LitChat Literary Salon Faculty

LiterarySalonBadge-lgWe are honored to have among the faculty at the LitChat Literary Salon at the Betsy, the following writers and publishing professionals for this day of free literary discussion and education.

Annik Adey-Babinski, Poetry in Life, 2:30 p.m.

Annik Adey-BabinskiAnnik Adey-Babinski grew up in Ottawa, Canada. She participated in the Banff Center’s 2011 Wired Writing Studio and moved to Miami in August of 2012 to complete a poetry MFA at Florida International University. She is a member of the Miami Poetry Collective and has taught poetry to high school students in the city. You can read her recent work in Salamander, Hobart and Coldfront. Find her online at Photo by

Andrea Askowitz, Memoir As Message, 1 p.m.

Andrea AskowitzAndrea Askowitz is the author of My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy (Cleis Press).  Her stories have appeared in The New York Times,, NPR,, The Washington Blade, Literary Mama, and Sliver of Stone Magazine.  She teaches memoir writing at Lip Service Institute.  And is co-creator of Lip Service, the Knight Award winning true-stories reading series.  She has just completed a book currently titled, No One Knows I’m Famous.  She grew up in Miami where she lives with her wife Victoria and children Natasha, Sebastian and Beast.

Lynne Barrett, Publishing Pathways, 5:30 p.m.

LynneBarrett_author400Lynne Barrett is the author of the story collections Magpies (Gold Medal, Florida Book Awards), The Secret Names of Women, and The Land of Go. She edited Tigertail: Florida Flash and co-edited Birth: A Literary Companion. Her work has appeared in Real South, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Southern Women’s Review, Delta Blues, One Year to a Writing Life, Miami Noir, and many other journals and anthologies. Her essay in The Review Review, “What Editors Want,” was featured in the L.A. Times and New Yorker book blogs. A recipient of the Edgar Award for best mystery short story, she teaches in the MFA program at Florida International University and is editor of The Florida Book Review.

Carolyn Burns Bass, LitChat Founder, Moderator

Carolyn in AvalonCarolyn Burns Bass is a hybrid of creative expression. Carolyn's nonfiction and/or photos have appeared dozens of national magazines and media. Her short story, "Sketches Past and Present," was long-listed for the 2013 Eric Hoffer Award for short prose and was published in the anthology Best New Writing 2013. Other short fiction has been published in several online literary journals. In 2009 Carolyn founded the #litchat hashtag used in Twitter for literary discussion and established the website, LitChat. Carolyn studied communications and creative writing at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif. and Japanese language studies through the University of Maryland extension in Iwakuni, Japan.

Hunter Braithwaite, Publishing Pathways, 5:30 p.m.

Hunter BraithwaiteHunter Braithwaite was born in the Philippines and raised in Germany and the United States. He studied English literature at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. Having moved to Miami from Shanghai, he edits The Miami Rail and writes about contemporary art for a variety of publications. He is working on his first book.

Carol Buchanan, Indie Publishing
Twitter Session, January 29, 2-3 p.m.

Carol BuchananCarol Buchanan's grandmother homesteaded in eastern Montana with her two young sons in 1900. Hearing her father tell stories of growing up on the homestead and his mother's courage in hardship has inspired her to write stories of "courage, faith, and hope in people forced to make dangerous choices to survive in the West." Her novels come straight out of the pages of Montana history, specifically Vigilante history during the Civil War.

Kim Campbell, Publishing Pathways, 5:30 p.m.

Kim CampbellKim Campbell has more than 25 years’ experience in public relations and marketing. She worked in various media outlets, from print publications to radio. She earned a Master’s Degree in Public Relations in 2003. She has produced countless press releases, radio and print ads, speeches, flyers, postcards, “talking points” and letters. Kim taught journalism and media arts for six years at Tulane University’s School of Continuing Studies. Currently she advises writers on ways to get their works noticed and sold. She writes short stories and is completing Whisper Sister, a novel about a woman running a speakeasy in 1928 New Orleans.

Pablo Cartaya, Genre As a Dirty Word, 4 p.m. (Moderator)

Pablo Cartaya-2Pablo Cartaya is the co-author of the popular picture book, Tina Cocolina: Queen of the Cupcakes (Random House Children’s Books). He recently finished two Upper Middle Grade novels, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora and Vanessa For President, written while a graduate student at Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children & Young Adults. He has worked with mentors: National Book Award Finalist Kathi Appelt, Alan Cumyn, Shelly Tanaka and National Book Award Finalist Martine Leavitt while at VCFA. He was a finalist for the VCFA-WCYA Critical Thesis Scholarship for his paper on incorporating Spanish into English stories for children and young adults. He received his BA from Loyola Marymount University’s Writing Program and will be graduating from VCFA with a Master of Fine Arts degree in July 2014.  He currently divides his time between writing, school, working as the Literary Programs Manager at The Writer’s Room at The Betsy-South Beach ( and playing dinosaur pirate princess with his two rather perfect kids. His family is the peace and meditation on life’s most powerful and beautiful things.

Yosie Crespo, Poetry in Life, 2:30 p.m.

Yosie Crespo-PhotoYosie Crespo is an award-winning poet and writer. She resided in the city of Pinar del Río Cuba, until she was 11 years old, when she left her country with her family to the United States. She has studied Public Relations and Hotel Management in Naples, Florida. She is the author of two published poetry books: Solárium (Ediciones Baquiana, 2012) and La ruta del pájaro sobre mi cabeza, Ediciones Torremozas (2013). She has received awards and mentions, such as: First Prize of New Values of Hispanic poetry with her first book Solarium, in Miami (2011), presented by the CCEMiami (Centro Cultural Español), First Prize of the IV Youth Poetry Contest “Federico García Lorca” 2011 in Spain, and The International Prize of Short Story 2010 (Book Fair, Buenos Aires, Argentina), among others. Her poems have been published in numerous on-line magazines and in several anthologies around the world. She is currently working on a new poetry book “Partir de cero” or “From scratch.”

Keith Cronin, Genre As a Dirty Word, 4 p.m.

Keith CroninAuthor of the novel Me Again, Keith Cronin is a corporate speechwriter and professional rock drummer who has performed and recorded with artists including Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, and Pat Travers. Keith is a regular contributor at the literary blog Writer Unboxed, named one of Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for the past five years. His fiction has appeared in Carve Magazine, Amarillo Bay, The Scruffy Dog Review, Zinos, and a University of Phoenix management course. He holds a bachelor's degree in music from Indiana University, and earned his MBA at Florida Atlantic University. A native of South Florida, Keith spends his free time serenading local ducks and squirrels with his ukulele.

Edwidge Danticat, Memoir As Message, 1 p.m.

edwidge-danticatEdwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was twelve. She is the editor of Haiti NoirHaiti Noir 2: The Classics, and the author of several books, including Claire of the Sea LightBreath, Eyes, Memory (an Oprah’s Book Club selection), Krik? Krak! (a National Book Award finalist), The Farming of Bones (an American Book Award winner), and the novel-in-stories The Dew Breaker. She has also written several young adult novels and a travel narrative, After the Dance: A Walk Through Carnival in Jacmel. Her memoir, Brother, I’m Dying, was a 2007 finalist for the National Book Award and a 2007 winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She is a 2009 recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant and she lives in Miami.

Neil de la Flor, Memoir As Message, 1 p.m.

neil-de-la-florNeil de la Flor is a writer, photographer, teacher and former fashion designer based in Miami. His first book, Almost Dorothy (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010), won the Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize. Forrest Gander writes, “Almost Dorothy is the red-headed stepchild of Antony (without the Johnsons) and Jean Cocteau. Infusing poetry with theater, Neil de la Flor is at once bitingly original, funny, and uncompromising." de la Flor’s second book, An Elephant’s Memory of Blizzards (Marsh Hawk Press),which has nothing to do with elephants but everything to do with the memory or blizzards, examines our obsession with hope, the omnipresence of memory and the consequences of sexual abuse.

Dan Grech, Memoir As Message, 1 p.m.

Dan GrechDan Grech is a Pulitzer Prize winning multi-platform journalist and digital innovator. He has contributed to three books and written more than 1,000 articles for The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Miami Herald, he’s produced 852 stories for the national public radio show Marketplace, and he starred in 12 segments on neuroeconomics for the public television program Nightly Business Report. In 2000, he contributed to the Miami Herald’s Pulitzer-prize winning coverage of the Elian Gonzalez raid. Dan lives in Miami with his wife and daughter.

Michael Hettich, Poetry in Life, 2:30 p.m.

Michael HettichMichael Hettich's most recent books are Like Happiness (Anhinga Press, 2010) and The Animals Beyond Us (New Rivers Press, 2011). His forthcoming book, Systems of Vanishing, won the 2013 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry and will be published this coming April. A long-time resident of Miami, he has collaborated extensively with visual artists, musicians, and other writers.

Michael M. Hughes, Speculative/Sci-Fi Fiction
Twitter Session, January 30, 3-4 p.m.
Michael M Hughes

Michael M. Hughes writes both fiction and nonfiction. His debut novel, released in 2013, Blackwater Lights, is based on a short story that first appeared in Legends of the Mountain State: Ghostly Tales from the State of West Virginia. When he's not writing, Hughes lectures on paranormal and Fortean topics and performs as a mentalist. He lives in Baltimore, Md., with his wife and two daughters.

Mitchell Kaplan, Publishing Pathways, 5:30 p.m.
Reader's Champion Honoree: Booksellers

mitchell kaplanMitchell is a owner of the Miami-area bookstores known as Books and Books, and is co-founder of Miami Book Fair International, where he serves as the chairperson of its board of directors. He also serves on the steering committee of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, Miami-Dade College's literary center. Mitchell recently served a two-year term as president of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and continues an active involvement with the organization. He also serves on the Board of ABFFE, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.

Larry Leech, Publishing Pathways, 5:30 p.m.

LarryLeech.1For more than 30 years, Larry J. Leech II has written and edited in a number of capacities. He began his professional writing career in 1981 at age 18 and spent 23 years writing and editing at daily newspapers and a magazine. With thousands of published articles under his belt, Larry moved into freelance writing and editing in 2004. He has ghostwritten more than a dozen books and coached dozens of aspiring writers. Larry teaches at numerous conferences nationwide and has become a much sought after writing coach. Upcoming releases this year include two novels and three ghostwriting projects, including Gifted Mind: The Story of Dr. Raymond Damadian, Inventor of the MRI.

Kevan Lyon, Literary Agent on Call
Twitter Session, January 30, 2-3 p.m.

kevan_lyonKevan Lyon is a founding partner of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. With over 20 years in the publishing business, including over 8 years as a literary agent and 17-plus years on the wholesale, retail and distribution side of the business, Kevan brings an informed and unique perspective to her work with clients. Her background on the buying and retail side of publishing affords her helpful insight into what types of books will sell and how to market them. Kevan holds an MBA from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.

Victoria Loustalot, Memoir As Message, 1 p.m.

VictoriaLoustalotVictoria Loustalot usually lives in New York City. But she's currently avoiding winter by spending a few months in Los Angeles, Calif., her home state. She earned her B.A. in English from Columbia University in just three years and was subsequently awarded a fellowship to continue on at Columbia’s School of the Arts, earning her Master’s Degree in writing. She has taught writing as both a high school teacher and a Columbia University undergraduate writing professor. In addition to her new memoir, This Is How You Say Goodbye, she has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Onion, Publishers Weekly, Women’s Wear Daily, Glamour, Elle, AOL, and NBC, among others.

Samuel Marder, Memoir As Message, 1 p.m.

Samuel MarderSamuel Marder was born in Czernowitz, Romania, and settled in New York after World War II. A violinist by profession, he played in several symphony orchestras and served as concertmaster for the Igor Moiseyev Ballet Company and the Washington D.C., Ballet. After his recitals at Tully Hall and Carnegie Recital Hall in New York, he performed chamber music throughout the United States and Canada and toured for 14 years giving solo concerts in Europe, South America, Israel and Korea. He published music arrangements, short stories and poems in English and Yiddish, and gives talks on the topic of "prejudice and its consequences." In August, 2013, he published his memoir, Devils Among Angels: A Journey From Paradise And Hell To Life.

Campbell McGrath, Poetry In Life, 2:30 p.m.

campbell mcgrathCampbell McGrath’s previous poetry collections are Seven Notebooks, Capitalism, American Noise, Spring Comes to Chicago, Road Atlas, Florida Poems, and Pax Atomica. His awards include the Kingsley Tufts Prize and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations. He teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University in Miami.

Megan Mulry, Genre As a Dirty Word, 4 p.m.

Megan Mulry in #litchatMegan Mulry writes sexy, stylish, romantic fiction. Her first book, A Royal Pain, was an NPR Best Book of 2012 and USA Today bestseller. Before discovering her passion for romance novels, she worked in magazine publishing and finance. After many years in New York, Boston, London, and Chicago, she now lives with her husband and children in Florida.

Ingrid Persaud, Genre As a Dirty Word, 4 p.m.

ingrid persaudAn writer and artist, Ingrid Persaud came to writing and fine art having first pursued a successful legal career that included teaching and scholarship at the Fletcher School of Law and King’s College London. Her creative work has been widely exhibited and her writing featured in several magazines She was born in Trinidad and calls both Barbados and London home. Her household includes twin boys, Rosie the rescue dog and Jack the unbiddable Jack Russell. If I Never Went Home is her first novel.

Jordan Rosenfeld, Literary/Mainstream Fiction
Twitter Session, Tuesday, 2-3 p.m.

Jordan Rosenfeld in #litchatJordan E. Rosenfeld learned early on that people prefer a storyteller to a know-it-all. She earned her MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and is the author of the books, Make A Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time (Writer's Digest Books) and Write Free! Attracting the Creative Life with Rebecca Lawton (BeijaFlor Books). She has contributed to two anthologies: Zebulon Nights, and Milk & Ink. Jordan's essays and articles have appeared in such publications as, Publisher's Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle, The St. Petersburg Times, The Writer and Writer's Digest magazine. Her book commentaries have appeared on The California Report, a news-magazine produced by NPR-affiliate KQED radio. She lives in Northern California with her Batman-obsessed son and psychologist husband.

Susan Spann, Mystery/Suspense Fiction
Twitter Session, Wednesday, 3-4 p.m.

Susan SpannSusan Spann began reading precociously and voraciously from her preschool days in Santa Monica, California, and as a child read everything from National Geographic to Agatha Christie. In high school, she once turned a short-story assignment into a full-length fantasy novel (which, fortunately, will never see the light of day). A yearning to experience different cultures sent Susan to Tufts University in Boston, where she immersed herself in the history and culture of China and Japan. After earning an undergraduate degree in Asian Studies, Susan diverted to law school. She returned to California to practice law, where her continuing love of books has led her to specialize in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts. Her first  novel, Claws of the Cat, a mystery set in ancient Japan, was released in 2013.

Natalia Sylvester, Genre As a Dirty Word, 4 p.m.

natalia sylvester

Born in Lima, Peru, Natalia Sylvester came to the U.S. at age four and grew up in South Florida, where she received a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Miami. Her first novel, Chasing the Sun, about a frail marriage tested to the extreme by the wife's kidnapping in Lima, Peru, will be out May 20th. A former magazine editor, she now works as a freelance writer in Austin, Texas.

Johnny Temple, Publishing Pathways, 5:30 p.m. (Twitter)
Reader's Champion Honoree: Publisher

JohnnyTemple-173x200Johnny Temple is the publisher and editor in chief of Akashic Books, an award-winning Brooklyn-based independent company dedicated to publishing urban literary fiction and political nonfiction. Temple won the 2013 Ellery Queen Award; the American Association of Publishers’ 2005 Miriam Bass Award for Creativity in Independent Publishing; and the 2010 Jay and Deen Kogan Award for Excellence in Noir Literature. Temple plays bass guitar in the band Girls Against Boys, which has toured extensively across the globe and released numerous albums on independent and major record companies. He has contributed articles and political essays to various publications, including the Nation, Publishers Weekly, AlterNet, Poets & Writers, and BookForum. He is also the chair of the Brooklyn Literary Council, which works with Brooklyn’s borough president to plan the annual Brooklyn Book Festival in September. He is the editor of USA Noir.

Nick Vagnoni, Poetry In Life, 2:30 p.m.

Nick VagnoniNick Vagnoni was born and raised in Key West, Florida. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Alimentum, Saw Palm, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and The Secret of Salt, among others. He teaches creative writing at Florida International University, and is also a founding member of The Miami Poetry Collective.

Robert Zuckerman, Memoir As Message, 1 p.m.

Robert ZuckermanHollywood photographer Robert Zuckerman also takes photographs for Kindsight, a project that spins the random encounters of his life into often profound photo-essays. Zuckerman's Kindsight pieces are featured in exhibitions, books, and on his blog: State of the Arts also visits Zuckerman in a photography workshop at Ridgewood High School in NJ. His book, Kindsight, is a collection of photographs and stories taken from the Kindsight project.