2017 Conference Presenters

Speakers at this year’s conference include: Lorna Seilstad, Darcy Dougherty Maulsby, Francis Sparks, Sarah Latchaw, S.C. Sherman and Serena Chase.

From Lorna Seilstad: For as long as I can remember, I loved writing. I even dreamed in plots. I also grew up attending antique auctions nearly every weekend, so history was as much a part of my life as chores on our farm in Iowa, reading books, and playing with Barbies. So, writing historical romances fit perfectly. Times may change, the style of clothes, the way we speak, but the common threads that unite us remain the same. Couples fall in love. Injustices happen. We fight for what we believe in. We struggle. We endure. We grow. After graduating from York College in York, Nebraska for two years, I transferred to Lubbock Christian University and received a B.S.Ed. When I returned to Iowa, I met and married the love of my life, David. God had written our love story, and I knew from the moment we met that he was the one. It was not love at first sight by any means, but I was so sure he was “it” that I wrote that I’d met the man I would marry in my diary. We pledged our hearts to one another two and half years later. I taught high school English until my oldest child was born. After that I began my career as a professional wiper. I wiped noses, counter tops, tiny tushes, tears, and scraped knees. Deciding that my children were now older and less in need of my constant supervision, I started pursuing my first love again –writing. After joining American Christian Fiction Writers, I found a wonderful critique group and began studying the craft of writing. David and I have three children ages 20, 18, and 13. He’s a deacon in our church, and we both teach bible classes and have worked with youth for many years.

Anyone who eats has a connection to the things Darcy Dougherty Maulsby is most passionate about: food, farming and Iowa history. Described as an “artist with words,” Darcy is the author of three non-fiction books of Iowa history, including “A Culinary History of Iowa: Sweet Corn, Pork Tenderloins, Maid-Rites and More” from The History Press (2016), “Calhoun County” from Arcadia Publishing (2015), and “Dallas County,” which will be released in September 2017 from Arcadia Publishing. Darcy is proud to be part of a farm family that operates a Century Farm in Calhoun County near Lake City and Yetter, where she also runs her own marketing/communications company, Darcy Maulsby & Co. She has covered agriculture, food and business for nearly 20 years and has worked with a number of leading ag organizations, including Syngenta and the National Pork Board. Darcy earned her undergraduate degrees in journalism/mass communication and history from Iowa State University (ISU) in 1996. She completed her master’s degree in business administration and marketing at ISU in 2004. In her free time, Darcy enjoys cooking, serving as a Kansas City Barbecue Society judge, reading everything from true crime to culinary books, traveling, photography and helping on the farm. Visit her online and subscribe to her blog and e-newsletter at www.darcymaulsby.com.

Francis Sparks grew up on a farm in Iowa where he spent his days avoiding bulls and other livestock as he created castles in the pasture with odds and ends from the machine shed and his imagination. In middle school, he fell in love with reading when he discovered TSR/Wizard of the Coast’s treasure trove of fantasy novels and he began to dream of one day becoming a writer. Working as a librarian’s assistant in college, he stumbled upon The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler and quickly devoured all of his novels and Francis’s love of the mystery/detective story was born. In his early thirties, Francis began chasing his dream of becoming an author and began writing seriously. That dream came true when his debut novel Made Safe was signed by Pandamoon Publishing in late 2015. Francis Sparks currently lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his amazing wife, Kelly. If he’s not working on his next novel or short story, you can find him teaching his children about dragons.

Sarah Latchaw was raised in eastern Iowa and appreciates beauty in mud-splattered gravel roads and fields. She also loves to explore far-away places, thanks to countless family minivan trips across the States. This passion for finding stories led to college adventures in many different countries, and each place’s story rests in the back of her mind and in her photo albums. Sarah received her BA from Wartburg College in public relations and media, and entered the workforce, ready to climb the ladder. However, when researching MBA applications evoked feelings of dread, with the loving support of her husband, she pursued a career in creative writing and was awarded her MA from Iowa State University. These days, Sarah wakes every morning thrilled to cuddle her small children, show them the world, then capture that world and shape it into stories on paper. She is not thrilled when she wakes to her cats smothering her face. She and her family reside in Des Moines, Iowa—one of the best places to live and work.

S.C. Sherman grew up on a farm in rural Iowa. He graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Communications Studies. He still lives in Hawkeye country and enjoys family life with his wife Amy, and their four children, Mollie, Cole, Brock and Sariah. S.C. Sherman has written across several genres, including spiritual thrillers, a historical fiction trilogy based on a true story and a young adult fantasy. His first novel Leaving Southfields won Best Christian Historical of 2007. He loves larger than life stories that keep you guessing and move your soul.

SERENA CHASE is the author of the critically-acclaimed Eyes of E’veria epic fantasy series and the contemporary YA coming-of-age romance, Intermission. A respected industry influencer and frequent contributor to USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog, Serena Chase believes in the power of Story as a connective tool to impact individual lives and thereby bring about change in the world. Although the voice in which she writes varies stylistically between genres and the fairy tale in question may be metaphorical, her author tagline “find yourself in the fairy tale” carries her hope that readers will be able to identify with her stories on a deeply personal level while being thoroughly entertained. Serena enjoys mentoring aspiring authors and helping new and established authors to create back cover and other book marketing copy through her critique service, Reviewer’s Eye View. Her fiction craft workshops are designed to provide authors with the tools they need to create an immersive entertainment experience for their readers. Though she dreams of living in a cottage by the sea, Serena currently resides in small rural town in land-locked Iowa with her husband, two daughters, and a big fluffy dog who rarely leaves her side. When she’s not writing, reading, teaching, or working on other authors’ projects, Serena can be found attending her daughters’ school events and volunteering to support the fine arts in her community. Connect with Serena by visiting her website http://serenachase.com You can also find her on Facebook (Serena Chase Author Official) as well as Twitter & Instagram: @Serena_Chase