Mills College Business Building

Mills College Business Building

Panelists and Agents Who Attended Pitch Fest 2011

Kathryn Reiss
Kathryn Reiss was born in Masachusetts, grew up in Ohio, and received B.A. degrees in English and German from Duke University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan.  After college, she lived in Bonn, Germany as a Fulbright Scholar, and during this time wrote the first draft of her first novel. She is the author of many novels of suspense for middle grade and young adult readers, among them: Time Windows (1991), The Glass House People (1992), Dreadful Sorry (1993),  Pale Phoenix (1994), PaperQuake (1998), Riddle of the Prairie Bride (2001), The Strange Case of Baby H (2002) --both American Girl History Mysteries-- Paint By Magic (2002), Sweet Miss Honeywell's Revenge: A Ghost Story (April 2004),  Blackthorn Winter: A Murder Mystery (2006), The Tangled Web: A Julie Mystery (from American Girl, 2009) , and her latest: Puzzle of the Paper Daughter: A Julie Mystery (2010).  Forthcoming in 2011 are two new American Girl Mysteries:  The Silver Guitar and A Bundle of Trouble. Time Windows was selected by the American Library Association as a "Best Book for Young Adults," received YALSA's "Popular Paperback for Young Adults" award and the State of Maryland's "Blackeyed Susan Young Reader Medal." Dreadful Sorry, also a YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults, was a featured selection of the Junior Library Guild and was named "Pick of the Crop" in The School Library Journal starred review.  Pale Phoenix and Paperquake were nominated for the Mystery Writers of America's prestigious "Edgar Allan Poe" award, and PaperQuake additionally was named one of YALSA’s ‘Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults.’  Paint By Magic, a time travel mystery, won a place on VOYA’s ‘Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers’ and is an International School Librarians Association honor book.  Both The Strange Case of Baby H and Riddle of the Prairie Bride are also available from Recorded Books. Ms. Reiss has been a Writer in Residence for the Princeton Arts Council, a recipient of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Grant for Writers, and has been a featured speaker with (among others) Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, The Northern California Library Association, The International Reading Association, Fresno County Office of Education, California Reading Association, The American Library Association, and the National Council of Teachers of English.  She lives in Northern California with her husband and five children, and teaches Creative Writing at Mills College.

Elise Cannon
Elise Cannon is Vice President, director of field sales for Publishers Group West in Berkeley as well as The Perseus Books Group in NYC. She has worked at PGW for 19 years, representing over 130 exceptional presses, including best-selling publishers Grove/Atlantic Monthly, Counterpoint, Soft Skull Press, McSweeney's, Tin House, Milkweed, Cleis, and Seal Press. Her duties include helping publishers and editors shape book projects and position them in the marketplace so that they launch successfully and ideally, have long lives on the shelves. Elise has run panels at the Tin House Writers’ Workshop and has served as judge for several Pitchapaloozas, which are events run by the authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published. She has an MFA in fiction from Warren Wilson College.

Nina LaCour
Nina received her MFA from Mills College and writes fiction for teenagers and adults. Her first novel, Hold Still, was published in 2009 and her second will be published this year. She teaches English at an independent high school in Berkeley. She has great fondnesss for photography, cooking, and teenagers. Nina is a native to the Bay and lives in Oakland.

Joe Christiano
Joe Christiano has been with Pegasus Books in Berkeley since 1991. At their Solano store, he is the new book buyer, and hosts the all-things-literary performance series, First Person Singular. His essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle and The Los Angeles Times. He is the author of the legendarily unpublished novella, Knockin' Me Out With Those American Thighs, and now, having learned a hard lesson about publishing that he should have already known, is now at work on The Imitation of Elvis - a novel.

Laurie Fox
Laurie Fox is the West Coast Associate for the Linda Chester Literary Agency, which is based in Manhattan. As Chester's partner, Fox joined the agency in 1989, and is celebrating 21 years with the agency. She is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, with a Bachelor's degree in Aesthetic Studies (emphasis in Creative Writing and Theatre), and is a published author of fiction and poetry, including Sexy Hieroglyphics (Chronicle Books, poetry), and two novels:  My Sister from the Black Lagoon (Simon & Schuster cloth and paperback, a San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller); and The Lost Girls (Simon & Schuster), a novel inspired by the themes of Peter Pan.

A former bookseller, creative writing teacher, and freelance literary consultant/editor, Fox presently acquires, develops, and markets books in the areas of literary and quality fiction, memoir/biography, popular culture, spirituality, and cutting-edge science. With Linda Chester, Laurie co-agented two-time Oprah Book Club novelist Wally Lamb (She's Come Undone; I Know This Much is True). Clients of Laurie's include: Lolly Winston, author of The New York Times bestselling Good Grief ; "Fresh Air" TV critic David Bianculli, author of Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of the Smothers Brothers; Tim Farrington, author of the bestselling novel, The Monk Downstairs; literary crime novelist David Corbett, author of Done For a Dime, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and the Edgar Award nominated Blood of Paradise; Jonathan Kirsch, author of the bestselling The Harlot By the Side of the Road; scientist Robert Zubrin, author of the classic science book The Case For Mars; Carolyn Cooke, author of the story collection, The Bostons (NY Times Notable Book of the Year; a Los Angeles Times "Best Book of the Year," winner of the PEN/Bingham Award); New York Times bestseller, FIRST MAN: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen; and roboticist Daniel Wilson, author of Wired's Book of the Year, How to Survive a Robot Uprising and the forthcoming novel. Robopocalypse, which was optioned by Steven Spielberg. You can view more of her agency's books at


Robyn Russell (The Amy Rennert Agency)
An associate at The Amy Rennert Agency, a boutique literary agency located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Robyn began working with Amy in 2005 while completing her Master of Fine Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco.  The agency represents a select group of quality fiction and nonfiction writers—many of them award-winners.  The agency has had a dozen New York Times and national bestsellers in recent years, including Jimmy Buffett, author of the Maisie Dobbs series Jacqueline Winspear, NBC Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and the late Terry Ryan, whose memoir, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, was made into a feature film starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson.  The agency also represents two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone, National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart, author of The More I Owe You Michael Sledge, and Amy Franklin-Willis, whose forthcoming debut novel, The Lost Saints of Tennessee, will be published by Grove/Atlantic.  Robyn is actively seeking strong narrative nonfiction, commercial and literary fiction, mysteries, and legal thrillers.  She is especially drawn to voice-driven fiction, psychological realism, and rich family dramas in the vein of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections and Freedom, Eric Puchner’s Model Home, and Lily King’s Father of the Rain.

Publishing 101:
Learn the Ins and Outs from the Insiders
Panelists Elise Cannon, Vice President of Sales for Publishers Group West, Nina LaCour, author of Hold Still and Mills MFA alum, and Joe Christiano, writer and bookseller of Pegasus discuss what happens after we get that golden contract. Kathryn Reiss, award-winning author and esteemed Mills faculty, to moderate.

Laurie Mclean (Michael Larsen-Elizabeth Pomander Literary Agency)
Laurie handles adult genre fiction (romance, fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, horror, ‘new’ westerns, thrillers, suspense) and middle-grade/young-adult children's books of all stripes. The agency also runs the Annual San Francisco Writers Conference held every President's Day Weekend in mid-February--one of the best writing conferences in the world.

8th Annual San Francisco Writers Conference
President's Day Weekend, February 18-20, 2011
Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco
San Francisco Writers University launches on November 12th at

Katherine (Katie) Boyle
Katherine is the Founder of Veritas, a full-service literary agency specializing in select literary and contemporary fiction and nonfiction. Founded on the premise that literature is one of the best carriers of truth—both emotional and literal—in the world today, the agency cultivates strong, innovative books that extend the boundaries of thought and expression.
Katherine attended Stanford and Berkeley and worked at a variety of Bay Area independent publishers and literary agencies before establishing Veritas in 1995. A member of the AAR and the Authors Guild, she is an inveterate champion of the written word and hopelessly addicted to the hundreds of books which line her shelves.

Laurie Fox (Linda Chester Literary Agency)
Laurie Fox joined the Linda Chester agency in 1989 as their West Coast Associate. A graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz (Writing and Theatre Arts), she is a published author of fiction and poetry, including Sexy Hieroglyphics (Chronicle Books); and two novels, My Sister from the Black Lagoon (starred Publishers Weekly review; San Francisco Chronicle bestseller) and The Lost Girls, both published by Simon & Schuster. She represents books in the areas of literary fiction, memoir/biography, popular culture/quirky humor, upmarket spirituality, and cutting-edge science.

Amy Burkhardt (Kimberly Cameron & Associates)
Amy Burkhardt joined Kimberley Cameron & Associates as an intern in the fall of 2007, and brings experience as a critical reader, an editor, and a writer herself. She represents both fiction and nonfiction projects for the adult market. In fiction, she looks for literary and commercial fiction, upmarket women's fiction, smart thrillers, mysteries with a twist or an unusual protagonist, historical fiction, and contemporary YA with crossover appeal. In nonfiction, she seeks narrative nonfiction and memoirs as well as prescriptive nonfiction written by experts in their field. She has a soft spot for lifestyle, humor, food, and current events topics. In any genre, she looks for accomplished writing, compelling characters, fresh voices, and timely themes. She enjoys books that teach the reader about human nature and the world, as well as stories that open new perspectives to the reader. She reads to be transformed.
Amy has an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco and a BA in English Literature (with a concentration in Creative Writing) from Bates College. She spent several years working in sales and operations roles in other industries before answering the inevitable call of the literary world. Amy has also worked as a teaching assistant and writing tutor for undergraduate students, and she enjoys helping writers find structure and focus in their manuscripts. Amy enjoys working with new and published writers alike. She also enjoys traveling to conferences to teach workshops, listen to pitches, and consult with writers one-on-one. Some recent conferences she has attended as a faculty member include: Pima Writers Workshop, Algonkian Writers' Conferences, Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference, Central Coast Writers' Conference. 


Scott Hoshida received his MFA in Fiction in 2007 from Mills and is a tenure-track teacher of Writing at Berkeley City College. Passionate about education, Scott also runs a program to help teacher's to grow in their skills as educators.

April Kilcrease is an associate editor at Afar, named the top travel magazine in North America at the 2010 Lowell Thomas Awards. For the magazine, she edits the lodging and the travel essay departments as well as feature stories. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Red Herring, ReadyMade, California, and Planet, among other publications. She received her B.A. in creative writing (poetry) from UC Santa Cruz and her M.F.A. in nonfiction from Mills.
Jenesha “Jinky” de Rivera is co-editor of the anthology Homelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race Place and Time, published by Seal Press in 2007; she received her MFA in Creative Writing & English from Mills College that same year. Her writing has appeared in Colorlines Magazine and in the 2005 Seal Press anthology, Waking Up American: Coming of Age Biculturally.