Guest Speakers 2022

Guest Speaker 2022

Rick Bleiweiss

Prior to moving to Ashland, Oregon in 2003, Rick spent his life in New York City in the music industry. He was a rock performer & songwriter, produced over 50 records, including a Grammy-nominated album, and was a senior executive at major and independent record companies helping to launch the careers of Melissa Etheridge and the Backstreet Boys, to name a few.

Since 2006 Rick has been an executive at Blackstone Audio where he has acquired works by many incredible authors including James Clavell, Leon Uris, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, HP Lovecraft, Pablo Neruda, Dale Brown, Rex Pickett, PC & Kristin Cast, Catherine Coulter, and Nicholas Sansbury Smith, and co-created a book/audiobook series to preserve the wisdom, humor, stories and life experiences of First Nation elders.

Rick’s 2022 debut novel, Pignon Scorpion and the Barbershop Detectives is a cozy mystery set in the 1910 English countryside. It was Publishers Weekly Best Debut Mystery pick and an Amazon Editor’s pick.

Rick’s website

Maud Macrory Powell

Maud Macrory Powell comes from a family of writers. She was born and raised in Washington, DC. She studied comparative religion in college and environmental studies in graduate school. She now lives in rural Oregon with her family, where they run an organic farm, and she teaches at Oregon State University.

Maud’s debut middle grade historical novel, City of Grit and Gold was published by Allium Press in 2017. She graduated with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA), where she received the Royce Reinvention Scholarship. While studying Comparative Religion at Swarthmore College for her undergrad, her passion for research and history blossomed, which has now become her focus in writing for children and young adults.

Maud is currently querying her second novel, polishing a third, and outlining a fourth.

Maud’s website

Casey Dunn

Struck with wanderlust at an early age, Georgia native Casey Dunn discovered reading as a vehicle to satisfy her hunger for the unknown. She soon began creating worlds of her own, writing her first story in seventh grade on the wide ruled lines of a Mead notebook. The peace she found while writing became a faithful traveling companion into adulthood, across state lines, down many dead-end roads and U-turns, and into marriage and motherhood.

Her fantasy series, The Hightower Trilogy, was published with Parliament House Press under pen name Jadie Jones. The first book won the Best Fiction category at the International Equus Film Festival and became an Amazon best seller. After moving to Oregon in 2016, she wrote a southern-set thriller, “Silence on Cold River,” which sold to Pegasus Crime with distribution by Simon and Schuster. The work was compared to “Silence of the Lambs” by Booklist and named Book of the Month by the Southern Book Review.

Casey is currently working on several new projects and is planning a multi-generational memoir with her mother.

Casey’s literary agency page Casey’s website

Michael Neimann

Michael’s thrillers featuring UN investigator Valentin Vermeulen are published by Coffeetown PressLegitimate Business and Illicit Trade were published in March 2017. Illegal Holdings came out in March 2018 and won the 2019 Silver Falchion Award for Best Thriller at Killer NashvilleNo Right Way went on sale in June 2019. The fifth Vermeulen thriller, Percentages of Guilt followed in November 2020. The Last Straw was published in November 2021.

His short stories have appeared in Vengeance, the 2012 Mystery Writers of America anthology edited by Lee Child, and Mysterical-EAfrica Always Needs Guns, Big Dreams Cost Too Much and Some Kind of Justice are now available as Kindle singles.

Michael’s website

Susan DeFreitas

Susan DeFreitas is the author of the novel Hot Season, which won a Gold IPPY Award, the editor of Dispatches from Anarres: Tales in Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin, and the creator of Story Medicine—the course for writers who want to use their power as storytellers to support a more just and verdant world. Her work has been featured in the Writer’s ChronicleLitHub, the Huffington Post, the Utne ReaderStoryDaily Science Fiction, Oregon Humanities, and elsewhere. An independent editor and book coach, she specializes in helping writers from historically marginalized backgrounds, and those writing socially engaged fiction, break through into publishing. She divides her time between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Portland, Oregon.

Edwin Battistella

Edwin Battistella teaches linguistics and writing at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, where he has worked since 2000.  His most recent book is Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels: Insulting the President, from Washington to Trump (Oxford University Press, 2020).  He is the author of six nonfiction books (including   Sorry About That: the Language of Public Apology) and his essays have appeared in Time Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Conversation, AEON, the Huffington Post, Politico, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Academe, Choice, and the Library Journal.  Battistella is the co-editor-in-chief of Language and Linguistic Compass, is on the editorial board of the Oregon Encyclopedia, and contributes a monthly blog to Oxford University Press, called Between the Lines with Edwin Battistella.   He is a two-time finalist for the Oregon Book Award in non-fiction and has served on the boards of the Linguistic Society of America, Oregon Humanities, and the Ashland Family YMCA.  He also curates Literary Ashland, a blog about literary life in Southern Oregon.

Edwin’s website