2023 Rising Star Final Round Judges

Michelle Z. Jackson represents books that evoke heartfelt emotions and fervent conversations among its readers. Her mission is to mentor and develop authors, particularly those from underrepresented communities, and help them build a brand of quality and authentic reads.
She looks forward to bringing adult fiction and select non-fiction of new authors work out there, especially BIPOC and underrepresented authors. She is also a content editor and loves developing and working with new authors to help them hone their craft. She is looking for stories with strong character arcs and hooks. Intriguing plot lines that keep her up at night until she gets to the last page.


Joanna MacKenzie is a Sr. Agent with Nelson Literary Agency where she represents authors writing for both the adult and children’s markets across all areas of fiction. She is drawn to vivid, engaging writing and is particularly interested in high concept thrillers (with a soft spot for speculative and anything that challenges tropes) , voicey mysteries, dark academia, stories that straddle genres, and women’s fiction where the personal intersects with the world at large - if any of these are set in the Midwest, all the better. Across the board, she’s looking for works that highlight under-represented voices. Her authors are New York Times bestsellers, Edgar and Anthony Award nominees, and critically acclaimed storytellers. 



Amy Stapp received her BA from Samford University and MA from Georgia State University before beginning her publishing career as an editor at Macmillan, where she had the privilege of working with numerous New York Times bestselling authors. Amy joined Wolfson Literary in 2018 and is actively building her list, with interest in women’s fiction, mystery, suspense, upmarket book club fiction, historical fiction, young adult, and select nonfiction. She is particularly drawn to a high concept hook, well-paced prose, immersive settings, and smart, multidimensional characters. As an editorial agent, she enjoys working hand-in-hand with authors to take their work to the next level.  



Stacy Testa is a Senior Literary Agent at Writers House, where she began her career in publishing 12 years ago. She represents a wide range of bestselling, award-winning, and critically acclaimed fiction, including contemporary literary works by Kathryn Ma, Chantal V. Johnson, and Lucie Britsch, immersive historical fiction by Kirsty Manning and Kim Michele Richardson, upmarket book club novels by Rita Cameron, Julie Carrick Dalton, and Karen Winn, and commercial fiction from Emma Alban and Karen Marie Moning.



Sarah E. Younger is a Senior Agent at the Nancy Yost Literary Agency, a boutique literary agency based in the heart of New York City. After joining NYLA in the fall of 2011, she has cultivated a diverse and talented list of authors, including a variety of commercial fiction bestsellers. To learn more about Sarah, please visit the NYLA website: www.nyliterary.com






Alternate Judges:

Ann Leslie Tuttle joined DG&B in 2017 after working for 20 years at Harlequin Books where she most recently was a Senior Editor.  At Harlequin, she was fortunate to work on an extensive and varied list of bestselling and award-winning titles in romance and women’s fiction.  She is actively acquiring women’s fiction, contemporary and historical romance, rom coms, thrillers, mysteries, narrative nonfiction and Middle Grade.  She received her B.A. degree from the College of William and Mary and an M.A. from the University of Virginia. Finding and nurturing talented new and established writers has always been Ann Leslie’s passion.


Amy Tannenbaum is a passionate author advocate with nearly 20 years of book industry experience.     Amy represents clients who write across a variety of genres including women’s fiction, contemporary romance, thriller and psychological suspense. She is particularly interested in those categories, as well as fiction that falls into the sweet spot between literary and commercial, narrative non-fiction, and works by marginalized voices. After graduating from Wesleyan University, Amy worked at Harlequin then Simon & Schuster where she edited a diverse list of bestselling fiction and nonfiction projects. Given Amy’s background, she is able to provide valuable insight into both sides of the business, as well as editorial support to her clients. While Amy represents many bestselling and prolific authors, she prides herself on her ability to find talented debut authors and help them launch successful careers.