A nationally-recognized novelist and short story writer, Jonis Agee gives credit to her CHS English teacher, Frank Rice, for encouraging her to pursue her writing talent. This she has done, producing 13 books, including five novels and several short story collections. Jonis received her B.A. from Iowa and her M.A. and Ph.D. from SUNY Binghamton. She is currently the Adele Hall Professor of English at UNL where she teaches creative writing and 20th century fiction, and she is also the founding director of the Nebraska Summer Writers’ Conference. Her latest works include The River Wife, a Nebraska best seller; short story collections including Bend This Heart and A .38 Special and a Broken Heart; and anthologies (editor), essays, and film projects. Jonis has received many writing awards, including both the Gold Award and a Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Magazine, two Loft-McKnight Awards (for Fiction and an Award of Distinction), two Nebraska Book Awards for Fiction, the Nebraska Arts Council, Merit Award, and recognition for three Notable Books of the Year by the New York Times. Reviewers of her work have praised her novels, describing The River Wife as “an all-consuming experience” (Booklist) and Sweet Eyes as “A big, complicated book about small town life, in the great American tradition of Faulkner, Willa Cather, and Sherwood Anderson” (Philadelphia Inquirer). Jonis has been described as “a gifted poet of that dark lushness of the American landscape” (New York Times).