Who’s Who for the 2018 TAZ Writers’ Conference

Register herehttps://tazwritersconference.eventbrite.com.

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
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



Dionna Rojas’s career in human services spans over 24 years with headshots-4212 of those years working as a job readiness trainer, service coordinator and strength-based family coordinator for local workforce development programs and a community corrections facility in Allegheny County, PA. Dionna is a strong advocate for individuals and communities with disabilities and works hard at assisting people in being their best self. Her presentation during trainings is both engaging and thoughtful in each training she conducts as a parent educator, self- care and emotional wellness trainer.  Dionna has also, through her work with the PEAL center, co-authored and contributed to their publication, Friendships: Building a Good Life. She is certified as an ACT: Raising Safe Kids facilitator and has trained over 100 parents parents involved in the family reunification process on basic steps to building a relationship with and reconnecting to both child and family relationships that may have suffered a breach. She has filled various roles over the year, all with an emphasis on the individual and communal well-being of marginalized children and adults. Dionna’s voice is sought by many organizations, whether she is speaking on social justice and human rights issues, or parent and family relationships. Her voice has been added to the conversation in the academic world through the University of Pittsburgh Center for Health Equity’s conference on Criminal Justice and Health


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



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.



Sam Wieder PhotoSam Wieder is a speaking coach who helps professionals to harness the power of their personal stories to become more engaging and impactful speakers.  Involved in the writing world throughout his professional life, he worked for 8 years as a marketing writer, authored two books (one on marketing writing, the other based on his personal story), taught college business writing classes, writes special occasion poetry, and has been journaling for over 35 years.  Over the past 2 years, he has also written a dozen songs, an experience that he credits with taking his writing and storytelling skills to new heights.


Marketing Consultant


Deb Riley-Magnus Conf Pic smDeborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach with forty-plus years professional background in marketing, advertising, and public relations. She has been a writer for print, television, and radio. She writes fiction and nonfiction and has been a ghostwriter for several clients.

Her nonfiction—FINDING AUTHOR SUCCESS, CROSS MARKETING MAGIC FOR AUTHORS, and the newest, WRITE BRAIN/LEFT BRAIN— teaches authors how to bridge the gap between the creative writer and the marketing author. Her new AUTHOR MARKETING PLAYBOOKS #1, and #2 teach Master Class level marketing strategies and techniques.

For over a decade Deborah has been working with authors to help them find sales success. She produces several pieces monthly for various websites and online publications. She teaches online and live workshops, clinics, and boot camps. She writes an author marketing industry blog and coaches authors, one-on-one, for sales success. In October, 2018, she will be offering new products, services, and memberships to help authors shatter the marketing barrier and create creative, joyful book sales.







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.