Our People

Our volunteers and concierges are hand-picked from the Rooms community. We couldn't be prouder of them.

While we are unable to provide regular compensation, we ensure that our people are treated well. Concierges are given promotional opportunities, special access to publications, and monetary compensation when humanly possible. 

If you're interested in a concierge position, want to volunteer, or have ideas for new Rooms or programming, feel free to email us at welcome@thewritersrooms.org.

 

Directors

 
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Erin Casey

Erin graduated from Cornell College in 2009 with degrees in English and Secondary Education. She decided to expand upon her teaching knowledge by leading writing sessions at first for the Iowa Writers' House and now for The Writers' Rooms. 

She attended the Denver Publishing Institute in 2009 and has been a recruiter ever since. She is the Communications and Student Relationships Manager at The Iowa Writers' House. She also writes children's poetry and stories for Whimsical Whiskers and volunteers at RARE, a raptor rescue center. 

She's also a devoted bird mom. 

When not volunteering and working, she's writing her LGBT YA fantasy story, as well as a mix of medieval fantasy and urban fantasy books. She's looking to submit her first book for publication in 2018.

Currently, she is publishing her first urban fantasy novella on Patreon called The Purple Door District.  

You can follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page, and check out her blog here.  To read her novella, and other fantasy stories, visit her at Patreon

 

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Alex Penland

Alex Penland (who writes as Alexandra Penn) was a museum kid. The daughter of a photographer and a Scuba diver, she spent her teenage years in the field: Alex has worked with Smithsonian archaeologists, NASA software engineers, volcanologists, and photographers. She also managed to fail Algebra II with a passing grade, which she's a little proud of.

Her work—particularly The Letter Mage—is both a love letter to and an intense criticism of the academic world.

She has been bitten by a shark, she watched the final shuttle launch from the fire escape outside Launch Control, and she has been a certified diver since age twelve. She likes dogs, long walks on the beach, and socialized medicine. Also books.

In addition to directing The Writers’ Rooms, Alex is an editor for hire, an amateur linguist, and a Taurus. Her work has received many accolades, including an Honorable Mention in the Writer's Digest Annual Contest 2017. She is currently publishing The Letter Mage, a young adult sci-fi serial, on Patreon. Short collections from The Letter Mage are also available on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles

She spends all her free time on Twitter. You can follow her there, check out her Facebook page, or read more about her work on her website below.

 
 

Concierges

 
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Will Billmeyer

Will goes by many names, most notably W. A. Gannon and Adena Williams. A dabbler in many genres, he is known as the “floating” concierge, but resides in the Rainbow Room. He has graduated from nowhere, but has attended much more college than seems reasonable. A jack-of-all-trades, master of none, he has such skills as Expert Level Baking, Novice Bus Driving, and Looking Fifteen Years Younger Than His Actual Age.

He lives with two incredibly fluffy cats, and has a great love for both cowboys and robots. He specializes in exploring the intersection of queerness and neurodiversity in the form of sci-fi/western space operas and paranormal noir. Supposedly. No one has actually ever seen his writing.

He can be found in his natural habitat with many rocks in his pockets, colorful plumage, and armed with a power strip and at least one deck of tarot cards. Also on Twitter.

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Jolene Buchheit

Jolene spends her days in high school classrooms and hallways harvesting material for her Young Adult novels. She is always willing to discuss vital issues like which is the best peanut butter or whether Katniss should have ended up with Gale or Peeta. Personally, she is committed to helping teens become independent adults and showing them how to find a way to focus on the positive, especially when life gets hard. At home, Jolene loves to cuddle with her husband, two kids, three cats, and dog–sometimes all at once–while reading her favorite books or repeatedly watching movies based on them.

Sign up for her newsletter to stay updated on her latest releases and to discuss your favorite YA love triangles!

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Betsy Casey

Casey is a twenty-something human who likes to stare at blank word-processor screens and call it writing. They have a BA in psychology with a minor in Spanish literature, and they're a Concierge of the Rainbow Room, as well as a professional jack-of-all-trades.

Casey likes to read stories with really good character development (or failing that, really bad puns), crochet useful things out of soft yarn, listen to an unexpectedly broad range of music, get excited about nerdy things, animals of most varieties, and useless trivia.

They are a mysterious enigma of mystery as far as social media is concerned.

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Ross Byers

[The following is a transcript of an audio recording that was unearthed from the soil beneath a ruined crypt.]

Ross: So, I heard you're now a concierge for one of the Writer's Rooms.
Ross: Yeah, I co-host The Parchment Lounge (the best room!) every Monday from 18:30 to 20:30 at The Sanctuary Pub.
Ross: Looking to make new friends?
Ross: If by 'make new friends' you mean 'expand my pool of potential victims,' then yes.  Always.
Ross: Um, that's, that's actually not what I meant at all.  So, ah, what are you writing right now?
Ross: None of your business.
Ross: But I'm you.
Ross: Still doesn't make it your business.
Ross: Okay...  What is your favorite food?  Can you give me a straight answer to that?
Ross: My primary sustenance comes from books, but I love your nightmares and the tears of orphans.  Mmm, salty. 
Ross: [Audible Sigh] How can people connect with you?
Ross: They can follow me on Twitter @RTByers, or visit my website, rosstbyers.com.  Don't worry, I haven't perfected the ritual to suck people's memories, thoughts, and experiences through their screens and into my awaiting receptacles.  Yet.
Ross: That's it, we're done here.
Ross: Great!  I've got to go make some orphans weep; I'm running low on tears.

[The rest of the recording is a mix of static, screams, and incomprehensible gibbering.]

 
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Eliza DaviD

Eliza David is the author of the six-book Cougarette series. She was born and raised on the noisy South Side of Chicago, but now lives in super quiet Iowa. When she’s not writing, working full-time, or raising two children with her loving husband, Eliza enjoys reading throwback Jackie Collins and indulging in the
occasional order of cheese fries.
Eliza is a blogger as well, having served as a contributing writer for Real Moms of Eastern Iowa, The Good Men Project, and Thirty on Tap. She was a featured panelist at the 2016 Iowa Soul Festival and is an annual headlining author at the Iowa City Book Fair. Her latest project, The Follow, hit Amazon in July.
You can follow Eliza on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or on her blog (linked below).

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Nikki Herbst

Nikki Herbst is a lifelong writer who came to Iowa City many years ago to attend the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and liked the community so much that she moved here a few years later. She has a novel that she’s “finished” many times and another one that she’s started many times. Her poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, The Antioch Review, The North American Review, The Georgia Review, Black Warrior Review, and a dozen other journals. She has taught poetry workshops for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and given poetry readings on both coasts and in between. She loves talking about poetry with fellow writers and looks forward to being part of the community of writers who come to The Writers’ Rooms.

She’s very happy to be a co-concierge, with Maxwell Love, of The Golden Attic, where poetry fun and magic will be happening every first and third Thursday evening! She invites everyone to visit her poetry/photography site, www.flyingtrapeze.net, or to input her name in the search field at www.shutterstock.com to see some of her photos, or to find her on Facebook, where they will see posts about her work with owls, hawks, eagles, and many other birds, her travels around the country to teach English country dance and American contradancing (please see my websiteif this interests you), her adventures in adopting and raising a child from Russia, and other passions. 

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Leslie Kung

Leslie Kung is a multi-genre writer, mom and gamer based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Her lived experiences as a child of immigrants, a neurodivergent person and a survivor of PTSD give her plenty of inspiration for all sorts of stories, spoken and written.

She enjoys keeping the company of other writers, nurturing creativity, and hitting people with foam weapons. She is the current Concierge for The Cedar Room.

You can check out her most recent publication here, or support her on Patreon below.

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Maxwell Love

Maxwell Love writes poems and is learning how to write fiction. She firmly believes that
poetry is for everyone and encourages all writers and readers to join the warm-hearted
conversations about craft and style at the Golden Attic, where she is one of the Concierges.
In the past, she helped locate and celebrate rising voices as an Assistant Poetry
Editor of Fourteen Hills while taking MFA courses at San Francisco State University. In the
farther-back past, she earned a B.A. in English from Kenyon College and was involved with
the Kenyon Review and its Writers Workshops as a Student Associate.
Her Twitter handle is @typedpages.
 

 
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Derek Maurer

Derek Maurer of Iowa City is a co-concierge of the Parchment Lounge. He had an unremarkable career in journalism, writing and editing for hire, PR, and marketing, but gave it all up for his sanity. Now he’s writing a novel. Which is a very sane endeavor. In addition to his writing, he volunteers at the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic and gives sailing lessons at Lake Macbride as a member of the University of Iowa Sailing Club. He and his wife Linda enjoy music, camping, hiking, and easy bike trails.

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Emily Schulz

Emily is one of the concierges of The Parchment Lounge (a.k.a. The Best Room!)  She writes under the pseudonym Spike Dawkins.  Her work primarily deals with murder and monsters and, thus, is primarily classified as horror, mystery, or fairy tales gone horribly wrong.  Lost Boys, the first of a series of crime novels, was shortlisted for The Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Award in 2017.  The book is currently in the last stages of editing and will be queried in June 2018.  

A lifelong bookworm, Emily has managed to score a gig where she can talk about books all day long.   She likes cake, British history, Shakespeare plays, sharks, film noir, Charles Dickens and other dead Victorians, art supplies, comics, cats, and weird conventions of 19th century photography, but hates having her own picture taken (see above.)  When she isn't writing or reading, she is knitting, crocheting, or causing trouble.  She does all of these things in Iowa City.  You can find her on Instagram and Twitter as @spikedawkins.