Who We Are
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He co-founded Story Embers in April 2018 and leads the site as editor-in-chief, where he sets visions and goals, reviews submissions, handles web design & marketing, and oversees site initiatives.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader and a writer as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him teaching writers at Ink Slinger Academy or writing short stories on his website as he works toward achieving these goals.
Brianna Storm Hilvety
Managing Editor & Graphics Director
Brianna Storm Hilvety has been a professional editor for five years, a writer for more than a decade, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Although she began as a writer, her penchant for noticing typos and obsession with syntax compelled her to wield a red pen rather than a black one. She loves aiding writers in achieving their aspirations to captivate and change the world through fiction. Interacting with these passionate, brave souls bolsters her belief that even the quietest whisper or the tiniest mark on a page can bring comfort, conviction, and cheer to others.
At Story Embers, she juggles multiple roles—founding board member, managing editor, and graphics director. She oversees the entire publishing department and its personnel, ensuring that content is processed, edited, scheduled, and posted on the site weekly, as well as superintends the creation of visual elements and organizes writing contests.
In addition to her ongoing work at SE, she’s served a variety of authors, publishers, and writers organizations, such as Gilead Publishing, Castle Gate Press, and Kingdom Pen. Her professional affiliations include gold membership at The Christian PEN, editing certifications from The PEN Institute, and copyediting and proofreading expertise at the Christian Editor Connection.
Community Manager & Poetry Editor
Many moons ago, a series of suspiciously providential events led Daeus to cast his lot among the worldwide community of Christian storytellers. Since then, no reports indicate that he has come back out. Perhaps he is lost among those fine gallivanters forever. Rest in peace, Daeus Lamb.
Daeus dreams impossibly large (which doesn’t bother him a bit) and tends to bite off more than he can chew. Watch this in action as he tries to capture the depths of the fantasy genre on his YouTube channel, or as he seeks to express the meaning of life in just a short novelette. (Psst. It’s a popular little book called God of Manna and you can get it for free here.)
Public Relations Director & Graphic Designer
Mariposa Aristeo is a writer of quirky characters and fantastical adventures filled with heart, humor, hope, and, very often, dinosaurs. If you can’t find her in one of her own imaginary worlds, try combing the pages of a great middle-grade fantasy novel.
At Story Embers, igniting (and sometimes imploding) ideas is her favorite pastime, so she often uses her creativity to make graphics for articles and writing quotes, as well as implement new strategies for SE’s social media channels. Explosions aside, she loves getting to know each and every writer here at SE by running the popular #embersgram hashtag on Instagram and responding to your questions and emails.
Besides being a co-owner of Story Embers, Mariposa is a member of ACFW, a children’s book illustrator, and the host of the IGTV series #middlegrademagicwithmari. You can check out her book recommendations (and shenanigans) on her Instagram page or her character sketches on her art account.
Grace Livingston is a daydreamer who lives off music, travel, stories, and laughter.
Ever been hiking in a national park and caught the faint sound of someone singing her heart out just off the trail? That was probably Gracie. Ever been going about your business in a grocery store and seen a young woman walk full-on into an endcap? That was probably Gracie too. She was likely trying to multitask world-building and shopping without her lifesaver sister to guide her around obstructions. (And people wonder why she waited as long as possible before getting her driver’s license.)
As a lifetime book lover, few things hurt Gracie more than turning the last page of a book and bidding farewell to the world it let her explore. Some books that were the hardest to say goodbye to are The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Emma, The Man Who Was Thursday, North and South, and The Little White Horse.
Gracie aspires to live fearlessly and intentionally for her Creator in all that she does. She explores the beauty of life and creation with her pens and watercolors, and she’s on a constant lookout for magic in the little things—like staying up until two a.m. laughing with her siblings or being dragged out of bed at all hours of the night by her mother to go stargaze or watch the sunrise. (Looking for magic in the little things may cost Gracie a lot of sleep, but she believes the experiences are worth it.)
Hope Ann likes to think herself a dragon-riding, griffin-taming founder of worlds and explorer of legends. Using chocolate, she bribes a wide ring of spies, from the realm leapers of Aslaria to the double agents of Elkbend, for their stories. She thrives on frost, steel, and the tears of her readers, which she secretly mixes into iced coffee. Deep in her hobbit hole, her actual life involves staying up too late writing, reading, researching stab wounds, and struggling to remember the difference between effect and affect. Based in Indiana, she is the self-published author of the Legends of Light series. Hope Ann helps other writers as a personal writing coach and the newsletter manager at Story Embers. You can find out more about her at AuthorHopeAnn.com, or click here to pick up her novelette about a sister willing to defy Death himself to reclaim her sibling.
As the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent her childhood in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped into a unique new world, she fell in love with the fantasy genre and was soon penning stories herself. She is the award-winning author of The Girl Who Could See and Dust (Enclave, 2020). She helps aspiring authors tell powerful stories as an Author Coach and a faculty member of the Young Writer’s Workshop alongside Brett Harris. Kara is passionate about crafting stories of light shattering darkness, forming sincere connections with readers, and becoming best friends with a mermaid—though not necessarily in that order. Find her online at KaraSwanson.com.
Publication Manager & Staff Writer
Cindy Green is a forest-wandering, poetry-scribbling stargazer with messy notebooks and messy thoughts. Despite her love for all of God’s creation, sunflowers and stars in particular have a way of sneaking into both her writing and her heart (but you won’t hear her complaining about it). She is an amateur sword-wielder with a Highland-dancing warrior spirit who also writes letters to the moon and considers the sky her best friend. While Cindy enjoys a wide range of smile-inducing activities such as camping, downhill skiing, and reading, her favorites include listening to the whispering of the wind and singing along to every word at a Skillet concert (resulting in the temporary misplacement of her voice). A focused daydreamer, organized pack rat, and oblivious observer, she is a self-professing ambivert (or a living contradiction) who deeply feels both the beauty and fallen state of the world. Through her words, she hopes to describe the indescribable and form personal connections with people while reflecting a love for her Savior and a passion for everything she touches.
A long time ago on a hill not so far away, Gabrielle Pollack fell in love. Not with ice cream or cats (though those things are never far from her side) but with storytelling. Since then, she’s been glued to a keyboard and is always in the midst of a writing project, whether a story, blog post, or book. She was a reader before becoming a writer, however, and believes paradise should include thick novels, hot cocoa, a warm fire, and “Do Not Disturb” signs. Her favorite stories include Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn saga and Nadine Brandes’s Out of Time trilogy.
As those who know her will confess, Gabby is a whole lot of weirdness packed into one INFP. Sharp objects, storms, and trees are her friends, along with stubborn characters and, on occasion, actual people. When she’s not writing, she’s shooting arrows through thickets and subsequently missing her target, jamming on the piano, and pushing her cat off her keyboard. She hopes to infuse her fiction with honesty, victory, and hope, and create stories that grip readers from the first page to the last. Her other goals include saving the world and mastering a strange concept called adulthood. You can hang out with her on Instagram and Facebook.
Dreamer & realist, philosopher & punster, romantic & cynic—many words can be slapped down as labels for the man known (to most) as Martin Detwiler, but none of them are more true than this one: redeemed. Martin is a man made new by Christ, and he is being made new day by day.
Martin is mostly normal. For a writer. There are, of course, the usual paradoxes between ideal self and actual self, but on the whole Martin is motivated by a love of beauty. Whether it is found in people, stories, poetry, or the other arts, beauty has a transcendent quality that enlivens the mind to rise higher than the gritty flagstones underfoot—a central kernel of truth, as it were, that crystallizes aesthetic into something more. Finding, appreciating, and creating these moments of truth-filled beauty is the goal of Martin’s life, friendships, and writing. He has much farther to go on this path, but each step is a miracle all its own. Through his writing, Martin sincerely wishes that you would join him on that journey.
Martin’s greatest inspirations are C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, both of whom stirred a passion for stories that combine the aesthetic and the true in such a way that the reader is given an experiential glimpse of God’s reality.
Martin lives in Ohio, and his hopes and dreams are nestled in the stars.
Rose Sheffler is a Kentucky native who began her writing career in the seventh grade by hijacking a simple assignment and turning it into an elaborate creative piece. Her teacher reprimanded her for not following the instructions and said, “You should be a writer.” She studied English Literature in college, with a focus on creative writing, and returned to teach seventh grade English at the same private school. Her favorite genres are fantasy, historical fiction, and fairy tales.
A longstanding Anglophile, she adores clocks, Saint George, Sherlock Holmes, Yorkshire tea (with milk), and almost everything written by the British since Beowulf. She is a fantastic cook and hates to exercise but does it anyway. Though she’s convinced that naps are a superpower, she often forgoes the nap to write.
Rose is a firm believer in the power of literature to inform and influence the human soul, and she hopes her writing finds its way to the right readers. Some of her favorite books are Persuasion, Till We Have Faces, To Kill A Mockingbird, Jane of Lantern Hill, Hatchet, and Beauty and the Beast.
This summer she completed a manuscript of new fairy tales and hopes to have them traditionally published. Until then, she homeschools her three kids, feeds her philosopher husband, grades papers, engages daily with her church community, talks to herself, updates her blog, reads too many children’s books, considers the brevity of life in the face of eternity, and takes bookish photographs for Instagram.
Lori Z. Scott
Elementary school teacher Lori Z. Scott usually writes fiction because, like an atom, she makes up everything. Her down time is filled with two quirky habits: chronic doodling and inventing lame jokes. Neither one impresses her principal (or friends/parents/casual strangers), but they do help inspire her writing. Somehow her odd musings led her to accidentally write the 10-book best-selling Meghan Rose series and purposely write more than 150 short stories, articles, essays, poems, and devotions. In addition, Lori contributed to over a dozen books, mostly so she would have an excuse to give people for not folding her laundry. (Hey! Busy writer here!) As a speaker, she’s visited several conferences and elementary schools to share her writing journey. Some of Lori’s favorite things include ice cream, fuzzy socks, Batman, Star Trek, Star Wars, books, and hugs from students. Guess which one is her favorite?
Lori graduated from Wheaton College with a B.A. in elementary education. During her time on campus, she played on their volleyball team and participated in the National City Ministries program. Most days she’s fully immersed in teaching, but most nights you can find her behind the keyboard. Since Batman didn’t want a sidekick, she teamed up with agent Cyle Young at the C.Y.L.E. Literary Agency.
Lori loves connecting with other writers, so you can stop by her Instagram page for encouragement, or visit Lori-Z-Scott.com for writing tips, general silliness, and a free coloring book download of some of her doodles.
Graham Jackson, with all his enthusiasm for the joint power of the language and stories, is nevertheless a man of few words. An introverted Yankee through and through, Graham was born and raised on the North Shore of Massachusetts in a small town dating back to the 1600s. Homeschooled from an early age, Graham cultivated a love of history and reading from the start, and he has been hooked ever since. He discovered his love of literature and creative writing when he picked up Brian Jacques’s Redwall, as well as in high school, and he went on to get his bachelor’s degree in Literature from Patrick Henry College. His favorite color is “Red, the Blood of Angry Men” (although he likes many other colors), and his favorite season is autumn. He also likes dogs and long walks on the beach.
As for writing, Graham is an aspiring novelist and amateur poet. He has had a lot of experience writing poetry over the years, trying his hand at different forms, writing a short collection of sonnets, and playing with words. He finds a lot of meaning in poetry that has a real and lasting impact on daily life—scrutinizing the ordinary to find marvels in the mundane. Yet, poetry and prose are equally important and overlap in many ways.
Having recently graduated college, Graham is now at home with his family, getting ready to embark on some online teaching. Graham is thankful and excited for this opportunity to share his enthusiasm with Story Embers and to see what’s down the road.
Allison Raymond has been captivated by stories for as long as she can remember. She was only eleven years old when she came to recognize writing as God’s purpose for her life. Although many years have passed since that moment, she has never doubted this purpose. Instead, she chooses to spend her time working hard to make her dream of becoming a published novelist a reality.
Allison grew up in Virginia, Illinois, and Oklahoma. She now lives in Missouri, where she is attending college in pursuit of a degree in Secondary English Education. In the future, she hopes to become a high school English teacher to share her passion for storytelling with aspiring young writers. Currently, she shares this passion on her personal blog and in a large number of her daily conversations.
Endlessly fascinated by the human mind, she enjoys diving deep into the thoughts and emotions of her fictional characters to explore the big questions in life. She specifically loves writing in the genres of science fiction and fantasy to imagine how powers such as magic and advanced technology might impact the human experience from the smallest of everyday activities to the largest moral and ethical issues people face.
While Allison is most likely to be found wandering around the outdoors and completely lost in her own thoughts, she also enjoys quiet evenings spent at home with her family and cat and afternoons spent in hysterical laughter with friends. You can find Allison on Instagram and Facebook.