Writing Retreat Instructor Bios

Writing Retreat Instructor Bios

We’re excited to host a variety of authors, publishers, and writers at our Summer Writing Retreat this summer!

Headshot MerryMerry Farmer is an award-winning novelist who lives in suburban Philadelphia with her cats, Torpedo, her grumpy old man, and Justine, her hyperactive new baby. She has been writing since she was ten years old and realized one day that she didn’t have to wait for the teacher to assign a creative writing project to write something. It was the best day of her life. She then went on to earn not one but two degrees in History so that she would always have something to write about and a master’s degree in Theater so she could write it dramatically. Her books have reached the Top 100 at Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble, and have been named finalists in the prestigious RONE and Rom Com Reader’s Crown awards.

head shot of heather flahertyHeather Flaherty grew up in Massachusetts and worked in New York City as a playwright during college. After much country hopping and some work in editorial, Heather became a Literary Scout, consulting with foreign publishers and Hollywood regarding what the next big book will be. Now as an Agent, she’s thrilled to grow authors for that same success.

Currently, she’s looking for authors of Middle-Grade, Young-Adult, and Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction projects. For YA, she’s looking across all genres, and loves an authentic teen voice for contemporary and well thought out worlds in fantasy. For MG, though she does love magic and adventure, she’s also looking for more realistic stories (either contemporary or period), about coping, coming-of-age, or situations seen through the eyes of a young person. In Adult, she’s specifically wanting female-centric thrillers, blood-curdling horror, and commercial woman’s fiction with solid storytelling and strong voices. She’s also always on the lookout for fantastic upmarket projects that bridge the gap between commercial and literary lists. On the Non-fiction side, she leans towards pop-culture, humor, social-media based projects, true crime, and young memoir. @HeddaFlaherty

head shot of rebecca gyllenhaalRebecca Gyllenhaal is an alumna of Bryn Athyn College, where she majored in English. After college, she moved to Philadelphia to pursue her publishing ambitions and worked as a reader at the Adroit Journal and as a Marketing and Publicity Assistant at Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Her short fiction has appeared in several magazines and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and in 2014, she was awarded the Lewis Edwards Memorial Prize. She is a member of the Rittenhouse Writers’ Group and attended the Sewanee Writers’ Conference in 2017. Rebecca is currently an Editorial Assistant at Quirk Books, where she juggles a variety of tasks including developmental editing, copyediting, writing, evaluating submissions, and author outreach. She has worked on everything from a Regency-era Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book to a heavy metal horror novel to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the picture book, but has a special passion for distinctive, high-concept adult fiction. She is currently on the hunt for her dream first acquisition and is working on her first novel.

head shot of chandra hoffmanChandra Hoffman—Since graduating from Cornell University, Chandra has been an orphanage relief worker in Romania, a horse trainer in the Caribbean, a short order cook in a third world hospital, the director of a US adoption program and an event planner for Philadelphia’s Main Line.

She has lived in twelve international cities and this wanderlust shaped her writing—in each novel, the setting is its own character, flavoring the story. She prefers to write about everyday scenarios, shining a light on the complexities of situations through the voices of multiple characters. Her debut novel, Chosen, (HarperCollins 2010) uses the domestic adoption scene of Portland, Oregon as a backdrop to pose the questions What happens when you get what you thought you wanted and How far would you go if it might not be what you want anymore?

Chandra received her MFA from Antioch University in 2007. Her work has been reviewed and appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, USA Today and San Diego Chronicle.

After a stint on a remote Caribbean island she blogged for The Huffington Post as La Vida Tranquila, she is now settled back in her hometown outside of Philadelphia where she teaches writing and leads workshops at Bryn Athyn College. She lives with her husband, three children and an ever-changing menagerie of big dogs, needy cats and free-range chickens. www.chandrahoffman.com

Headshot AmandaAmanda Miska is Publisher of Split Lip Press and former Editor of Split Lip Magazine. She received her MFA in Creative Writing at American University. Her fiction and essays can be found at CatapultThe Rumpus, Huffington Post, Hobart, Wigleaf, Little Patuxent Review, Gargoyle, and elsewhere. You can read more at amandamiska.comopens in a new window and get to know the press at splitlippress.comopens in a new window.

What I’m looking for: Split Lip publishes in all genres (fiction, poetry, memoir) and we publish both full-lengths and chapbooks (we have a contest each year). I am very drawn to voice in all genres, something that sounds unmistakably you. I often joke I could pick my writers out of a lineup. Experimenting with form in fiction and essay/memoir is another thing I am really interested in: new ways of putting familiar stories on the page. I would also say that we are a little edgy in that we don’t shy away from the ugliness of life, but also that I think hope in dark times is subversive, so I’m not opposed to a happy ending, as long as that ending is true.</span

Heashot AbbeyAbbey Nash lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, two daughters, and one very rambunctious Australian Shepherd. She received her MA in English from Arcadia University in 2011 and currently works at Bryn Athyn College where she teaches writing and literature. She is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. “LIFELINE” is her first novel. Follow Abbey’s work at www.abbeynash.comopens in a new window.