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Write Michigan Contest Judges

Adult Contest (18 years and older):

Randall Andrews
Randall AndrewsRandall was the Judges' Choice winner in the Adult category of last year's Write Michigan Contest. He is a science fiction and fantasy writer from Brooklyn, Mich. He is the self-published author of two books, The Last Guardian of Magic, which won The National Indie Excellence Award in 2010, and Finding Hour Way, a collection of three novellas about tampering with time. He attended Jackson Community College on a talent scholarship for competitive speech, and then went on to earn his bachelor's degree at Central Michigan University, majoring in biology. When not at work on his next tall tale, he can often be found wearing the soles off a pair of running shoes, listening to one of his favorite John Williams soundtracks, or hand-feeding his loyal flock of black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, and white-breasted nuthatches.

Shelley Irwin
Shelley IrwinShelley is the host of the WGVU Morning Show, heard locally in Grand Rapids on National Public Radio station 88.5 FM Monday through Friday from 9:00–11:00 AM. She is a five-time consecutive Gracie Allen Award recipient for Outstanding Host from American Women in TV and Radio. Shelley is also involved with many local community organizations.

Debbie TenBrink
Debbie TenBrinkDebbie's short story "My Name is Diane" was the Reader's Choice Winner in the Adult category of last year's Write Michigan contest. She grew up on a farm in Conklin, where her family has lived for over 150 years. She still lives within 10 miles of her childhood home with her husband, kids and faithful dog. She has a master’s degree in career and technical education, and spent several years teaching computer classes at local colleges before starting her current job as a software specialist for a law firm in Grand Rapids. In 2016, she realized a lifelong dream by having her first novel, Warped Ambition, published by Red Adept Publishing. The sequel, Warped Passage, was released in January 2019. When she isn't writing, Debbie's favorite times are spent painting, camping, hiking, and watching her kids play sports. Regardless of what else she is doing, the lives and trials of the characters that live in her head are never far from her mind.

Elizabeth Trembley
Elizabeth TrembleyBeth lives in the west Michigan woods with her partner, two cats, a German Shepherd, a Dutch Shepherd, lots of wild turkeys, deer, and the occasional pileated woodpecker. For more than 25 years she has taught literature and creative writing at colleges in Michigan and Ohio. Beth also runs community workshops on memoir, comics, developing creativity, and art journaling. She enjoys exploring how words and images work together to capture stories and create meaning. The first novel in her mystery trilogy, Whacked (under the pen name Josie Gordon), won a Lambda Literary Award.

Teen Contest (12–17 years old):

Nancy Barr
Nancy BarrNancy was the Adult Judges' Choice Runner-Up in last year's Write Michigan Contest. She is the author of the Page One mystery trilogy set in the Upper Peninsula and published by Arbutus Press. She serves as the Director of the Engineering Communications Program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department at Michigan Technological University, where she teaches engineers best practices in communicating their work to a wide range of audiences. She earned associate's and bachelor's degrees from Bay College and LSSU, respectively, and master's and PhD degrees in rhetoric from Michigan Tech. Although born elsewhere, she considers herself a Yooper, having thrived through three-and-a-half decades of winters, 14 of them in the gorgeous Keweenaw Peninsula. She lives with her family near Hancock, where she enjoys cross-country skiing, hiking and, of course, reading and writing. Her next project is turning her story Peace into a screenplay, which she would love to see filmed in the U.P.

Vanessa Olson
Vanessa was the Judges' Choice Winner in the Teen category of last year's Write Michigan Contest. She is a junior at Jenison High School.

Selah Preston
Selah PrestonSelah was the Readers' Choice Winner in the Teen category of last year's Write Michigan Contest. She is an endeavoring writer in her freshman year with a love for tea, books, dogs and science fiction. Along with the art of words, the art of music is one her many passions. She plays bass clarinet with the Cedarville High School Band and draws inspiration from the amalgam of her favorite artists. If not working on school, she can be found writing science fiction, adoring her two furry best friends, Roan and Marlo, or taking a much-needed nap.

Youth Contest (11 years and younger):

Deborah Diesen
Deborah DiesenDeborah is the author of the Pout-Pout Fish book series, which began with the rhyming picture book The Pout-Pout Fish and now includes three more pouty picture books, two mini-adventure board books, a lift-the-flap book, a wipe-clean alphabet/numbers workbook and several plushes. She is also the author of the picture books The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade (illustrated by Tracy Dockray), Picture Day Perfection (illustrated by Dan Santat) and the forthcoming Bloom (illustrated by Mary Lundquist). A former bookseller and reference librarian, she currently works for a small nonprofit organization in Lansing. She and her family live in Grand Ledge, Michigan.

Ryan Hipp
Ryan HippRyan is a published author-illustrator of books for kids from Grand Rapids, Mich., honored by the Michigan Reading Association as a recipient of the Gwen Frostic Award for work greatly impacting literacy. Ryan is the leading expert in Michigan on fostering visual literacy and creative thought, with 10 years' experience and research in the field. He actively gives presentations to aid educators to inspire and motivate young people. Ryan is dedicated to helping kids achieve their goals and overcome life's obstacles as depicted in his newest book Little Steps.

Spanish Contest (all ages):

Sabrina Salazar
Sabrina SalazarSabrina was the Judges' Choice Winner in the Spanish category of last year's Write Michigan Contest. She is a senior at Central Michigan University. Her areas of study include international business and Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her family in Livonia, Mich. She also enjoys independent films and a wide array of music. Sabrina, a language and culture aficionado, aspires to travel the world someday.

Médar Serrata
Médar SerrataMédar is an Associate Professor of Spanish at Grand Valley State University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. His scholarly work focuses on the cultural production of the Hispanic Caribbean. As a poet, Prof. Serrata has published the books Las piedras del ábaco (1986) and Rapsodia para tontos (1999). Selections of his poems have appeared in anthologies in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Italy and Spain.