2011 Conference Authors


Colleen Bradford Krantz

Colleen Bradford Krantz spent a decade reporting for daily newspapers such as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and The Des Moines Register. Now an independent journalist, Colleen has written her first book, “Train to Nowhere; Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation.” The book was the starting point for an award-winning documentary of the same name, which Colleen wrote and co-produced. She lives in Adel, Iowa with her husband and three children. She will talk about how she ended up with a publisher just when she was about to give up on her true crime/immigration book. She’ll talk about finding other homes for your writing besides the book format, and how that might move things along in unexpected ways.






Rebecca Janni

Rebecca Janni learned early on that biking was the best way to get around the neighborhood and reading was the best way to get around the world. On a bus ride home from school, Rebecca confided to a friend that she was working on a novel about a girl and her horse. She never finished the novel, but a horse of a different hoof shows up in Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse and Every Cowgirl Needs Dancing Boots, both published by Dutton Children’s Books. Rebecca has two more picture books forthcoming and several projects on her desk. She has a master’s degree in English education and has taught high school and college English and creative writing. Today, she divides her time between volunteering, adjunct teaching, and writing — all of which take a back seat to motherhood! She lives in Iowa with her husband, four children, and a big-hearted dog named Mickey. She loves to read and bike with her family, but not at the same time.


Mickey Zucker Reichert

Mickey Zucker Reichert is a pediatrician, parent to multitudes (at least it seems like that many), bird wrangler, goat roper, dog trainer, cat herder, horse rider, and fish feeder who has learned (the hard way) not to let macaws remove contact lenses. Also she is the author of twenty-two novels (including the “Renshai”, “Nightfall”, “Barakhai” and “Bifrost” series), one illustrated novella, and fifty-plus short stories. Mickey’s age is a mathematically guarded secret: the square root of 8649 minus the hypotenuse of an isosceles right triangle with a side length of 33.941126.Mickey’s claim to fame is that she has performed brain surgery and my parents really are rocket scientists. She has a heart of warm oatmeal for anything living, and cannot seem to say “no” to helping them. She (and her husband) have been foster and adoptive parents not only to children but also to every animal from mice to horses, including some of the weirder ones like large snakes, llamas, exotic parrots, a squirrel, opossums, foxes, pigs, lizards, hermit crabs, peacocks, turkeys, guineas, finches, songbirds, and even rats. They have drawn the line at elephants, although they did once have a Newfoundland and a Burmese Mountain dog. Most of their animals have come to them as finds, strays, and castoffs.


Steve Sherman

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.





Carol Bodensteiner

Carol Bodensteiner was born in Maquoketa and raised on her family’s dairy farm in eastern Iowa. After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in speech and English education, Carol joined the American Soybean Association where she spent three years as editor of Soybean Digest magazine. Subsequently, Carol spent 23 years as public relations advisor to clients at two agencies. For 10 years, she was the president of CMF&Z Public Relations, one of the Midwest’s largest business-to-business public relations firms. During that time she was also Special Assistant to the President for marketing at UNI and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Drake University where she earned her MA in mass communication. Currently she consults with agribusiness and higher education clients, teaches writing as an adjunct professor at Drake University, and writes for her own projects and as a freelance writer. At the same time she became a consultant, Carol followed her heart and pursued creative writing. She is a frequent participant in the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Her first book, Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl, a memoir about her childhood on the farm was published in 2008. In her memoir, Carol preserves in words for her son and generations to follow this natural, deeply textured way of life that has been nearly lost in our country. In 2010, she joined 170 other writers in a collaborative project on the state of social media.  The Age of Conversation 3 explores the shift of social media from the hypothetical to a staple in the modern marketing toolbox. Carol is professionally accredited by the Public Relations Society of America. She has been active in the Public Relations Society of America’s Counselors Academy. She was named a Fellow in the Public Relations Society of America in 1999. Carol has been a contributing author for various publications in her career, including Public Relations Review and Public Relations Quarterly. In addition to writing for professional journals, Carol has written essays and articles published in The Iowan magazine and The Des Moines Register and aired on WOI-Radio. She lives with her husband on an acreage near Des Moines.


Kimberly Stuart

Kimberly Stuart, in an effort to condone the time and money spent, would like you to know she holds degrees from St. Olaf College and the University of Iowa. She learned lots of interesting things at these fine institutions, none of which prepared her for the lethal cocktail of parenthood and writing. Stuart is the author of five novels, including Act Two (David C. Cook, 2008) and Stretch Marks (David C. Cook, 2009).  Her most recent, Operation Bonnet, released February 2011. Kimberly lives, plays, works, and eats lots of chocolate in Des Moines, Iowa, where she makes her home with a forgiving husband and three great kids.








Kathy Bacus

I guess the road less traveled would pretty much describe my rather unconventional path to publication. I like to think of myself as a bit of a pioneer for women in law enforcement. I was one of the first women in the state of Iowa to graduate from the Iowa Department of Public Safety Academy and become an Iowa State Trooper. Not exactly the female equivalent of Lewis and Clark, I know, but I still like to think I helped pave the way for those who would follow in my shiny black patent leather footsteps later on. It was an incredible time in my life and, even now, many more years later than I care to count, I realize the huge role the life lessons and self-discipline I learned back then played in getting me where I’m at today: Introducing myself to you as a published author! My tenure in law enforcement taught me two lessons that have served me well in my pursuit of a professional writing career: Never give up and never stop laughing. No matter what. I began writing when I was homebound with four children under the age of three including a set of triplets. Writing was my way of getting away from it all–without ever leaving the house! In 2004 I entered the American Title Contest co-sponsored by Romantic Times BOOKreview and Dorchester Publishing, Inc. and was thrilled when I was selected as one of the ten finalists. Although Calamity Jayne and I got booted off the American Title Island in Round Three, my book caught the eye of Dorchester Senior Editor, Christopher Keeslar and I came home from work one day at lunch time to discover he was interested in making me an offer for the book. And the rest, as they say, is history! With six Tressa Jayne Turner mysteries and a romantic comedy release to my credit, things are hopping in the book realm. I am an active member of many writing organizations. A multi-genre writer with interests that range from humorous mystery hybrids to young adult to romantic suspense and thrillers, I’m always hard at work on a new project. Or two or three.


Leslie Langtry

Leslie Langtry is, in fact, a mom and a Girl Scout leader, but she has never assassinated anyone, either professionally or for recreation. Okay, she knits, but she almost never garrotes anyone with the circular needles. Instead, she lives with her husband, Tom, and two children, Margaret and Jack, in the Quad Cities – with no immediate plans to train either child as an assassin. She wants to make that perfectly clear. Sure, Tom is a professional bodyguard, but he is not from Australia – nor has he ever been there. Seriously, he can’t even do the accent properly. And yes, she has a Pug (named Lucy) who has never, ever tried to seduce anything other than the sofa. She also has a basset hound and two cats – none of which possess any killer instincts whatsoever. So there, you see, this book in no way mirrors Leslie Langtry’s life. That’s her story, and she’s sticking to it.






Sharon Helgens

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been fascinated with all kinds of creative pursuits.  Through the years I’ve tried my hand at drawing and painting, knitting and crocheting, clothing construction, tailoring, lingerie making, calligraphy, acting, directing plays and more.  I even took a class in belly dancing when I was young.  But I never stuck with anything long enough to get very good at it.  I would learn just enough to satisfy my curiousity, then I would get bored and start looking for something new.  In short, I was a compulsive dabbler. All that changed, however, when I became a grandmother.  I didn’t feel old – because I wasn’t – just thirty-five.  But, all of a sudden, I felt as if time was running out.  I was at the top of the hill, and it was going to be a roller coaster ride down.  I had never accomplished anything in my lifetime – never even set any goals for myself.  Finally it dawned on me that I was never going to achieve anything unless I chose one thing to do, concentrated on that alone, and stuck with it.  It just so happened, I was investigating creative writing at the time. So I set out to learn to write.  I took classes, participated in workshops, went to writers’ conferences.  I subscribed to writers’ magazines.  I read and reread many books about writing fiction, especially short stories.  And, of course, I wrote.  And rewrote.  And submitted my work.  And got rejected – again and again and again.  But I didn’t give up.  For ten years I concentrated on writing. In that time, I was published in many magazines – in the United States and in eight foreign countries.  My short stories won various awards, and my one and only novel was a finalist in a major contest for unpublished authors and seriously considered by Harlequin.  I have had editors come to me, asking permission to reprint certain stories I’d had published.  A couple of editors asked me to submit something to their magazines, and one commissioned me to write more than half a dozen stories, on particular subjects. All of that happened because I worked hard, believed in myself, and didn’t give up.