About Jenni

I like tiaras, history, avocados, chandeliers, figure skating, wine, and sleep.

I do not like team sports, fruit, working out, politics, superhero flicks, kids, and most things normal people like. Sorry.

Author Jenni Wiltz

Hi, I’m Jenni, and I write fiction, creative non-fiction, and the occasional piece of literary criticism. I was born in Salinas, California (also the birthplace of John Steinbeck). Maybe there’s something in the water there?

My novels include The Red RoadThe Romanov Legacy, A Vampire in Versailles, I Never Arkansas It Coming, and The Cherbourg Jewels, which won a 2011 Daphne du Maurier Award (still psyched about this one).

I’m currently working on revamping The Dante Deception into a stand-alone series (long story), and a non-fiction trilogy on Grand Duchess Hilda of Baden, Grand Duchess Elizaveta Mikhailovna of Russia, and Princess Augusta of Brunswick.

When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading, jogging, doing genealogical research, or sewing. I’m a bad cook and a worse baker. I always burn things, even brownies. Someday I want to have a garden even though I’ve killed every plant I’ve ever had. This includes ferns and other plants specifically labeled “hard to kill” by your local florist.

Speaking of genealogy, I have some brick walls that I’m hoping you guys can help me smash through. Ever heard of a dude named Frank Rivers, who died in Los Angeles in 1912? He was my great-great-grandfather, and the guy’s parents are next to impossible to find. Didn’t help that he told different origin stories to different people. The census has him born in (wait for it) Michigan or New York. It also has him born anywhere from about 1838 to 1845. Frank either didn’t know the truth, or was deliberately misleading people throughout his life. I love you, Frank, but you’re killing me.

I earned bachelor’s degrees in English and History from the University of California at Davis, and an MA in English/Creative Writing from California State University, Sacramento, where I won three Bazzanella Literary Awards in fiction and critical analysis.

I’ve worked as a senior editor, advertising copywriter, and USAID grant program coordinator. And they said it would be impossible to find work as an English major. As an editor, I helped write and revise web copy for clients on any number of topics. You haven’t lived until you’ve been on deadline to write 10 expert-level pages on oscilloscopes or diamond saw blades in, oh, an hour. There’s also nothing like the stress of proofreading a catalog that will go out to a 10-million-name mailing list. No pressure.

My short stories have appeared in Gargoyle, the Portland Review, The Copperfield Review, the Sacramento News & ReviewStrange Summer Mysteries, Tales from the Dark Forest, The Darkness Within, and other publications.

Want to find out what I’m up to? You can find me on social media, although I rarely post anymore (mid-life crisis, mistrust for the monolithic corporations that own the platforms, a nagging feeling that social media is contributing to the polarization of American society, you know, that sort of thing):


Publications & Awards

Click here to see this list on my Publications page, with all the pretty cover pictures of the publications.





  • “Swampland,” short fiction, third prize, Keats Soul Making Writing Contest
  • “Speak No Evil,” flash fiction, published in The Kentucky Review
  • “Porphyria’s Lover,” short fiction, Commended Finalist in Plymouth Writers’ Group annual writing contest


  • “Fritz & Vicky,” creative non-fiction, published in the Mulberry Fork Review
  • “Stepson of Anarchy,” flash fiction, published on Page & Spine



  • “Blood of Lilies, Blood of Lambs,” selected for publication in The Darkness Within, an anthology to be published by Indigo Mosaic
  • “Integers and Atoms,” selected for publication in next summer’s issue of Gargoyle
  • “Clothes Make the Man,” published in Summer Mysteries: A Day at the Beach, an anthology of summer-themed mystery stories published by Whortleberry Press
  • “Integers and Atoms,” second place prize, Sacramento State University’s Bazzanella Literary awards, short fiction
  • “‘Me and Bonaparte Are Chums’: Postcolonial Hybridity in Frank o’Connor’s ‘Guests of the Nation'”, second place prize, Sacramento State University’s Bazzanella Literary Awards, critical analysis


  • “Croatoa,” published in A Rustle of Dark Leaves, an anthology of stories about mysterious happenings in dark forests, to be published by Misanthrope Press
  • First place, unpublished division: RWA Kiss of Death Chapter’s Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Category Romantic Suspense for my novel, The Cherbourg Jewels (Yowza, this one’s a biggie, folks)
  • “And the Devil Said, Wait” selected for publication in Hellology, an anthology of stories about the devil, to be published by Library of the Living Dead Press
  • “Swampland” published in The Copperfield Review, an online literary journal dedicated to historical fiction
  • “A Different Light: Darkness, Danielstown, and Destiny in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September,“second place prize, Sacramento State University’s Bazzanella Literary Awards, critical analysis
  • “Giving Bloat the Boot: My Low-Sodium Diet Makeover,” first place, Demand Media Studios’ Writers’ Choice Prize for Non-Fiction




  • “Last Train from Galway,” Honorable Mention in the Diana Lynn Bogart writing contest at UC Davis