This faculty page for presenters and critique personnel
will be updated over time. Thank you.
Merc Rustad is a published author of speculative fiction (fantasy and science fiction). Merc is mostly found on Twitter @Merc_Rustad and sometimes playing in cardboard boxes.
At the 2019 Minnesota Workshop, Merc will be teaching on how to write great sci-fi and fantasy, and also critiquing manuscripts as an add-on element for attendees.
Merc is a queer non-binary writer who likes dinosaurs, robots, monsters, and cookies. Their fiction has appeared in Lightspeed, Uncanny, Fireside, Nightmare, Apex, Shimmer, and others.
“How To Become A Robot In 12 Easy Steps” was included in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015 (ed. by Joe Hill and John Joseph Adams). Merc is also a 2016 Nebula Award finalist for their story, “This Is Not A Wardrobe Door,” which has been reprinted in PodCastle (audio), Cicada (2018), and The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2017 (ed. by Charles Wu and John Joseph Adams), along with translations into Chinese and Portuguese.
Sarah Ahiers has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Hamline University and lives in Minnesota with her dogs and a house full of critters. She has a collection of steampunk hats and when she’s not writing she fills her time with good games, good food, good friends and good family.
At the 2019 Minnesota workshop, she is teaching on writing young adult and middle grade, and critiquing manuscripts as an add-on element for attendees.
Sarah writes Young Adult and Middle Grade novels and occasionally dabbles in Picture Books. Fantasy is her favorite genre, though she sometimes can be found playing around with Horror and other things that go bump in the night.
Sarah’s debut novel, ASSASSIN’S HEART (HarperTeen, February 2nd, 2016) is a Young Adult Fantasy. In the Kingdom of Lovero, where families of assassins lawfully kill people for the right price, seventeen-year-old Oleander “Lea” Saldana sets out on a path of vengeance against the most powerful assassin family of all.
Kimiko Nakamura is a literary agent with Dee Mura Literary, and a co-coordinator of the 2019 Minnesota Writing Workshop.
At the 2019 Minnesota workshop, she will be teaching on memoir writing, and also critiquing manuscripts for attendees.
A graduate of Skidmore College and Boston University’s Book Publishing Program, Kimiko worked within Shambhala Publications and Harvard Common Press before becoming a literary agent. She partners with aspiring and published authors alike, enjoys well-worn library books, and is always up for a game of Scrabble. She loves projects that reimagine what’s possible, characters with something (or nothing) to lose, unique viewpoints, trailblazing heroines, and anything with elements of magical realism. She represents memoir writers.
Kristi Belcamino is an Agatha, Anthony, Barry and Macavity-Award-nominated author of 13 crime thrillers, a newspaper cops reporter, and an Italian mama who makes a tasty biscotti. Her first novel, BLESSED ARE THE DEAD, was inspired by her dealings with a serial killer during her life as a Bay Area crime reporter. Belcamino has written and reported about many high-profile cases including the Laci Peterson murder and Chandra Levy’s disappearance. She has appeared on “Inside Edition” and her work has appeared in the Miami Herald, San Jose Mercury News, and Chicago Tribune. Kristi now works part-time as a police reporter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Cori Doerrfeld is a published picture book author and illustrator. She has created many published books. In 2018, she will have new books coming out with publishers such as HarperCollins, Little Brown, and Dial Books for Young Readers.
At the 2019 Minnesota workshop, Cori will be doing add-on picture book critiques for attendees. (Learn more about the critiques here.) She will also be teaching on how to get a picture book published.
Cori received her undergrad degree in Studio Art from St. Olaf College and her Post Baccalaureate from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. All of her books are available at amazon.com or your local bookstore.
Cori is represented by Rachel Orr at Prospect Agency.
Latoya C. Smith is a literary agent and editorial consultant. At the 2019 MN workshop, she is teaching on romance writing and revision, and also meeting writers for one-on-one pitches.
Latoya started her editorial career as an administrative assistant to New York Times bestselling author, Teri Woods at Teri Woods Publishing while pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree at Temple University. She graduated Cum Laude from Temple in August of 2005. She then attained a full-time position at Kensington Publishing in March of 2006. In October 2006, Latoya joined Grand Central Publishing, an imprint at Hachette Book Group. For the span of her eight years there, Latoya acquired a variety of titles from Hardcover fiction and nonfiction, to digital romance and erotica. She was featured in Publishers Weekly and USA Today, as well as on various author, book conference, and book blogger websites.
In early 2014, she appeared on CSpan2 where she contributed to a panel discussing the state of book publishing. From August 2014 to February 2016, Latoya was Executive Editor at Samhain Publishing where she acquired short and long-form romance and erotic fiction. She is the winner of the 2012 RWA Golden Apple for Editor of the Year, 2017 Golden Apple for Agent of the Year, and the 2017 Literary Jewels Award for Editor of the Year. Latoya provides editorial services and literary representation through her company, LCS Literary Services.
Alexandra Weiss is a literary agent with Jennifer De Chiara Literary. At the 2019, she is meeting with writers for pitches. She is also teaching on Author Brand Building.
Alexandra is a Books Writer for Bustle.com, the PR Manager for a local Chicago circus, and an all-around literary bookworm. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BFA in Creative Writing and Publishing in 2015. Previously she’s worked as an Acquisitions Editor for the award-winning anthology Hair Trigger, interned as a publicist for Kaye Publicity, and was a loyal volunteer for Columbia’s annual Story Week: Festival of Writers event for the past four years.
Ever since she was little, her main goal has been to inspire with words, just like the many beloved books and authors have done before her.
Red Sofa Literary is the celebration of the quirky, eclectic ideas in our exciting literary community. Realizing that the best ideas come via engaging conversations and over good coffee, while sometimes relaxing in a colorful lounger.
Established by literary agent Dawn Frederick, previously of Sebastian Literary Agency, she brings a broad knowledge of the book business to the table—with multiple years of experience as a bookseller in the independent, chain, and specialty stores; sales, marketing, & book development at a YA publisher, a published nonfiction author, and an agent associate literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency in 2002 (before Red Sofa Literary was established).
At the 2019 MN workshop, Dawn is taking one-on-one pitches from attendees. She is also teaching on traditional vs. non-traditional publishing, as well as how to work with an agent once you’ve secured representation.
In addition to her literary agent duties, she extensively volunteers with her local library system, while still finding time to spend quality time on her “wheels.”
She carries a B.S. in Human Ecology, and a M.S. in Information Sciences from an ALA accredited institution. “Not only do I know what people like to read and are currently reading; I also have the experience of working one-on-one with authors, book distribution centers, and literary organizations.”
Weronika Janczuk is a literary agent with D4E0 Literary.
At the 2019 workshop, she is taking one-on-one pitches from attendees, and also teaching on plotting, pacing, & structure.
Weronika (pronounced like Veronica) broke into publishing in 2009, through a high school workshop that placed me with former young adult editor Brian Farrey at Flux (now North Star), a small imprint in Minnesota, where she pulled, from the slush pile, the lovely Out of the Blue by Holly Schindler, which received a starred review in Booklist.
She then moved on to intern with Kathleen Anderson at Anderson Literary Management, Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency, and Mary Kole, formerly with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. From 2010-2011, as an undergraduate at NYU, she worked with Bob Diforio and sold an array of projects. Weronika’s parents immigrated from Poland to Canada, where she was born.
“I grew up in the Twin Cities of Minnesota; and now I reside in New York City, NY. I studied at New York University’s Gallatin School, where I finished a self-designed degree in the philosophy of the human person. I love Earl Grey tea and lattes, Sudoku, rivers, and pierogi with blueberries. I am also a writer, as are many other agents and editors. I queried my first project when I was 13, and have never queried again, tinkering in silence, perfecting craft, with my current project a science fantasy.
“Human nature fascinates me, and I am drawn to stories that share the rawness and truth of what is and what is possible. I love beautiful writers, worlds, characters; smart, quirky and genre-bending stories. I love underdogs, and stories about characters that rise above limitations. I love romance, whether genre- or element-wise, that is visceral in its rawness. I love dark contours, intense in their immediacy, and world-building that catches your breath with its precision and distinctness.”
Her first novel is Gardenia.
Kelsey was born in Tucson, Arizona. Shortly after this her mother moved them to Minnesota, where she’s remained ever since. There has never been a time when Kelsey was not writing. As a child she would come home from school, pull out her plastic bin full of markers and paper, and arrange everything around herself in a circle. She would then fold some paper in half, staple the side three times, and proceed to fill the white spaces with words and pictures. The first novel Kelsey ever finished was so thick it could have served as a doorstop. The story was about Victorian vampires. It was 2008 and she was sixteen years old. Kelsey did research on how to get a book published and discovered what a literary agent was. She promptly sent a query to one. Understandably, that awkward, snail-mail query received no reply. As the days turned into weeks, Kelsey reconsidered her approach. She concluded that maybe this manuscript wasn’t the one she wanted to show the world. So she took another year and wrote a completely new suspense novel. It was 2009. Kelsey was seventeen and on her own.
By this time she had realized that agents accepted e-mail queries and there wasn’t only one of them in the world. Kelsey sent off a new query to several agencies; Beth was among that list. After a long, enlightening journey, she again shelved a manuscript. Time passed. Kelsey graduated high school in 2010 and immediately afterwards ran off to California. She wrote another novel. Then she came back to her beloved Minnesota and got responsible, enrolling in college and finding a job.
And in the beginning of 2011, Kelsey queried Beth again. She was eighteen years old with a story that was new, strange, and exciting. She had written it during a time when she was living with people she didn’t know that well, in a place that was a little frightening, during a time when absolutely nothing was certain. Beth quickly got back to her. The subject of the e-mail read, RE: Query: SOME QUIET PLACE.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Erik Hane is a literary agent with Red Sofa Literary.
Erik is a writing major from Knox College, and attended the Denver Publishing Institute after graduation. His first publishing job came soon after, as an editorial assistant and then assistant editor at Oxford University Press.
He then moved to The Overlook Press as an acquiring editor, working on primarily upmarket nonfiction (history, biography, pop science), but was lucky enough to work on some novels as well.