Who’s Who for the 2019 TAZ Writers’ Conference


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Discounted price for students and fixed income, call for rates.

Sign up here-https://tazwritersconference19.eventbrite.com

TAZ 2019 Registration Form (1)                                                                                    Make checks out to The Authors’ Zone~~PO Box 9687~~Pittsburgh PA. 15226

Contact Anna Marie: 412-563-6712 or info@theauthorszone.com  for additional information.

The TAZ Writers Conference is a wonderful opportunity for writers of all levels to get intense instruction over the course of one day.

Why should you Go? This is a serious conference for serious writers. Attendees are a mix of new and accomplished writers looking to expand their knowledge and to mingle with other writers/ authors , publishers and editors. It’s small enough that it won’t feel overwhelming with an impressive group of presenters and information. Highlights of the conference include –

  • Talk To The Editor, a chance to have a portion of your manuscript evaluated by an editor or publisher. Additional fee for this
  • Networking with like minded people in an academic setting.


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.



Topics will include-

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

How to Harness Your Writing Voice, Ann Howley-Every writer has a secret weapon, a unique gift that can’t be replicated. No matter what you write, your voice reveals truth about who you are and what’s important to you. That authenticity represents your potential as a writer. This workshop, for writers of all genres and levels of experience, will help you learn how to find your writing voice and harness its power to connect with readers and impact lives.

Fiction, Dan Lowe- The Interplay of Plot and Character

When most of us are considering story, we’re reasonably focused on plot. Through much of the reading we’ve done, we remember the exciting mystery with the great twist at the end, or the film that takes an unexpected turn. When writing science or speculative fiction, we become enamored of world-building and imagining alternative universes. We’re drawn to such stories and wish to emulate them. But we do so often at the expense of character, forgetting that worlds inhabited by flat or two-dimensional characters, no matter how ornately or suspensefully or romantically drawn, are inherently uninteresting. At the same time, characters independent of plot have nowhere to go. In this workshop, we will discuss the careful interplay of these essential elements of writing in order to discover ways to make our characters complex and consistent in all the stories we tell.

Poetry,Learn how to create and hone your skills from an award winning Poet- Edgar Folks

Memoir Writing,-Write For Your Life – how to break through the myth of writers block and share your story once and for all-          Tiffany Huff

Sharise Nance, Are you an expert in your field? How to organize a self help book.     .

Diversity is Not a BuzzwordIdentities 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.  Brittany Thurman

Do you think you want to write a children’s book?  Do you even know how to begin? Award-winning author, Dede Rittman, will take you through the processes of inventing a character, writing your book, finding a publisher, and advertising /promoting your book. Follow your dream and become an author-Dede Rittman

Panel on Marketing your Book, before and after publication

Agents editors publishers for TTTE

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 Ann 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


How to Harness Your Writing Voice

Every writer has a secret weapon, a unique gift that can’t be replicated. No matter what you write, your voice reveals truth about who you are and what’s important to you. That authenticity represents your potential as a writer. This workshop, for writers of all genres and levels of experience, will help you learn how to find your writing voice and harness its power to connect with readers and impact lives.

Ann K. Howley is the author of the TAZ Award-winning memoir, Confessions of a Do-Gooder Gone Bad, a contributor to the HerStories Project anthology, So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood, and writes regularly for Pittsburgh Parent Magazine. Her work has appeared in many publications nationwide, including skirt! Magazine, Bicycle Times Magazine, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In 2017 and 2019, her articles received Silver Awards from the Parenting Media Association and her essays won the 1st Place Prize for Nonfiction in the 2015 and 2016 Pennwriters Writing Contests. She teaches writing classes for CCAC’s Community Education Program, hosts weekend writing retreats, and is currently writing a YA novel.

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

Hattie Fletcher has been the managing editor of Creative Nonfiction magazine since 2005 and is the editor of the monthly mini-magazine True Story. Essays she has edited have been reprinted in The Best American EssaysThe Best American Travel Writing, and The Best Women’s Travel Writing and have been awarded the Pushcart Prize. She has also worked on books covering such topics as end-of-life care, personalized medicine, education, mental health, and parenting. She was a coordinating editor for the Best Creative Nonfiction series, published by W.W. Norton, and is co-editor, with Lee Gutkind, of True Stories, Well Told … from the first 20 years of Creative Nonfiction magazine (In Fact Books, 2014).



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.

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.
Sharise Nance,18 Sharise Nance   Sharise is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Adjunct Professor, Speaker, Award Winning Entrepreneur and Author.  In addition to running her private practice, HandinHand Counseling Services, Sharise now dedicates her efforts to VitaminCHealing, where the mission is to promote life balance, life satisfaction and life fulfillment to helping professionals and caregivers struggling with self-care neglect, work-life balance, burnout and compassion fatigue. Sharise also serves as an adjunct professor to master level social work students at the University of Pittsburgh.  With considerable experience speaking at keynotes, workshops, and seminars for young professionals, caregivers, entrepreneurs, women, parents, and adolescents across the country, she strives to equip individuals with the tools to live happy, fulfilled lives and careers. With her depth of experience in nearly two decades working with a diverse population of people from all walks of life, Sharise is eager to share all that she’s learned.  Sharise resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband.


Cover photo - CopyDede Rittman is a 37-year veteran English/ Theater teacher from Pittsburgh, PA, teaching 35 years in the North Allegheny School District, where she also was Varsity Head Boys’ Golf Coach for 33 years, directed the spring musical and talent shows, and contributed to many district initiatives.  She was a PA Teacher of the Year semi-finalist in 2011, the year she had to retire when her husband, Scott, was dying from stage four colon cancer. Dede’s book STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER was published in September 2014 and the book has won 8 awards. Nationwide, colleges and universities are using her book, and Dede accepts speaking engagements around the country, with some focusing on Education and Motivation. She is a guest blogger for educational magazines and was the Co-host of The Total Education Q and A Show, which was heard around the world on 120 stations in 80 countries on www.blogtalkradio.com/totaltutor. Dede gives presentations around the globe on both of her books through www.fieldtripzoom.com and www.streamblelearning.com . Dede writes a weekly blog for teacher inspiration at www.bunnyteacher.blogspot.com.


GRADY GETS GLASSES, Dede’s children’s book, just came out in hardcover. The book won Best New Children’s Book 2016 from The Authors’ Zone, best second ediction in 2018 from the Authros’ Zone, and a Bronze Moonbeam Award for Best Book with Merchandise in October, 2018. Dede has also won three Album of Distinction Awards from Delta Kappa Gamma in 2015 ,2017 and 2018; the prestigious I AM L.E.E.  (Living Education Everyday) Award in 2016; and she was inducted into the North Allegheny Sports Hall of Fame in October of 2017.



Tiffany Huff-Strothers is a Wife, Mother and woman of faith. She is called to minister and mentor women and passionate about helping women reinvent themselves following their worst setbacks to make major impact. She lives out her calling as an Evangelist, Award Winning Author, Sought After Speaker, Coach and Domestic Violence Advocate. Tiffany’s resilience and resourcefulness is known to be a catalyst for changing lives after every single encounter. She is The Founder & Director of When She Thrives, a nonprofit with the mission to break generational cycles of single motherhood.. In 2017, she published two books, 30 Day Stay: A Story of Escaping Death, Healing From Heartbreak & Finding Hope in Homelessness, and EmpowerMoments for The Everyday Woman: A 31 Day Devotional to Empower Your Womanhood. Tiffany earned a B.A. in Communication & Professional Writing at Carlow University and studied Higher Education Management at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Education. She is active with women’s ministry at her church and serves on several boards including The Carlow University Alumnae Board. In her spare time she enjoys, reading, cooking, and being home spending quality time with loved ones.



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. 










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.