Chief creative ninja Tia Ross is a web-slinging wordsmith, information architect, entrepreneur, and polymath known for her contributions to the Black literary artist community since 1996 when she created the first iteration of Black Writers™. Tia is an accomplished business, technical, digital content, legal, fiction, and nonfiction editor, editing alongside her team of editors at WordWiser Ink, and an event planner specializing in conferences and retreats. Tia is currently writing a book for aspiring editors. She’s also editor of a double anthology sci-fi collection to be published in 2021.
Tia lives near Houston, Texas, where she enjoys cycling, yoga, and quick flights to the Caribbean and Central America. She has an AAS in Computer Information Technology–Software & Database Programming, an AA in General Studies–Professional & Technical Writing, and a BS in Information Science & Technology. To learn more about Tia, her events, and her companies, visit www.tiaross.com.
Michelle S. Chester is the owner of EBM Professional Services (www.ebm-services.com), a full-service firm specializing in copy editing, content editing, proofreading, and manuscript critiques. She has more than 20 years experience as a Technical Writer/Editor in the corporate world. Michelle has done freelance editing for a number of publishers and numerous published authors. Alongside working on freelance projects, Michelle served as Editorial Assistant for Written magazine in Atlanta, GA, and works as a proofreader for Caye Publishing Group in Keller, Texas, working on the Society Life, Society Kids, and Parker County Maverick magazines. As a workshop coordinator and facilitator, she has shared in the success of numerous conferences, including the Black Writer’s Reunion & Conference, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship 4th Annual Gifted for His Glory Seminar, and The Writer’s Block, Inc. 4th Annual On the Cusp Writer’s Conference.
A native of New York City, Darlene is a writer and an elementary school teacher with a B.S. degree in education. While working as a teacher she made a commitment to manage her two loves, teaching and writing.
She is presently writing her first fiction novel. Darlene is also co-authoring a narrative nonfiction. Her collection of writing consists of essays and short stories in the genres of fiction and nonfiction. Many of her nonfiction pieces offer her views on race and issues affecting women. Darlene is a devoted investor in her craft with a tangible vision of publishing and sharing her prose.
Mistinguette Smith writes across the boundaries between race and culture, urban and rural, academic and vernacular. Her poetry has been published in Pluck! A Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture and the LGBTQ anthologies Does Your Mama Know and Other Countries: Voices Rising. Her creative non-fiction about race, land and place have been published in Emergence Magazine, The Common online, Belt and Yes! Magazines, as well as the anthology Wildness: Relations of People and Place and The Colors of Nature: A Teaching Guide.
She has co-authored peer reviewed articles in Departures in Critical Qualitative Research and American Quarterly. She lives in Northampton, MA and Oberlin, OH. You can find her at MistinguetteSmith.com.
La’Cole Martin is an educator and native of Oakland, CA. La’Cole started her career as an English teacher for the Oakland Unified School District in 2006, and over the past 14 years, has worked in various capacities for nonprofits throughout Oakland, primarily coordinating educational programs for African American children and families. In 2011 La’Cole became a professor of African American Studies at Laney College, where she had the pleasure of serving students from all over the Bay Area until 2018.
As a scholar of Africana Studies, La’Cole has an extensive background writing about the historical, social, cultural, political and psychological, lived experiences of Black Americans. La’Cole is currently writing her first book—a memoir about the social-emotional trauma of crack cocaine on Black families and communities–with hopes of publication in 2021. Thus, it is La’Cole’s mission as an educator to use storytelling not just as a means for teaching, but as a guide to healing. La’Cole received her B.A. in African American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a M.A. in Ethnic Studies with an emphasis in Africana Studies from San Francisco State University.
Dr. Venise Berry
Venise Berry is an associate professor of Journalism and African American Studies at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Berry is published widely in academic and creative circles with books, short stories, journal articles and book chapters. Her academic research focuses on media, African Americans and popular culture. She is the author of three national bestselling novels, with a fourth to be published in 2022, and recipient of an Iowa History Makers Award from the African American Museum in Cedar Rapids Iowa. In 2003, she received the “Creative Contribution to Literature” award for Colored Sugar Water from the Zora Neale Hurston Society. All of Me received a 2001 Honor Book Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Dr. Anita Heiss
Professor Anita Heiss is the award-winning author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, children’s novels and travel articles. She is a proud member of the Wiradjuri Nation of central New South Wales, an Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, the GO Foundation and Worawa Aboriginal College. Her adult fiction includes Not Meeting Mr Right, Avoiding Mr Right, Manhattan Dreaming, Paris Dreaming and Tiddas. Her most recent books include Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms which was longlisted for the Dublin International Literary Prize and was named the University of Canberra’s 2020 Book of the Year.
As an advocate for Indigenous literacy, Anita has worked in remote communities as a role model and encouraging young Indigenous Australians to write their own stories. Anita is a board member of the State Library of Queensland, the University of Queensland Press and Circa. Anita is a Professor of Communications at the University of QLD and artist in residence at La Boite Theatre, adapting her novel Tiddas for the stage.
Anita enjoys eating chocolate, running half-marathons and being a ‘creative disruptor’.
Affectionately known as “The Midwife,” Rekesha Pittman has successfully trained hundreds of authors to publish worldwide. Through the use of innovative strategies, step-by-step instruction and personal coaching, Rekesha’s courses continue to explode in popularity each year. As an established author of multiple books, newspaper columnist, public speaker and innovative trainer, she has inspired thousands of people to turn their unique talents into treasure.
Rekesha currently helms Get Write Publishing, which includes an elective-style publishing university for business owners, corporate managers, organizational leaders and anyone with a message that needs to be spread. In 2020, she launched EAST Global, LLC for development and expansion of entrepreneur-author-speaker-trainers. She also partners with Tia Ross to offer luxury writers retreats in exotic destinations worldwide through Writeful Places LLC.
Literary activist, high school English teacher, literary commentator, freelance writer, and founder of #TeenWritersProject and #BrownTeensRead, delmetria millener understands the historical and cultural impact that literacy can have on teens.
Now, as an English teacher, millener also recognizes that teens have become disconnected from the generational pride that writing, reading, social and cultural literacy fostered. Her organizations use using writing opportunities, book clubs and literary-themed social events to reconnect teens to literacy and give them back the responsibility of storytelling that they are obligated to write.