We are pleased to welcome more than sixty authors from around the country to the 2016 Festival of Books.

Silvia Acevedo


silvia-acevedoSilvia Acevedo is a television journalist turned author. She’s interviewed presidential candidates, covered national and international stories for CNN and TV and radio stations around the country, and hosted a morning talk show on Milwaukee NBC.

All those years reporting objective fact enticed Silvia to delve into her imagination in her off time, and so she penned the hilarious God Awful Series.

In God Awful Loser, careless, womanizing Cupid is dethroned by a mysterious stranger. Exiled to Earth, Cupid discovers other fallen celestials and a plot to overthrow Olympus.  Facing enraged immortals, epic battles against hell’s most vile creatures, and the dread of becoming mortal himself, Cupid and The Fallen fight to save themselves and all they hold dear.

In God Awful Thief, Cupid’s back and looking forward to a comfortable immortality. But when a sea god sets the oceans against him, a drama-loving hanger-on refuses to go away, and the king of the gods orders Cupid to steal a powerful relic, Cupid must join a new crew to face his most challenging mission yet.

Silvia lives with her husband, Fantasy Illustrator and Children’s Book Artist Jeff Miracola, and their children just outside of Milwaukee.
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Paula Anderson

Paula Anderson is a Wisconsin poet and a member of the Poetry People, a Waukesha-based poetry group.

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Mary Jo Balistreri

Mary Jo Balistreri has had the good fortune of being with The Poetry People since 2005. She has two books published by Bellowing Ark Press, 2008, 2012, a chapbook by Tiger’s Eye press, 2014, and a small book in their Infinities series—haiku, 2016. Please visit her at maryjobalistreripoet.com

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Stacey Ballis

stacey-ballisStacey Ballis is the author of ten foodie novels: Inappropriate Men, Sleeping Over, Room for Improvement, The Spinster Sisters, Good Enough to Eat, Off the Menu, Out to Lunch, Recipe For Disaster, Wedding Girl and the upcoming Happily Ever After Forty. She wrote the cookbook, Big Delicious Life and was the recipe developer and tester for the upcoming Cooking For You: Wellness In The Kitchen. She is a contributing author to three non-fiction anthologies; Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, Everything I Needed to Know About Being a Girl I Learned From Judy Blume, and Living Jewishly. She is currently at work on two works of full-length fiction for Berkley/Penguin Random House, as well as co-authoring a YA book. She was an educator for over fifteen years in Chicago including teaching high school English in the Chicago Public Schools and serving as Director of Education and Community Programs for Goodman Theatre for seven seasons before pursuing a full-time career in writing.

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Sandra Balzo

sandra-balzoSandra Balzo is an award-winning author of crime fiction, including twelve books in two different mystery series from Severn House: the Wisconsin-based Maggy Thorsen Mysteries and Main Street Murders, set in the High Country of North Carolina and featuring journalist AnnaLise Griggs. Garnering starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, Balzo’s novels are often recommended to readers of Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris, Joan Hess and Margaret Maron.

Film rights for the Maggy Thorsen Coffeehouse Mysteries have been optioned toward development as a television series or movie.

A Wisconsin native, Balzo turned to mystery writing after twenty years in corporate public relations and event management, including overseeing what is now the U.S Bank Fireworks for more than a decade. Her fictional Brookhills coffeehouse, Uncommon Grounds, was inspired by That Coffee Place in Brookfield’s Ruby Isle Shopping Center, where Balzo wrote the manuscript for the first book. Though the real shop has since closed, Uncommon Grounds lives on, now housed in a historic train depot patterned after Brookfield Junction. An avid Packer fan, Sandy lives in Pacific Grove, California, where she is holding her own against a sea of 49ers.

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Mary Bergin

Midwest travel, regional foods, German heritage and environmental sustainability are Mary Bergin’s writing specialties. The lifelong professional journalist has decades of newspaper work as an editor and reporter. Her weekly, syndicated and award-winning “Roads Traveled” columns began in 2002 and are published statewide.

Mary’s freelance work is a featured case study in the college textbook “Travel Journalism: On the Road with Serious Intent” by Professor John Greenman at the University of Georgia. The Chicago Tribune publishes her work in its travel section. Wisconsin Public Radio counts her among its regional travel experts.

Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook (Globe Pequot Press, 2015) is her fifth book. Earlier releases are Eat Smart in Germany (2013), Sidetracked in the Midwest: A Green Guide for Travelers (2011), Hungry for Wisconsin (2008) and Sidetracked in Wisconsin: A Guide for Thoughtful Travelers (2006).

Mary is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and Midwest Travel Writers Association. Learn more about her at www.marybergin.com and www.roadstraveled.com.

The Wisconsin native lives in Madison with her longtime partner, Dick Franken, and their two wily cats, Doolin and Siena.

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Valerie Biel

valerie-biel-author-photoValerie Biel’s debut novel Circle of Nine – Beltany has been honored as a 2015 Kindle Book Award Finalist, a finalist in the Gotham Writers’ YA Novel Discovery Contest and the Readers’ Favorite Book Award Contest as well as being a B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree. She has continued the Circle of Nine series with a set of novellas and the sequel Circle of Nine – Sacred Treasures. She has also authored two middle-grade novels.

She holds a degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin and has spent more than 20 years working in the public relations field. She edits manuscripts, develops marketing materials, and implements publicity plans for other authors via her agency Lost Lake Press. She frequently teaches about writing topics at conferences, libraries, and schools.

When Valerie’s away from the computer, you might find her working on local history preservation, wrangling her overgrown garden, traveling the world, and reading everything she can get her hands on. She lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband and children and dreams regularly of a beautiful cottage on the Irish coast where she can write and write and write.

You can learn more about her writing adventure at www.ValerieBiel.com

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Bonnie Birk

Bonnie Birk, a Waukesha native and UW-Waukesha alum, has long been immersed in feminist causes and ideas. Her research focuses primarily on feminist theology, investigating the interaction between the status of women and religious beliefs and practices from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Her book on this topic, Christine de Pizan and Biblical Wisdom: A Feminist-Theological Point of View, was published in 2005. She received her PhD in Religious Studies from Marquette University in 2004 and now teaches occasionally, volunteers as a church music director, and has also served on various education and human service boards. Current scholarly interests include exploring the role religion played in the thought of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century suffragists and human rights activists.

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Alex Bledsoe

Alex BledsoeAlex Bledsoe is the author of several novels, including the Tufa series (The Hum and the Shiver, Wisp of a Thing, Long Black Curl, and Chapel of Ease). He grew up in Tennessee an hour north of Graceland (home of Elvis) and twenty minutes from Nutbush (birthplace of Tina Turner).




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Barbara M. Britton

barbara-m-brittonBarbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Barb kicked off her Tribes of Israel series in October with the release of “Providence: Hannah’s Journey.” She never dreamed she’d write Biblical Fiction when she taught chapel to elementary school students, but they say to write what you know. Barb is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. You can visit her cyber home at www.barbarambritton.com.


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Liam Callanan

Liam is the author of The Cloud Atlas (Delacorte, 2004; Dial, 2005), All Saints (Delacorte, 2007; Dial, 2008), and Listen (Four Way, 2015). He serves in the English department of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and was previously its chair, as well as coordinator of its Ph.D. program in creative writing. He has regularly contributed to local and national public radio, and is possibly the only person now living (but consult your own Venn diagram) who has written for all of the following: the Wall Street Journal (on zeppelins, jetpacks, and touring Paris and Greece with children’s books), The Awl, Medium, Commonweal, Esquire.com (on swimming and flying), Slate, the New York Times Book Review, the Times op-ed page, the Washington Post Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Forbes FYI, Good Housekeeping, Parents, Milwaukee Magazine and elsewhere.

His short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of literary journals, including Gulf Coast, the New Haven Review, Tinge (where his story was named one of the Millions Writers Award Notable Stories of 2011 by StorySouth), the Writers Chronicle, Blackbird, Crab Orchard Review, Southern Indiana Review, Caketrain, failbetter, and Phoebe. Liam is also the creator and co-executive producer of the Poetry Everywhere animated film series.

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Brenda Cárdenas

cardenas-promo-photoBrenda Cárdenas is the author of Boomerang (Bilingual Review Press, 2009) and the chapbooks Bread of the Earth/The Last Colors with Roberto Harrison (2011) and From the Tongues of Brick and Stone (2005). She also co-edited Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest (2001). Cárdenas’ poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Latina/o Poetics: The Art of Poetry, The Golden Shovel Anthology, POETRY, City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness, Angels of the Americlypse: New Latino/a Writing, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, Pilgrimage, The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century, and RATTLE, among others. Cárdenas served as the Milwaukee Poet Laureate from 2010-2012, and in 2014, the Library of Congress recorded a reading of her work for their Spotlight on U. S. Hispanic Writers. She is an Associate Professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


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Dan Chaon

Dan Chaon is the author of Among the Missing, a finalist for the National Book Award, and You Remind Me of Me. He was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College.

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Tricia Clasen

tricia-clasen-author-photoTricia Clasen is a college professor of communication at University of Wisconsin-Rock County. She is co-editor of Gendered Identities: Critical Readings of Gender in Children’s and Young Adult Literature, forthcoming Fall of 2016 by Routledge. She grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. Always a lover of a good story, she spent her days reading and dreaming of being a writer, though she never wrote any fiction until much later. After many years off exploring, she returned to her much-too-frigid home state where she lives with her husband and two girls, her parents, and what seems like small zoo. Most of her time goes to shuttling her kids to dance and trying to get the glitter off the kitchen floor as well as planning trips to much warmer destinations. Her debut novel, The Haunted House Project, will be published in October by Sky Pony Press.


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Susanna Daniel

susanna-danielSusanna Daniel’s debut novel, Stiltsville, was awarded the 2011 PEN/Bingham Award for best debut fiction, and was named an Amazon Best Debut of 2010, a Huffington Post Best Book of 2010, and an Oprah.com summer read. Her second novel, Sea Creatures, was a Target Book Club selection and was called “a captivating, haunting novel” by Abraham Verghese.

Susanna’s essays and short stories have been published in Slate, Newsweek, Epoch, and elsewhere. Susanna has been awarded writing and teaching fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, UCross Foundation, the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she earned an MFA in fiction, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was a Carl Djerrassi Fiction Fellow. She has taught writing at the University of Iowa, UW-Madison, Ripon College, and Madison College. She has recently finished her third novel.

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Candace Decker

Candace Decker has performed her one-woman cabarets throughout the mid-west and east coast. She is a NY Cabaret Symposium Fellow, an Indiana Arts and Wisconsin Laird Foundation artist grant recipient and guest cabaret artist with the Virginia State Thespian Conference.

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Timothy Dunn

Timothy Dunn is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at UW-Waukesha. He co-authored the book The Work-Family Debate in Popular Culture.

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Ron Faiola

ron-faiolaRon Faiola got his start in the food service industry as a teenager, working at various fast food restaurants, then paid his way through film school at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee by making sub sandwiches and pizza.

He was a photographer and videographer for a Milwaukee law firm before starting his own production company, Push Button Gadget Inc. In 2009, he produced and directed Fish Fry Night Milwaukee, a documentary about the popular Wisconsin tradition of Friday night fish fry. His follow-up, Wisconsin Supper Clubs – An Old Fashioned Experience (2011), has appeared on PBS stations nationwide and earned mentions in such newspapers as the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In 2013, Faiola published his first book, also titled Wisconsin Supper Clubs – An Old Fashioned Experience (Agate/Midway). In 2015, he released a third documentary for public television, Tilt-A-Whirls, Cowbells and Beer, a summer tour of church festivals in southeast Wisconsin. His latest book, Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round, showcases 50 more clubs around the state. It was released on Agate/Midway in May of 2016.

Faiola currently resides in the historic Village of Greendale.

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Lauren Fox

Lauren Fox is the author of the novels Still Life with Husband, Friends Like Us, and Days of Awe. She earned her MFA from the University of Minnesota, and her work has appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Parenting, Psychology Today, Milwaukee Magazine, and Salon.  She lives in Milwaukee with her family.

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Joseph J. Foy

joseph-foyJoseph J. Foy is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin Colleges. He is the editor of Homer Simpson Goes to Washington: American Politics through Popular Culture and SpongeBob SquarePants and Philosophy, and co-editor of Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture, Homer Simpson Ponders Politics: Popular Culture as Political Theory, and Jim Henson and Philosophy: Imagination and the Magic of Mayhem. Foy has contributed over 30 published essays to anthologies, and has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio and been invited to contribute to The New York Times, discussing the intersection between politics and popular culture. A resident of Waukesha County with his wonderful wife and amazing children, Foy enjoys a lot of outdoor activity and spending time trying to figure out the family’s two cats. To-date, little progress has been made.

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Allen Gee

allen-geeAllen Gee is currently Professor of English at Georgia College where he serves as a Fiction Editor for Arts & Letters and is Director of the MFA and undergraduate Creative Writing programs.  He is the author of the essay collection My Chinese-America.




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Kathie Giorgio

KGiorgio Photo cropKathie Giorgio’s signature collection Oddities & Endings and her poetry chapbook True Light Falls In Many Forms was released in June 2016. She is also the author of three novels and another story collection. She is the owner of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop.




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Michael Giorgio

Michael Giorgio lives in Waukesha with his wife, author Kathie Giorgio, and their daughter Olivia. In addition to his two novels, his fiction has appeared internationally in magazines and anthologies. He teaches at AllWriters’ Workplace and Workshop, in their Waukesha studio and online.

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Sandy Goldsworthy

sandy-goldsworthySandy Goldsworthy was raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, blocks from the rocky shores of Lake Michigan. As a child, she fantasized about becoming an author. She jotted story lines in spiral notebooks and drew images of characters that never came to life. Her passion for putting pen to paper began when her high school English teacher inspired her to be more descriptive in her work. Ever since, Sandy dabbled in creative writing, searching for that perfect shade of red and that character you want to get to know.

A graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Sandy is the YA author of the paranormal romance series, The Afterworld Saga. She spends her days managing corporate client programs, and her nights and weekends drafting new plot lines in spiral notebooks. She resides in southeastern Wisconsin with her husband, two children, and an energetic puppy. Learn more at www.sandygoldsworthy.com.

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Lilly J. Goren

Lilly J. Goren is a professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She teaches American government, politics & culture, gender studies, and political theory. Her award-winning book Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics will be revised and re-issued in 2017.

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Melissa Gorzelanczyk

melissa-gorzelanczyk-credit-photo-by-mark-andersonMelissa Gorzelanczyk is a magazine editor and columnist who believes love is everything. Her debut young adult novel Arrows is out now from Delacorte Press, a division of Penguin Random House. Booklist called it, “A sweet high-school twist on Greek mythology with added substance about teen parenting and breaking out of a bad relationship.”

She is a proud member of the SCBWI, The Sweet Sixteens and the Class of 2k16. She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband and family.

She also believes love is strong coffee, arrow jewelry, yoga, her four sisters, books that keep her up at night, whales, pelicans, owls, loons, Shea Gorzelanczyk, cranes, manatees, anything she knows to be useful and believes to be beautiful, and the sea.

Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram: @MelissaGorzela

Online: MelissaGorzelanczyk.com

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Jane Hamilton

Jane Hamilton photo by Leslie BrownJane Hamilton’s novels have won literary prizes, been made into films, and become international bestsellers; and two of them, The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World, were selections of Oprah’s Book Club. She’s married to an apple farmer and lives in Wisconsin. 

See her full bio on the 2016 Keynote page.



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Amy Hassinger

amy-hassingerAmy Hassinger is the author of three novels: Nina: Adolescence, The Priest’s Madonna, and After the Dam. Her writing has been translated into five languages and has won awards from Creative Nonfiction, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Illinois Arts Council. Her work has appeared in numerous venues, including The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, The Writers’ Chronicle, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches in the University of Nebraska’s MFA in Writing Program. You can find out more about her at www.amyhassinger.com.



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Lance J. Herdegen

lance-herdegenAward-winning journalist/author Lance J. Herdegen is the former director of the Institute of Civil War Studies at Carroll University. He previously was a reporter and editor for the United Press International (UPI) news service covering politics and civil rights, and presently works as historical consultant for the Civil War Museum of the Upper Middle West at Kenosha, WI. Herdegen is the author of many articles and is regarded as the authority on the Civil War’s famous Iron Brigade. His many book credits include The Iron Brigade in Civil War and Memory, Those Damned Black Hats: The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign (winner, The Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for Operational/Battle History, 2008), and Four years with the Iron Brigade: The Civil War Journal of William R. Ray, Seventh Wisconsin Volunteers. He lives in the Town of Spring Prairie, Walworth County.


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Jim Higgins

Jim Higgins writes about books and the performing arts for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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Susan Martell Huebner

susan-martell-huebnerSusan Martell Huebner lives and writes in Mukwonago, WI. She’s written poetry since age twelve and has always been a voracious reader… which led her to try her hand at short story writing… which led her into a particular story that didn’t want to end quickly…which led to the publication of her first novel, She Thought the Door Was Locked. For Susan, this is the way her writing branches out, all coming from the same root:  the desire to understand and interpret the world from her unique perspective and then communicate that perspective to others. Susan is currently working on her second novel, in which she explores the impact of the growing pains of 1960s culture and religion on a lively family of seven children, two of whom are young women afflicted with endometriosis. She has recently completed a poetry manuscript about the journey she is taking as she and her elderly mother manage her mother’s advanced age and dementia. Find samples of her poetry and essay writing as well as an excerpt from her first novel at www.susanmhuebner.com.

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Jeanette Hurt

jeanette-hurtJeanette Hurt is an award-winning author and writer who specializes in food, wine, cocktails, and travel. She also writes about design, pets and parenting issues, but she can never resist telling a good story, no matter what the subject matter. Drink Like a Woman is her ninth book.




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Reggie Jackson


Reggie Jackson chairs the board of the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation, the parent organization of America’s Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM). He is also the museum’s Head Griot (lead docent). Reggie first volunteered with ABHM in 2002. He led hundreds of tours during the last six years that the brick-and-mortar museum was open. He joined Board in 2005 and helped developed ABHM’s Virtual Museum.

As an independent public historian, Reggie has been a much sought-after speaker on Black Holocaust topics locally and regionally for over a decade. He presents little-known stories in African-American history at schools, libraries, churches, and businesses. He also conducts diversity and race relations training. In 2015 the YWCA of Southeastern Wisconsin presented Reggie with their Eliminating Racism Award; in January 2016, the First Unitarian Society will honor him with their Courageous Love Award.

Reggie taught Contemporary Social Problems and Introduction to Sociology at Concordia University. He currently works as a special education teacher in a middle school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Dr. Fran Kaplan


Dr. Fran Kaplan serves as coordinator of America’s Black Holocaust Museum’s online presence. She has been an educator, social worker, writer, and racial justice activist for nearly five decades. Fran has created and run nonprofit and for profit organizations that address issues from women’s health and farmworker rights to nurturing parenting, early childhood education, and peace-building.

Fran is also a published writer and the producer of award-winning short and feature films. Her co-authored screenplay, Fruit of the Tree, about the life of James Cameron has won awards in national and regional competitions. The international trainer-consultant for a global parenting education program, Fran authored and co-produced its Spanish-language videos, books, and games. With Dr. Robert Smith, Dr. Kaplan curated and edited Lynching: An American Folkway, a digital transmedia anthology distributed by Biblioboard, Inc. to libraries across the country.

Fran has been recognized by various organizations in Milwaukee and Wisconsin for promoting racial justice and providing leadership in children’s and human rights.

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Dr. Mark D. Karau

Dr. Mark D. Karau is an Associate Professor of History at UW-Sheboygan. Dr. Karau received his PhD in Modern European History from Florida State University in 2000. He joined the UW Colleges at UW Fox Valley in 2001. After serving at both UW Washington County and UW Fond du Lac he joined the faculty at UW Sheboygan in 2008. His first book, which was an examination of the German efforts to organize submarine and torpedo boat operations in Belgium during the First World War was published in 2003. It was very well reviewed and has since been reissued in paperback. This work, examining the larger question of why Germany lost a war that it seemed to be winning, was inspired by interactions with his students in his courses on the First World War and Twentieth Century European History. He is now beginning work on a third book, one that will tell the story of a pivotal naval battle from the First World War, The Battle of the Heligoland Bight.

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Jonathan Kasparek

Jonathan Kasparek is associate professor of history at UW-Waukesha and has published several articles and books on Wisconsin history, including Fighting Son: A Biography of Philip F. La Follette.  He is currently finishing a biography of former senator William Proxmire.

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Eric T. Kasper

Eric T. Kasper is an associate professor of political science and the director of the Center for Constitutional Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he teaches classes on the U.S. Constitution, the judiciary, American politics, and political philosophy. Kasper also serves as the municipal judge in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, where he lives with his wife Julie and their two children, Madison and Jackson. He holds a Ph.D. in political science and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kasper has authored or co-authored four books: Don’t Stop Thinking About the Music: The Politics of Songs and Musicians in Presidential Campaigns (co-authored with Benjamin S. Schoening), Machiavelli Goes to the Movies: Understanding The Prince through Television and Film (co-authored with Troy A. Kozma), Impartial Justice: The Real Supreme Court Cases that Define the Constitutional Right to a Neutral and Detached Decisionmaker, and To Secure the Liberty of the People: James Madison’s Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court’s Interpretation. Additionally, he has written several articles and book chapters.

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John Klima

John Klima previously worked in publishing and is now the assistant director of the Waukesha Public Library. John edited and published the Hugo Award-winning genre zine Electric Velocipede from 2001 to 2013. He has edited four anthologies. When he is not conquering the world of indexing, John writes short stories and novels.

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Jim Landwehr

jim-landwehrJim Landwehr enjoys writing creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. His first book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir was published by eLectio Publishing in 2014. He also has two published poetry collections, Reciting from Memory and Written Life. His non-fiction has been published in Main Street Rag, Prairie Rose Publications, Boundary Waters Journal, Forge Journal, MidWest Outdoors Magazine and others. His poetry has been featured in Verse Wisconsin, Torrid Literature Journal, Echoes Poetry Journal, Wisconsin People and Ideas Magazine, Every Day Poems, Fox Adoption Magazine, the Wisconsin Poets Calendar, Off the Coast Poetry Journal, and many others. He enjoys fishing, kayaking, biking and camping with his kids in the remote regions of Minnesota. Jim lives and works in Waukesha, Wisconsin with his wife Donna, and their two children Sarah and Ben. At his day job that keeps the lights on and the creditors at bay, Jim works as a Geographic Information Systems Analyst for the Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use.

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Jen Larsen

jen-larsen-author-photoJen Larsen is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Stranger Here and a subject of the Oprah Winfrey Network TV show “In Deep Shift with Jonas Elrod.” NPR called her first YA novel, Future Perfect, “A gorgeous, fiercely moving debut,” and selected it as one of the NPR “Best Books of 2015.” She has an MFA from the University of San Francisco and currently lives in Madison, WI.



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Janet Leahy

Janet Leahy’s poems won second place and honorable mention in the 2016 Wisconsin People and Ideas Poetry Contest, and they will appear in the summer issue of the magazine.  She has published two collections of poetry, The Storm, Poems of War, Iraq and Not My Mother’s Classroom.

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Ellyn Lem

Ellyn Lem is a professor of English at UW-Waukesha where she teaches a variety of literature courses, many of an interdisciplinary nature.  She co-authored the book The Work-Family Debate in Popular Culture.  Her latest research involves better understanding our aging population.

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James Lowder

James LowderJames Lowder is a bestselling author and award-winning editor, working most frequently with fantasy and horror fiction and genre media criticism. His recent projects include the anthologies Madness on the Orient Express and Beyond the Wall.




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Valya Lupescu

Valya Lupescu is the author of Amazon bestselling novel, The Silence of Trees (Wolfsword Press, 2010) and founding editor of Conclave: A Journal of Character. Along with Stephen H. Stephen, her newest book, Geek Parenting, was published by Quirk Books in 2016.

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Molly Ann Magestro

Molly Ann Magestro has a PhD from UW–Milwaukee’s creative writing program. She is the author of Assault on the Small Screen (2015). She is a senior lecturer at UW–Washington County, and she is the Program Committee Chair for the SE WI Festival of Books.

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David Mathews

David Mathews lives in River Hills, Wisconsin with his wife and Dave, his neurotic Wheaton Terrier. Having forsaken past sculduggery, David enjoys his nine grandchildren, and tinkering with old cars and trucks. Lemons and Lemonade is David’s first book. Thirty of his essays have appeared in national magazines.

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Karen Middleton

Karen Middleton took up poetry at a later age, but with the help and inspiration of the UW-W Continuing Ed. poetry class (Thank you, Margaret Rozga!) and the Poetry People, is enjoying it. Poetry isn’t just a way of writing, but of being.

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Oscar Mireles

oscarmireles-jpg-2Oscar Mireles is the Executive Director of Omega School, where he has been employed for the past 22 years. Omega School provides GED preparation and adult basic education services to Dane County young adults, who do not possess a high school diploma. During his long tenure he has personally assisted over 3,000 students with earning a GED/HSED credential. The GED/HSED Credential serves as a key access point for post-secondary education, entry level employment and apprenticeships.

Prior to working at Omega School, Oscar Mireles was the Associate Executive Director of the United Community Center/Centro de la Comunidad Unida (UCC). In his nine year tenure. at UCC, Mr. Mireles was instrumental in creating Café El Sol a restaurant and catering service training at-risk youth.. In addition, he developed the predecessor to Latino Arts, which included a 200 seat theatre, art gallery and performance series featuring Latino musicians, theatrical groups and visual artists.

His education background includes a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Mr. Mireles has received numerous awards and recognition for his service to the community. These awards include the Dane County Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award (2009) Literacy Advocate of the Year ,Wisconsin Literacy (2011) and Friend of Education Award from Wisconsin State Superintendent Tony Evers (2012) Leadership Award from the Young Professional Group of the Urban League of Greater Madison (2013) and “Believe and Succeed Award from the Hispanic Leadership Luncheon (2015). “Outstanding Educator Award” from the 100 Black Men of Madison (2016).

Oscar Mireles is a published poet and he is also the Editor of three anthologies titled “I Didn’t Know There Were Latinos In Wisconsin” He has a chapbook titled “second Generation” published in 1986..

Mr. Mireles was recently appointed the fifth and first Latino “Poet Laureate” for the City of Madison for two years (2016-2018).

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Jody Lynn Nye

Jody Lynn Nye lists her main career activity as ‘spoiling cats.’ When not engaged upon this worthy occupation, she writes fantasy and science fiction books and short stories.

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Katy Phillips

Katy Phillips found poetry in Waukesha thanks to Barbara Bach-Wiig, Dr. Phil Zweifel at U.W.W., and the Poetry People.  Though she now lives and writes along the lake in downtown Milwaukee, Katy loves the energy she continues find further west and delights in being with her poetry friends!

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Amy E. Reichert

amy-e-reichertAmy E. Reichert is the author of two novels. Kirkus Reviews says about her first book, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, that “…Reichert’s quirky and endearing debut skillfully and slyly examines identity and community while its characters find love in surprising places. Clever, creative, and sweetly delicious,” and it was recently selected as a Costco Book Club Pick. Her second novel, Luck, Love & Lemon Pie, is described as “Laugh-out-loud, hold-on-to-your-panties women’s fiction. The characters are game for anything when it comes to getting back what they think they have lost. Reichert is a talented author,” by RT Book Reviews.

Amy loves to write stories that end well with characters you’d invite to dinner. A wife, mom, amateur chef, Fix-It Mistress, and cider enthusiast, she earned her MA in English Literature, spent many years learning the art of efficient writing as a technical writer, and now serves on her local library’s board of directors. She’s a life-long Wisconsin resident and has been told she has an accent. She disagrees.

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Paul Rempe

paul-rempe-photoPaul L. Rempe earned B.A. and M.A. degrees in History at Marquette University. He continued his graduate studies at Stony Brook University in New York where he received a Ph.D. in History. As a member of the History Department Faculty at Carroll University he taught a variety of courses as well as published several articles and book reviews, and presented papers at national and local conferences in his field of British and Irish History. He also contributed a chapter to the 1984 Waukesha County History, From Farmlands to Freeways. He chaired the Department of History from 1995 to 2007. Before that, he was in charge of the Carroll-Nottingham Exchange Program, which brought a dozen Nottingham University students to study at Carroll during the summers between the late 1970’s and the early 1990’s. About that same time period, he led ten student groups and two alumni groups to Britain and Ireland. He was also the recipient of two Wisconsin State Humanities grants for projects in local history.

In retirement, he wrote and edited, From German Cavalry Officer to Reconnaissance Pilot, a book about his father’s experiences in World War I. He and his wife, Kathy, enjoy spending time with their three sons and grandchildren while still taking the time to write and to travel.

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Margaret Rozga

Margaret Rozga, emeritus professor of English, has published three books of poetry, most recently Justice Freedom Herbs. Awarded a 2014 Creative Writers fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society, she did research for a forthcoming new book, Pestiferous Questions, focused on Jessie Benton Frémont (1824-1902).

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Fran Rybarik

Following careers as a nurse educator and a mom, Fran Rybarik launched her writing career in 2004. She’s been published in regional magazines, anthologies, newsletters and health education materials. Fran likes traveling, hiking, kayaking and being with family and friends. Travels with David is her first book.

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Virginia Scholtz

Virginia Scholtz has been writing, as a hobby, since she was a child. Virginia has studied with the Poetry People, in workshops at UW-Waukesha for several years. She’s also a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.  Her poems have been published in Wisconsin Trails, The Museletter, and online at YourDailyPoem.com.

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Paula Schulz

Paula Schulz recently placed in the WFOP and the Bo Carter poetry contests.  She has poetry forthcoming in Diane Lockward’s The Crafty Poet II. She attended a workshop with Max Garland this summer and lives with her husband, Greg, in Slinger, Wisconsin.

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Stephen H. Segal

Stephen H. Segal is a writer, editor, and publication designer based in Philadelphia. His book Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture, was published in 2011, and the follow-up, Geek Parenting, co-authored by Valya Lupescu, was published by Quirk Books in 2016.

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Karen Gettert Shoemaker

karen-shoemakerKaren Gettert Shoemaker is the author of the novel The Meaning of Names (Red Hen Press, 2014), a One Book One Nebraska selection for 2016 and Omaha Reads selection for 2014. Her award-winning collection of short stories, Night Sounds and Other Stories was published by Dufour Editions in 2002, and re-published in the United Kingdom by Parthian Press in 2006.

Her fiction and poetry have been published in a variety of newspapers and journals, including The London Independent, Prairie Schooner, and South Dakota Review. Her work has been anthologized in A Different Plain: Contemporary Nebraska Fiction Writers; Nebraska Presence: An Anthology of Poetry; Times of Sorrow/Times of Grace; and An Untidy Season. 

Shoemaker is a graduate of the University of Nebraska where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, and both a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing. Awards for her writing include a Nebraska Press Association Award for Feature Writing, two Independent Artist Fellowship Awards from the Nebraska Arts Council, and a Nebraska Book Award for Short Fiction.

She writes book reviews for the Lincoln Journal Star and a blog entitled Karen Shoemaker: Slow Going, which promises to offer “A Slow But Steady Examination of Writing, the Writing Life and Whatever Else Comes Along.”

She has taught creative writing and literature classes for more than 20 years and is currently a faculty mentor with the University of Nebraska’s MFA in Writing Program.

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Johannah Siragusa

Johannah Siragusa resides in Waukesha with her husband, sons, and one yellow dog. A member of the Poetry People for five years, she is also a student of Allwriters’ Workshop and Workplace. Johannah has published in both poetry and fiction.

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Patricia Skalka

Patricia Skalka made the leap from nonfiction to fiction with publication of her Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries. Death Stalks Door County, which Publishers Weekly called a “tight, lyrical first novel,” was short-listed for the Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award and was LOVEY nominated for Best First Novel. Death at Gills Rock, the second volume in the series, was named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Chicago Book Reviews. Death in Cold Water, the latest installment, was released just this fall.

Skalka is a Chicago native and a former Staff Writer for the Reader’s Digest, editor, writing instructor, and freelancer with articles in national print and online publications and nonfiction books published by Random House and St. Martin’s Press. She believes that more than simply answer the question who done it, a good mystery probes the human spirit and character. Skalka is a member of The Authors Guild of America, Mystery Writers of America, Wisconsin Writers Association, Society of Midland Authors, and Chicago Writers Association.

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Phil Smith

Phil Smith is a pianist, composer and arranger originally from Menomonee Falls, WI. For his duo work with Candace Decker, Phil has written numerous songs including “Dewey, My Library Crush,” “One Nightstand,” and “Nothing About Christmas (is the Same Out Here).”

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Dr. Robert Samuel Smith

robert-samuel-smithDr. Robert Samuel Smith is Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Inclusion & Engagement, the Director of the Cultures & Communities Program, and Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He teaches courses on African American History, Multicultural America, African Americans and the Law, and U.S. Legal History. The Resident Historian for America’s Black Holocaust Museum, Dr. Smith has served on the Board of the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation since its beginning.

Dr. Smith’s research considers the intersection of race and law. In his book Race, Labor and Civil Rights: Griggs v. Duke Power and the Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity, Rob chronicled the efforts of grassroots civil rights activists who used Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to garner better jobs and long overdue promotions. Currently, he is exploring the relationships forged between civil/human rights attorneys in the United States and South Africa during the latter stages of apartheid and into the new millennium.

Rob is also a writer and speaker on contemporary race relations to both academic and general audiences. He currently contributes a regular monthly column on these issues to Milwaukee Magazine.

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Rebecca Williams Spindler

Rebecca Williams Spindler has co-authored a series of three books for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers with her daughter. Their book, Moving Out and Moving On, was honored with the 2013 Tofte Wright Children’s Literature Award. Rebecca is also a Writing Instructor for UW Madison Continuing Studies on How to Write a Young Adult Novel.

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Mark Speltz

Mark Speltz earned an MA in history from UW-M and is employed as an historian with the American Girl doll company. He began work on this book while at UW-M and it includes discussion of MKE civil rights photos. The title is North of Dixie: Civil Rights Photography Beyond the South.

See what the New York Times has to say about North of Dixie!

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Duane Stein

Duane Stein is a retired English teacher and Academic Decathlon coach for the Waukesha School District.

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Patrick S. Tomlinson

TomlinsonPatrick S. Tomlinson lives in Milwaukee with a menagerie of houseplants in varying levels of health, a Mustang, and a Triumph motorcycle bought specifically to embarrass and infuriate Harley riders. When not writing sci-fi and fantasy novels and short stories, Patrick is busy developing his other passion for writing and performing stand-up comedy.



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Diane Valentine

diane-valentineDiane Valentine has an associate degree from UW-Waukesha, December, 1988 and a BA degree from Carroll University in 1990 Her major is in history with a minor in women’s studies. Her hobby is genealogy. She worked at Old World Wisconsin. She also was a substitute teacher in the Waukesha School District. Diane attends classes with Kathie Giorgio, internationally known teacher and author at AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop. Diane’s work has appeared in the Boston Literary Magazine, The Shine Journal, Front Range Review, Birds Piled Loosely, Crab Fat Magazine, and No Extra Words podcast. Her novel, Family Secrets, was published in 2014. Her second novel, Daring to Soar, was published in 2015. Both novels were published by Black Rose Writing.


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