Mia McKenzie studied writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She’s a smart, scrappy Philadelphian (now living in the bay area) with a deep love of vegan pomegranate ice cream and fake fur collars. She is a black feminist and a freaking queer, facts that are often reflected in her writings.
Her short stories have appeared in The Kenyon Review (Spring 2013) and make/shift (Spring 2013). Her recent live performances include Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance, Mangos With Chili Presents: WHIPPED! QTPOC Recipes For Love, Sex & Disaster, and Black Girl Dangerous: Mia McKenzie on Being A Queer Black Femme Nerd In A Ridiculous World, the last of those being a signature reading of her diverse works, performed at universities across the country. Her work has been published in The Guardian and Colorlines, quoted on The Melissa Harris Perry Show and recommended by The Root, Feministing, Angry Asian Man and Crunk Feminist Collective, among others. She is a nerd and the creator of Black Girl Dangerous, a multi-faceted forum for the literary and artistic expression of queer and trans* people of color.
I’m a longtime Virginian and practice law as a first profession. I decided to try my hand at writing after getting hooked on lesbian crime and romance novels. As a lover of fast crime action and black lesbian romance, I combined the two and wrote my first book, Goslyn County–self-published. My future works include a short story romance and a second self-published novel–both based on the characters of Goslyn.
Penny was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Her parents instilled and fostered her love of reading, and their interest in the events that would become The Civil Rights Movement opened the door to her interest in journalism, an interest that led her to pursue a career as a newspaper, radio and television reporter primarily in Washington, DC.
Penny has been a teacher of both children and adults: She taught journalism and put out the newspaper at a charter middle school in Los Angeles; and she was an Adult Literacy Coordinator with the Adult Literacy Program of the Los Angeles Public Library.
Penny’s many books reflect her continued interest in the things that sparked her imagination as a child: History and Mystery. She writes the Mimi Patterson/Gianna Maglione Mysteries, five books and counting, published by Bywater Books. She has two novels of historical fiction, and more to come! And in a what’s-old-is-new-again move, her recently published collection of short stories (BLF Press) is a return to her roots. Penny lives in Los Angeles, California. Her favorite activities are—no kidding—reading and writing. She also loves travel, yoga and swimming.
Penny is the recipient of the Audre Lorde Estate Grant and a Residency at the Hedgebrook Women Writers Retreat. She was also a 2019 Inductee with the Washington Post Metro Seven into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.
Sheryn Munir is a big fan of romances. After reading countless lesbian romance novels based in Western countries, she wanted to read a lesfic based in India. She didn’t know how long she’d have to wait for that wish to come true, so she decided to have a crack at writing one herself. Falling Into Place, out in January 2018, is the result of that endeavour.
Sheryn was born in Lucknow and grew up in Delhi, India. Though she started writing from the age of seven, she was only recently inspired to write an entire book in a genre close to her heart that is about her own people. She has studied journalism and freelances as a writer, editor, and web developer. While she likes visiting new places, the journeys are a tad unpleasant. She has a weakness for chocolates, Indian street foods, and British television dramas. She lives in Delhi with three laptops and an e-reader.
There is nothing better than a good book that will cause you to lose sleep until you’ve read the very last word. When that last word appears you suddenly feel abandoned like you’ve lost your best friend. You had a special connection with each character; you imagined the places they’d been and people they met along their journey. You suddenly feel the need to find a new book to replace the old, and then you’re stuck in the realm of never-ending options. It’s like a kid in the candy store and their mom tells them ‘you can only have one’… well which one do I pick?
I love to read, so much so, that I became an author. While you wait on me to release more work, you can find your next favorite book here. No longer will you need to dread the last page… around the corner is a start of a new journey.
Nik Nicholson became an artist as a teen, writing poetry and painting. She became a professional poet after being nurtured and recognized as a performer of spoken word at the West Las Vegas Art Center’s, Poet’s Corner. As a result, she was often contracted to perform spoken-word for writing classes, assemblies and during black history month.
Over the years Nik has worked as an editor for small presses, had her work published in anthologies and magazines.
In 2009, Nicholson began research for her first independent project, Descendants of Hagar. In addition to traditional research of the period, she also surveyed and interviewed a number of masculine-centered women. Their responses exposed the challenges of coming to terms with and expressing their sexuality and gender role.
Descendants of Hagar is Nicholson’s highly anticipated debut novel. It is the first novel of a two-part series, which includes the intoxicatingly beautiful, Daughter of Zion.
Nik is an artist; in addition to being an author, she is also an education performer, content editor, poet, painter, actor, spoken-word performer, workshop facilitator and novice sculptor. On to top of this, Nik works full time.
Nik is passionate about the arts and writing. When her rigorous schedule permits, she also advises other writers on self-publishing and finding their voice. To keep herself motivated spiritually and to stay productive she also mentors new writers.
Born and raised in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Chinelo Okparanta received her BS from Pennsylvania State University, her MA from Rutgers University, and her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. A Colgate University Olive B. O’Connor Fellow in Fiction as well as a recipient of the University of Iowa’s Provost’s Postgraduate Fellowship in Fiction, Okparanta was nominated for a US Artists Fellowship in 2012. She has been awarded additional fellowships, faculty appointments, and visiting professorships at Columbia University, Purdue University, Middlebury College (Bread Loaf’s John Gardner Fellow in Fiction), Howard University (Hurston/Wright Foundation Summer Writing Workshop Fiction Faculty), City College of New York, and the University of Houston (Distinguished Visiting Professor of Fiction). She has been awarded residencies by the Jentel Foundation, the Hermitage Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Lannan Foundation (Marfa), as well as Hedgebrook. She is currently Associate Professor of English & Creative Writing (Fiction) and Margaret Hollinshead Ley Professor in Poetry & Creative Writing at Bucknell University.
She is a winner of a 2014 Lambda Literary Award, a 2016 Lambda Literary Award, the 2016 Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Award in Fiction, the 2016 Inaugural Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award from the Publishing Triangle, and a 2014 O. Henry Prize.
Other honors include a finalist selection for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award, a 2017 Amelia Bloomer Project Selection (of the American Library Association), a nomination for the 2016 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award, and a nomination for the 2016 NAACP Image Award in Fiction.
In 2018, Okparanta served as a fiction judge for the National Book Awards. She has served on the judging panels for other major national awards such as the PEN Open Book Awards and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards.
Her debut short story collection, Happiness, Like Water, was cited as an editors’ choice in the New York Times Book Review and was named on the list of The Guardian’s Best African Fiction of 2013. The book was nominated for the Nigerian Writers Award (Young Motivational Writer of the Year), longlisted for the 2013 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and was a finalist for the 2014 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award as well as the Etisalat Prize for Literature. Okparanta was also a finalist for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing, the 2013 Society of Midland Authors Award, and the 2014 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative in Literature.
She has published work in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, the Kenyon Review, AGNI, and other venues, and was named one of Granta’s six New Voices for 2012. In 2017, Okparanta was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists. Under the Udala Trees is her first novel.
Junauda Petrus is a creative activist, writer, playwright, and multi-dimensional performance artist who is Minneapolis-born, West-Indian descended, and African-sourced. Her work centers around Black wildness, Afro-futurism, ancestral healing, sweetness, spectacle and shimmer.
Nikki Rashan is the author of novels Double Pleasure Double Pain, You Make Me Wanna, and Cyber Case. Her fourth book, The EXchange, was released June of 2013. In 2004, Nikki shared her coming out story on Oprah with the hope of reaching out to other women who faced a similar inner crisis.
Octavia Reese, Chicago resident for more than ten years, is a Corporate Trainer at one of Chicago’s most awarded children’s hospitals, but that’s not all…
I’m a multi-disciplined polymath (that means both-brained and has nothing to do with my relationship status or romantic points of view – something I learned the hard way, thank you, Internet dating…) with a passion to make a difference in my world and lift up my neighbors to their own greatness.
I’m an artist, an author, a dancer, a parent, a cellist, a singer, a lover, a dreamer, an entrepreneur, an idea lady, a creative, a scientist, an empath, a reader, a designer, a people-helper, a people-lover, a healer, a dream interpreter, a vessel of my ancestors, a child of the universe, a woman of God.
A Detroit native, Octavia the proud mom of three boys and a relentless creative, speaking life into women through writing, music, dance and art.
Octavia is the author of The Hibouleans, a sci-fi fantasy Afro-futurist young adult novella series featuring bold, beautiful and brilliant girls of color that fearlessly take the lead in their own adventures. Volume 1 is available on Amazon now, and Octavia is on tour this year promoting the series and her vision of ethnically and gender-diverse nerd culture. Also a cellist, Octavia has written the book score to her series and performs at her book signing events as well as collaborating with local artists.
Octavia dances with DesueñoVision, a Latin-contemporary fusion company of professional women that make healthy living a priority in their busy lives. And finally, through art, Octavia paints encouragement cards that promote self-loving mantras, empowering women to validate themselves first.
As Miss Michgian 2005, Octavia is an active member of MASTA, an association of former Miss America contestants. With MASTA, Octavia helps promote success and opportunity of women across the country, of all ethnicities, religions and orientations.
Octavia and her boys are also active members of Soul City Church.