I’m so grateful that I get to hang with, have deep conversations with, and simply do life together with these amazing people — and I believe it’s worth your time to check out their work… My author, illustrator, screenwriter, director, and actor friends inspire me, encourage me, and make me appreciate their artistry and friendship every day. Get their books, watch their shows, and enjoy their amazing talents. I’m grateful for these guys! (I have the “bestest” artist friends — eh-vah!)
Again — please check out their work!
Kevin J. Anderson
Kevin is the author of over 165 novels — including co-authoring much of the Dune series, writing from Superman to Star Wars, his own SFF and zombie novels, and so much more. I met Kevin at my MFA program (where he now directs the Publishing program) and it’s worth your time to tap into Kevin’s prolific wisdom and visit Wordfire Press for books.
Russell Davis is both mentor and friend — and as an author of dozens of novels and short stories, a developer and former director of an MFA program, and former Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association president, Russell’s simply amazing. A few years ago, he and I developed and taught a “Write Your Own Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Story” course together. You can get his books at Wordfire Press.
Anita’s a brilliant children’s author, speaker, and all-around best friend. Thick as thieves with this superwoman, I can say with confidence — You simply HAVE to check out her work!
Another brilliant author and editor and super-friend — Along with Anita and Dave, our Fab Four enjoys hanging out, infusing our souls with art, and galavanting together quarterly. Check out Jay’s website and books here.
Dave’s a fabulous middle-grade author, speaker, and award-winning artist (and, yeah, one of my best buds). Get Dave’s middle-grade Blackwater Pond series and five-starred fantasy books here.
Ruth McNally Barshaw
Ruth is one of the most fun and talented people I know — with her Ellie McDoodle series, children’s books, and great artwork, this author/illustrator/cartoonist and speaker will capture your heart. Always full of giggles and wit, you absolutely MUST visit her site. and see her work!
Award-winning Director-Screenwriter and Showrunner to a brand-new, upcoming CBS show, JS is one of the most gracious people around. We met at the MFA program in 2012 (ish?) and since then, I had the pleasure of working 1-on-1 with his TV writing skills. JS graciously shares his wisdom and a kind word every time we touch base, freely giving and supporting (it’s his nature). See Mayank’s latest at IMDb.
Here’s another fun story: Janeen took all of my online fiction writing courses (as an adult), “fixed up” her middle-grade faith-based novel for Catholic teens, and then sold it to a publisher *stat! How fun is THAT?! Now we work together as she’s developing a faith-based course around her book. As an author/speaker presenting to teens, she even leads an escape room based on her book. Check it out here.
Author of almost 100 children’s books and a fabulous photographer, Buffy and I have shared time together in our monthly “breakfast, lunch, and write” gathering (the soup’s our favorite). Stead, smart, skilled, Buffy is a writing guru. You must get her beautiful books for the young ones in your life!
Oh my gosh, you have to read Kathy’s totally-fun mysteries, starting with The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennett (yes, THAT Mary Bennett!). Her publisher knocked the series’ covers out of the park. Kathy’s a part of our lunch-and-write group, too. Oh, and Kathy has the most adorable kids. Go here to find out more!
Another one of our breakfast-lunch-and-write cohort members, Isabel is one of the most dedicated authors I know, also giving time, energy, and expertise to SCBWI gatherings so we can spur each other on. Visit Isabel’s site here.
Whimsical artist extraordinaire, Melanie is super smart, dedicated, and fun to hang with. She’s an SCBWI Shop Talk coordinator and steady force for good. See her work and enjoy its playfulness (go here!).
Smart, organized, and creative — Ann is such a supporter and lover of stories. Oh, and dedicated to helping other writers, too, particularly with SCBWI. Check out Ann’s site and work here!
Whether it’s walking a Lake Michigan beach together, working together at a coffee shop, or having dinner with a group of our writer friends, Leslie is a beautiful human being — and this amazing author-illustrator is one of the most talented children’s book creators of our time. Visit Leslie’s website (and get her books) here.
You’ve no doubt seen this wonderful artist-author’s works — his prolific and thrilling illustrations are often paired with poignant stories of bravery and historical grit. Every time I see him, Matt is gracious, articulate, and kind. Check out his new novel, too, when you visit Matt’s site!
As an amazing award-winning author, teacher, and leader, I’m honored to have Mike teaching the fiction writing courses I’ve developed for teens across the world. Brilliantly skilled. Check out Mike’s novels (and his fabulous SF series) here.
I’m thrilled to have Ryan teaching a number of the online writing courses I’ve developed. Gracious, intelligent, and a kind soul — Ryan is simply a solid human being who willingly shares his wisdom and skills. An author of six books, you can find his co-authored historical non-fiction works here.
So this is a fabulous story: Grace Anne was a high school writing student of mine who took a dozen of my online courses (both academic and fiction writing) — and then went on to graduate from college and sell her fiction work to a major publisher (how great is that?!). AND she came back and taught fiction courses to students. Get her book here!
Okay, I have to add John here… He’s such a delightful person, and I had the distinct privilege of working on a project with him over a couple of years and enjoying his lovely company. If he’s in the movie, go see it. Brilliant actor and simply a great guy.
Cindy Jansen (Gus)
A writing buddy for years, Cindy and I have closed places down, feeding off mutual muse follies while writing. You’ll want to check out this writer/director’s films, including Chasing the Rain with Matt Lanter (see it on Prime Video).
A fellow WCU MFA bud who’s on faculty teaching performance and playwriting, you might know Andrew from his roles on TV in Gotham (Mr. Penn+), Begin Again, The Blacklist, The Good Fight, and Halston — or from his stage roles in NY and regionally in Hamlet, King Lear, and a slew of other amazing characters. What you also need to know is that he has an awesome IG account (love the 1-minute meditations), and is a phenom. audiobook narrator, and graciously shares his love of the arts. Get to know Andrew. You’ll love him.
Mark and I go back about 20 years (has it been that long already?!), and not only has he taught a number of my own kids how to draw but he’s also taught many of today’s Pixar artists their craft in his Emmy Award Winning PBS show :). Full of energy and the wisdom of Renaissance art, he can hold the attention of hundreds of kids (wows me every time) — and gives the most wonderful art lessons both in ongoing lessons and YouTube freebies. Visit Mark’s site here, get his books here, and watch his lessons! He’s fabulous.