Our Team

Andy Symonds Image - Ballast Books Team

Andy Symonds

President & Publisher

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Andy Symonds Image - Ballast Books Team

Andy Symonds

Growing up on military bases throughout the world, Andy Symonds always knew writing was in his blood. Creating poetry, short stories, and even a novel by the age of nine (The Adventures of Ricky and Jimmy, typed on an actual typewriter and still in existence today) consumed Andy in between hockey and baseball practice. In 2001, he graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in journalism and a reporter job covering local politics for the second-largest daily newspaper in Maryland. He had fulfilled his dreams: He was a professional writer.

While Andy would leave journalism full time to enter corporate America, his passion for the written word didn’t wane, and he never stopped writing. It was the quest to publish his novel My Father’s Son that led him to the world of publishing, and he knew that’s where he belonged. After years of querying agents and failing to land a traditional deal while simultaneously researching every aspect of self-publishing, he discovered the hybrid model. This route eventually led to the release of his first book as well as his first job in publishing as the vice president of acquisitions and business development at the house that published his first two books.

In 2019, Andy decided to forge out on his own, opening Ballast Books and Blue Balloon Books shortly thereafter. In addition to running the companies, Andy still writes one book a year. He lives in Jupiter, Florida, with his wife, two young daughters, and very large dog.

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Lauren Green

Senior Acquisitions Editor

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Lauren Green

Lauren Green is a senior acquisitions editor with Ballast Books and its children’s book imprint, Blue Balloon Books. Lauren studied English writing and mass communication at Rockhurst University, where she graduated as valedictorian of her class. A professional writer and editor with nearly a decade of experience, Lauren spends much of her free time volunteering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and editing adult nonfiction books. She also enjoys listening to true crime podcasts, rereading the Harry Potter series for the zillionth time, and helping authors achieve their dream of publishing a book. Lauren lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and beloved Australian shepherd, Harper Lee.

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Savannah Spidalieri

Senior Acquisitions Editor

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Savannah Spidalieri

Savannah Spidalieri is a senior acquisitions editor with Ballast Books and its children’s imprint, Blue Balloon Books. Savannah attended Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington where she studied Creative Writing, Publishing and Printing Arts, and Children’s Literature. With over a decade of experience as an editor of fiction and poetry, Savannah is also passionate about helping authors perfect their non-fiction works. When not writing and editing in a professional capacity, she tries to find time to read for enjoyment as well as care for the forty-some houseplants she somehow collected over the past few years. Savannah currently resides with her family outside of Charlottesville, Virginia where her to-be-read stack is embarrassingly long for someone who reads for a living.

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Breanne Beightol

Marketing & PR Manager

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Breanne Beightol

Breanne Beightol is the Marketing & PR Manager with Ballast Books and its children’s book imprint, Blue Balloon Books. Breanne attended the State University of New York at Oswego where she studied public relations. With a background in book and author publicity, Breanne is enthusiastic about reaching potential readers by securing media coverage for our authors. When she’s not crafting targeted media pitches, Breanne enjoys going to brunch, exploring new coffee shops, and attending a virtual book club with her lifelong friends. Breanne currently resides outside of Buffalo, New York.

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Mimi Bark

Designer

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Mimi Bark Image - Ballast Books Team

Mimi Bark

Mimi is a graphic designer and art director in Brooklyn, NY, with two decades of experience creating visually compelling book covers. She is an expert in her field and believes that thoughtful typography is integral to eye-catching cover art. Her specialty is photo-compositing and retouching, turning multiple photos and textures into a single image that tells a story. She has been an art director at Penguin Random House and St. Martin’s Press and a designer at HarperCollins and Hachette Book Group. Over the years she has designed hundreds of book covers across many genres.

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Mirko Pohle

Designer

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Mirko Pohle

Mirko Pohle is the Creative Director and Designer of All Your Pixels, and has brought 15 years of experience and leadership to the clients, companies, and projects that he has worked for. Through strategy, organization, core design principles and a forward-thinking creative mentality, his strengths align with producing engaging content that presents a brand, product, lifestyle, service or information through a printed or digital medium. Born and Educated in Zürich Switzerland and graduating with honors from The Maryland Institute College of Art, his ethic is to compulsively self-improve, create and advance crafted and timeless design solutions, which are unique to each project, client and employer.

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Darren Sapp

Author Coach / Editor

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Darren Sapp

Darren Sapp has authored multiple works of fiction, non-fiction, and numerous ghostwriting projects. He’s spoken to groups large and small across the globe and recorded commercial voiceover projects, podcasts, and audiobook narration. He served in the U.S. Navy as a yellow shirt on the aircraft carrier flight deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary, and holds a Master of History from Southwestern A/G University with a focus on unconventional warfare. He specializes in helping authors take their idea from the whiteboard to book launch through creative ideation, strategic project management, and positive coaching.

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David Vasquez

Head of Accounting

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David Vasquez

David Vasquez has over 20 years of experience in accounting, financial reporting and financial analysis. Prior to joining Ballast Books, David worked in the Accounting & Transaction Services practice of MorganFranklin Consulting and in Deloitte’s Assurance and Audit Practice. David holds Bachelor of Science degrees in both Accounting and in Finance from the University of Maryland College Park and is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in Virginia.

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Kayleigh Rucinski

Production Editor

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Kayleigh Rucinski

Kayleigh Rucinski is the Production Editor at Ballast Books and its children’s book imprint, Blue Balloon Books. Kayleigh attended Belmont University where she studied publishing and writing. She is from central Wisconsin, but currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee. Besides her love for reading and writing, Kayleigh enjoys spending time outdoors and finding new adventures.

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