Conference 2020

What Would Have Been– for informational purposes only….

Rally Presenters for 2020

Doug Stanton, Keynote ● Doug is an award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Horse Soldiers, the basis for the 2018 movie titled 12 Strong; and In Harm’s Way, the definitive account of the WWII cruiser USS Indianapolis, which was required for US Naval officers. Doug has appeared on national TV and radio, including the Today Show,  CNN,  Discovery, A&E, History channel, NPR, PBS, and NBC Nightly News, to talk about the USS Indianapolis, as well as Vietnam and The Odyssey of Echo Company. He is the 2020 recipient of the Stephen E. Ambrose Oral History Award presented annually by Rutgers University.


Laura Apol ● Laura, who teaches creative writing and children’s /YA literature at MSU, is also the Lansing Area Poet Laureate. For more than twenty years, she has led workshops for writers in local, national and international contexts. Her poems have appeared in literary journals and anthologies, and she is the author of several award-winning poetry collections. Her most recent, Nothing but the Blood, won the Oklahoma Book Award for poetry and was a finalist for the Independent Publishers Award Society for poetry.


Erin Bartels ● The author of We Hope for Better Things, a 2019 Christy Award Finalist and Michigan Notable Book for 2020, and The Words Between Us, a 2015 Rising Star Award finalist from the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Erin has published poetry and short stories, and taught writing workshops. A former features editor of WFWA’s Write On! magazine, Erin is the current director of the WFWA Writers Retreat in Albuquerque.


Dayna Edwards ● With over 25 years as a producer, voice talent, and television/radio host, Dayna has interviewed actors, authors, community leaders, sports figures, and CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies.


Kim Chance ● Kim is a YA author, former high school English teacher, and an Alabama native who now resides in Michigan with her family. Kim has written two novels, Keeper and Seeker, and is represented by the LKG Agency. When Kim is not writing she enjoys spending time with her family and two crazy dogs, binge-watching shows on Netflix, and fangirling over books.


Mark Crilley ● The author of more than 35 books and graphic novels for publishers, Mark is a fourteen-time Eisner nominee who has been featured in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and on CNN Headline News. His instructional YouTube videos have been viewed more than 380 million times.


Maria Dismondy ● A teacher, public speaker, and community leader, Maria is the critically-acclaimed author of ten children’s picture books, including Evie’s Field Day, Chocolate Milk Por Favor, and The Juice Box Bully. These books empower children and reflect diversity through real-life moments. She founded the Cardinal Rule Press to extend that work. Sunny Side Upbringing, for parents, is coming out this year.


Laura Holmes ● Author, adventurer, volleyballer, biker, hiker, and yogi, Laura is also co-owner of FineLine Creative, a west Michigan advertising boutique. She is an ambassador for increasing travel dosage. Her first book, I’ve Gotta Pack (2011), led her to blog about her active adventures. Her second, Travel Light, is a motivational memoir that will inspire readers to take the trip and find better life, work, and play balance.


Will Langford ● Will is a Detroit native, a poet, a teaching artist, and a Fulbright scholar. He is the 2017 Motown Spoken Word Artist of the Year, and the voice of Lansing’s Below the Stacks Mural Festival as well as MSU’s “Empower Extraordinary” campaign. Will divides his energy between education and community development projects in his hometown, East Africa, and the East Lansing area.


Aliza Mann ● Aliza Mann is a hybrid author of contemporary and paranormal romance from Michigan. She splits her time between her extremely loud characters, baking, her kids and grandchild. She is currently a member of Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America.


Monica McFawn ● A writer, comedian, artist, and poet, Monica teaches fiction and scriptwriting at Northern Michigan University. Her short story collection, Bright Shards of Someplace Else, won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, her comedy writing has been staged at Second City, and her screenplays and plays have had readings in New York and Chicago. She is a recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Literature.


Amy Olle ● Amy Olle is a USA Today bestselling author of new adult and contemporary romance novels. She enjoys putting her psychology degrees to good use writing emotional, redemptive love stories filled with beautifully flawed characters, cozy settings, and oodles of hot sex.


Linda Peckham ● A retired LCC English professor, Linda has had articles published in Michigan History, Historical Society of Greater Lansing, TETYC journal, Controlled Burn, and many others. She also co-authored Saw Mills and Sleigh Bells, creative nonfiction stories of mid-Michigan pioneers for children, and wrote The Pocket Hotline, a guide book for writers. She is a co-founder of Rally.


Lev Raphael ● The author of 27 books in genres from memoir to mystery, Lev has done hundreds of talks and invited readings from his work on three different continents, and his fiction and nonfiction has been translated into fifteen languages. He teaches creative writing online and edits manuscripts at


Anne Stanton ● The executive director of the National Writers Series, Anne is an editor, ghost writer and award-winning journalist. She is also a founding partner of Mission Point Press, which supports independent publishers with editorial services, including editing, lay-out and publicity.


Michael Zadoorian ● Michael is the author of The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit (stories), and four novels, Beautiful Music, Second Hand, The Leisure Seeker (also a 2018 movie), and The Narcissism of Small Differences. He is a Kresge Arts Fellow and holds two Michigan Notable Book Awards, the Columbia University Anahid Literary Award, the GLIBA Great Lakes Reads Award, and many others. His work has appeared in several literary journals.

Read past presenter bios and  interviews, plus view Rally forms in PDF format, on the Archives page

Funded in part by Lansing Community College, the MSU Press and the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities