Breakout Leaders

Cynthia Beach is an English professor and writer. Her articles, short stories, and contributions appear in newspapers, literary journals, and books like Hope in the Mourning Bible (Zondervan, 2013) and Horse of My Heart (Revell, 2015). She cofounded the two-day Breathe Christian Writers Conference and is marketing her novel, The Seduction of Pastor Goodman.


Dave Beach is a 60-something therapist/writer, co-author of The Essential Bible Companion to the Psalms, and contributing writer to Hope in the Mourning Bible. He writes curriculum and also teaches college-level courses in psychopathology, grief and loss, social science research, and statistics. He enjoys a partially reclusive life with his wife Cynthia. His perennial interests are the intersections of theology, psychology, sociology, what it means to be human, and a 1963 Dodge Power Wagon, which he affectionately calls “The Major.”

Tim Beals has been president of Credo Communications, a literary agency, and publisher of Credo House Publishers, an independent book publisher, since 2005. He has also been an adjunct professor of publishing, editing, and professional writing at Cornerstone University since 1989. As president and publisher, Tim fills his days working closely with authors and publishers, bringing words to life. He also travels worldwide to meet with authors and encourage their craft.


Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books for children including Our Daily Bread for Kids, Our Daily Bread for Preschoolers and Does God Take Naps? She also writes lyrics for children’s piano music and stories for Clubhouse Jr. Magazine.



Lorilee Craker is the author of fourteen books, including You are Beautiful (2017) with Ashley Reitz, and Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and Me. The proud founder of a writing day camp for middle schoolers, Lorilee lives in Grand Rapids with her husband, Doyle, and their three children: Jonah, Ezra, and Phoebe.

Christine Darragh is a bookbinder and author with a passion to enable writers and artists alike by supplying them with hand-crafted books made in her home studio. She is a reluctant native of Ann Arbor, Mich., and hopes to one day escape to travel the world and trade handmade books for delicious local food. Her writing has previously appeared in Structo and Topology magazines.


By day, Alexis De Weese is a digital marketer. She has written tweets for billion-book bestsellers and NBA All-Star champions. (She doesn’t kiss and tell, but does!) Through her work with Apricot Services, Lex wears the hat of project manager, content creator, and content editor. By night, she is a blogger focusing on spiritual growth topics for young adult women. She is also an aspiring novelist and tea enthusiast.


Shari Dragovich is a freelance writer living in the beautiful mountains of Roanoke, VA, where she lives with her husband, five teenage kids, one hyperactive beagle, and two spastic cats. She is the current dining writer for the Roanoker Magazine, and is at work on her first novel. She writes personal stories on her blog:


Susie Finkbeiner is the bestselling author of A Cup of Dust and A Trail of Crumbs. Her novel A Song of Home releases Fall, 2017. Her other novels are My Mother’s Chamomile (WhiteFire, 2014) and Paint Chips (WhiteFire, 2013). Susie is a wife, mother, book addict, and Breathe Planning Committee member.


Heather Day Gilbert, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Find out more on


Jennifer Grant is the author of five books, including the recently released When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?. Her work for children is Maybe God Is Like That Too. Grant has a Masters degree in creative writing/fiction, is an avid reader of literature for both children and adults and is mother to four book-loving young adult and adult fiction readers with whom she has lively discussions. Learn more at


Tracy Groot writes historical fiction, and is a co-founder of the Breathe conference. She is a three-time winner of the Christy Award, and her works have garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. Her recents works include Flame of Resistance, The Sentinels of Andersonville, and The Maggie Bright.


Leveraging years of experience in marketing, the publishing world, non-profit development, and a passion for gathering tribes, Lindsay Gustafson is co-owner, chief marketer and queen of detail at Apricot Services. When she’s not in the virtual world she can be found laughing with her two kids and dog.


Elizabeth Ivy Hawkins holds an MFA in Painting, and currently is an Adjunct Professor at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI. Her artwork has been exhibited regionally and nationally and her story, Where I Fell in Love, was recently featured on the Story Gathering Podcast. She is a wife to the dashing Bradford, stepmother of one and mother of two naughty and smart children.


Alison Hodgson is a writer, speaker and humorist whose life experiences have made her an involuntary expert on the etiquette of perilous times. Her first book, The Pug List, was published by Zondervan in April 2016. She is a co-founder of Breathe Christian Writers Conference. Alison lives outside Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband, their three children and three good dogs.


Richard Havenga seeks to make the ordinary extraordinary through close, personal observations of nature. This poet/photographer/naturalist writes with a supple blend of awareness, curiosity, and spirituality. He has published in Blue Heron Review and The Homeschool Handbook. He is the author of the five-year-old blog: Walk With Father Nature.


Christina Hubbard is a poet who writes memoir. She is the author of Five Ways to Love Like You Mean It and blogs at Her work has been featured at (in)courage, Proverbs 31, and Mops International. A former technical writer who almost ditched the writing life completely, she believes creativity is a lifelong, spiritual practice.


Deborah King is associate copy editor of nonfiction and kids books at Tyndale House Publishers. She loves writing fantasy fiction for children and is currently pursuing an MFA in writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. When not reading or writing, she enjoys art projects, crafting, and generally making the world a more beautiful place. Debbie has lived all over the place and is currently learning to call Glen Ellyn, IL, her home.


Writing Coach Ann Kroeker leverages over 25 years of writing and editing experience in the publishing industry to equip her clients to reach their writing goals. She is a published author and coauthor, blogger, and host of the “Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach” podcast. Follow her on | Twitter and Instagram @annkroeker


Matthew Landrum holds an MFA from Bennington College. He was poetry editor of Structo Magazine from 2011-2016. His work appears in AGNI, Image Journal, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Ruminate. He lives and teaches in Detroit.


Rachel McMillan is a life-long CBA addict. Rachel’s first published series was Herringford and Watts Mysteries while her next publishing adventure, coming in 2018, is a romantic suspense series set in 1930s Boston. When not reading, writing or engaging with readers, she explores her city of Toronto, travels near and far, and watches a lot of baseball.


Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She and her South African husband have three children. Kate is the author of the e-book Letters to Grief, hosts the Five-Minute Friday weekly blog link-up, and has contributed to several other publications. Follow her at or Twitter @k8motaung.


Glenys Nellist is a best-selling author of two popular children’s book series: Love Letters from God and Snuggle Time. Her most recent release is ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas. Glenys is married to David, and they are the proud parents of four adult sons, and the happy grandparents of four little ones. Connect with her at her website:


Amy Nemecek lives in northern Michigan with her husband, son, and two cats. Her work can be found in a number of publications, including Perspectives, Ancient Paths, Topology, and The 3288 Review. She works part-time as a freelance editor and enjoys long walks along country roads.


Don Perini is a professor of creativity and innovation at Cornerstone University. In addition to teaching, screenwriting, and game designing, he travels the nation shaping the way educators, writers, and entrepreneurs think about creativity and innovation. His book, Emerge, encourages individuals to practice creative habits in order to produce meaningful work.


Bestselling author and speaker Shannon Popkin loves to blend her gifts for humor and storytelling with her passion for the truth of God’s Word. Shannon is the author of Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible, and is a contributing blogger at Revive Our Hearts. Shannon lives in West Michigan with her family.


Jill Richardson is a writer, speaker, pastor, mom of three, and author of five books. She likes to travel, grow flowers, and break into random musical numbers. Jill has a BA from Washington University in English and Secondary Education, an MDiv from Bethel University, and is currently pursuing a DMin.


Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of seven books—for both children and adults. Her most recent titles include the forthcoming Grit and Grace: Heroic Women of the Bible and The Story of Noah’s Ark. When not writing, you can find Caryn at her church, where she works part-time on the worship staff or hanging out with her husband, Rafael, their three kids, and their beloved rescued pit bull. Find Caryn online or visit her at


Andy Rogers likes to write fiction, non-fiction, and emails that are just a bit too long. He has worked in the book industry since 2007 and is an editor at Our Daily Bread Ministries and Discovery House. Andy also co-hosts the semi-annual Jot Writers Conference. Connect with him on Goodreads or Twitter, @ALRstories.


Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. She is the managing editor of Smitten Historical Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not working on her latest project, Pegg can be found in her garden, at her spinning wheel, or on her trusty horse, Trooper. See more at


Janyre Tromp has worked in the CBA industry for 17 years, spending time in both marketing and editorial. Currently she is a developmental and acquisitions editor for Kregel Publications by day and a writer at night. And that all happens from her kitchen table when she’s not hanging out with her husband, two kids, and slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog.


Brenda L. Yoder, LMHC, is a speaker, author, life & writing coach, and Licensed Mental Health Counselor. She’s been featured in two Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and The Washington Post. Her new book, Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind, releases in March 2018.


Cyle Young is a multiple award-winning author and literary agent who has two master’s degrees from Liberty Theological Seminary. His Selah Award Finalist book, Belly Buttons and Broken Hearts, will delight your heart and split your belly with laughter. Learn more by visiting