Meet Your AWC23 Faculty
From Chicago, Illinois
Hosts of the Popular Podcast "The Common Mystic" and Authors of the New Book Series "Ghosts on the Road"
Jill Stanley and Jennifer James
Jen and Jill are the hosts of the highly popular podcast "Common Mystics" and authors of the new book series "Common Mystics: Ghosts on the Road" Volume One, "Murders & Mysterious Deaths" enjoyed a successful debut spring 2023. These psychic sisters are leading a session at this year's AWC23 Conference on podcasting, marketing, book promotion, travel, and tapping into your own “spideys.”
Jill and Jen will also take conference attendees along with them during a presentation of their work and travels, and go deeper into a few stories not featured on their podcast or in their book as the conference headliners during the Thursday night's AWC23 Conference Banquet.
As our AWC23 Conference Headliners you'll want to learn more about Jen and Jill and listen to a few of their podcast episodes before the conference. Go to the Common Mystics' website and find your listening platform.
From Rochester, New York
Epic Fantasy, Historical Romance Novelist, and Children's Book Author
Leading Genre Fiction Workshops
With two decades of writing experience, Summer Hanford has written and co-written over 40 novels, over a dozen novellas, and over two dozen short stories, with sixteen of those works available as audiobooks and several translated into Spanish. She has been an Amazon Best Selling Author over a dozen times, earning that acclaim in multiple countries across four continents, and recently released her fourth illustrated children’s book.
Summer’s work spans a healthy mix of Indi Publishers both large and small, as well as self-publishing. She is a fulltime writer and has been for over a decade, but at various points in her career has been a cover artist, interior formatter, developmental editor, publicist and writing instructor. Because of the many different aspects of the industry with which she is familiar, Summer’s approach to teaching has a strong marketing slant.
While Summer’s realm of experience can be applied to most genre fiction, her work focuses on Epic Fantasy, Historical Romance, and the niche genre of Pride & Prejudice Variation.
Learn more about Summer's work here.
From Rome, Georgia
Novelist, Poet, Historical Fiction, and Long-time Writing and Literature Teacher
Merrill Davies taught Literature to high school students for thirty-one years. During that time, she completed her Master’s degree in literature and several other courses, including a correspondence course and a summer workshop in teaching writing. Since retirement, Davies has attended many writing conferences and workshops all over the Southeast and has published five novels and one collection of poetry. Currently, she is working on her sixth novel, which is set in the 1930s. Two previous novels have also been historical, one set in the early 1900s and one set during WWII. In addition, poetry has been an ongoing interest since high school days. She has experimented with writing all kinds of poetry, including parodies of many well-known poems. Her background in literature and writing makes her a good fit for the Appalachian Writer’s Conference.
Davies writes from the heart.
While she is thrilled when readers buy her books, she is more thrilled when they connect with her thoughts. She lives in Rome, Georgia, with her husband Bill, a retired minister. She stays active in Rome Area Writers, Rome Toastmasters Club, and her church.
Merrill J. Davies
Leading Historical Fiction and Poetry Workshops
Merrill received her B.A. in English Education from Union College, in Barbourville, Kentucky, her M.A. in Literature from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama, and her Ed. Spec. in Leadership from Berry College in Rome, Georgia.
Merrill's novels include, The Welsh Harp (Create Space, 2012), The Truth About Katie (Martin Sisters, 2013), Our Pebble in the Pond (Martin Sisters, 2016), Becoming Jestina (Nurturing Faith, 2018)
and The Best Version of Alice (Nurturing Faith, 2022)
Her works of poetry include, Branches of Love (Nurturing Faith, 2019).
Learn more about Merrill's work here.
From Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Political History Book Editor, Researcher, Scholar, Author, Award-Winning Journalist
Dr. Pam Parry
Leading Non-fiction Workshops
Dr. Pam Parry has been writing for more than 40 years. An award-winning journalist, she is a national scholar on media history, public relations, diversity, and presidential communications. She is the author of Eisenhower: The Public Relations President, and editor of Journalism History – the nation’s oldest peer-reviewed journal of mass media history.
Dr. Parry has appeared on C-SPAN, NPR and BBC Radio to discuss her research. She has co-edited two books on diversity, and is the lead co-editor of a book series on Women in American Political History, which has published five titles with two more books to be released in 2023. She holds four degrees, and previously was an accredited congressional correspondent, who also covered the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court. A professor and independent practitioner, Dr. Parry has written for The Baltimore Sun and for “The McLaughlin Group” television show. In 2016, the Kentucky Communication Association awarded her the Applegate Award for Excellence in Research. A former faculty member at Eastern Kentucky University, she also received the 2020 Best Podcast.
From Richmond, Kentucky
Award-winning American Fiction Writer, Novelist, University English Professor, and Vice Provost (Ret.)
Sherry Robinson, an award-winning American fiction writer, is the author of three novels, Blessed (2019) and Shadows Hold Their Breath (2022), and Echo Her Lovely Bones (2nd edition, 2022, with Foreword by New York Times best-selling author Silas House). She is the retired Vice Provost and Professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University, where she spent thirteen years specializing in American Literature before moving into administrative positions.
Robinson is a native of Lexington, Kentucky, where her desire to be an author was also born. From an early age, she became entranced with words, but it took many years and a few detours before the publication of her first novel. Among those detours was the completion of an MA from Eastern Kentucky University and a PhD from the University of Kentucky, both in English. Reading the works of so many accomplished authors taught her the characteristics of quality writing and inspired her to reignite her passion for writing. In addition to studying great works of literature, Robinson spent two summers at the Hindman Settlement School’s Appalachian Writers Workshop under the mentorship of Silas House. She completed an MFA in creative writing from Eastern Kentucky University, Bluegrass Writers Studio, in 2021.
Learn more about Sherry and her work here.
Dr. Sherry Robinson
Leading Literary Workshops
From Corbin, Kentucky
Award-winning Writer for Stage and Screen, Cannes Film Festival Finalist
Screenwriting Workshop Instructor
Mark Daniels is an award-winning writer for stage and screen. His very first screenplay was a top five finalist at the international WILDsound Screenwriting Festival in Toronto.
Mark has had numerous screenplays optioned and purchased, including projects with Elaine Hendrix (THE PARENT TRAP), Darrin Henson (THE EXPRESS), Malcolm McDowell (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE) and Dean Cain (LOIS AND CLARK).
Mark has been a top ten screenplay finalist at the Cannes Film Festival. One of his recent projects, DECAY, is in financial development with the Robb Company in Los Angeles.
In addition to writing, Mr. Daniels oversees a film career pathway for high school students at Corbin Independent Schools, and he is also an instructor at Eastern Kentucky University in screenwriting and communications.
In his official role, Mark is the Principal at The Corbin School of Innovation, Director of Innovative Programs/Director of Pupil Personnel, and Bell-Knox-Whitley KY-ASAP Chairperson. He holds a B.A. in Communications, a B.S. in Education and an M.A. in Special Education and Rank I.
Mark is pictured here with actor Malcolm McDowell filming on location.
From Richmond, Kentucky
President & CEO of Martin Sisters Publishing, Novelist, University Professor, and Award-Winning Journalist
Dr. Melissa Newman
Leading the Memoir Workshop
and the Publisher's Panel,
and Conference Host for AWC23
Melissa Newman is the President & CEO of Martin Sisters Publishing and the 2023 Pinnacles of Writing Literary Conference host.
Martin Sisters Publishing, a traditional book publisher situated in the heart of Appalachia, published its first book in 2010, and now has over one hundred titles worldwide and was listed in Writer’s Digest Magazine as one of the top fifty independent book publishers.
Melissa has combined her professional strengths and life-long passion and commitment to the people of Appalachia to engage in academic research that demonstrates how raising hope can benefit local economies by eroding decades of negative stereotypes. Her studies, presented as community tool kits for raising hope by way of a more positive narrative, have significant effects on hope in Kentucky’s Appalachia. She is also the co-author of an academic text, “History of Media Coverage of Poverty in the United States Since 1960,” a Routledge Companion to Media and Poverty.
Melissa created Martin Sisters Publishing to give amazingly talented authors a home to highlight their work and share their creations with readers. Now, Dr. Newman has created the Appalachian Writer's Conference to bring authors from all publishing houses together in one place to share with up-and-coming writers the craft and the business of book publishing.
Dr. Newman’s own novels include “Sister Blackberry” (2009), “House of Cleaving” (2010), and “Growing Up Wilder” (2012). Her first two novels have been adapted into screenplays. Melissa is also an award-winning journalist and educator, teaching communication at a state University and leading community enrichment courses on writing.