CONNIE MAY FOWLER (Conference Director, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Editing, Writing & Publishing, Workshop Faculty) is an award-winning novelist, memoirist, screenwriter, and teacher. Her most recent book, A Million Fragile Bones, is a memoir that details her experience during the Gulf oil spill and explores the close ties between place, spirituality, family, and environmental devastation. It was published by Twisted Road Publications in 2017. Her most recent novel, How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly, was published by Grand Central Publishing to wide acclaim. Connie is the author of six other books: five critically praised novels and one memoir. Her novels include Sugar Cage, River of Hidden Dreams, The Problem with Murmur Lee, Remembering Blue—recipient of the Chautauqua South Literary Award—and Before Women had Wings—recipient of the 1996 Southern Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Buck Award from the League of American Pen Women. Three of her novels have been Dublin International Literary Award nominees. Connie adapted Before Women had Wings for Oprah Winfrey. The result was an Emmy-winning film starring Ms. Winfrey and Ellen Barkin. In 2002 she published When Katie Wakes, a memoir that explores her descent and escape from an abusive relationship. Her work has been translated into 18 languages and is published worldwide. Her essays have been published in the New York Times, London Times, International Herald Tribune, Japan Times, The Sun Magazine, Oxford American, BestLife, and elsewhere. For two years she wrote “Savoring Florida,” a culinary and culture column for FORUM, a publication of the Florida Humanities Council. In 2007, Connie performed in New York City at The Player’s Club with actresses Kathleen Chalfont, Penny Fuller, and others in an adaptation based on The Other Woman, an anthology that contains her essay “The Uterine Blues.” In 2003, Connie performed in The Vagina Monologues alongside Jane Fonda and Rosie Perez in a production that raised over $100,000 for charity. Domestic violence shelters and family violence organizations have honored her with numerous awards. Throughout the 1990s she directed the Connie May Fowler Women with Wings Foundation, an organization that was dedicated to aiding women and children in need. In 2009, she received the first annual Peace, Love, and Understanding Award from WMNF Community Radio. She teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts low residency creative writing MFA program and directs the College's VCFA Novel Retreat held each May in Montpelier, Vermont. Connie, along with her husband Bill Hinson, is founder and director of the Yucatan Writing Conference. For ten years, she directed various writing conferences in Florida, including the prestigious St. Augustine Writers Conference, which she closed in order to concentrate her efforts in Mexico. She and Bill reside in Cozumel with their two dogs, cat, and turtle. You can learn more about Connie and subscribe to her One Writer's Life newsletter at conniemayfowler.com.
PARNESHIA JONES (Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, Editing, Writing & Publishing, Workshop Faculty) was raised on the Midwestern North Shores of Evanston, IL, and spent her childhood in the Evanston Public Library and her mother’s kitchen. Writing and life intersected as an undergraduate at Chicago State University with a chance meeting with the late Gwendolyn Brooks. This one-on-one meeting of three poems, red marks and the words, “Hold On!” gave Jones lift-off into the literary world. Under the tutelage of Dr. Kelly Norman Ellis, Haki R. Madhubuti, and some of the most brilliant teaching minds that made up the English department at CSU, Jones earned her B.A. in English/Creative Writing. The world of publishing unveiled itself with the overflowing shelves, mahogany floors, and the rich history of Third World Press, the oldest independent publisher of Black thought and literature in the United States. It was within these stained glass and poetry filled quarters, Parneshia embraced the idea of a career in publishing. Parneshia began working for Northwestern University Press at the age of twenty-two as a marketing assistant. For the past twelve years, she has worked with writers of Nobel, Pulitzer Prize, and Academy Award winning caliber. Her experience with authors from around the globe and publishing in the fields of poetry, fiction, theater and performance, literature in translation and philosophy, has allowed for Parneshia to travel the globe, all for the love of literature. Currently, Parneshia holds positions as Sales and Community Outreach Manager and Poetry Editor at Northwestern University Press. Her first poetry acquisition, Head Off & Split: Poems, by Nikky Finney won the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry. Her second acquisition, The Abundance of Nothing, by Bruce Weigl, was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize (2013). Her collaborations with the Cave Canem Foundation allowed for the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press 2nd Book Prize for an African American poet in addition to numerous collaborations with poetry organizations across the globe. Parneshia earned a M.F.A degree from Spalding University and completed the Yale Publishing Course while working for Northwestern University Press. Recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and the Aquarius Press Legacy Award, Parneshia is a Ragdale Fellow and published in several anthologies including She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems, edited by Caroline Kennedy; The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, edited by Nikky Finney, as well as Poetry Speaks Who I Am, a book/CD compilation. Jones is a member of the Affrilachian Poets, a collective of Black voices from Appalachia and serves on the board of Cave Canem and GlobalWrites. She has performed her work all over the United States, including the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City, the Art Institute in Chicago, and Vanderbilt University. Her poetry has been commissioned by Art for Humanity in South Africa, Shorefront Legacy, and featured on Chicago Public Radio. In 2014, Parneshia was named one of the “25 Writers to Watch” by the Guild Complex and one of “Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago” by Newcity Magazine. Her first collection, Vessel: Poems, is published by Milkweed Editions (April, 2015). You can learn more about Parneshia at Parneshia Jones.
JEFF KLEINMAN (Editing, Writing & Publishing Faculty) is a literary agent, intellectual property attorney, and founding partner of Folio Literary Management, LLC, a full-service literary agency located in the historic Film Center Building in Manhattan. Our agents work with some of the most exciting talent in the business, representing bestsellers, thought leaders, celebrities, and award-winners across every genre. In addition to our commitment to contemporary voices, Folio is the custodian of the storied literary agency Harold Ober Associates, dedicated to bringing its legacy into the future. Ober represented some of the most iconic voices of the 20th century, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chinua Achebe, William Faulkner, J.D. Salinger, Langston Hughes, Lois Lowry, Pearl S. Buck, and Dylan Thomas, among many others.
Jeff is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University (J.D.), the University of Chicago (M.A., Italian), and the University of Virginia (B.A. with High Distinction in English). As an agent, Jeff feels privileged to have the chance to learn an incredibly variety of new subjects, meet an extraordinary range of people, and feel, at the end of the day, that he’s helped to build something – a wonderful book, perhaps, or an author’s career. His authors include the New York Times bestsellers The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein), The Eighty Dollar Champion (Elizabeth Letts), The Snow Child (a Pulitzer finalist; Eowyn Ivey), Widow of the South (Robert Hicks), and Mockingbird (Charles Shields), to name a few.