2019 MISSISSIPPI WRITERS GUILD
Keynote speaker Rose Drake is a pioneer of the Nashville music scene. With a long career under her belt, she earned a reputation as one of the most knowledgeable and recognizable women in the music industry. For more than forty years, keynote speaker Sir Fred Cannon worked in various roles in the music industry as a musician, music producer, radio DJ, songwriter, lecturer, marketing and promotion consultant, A&R expert, music publisher, music lobbyist, music business historian, artist development mentor and government relations professional. In 2012, Rose Drake and Sir Fred Cannon launched a new company, Creative and Dreams Music Network, LLC. Drawing from the duo’s life passions, Creative and Dreams seeks to nurture the talents of upcoming artists, while also highlighting the work of artistic legends from a variety of creative backgrounds.
Tricia Walker is a singer and songwriter whose songs are steeped in the passion, pain and grace of the American South. Born and raised in Mississippi, Tricia has become one of the clearest voices of her own time and place. Her music has been recorded by Faith Hill, Patty Loveless and Alison Krauss, whose performance of Tricia’s Looking in the Eyes of Love earned a GRAMMY award. A recording artist herself, Tricia’s CD, The Heart of Dixie, thoughtfully captures the songwriter’s view of the South with well-placed lyrics and music reflecting her folk, R & B and storytelling influences. She earned a degree in Music Education from Delta State University and while working on her Master’s Degree, she performed at clubs and festivals in Mississippi and Louisiana. She won American Song Festival and Mississippi Song Festival awards and moved to Music City to sign with giant gospel music publisher Word, Inc. As her songs were recorded on Grammy-nominated discs by Kathy Troccoli, Debby Boone, and The Imperials, her reputation as a songwriter spread. Well-respected producer Jerry Kennedy signed Tricia to his Polygram Group stable of writers, further solidifying her credibility. Tricia’s instrumental skills earned her a spot backing Grand Ole Opry star Connie Smith, with whom she played for six years. She also toured extensively with Shania Twain and Paul Overstreet as a keyboard player and vocalist. Along with Pam Tillis, Karen Staley and Ashley Cleveland, Tricia was a founding member of “Women in the Round,” one of the most celebrated foursomes at Nashville’s prestigious Bluebird Café. In 2006, Tricia become director of the Delta Music Institute, an entertainment industry studies program at her alma mater, Delta State University.
Keynote speaker/workshop instructor Michael Farris Smith is the author of The Fighter, Desperation Road, Rivers, and The Hands of Strangers. He has been awarded the Mississippi Author Award for Fiction, Transatlantic Review Award, and Brick Streets Press Story Award. His novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with Esquire, Southern Living, Book Riot, and numerous others, and have been named Indie Next List, Barnes & Noble Discover, and Amazon Best of the Month selections. He has been a finalist for the Southern Book Prize, the Gold Dagger Award in the UK, and the Grand Prix des Lectrices in France, and his essays have appeared with The New York Times, Bitter Southerner, Writer’s Bone, and more. Smith is represented by Ellen Levine of Trident Media Group, whose clients have won Pulitzer prizes, National Book Awards, National Book Critics Circle Awards, P.E.N. Faulkner and Hemingway Prizes. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife and daughters.
Workshop instructor/panel facilitator Michael Hicks Thompson graduated from Ole Miss and while serving in the military, received a Master’s degree in mass communication from the University of South Carolina. His one-man ad agency, Thompson & Company, which he sold in 2011, grew to 87 employees in two cities—Memphis and Nashville. His novel writing started as a hobby, as did his art. Thompson wrote, art directed, and published two graphic novels on the life of David from the Old Testament—DAVID—The Illustrated Novel *. Volume 2 won first place Best Graphic Novel and Best Interior Design, 2012, from The International Book Awards. Volume 1 won 2nd Best Graphic Novel of 2011 from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Thompson’s sci-fi thriller (JALA) was serialized in a monthly magazine for a year and his novella received finalist awards in the Beverly Hills Book Awards and Clarion’s Mystery & Mayhem. His novel, The Rector, received the Selah Award for Best Mystery|Suspense novel of 2016-17 at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference.
Workshop instructor Diane Williams weaves tales from books, history, myths, legends, and folktales, and many of her stories are original. Williams was a recipient of the National Storytelling Network’s Oracle Award for Regional Leadership and Service, the National Association of Black Storyteller’s Zora Neale Hurston Award, the Mississippi Humanities Council’s Special Chair’s Award and has been nominated twice for the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in Mississippi. In 1999, she was a finalist in the National Storytelling Contest, and is a recipient of both a scholarship and research grant from the National Storytelling Network, of which she is a past board chairperson. Her work is included in a book of poetry entitled Seasons to Come, as well as in Go, Tell Michelle, African American Women Write to the New First Lady. Her name and biography appear in the book Storytellers -- a Biographical Sketch of 120 English Speaking Tellers from around the World. She has written numerous articles that have appeared in magazines and other publications around the country. Her book, Annie Mae Jumps the Broom is an intermediate children’s book about two slaves who wanted to get married (also on CD and DVD). The Storytelling Classroom – Applications Across the Curriculum and Literacy Development in the Storytelling Classroom, with co-authors Sherry Norfolk, Jane Stenson and many wonderful contributors, offers an inspiring, practical collection of lesson plans and supportive research on using storytelling in the classroom. Both books have won the Storytelling World Award (2008 and 2010 respectively). Her latest publication is Mississippi Folk and the Tales They Tell: Myths, Legends and Bald-Faced Lies (The History Press). Her recently completed biography on B. B. King is being published by The History Press, Charleston, SC. Williams is also on the Speaker’s Bureau Roster for the Mississippi Humanities Council.
Mind-body connection leader Terry Woosley spent a decades-long career as a pediatric occupational therapist using evidence-based therapeutic techniques to serve Alabama children and families. She also taught chair and therapeutic yoga with emphasis on breath, posture, and body awareness for health and well-being. Today she applies those sensory-motor activities to strengthen her own mind-body connections and to enhance creativity as a writer. Terry retired and relocated to Brandon in 2016 to be Libby’s grandmother and to join the ranks of Mississippi writers. She is a recipient of a 2019 Artist's Mini-Grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission. She is writing her first book, a memoir of her narcissistic mother and their legacy of childhood trauma.