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2024 Storyfest logo. Open book with pencil and swirls


Friday, Sept. 27-Sunday, Sept. 29

DoubleTree by Hilton Columbia

2100 Bush River Road, Columbia, SC 29210

(Hotel room rate is $169 (plus tax & fees) for 1 King
or 2 Queen Beds. Reserve your room.)


Lynn Cullen, Caucasian woman with dark background

Lynn Cullen

Lynn Cullen is the bestselling author of more than a half dozen historical novels, including The Woman With The Cure, The Sisters of Summit Avenue, Twain’s End, Mrs. Poe and I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter. Her novel Mrs. Poe was named a Book of the Week by People Magazine, a Target Book Club Pick, an NPR 2013 Great Read, an Indie Next List selection and an Oprah Book of the Week. The Georgia Center for the Book called her follow-up novel, Twain’s End—a fictionalized imagining of the life of Mark Twain—a Book All Georgians Should Read. “Ms. Cullen is the Bronte of our day,” says the Huffington Post. Her novels have been translated into seventeen languages.

Saturday Breakout #8: The Publishing World Today Panel

Saturday Breakout #13: Writing Historical Fiction

Sunday Keynote (topic TBA)

Grady Hendrix, Caucasian man hold "skull"

Grady Hendrix

Grady Hendrix is a South Carolina-born journalist, screenwriter and author of six books, including the best-selling horror novels How To Sell a Haunted House and The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires. Hendrix, who now lives in Manhattan, spent much of his childhood in public libraries. He worked for the American Society for Psychical Research before writing for Variety, The New York Post, Slate, Playboy and The Village Voice. His approach to horror is delightfully twisted. His 2014 novel Horrorstör is a comedy-horror novel set in an IKEA-like store. Amazon Prime turned his novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism into a 2022 supernatural comedy horror film. Two other books — including the 2021 novel The Final Girl Support Group — are slated for television adaptations. Goodreads calls him America’s best horror writer.

Saturday Keynote (topic TBA)

Saturday Breakout #8: The Publishing World Today Panel

Saturday Breakout #12: Writing Horror

Tiffany Yates Martin, Caucasian woman with light background

Tiffany Yates Martin

Tiffany Yates Martin has spent nearly 30 years as an editor in the publishing industry, working with major publishers and New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors as well as indie and newer writers. She is the founder of FoxPrint Editorial and author of Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing. She is a regular contributor to writers' outlets like Writer's Digest, Jane Friedman and Writer Unboxed, and a frequent presenter and keynote speaker for writers' organizations around the country. Under her pen name, Phoebe Fox, she is the author of six novels. Visit her at

Friday Masterclass: Mastering the Holy Trinity of Story: Character, Stakes and Plot

Saturday Keynote: The Happy, Harsh Truths of a Writing Career

Saturday Breakout #5: Secrets, Twists and Reveals

Saturday Breakout #15: Live Edits

Saturday Breakout #17: How to Train Your Editor Brain

Alan Roth, Caucasian man in dark suit

Alan Roth

Alan Roth graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey with degrees in history and English literature, then attended graduate school at Emerson College in Boston, where he received an MFA in creative writing. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and serves as an adjunct professor of screenwriting at Fairleigh Dickinson’s School of the Arts. He is a winner of the coveted Nicholl Fellowship Academy Award for best original screenplay (Jersey City Story) and works with producers on developing projects for both film and TV.

Friday Keynote: AI and Current Trends in Writing

Saturday Breakout #1: Book to Screen


Cinelle Barnes, Filipino woman with light background

Cinelle Barnes

Cinelle Barnes is a memoirist, essayist and educator from the Philippines. Her debut memoir, Monsoon Mansion, was Bustle’s Best Nonfiction Book of 2018. She is the author of Malaya: Essays on Freedom and the editor of the New York Times New & Noteworthy book A Measure of Belonging: 21 Writers of Color on the New American South. Her writing has appeared or been featured in the New York Times, Longreads, Garden & Gun, Electric Literature, Buzzfeed Reader, Literary Hub, Hyphen and CNN Philippines. The Charleston-based writer has received fellowships and grants from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, VONA, Kundiman, the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund, the Lowcountry Quarterly Arts Grant and Capita. She was a contributing editor, instructor and writer at Catapult and served as a juror for the inaugural Pulitzer Prize for Memoir.

Saturday Breakout #16: Develop Your Memoir: Writing Prompts from a Memoirist and Developmental Editor

Jennifer Bartell Boykin, Black woman with light background

Jennifer Bartell Boykin

Jennifer Bartell Boykin is the poet laureate of the City of Columbia. She received an MFA from the University of South Carolina. Her debut book of poetry,Traveling Mercy (Finishing Line Press, 2023), was released under the name Jennifer Bartell. Her second book Only Believe (The Word Works) won the 2023 Hilary Tham Capital Collection Prize and is forthcoming in 2024. An alumna of Agnes Scott College, Boykin is an Academy of American Poets Poet Laureate Fellow and has additional fellowships from Callaloo and The Watering Hole.

Saturday Breakout #10: Writing and Publishing Poetry

Jessica Berg, Caucasian woman

Jessica Berg

Jessica Berg is a literary agent and the founder of Rosecliff Literary, a boutique agency dedicated to discovering and nurturing exceptional talent. With a master's in fiction from Spalding University, Berg brings over a decade of developmental editing experience to her work, offering a nuanced understanding of storytelling. Her career is marked by a passion for helping authors refine their narratives and find their unique place in the literary market. At Rosecliff Literary, Berg's approach to agenting is collaborative and comprehensive. She focuses on key elements such as structure, character development, pacing, and thematic depth to ensure each manuscript reaches its full potential. Her detailed feedback and strategic insights help authors craft compelling, coherent, and emotionally resonant stories. Berg's commitment to excellence has made her a trusted partner for writers seeking to elevate their work and achieve publishing success. In addition to her role as an agent, Berg is a dedicated educator. She regularly conducts master classes and workshops, offering personalized coaching sessions to empower writers with the skills they need to succeed. Her teaching philosophy emphasizes a supportive and inspiring environment where writers can explore the fundamentals of narrative structure, character arcs, and thematic exploration. Berg's extensive experience includes roles with literary magazines such as Second Draft, Fractured Lit and Uncharted Magazine, where she has honed her ability to enhance narrative appeal and connect authors with their audiences. Her involvement in the literary community extends to speaking engagements at writer's conferences, where her insights on the agenting process and the importance of narrative craft are highly valued.


Saturday Breakout #4: Queryfest

Saturday Breakout #7: Why the First 10 Pages Are Critical and How to Get Them Right

Sunday Breakout #18: Plot Your Novel Using Percentages

Sunday Slushfest

Barbara V. Evers, Caucasian woman with brick backdrop

Barbara V. Evers

Barbara V. Evers is the author of The Watchers of Moniah epic fantasy trilogy (The Watchers of Moniah, The Watchers in Exile, The Watchers at War) as well as several short stories and essays. From the mysterious Dark Corner of South Carolina, she crafts fantasy stories with strong women matriarchies and unusually gifted and clever animals. A two-time winner of the Imadjinn Best Fantasy Novel, she has won several writing awards, including a Pushcart Prize nomination. Her short stories and essays have appeared in The Petigru Review, moonShine review, Child of My Child, Stupefying Stories, A Magnificent Display of Marvelous Wonders, and her own short story collection, Pieces of Her: Being a Woman is Not for the Faint of Heart. Evers is a supporter and advocate for animal conservation and seeks to educate others about endangered species. The giraffes in The Watchers of Moniah trilogy are no longer endangered, but giraffes in our world are suffering a silent extinction. As an advocate, Evers contributes a portion of her royalties to support the work of The Giraffe Conservation Foundation. When she’s not writing, she uses her degrees in zoology and communication to conduct training workshops for businesses. Maybe she really can speak to animals! Any other time, she can be found herding her husband, two grandchildren and her rescue dog, Roxy (but don’t tell them).

Friday Class: Crafting Critters as Characters

Saturday Breakout #8: The Publishing World Today Panel

Renee Fountain, Caucasian woman with light background

Renee C. Fountain

Renee C. Fountain champions various genres, ranging from adult thrillers to informative nonfiction and close-to-her-heart YA. Over the years, Fountain has helped launch several crime thriller writers and series, including Sarah Cain’s The 8th Circle, Michel Logan’s Hell’s Detective and Jonathan Fredrick’s Cain City series. Before putting on her agent hat, she spent five years working for the CW television network as a book scout and story analyst for television development. She spent nearly a decade working in major publishing houses, including Harcourt Brace and Simon & Schuster, where she worked with some of the best writers and illustrators in the publishing world. In addition to looking for the next bestseller, Fountain also can be found at, providing developmental editing and other writing services. 


Friday Masterclass: From Query to Contract: Mastering the Submission Process

Saturday Breakout #4: Queryfest

Saturday Breakout #8: The Publishing World Today Panel

Sunday Slushfest

Mindy Friddle, Caucasian woman in hat outside

Mindy Friddle

Mindy Friddle is author of the novel Her Best Self as well as Secret Keepers (winner of the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction). The Garden Angel, her first novel and SIBA bestseller, was selected for Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers. The South Carolina Arts Commission awarded Friddle a prose fellowship, and she twice has won the state’s Fiction Prize. Her stories and essays have appeared in numerous journals. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson and lives on Edisto Island, South Carolina.

Friday Class: Write Your Novel: Tips to Propel You From Inspiration to Final Draft

Image of Caucasian man in front of woooded background.

Andrew Geyer

Andrew Geyer is the author, co-author and editor of 11 books, including the novels Dixie Fish and Meeting the Dead and the short story collection Lesser Mountains, winner of the 2020 Independent Publishers Book Award Silver Medal for Regional/Southern Fiction. His short stories have won numerous accolades, including two Spur Awards for Best Short Story from the Western Writers of America. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters and the South Carolina Academy of Authors Literary Hall of Fame, Geyer chairs the Department of English at the University of South Carolina Aiken. He is the former fiction editor of the Concho River Review and the 2024 managing editor of SCWA’s literary journal, The Petigru Review.


Saturday Breakout #3: Novel vs. Story Cycle

Sunday Slushfest

Scott Gould, Caucasian man wear ballcap

Scott Gould

Scott Gould is the author of five books, including The Hammerhead Chronicles, winner of the Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction, and Things That Crash, Things That Fly, which won a 2022 Memoir Prize for Books. Other honors include a Next Generation Indie Book Award, an IPPY Award for Fiction, the Larry Brown Short Story Award and the South Carolina Arts Commission Artist Fellowship in Prose. Gould's latest book is the short story collection, Idiot Men. A new novel, Peace Like a River, is forthcoming from Regal House Publishing in 2025. Gould's work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Black Warrior Review, Pangyrus, New Ohio Review, Crazyhorse, Pithead Chapel, Garden & Gun and New Stories from the South, among others. He teaches at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville.

Saturday Breakout #2: Short Story Writing

Nicole Jock, Caucasian woman with dark background

Nicole Jock

Nicole Jock is a publishing consultant from Delaware with a degree in communications from the University of Phoenix. Jock ventured into the realm of publishing, choosing to start her journey by relocating to Charleston, South Carolina. She immersed herself in the multifaceted landscape of the publishing industry, discovering her true passion for fostering meaningful connections with authors from diverse cultural and creative backgrounds. When not assisting authors in navigating the intricacies of the publishing world, Jock can be found displaying her allegiance to the Washington Commanders, proudly adorned in their colors as she passionately cheers them on, embodying the spirit of a devoted enthusiast.

Saturday Breakout #6: Self-Publishing

Dinah Johnson, Black woman with light background

Dinah Johnson

Dr. Dianne (Dinah) Johnson is a literary historian and an English professor at the University of South Carolina. Her work has helped to document the history of African American children’s literature. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, she has is the author of H is for Harlem and Indigo Dreaming. She attended Princeton University and earned her Ph.D. at Yale University.

Sunday Breakout #19: Writing Children's Literature

Michael A. Murray, Black man with light backdrop

Michael A. Murray

Michael A. Murray is a literary and visual artist who always has allowed his love for art and community to steer his sense of purpose in the right direction. During his tenure as mentor and director of Poetry at the Rebuilding Individual Character Habits (R.I.C.H.) program, Murray has attained tremendous insight into the often misunderstood, but always inventive minds of the black artistic Southern youth. That insight carried over into his foundation of the NU GRWTH Artist Collective and continuous collaborative efforts with other activists and organizations to create programming centered around the development, support and sustainability of local artists. As a photographer and poet, Murray has had several works featured in The State newspaper, Cr8 Augusta, Charlotte is Creative and more. As a community organizer, founder/manager of Playlixt LLC and co-founder of Blue Note Poetry, he has curated over eight years of innovative events showcasing the many faces, voices, and styles of performance art.

Saturday Open Mic (facilitator)

Alex Rath, Caucasian man with patterned background

Alex Rath

Alex Rath is a best-selling science fiction and post-apocalyptic novelist, currently residing in Columbia, South Carolina, with his wife and elite gymnast daughter. With works published in the Four Horsemen Universe, This Fallen World, and the Salvage Title universe, Rath now has spread out with his own Colonization Science Fiction with the Terran Space Project, starting with Seeds of Terra. By day, Rath is an IT professional and has been for more than 30+ years. He has worked as a programmer/developer, webmaster, information security specialist and solutions design specialist. He has worked for large companies such as AOL and TD Bank. This background allows him to incorporate some technical savvy into his stories, while his experience interacting with non-technical customers allows him to do so in a way that isn't confusing or 'too technical' for a layperson to understand. Having grown up in Goldsboro, North Carolina, close enough to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, where his father was stationed to see F-4's and B-52's flying over on a regular basis, Rath grew up with a love of the military. That continues to his writing where he includes a military element to almost everything he writes, with a focus on getting it right.


Saturday Breakout #11: Writing Sci-Fi and Apocalyptic

Janisse Ray, Caucasian woman outside

Janisse Ray

Janisse Ray is a naturalist, activist, poet, essayist and author. Her early memoir, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, won the Southeastern Booksellers Award for Nonfiction, the Southern Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and the American Book Award in 2000. Since then, she has written or edited over a dozen books and has been published in more than 40 anthologies. Her work has won her a Pushcart Prize and the Nautilus Book Award. She was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2015. Reviewers and writers call Ray a modern-day Rachel Carson and Walt Whitman. “Seriously great,” says author Franklin Burroughs of her 2021 book, Wild Spectacle. She believes in the power of stories to transform a single person, a community, or a nation.

Friday Masterclass (topic TBA)

Nicholas Read, Caucasian  man outside

Nicholas Read

Nicholas Read has his juris doctorate from the Mississippi College School of Law. He got his start in publishing with an international publishing house in New York City, where he oversaw the funding, publication and distribution of niche reports published and distributed in newspapers consisting of The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today and The London Times. Read worked with Fortune 500 and 100 companies to deliver top class marketing campaigns to global audiences. He has helped hundreds of authors, entrepreneurs and business leaders publish books to bring their stories to the world as not only a means of growing their brand and business but to touch the world through the written word. Before serving as a senior publishing consultant at Palmetto Publishing, Read served as a vice president for the publishing imprint of a global media brand.

Saturday Breakout #6: Self-Publishing

Saturday Breakout #8: The Publishing World Today Panel

Chad Rhoad, man with beard and moustache in front of books

Chad Rhoad

Chad Rhoad is an editor at the Charleston-based Arcadia Press. He earned an MFA in fiction from the University of South Carolina. The former journalist and newspaper editor has been a project editor for more than 350 titles in history, true crime, fiction and culture. He has appeared at the Atlanta Writer’s Conference, the Florida Writer’s Association and SCWA's 2023 Storyfest. He teaches writing and literature at the university level. Says James C. Clark, the author of A History Lover’s Guide to Florida: "Chad Rhoad has made scores of books better and their authors more successful with his deft editing touch."


Sunday Slushfest

Dr. Kasie Whitener, Caucasian woman with light background

Dr. Kasie Whitener

Dr. Kasie Whitener is Founder of Clemson Road Creative, a management consulting company, and a lecturer at the University of South Carolina teaching strategic management and entrepreneurship. She was named a 2021 Fresh Voice in the Humanities by the Governor of South Carolina for her work on the radio show “Write On, SC” and with the South Carolina Writers’ Association. She is the author of two novels: After December (Chrysalis Press 2019) and Before Pittsburgh (2021) and two academic texts Practical Entrepreneurism (Great River Learning, 2020) and Strategic Management (Kendall Hunt, 2021). She co-authored the nonfiction manual Redesign Work Volume 1: A Beginner’s Guide to Autonomy (Clemson Road Publishing 2020). She is a member of South Carolina Humanities Speakers Bureau, and has delivered workshops for the Pat Conroy Literary Center, Richland Library, and Fairfax County Library, among others.

Saturday Breakout #14: Speed Pitching

Caucasian woman with dark background

Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana

Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana is an author, former journalist, Mrs. New York, national speaker, literary agent and book coach. Her blended memoir, Chronically Fabulous, teaches readers how to discover their purpose and thrive despite a disability, chronic illness or trauma. Her nonprofit reaches a half-million people per month, and her story of survival is told as the 35th chapter in Lady Gaga's recent anthology, Channel Kindness. She works as a literary agent and book coach, helping other writers achieve their dream of publishing a book. You can follow her @lupuschickofficial on Instagram or via

Saturday Breakout #4: Queryfest

Saturday Breakout #9: Query Writing

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