Co-sponsors of the event are the Ozarks Chapter of the Writers Hall of Fame of America and the Language Arts Department (LAD) of the local chapter of the National Council of Teachers of English. Six authors who will share their expertise with the students are:
- Jody Bilyeu - poetry
Bilyeu, a part-time creative writing instructor at Missouri State, received his Ph.D. in British and American Literature from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He studied under Jim Whitehead, Michael Hefferman, Skip Hays, and Miller Williams. His creative work has been published widely and he has won teaching and research awards both at Missouri State and the University of Arkansas. Dr. Bilyeu also is a singer, songwriter, and musician in the band Big Smith.
- Diana Botsord - screen writing
Botsford, a graduate of Boston University, for the past four years has taught media writing courses in Southwest Missouri. Her background includes credit for work in online streaming media, stage direction, and most recently the publishing world. She has received multiple awards and accolades for her work in television and films. Titles include STAR TREK: The Next Generation, CBS series Harts of the West and Nightgames, Nightmare of Elm Street VI, Tank Girl, and Terminator 2. A recent recipient of the Rooney Writer’s Scholarship, Botsford is currently pursuing her master's degree in writing popular fiction at Seton Hill University.
- George Freeman - journalism
Freeman is a veteran newspaper, magazine and TV journalist. He served as editorial page editor of the Springfield News-Leader for 8 years before becoming CEO of Ozarks Public Television. Previously, he was editor of newspapers in Kansas and Ohio and executive editor of the Forensic Examiner. He is a graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas (‘70), where he majored in magazine journalism. He is a principal partner of The Freeman Group, a media and community relations consulting firm and serves on the board of the Writers Hall of Fame.
- Suzann Ledbetter - fiction
Ledbetter began writing at the age of 10. Her first article was published in Highlights Magazine. She was born in Joplin and lived in Missouri her whole life, with the past 20 years in Nixa, where she has a personal library of about 3,000 books. She writes both historical and contemporary fiction, non-fiction, humor and biographies. In 1997 she was inducted into the Missouri Writer’s Hall of Fame. A recipient of the Spur Award for non-fiction, she is being considered for the Edgar Award for her historical mystery, A Lady Never Trifles with Thieves.
- Kathy McQueen - writing for scholarships
McQueen, a teacher at Nixa High School, serves as chairperson of the English department. During her 30 years of teaching, McQueen has garnered numerous awards and scholarships for her students, including the Missouri Center of the Book essay contest, the Gleason Scholarship, and the Collins Scholarship. For 9 years she has been a member of the board of the Writers Hall of Fame of America and co-chairs the writing awards contest that recognizes 24 outstanding young writers, grades 5-12. Kathy’s organizing skills have made it possible for the local affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English to sponsor annually The Language Arts Fair, an event that draws over 6,000 writing entries, grades 1-12, and awards ribbons in 80 categories.
- Lyal Strickland - songwriting
By the time he had graduated from high school, Strickland had produced three CDs in which he wrote the songs, played all the instruments, and designed the covers. "Goodbyes Last Forever,” his most ambitious work to date, was released at the end of his senior year of high school. At age 12, Lyal discovered the clarinet,only to replace it with the bass, guitar, keyboards and harmonica. His band, "4:13," has been playing area events for the past four years. Strickland also has shared his writing talent with the Springfield News-Leader as a features writer and regional reporter.