Who’s Who for the 2019 TAZ Writers’ Conference

Topics will include-

Preparing your book for publication, Hattie Fletcher from Creative Non-Fiction

Memoir, Ann Howley

Fiction, Dan Lowe

Poetry, Edgar Folks

Diversity is Not a Buzzword, Brittany Thurman

Children’s Books

Agents editors publishers for TTTE



Tony Norman will lead off the conference 

Tony Norman

Tony Norman is an award-winning columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He is also the PG’s book review editor and has been an adjunct journalism professor at Chatham University since 2002. Tony began his journalism career at Calvin College where he was a “much misunderstood” cartoonist and opinion writer for the college newspaper. In 1988, Tony was turned down for a job by the New Pittsburgh Courier, but saved from a career in telemarketing by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette where he was hired as a clerk. On the strength of an award-winning series for Black History Month in 1990, he talked his way into the pop music / pop culture beat at the PG. In 1996, Tony gave up the pop music beat and became a general interest columnist and feature writer. Many awards and accolades followed including a cover story in Editor & Publisher in 1999 and first place in the National Association of Newspaper Columnists competition that same year. He has won every local, regional and state award along the way. In 1999, Tony joined the PG’s editorial board. As a PG ed board member, he recorded a weekly commentary for KD/PG Sunday Edition until 2005. Tony was awarded a prestigious Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan in 2005-2006 and travelled the world from Argentina to Turkey. In 2012, Tony took on the responsibility of book review editor at the PG. In late 2016, Tony left the PG’s ed board to avoid ever having to write anything positive about Donald Trump. He continues to write his provocative, rabble-rousing column for the PG.

Me 2013




Anna Marie Petrarca Gire owned two businesses in Pittsburgh before moving to Champaign/Urbana Illinois in 1985 where she worked in a domestic violence shelter and became a Legal Advocate for Rape Crisis Services.

In March of 2003, she began publishing the Women’s Independent Press, a general interest newspaper distributed in Champaign/Urbana Illinois and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She returned to Pittsburgh in August of 2003 and in 2005, the newspaper was replaced by the Women’s Yellow Pages (WYP) of Greater Pittsburgh.

In October of 2014, Women’s Independent Press expanded to include The Authors’ Zone -an annual awards ceremony for authors in Pittsburgh PA.  and a full day writers conference. The conference has evolved into a collaboration with CCAC, Allegheny Campus, and Anna Howley, a local author. Ms. Gire resides in Pittsburgh with Sal the Bird  and her first book, Sal, A Tale Of Many Feathers ,was released in 2018 .


Ann Howley


Ann K. Howley is the author of the award-winning memoir, Confessions of a Do-Gooder Gone Bad. A regular contributor to Pittsburgh Parent Magazine, her articles and essays appear in publications nationwide, including Skirt Magazine, Bicycle Times, Pittsburgh-Post Gazette and others, and is a contributor to the most recent HerStories Project anthology, So Glad They Told Me – Women Get Real About Motherhood. She won the First Place Prize for Nonfiction in the 2015 and 2016 Pennwriters Writing Contest, and in 2017, she won a national award from the Parenting Media Association. She has conducted workshops in cities across the country, and teaches writing courses for CCAC’s Community Education Program. A popular speaker, Ann loves to convince people that their lives are worth writing about.

Author of Confessions of a Do-Gooder Gone Bad, contributor to newest HerStories Project anthology, So Glad They Told Me – Women Get Real About Motherhood, and runner who is <this> close to 20 marathons.
Read my Mom About the Burgh Blog at: http://annkhowley.com/blog


Edgar A. Folks IMG_20180120_104206_645 (1) is an Award winning line and rhyme philosopher, modern day poet of spoken-word and lyricist.  His writings are as diverse as he is, speaking to the hearts of lovers, young and old alike allowing them to bask in the matters and moments that so often dwell in the most secret places of our hearts.  His 11 published books, Confession of Perfection “Motivational Thoughts”, Stimulation of Thought “The Advanced Level”, A Sample of Me, Affirmations “The Inner-Most of a Man”, Stimulus and Response, Teachable Moments “The Cognitive Approach” Rhythmic Expressions “The Next Dimension”, The Black Book Diary “The Art of Creative Writing”, “7” Completion, “8” New Beginning Stimulation of Thought and Inventions of Fulfillment are perfectly suited for use in plays, songs, spoken-word, multi-media productions and last but not least for shared pleasures. Professionally, Edgar enjoys playing sports and developing himself spiritually. He earned a B.S. degree in Mathematics from the prestigious Tuskegee University, and a Master’s Degree in the Art of Teaching from the University of Pittsburgh.  Edgar has worked in the capacity of Teacher, Counselor, Therapist and Advocate with a driving force to enhance and develop the lives of Young people for over 30 years.  Edgar resides in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

Stephanie Keyes is the author of the award-winning YA Fantasy series,The Star Child [Inkspell Publishing]. Mrs. Keyes has presented and facilitated courses throughout the US and the UK. In addition, her work has received multiple commendations, including the following: 2015 BTS Magazine Reader’s Choice Awards Finalist, 2014 Dante Rossetti Young Adult Novel Awards—Mythological Category—First Place, 2013 Kindle Book Awards Semi-finalist. She’s an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Pennwriters. When she’s not writing, Keyes is an adjunct faculty member at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC). She also works as a freelance graphic and instructional designer. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons.
Daniel Lowe lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he has taught writing at the Community College of Allegheny County for twenty-five years. For more than that, he has been writing in relative obscurity, though his poetry and fiction have appeared in literary magazines, including West Branch, The Bridge, The Paterson Literary Review, Ellipsis, Blue Stem, Midway Journal, and The Madison Review. His first novel, All That’s Left to Tell, was published by Flatiron Books in 2017. He enjoys hours spent with his children, days spent with his wife, extended afternoons, and watching birds at feeders outside the window while he idly sits at his computer waiting for another sentence to take shape. He runs slowly in the park.

Monyok, Michael Bio 2016

  MICHAEL MONYOK is an attorney at Meyer Unkovic & Scott who focuses his practice on intellectual property matters, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.  Michael assists his clients in protecting their valuable intellectual property, licensing their work, and when needed, enforcing their intellectual property rights in court.  Examples of Michael’s work include obtaining a royalty payment for a client whose musical composition was used without his permission in a national television advertising campaign, preventing the unauthorized release of a copyrighted work maintained as a trade secret, and advising a client on the terms of an agreement used in a joint project.  In addition to his legal practice, Michael has authored several articles on intellectual property topics for publications such as the Post-Gazette and The Legal Intelligencer.  Michael is registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and is a member of the Pittsburgh Intellectual Property Law Association and The Q. Todd Dickinson Intellectual Property American Inn of Court




Debra SanchezDebra Sanchez leads writing groups and hosts writing retreats. Her bilingual children’s book, And My Mother Cried/Y Mi Mamá Lloró won The Author Zone’s Award (TAZ) for “best children’s book” of 2017. Her book Prompted, Prodded, Published: How Prompts Can Help All Writers, a hybrid book that is part writer’s guide & part anthology, placed 2nd in the 2017 TAZ “business” category. She has also won awards in children’s stories, poetry, fantasy, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Her play Pages (Páginas) was published in 2016 in both English and Spanish. Several of her other plays and monologues have been produced, and many of her works have been published in literary magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. Her most recent book, Raw & Unfinished, includes a blend of her poetry: some previously published in various literary journals, some award winners, and a few fresh and new.



Tiffany T. Huff-Strothers is an Author, & The Founder of the soul-nourishing Tiffany Huff Experience, which is inclusive of the life-changing Coffee & Clarity sessions, The Reinventing You Podcast & Tour, and The Write For Your Life Master Class, and When She Thrives. Tiffany has published two books in 2017: Empower Moments: A 31 Day Devotional to Empower The Everyday Woman, & 30 Day Stay: A Story of Escaping Death, Healing from Heartbreak and Finding Hope in Homelessness. Both books and all of Tiffany’s works are testaments of God’s light being manifested through her.
Tiffany believes that the ultimate form of self-care is to honor yourself by honoring who God created you to be and doing what  He created you to do.  This belief, paired with her spirit of determinationhttp://Tiffanyhuffexperience.com, gifts of clarity and insight, fuel her passion for challenging women to overcome their fears and to reinvent themselves as the women they were called and created to be.

Tiffany studied Communications & Professional Writing, as an undergraduate at Carlow University, and Higher Education Management at the Graduate School of Education at The University of Pittsburgh.  Tiffany has held a variety of leadership positions in the corporate, government and non-profit sectors. She now uses her experience and knowledge acquired during her professional career to fuel her fulltime entrepreneurial pursuits as an Author, Coach, and  Evangelic Mentor for women around the world.

A native of the “Steel City”, Tiffany lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and two preteen sons.

You may learn more about Tiffany and her work here:  Tiffanyhuffexperience.com



Brittany J. Thurman Headshotfell in love with literature the first time she opened Wayside School is Falling Down. After school, she sat in her grandmothers living room, writing out stories that she and her cousin would perform. Today, Brittany writes picture books, middle grade and young adult novels for kids to know their dreams are achievable. Her first picture book, entitled Fly, was recently acquired.

Brittany is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, where she received a Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing. During her graduate years at Carnegie Mellon, Brittany’s plays were produced in Aspen, Co, and on New York’s Theatre Row. Brittany has introduced Sharon G. Flake for Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures, developed African centered storytimes at The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, presented at The Summit Against Racism, The Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Children’s Literature, plus many more.


When Brittany isn’t writing, she reads stories to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Her hope is that they will grow to love reading as much as she does. You can find out more about Brittany on her website, www.brittanythurman.com, on Twitter @janeebrittany, or Instagram @britjanee. Brittany is represented by Marietta B. Zacker at Gallt and Zacker.


Diversity is Not a Buzzword 

Identities that have been marginalized and ignored have also been reduced to stereotypes, often in children’s literature. These stereotypes and messages can harm the youngest and oldest of readers. Diversity is Not a Buzzword will hone in on children’s literature that gets representation right, the vitality of centering own voices, and steps that can be taken when one decides to write outside their experience. 


jodi2Jodi Velazquez was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Robert Morris University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing communications with an emphasis on writing skills. After moving 5 times in 6 years Jodi wrote and self-publishing the Slick Move Guide in 2007, and the Slick Move Guide Professional Athlete Edition in 2012. In March of 2014, Jodi released an updated version of the original, the Slick Move Guide Latest Edition. In 2014 Jodi Velazquez was interviewed as an “Ultimate Expert” about the subject of relocation in Woman’s World Magazine’s April 24th Edition. Also, in 2014 the Slick Move Guide Latest Edition received the 2014 – 2015 TAZ Award for Business & Reference (Pittsburgh, Pa Author Awards).

Jodi resides in Pittsburgh with her husband and two daughters.








October 17, 2019~~~TAZ Celebrates the Independent Author. TAZ awards are based on 80% content and 20% production of your book. Judges are authors/writers/teachers/editors from Pittsburgh and New York. Submit your book before September 13, 2019, for a TAZ Author Award ceremony and Authors’ Night Out.