Conference Speakers 2018

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Alissa Baxter

Alissa Baxter was born in a small town in South Africa, and grew up with her nose in a book on a poultry and cattle farm. At the age of eleven she discovered her mother’s collection of Georgette Heyer novels. The first Heyer novel she ever read was Sylvester and she was hooked on Georgette Heyer after that. She read and reread her novels, and fell totally in love with the Regency period and Heyer’s grey-eyed heroes! After school and university, where she majored in Political Science and French, she published her first Regency novel, The Dashing Debutante.

Alissa travelled overseas and worked as a flight attendant in Dubai before she moved to England, where she did an odd assortment of jobs while researching her second novel, Lord Fenmore’s Wager, which she wrote when she moved back to South Africa. Alissa has lived in Durban and Cape Town but she eventually settled in Johannesburg where she works part-time in Corporate Communications. Alissa wrote a couple of contemporary novels before she returned to her first love – the Regency Romance genre. Her third Regency novel, A Marchioness Below Stairs, is the sequel to Lord Fenmore’s Wager.

Andrew Christie

Andrew is a business consultant and speaker who also happens to be passionate about all things related to books. He discovered the Indie writer scene almost by accident when his Facebook Group, Books and Everything, developed into an international networking community of writers and all other people involved in the creating of books.


He applies business principles to various aspects of Indie publishing, focusing on the areas that writers shouldn’t have to. He is very active in the local Indie scene, speaking at various events and book launches, and mentoring Indie authors who are unfamiliar with the very special, very demanding skillset that is required for success in the industry.


In 2017 Andrew edited an anthology of short stories to raise funds for the World Literacy Foundation. ‘Happy Holidays’, was published by Kwarts Publishers, and featured a selection of the best original short fiction submitted by writers from all over the world.

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Marie Dry

Marie writes Science Fiction Romance as well as Paranormal Romance. She was first published in 2014 by Black Opal Books and have seven books out with the eight book contracted.

Anthony Ehlers

Anthony admits he is a sucker for a good love story – from romcoms to erotica, to trashy glamour and tragic historical dramas. His unapologetic addiction to romance novels started when secretly read his mother’s paperback bodice rippers as a kid. Even today, you will find his nose buried in a Mills&Boon Modern on the Gautrain on the commute to Sandton, where he works as a copywriter for a private bank. Having taught creative writing at Writers Write for more than ten years, he is passionate about inspiring and motivating other writers. Favourite romance writers include Sandra Field, Robyn Donald and Jane Porter.  Follow his blog on

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Ashleigh Giannoccaro

Bestselling Author Ashleigh Giannoccaro writes edgy dark romance and erotic horror, self published by choice she writes the stories others don’t dare. Currently rising in Johannesburg South Africa with her husband and two daughters Ashleigh enjoys writing stories that make you fall in love with the unlovable and leave you asking questions. When not writing she can be found with her kindle in a sunny spot reading or traveling with her family.

Sharonlee Holder

South African, born and bred, Sharonlee Holder lives in one of the outer suburbs of Johannesburg. Life is a happy and creative jumble consisting of a husband, three grown daughters, one super cute grand-daughter, three dogs, a cat, and a mouthy African Grey. 

Endless hours at the keyboard are supported by copious amounts of frothy coffee and ‘What ifs?’. Writing breaks are a blend of the big outdoors astride a motorbike, reading or watching anything and everything to do with fantasy, romance and the paranormal.

Published through Changing Tides Publishing, works currently include Resurgence (Blood of The Custodians, Book 1) and Renegade (Blood of The Custodians, Book 2) with Sharonlee hard at work on the third instalment in the series.

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Suzanne Jefferies

Suzanne loves to write romance from contemporary to the downright blush-worthy. Multi-published and award-winning, Suzanne believes in regular HEAs to kick away those reality blues. As a writer-at-large, she writes kick ass copy for government and corporate clients – new clients always welcome.

Sophia Kapp

Sophia Kapp skryf oor die liefde, oor alle aspekte daarvan: die opwinding en die seer; die maklik en die swaar; die lig en die donker. Haar heldinne is vroue wat verstaan dat verhoudings nooit maklik of eenvoudig is nie en dat die lewe soms meer uit ʼn vrou tap as wat sy het om te gee. Maar dis ook vroue wat onwrikbaar glo in die liefde, wat weet dat dit in hulle oorleef en gedy, ten spyte van al die swaarkry, en dat vervulling lê in wat hulle is en nie in wat hulle kry nie. Daar is altyd hoop, en daar is altyd lig.

Sophia se eerste liefdesroman – Die erflating – is in 2007 gepubliseer en is met die ATKV-Woordveertjie vir liefdesromans bekroon. Sy het dieselfde toekenning vir Huis van die wind en Driehoek ontvang.

Sophia se eerste Romanza, Moeilikheid met ’n meermin, het ROSA's 2017 Imbali Toekenning vir Uitmuntendheid in die Skryf van Romanses gewen.

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Didi Potgieter

Didi Potgieter woon haar lewe lank op Potchefstroom. Vandat sy kan onthou skryf sy liefdesverhale in haar kop, maar ʼn finale-jaarsopdrag het haar gedwing om dit op papier te waag. So het Leer my Liefhê, haar eerste romanza die lig gesien. Met ʼn man en twee kinders en die verantwoordelikheid van brood op die tafel sit, was haar program amper oorvol en tyd vir skryf maar min. Tog het die stories en die karakters bly opduik en aan die begin van 2017 het Didi besluit om voltyds te begin skryf.

Rae Rivers

Rae Rivers is an avid reader and writer with a passion for writing Paranormal Romances and Romantic Suspense novels. She is a RWA and ROSA member and the author of the magical Paranormal Romance trilogy, The Keepers, published with HarperCollins. Rae lives on a flower farm in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband and children and a zoo of pets. Besides writing, she loves time spent with family and friends, the outdoors, travelling, reading and chocolate.

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Madelein Rust

Madelein se liefde vir die geskrewe woord begin in die klein skoolbiblioteek in Bloemfontein, waar sy pousetye die een boek na die ander verslind. Sy slyp haar skrywerstande reeds op skool, waar sy uitblink in stelwerk en opstelkompetisies. As jong ma sluit sy aan by die Bloemfonteinse Skrywersvereniging, waar sy ’n aantal pryse wen in die vereniging se jaarlikse skrywerskompetisie vir amateurskrywers

Sy waag haar hand aan romantiese kortverhale, en haar twee pogings in dié genre, Tango in die Kuberruim en Skarlakenvrou, verskyn in Huisgenoot. Een van haar kortverhale, Joy, verskyn in Bateleur Boeke se In ’n Neutedop, gevolg deur Die dag toe oom Willem geval het in Maskew Miller Longman se Literary Awards Edition publikasie, Sussie Veer is dood en ander verhale.

Madelein woon in Johannesburg saam met haar man, Jaun. Sy werk by ’n maatskappy wat spesialiseer in direkte verkope, waar sy haar opleiding in bedryfsielkunde aanwend in die velde van opleiding, projekkommunikasie en menslike hulpbronne.

Romy Sommer

Romy is the author of five contemporary romance novels published by HarperCollins, and has also indie-published seven books under her own name and a pseudonym. With her Hollywood romance novel, Not a Fairy Tale, Romy became the first South African to be nominated for the prestigious RWA Rita award.

Her passion for encouraging and growing aspiring writers led Romy to found ROSA (Romance writers Organisation of South Africa). Through ROSA, she has mentored and taught a great many writers, and now she works as a writing coach and teacher.

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Jo Watson

Award-winning writer of romantic comedies. Collector of colorful, kitsch things that usually sparkle. Adidas addict, Depeche Mode devotee and proud Wattpad writer! 

Jo loves telling stories and above everything, considers herself a storyteller- no matter what the medium. After graduating with an honors degree in theater, she has worked in numerous creative fields. She's mainly worked as a TV script writer and storyliner, she has written, directed and produced theater, adverts and film and has worked as a copywriter. She didn't intend on becoming an author and "accidentally" wrote her first book, Burning Moon, two years ago. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

When Jo is not writing, she is binge watching TV, contemplating the nature of entangled particles and blackholes and hanging out with her husband and son.

Elsa Winckler

Inspired by the writing of Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry James, and the Brontë sisters during my Honours studies, I like my heroines beautiful, feisty, independent and headstrong. I married my college boyfriend who, after 43 years, still makes me weak in the knees. We have 3 interesting and wonderful children and 3 beautiful grandsons, and live in the picturesque little seaside village of Betty's Bay, South Africa with the ocean a block away.

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Joss Wood

Joss Wood loves books and travelling— especially to the wild places of Southern Africa. She has domestic skills of a pot plant and drinks far too much coffee. 


Joss has written over twenty-five books for the Kiss/ Modern Tempted, Presents and most recently, the Desire line for Harlequin/Mills and Boon. She also writes for Tule Publishing and has had two single title romances published with Penguin/Random House for their Intermix imprint.


In 2013 Joss won the RT Reviewers Choice Award for best Harlequin Kiss. After a career in pro-business lobbying and local economic development, she now writes full time. Joss lives with her husband and their two teenage children in northern KZN.

Mandy Verbaan

After thirty years of building a successful career in IT sales and chasing the almighty dollar for corporates, Mandy decided to follow her own passions. Yes, that’s right – she has more than one.

Mandy is a certified Life Coach and has been coaching clients to help them achieve their goals for the last year. Her training was done through the internationally recognised NeuroLeadership Institute and is based on Brain Based Coaching. The coaching skills have given Mandy the opportunity to combine working with people with teaching them how to attain their own life ambitions. An extremely enlightening and rewarding experience both for the coach and coachee.

Her love of languages was cultivated by her Dutch father and English mother. This love has lead to free-lance translation work English-Dutch, editing various types of manuscripts and writing her own fiction. Mandy's hot romantic suspense novel is a 2018 finalist in ROSA's Strelitzia writing competition.