• Lesley Younge

    Lesley Younge is an educator and writer from Silver Spring, Maryland. She debuted as an author in 2023 with two books for young people. Nearer My Freedom (co-authored with her mentor Monica Edinger) is an award winning YA verse novel remix of British abolitionist Olaudah Equiano’s seminal autobiography. A-Train Allen, her first picture book, was the inaugural Own Voices, Own Stories Grand Prize Winner awarded by Sleeping Bear Press. Lesley is a fellow of Hurston/Wright Foundation and Anaphora Literary Arts. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in Spoken Black Girl Magazine, West Trade Review, Midnight & Indigo, The Plentitudes, and Full Bleed.

  • Allen R. Wells

    Allen R. Wells is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. He’s a graduate of Tennessee State University in Nashville. As an author, he believes in fostering safe literary spaces so that young readers have the opportunity to explore, communicate, and understand the world a little bit better. He crafts narratives that serve as sanctuaries, where readers feel deserving, empowered, and worthy of their existence. Allen contributes a landscape that nurtures minds and hearts.

  • Vic Sizemore

    Vic Sizemore is the author of the novel God of River Mud; the essay collection Goodbye, My Tribe: An Evangelical Exodus; and the short story collection I Love You I’m Leaving. His fiction and nonfiction appear in Story Quarterly, North American Review, Southern Humanities Review, storySouth, Blue Mesa Review, Sou’wester, Pembroke Magazine, Reed Magazine and many other journals. His fiction has won the New Millennium Writings Award and has been nominated for Best American Nonrequired Reading, Best of the Net, and several Pushcart Prizes. Vic lives in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

  • Rob Rufus

    Rob Rufus is an award-winning author, screenwriter, musician, and activist. His literary career began when his coming-of-age memoir, Die Young With Me, was released to critical acclaim. It was listed as one of Hudson Booksellers “Best Books of 2016” and won the American Library Association’s prestigious ALEX Award. Rob then released two works of fiction, The Vinyl Underground, which was a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection, and Paradise, WV, which won a gold medal at The IPPY Awards and was subsequently picked up as a series by Paramount Pictures. Rob created an original TV series called The Obituaries. It is now in development with Ley Line Entertainment (producers of…

  • Josh Howard

    Josh Howard is a public historian from Virginia who specializes in visitors studies, digital history, and the history of sport. In addition to holding a Ph.D. in public history, Dr. Howard is also a trained statistician. Dr. Howard’s work has appeared in the Journal of Sport History, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, and West Virginia History. His debut book is called Hell’s Not Far Off: Bruce Crawford and the Appalachian Left.

  • Matthew Ferrence

    Matthew Ferrence is the author of the books I Hate it Here, Please Vote For Me: Essays on Rural Political Abandonment; Appalachia North: A Memoir; and All-American Redneck. His essays and stories have appeared widely in North American literary journals, as well as Best American Travel Writing. He lives and writes at the confluence of Appalachia and the Rust Belt, where he is a Professor of Creative Writing at Allegheny College.

  • Jennifer Espinoza

    Jennifer Espinoza is a poet whose work has been featured in Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review, the American Poetry Review, The Rumpus, Poem-a-day @poets.org, and elsewhere. She is the author of I’m Alive / It Hurts / I Love It (Big Lucks 2019), THERE SHOULD BE FLOWERS (The Accomplices 2016), and I Don’t Want To Be Understood (Alice James Books 2024). She holds an MFA in creative writing from UC Riverside. Jennifer lives in California with her wife, poet/essayist Eileen Elizabeth, and their cat and dog.

  • Alison Cinnamond

    Alison Cinnamond is the author of Mimi the Pug Had a Very Smushed Mug. Alison is a senior level communications executive who has lived and worked in South Africa, the United States, Switzerland, Vietnam, China, Japan, Bangladesh, and Qatar. She is a world traveler and an avid reader with a lifelong love of animals. She is a Mom to Bailey and Calla, and her two fur babies Mimi and Luna. She is from Cape Town, South Africa and lives in Bethesda with her husband Don and their family.

  • Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr.

    Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr. is an advocate, Kentucky Teacher of the Year, and the author of a bestselling collection of narrative poetry about his childhood growing up queer in Appalachia, Gay Poems for Red States (University Press of Kentucky) which was named a Book Riot Best Book of 2023, a Top Ten Best Book of Appalachia by Read Appalachia, an IndieBound and American Bookseller Association’s must-have book, a 2023 Top Ten Over-The-Rainbow book by the American Library Association, and was awarded a 2024 Stonewall Book Award – Barbara Gittings Literature Honor Book Award. His work exists at the intersection of queer identity, Appalachian identity, and the politics of innocence.…

  • Dara Baldwin

    Dara Baldwin is a debut author with the book To Be A Problem: A Black Woman’s Survival in the Racist Disability Rights Movement published by Beacon Press and will be released in July 2024. Born in Torrejon, Spain to parents involved in serving their country, the desire to serve has continued through her education and current career journey. She is an activist, scholar and author. She started her first career in Healthcare Administration in executive positions. In 2004 she changed her career to public policy in the social justice/equity realm of work. Currently Ms. Baldwin is the founder and Principal of DMadrina, LLC. A consultant company working with organizations around…

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