Breakout Leaders

The following presenters are from the 2016 conference. We’re working hard on a great lineup of new presenters and topics for 2017, so stay tuned!

Lynn Austin
Bestselling author Lynn Austin has written 24 books, which have sold more than one million copies worldwide. She is an eight-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels, and an inaugural inductee into the Christy Award Hall of Fame. Her novel “Hidden Places” has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and live in Michigan.

Facebook: Lynn Austin



Erin Bartels (5)Erin Bartels has worked in the Christian publishing industry for fourteen years. Her latest novel manuscript was a finalist for the 2015 Rising Star Award from the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and her short story “This Elegant Ruin” was a finalist in The Saturday Evening Post 2014 Great American Fiction Contest. She has written several other short stories and is the author of The Intentional Writer. A member of the Capital City Writers Association and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Erin is also the features editor for and a regular contributor to Write On!, WFWA’s quarterly newsletter. Erin’s debut novel is currently on submission.

Facebook: ErinBartelsAuthor
Twitter: @ErinLBartels



Erin Bartels (33)Cynthia Beach is a long-time 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 The Horse of My Heart (Revell, 2015). She co-founded the Breathe Christian Writers Conference and is marketing her novel, The Seduction of Pastor Goodman.




Tim BealsTim Beals has been president of Credo Communications, a literary agency and publishing consultancy, and publisher of Credo House Publishers, an independent book publisher, since 2005. After 25 years of working for other publishers, Tim started his own companies in the service of authors and readers during a period of rapid change in the industry. He believes that a book is less like a product—a thing—and more like a person—even a friend—the offspring of an author’s heart and mind and soul.

Facebook: Credo Communications
Twitter: @timbeals



Karin BeeryOwner of Write Now Editing and Copywriting Services, Karin Beery has had more than five hundred articles published in various periodicals, in addition to writing her novels. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, the American Christian Writers Association, and Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network.

Facebook: pages/Karin-Beery-WriterEditorCoach
Twitter: karinbeery




James SBJames Scott Bell is author of the bestselling Plot & Structure and award-winning thrillers such as Final Witness, Blind Justice and One More Lie. Jim served as a fiction columnist for Writer’s Digest, to which he frequently contributes, and has written four craft books for Writer’s Digest Books. A former trial lawyer, Jim now writes and speaks full time. He lives in Los Angeles and blogs every Sunday at The Kill Zone.

Facebook: James Scott Bell
Twitter: @jamesscottbell



Gary BowerGary Bower published his first children’s story in 1990, and has authored 23 picture books since. He has been seeking to learn new effective ways to capture the attention of small children through stories since he became a children’s pastor in 1979. Many of his books have been illustrated by his wife of 38 years, Jan Bower, an accomplished art instructor and oil portrait artist. They have 12 children and 22 grandchildren, most of whose likenesses have appeared in the Bowers’ books. Their home and studios are located on a piece of the old family farm just outside Traverse City, Michigan, where all kinds of artistic messes are created daily.

Facebook: garyjan.bower, Bower-Family-Books, BowerArts



Sharon GBSharon Garlough Brown is an author, retreat speaker, and spiritual director. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, Sharon has served on the pastoral staff of congregations in Scotland, Oklahoma, England, and most recently in West Michigan, where she co-pastored Redeemer Covenant Church with her husband, Jack, for many years. Her spiritual formation novels, Sensible Shoes and Two Steps Forward, follow the journey of characters who are learning to rest in the love of God. Her third novel in the Sensible Shoes series, Barefoot, will be released by InterVarsity Press this November.

Facebook: Sensible Shoes and Sharon Garlough Brown


Erin Bartels (32)Ann Byle is a freelance writer for magazines including Publishers Weekly and Grand Rapids Magazine; a literary agent with Credo Communications; speaker and numerous writers conferences; and author of several books. She is a cofounder of Breathe.

Facebook: Ann Byle
Twitter:  ann_byle





Jessie CLearning by trial, error, and buckets of God’s grace, Jessie Clemence has been writing for six years and blogging for four. She’s the author of two books: If I Plug My Ears, God Can’t Tell Me What to Do, and There’s a Green Plastic Monkey in My Purse. Through the books and the blog she encourages readers to a living, active faith with her slightly wackadoodle sense of humor and keen sense of sarcasm. She also shamelessly exaggerates whenever she can, simply because she can’t help herself. You can find her at

Facebook: /JessieClemence
Twitter: @JessieClemence4




Hugh Cook holds an M.F.A. in fiction writing from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. He is an award-winning author of two books of short stories and two novels. Hugh is retired from teaching Creative Writing at Redeemer University College, and resides with his wife Judy in Hamilton, Ontario. He is a past keynote speaker at Breathe.

Twitter: @HughCook_ca





LorileeLorilee Craker is the author of more than a dozen books, including “Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and Me,” which released in September of 2015. Also: A is for Atticus: Baby Names from Great Books and Money Secrets of the Amish (an Audie Awards finalist, which she wrote and narrated) and the New York Times bestseller Through the Storm with Lynne Spears. A freelance journalist, blogger, and speaker, Lorilee was an entertainment writer for The Grand Rapids Press for seventeen years. She has been featured in many media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Time and People. She is a cofounder of Breathe.


Facebook: Lorilee Craker
Twitter: @Lorileecraker


Peter Jesus-follower and wordsmith Peter DeHaan, Ph.D., shares his passion for life and faith through words, changing the world one word at a time. For his day job, Peter is a magazine publisher, editor-in-chief, and a content curator. He also does content marketing, ghostwriting, and commercial freelance work. Peter returns to Breathe to discuss the wonderful world of writing. A movie buff and nature lover, Peter considers pizza and popcorn as essential foods.

Facebook: AuthorPeterDeHaan
Twitter: @Peter_DeHaan



AlexisAlexis DeWeese works in the digital marketing world helping writers reach their tribes and produce quality content. She works for Calvin College and Apricot Services. Lex has worked with best-selling authors and self-published starters to help them hone and maximize engagement through their digital platforms.

Twitter: @LexDeWeese




BobBob Evenhouse is a fiction writer and blogger living in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is married, has four children, and is always looking for that spare scrap of time to squeeze in a sentence or two. Bob is a founding member of the Weaklings writers group that created the Jot Conference. Connect with him at or on Twitter @parttimenovel

Facebook: Bob Evenhouse
Twitter: @parttimenovel



Drew ChamberlinSusie Finkbeiner is the bestselling author of A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl (Kregel Publications, 2015). Her follow-up novel, A Trail of Crumbs will release Spring, 2017. Her other novels are My Mother’s Chamomile (WhiteFire, 2014) and Paint Chips (WhiteFire, 2013). Susie is a wife, mother, and book addict. She serves on the Breathe Planning Committee.

Facebook: Author-Susie-Finkbeiner
Twitter: @SusieFinkbeiner




LindaLinda Glaz, married with three grown children and three grandchildren, is a complete triple-A personality. How else would she find time to write as well as be an agent for Hartline Literary Agency? She was blessed to have served in the Air Force at a time when it wasn’t the politically correct thing for a woman to do. After teaching soccer nationally and women’s self-defense wherever the need arose, now her greatest thrill is matching clients with publishing houses and hearing their voices when they get “THE CALL.” She connects with authors through seminars, blogs, and anywhere a group congregates and talks books. She’s always looking for fresh voices in fiction, especially in historic romance and suspense.

Facebook: Linda S. Glaz
Twitter: LindaGlaz@LindaGlaz


TracyTracy Groot is an award-winning author of several works of historical fiction including The Sentinels of Andersonville, Maggie Bright, Flame of Resistance, and Madman. She is currently at work on a story about Jonah and the men with whom he sailed. Tracy has taught writing workshops at the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing, Cornerstone University, and the Earlham School of Religion. She has spoken at Andersonville National Historic Site, public libraries, local schools, and the occasional street corner.

Facebook: Tracy Groot



ElizabethElizabeth Ivy Hawkins loves to help others live their best and most creative stories.  She holds an MFA in Painting and currently is an Adjunct Professor at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI.  Elizabeth’s artwork has been exhibited regionally and nationally, including group exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles.  She is a wife to the dashing and strong Bradford, stepmother of one, and mother of two highly naughty and smart children.   

Facebook: elizabethivy.hawkins
Twitter: @elizabethivy



Ann KAnn Kroeker is a writing coach, editor, blogger, host of a podcast called “Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach,” author of The Contemplative Mom and Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families (David C. Cook), and co-author of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts (T. S. Poetry Press). A member of the Tweetspeak Poetry editorial team, Ann is a sought-after resource for editorial guidance. She continues to explore new writing opportunities, speak in a range of venues, maintain connections in the publishing world, and work with writers to help them take the next step in their writing careers.


Facebook: annkroeker.writingcoach
Twitter: @annkroeker


Matthew Landrum is poetry editor of Structo Magazine. His chapbook of translation from the Faroese of Agnar Artúvertin, The Lonesome Savior, is available from Cold Hub Press. His poems and translations have recently appeared in The Michigan Quarterly Review, RHINO, The Notre Dame Review, and The Baltimore Review. He lives and teaches in Detroit.

Twitter: MatthewLandrum




JoshJosh Mosey is president emeritus of the Valhalla Norwegian Society and the marketing manager for Discovery House Books and Music. He is the cofounder of the Jot Writers Conference ( and enjoys writing slipstream and flash fiction, as well as brainstorming book ideas that he’ll never have time to write. His writing has been read by millions, but he still struggles with feeling like a real writer.

Facebook: josh.mosey
Twitter: @josh_mosey



Adam Navis

Dr. Adam Navis is a writer, editor, and teacher whose interests are broad and who tries to help Christians, especially church leaders, become better writers. In spring 2016 he completed his Doctor of Ministry degree with a thesis titled “Story as Theological Form.” Adam is starting a digital magazine by (and for) seminary students called “Liminary.” Aside from his academic work, he is writing a novel that he hopes will make people love running as much has he does.

Twitter: @AdamNavis1






Amy Nemecek lives in northern Michigan with her husband, teenage son, and two cats. Her poetry has appeared in The 3288 Review, Mothers Always Write, Indiana Voice Journal, Snapdragon, and Vine Leaves. When Amy isn’t working with words, she enjoys playing the violin, walking along country roads, and researching family history.

Twitter: @Beloved_Delight



Erin Bartels (25)Author and speaker Shannon Popkin loves to blend her gifts for humor and storytelling with her passion for the truth of God’s Word. Look for her book Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control From 7 Women of the Bible to be released by Kregel Publications in 2016.  Shannon blogs at, where she shares “Tiny Paragraphs” from her life as a wife and mom, and is a regular contributor to True Shannon also speaks for various women’s events and retreats, encouraging women to put their hope in God.

Facebook: Author Shannon Popkin
Twitter: @ShannonPopkin

Erin Bartels (26)Amelia Rhodes is a speaker and author of the upcoming release Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community and Isn’t It Time for a Coffee Break: Doing Life Together in an All-About-Me Kind of World. Amelia’s writing has also been featured in four Chicken Soup for the Soul titles, devotionals and curriculum for the GEMS Girls’ Clubs, and the international devotional Upper Room. Amelia has a growing speaking ministry and speaks regularly to women’s groups on topics of spiritual growth, friendship, and community. In her day job, she works as the marketing/communications coordinator for a large non-profit.


Facebook: ameliarhodeswriter
Twitter: @amrhodes

Erin Bartels (27)Jill Richardson is a writer, speaker, pastor, mom of three, and author of five books with three more on the way. She likes to travel, grow flowers, cause trouble, research her next project, and is currently pursuing a DMin in Church Leadership in a Changing Context. She believes in Jesus, grace, restoration, kindness, justice, the Cubs, and dark chocolate. Her passion is her tagline: Picturing Faith with the Next Generation.

Facebook: jillwrites
Twitter: @JillMarieRichar




QuentinQuentin Schultze is a highly accomplished public speaker who teaches the craft to beginners and CEOs alike. He is Professor of Communication Emeritus at Calvin College, serves on the board of directors for the Baker Publishing Group, and has written and edited many books including Resume 101 (Random House) and An Essential Guide to Public Speaking: Serving Your Audience with Faith, Skill, and Virtue (Baker).

Twitter: @quentinschultze




James WJames N. Watkins is an awarding-winning author of 16 books and over 2,000 articles and has spoken throughout the United States and overseas. He is an acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House. Most important, he loves God, his family (one wife, two adult kids and five grands) and Chinese food—in that order.

Facebook: James N. Watkins, HopeAndHumor
Twitter: @jameswatkinscom




BrendaBrenda Yoder is an author, speaker, educator and licensed mental health counselor.  In 2015 Brenda’s first book, Balance, Busyness and Not Doing It All, was published, along with Who Do You Say I Am, a resource for teen girls. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Chicken Soup For the Soul: Reboot Your Life, The Purpose magazine, and has a monthly mental health column in The Hometwon Treasurer. She’s a parenting columnist for 10T0 20 Parenting, parents Space, Not Along Ministries, and Whatever Girls. She writes authentically about faith, life, and parenting beyond the storybook image.


Facebook: beyondlpicketfence
Twitter: @BeyondPicketFen