2012 Conference Writers

Julie Kramer 

Journalist turned novelist Julie Kramer writes a series of thrillers: STALKING SUSAN, MISSING MARK, SILENCING SAM, KILLING KATE and SHUNNING SARAH—set in the desperate world of TV news. Julie won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Mainstream Mystery/Suspense, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best First Mystery as well as the Minnesota Book Award. Her work has also been nominated for the Anthony, Barry, Shamus, Mary Higgins Clark, and RT Best Best Amateur Sleuth Awards. She formerly ran the I TEAM for WCCO-TV before becoming a freelance network news producer for NBC and CBS.


Sparkle Abbey

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of two mystery authors (Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter). They are friends and neighbors as well as co-writers of the Pampered Pets Mystery Series. The pen name was created by combining the names of their rescue pets – (Sparkle ML’s cat) and Abbey (Anita’s dog). They reside in Central Iowa, but if they could write anywhere you would find them on a beach with their laptops and depending on the time of day either an iced tea or a margarita.


Zachary Michael Jack

Zachary Michael Jack has published more than twenty award-winning books in a variety of genres, including fiction, poetry, literary journalism, creative nonfiction, and personal essay. Zachary’s fiction has earned national runner-up honors in the Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Award; his poetry has been awarded the Prentice Hall Prize, and his nonfiction has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize (Best of the Small Presses), the Theodore Saloutos Award, and the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. The author and his work have been featured in The New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune, among others. In sum Zachary’s work has earned him listing in Who’s Who in America. An associate professor of English, Zachary teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in writing, rural and urban studies, and sports and leadership studies at North Central College. He is the great-grandson of writer Walter Thomas Jack and a seventh generation resident of Iowa.


Leigh Michaels

Leigh Michaels (www.leighmichaels.com) is the author of more than 100 books, including spicy historical romances, contemporary romances, and non-fiction books about writing and local history. More than 35 million copies of her books are in print in 25 languages. Her books have been published by Harlequin, Sourcebooks, Montlake Romance, Writers Digest Books, and Arcadia Publishing. She is the author of On Writing Romance, which has been called the definitive guide on how to write romance novels. A six-time finalist in the RITA contest for best traditional romance, she  has also won Reviewers Choice awards from Romantic Times and the Johnson Brigham award from the Iowa Library Association for outstanding contributions to American literature. She teaches romance writing online at Gotham Writers Workshop (www.writingclasses.com) and many of her students have gone on to be published in romance fiction. She wrote her first romance novel when she was 14, then went on to write and burn five more books before her first submission was accepted and published.


Dr. Thomas Rexroth

Dr. Thomas A. Rexroth has been a philanthropist and a practicing chiropractic physician for over thirty-eight years. He has a driving interest in causes and solutions. His interest in health, politics and social problems has led to several published articles in national journals. He has previously author a book entitled Trust or Consequences, Exposing Hidden Political Agendas, which describes the way conservatives and liberals categorize people and how they see the world. He has special insight in understanding what made America great and what we must do to help America remain the greatest country the world has ever seen.


Sharon Rexroth

Sharon Rexroth graduated cum laude from Iowa Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, where she was the winner of the prestigious Edward Wright competition.  In recent years, Sharon has served as Assistant Director of Continuing Education at Iowa Wesleyan.  Sharon substitute teaches in several public schools and keeps busy speaking in schools, churches and service organizations.  A former Mrs. Iowa, Sharon lives in Burlington, Iowa, with her husband of 38 years, Dr. Tom Rexroth.


Robert Kerr

Born and raised in Nebraska, Robert has called Iowa home for more than 35 years. He attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the University of Kansas at Ft. Hays, and the University of Northern Iowa.  He holds a master’s degree in psychology, and his career path has led him through stints as a welder, a carpenter, a mental hospital attendant, a mortician’s assistant, and a general Man Friday for an electrical engineer.  For the past 35 years, he has been a school psychologist in Central Iowa, retiring last June.  Robert and his wife have rehabilitated five houses, including a Victorian-era house that inspired Completely Restored.  They have two grown children and one extremely cute granddaughter.  Although they originally settled in Marshalltown, they moved to Ankeny in 2007.  Completely Restored is Robert’s first novel.  He is working on a sequel with a working title of Car Crazy, in which two of the original characters make a celebratory road trip to the Winter Dance Party in Clear Lake, IA in a restored 1965 T-Bird, only to find themselves thrust back in time to 1959, a few days prior to the original Winter Dance Party.  Robert can be reached at http://www.myrobertkerr.com.


Stephen L. Brayton

Stephen is a Fifth Degree Black Belt instructor in the American Taekwondo Association. He started martial arts training in 1991, earned his black belt in 1993, and gained his instructor certification in 1995. In 1996, he opened up my first taekwondo club in Grinnell, Iowa. In 2003, he assumed ownership of the club in Oskaloosa, Iowa. He’s been employed in various fields: radio broadcaster and sales, printing, warehouse/trucking, and hospitality. He’s a reader; a writer; an instructor; a graphic designer; a lover of books, movies, wine, women, music, fine food, good humor, sunny summer days spent hiking or fishing; and he is a catnip drug dealer to his thirteen pound cat, Thomas. If you wish to contact Stephen please email him at slb@mahaska.org.


Bill Beaman

The Beamans own and operate a livestock and grain farm located in Southwest Iowa. Purchased in 1982, the farm has survived: the “Farm Crisis” of the Eighties, a 1986 bank failure, the 1988 drought, the floods of 1993, and too many other dilemmas to mention. Through it all, the Beaman family has maintained a sustainable farming operation, raising livestock using grass-based pasture production and a grain, legume crop rotation. Their farm, like all of Iowa’s farms, has a million stories to tell. Bill loves to write and is passionate about sustainable farming operations and how they can become more accessible to new, young, beginning farmers.


Yvonne Gaudes

Yvonne Gaudes was born in Brooklyn, New York but has lived and worked in Iowa for most of her life. in the last phase of her long teaching career she taught for twenty-six years in an inner city school. She currently enjoys working as a substitute teacher in the small town of Oelwein, Iowa. Her formal editing experience includes five years of evaluating manuscripts submitted to a professional magazine and “cleaning up” a web site for a major company in Ames, Iowa. She started ABC Editing: Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity just six months ago. In her spare time she enjoys, reading, baking French desserts, bike riding, (just finished 24th consecutive RAGBRAI) running and playing golf. Future goals include kayaking and a long stay in France to practice her French and improve her cooking skills.


Brownells, Inc./Larry Weeks

For over 70 years, Brownells has been providing quality Gunsmithing tools, gun parts and service to the firearms industry. For all but two of those years, there has been a consistent brand image, the oblong horizontal shape of our catalog and the graphical design of our Brownells logo. For all of those years, these two uniquely, identifiable products have stood for our promise of service, selection and satisfaction.