Bios

Robyn Russell, Founder

Robyn Russell brings a unique combination of industry experience and academic rigor to her work as an editor and writer. A former associate at The Amy Rennert Agency, Inc.–a boutique literary agency located in the San Francisco Bay Area–she’s worked with a number of acclaimed and New York Times bestselling authors, including Pulitzer Prize winner Herman Wouk, Jimmy Buffett, Kris Kristofferson, two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone, NBC Chief Medical Editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman, National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart, Dr. Rick Hanson, director of Pretty Woman and Happy Days Garry Marshall, and Jacqueline Winspear. Robyn was with the agency for nearly eight years.

Robyn holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco, where she studied fiction with acclaimed writers Karl Soehnlein, Stephen Beachy, Lewis Buzbee, Catherine Brady, Judith Greber, and Kaui Hart Hemmings, whose debut novel, The Descendants, went on to become an Oscar-award winning film starring George Clooney. She was an editor for David Treleaven’s Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness, which will be published by Norton in 2018, as well as for Not a Genuine Black Man: Or, How I Claimed My Piece of Ground in the Lily-White Suburbs by Brian Copeland. People said that “with humor and pathos,” Copeland “traces a life spent dodging racial epithets from black and whites…and achieving what he sees as the true African-American attribute: resilience,” while The New York Times said Copeland’s “wit is the spoonful of sugar that helps his sad stories go down. Robyn has worked with Stanford University Press, Tyrus Books/ Simon & Schuster, MacAdam/Cage, Counterpoint Press, bestselling author and critically acclaimed memoirist Kim Chernin (The Hungry Self, In My Mother’s House, and The Obsession: Reflections on the Tyranny of Slenderness, among others), Deborah Layton, author of Seductive Poison: A Jonestown’s Survivor Story of Life and Death in the People’s Temple (Anchor Books, 1998), and Cathy Luchetti, author of the Life on the American Frontier series and Hot Flash Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2003). She served as a writing coach and editorial consultant to Regina Louise, the author of Somebody’s Someone and an advocate, playwright, and motivational speaker who is best known for successfully navigating through more than thirty foster homes as a ward of the California Juvenile Court system. Robyn also worked on the host of KQED Forum’s Michael Krasny’s nonfiction book, Spiritual Envy: A Meditation on Agnosticism, which was published by New World Library and went on to become a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller, as well as his memoir, Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life, and his work-in-progress. She was the editor for Pushcart Prize-winning author Frances Lefkowitz’s memoir, To Have Not (MacAdam/Cage), and she worked on Alan Hruska’s mystery, Wrong Man Running  (Thomas & Mercer), which was described by bestselling author Lee Child as “beautifully written and beautifully imagined, this dark, spiraling, Kafkaesque nightmare might be the best psychological suspense you’ll read this year–or this decade.” Recent acknowledgments include Come Back, Como: The Runaway Mutt Who Ran Off with My Heart (Steven Winn, Harper); Some Things that Meant the World to Me (Joshua Mohr, Two Dollar Radio), which was selected as a Top Ten Read of 2009 by Oprah; Man Receives a Letter (Peter Gordon, Red Hen Press); Dangerous Neighbors (National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart, Egmont/Laura Geringer Books), A Sound Like Thunder (Sonny Brewer, Ballantine), Termite Parade (Joshua Mohr, Two Dollar Radio), which was named a New York Times Editor’s Pick, You Are My Only (Beth Kephart, Egmont), Small Damages (Beth Kephart, Philomel/Penguin), The Lost Saints of Tennessee (Amy Franklin-Willis, Grove/Atlantic), My Second Death (Lydia Cooper, Tyrus Books), Losing My Sister (Judy Goldman, John F. Blair), When Someone Dies: A Practical Guide to the Logistics of Death (Scott Taylor Smith with Michael Castleman, Scribner), A Paper Son (Tyrus Books, January 2016), and Naked (Betsy Franco, Tyrus Books). Naked, which was dedicated to Robyn and Rodin’s muse, Camille Claudel, was optioned in 2015 by Todd Traina, of Traina Productions/Red Rover Films. She has served on the faculty at several writers’ conferences, including the San Diego State University’s Writers’ Conference, the Williamette Writers’ Conference, the Algonkian Writers’ Conference, and Mills College’s Annual Pitch Fest. As an author, ghostwriter, blogger, and co-writer, Robyn’s work has been featured in a number of publications, including The Rumpus, Elephant Journal, Literary Mama, Brevity, Tiny Buddha, New York Times bestselling author Jill Smokler’s Scary Mommy, Maria Shriver’s The Shriver Report, Blog Her, Seventeen, Routes: An Achiote Press Fiction Anthology, and alongside Gabrielle Bernstein and Kelly Corrigan in Nothing But the Truth So Help Me God: 73 Women on LIfe’s Transitions, which Eve Ensler described as “a testament to what is possible when we show up for our sisters.” She lives in Hawaii.

JasonSquare Jason Buchholz Jason Buchholz is an editor, writer, and artist. He has served as a private editorial consultant for clients working in both fiction and nonfiction, in a variety of genres. He is an editor and the art director of Achiote Press, a nine-year-old independent press dedicated to publishing poetry, fiction, and academic writing from voices and cultures typically underrepresented in the American mainstream. A recent trilingual release features the poetry of Pablo García, an award-winning Guatemalan poet, whose Mayan poems are translated into both Spanish and English. Jason has also served as the managing editor for a journal of scholarly articles published by UC Berkeley’s International Martial Arts Research Institute. Jason’s experience includes time at the Reese Halsey North literary agency, working with agent Kimberley Cameron, where he read manuscripts and reviewed proposals for novels, memoirs, short story collections, and nonfiction works. He spent years as a business, investment, and technology journalist during the Silicon Valley tech boom, working as a reporter, editor, and freelance columnist. His work appeared in a variety of publications, including Fortune Magazine. Previously, he traveled to the Czech and Slovak Republics as a travel writer, writing chapters on each nation for a European guidebook published by Fodor’s. Jason’s first novelan exquisite exploration of the Pacific immigration experience–will be published by Tyrus Books in 2016. Acclaimed author of Forest of Fortune and head of Vermin on the Mount Jim Ruland said, “A Paper Son is a rivetingly imaginative debut full of deft humor and an affinity for the peculiar reminiscent of Auster and Calvino.” Joshua Mohr (Some Things That Meant the World to Me. Termite Parade, All This Life) praised A Paper Son as a first novel that “showcases an imagination turned up to 11. I dig books that keep me guessing, keep me gasping with every new page, each new reveal that contorts Realism into something vitally new. I was wonderfully off balance reading A Paper Son. You’ve never experienced anything like this.” His poetry and short fiction have appeared in print and in online journals, including Gobbledegook and Switchback, and an epilogue to one of his novels was featured in Invisible City Audio Tour’s production The Armada of Golden Dreams, a recorded collection of fiction and poetry performances inspired by and mapped onto gold rush sailing ships buried beneath San Francisco’s financial district. The Armada project would later form the basis for a workshop series at 826 Valencia, for which he served as a mentor and guest instructor. He is also the author of a pair of award-winning short films, The Wish Thief and The Hiker, which his wife Rachel directed. His drawings, collages, and sculptures are in private collections nationwide. Recent commissions include a collage for UC Berkeley’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a drawing that incorporated the text of Nunca he conocido a un silencio como éste, an original Spanish-language poem created for the piece. His art and designs have been featured on book covers from Achiote Press, on The Rainy Season Diaries, by Jennifer Reimer (Quale Press, 2014), and on the poetry website Anti-Poetry.com. His visual work also appears at CompleteChronicles.com, where it is attributed both to himself and to six fictional artists, who together form the cast of the experimental narrative The Complete Chronicles of Giuseppe’s Many Travels. Complete Chronicles combines art and fiction to form a story designed expressly for the nonlinear nature of the digital medium. Jason also works as an educator, promoting literacy among and eliciting stories from elementary school-aged children. He holds a BA in Psychology from UC Berkeley and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of San Francisco. He lives in El Cerrito, California with his wife and son.

NikosSquareNikos Acuña

Nikos Acuña is an entrepreneur, digital marketing and media executive, technology futurist, and the award-winning author of Mindshare: Igniting Creativity and Innovation through Design Intelligence (Motion Publishing, 2012). Told in a rich lyrical style, Mindshare is a portrait of the modern creative mind and a narrative of its process, a practical guide and a plea for ambition which captures the imagination by exploring the dynamic nature of creativity and innovation as a multi-faceted and integrated craft. Nikos has created a philosophical framework which suggests that building a remarkable brand, overcoming any challenge, and achieving anything in life can be found in understanding one truth – that innovation is driven by the same inherent creative instinct that fuels our desires, seeks pleasure, strives to be better, and craves to discover new worlds. It’s a process that seeks optimal design, shifts from chaos to order, from that which is unconscious to that which is conscious – a metaphysical process of transformation that strives toward knowledge and a state of perfection. According to Adrian Bejan, the author of Design in Nature, the book is a “veritable tour de force” in which the author “masterfully explores the art and science of the creative process.” Mindshare achieved critical acclaim, receiving Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award in Social Sciences, the USA Best Book Award in Psychology in 2012, and a 2012 Publisher recommendation for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.

Nikos is currently the Chief Innovation Officer of Nioverse Media, a design and media production company; co-founder of Penrose Design, a cutting-edge brand innovation agency; and the Director of Business Strategy and Marketing Technology at Rocket Fuel, a big-data adtech company which leverages artificial intelligence to create more meaningful brand experiences. Rocket Fuel is Forbes Magazine’s #4 Fastest Growing Company in America, and #1 on Deloitte’s Most Innovative Startups in 2013. Nikos is also a sought-after speaker, consultant, and blogger on topics regarding innovation, big data, design thinking, emerging technologies, and brand experience optimization. He has over fifteen years of leadership experience in designing and bringing media and marketing technology platforms to market, achieving multiple successful exit strategies, company acquisitions, and IPOs. He specializes in driving product development, go-to-market, product marketing, and launch initiatives for blue-chip brands, enterprise platforms, and tech startups from end to end. He has also written, produced, directed, and starred in various lifestyle, news, travel, reality, and entertainment series, and he has hosted internationally broadcasted award shows and special events. Nikos has a BA in Communication from the University of the Pacific, an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco, and is a PhD Psychology candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute. He currently lives in Chicago, Illinois.