Writers Conference 2021

On October 9th, the Elk Grove Writers Guild presented a conference for local writers at District 56 in Elk Grove. Eighty attendees spent the day improving their writing with the presenters listed below. It was a great conference, and we plan to do it again in 2023!

The presenters who made this a great conference:

Joey Garcia
Keynote Speaker

2020 Was A Plot Twister

Joey Garcia coaches writers and authors on effective strategies to boost their books and platforms. Her clients have been featured in Ms. Magazine, CNN.com, The Tamron Hall Show, and on the TODAY Show parenting blog, among others. Joey is the author of When Your Heart Breaks, It’s Opening to Love, and she’s the on-air Relationship Expert for Fox40-TV. She’s been featured in HuffPost, USA Today, Deutsche Welle, KVIE public television and Global Woman TV Sweden. Her essays have been featured on KQED public radio, the Brevity blog, Sacramento magazine, and are forthcoming in Hippocampus magazine; poems in Calyx, The Caribbean Writer, the Tule Review and several anthologies; short stories in POUi, Mslexia and Writers Digest. In 2018, Joey launched The Belize Writers Conference and established the first literary fellowship for a Belizean writer in the country’s history. www.joeygarcia.com

Dorothy Rice

Truth in Memoir

Dorothy Rice is the author of two memoirs, GRAY IS THE NEW BLACK (Otis Books, June 2019) and THE RELUCTANT ARTIST (Shanti Arts, 2015). After raising five children and retiring from a career managing statewide programs with the California EPA, Rice earned an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside, Palm Desert, at 60. Dorothy co-directs the literary series Stories on Stage Sacramento, reads essay submissions for Hippocampus Magazine and leads creative writing workshops for 916 Ink, a Sacramento-area youth literacy nonprofit. Her essays and stories have been widely published in journals including HippocampusUnder the Gum TreeThe Rumpus and the Brevity blog. Find more information—and links to many of her publications—at dorothyriceauthor.com. Follow her on Twitter at @dorothyrowena and on Facebook @dorothyriceauthor.

Margaret Duarte

Getting Started with ACX (Publishing an Audio Book)

Former middle school teacher, Margaret Duarte, lives on a California dairy farm with a herd of “happy cows,” a constant reminder that the greenest pastures lie closest to home. Margaret earned her creative writing certificate through UC Davis Extension and has since published four novels in her “Enter the Between” visionary fiction series: Between Will and Surrender,Between Darkness and Dawn, Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, and Between Now and Forever. Her poem and story credits include SPC Tule Review; The California Writers Club Literary Review; Finalist in the 2017 SLO Nightwriters Golden Quill Writing Contest; Finalist in the International Book Awards; First Place winner for fiction in the 2016 NCPA (Northern California Publishers and Authors) Book Awards Competition; Second Place for fiction in the 2018 NCPA Book Awards Competition; Honorable Mention for fiction in the 2019 NCPA Book Awards Competition; First Place for fiction in the 2020 NCPA Book Awards Competition; First Place for Adult Fiction in the 2019 California Author Project.

Kathy Marshall

First Book? How to Organize Your Manuscript for Self-Publication

Kathy Lynne Marshall has been exploring her roots for over forty years. She is a self-avowed missionary for family history who speaks to various genealogy and general writing groups about her “Quick-Start Method.” She strives to provide others with a tried and true way to organize and quickly grow the books waiting to burst from their imaginations. Her method can work well for any book genre, including short stories and poetry. She has published four literary nonfiction books since 2016 using her effective method: The Ancestors Are Smiling,The dual award-winning Finding Otho: The Search for Our Enslaved Williams Ancestors; triple award-winning Finding Daisy: From the Deep South to the Promised Land; and The Mystery of Margaret Booker. A fifth, The Marshall Legacy, is scheduled for release during the fall of 2021. Marshall was a researcher, analyst, and technical writer for the California Highway Patrol for 36 years. For ten of those years, she taught Statistics and her Quick-Start method for completing written assignments to 600 uniformed and civilian employees. Marshall has been a member of the Elk Grove Senior Center Writing Group, California Writers Club, Black Women Tell Tales, and Northern California Publishers and Authors organization for many years. She is also the owner/artist for her Kanika Marshall Art and Books business, established in 1993: www.KanikaMarshall.com.

Amy Rogers

Writing a Thriller Novel: Craft Tips and Tricks

Dr. Amy Rogers is a Harvard-educated scientist, author, and educator with a passion for real science, effective communication, and great stories. Amy’s science thriller novels ReversionThe Han Agent, and Petroplague about microbes and mayhem have won awards and critical acclaim. Her nonfiction articles about science and engineering behind the scenes of everyday life first appeared in the Inside Arden newspaper and are now collected in her book Science in the Neighborhood. In early 2020 she prepared readers for COVID-19 with her treatise The Coming Pandemic, and she has calmly explained coronavirus science and policy at her blog ever since. Amy is a sought-after speaker on a wide range of topics for a variety of audiences. A member of International Thriller Writers, she served as a judge for ITW’s Thriller Awards and has twice been a panelist at ThrillerFest in New York; a panel moderator at Left Coast Crime and Great Valley Bookfest; keynote speaker at the University of the Pacific Conference on Creative Writing, and the Renaissance Society Forum. Visit AmyRogers.com for details.

ML Hamilton

How to Become a Mystery Writer – Finding Your Niche

ML Hamilton teaches high school English in Central California. Since her earliest memory, books have been an integral part of her life, so pursuing a career teaching what she loved came naturally. However, she always dreamed of publishing her own novel. That dream came true. Her first novel, Emerald, was published by Wild Wolf Publishing in 2010. In 2013, the Peyton Brooks’ Mysteries were born, allowing her to branch into a new genre. To date, she’s published 59 novels in two genres and sold over 300,000 books. In addition to teaching and writing, she has three sons, two dogs, and two cats. And sometimes a stray rabbit living under her deck. If you’d like more information about ML Hamilton, visit her website at authormlhamilton.net.

Cheryl Stapp

Business End of Writing & Selling Books

Cheryl Anne Stapp is a Northern California historian and speaker. She has published 6 non-fiction books that illuminate California’s vibrant past: Wild Wicked Woman – The life of a Gold Rush Courtesan; Rise, Ruin & Restoration – A history of Sutter’s Fort; Before he Gold Rush: The Sinclairs of Rancho del Paso 1840-1849; Award-winning Disaster & Triumph: Sacramento Women, Gold Rush Through the Civil War, Sacramento Chronicles – A Golden Past; and the Stagecoach in Northern California: Rough Rides, Gold Camps, and Daring Drivers. Her articles have appeared in History Magazine and  Wild West History Association Journal. A graduate of California State University, Northridge, Cheryl lives with her husband in her native Sacramento – in bygone days an important gold rush town,  and the largest staging center in the nation.

Michael Brandt

Interviewing Witnesses, Suspects, Police, Doctors, and Patients in Research for Your Book

M.H. Brandt (Michael Brandt) is an Award-winning American author, crime fiction writer, and extreme adventurer.  Michael has run marathons and mountain climbed on the seven continents and traveled to the four corners of the world visiting over one hundred countries.  Michael is a decorated retired LAPD homicide detective of 29 years, who writes short stories for anthologies and destination travel articles for magazines and newspapers and is a published photographer.  Michael’s professional career includes writing manuals, training material, and curriculum development for a national anti-fraud investigators academy. He has been a guest speaker numerous times at health care anti-fraud conferences, police conferences, and writer’s conferences across the nation.

Jenifer Rowe

Point of View

Jenifer Rowe writes short stories, essays and memoir.  Her work has been published in Scarlet Leaf Review, Crack the Spine, Wildflower Muse, Liars League NYC, the Sacramento Bee, and the 2018 and 2019 issues of California Literary Review.  She earned Finalist distinction in the New Millennium Writings 46th Literary Awards.  Jenifer is a board member of the California Writers Club – Sacramento Branch, which has supported and encouraged writers for 109 years.  She lives in El Dorado Hills, California with her partner. Her first novel, Unexpected Findings, was published in 2020.

Janet McHenry


A national speaker, Janet McHenry is the author of 24 traditionally published books–both fiction and nonfiction. Two have reached bestseller lists: PrayerWalk (WaterBrook/RandomHouse) and 50 Life Lessons for Grads (Worthy/Hachette). A journalism graduate from UC Berkeley, Janet married her Elk Grove High School sweetheart, and they raised their four children in the Sierra Valley, where he is a cattle rancher and where she taught high school English. Janet speaks widely on spiritual topics and writing, is a certified writing and life coach, and hosts the four-day Sierra Valley Writers Retreat. She would love to connect with you: www.janetmchenry.com.

Gini Grossenbacher

Editor & Publisher / JGKS Press Publishing House

Award-winning indie novelist and forensic historian, Gini Grossenbacher is one of California’s respected, creative writing coaches, teachers, editors, and publishers. Her debut novel, Madam of My Heart, received the 2018 Finalist from American Fiction Book Awards for historical fiction, the 2018 Independent Publisher (IPPY) awards silver medal for historical fiction, the 2018 San Francisco Book Festival award for Fiction, and the 2017 Hollywood Book Festival’s Runner-Up Award for GenreFiction. Her second novel, Madam in Silk, received the 2020 Finalist from the National Indie Excellence Awards and the 2020 San Francisco Book Festival’s Runner-Up Award for Genre Fiction. In 2017 the California Writers Club honored Gini with the Jack London Service Award. After completing a BA in English at Lewis & Clark College, Gini took postgraduate course work in European history and Italian literature in Rome and Perugia, Italy. She gained her California Teaching Credential at CSUS Sacramento. She has an M.S. in Education from University of LaVerne, Los Angeles. After retiring from a career teaching high school English, she founded Elk Grove Writers & Artists, an AWA affiliate, in 2013. In 2017, Gini established JGKS Press, an assisted publisher of fine, well-written books of fiction and poetry. Gini earned her editing certificate from UC San Diego in 2021.

Jennifer Chen Tran

Literary Agent

Bradford Literary

Jennifer Chen Tran joined Bradford Literary in September 2017. Before that, she was an Associate Agent at Fuse Literary and served as Counsel at The New Press. She obtained her Juris Doctorate from Northeastern School of Law in Boston, MA, and a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis. Jennifer understands the importance of negotiation in securing rights for her authors. She represents both fiction and non-fiction and is a lifelong reader and experienced member of the publishing industry. She counsels her clients on how to expand their platforms, improve on craft, and works collaboratively with her clients throughout the editorial and publication process. Her ultimate goal is to work in concert with authors to shape books that have a positive social impact on the world – Books that inform and entertain. As a person of color and second-generation daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Jennifer is very interested in diverse writers and #ownvoices from underrepresented/ marginalized communities.

Danita Moon

Book Seller

Danita Moon is a freelance virtual assistant who offers author services in addition to proofreading and many other services. She is a certified proofreader and has worked in the book industry for several years. She is an avid reader and loves assisting with book sales. She has also had a short story published in an anthology and has a book in the process of being self-published titled Through the Looking Glass which details her journey with managing Bipolar. She is a big advocate for mental health and stopping the stigma associated with it.

Pictures were taken at this event, proving that we’re better writers than photographers.

And finally, thanks to the volunteers who helped make this conference a huge success:

  • Shelby Johnston – Class monitor.
  • Sandra Heaton – Check in.
  • Bev Woods – Check in.
  • Linda Bradley – Handouts and signs.
  • Loy Holder – Troubleshooter, liaison with venue staff.
  • George Hahn – Class monitor.

This blockbuster event was sponsored by the City of Elk Grove, Elk Grove Arts Commission, and the Elk Grove Writers Guild.