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Meet our fabulous First-Chapter-of-a-Novel Contest judges for 2007


Parris Afton Bonds

Parris Afton Bonds is an award-winning author of 35 westerns, historical novels, international espionage stories, romances, sagas, and mainstream fiction as well as a multitude of nonfiction articles and essays. As co-founder of both Southwest Writers Workshop and Romance Writers of America, she instigated and sponsors the SWWW Young Writers contest. Parris donates her time, working with both grade-school children and female prison inmates to help them express their creativity.


Bernadine Bowman has taught literature and writing on the secondary level in New York City since 1990. During her tenure as a teacher she has directed plays, supervised a student poetry club, co-edited an academic literary magazine, and served on two successful grant-writing teams. She has also written and co-written plays that have been performed in community theater, and she’s been a staff writer for Meridian, a local youth magazine. She edits fiction and non-fiction manuscripts.

In 1989, Bernadine received her AB in English Language and Literature from Princeton University in New Jersey. Her senior thesis compared themes in J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. In 1995, she received her MA in Teaching of English from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City.

John Bryans

From 1978 to 1984 John B. Bryans was Vice President at James A. Bryans Books, Inc.—a book packager based in New York, NY—where he helped to produce more than 30 mass market fiction and nonfiction titles annually for Dell, Bantam, Jove, Zebra, and other paperback publishers. Among the many original books and series he developed for the Dell/Bryans and Dell/Emerald imprints were dozens of installments in Lee Davis Willoughby’s “The Making of America”—the longest running series of American historical novels of all time with more than 50 titles and over five million copies sold.

In 1984, John started Blue Heron Press, Inc. in Manhattan, where he published an original line of mystery and romance novels. After releasing 18 titles for Blue Heron, John founded Bryans & Bryans, a Connecticut-based book packager and editorial consulting firm whose clients included St. Martin’s Press, Tor Books, Knightsbridge/Distican, Image Publishing, Business Journals Inc., and Zebra Books/Kensington Publishing. By the end of the 80s, John had grown fascinated with the potential of the personal computer, desktop publishing, and the Internet and turned his energies to publishing projects involving digital technologies and cyberculture. In 1991 he was hired by a Bryans & Bryans client, Online Inc. of Wilton, CT, where he launched the “CyberAge Books” imprint specializing in titles about the Internet and online information. As Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Online’s book division, Pemberton Press, John acquired, edited, and published a successful line of technology titles including the company’s bestseller, Carole A. Lane’s Naked in Cyberspace: How to Find Personal Information Online. He was one of the first book publishers to experiment with and then to regularly utilize the Web to update and extend the value of print titles.

In 1998 John spearheaded the sale of Online Inc.’s book program to Information Today, Inc. (ITI) of Medford, New Jersey, and joined ITI as Editor-in-Chief (later Publisher) of the Book Publishing Division. At ITI John acquires and develops books and ebooks on such topics as library and information science, online research and the Internet, indexing, e-commerce, competitive intelligence, knowledge and information management, computer security, politics and the Web, K-12 education, distance learning, career development, science, medicine, and clinical research. In addition, he oversees a small regional imprint, Plexus Publishing, focused on Southern New Jersey—famous for its unique Pine Barrens and coastal ecosystems as well as for such popular tourist destinations as Atlantic City and Cape May. For Plexus, John acquires, edits, and publishes histories, illustrated field guides, and the occasional novel.

John’s favorite living writers are the novelists John le Carré and Jonathan Lethem. He wishes he had more time for leisure reading. He is passionate about music both as a listener and as an amateur singer-songwriter-guitarist who played professionally for a short time before embarking on his publishing career.

Micah Dubinko

Micah Dubinko is such a stickler for editing his work that he produced a podcast–Editing Reality–to help him.

He is a Senior Research Developer at Yahoo!, published nonfiction author, and geek. His book Xforms Essentials was published in hard copy by renowned tech publisher O’Reilly, and also online under an open content license, making it free for others to copy and modify.

Listen to Micah’s Writing Show interview here.


Richard M. Garino has been a New York City English Teacher for 8 years. Concurrently, he has served as an Adjunct Associate Professor at St. John’s University in Queens, NY for the past 5 years, and as an Adjunct Lecturer at Queensboro Community college. He has published three works of short fiction.

Bad Boy Mick Halpin

Born in Iowa, Mick Halpin now resides in Dublin, Ireland. After earning a BA in History, Mick taught school for three years in South Louisiana and then worked briefly in the publishing industry in Orlando. A nine-to-five job in the IT industry now enables him to devote evenings to book fandom. Mick was a senior fiction editor at NFG Magazine and still heartily recommends the original, innovative fiction available in back issues.

Since May 2005, Mick has been webmaster of Critical Mick: “Reviews Free of Rules.” His “Unruly Reviews” of Irish and crime fiction try to capture the reviewed book’s spirit and flavor. Often they fail, but he hopes they provide entertaining reading all the same. The site also features author interviews, news, and some offbeat notes on ex-pat living.

Mick guest hosts at The Writing Show. Listen to his interviews:

The View from Ireland, with Kevin Stevens
Wearing Many Hats: It’s Just About Wanting to Write, with John MacKenna
You Found What in a Bog? Writing the Archaeological Mystery, with Erin Hart
A Conversation with Irish Horror Writer/Filmmaker Darryl Sloan

Robert Hood

In 1970, Robert Hood began studying for his degree in Eng. Lit. and to be an English teacher. He attended Macquarie University, where he wrote a non-autobiographical story about a madman taking over the world and, encouraged by his tutor, Thea Astley, submitted it to ABC Radio. ‘Caesar or Nothing’ was his first professional sale, broadcast on 28th of February, 1975; but it wasn’t until he left teaching ten years later that he really started to produce and sell stories regularly. In 1975 he won the Canberra Times National Short Story competition, and the Australian Golden Dagger Award in 1988. In both 2000 and 2001 he was shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for Best Horror Short Story.

Rob has worked as a dishwasher, radio comedy writer, co-DJ of a radio show, journalist, research assistant, creative writing teacher, and magazine editor. He’s directed plays for amateur theatre (the most spectacular being an elaborate version of “Twelfth Night,” and his best a production of Ron Blair’s “President Wilson in Paris”), helped establish a small-press publishing company, and played drums in two rock bands. He now has well over 100 stories published, as well as two collections of his own work, several novels, and a heap of kid’s books. He’s appeared in Karl Edward Wagner’s Year’s Best Horror and has been nominated for several awards, including a Readercon award for best collection, as well as the Ditmar and Aurealis awards. He has won two Atheling Awards for genre criticism.

In 2001, Rob published four novels — these are the supernatural young adult series, Shades, in which he creates an original mythology involving a dark world that touches our world of light wherever there are shadows. They are ghosts stories in a way — but ghost stories with a difference. And adults can enjoy them, too. Also in 2001, just for the variety (and the money), he co-authored with David Young a vampire-oriented, text-based interactive game, designed to be played via mobile phone networks. It was, he says, an interesting experience. His collection of ghost stories, Immaterial, was published in June 2002 by MirrorDanse Books. During 2004-2006 he edited (with Robin Pen) three anthologies of giant monster stories, the first being Daikaiju! Giant Monster Tales (Agog! Press, 2005), which won a Ditmar Award for Best Collection.

Listen to Rob on The Writing Show:

Nobody’s Car
That Old Black Graffiti
Peripheral Movement in the Leaves Under an Orange Tree

Tom Occhipinti’s Creative Writing Podcast at

Tom Occhipinti produces and hosts the Creative Writing Podcast at, an online audio show that focuses on fiction writing and analysis. The idea for the show occurred to him when he found himself talking with friends at length on the process of writing his novel. They wondered how he was approaching his story, building his characters, developing conflict, and so on. A few days later, he came across the phenomenon of podcasting, let it simmer in him for a couple of weeks, and soon gave birth to the Creative Writing Podcast at

In 1989, Tom received his BA in Literature from Queens College in New York City; in 1993, he received his MS in Secondary Education, also from Queens College. Since 1994, he has taught English on the secondary level in New York City. Throughout his tenure, he has developed a literacy curriculum, has conducted extracurricular fiction workshops, and is proud to see a number of his students go on to pursue creative writing in college.

In 2001, Tom served as the editor and co-writer of the eZine, an online publication devoted to literary criticism, critical biographies, original fiction, language, linguistics, and etymology.
He is currently working on a character-driven dark fiction novel, which he hopes to complete and send to publishers by the end of 2007. He is also working with Internet technologists in the creation of an online writing community. Tom occasionally takes on freelance writing projects.

Ann Paden is a writer and editor who worked as a manuscript editor for academic and commercial presses before becoming a feature writer for a national newspaper chain and later a member of the creative department of a Chicago-based advertising agency.

Since 1990 Ann has worked as an independent writer specializing in business histories and as-told-to biographies and as an editor specializing in manuscript analysis and critique. Her many publications include They Built Chicago, with Miles L. Berger; I Bought It at Polk Bros; and Maria Chabot and Georgia O’Keeffe: Letters—1941-1949, with Barbara Buhler Lynes.

She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Occidental College and did her graduate work at the University of London and Harvard-Radcliffe where she was elected a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies.

Paula Paul

Paula Griffith Paul is an award-winning novelist who usually writes mysteries, but her current novel, Crazy Quilt, is a literary novel. The main character is a woman whose body, marriage, and spirit have been ravaged by cancer treatment, but who fights her way back in a most unconventional way. Paula is donating one third of the royalities to cancer research.

Listen to Paula’s Writing Show interview here.

Paula was born on her grandparents’ cotton farm near Shallowater, Texas, and graduated from a country high school near Maple, Texas. She earned a B.A. in journalism and has worked as a reporter for newspapers in both Texas and New Mexico. She’s been the recipient of state and national awards for her work as a journalist.

Jill Ronsley

Jill Ronsley won the Best Book Editor 2005 award from the Editors and Preditors Readers Poll. She is the editor-in-chief of “The Blue Review,” a monthly online writers’ e-zine, available by subscription, for which she writes two columns. She has edited nonfiction, fiction, stories for children, spiritual books, and cookbooks; been a judge in writers’ competitions; and written articles on editing, book design and writing.

Jill has designed book interiors and typeset works of nonfiction, including self-help books, memoirs, books for women, and scholarly texts; novels and collections of short stories; books for children, including picture books and middle grade novels; spiritual books; books of poetry; film scripts; and manuals. Jill also designs book covers, working closely with graphic artists, fine artists, and photo editors; and promotional materials, such as postcards, brochures, business cards and bookmarks.

She studied fine art at McGillUniversity, from which she has a BA, and at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. She has a diploma in languages and literature from Vanier College, where she studied French, German, and Italian.

Listen to Jill’s Writing Show interview here

Karen Villanueva

Karen Villanueva of Karen Villanueva Author Services is a publicist specializing in the promotion of authors. Her services include: setting up book tours with bookstores and other venues; writing author bios, Q & As, press releases, and email releases; working electronic and print media to obtain features, reviews, and interviews; and hourly consulting services. Many of Karen’s services can be purchased a la carte for those not needing full author tour or promotion services. Publishers also hire Karen Villanueva Author Services for media escort services (driving New York Times best-selling authors to their events) and sometimes as a publicist for certain legs of an author’s tour.

A former National Publicity Director for Duke Street Records, Canada (they won national awards for Best Promotion Team and Best Independent Record Company), she was presented with the Canadian Recording Industry Association Certified Gold Record for Chalk Circle’s “Mending Wall.”

Expanding her services to include other types of artists, Karen launched Karen Williams Personal Publicity Services in Toronto, December of 1987.

From 87 - 92, having promoted world-class actors; classical, jazz and rock musicians; comedians; ice-skating world champions; television show launches; and special corporate and city-sponsored events; Karen moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Surprised at the number of famous and not-so-famous authors living in the area, Karen focused her skills on promoting authors.

In 1992 she joined the nationally respected SouthWest Writers organization and has held various volunteer positions for the SWW organization including Board Member and Public Relations Chair. A longtime member of New Mexico Book Association (NMBA), Karen is a currently a board member and their publicist.

Listen to Karen’s Writing Show interview here

Kaaron Warren

The Grinding House, Kaaron Warren’s collection of horror, science fiction, and fantasy short stories was published in 2005 by CSFG and released in North America in 2006. Kaaron has been writing since she was seven, and has produced about 150 short stories. Her home is Canberra Australia, but she and her family are doing a two-year stint in Fiji.

Listen to Kaaron read her stories on The Writing Show:

Tiger Kill
The Gibbet Bell