Meet Some of Our Writers

Beth Burgmeyer

Beth Burgmeyer

Beth is one of the founding members of the Des Moines Writers’ Workshop. She writes upmarket and women’s fiction. She loves to write about real life, about characters who are struggling with serious, life changing issues.  Beth has several completed manuscripts and is starting the process of querying literary agents. Joining the Des Moines Writers’ Workshop has been one of the best things she’s done for her writing. The feedback, encouragement, and sense of community have been invaluable.

Beth has been a finalist and has placed in both national and local writing contests. She lives near Des Moines with her family and a menagerie of rescue pets.




Rachel Eliason

Rachel Eliason

Ms. Eliason is one of the founding members of the Des Moines Writers’ Workshop. She is both a writer and a fan of deeply immersive science fiction and fantasy novels. She loves to share with her fans the worlds she is creating, and the ones she is discovering. She writes contemporary YA novels about LGBT characters under her given name and Science Fiction / Fantasy under R. J. Eliason.




Kamerhe Lane

Kamerhe is a veteran member of the Des Moines Writer’s Workshop. She writes all subgenres of young adult fiction, from horror to fantasy to contemporary. A native Iowan and lover of the fantastical, most of her stories take place in Iowa and involve realistic settings with touches of magic. She has two finished manuscripts and a million, terribly unfocused ideas. Her reading interests are wide and varied, and she enjoys overly involving herself in everyone else’s stories. She’s found the collaborative aspect of the critique group to be her favorite, but it’s also been nice to discover she’s not the only crazy person with thousands of characters gabbing in her head.

Kamerhe recently signed with agent Adriann Ranta, of Foundry Literary. Adriann will be representing Kamerhe and her YA manuscript, The Gospel According to Joan.

Follow Kamerhe on Twitter

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Kay Fenton Smith

Kay is a veteran member of the Des Moines Writers’ Workshop. She writes young adult fiction and nonfiction. Her first book, ZAKERY’S BRIDGE (2011, Shrieking Tree) tells the stories of nine children and their Journeys From Around the World to Iowa. In fiction, Kay loves to combine genres. Her current YA project is a “romantic historical fantasy with a touch of magical realism.”

She joined the Des Moines Writers’ Workshop in 2014 and is grateful for this supportive literary community. Kay teaches creative writing and cultural arts workshops for CULTUREALL and the After School Arts Program (ASAP). She also serves on the advisory board for the Drake Community Press. Beyond writing, she loves to explore the natural world by foot, boat, bicycle, or cross-country skis, depending on the season. She grew up in Upstate New York, and now lives with her family in Des Moines.

Twitter: @kayfentonsmith

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Mike Beecher

Mike Beecher is a founding member of the Des Moines Writers’ Workshop and writes literary fiction. A former broadcast journalist and executive, Beecher has written and produced television news documentaries and non-fiction articles for newspaper and magazines. He is currently working on his first novel, an interracial love story set in the 1960’s, entitled Electric Park.

Beecher is also working on a collection of short stories and owns Speak PR, a public relation’s firm in Des Moines, Iowa.

Mike can be reached at


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Michelle Chalkey

Michelle Chalkey creates many forms of writing, from short stories and essays to magazine articles and blog posts. Aside from her job as a technical writer, Michelle writes women’s and young adult fiction, focusing on the many struggles of young women and teenage girls. She has a few short stories published and is currently working on her first novel. Michelle also writes articles for Iowa Living Magazines and for 4-Layer Cake, her blog about desserts, fitness, books and writing. With the Des Moines Writers Workshop, Michelle has found inspiration and motivation to see through her ideas and stick to a weekly word count, as well as a great community of people to bounce ideas off and share successes and struggles with.

Originally from Streator, Illinois, Michelle now lives on the east side of Des Moines with her fiance and dog. When she is not writing, she is reading, making cupcakes, going for long walks with the dog, or getting sushi with the fiancé.

Follow Michelle’s Blogs:

Read some of Michelle’s short stories:
“May I Have This Dance”
“The Magic of Birthdays”

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Francis Sparks

Francis Sparks writes all types of adult fiction from short story to novel length. At the moment, the voices of the characters in his mystery/suspense and high fantasy novels have clamored their way to the front of his writing queue.

Francis joined the Des Moines Writers’ Workshop in Fall of 2015 and is already reaping the rewards of more focused writing from the interaction with the knowledgeable writers in his group.

Francis grew up on a farm in northwest Iowa where he spent his days avoiding bulls and other livestock as he created castles in the pasture made of fallen trees, twine pilfered from his father’s hay baler and his imagination. In fifth grade, he discovered TSR/Wizards of the Coast and their treasure of fantasy novels. Ever since he’s been chasing the writing dream. His mystery/suspense novel Made Safe was signed by Pandamoon Publishing in September 2015 and will be published in the fall of 2016.

Website & Blog:
Follow Francis on Twitter:

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Jim Hellvig

Jim writes character driven, military thrillers and science fiction. He uses humor and the commonalities of the human heart to weave his tales.  A recent resident to the Des Moines area, he’s found the Des Moines Writers Workshop to be inspiring and educational. The founders are professional and supportive; understanding and willing to help each other and others succeed.

A published author, Jim is also a life long martial artist and former soldier. When not reading or writing, he enjoys the outdoors and experiencing life to its fullest!

Jim’s Websites:

Jim’s Blog: