ROBIN'S NEST and GEORGIE GIRL. A member of the Women's Fiction Writers Association, she serves as Director of Craft Education. Elizabeth is the founder of the popular Facebook page Women Writers Version 6.0 for women writers age sixty plus. She enjoys working with other writers through her editorial business Four Eyes Editorial. The author lives with her husband and cairn terrier Mirabelle in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where she can be found at a farmer’s market in search of the perfect heirloom tomato, or at one of the area’s vineyards, enjoying a glass of Virginia wine.
Ann Warner is the author of six single titles, a trilogy, a five-book cozy mystery series, and a children’s story. Her novel DREAMS FOR
STONES was an Indie Next Generation Book Award Finalist, and her BABBLING BROOK NAKED POKER CLUB series of cozy mysteries has garnered over 1000 five-star reviews. Formerly an academic and a scientific researcher, Ann took an unexpected turn down a different road when she began writing fiction. Ann has been a member of WFWA since its founding and has served as a judge a number of times. Visit Ann’s website at https://AnnWarner.net
Karen Winters Schwartz wrote her first truly good story at age seven. Her second-grade teacher, publicly and falsely accused her of plagiarism. She did not write again for forty years. Her widely praised novels include WHERE ARE THE COCOA PUFFS?, 2010; REIS’S PIECES, 2012; and THE CHOCOLATE DEBACLE, 2014 (Goodman Beck Publishing). Her newest novel, LEGEND OF THE LOST ASS was released by Red Adept Publishing on July 21, 2020.
Educated at The Ohio State University, Karen and her husband moved to the Central New York Finger Lakes region where they raised two daughters and shared a career in optometry. She now splits her time between Arizona, a small village in Belize, and traveling the earth in search of the many creatures with whom she has the honor of sharing this world. This is her third year as a Rising Star judge. Website: http://www.karenwintersschwartz.com/ Follow her on Instagram @_kaws_
Sara Zalesky is the author of a sports romance series featuring women’s professional cycling. The series began with WHEELER, a 2017 New Apple Award Official Selection for Cross Genre Fiction. In 2018, the second novel, WHEELER: IN DARKNESS, THERE IS ALWAYS LIGHT was published, with the third novel, WHEELER: ONE FIRE BURNS OUT ANOTHER’S BURNING completing the series in May, 2019. Her next story, a sci-fantasy loosely based on the ancient Celtic gods, is currently (still!) in the development stage. This will be her fourth year as WFWA Rising Star judge. The author resides in Chester County, PA with her husband, their son, two cats and six bicycles, and . Sara is an avid road cyclist and e-sport competitor, and a legal assistant at a mid-sized law firm. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @Sarazalesky
Denny Bryce
Patricia Sands
Bill Schreiber