Meet The Team
(Full 2023 Utah Live Retreat Staff TBA)
Founder & Host of Writing Away Refuge
Lee Ann Ward, Author
Lee Ann Ward is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of 11 novels. Her young adult romance, GLIMPSES OF WILDERNESS, is an international bestseller and runner-up for YARWA's Athena Award. Her novel, SEE, was The TBR Pile's Book of the Year in 2017. She is the former senior editor of Champagne Books and a novel-writing teacher. She writes young adult and women's fiction, and has taught her plotting through storyboarding techniques at conferences across the country.
Lee Ann brings her workshop PITCH PERFECT--Writing a winning pitch and query letter to the 2023 Writing Away Refuge retreat.
Workshop Leader (Permanent Staff)
Joyce Scarbrough, Author
Joyce Scarbrough is the author of eight novels and numerous short stories featured in multiple anthologies. Joyce is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature, she was the founding senior editor for Champagne Books, and she now works freelance as an editor and book coach. Joyce was president of the Mobile Writers Guild for three years and still serves on its board of directors. She is also a member of the Southern Breeze chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, but she also writes women’s fiction. She has served on the faculty of the Mobile Literary Festival since its inception in 2016 and has given numerous workshops on characterization and editing for writers’ groups, conferences, libraries, colleges, and high schools throughout the Southeast. Joyce has lived all her life in LA (lower Alabama), she is the mother of three gifted, non-conformist children, and she’s been married for 39 years to a superhero who disguises himself during the day as a high school math teacher and coach.
Joyce brough her workshop, "Fine-Tuning High Def Characters (No Special Glasses Required)" in 2022. Her 2023 workshop topic will be announced shortly.
Workshop Leader (Permanent Staff)
Allison Hong Merrill, Author
Allison was born and raised in Taiwan and arrived in the U.S. at twenty-two as a university student. That’s when she realized her school English wasn’t much help when asking for directions on the street or opening a bank account. By recording each of the classes she took and reviewing the tape every night for a year, she eventually learned English well enough to earn an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. But please excuse her if she misuses verb tenses or mixes up genders in third-person pronouns when she speaks. It’s no secret––English is hard to learn.
With a reading disorder, Allison writes in both Chinese and English, both fiction and creative nonfiction. Her work appears in The New York Times and has won both national and international literary awards. She is a keynote speaker, an instructor, and a panelist at various writer’s conferences nationwide and in Asia. She also appears on TV, radio, and podcasts; in magazines, newspapers, and journals. She’s available for interviews, teaching, and speaking engagements. Visit her at allisonhongmerrill.com to sign up for her short monthly email.
Allison's workshop topic for the 2023 Fall retreat will be announced shortly.
Bryan Young, Author
President of the League of Utah Writers
Bryan Young (he/they) works across many different media. His work as a writer and producer has been called "filmmaking gold" by The New York Times. He's published comic books with Slave Labor Graphics and Image Comics. He's been a regular contributor for the Huffington Post, StarWars.com, Star Wars Insider magazine, SYFY, /Film, and was the founder and editor in chief of the geek news and review site Big Shiny Robot! In 2014, he wrote the critically acclaimed history book, A Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination. He co-authored Robotech: The Macross Saga RPG in 2019 and in 2020 he wrote a novel in the BattleTech Universe called Honor's Gauntlet. 2022 will see the release of BattleTech: A Question of Survival and The Big Bang Theory Book of Lists: The Official Guide. He teaches writing for Writer’s Digest, Script Magazine, and at the University of Utah and serves as the President of the League of Utah Writers.
Bryan taught his workshop "Writing Great Dialogue" at the 2022 retreat. His Fall 2023 workshop will be announced shortly.
You can visit Bryan at the social media link below or on www.swankmotron.com
Agent, PS Literary Agency
Claire Harris is a literary agent with a passion for a wide range of fiction and non-fiction for adults. After graduating from UT Austin, she worked at a mid-sized agency before joining the PSLA team. Claire seeks projects with unique voices, interesting writing styles, and compelling characters. She enjoys the creative process of working with creators and collaborating closely with them throughout
all stages of their careers, and she has represented everything from debuts to NYT bestsellers. Having grown up in Wisconsin, she has a soft spot for stories set in the Midwest.
Claire is acquiring both fiction and non-fiction projects for adults. She’s actively seeking projects that shine a spotlight on people, places, and events that are often overlooked or not given the attention they deserve. In fiction, she’s looking for adult rom coms, contemporary fiction, psychological thrillers, select horror, and cozy mysteries—all for millennial audiences, specifically. Claire is happiest when reading manuscripts with unexpected endings or new twists on classic genre tropes. For non-fiction, Claire is seeking a range of projects, including
lifestyle guides, pop culture celebrations, pop psychology, cultural criticism, humor, true crime, essay collections, and illustrated books for adults. You can find more about her interests on Twitter and Instagram.
Claire joined us for our 2022 retreat.
Agent, Jennifer Lyons Agency
Jessica Felleman began her publishing career in Los Angeles after receiving her MFA in writing from CalArts. She relocated to New York in 2015, where she spent five years at a mid-sized agency before joining the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency. She represents a range of creators, loves fresh stories about magic, and looks for commercial and literary fiction featuring underserved voices, unforgettable places, and complicated families. Jessica specializes in popular nonfiction and prescriptive titles that offer realistic advice or new perspectives to help readers better understand themselves and the world, including the #1 New York Times Bestseller THE HIDDEN POWER OF F*CKING UP by The Try Guys.
Jessica joined us for our 2022 retreat.
Agent, Carol Mann Agency
Dani Segelbaum joined the Carol Mann Agency in 2021 as a literary agent and subrights manager. She is interested in both fiction and non-fiction. Dani is seeking non-fiction titles with an emphasis on politics, women’s issues, popular culture, and current events. Dani also loves memoir, narrative non-fiction, lifestyle, and cookbooks. In fiction, she is looking for literary and upmarket adult fiction including debut, historical, rom-coms, mysteries, and women’s fiction. In both fiction and non-fiction, Dani hopes to work with authors from diverse backgrounds to tell stories that are important to them. She loves compelling narrators and is drawn to writing that is voice-driven, highly transporting, and features unique perspectives and marginalized voices.
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Dani is a graduate of Boston University’s College of Communication where she studied journalism and political science. She has been a voracious reader for as long as she can remember. Dani began her publishing career as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins Publishers, focusing primarily on highly designed non-fiction titles. She previously worked as a literary assistant at New Leaf Literary & Media, working with established and debut authors.
Dani is addicted to the joy of discovering new work, she is always open to queries.
Dani joined us for the 2022 retreat.
Writing Away Refuge Kitchen Staff
Our Kitchen Staff & Hosts
Meals will be prepared fresh daily, and our fabulous kitchen staff are some of the best in the industry. We are so pleased to be joined by:
Tina Collier &
2023 Agents & Editors
We will announce our NYC agents & editors for the 2023 Utah retreat shortly.