2018 Conference Speakers

International Speakers

Damon Suede

Damon grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Though new to romance fiction, Damon has been writing for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He is currently on the board of RWA and is one of their most popular conference craft speakers. He’s won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year. Get in touch with him at DamonSuede.com.

Bella Andre

Bella Andre’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling novels about the Sullivans, the Maverick Billionaires, and the Morrisons, have been #1 bestsellers around the world and she has sold more than 7 million books so far!  Know for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly), her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into ten languages. She also writes NYT bestselling sweet contemporary romances as Lucy Kevin. There are more than 50,000 5-star reviews on Bella Andre’s books on Goodreads! BellaAndre.com.

Grace Burrowes

Grace is a recovering child welfare attorney who for decades turned to the reliable HEA of romance novels to balance the equally reliable stress of life as a litigator. She began writing as the empty nest years came into view, and has been happily engrossed in novel craft ever since. She writes Georgian, Regency, Victorian, and contemporary stories, is a six-time RITA nominee, and has won best book of the year accolades from Publishers Weekly, The Library Journal, Kirkus, Romantic Times and the iBooks store. She lives in rural Maryland with various felines and canines who consider her their valet, chauffeur, housekeeper, cook, and scullery maid.

Nalini Singh

Nalini Singh is a New York TimesUSA TodayWall Street Journal, and internationally bestselling author of the Psy-Changling, Guild Hunter and Rock Kiss series.

Born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand, she was first published in 2003. Her books have sold over seven million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than twenty languages, including German, French, Japanese and Turkish.

Her most recent releases (as of January 2017) are: Silver SilenceArchangel’s Viper and Cherish Hard.

Nalini’s next release in Ocean Light (June 2018).


Geoff Symon

Geoff is a 20-year Federal Forensic Investigator and Polygraph Examiner. His participation in high-profile cases includes the attacks on September 11, 2001, the War in Iraq, the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion, the 2002 bombings in Bali and the Chandra Levy investigation, among countless other cases. He has direct, first-hand experience investigating cases including murder (of all types), suicide, arson, kidnapping, bombings, sexual assault, child exploitation, theft and financial crimes. He has specified and certified training in the collection and preservation of evidence, blood-spatter analysis, autopsies and laboratory techniques. You can reach him at GeoffSymon.com.

Lizzie Poteet – The Seymour Agency

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Poteet attended Colby College where she majored in English and Religious Studies. While studying at St. Andrews, she realized that though she enjoyed Shakespeare and the Dead Sea Scrolls, she preferred reading stories with a little more heat and heart. Lizzie took her passion for romance and turned it into a position with RT Bookreviews as a romance reviewer. In 2011, she joined the editorial team at St. Martin’s Press where she worked with romance, YA, nonfiction, and women’s fiction. Then in 2015, Lizzie became the e-book original coordinator for SMP Swerve, helping launch the digital only romance imprint.

Lizzie is always looking for a good love story. She loves classic romance tropes, strong dialogue, sassy heroines, witty banter, and good old fashion romance. She’s actively seeking inspirational romance, cozy mystery, New Adult, YA, romantic suspense, historical and contemporary romances, and loves anything with a happy ending.


Leah Hultenschmidt – Editor Forever, Grand Central

Leah started her publishing career at age four at her local library, where she insisted on “helping organize” the children’s section…by color.  She’s currently the Editorial Director of Grand Central Publishing’s Forever and Forever Yours romance lines, part of the Hachette Book Group.  Her current authors include New York Times bestsellers Grace Burrowes, Jodi Ellen Malpas, Jamie McGuire, Carolyn Brown, Helena Hunting, and Katie MacAlister, among a number of others.

Leah’s particularly on the hunt for commercial women’s fiction, contemporary romance and romantic suspense.

Kathleen Scheibling – Editor Harlequin Global

Kathleen Scheibling has worked in publishing for more than twenty years and is currently Executive Editor of Harlequin Series in the Toronto office. She has worked with many New York Times bestselling authors from imprints such as Blaze, Western Romance, and most currently, Heartwarming. Harlequin has not only taught her all she needs to know about rugged cowboys and reclusive billionaires, it has also allowed her to work with the most professional, intelligent and inspiring group of authors in the business. Kathleen heads up the company’s newest global series, Harlequin/Mills & Boon DARE.

Kathleen is an avid reader, a rabid film lover, a one-time boxer turned yoga convert, and a fair-weather distance cyclist. You can follow her on Twitter @KScheibling.

Though Kathleen is mainly interested their newest, sexiest line of red-hot contemporary romances, Mills & Boon DARE, she will also be representing the whole of Mills & Boon and Harlequin series so will take pitches for popular lines such as Mills & Boon Modern.

Kathleen is looking for feel-good contemporary romances with a range of sensuality – super hot for our Mills & Boon DARE line, more about sensual tension for Modern, and a bit on the sweeter side for Mills & Boon Forever Romance. We are not currently doing much acquiring for family romances set in small towns or with western settings.

Jo Mackay – Publisher Editor Harlequin Australia

Jo heads the local lists for Mira and HQ at Harlequin Australia, commissioning fiction and nonfiction. A passionate advocate for her authors, Jo firmly believes good writing can change lives. She loves true stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, historical novels, suspense, psychological thrillers, romance set in close-knit communities and stories she can’t put down after the first page. Jo has worked in publishing for more than 20 years. Originally from the UK, she began her career as a journalist in London before training as a book editor. Since then she has worked in Australia for several trade publishing houses in senior editorial roles, including six years as a Commissioning Editor at ABC Books and three years as an Associate Publisher at HarperCollins Publisher.

Jo is on the lookout for rural (or small community) romance, layered and compelling women’s ‘life lit’, family sagas, Australian or NZ historical (especially 19th and early 20th Century), domestic noir, and romantic suspense for the Mira and HQ imprints. Upwards of 90k words preferred. And contemporary romances (billionaires, single dads, royals, clean and wholesome), LGBTQI, Interracial and diverse characters, historical, paranormal, suspense and rural for Escape Publishing. Escape is currently not looking for submissions of less than 45000 words.