Presenting Authors 2017

Mary Jo Balistreri came to poetry through the side door of music. For most of her life she was a concert pianist and harpsichordist but when her small grandson died in 2005, music, for the first time, did not help the grieving process. It wasn’t the right vehicle to give witness to the child’s bigger than seven-year-old life. Gradually, through her daughter, a special friend and Ellen Kort, she found that words gave her a container in which to continue her music differently. She began attending workshops, taking classes and going to readings, then reading herself.

In 2008, Bellowing Ark Press published her first book, Joy in the Morning. In 2009, Mary Jo was diagnosed with throat cancer. Because of radiation, she lost her hearing. She had continued to submit poetry until hospitalization, and to her surprise, she won her first Jade Ring from Wisconsin Writers Assc. Many people helped her return to writing and finally in 2012 Bellowing Ark Press published her second book, gathering the harvest. She also won her second Jade Ring, placing first in Memoir.

She continues to publish both in the United States and abroad, and has added a chapbook, Best Brothers published by Tiger’s Eye Press, a second printing, in 2014. In 2015, there was a second printing of Joy in the Morning. A mini chapbook of haiku, along the way, was also published in 2016 by Tiger’s Eye Press.

Mary Jo began writing essays in 2011 along with poetry, many of these pieces winning prizes. For almost three years now, she has written haiku and haibun. It seems with every life change, something changes in her art form. For years she has been a caretaker for her daughter, and now her husband. The long hours of waiting and watching have encouraged the shorter form.

She is a regular at Mama D’s Café in Wales for poetry readings, and she also offers readings with two other women ( Grace River Poets) as an outreach—to women’s shelters, churches, and schools. She reads yearly in Delaware and Florida.

I want to thank all the wonderful poets who have helped me transition through these years, have encouraged and supported me. There is no way I could have done this alone. The word, grateful, is all there’s left to say.

Lou Banach is a Professional Speaker, Banking Executive, and a Distinguished Member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He is a published author of two books (The New Breed: Living Iowa Wrestling and Uncommon Bonds: A Journey in Optimism) – and more than 100 articles. While he has been called upon as a motivational speaker for prospecting for new business, relationship building and developing a sales culture, Lou is equally skilled in speaking about capital markets, financial analysis, and value creation.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and earned his MBA with honors from Penn State University. In 2010, he joined Associated Bank and, as an executive, he manages

two specialized banking teams across numerous Midwest states. His military service includes First Lieutenant in the United States Army, Retired. Lou’s dedication to his community extends beyond his banking expertise. He serves on the Advisory Board of Midwest Athletes against Childhood Cancer Fund (MACC Fund). Past board positions include the Autism Society of Southeast Wisconsin, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) and Economics Wisconsin.



Shaindel Beers was raised in Argos, Indiana, a town of 2,000 people. She studied literature at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama (BA), and at the University of Chicago (MA) before earning her MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has taught at colleges and universities in Illinois and Florida but feels settled in the Eastern Oregon desert town of Pendleton. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections, A Brief History of Time (2009) and The Children’s War and Other Poems (2013), both from Salt Publishing. She lives and teaches in Pendleton, Oregon, and serves as Poetry Editor of Contrary Magazine.





Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. Barb writes romantic adventures for teens and adults in the Christian fiction and mainstream markets. She is published in Biblical fiction and enjoys bringing little known Bible characters to light in her stories. Barb’s debut novel, Providence: Hannah’s Journey, released in October of 2016 from Harbourlight Books and kicked off her Tribes of Israel series. Her second book, Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey, released in April of 2017. Her Biblical fiction series will continue in November with the release of Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey. Barb is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.

Interview with Bishop O.C. Pringle in Atlanta-Books of the Month Show

More to Life Magazine– The story behind “Building Benjamin: Naomi’s Journey”

The Over 50 Writer– My interview with Patti Shene

ACFW’s Fiction Finder Interview<

My interview with Delia Latham

Writing Tips with Darlene Franklin

Author Interview with Lena Nelson Dooley

UW-Writers Institute Interview

Bob Buege is the author of Borchert Field: Stories from Milwaukee’s Legendary Ballpark, The Milwaukee Braves: A Baseball Eulogy, and Eddie Mathews and the National Pastime. He is president of the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association, director of the Wisconsin Old Time Ballplayers Association, and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.







Nickolas Butler is the author of the internationally bestselling novel Shotgun Lovesongs, a collection of short stories entitled Beneath the Bonfire, and The Hearts of Men which has already been long-listed for two of France’s top literary awards. He is the winner of France’s prestigious PAGE Prix America, the 2014 Great Lakes Great Reads Award, the 2014 Midwest Independent Booksellers Award, the 2015 Wisconsin Library Association Literary Award, the 2015 UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Regional Literary Award, and has been long-listed for the 2014 Flaherty Dunnan Award for First Novel and short-listed for France’s FNAC Prix. Along the way, he has worked as: a Burger King maintenance man, a tutor, a telemarketer, a hot-dog vendor, an innkeeper (twice), an office manager, a coffee roaster, a liquor store clerk, and an author escort. His itinerant work includes: potato harvester, grape picker, and Christmas tree axe-man. His short stories, poetry, and non-fiction have appeared in: Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review Online, The Lumberyard, The Christian Science Monitor, Narrative, Sixth Finch, and several other publications.

Butler was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He lives on sixteen acres of land in rural Wisconsin adjacent to a buffalo farm. He is married and has two children.



Connie Chappell is dedicated to two genres, literary fiction and mystery. Her first novel, Wild Raspberries, was released in 2015 and followed by its standalone sequel, Proper Goodbye. At its core, Wild Raspberries is a uniquely-told love story while inspiring Proper Goodbye gives way for life’s second chances. Both are emotionally gripping stories in which plenty of secrets are revealed.

Wild Raspberries won the 2016 Maxy Award for Best Literary Fiction and the Readers’ Favorite Book Award for Women’s Fiction.

Two installments of her Wrenn Grayson Mysteries series are published, Deadly Homecoming at Rosemont and Designs on Ivy’s Locket. Wrenn is a historian-for-hire in her hometown of Havens, Ohio. History and mystery combine beautifully with intelligent, tenacious, and charming Wrenn at the helm.

Connie recently retired from a long career in municipal government. She’s a lifelong resident of Springfield, Ohio, and loves outdoor life. That said, she is currently working on two novels: Summers Only, the prequel to Wild Raspberries, and Summer At Home, a new piece of literary fiction that creates one of those amusing family messes we all love and puts her talent for character creation into play. “Summers” is Connie’s new theme. Aren’t they wonderful?


Kyle Cherek is host of the Emmy-nominated television show Wisconsin Foodie, beginning its seventh season on PBS and broadcast primetime to over 8.2 million households.

A born-and-bred Wisconsinite, he has been sitting up and taking nourishment since the Nixon administration. He sees the Midwest as a font of history, craftsmanship, and artisanal dispositions; all of which are continually pushing national culinary and sustainability trends forward. As host of Wisconsin Foodie, Kyle profiles these food treasures and chronicles the story of food, through regional chefs, farmers, and artisans.

Kyle has made regular appearances on The Travel Channel and Food Network, and is a frequent media contributor to Public Radio, NPR, CBS and NBC. His widely-acclaimed video web series, Chef Talk with Kyle Cherek, features candid, forthright and often amusing conversations with some of America’s most engaging chefs. In an effort to raise the people’s consciousness about food and sustainability, he regularly hosts forums, cooking demonstrations, and culinary events.

When not telling the story of where our food comes from and how it shapes us, he is busy enjoying farmers’ markets; geeking out over culinary history books; perfecting his five or so kitchen moves whilst cooking with his family; or patiently waiting for the chance to say, ‘Let’s look at the dessert menu, shall we?’

Tricia 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, 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, published in 2016 by by Sky Pony Press.


Paul Colt favors ‘Unexpected History,’ stories with some little known aspect to otherwise familiar characters or events. His analytical insight, investigative research and genuine horse sense bring history to life. His characters walk off the pages of history into the reader’s imagination. His style blends Jeff Shaara’s historical dramatizations with Robert B. Parker’s gritty dialog.

Paul’s first book with Five Star, Boots and Saddles: A Call to Glory received the Marilyn Brown Novel Award, presented by Utah Valley University for excellence in unpublished work prior to its release in 2013. His Grasshoppers in Summer, received Finalist recognition in the Western Writers of America 2009 Spur Awards.

Paul’s work in western fiction gives creative expression to a life long love of the west. He gets his boots dirty researching a story, whenever possible from the back of a horse.

To learn more visit Facebook @paulcoltauthor

Don’t Miss These Paul Colt Books from Five Star Publishing:

Great Western Detective League  Historical Fiction

Wanted: Sam Bass    Boots and Saddles: A Call to Glory

The Bogus Bondsman    A Question of Bounty:The Shadow of Doubt

All That Glitters    Bounty of Vengeance: Ty’s Story

Bounty of Greed: The Lincoln County War

Kerry Crowley fell in love with writing in 7th grade but believed the only way to make a living as a writer was in journalism. She worked as a reporter for a time but soon realized that wasn’t a good fit for her. She pursued a different career and put writing aside until an odd conversation with her husband and two boys led her to a character name she couldn’t resist. From there, her children helped her weave a series she hopes will appeal to young boys everywhere. She lives in Genesee, Wisconsin with her husband and teenage sons. She is a member of AllWriter’s Workplace and Workshop and of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Snoogers Rule, Mammoths Drool! Introducing the Amazing Mucus Phlegmball, her first middle-grade novel was released as an e-book by MuseIt Up Publishing in April 2015 and in paperback in December 2016. The second book, Rocket Farts, Zombie Parts: The Continuing Adventures of Mucus Phlegmball released as an e-book and in paperback in December 2016. Earwax and Cadillacs, the third book in her Mucus Phelgmball series will release in late 2017 or early 2018.

Snoogers Rule, Mammoths Drool! Introducing the Amazing Mucus Phlegmball

Rocket Farts, Zombie Parts: The Continuing Adventures of Mucus Phlegmball

John D’Emilio is a historian of sexuality and of movements for social justice. His books include Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, and Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. His most recent book, published by the University of Wisconsin Press, is In A New Century: Essays on Queer History, Politics, and Community. D’Emilio was the founding director of the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. For many years he taught history and LGBT studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a co-director of the website






Valerie David wrote The Pink Hulk in 2015 after her two cancer bouts, and began touring in 2016 with its message of hope and inspiration. It was nominated for Best Performance and Best Overall Production of a Solo Show in Planet Connections, and awarded Congeniality and Planet Activist awards. Also received the Queen’s Medal for Valour by the SaraSolo Festival and Best Survivor Award in the Pittsburgh Fringe.





Candace Decker has performed her one woman cabaret shows throughout the Midwest and East Coast. Candace trained at Boston University School for the Arts and holds a BA in theatre from James Madison University.  After college she interned with Players Theatre Columbus as an Associate Actor and then moved to Chicago and worked as a professional actress for many years, receiving a Chicago After Dark Award for Best Actress in a Musical.   She has worked professionally as an actress, singer, theatre teacher, story teller and costume designer. Candace began her career as a professional cabaret artist in 2000. She is a NY Cabaret Symposium Fellow and studied and performed with master teachers Sally Mayes, Julie Wilson and Margaret Whiting at the Eugene O’Neill Center for the Arts.  Candace produced and created the Cabaret Nouveau Series in Bloomington, Indiana, bringing cabaret artists from Chicago, Washington, D.C. and California to the Midwest to perform cabaret. She received an Indiana Arts Grant and a Wisconsin Laird Foundation Individual Artist’s Grant to create original cabaret works, including CandyLand-A Kid’s Cabaret. In central and southwest Wisconsin, Candy has appeared in Love, Candy-A Valentine’s Day Cabaret, as well as, three seasons of Candy for the Holidays on the Lunt-Fontanne Stage at UW-Waukesha. She created original cabarets, including CANDY 641.853 for the Waukesha Public Library, Menomonee Public Library, Waukesha County Federated Library System, Elm Grove Library, the Wisconsin Library Association and six seasons of Waukesha Reads! with cabaret commissions to perform book selections, 1984, Into the Beautiful North and Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, The Wizard of Earthsea, To Kill a Mocking Bird and the upcoming cabaret, True Grit at the Marcus Majestic and Avalon Square. Other cabarets include Pieces of Candy, O’Candy!, Candy Canes & Dreidels and Candy and Friends.    Candace is the coordinator of the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books for the past three years, and is married to Associate Professor of Theatre (University of Wisconsin-Waukesha), Steven Decker.

Steve Decker is an Associate Professor in Communication and Theatre Arts. He is the Director of Theatre on the UW-Waukesha campus for the last ten years having directed many genres of plays, musicals, classic works, and literary adaptations.  He has directed and assisted in the process of many successful new plays in Chicago and Indiana. Professor Decker has served on scholarly panels at the Association of Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and the Midwest Theatre Association (MTA) regarding the collaboration of artists on new works.




Chip Duncan is a filmmaker, photographer, author and President of The Duncan Group, Inc., a documentary production company formed in 1985. The Duncan Group has released more than forty long form documentaries for international broadcast as well as distribution on a variety of new media platforms. As part of its social entrepreneurial mission, the company routinely engages in voluntary efforts to document global crisis and conflict through collaboration with various international NGOs. Recent productions include the feature length documentary The First Patient. Produced with the cooperation of the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, The First Patient chronicles first year medical students as they engage in the dissection of the human body. This unprecedented film was completed in May, 2017. Following a festival run, The First Patient will be released globally in early 2018.

Duncan completed the documentary Tolkien & Lewis – Myth, Imagination and the Quest For Meaning in early 2017. The one hour documentary details the long friendship between acclaimed writers C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The film airs nationwide in the USA on public television during September, 2017. Duncan’s first collection of fictional short stories – Half a Reason to Die – was released in April, 2017 by New York-based Select Books. Previous books include Enough to Go Around – Searching for Hope in Afghanistan, Pakistan & Darfur (Select Books, 2009) and The Magic Never Ends – The Life & Work of C.S. Lewis (Thomas Nelson, 2002). Duncan is currently working on a hard cover photo collection called Food, Water, Shelter featuring images from Burma, Ethiopia, Colombia, Kenya, Peru and Haiti for release in 2018.

During January, 2013, The Duncan Group released the award-winning three-part public television series The Reagan PResidency (broadcast internationally). Interview subjects include Douglas Brinkley, Oscar Arias, Walter Mondale, Paul Volcker, Andrew Young, Gary Hart, Sandra Day O’Connor, Condoleezza Rice, Robert Reich, George Shultz, Reza Aslan, and Robert McFarlane … among others. Other notable documentary productions include the 2009 PBS Special Landslide: The Presidency of Herbert Hoover. The PBS Special In a Just World – Contraception, Abortion & World Religion aired nationwide in 2003. The national release of The Cost of Freedom – Security, Civil Liberty & The USA Patriot Act premiered nationally on public television that same year. The Magic Never Ends – The Life & Work of C.S. Lewis was released nationwide on public television in 2002. Duncan’s production of the 13-part Discovery Network series Mystic Lands was broadcast in more than 140 countries around the world during 1996. That same year, Duncan produced the feature film Eden which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Recent educational/classroom productions include the 4-part series The Study of Culture and the 2-part series on global warming called The Life and Death of Glaciers. Both are currently distributed to schools nationwide by Discovery Education.

During October, 2013, Duncan completed his third journey to war-torn Afghanistan. His work includes still photo documentation of humanitarian and educational projects in Kabul, Bamyan, Panjshir and several northern provinces. During May, 2012 Duncan documented health care conditions in the Irrawaddy Delta region of Myanmar. Later in 2012, Duncan documented several carbon-reducing development programs in Ghana. During October, 2011, Duncan collaborated with Nairobi-based Camerapix to create three short films on food security for Duncan documented humanitarian projects in Darfur, Sudan during 2008 and he was part of the first response to the Haitian earthquake during January, 2010. Duncan also documented post-earthquake relief efforts in Pakistan during early 2006. During March, 2016 and January, 2018, Duncan journeyed to Colombia’s Choco Province to document medical training by a team of physicians from California’s Kaiser Permanente. Duncan’s work as a still photographer includes documentation of spiritual practices in Ethiopia during January, 2016 and January, 2017. An exhibition of Duncan’s images from Afghanistan premiered during August, 2011 at the World Peace Festival in Berlin, Germany. A second exhibition featuring images from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Darfur, Sudan premiered during September at the O Street Museum in Washington D.C. Duncan’s images were exhibited at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City during 2013. Regional shows include Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey, Michigan (Sept. 2010), the TIME AFTER TIME exhibition in Milwaukee (Oct. 2014) and the People, Places & Things exhibition in Milwaukee (Oct. 2015). Duncan’s first museum exhibition – BUILDING BRIDGES – ran from April through June, 2016 at the Kenosha Public Museum near Chicago. Duncan’s images are on permanent display in numerous locations including Northwestern University (Chicago), Relief International (Washington DC), NOVO Foundation (NYC) and the U.S. Dept. of State (Washington DC) as well as a significant display of images at Synergos Institute (NYC) and in private collections.

Duncan and his colleagues have filmed in more than forty countries. Their documentary specials and series have won more than 130 national and international awards and appeared on networks around the world. Duncan’s work in New York City theater includes helping finance numerous Broadway and touring productions such as Frost Nixon, High Fidelity The Musical, Shockheaded Peter, Dirty Dancing The Musical, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, and Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.

Duncan is a trustee for Alaska’s Juneau Ice Field Research Foundation, a trustee for Kenya’s Loisaba Community Conservation Foundation, Chairperson of the advisory committee for the America’s Black Holocaust Museum, and an advisor to the World Peace Festival in Berlin, Germany. Duncan is an avid downhill skier and makes an annual visit to document North America’s most heavily glaciated terrain along the St. Elias Range in BC and Alaska. Duncan spends considerable time camping and biking in the “driftless area” of western Wisconsin and guides an annual trek on the Salkantay trail in Peru as well as an annual pilgrimage to northern Ethiopia. Duncan summited Mt. Kilimanjaro during 2006 with a group of friends from the UAE.

Chip Duncan can be contacted via e-mail through at

or by calling

(USA) 414-223-1060

Rebecca Dunham is the author of four books of poetry. Her first book, The Miniature Room, won the 2016 T.S. Eliot Prize. Her second book, The Flight Cage, was a Tupelo Press Open Reading Selection. Glass Armonica was awarded the 2013 Lindquist and Vennum Poetry Prize and was published by Milkweed Editions. Her most recent book of poetry, Cold Pastoral, was also published by Milkweed. Dunham’s chapbook, Fascicle, was published by dancing girl press.

Dunham has received national fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. In spring of 2015, she was the Arts and Letters Distinguished Visiting Writer at Bowling Green State University.

Her poems have been published in journals such as AGNI, The Southern Review, Kenyon Review, FIELD, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Antioch Review. She is Professor of English at UW-Milwaukee and lives in Madison, Wisconsin.




Kathie Giorgio’s seventh book, a novel, titled In Grace’s Time, was released on September 7, 2017, by Black Rose Writing press. Giorgio’s fifth book, Oddities & Endings; The Collected Stories of Kathie Giorgio, a collection of Giorgio’s stories previously published in literary magazines, was released by the Main Street Rag Publishing Company in June 2016.  It was selected for the Top 100 Must Reads for the Summer list by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Giorgio’s first poetry chapbook, True Light Falls In Many Forms, was also released in June 2016. Giorgio’s novel, Rise From The River, was released by MSR on April 1, 2015 and debuted at Carroll University, where Kathie was serving as Visiting Author. Rise From The River was on several “Must-read” lists during the summer of 2015. Her first three books—two novels, The Home For Wayward Clocks and Learning To Tell (A Life)Time, and a short story collection, Enlarged Hearts—were also released by MSR. The Home For Wayward Clocks received the Outstanding Achievement award by the Wisconsin Library Association Literary Awards Committee and was nominated for the Paterson Fiction Award. Learning To Tell (A Life)Time, the sequel to The Home For Wayward Clocks, debuted to a standing-room only audience at the 2013 Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books, where Kathie was the welcoming Keynote. Enlarged Hearts was selected as one of the 99 Summer Must-Reads by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2012.

Giorgio’s short stories and poems have appeared in countless literary magazines, including Prairie Schooner, the Chariton Review, Fiction International, and Harpur Palate, and in many anthologies. She’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize (most recently for a story published in 2016), the Write Well Award, the Million Writer Award, and for the Best of the Net Anthology. She’s been interviewed for articles in Poets & Writers magazine.

Giorgio’s passion for writing is only equaled by her passion for teaching. Her career has spanned 21 years (so far!).  She is the director and founder of AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop, an international creative writing studio located in Waukesha, Wisconsin. AllWriters’ offers on-site and online classes and workshops in all genres and abilities of creative writing, as well as coaching and editing services. In the last three years, over 70 AllWriters’ writers have received traditional book-publishing contracts. AllWriters’ is also heading into its fourth year of not going a single week without at least one student acceptance in a magazine or an anthology.

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.








Jim Higgins is the arts and books editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. His book Wisconsin Literary Luminaries pays tribute to the excellence and variety of Wisconsin writing through appreciations of ten authors: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Aldo Leopold, Thornton Wilder, Lorine Niedecker, Cordwainer Smith, Ellen Raskin, Larry Watson, Jane Hamilton, Michael Perry, and Ayad Akhtar.

Book excerpt:




Craig W. Hurst has been director of bands at UW-Waukesha since January of 1993.   Dr. Hurst holds degrees from Boise State University, North Texas State University, and the University of North Texas.  At North Texas, he was a conducting student of   Robert Winslow and studied trumpet with John J. Haynie and Leonard A. Candelaria.

In addition to his experience and expertise as a music educator, adjudicator and clinician, Dr. Hurst has distinguished himself as a performer on trumpet.  In the greater Milwaukee area he has performed as principal trumpet or trumpet soloist with the Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, the Waukesha Park and Rec Band, the Concord Chamber Orchestra, the Milwaukee Stadpfeifer, The Jazz Express Big Band, the Wisconsin Wind Orchestra and the Milwaukee Police Band.

Hurst also has performed in the Festival of Trumpets at the 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996 International Trumpet Guild Conferences, and in June of 1995 performed as soloist with the Lakeshore Wind Ensemble (Manitowoc, Wisconsin) in a cultural exchange tour of Japan.   In 1998 Dr. Hurst will perform with the Marshfield/Wood County (Wisconsin) Symphony orchestra as a soloist on Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #2 in F.

Hurst’s interest in the local arts community is evident in his service on the the boards of directors for the Waukesha Area Symphonic Band, Waukesha Area Arts Alliance, and the Concord Chamber Orchestra.

In addition to performing and conducting, Hurst’s scholarship is represented in published articles in the Southeastern Journal of Music Education and the Journal of the International Trumpet Guild.  He also writes reviews of concerts by the Waukesha Symphony Orchestra published in the Waukesha County Freeman

Jeannette Hurt is the author of eight books and contributor to five other books.   Most recently, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine and Food Pairing was published by Alpha Books in June 2010.  Her book, The Cheeses of California: A Culinary Travel Guide, received first place in the 2010 Mark Twain Travel Writing Awards Competition, as best travel book of the year. Judges called her book “Well-done. It does for cheese what Napa has done for wine, posing the idea of a cheese trail as vacation and making it appealing with human interest stories about the small cheesemakers and dairy farms that make up California’s gourmet cheese industry. With photos, recipes and details about what to do and where to stay, it’s a cheese lover/traveler’s primer. Very well done. Nice writing, storytelling, organization and presentation.”

Her book, The Cheeses of Wisconsin: A Culinary Travel Guide, received second place in the 2009 Mark Twain Travel Writing Awards Competition.  She is also the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Cheeses of the World and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tapas. She is also a contributing writer to 1001 Foods You Should Try Before You Die and the upcoming, My Dog’s Life: Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Jeanette specializes in food, wine and travel writing.  She also writes about design, pets and parenting issues, but she can never resist telling a good story, no matter what the subject matter.  Her work can be seen in: Wine Enthusiast,, United Airlines’ Hemispheres, and dozens of other magazines.

Jeanette is the cheese contributor for the “Good Fermentations” segment of Lake Effect on 89.7 FM WUWM (Milwaukee NPR station).  For her Lake Effect contributor profile, click here.

Jeanette also teaches culinary and wine classes, and she has been a featured speaker at the Kohler Food & Wine Experience, Wine and Dine Wisconsin, Wisconsin Cheese Festival, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and Sonoma Cheese Conference.

She has more than 17 years of professional writing and editing experience.  Prior to 2002 when she began her freelance career she worked as a reporter for the City News Bureau in Chicago, the Milwaukee Sentinel and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Erika Janik is a writer, historian, and the executive producer of Wisconsin Life on WPR. She’s the author of six books, including Pistols and Petticoats, Odd Wisconsin, and A Short History of Wisconsin. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Slate, Midwest Living, Smithsonian, On Wisconsin, and Edible Milwaukee. Originally from Redmond, Washington, she now knows more about Wisconsin history than she ever thought possible. Website:




Ephraim “Das” Janssen is a specialist in Phenomenology and Gender Studies.  His recent book, Phenomenal Gender: What Transgender Experience Discloses, addresses the question of how trans experience informs our understanding what it means to be gendered humans.








Patrick Jones was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his B.A. in American History, Politics and Society from Kenyon College in 1993 and his Ph.D. in modern U.S. History and African American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002. Jones researches, writes and teaches about the civil rights/Black Power era, America in the 1960s, race relations, urban inequality, social movements, electoral politics, African American experience in the Jazz Age, and post-WWII American popular culture. Harvard University published his award-winning book, The Selma of the North: Civil Rights Insurgency in Milwaukee, in 2009. Tim Tyson called the book “…a riveting new story of the civil rights movement in America, a tale on par with Selma, Birmingham, and Montgomery in its power and importance” and Jeanne Theoharis has written, “The Selma of the North provides a devastating rebuttal of many of the conventional narratives of the civil rights movement.” Jones is currently editing a collection of essays that explore the relationship(s) of music to the civil rights and Black Power era and working on a new monograph that looks at the contested meanings of civil rights and Black Power in Cleveland. He is guest-editing an upcoming issue of The Magazine of History on the black freedom movement in the urban North and also collects oral histories with local people about their experiences in the 1960s.



Bob Kann is an award-winning author, Professor of Education, and a professional storyteller, juggler, and magician. As an entertainer, Bob has performed throughout the United States for children, adults, and families since 1982. As an author, Bob has written several “Badger Biographies” for children including:

A Recipe for Success: Lizzie Kander and Her Cookbook

Belle and Bob La Follette: Partners in Politics

Cindy Bentley: Spirit of a Champion

Cordelia Harvey: Civil War Angel

Joyce Westerman: Baseball Hero

He has also written histories of public libraries (, health care organizations ( and, and original stories. Bob speaks at conferences and works as a consultant for educators, social service agencies, and other organizations on topics related to writing, reading, humor, creativity, and storytelling. Bob usually can be found reading his favorite book on levitation. He simply can’t put it down. Visit for more information.

John Klima previously worked in New York’s publishing jungle before returning to school to earn his Master’s in Library Science. He now works full time as the assistant director of a large public library. John edited and published the Hugo Award-winning genre zine Electric Velocipede from 2001 to 2013. The magazine was also a four-time nominee for the World Fantasy Award and its stories were placed on the Sturgeon and Tiptree Honor Lists. He has edited four critically acclaimed anthologies: Logorrhea: Good Words Make Good Stories, Happily Ever After, Glitter & Mayhem (w/co-editors Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas), and The Best of Electric Velocipede. When he is not conquering the world of indexing, John writes short stories and novels. He and his family live in the Midwest.



Gary Kloster started writing when left home alone too long with toddlers. Before being a stay-at-home dad he worked as a librarian and marital arts instructor. He writes science fiction,fantasy, and horror, and short works of his have appeared in Clarkesworld, Apex, and at Escape Pod. His first book, Firesoul, is out now.





Michael Kula is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Emerson College.  His work has appeared in literary magazines across the country including: Porcupine, Reconstruction, Mars Hill Review, MidAmerica, Vehicle, and The Drum. He is the past recipient of grants and awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature, the National Park Service, and the Northwest Writers Association.  He is currently Associate Professor of Writing Studies at the University of Washington, Tacoma.  His first novel, The Good Doctor, is based on the life of Dr. David Roberts, one of the wealthiest and most respected veterinarians in the country during the early half of the 20th century.






Rose Lange is a professional art educator and artist living  and working in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Rose received a BA in Art Education from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1987 and continuing education classes from many local universities.

While a student at UW Madison, Rose was awarded  a scholarship as the Outstanding Student in Art Education.  As an undergraduate Rose created and exhibited works ranging from photographs, to paintings, to ceramics, to sculpture,  winning a “Best of Show” with a welded,  8 foot tall,  sculpture of a woman entitled: “She, Big and Beautiful”.

Rose has taught art for over 30 years to students ranging from kindergarten through adult in Wisconsin and Illinois.  Rose is currently teaching art classes to 1st -8th graders at Waukesha Catholic, various art workshops in her art studio, and Rose also offers a summer art Camp and art journaling camp through Catholic Memorial High School.

In 2014 Rose was one of 100 teachers in Wisconsin to be awarded the Herb Kohl Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching. Rose is a founding member of the Waukesha Catholic Fine Arts team…a group of incredible, passionate, creative, positive teachers, who strive to bring quality arts experiences to their school community, and who received an Exemplary award for Innovative Programming from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 2011. Rose has her private studio at “The Springs” gallery and studios and has an exhibit space at the Almont gallery in Waukesha.

Her primary goal as an art teacher is to encourage students to embrace their individual creative spirit and add beauty to the world through self- expression.

As a child, Michael Leannah loved school rooms and libraries so much that when his school days came to an end, he became a teacher and spent more than thirty years working in classrooms and libraries.

He is also a writer of both fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. His work has appeared in Scholastic’s Instructor, Highlights for Children, Ladybug, and other magazines.

His books include Well!, a collection of essays on the life of comedian Jack Benny, and Something for Everyone, the history of a Wisconsin department store chain.

His children’s picture book, Most People, was published in August 2017, by Tilbury House Publishers. Two more picture books will follow: Goodnight Whispers (Familius Books) and Farmer Huckinshuck’s Wild Ride (Splashing Cow Books).

Leannah grew up in Marinette, Wisconsin. He earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a Master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.​ He taught in the Milwaukee and Sheboygan public schools. He is the creator of We Think with Ink, a writing program for teachers of elementary and middle school students. Leannah now lives in Sheboygan.

Links to websites:

Link to radio interview:

Link to related website:

Michael Lenehan is a Chicago-based writer and editor who worked for many years as the chief editorial executive of the Chicago Reader. He has also written for Chicago Magazine, the New York Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, where from 1983 to 1993 he was a contributing editor. His Reader article on beekeeping won the American Association for the Advancement of Science Westinghouse Science Writing Award in 1979. His Atlantic Monthly article on dog training was a finalist in the 1986 National Magazine Awards.  He is the author of two books for Agate Midway: Ramblers: Loyola Chicago 1963, the Team That Changed the Color of College Basketball (2013), and Much Ado: A Summer with a Repertory Theater Company (2016). He grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Notre Dame. He enjoys cooking, tennis, and Spring Green, Wisconsin. He lives in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago with his wife, Mary Williams. They have two grown children.


Valya Dudycz Lupescu is the author of the Amazon bestselling novel The Silence of Trees and founding editor of Conclave: A Journal of Character. Her newest book, Geek Parenting: What Joffrey, Jor-El, Maleficent, and the McFlys Teach Us about Raising a Family was co-written with Stephen H. Segal (Quirk Books 2016). Valya earned her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her poetry and prose have been published in Kenyon Review, Gone Lawn, Jersey Devil Press, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium, and others. Valya teaches at DePaul University and is currently writing a novel set during the genocidal famine (Holodomor) of 1932–33 in Soviet Ukraine.






Víctor M. Macías-González (El Paso, Texas, 1970) is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, where he founded a mentoring program for first-generation, minority sophomores in the Liberal Arts.   His research interests include masculinity and homosexuality in modern Mexico.  He has published widely on etiquette, consumption, art history, diplomacy, and Mexicans in France and Great Britain.   Macías-González coedited Masculinity and Sexuality in Modern Mexico (University of New Mexico Press, 2012). In 2013, Macías-González was named Wisconsin Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and in 2015 received the University of Wisconsin System’s Regents Diversity prize for his efforts to close the achievement gap and community outreach.  He is the inaugural recipient of the LGBT Studies Research Fellowship from Yale University.  Macías-González is presently working on a book on homosexuality in Mexico City ca. 1920-1970.  He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.





Joel Nellis was a walk-on tight end for the Badgers from 2001-2006. He earned a scholarship his final two seasons, lettering his senior season while contributing on special teams. Nellis, a Madison native, earned his degree in Kinesiology and is currently a PE teacher and football coach at Brookfield Central High School.







Carrie Newberry’s first novel, an urban fantasy called Pick Your Teeth With My Bones, is being published by EDGE Lite Science Fiction and Fantasy, a Canadian publisher.  The book was accepted on its first submission.  For the most part, she writes fantasy and horror, though she has written short pieces of literary fiction as well as flash memoir pieces.

After studying Creative Writing at UW-Madison and after maxing out on Creative Writing Workshops at UW-Madison, Carrie decided to leave academia behind in order to pursue her career as a dog groomer’s assistant and have lots of time to write.   She hasn’t regretted the decision for a moment, although it would come in handy to have a degree of some sort to list right here.  She continues her studies at AllWriters Workplace and Workshop, as a member of the monthly Saturday morning New Year’s Resolution Write a Book Workshop, because writers can always learn more from their peers.  In 2016, Carrie joined the faculty at AllWriters, where she teaches a weekly online book-writing workshop. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with a greedy terrier and a cock-a-poo who’s an obnoxiously persistent morning person.



Amanda Ngoho Reavey is a Philippine-born, Wisconsin-raised poet interested in the myths we create when the myths we have no longer sustain us.

She is the author of Marilyn (The Operating System, 2015), winner of the 2017 Best Book Award in Poetry from the Association for Asian American Studies, and her poems can be found in the anthologies, Resist Much / Obey Little (Dispatch Editions, 2017) and women:poetry:migration (Theenk Books, 2017), as well as in several literary magazines.

Currently, Reavey is the Marketing & Development Director at Woodland Pattern Book Center, and the Managing Editor of Tea & Tattered Pages, a small press publisher located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Find her at She is the upcoming 2018 Artist-in-Residence at Can Serrat in El Bruc, Spain.

Tea & Tattered Pages (newsletter):

Amanda Ngoho Reavey


•The Subtle Forces #24: The Review Show, Riverwest Radio, 2016

•Life Post-Book, The Halo-Halo Review, 2016

•Lynne DeSilva Johnson interviews Amanda Ngoho Reavey, The Conversant, 2015


•An Architecture of Doorways –

•Bonk! Reading Series, December 2015 –

Margaret Noodin received an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Minnesota. She is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she also serves at the Director of the Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education. She is the author of Bawaajimo: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature and Weweni, a collection of bilingual poems in Ojibwe and English. Her poems have been anthologized in Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas, Poetry Magazine, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Water Stone Review, and Yellow Medicine Review. With her daughters, Shannon and Fionna, she is a member of Miskwaasining Nagamojig (the Swamp Singers) a women’s hand drum group. To see and hear current projects visit where she and other students and speakers of Ojibwe have created a space for language to be shared by academics and the native community.





Jan O’Brien taught at Waukesha Catholic for 26 years. She has a degree in Elementary Education from Mount Mary University and has continued her professional development at local universities as well as attended Teachers College at Columbia University in New York. Jan’s career is highlighted by being awarded the Bruce Milne Scholarship for Archaeology in the Classroom, the Milwaukee Archdiocese Exemplary Award for Innovative Programs for her involvement with Cafe Create—a yearly celebration of the arts at Waukesha Catholic, and the 2015 Kohl Fellowship Award for Excellence in Teaching. Newly retired from teaching, she is looking forward to discovering new ways use her many years of teaching experience to promote creativity through writing and the arts.




Sheri Williams Pannell is a versatile artist who has performed, directed or written for a number of arts organizations including Milwaukee Chamber, Milwaukee Public Theater, Milwaukee Rep, Milwaukee Symphony, African American Children’s Theater and Skylight Music Theatre. Beyond Milwaukee, Pannell has worked at Oregon Shakespeare, Utah’s Old Lyric, University Opera and University Theater at UW Madison, and Children’s Theater of Madison. Pannell is an Education lead teacher and dramaturge at First Stage for whom she wrote and directed Welcome to Bronzeville, and will direct The Wiz in February 2018.  Artistic Director and founding member of Bronzeville Arts Ensemble, next May Pannell directs BAE’s production of Flyin’ West. At Calvary Baptist Church, Pannell co-directs the drama ministry.  A native Milwaukeean, Pannell was recognized as a 2017 Artist of the Year by the City of Milwaukee. Pannell is a graduate of Spelman College and holds a MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sheri is married to Don Pannell with whom she has a son, Don II.




Richard Perez is an award-winning actor, director and educator.  He is the recipient of the Theatre Communications Group’s New Generations/Future Leaders Fellowship, which took him to Chicago Dramatists as its first Associate Artistic Director in 2009. Prior to that, he was the Producing Artistic Director of the Bloomington Playwrights Project in Indiana for seven seasons.  In that time he oversaw the production of over thirty new plays, with at least sixteen of those being world premieres.

His directing credits include: Roustabout, Miss Julie, Urinetown, All My Sons, True West, Hurly Burly, The Mercy Swing (New York Fringe Festival) and Nocturnal (part of the Kennedy Center’s New Visions/New Voices Festival). Chicago credits include: Fucking A and Water and Power for Urban Theatre and Invasion of Skokie for Chicago Dramatists.

As an actor he has appeared as Councilman Ortiz on Boss, with Kelsey Grammer as well as roles on Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, and the upcoming Electric Dreams.

He studied acting at The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and with Uta Hagen at HB Studios in New York City.  He has an MFA in Performance from Arizona State University and is proud to serve on the Theatre Faculty of Hope College in Michigan.

Phyllis J. Piano spent more than 30 years as an award-winning corporate communications expert for some of the world’s largest companies, including GE’s health care business in Waukesha.  She has somehow managed to maintain her sense of humor, love of writing, and her passion for life and the people she loves and cares about throughout it all.

A Milwaukee native and world traveler, Piano has left the full-time corporate world and has fallen back into the arms of her own first love…writing.  She and her husband divide their time between California, England and Milwaukee. When she is not packing a bag, making artisan sourdough bread or cooking with lots of garlic, Piano is working on her next novel. Her first book, Hostile Takeover: A Love Story, was published in 2016, and has received numerous honors, including the Independent Book Publishers Association Benjamin Franklin Gold Award and the 2017 Independent Press Award.  Her second novel, Love Reconsidered, was published in August, 2017.

Piano is also a member of the International Advisory Committee of APCO Worldwide.

Barbara Reinhart is Professor of Art and has taught students the joys of art for over 20 years at UW-Waukesha.

Page Remmers is founder and Executive Director of Waukesha Community Arts Project (WCAP), She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts -Visual Art degree, and  Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Communication Disorders.

WCAP is a nonprofit providing free after school programs for middle school and high school students with classes in Drama, Visual Arts, Dance, Creative Writing and Leadership. Each class has four 8 – 10 week units which provide focused hands-on practice on specific techniques and/or art media. Each unit has a community outreach component, in which the teens are empowered to find ways in which their talents and skills can serve a need in the community. For example, after interviewing senior citizens about their lives, the Creative Writing Class wrote stories based on the interviews and then an event was held for the students to read the stories aloud and gave a written copy of the story to each interviewee.

WCAP has received grants from the Women and Girls Fund of Waukesha County, Miracle on Canal Street, Waukesha Service Club, Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Anthony and Andrea Bryant Family Fund, Waukesha Rotary,  Les Paul Foundation, Waukesha County Community Foundation, Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, and the Marjorie L. Christiansen Foundation.

Waukesha Community Arts Project


Georgia Ressmeyer, a Pushcart Prize nominee and this year’s Honorable Mention in the Lorine Niedecker poetry competition, is the author of two short novels and three books of poetry. Her second full-length poetry collection, Home/Body, is due out in 2017 from Pebblebrook Press, an imprint of Stoneboat Literary Journal. Previous poetry books include an award-winning chapbook, Today I Threw My Watch Away (Finishing Line Press, 2010) and Waiting to Sail (Black River Press, 2014).

A native of New York, Ressmeyer has resided in Wisconsin since 1974, first as an attorney in Milwaukee, now as a poet in Sheboygan. She finds abundant inspiration for poetry in the natural beauty of her adopted county and state. For the past seven years she has co-facilitated programs on nature poetry at Maywood Environmental Park in Sheboygan. She has also helped organize two collaborative art and poetry shows at a local gallery. Please see  for more information.




University of Wisconsin – Waukesha Professor of English Emerita Margaret Rozga creates poetry from her ongoing concern for social justice issues.  She participated in the 200 nights of marching in Milwaukee that helped secure passage of federal and local fair housing legislation in April 1968.  She worked on a Southern Christian Leadership Conference Voter Registration Project in Alabama in 1965. At UW Waukesha, she served as faculty advisor to Students for Peace. She returned to the South to tour civil rights historic sites multiple times, most recently as an organizer for a Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary civil rights tour of the South in June 2014. On the bus during that trip, she conducted poetry workshops and held a poetry open mic.  In Meridian, Mississippi, Mayor Percy Bland declared June 29, 2014 Margaret Rozga Day in Meridian.

Her book Two Hundred Nights and One Day, tells the story of the Milwaukee fair housing campaign in the voices of several of the participants in the year-long campaign including the marches across the 16th Street Viaduct, now the James E. Groppi Unity Bridge.  This book was awarded a bronze medal in poetry in the 2009 Independent Publishers Book Awards and named an outstanding achievement in poetry for 2009 by the Wisconsin Library Association.

Most recently Rozga is the author of Pestiferous Questions: A Life in Poems (2017) written with the help of a Creative Writers Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society. This volume of poetry focuses on Jessie Benton Frémont (1824-1902). Politically astute, disparaged as a woman who didn’t know her place, faithful to a difficult marriage, privileged, sometimes questioning privilege, a product her times, and forward thinking, Jessie Benton Frémont the public figure emerges in these poems. The poems also do what poems do so well, turn to the wings to see her before and after she appears on the public stage.

Former Governor Martin J. Schreiber is Wisconsin’s leading crusader for Alzheimer’s caregivers, working to help improve support services in health care settings and in the workplace.

His significant commitment of resources, both financial and personal, helped the Alzheimer’s Association to launch Operation Stronger Together in 2015. This multi-year awareness program has led to a record number of calls to the Alzheimer’s Association by caregivers and families throughout Southeast Wisconsin, connecting them to important support services.

The former governor also is credited by current Gov. Scott Walker with planting the seed for the development of the online Dementia Friendly Employers toolkit, which has become an important statewide resource for human resources and employee assistance program professionals.

Meeting with hundreds of families affected by Alzheimer’s, Marty uses humor and compassion as he shares lessons from his ongoing, 10-plus-year journey as caregiver. His book, My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver, is winning acclaim throughout Wisconsin and well beyond the state’s borders.


Stephen H. Segal is the coauthor of the books Geek Wisdom and Geek Parenting (co-authored with Valya Dudycz Lupescu). He is the former editorial director of Weird Tales Magazine and the current senior editor at A native of Atantic City, he now lives in Chicago.








Phil Smith is a Menomonee Falls native and Carroll University graduate who has also lived in New York and England.  He has collaborated with Candace Decker on over a dozen cabaret productions, as pianist, singer, composer and arranger.  Many of Phil’s original songs – including “Dewey, My Library Crush” and “One Night(Stand)”  have been debuted publicly by Candy at Festival of Books events as well as other cabaret performances.

Waukesha music lovers may have previously heard Phil playing piano with the Jazz Express, or at other events at Carroll University, UW-Whitewater, and Friday Night Live. In addition to songwriting, Phil also composes instrumental music, ranging from the sardonic Pictures of an Exhibitionist to the opening theme for a cable TV bowling show. Most recently, Phil has gained a reputation as one of the area’s finest accompanists for high school and college brass and woodwind musicians.

Phil lives in Milwaukee with his wife Nanette and dog, Cosette.



Gail Sterkel is a playwright, writer, and instructor living in Madison, Wisconsin.  Her short plays have been performed on a variety of Madison stages including the Overture Center, Edgewood College, the Bartell Theatre, and TapIt Studios to name a few. Ms. Sterkel’s “Lust for Infiniti” was a finalist in the New Jersey Rep’s short play contest based on the theme of the seven deadly sins.  In addition, Gail’s full-length science fiction play (with playwright K.A. Johnson), Ten Thousand Moons from Here won Br!nk Theatre’s New Play Contest (2016), at Renaissance Theatreworks, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Furthermore, Gail has been an instructor of writing for many years. She has taught for the UW’s Rhinelander’s School of the Arts and Write by the Lake. Also, she instructed “fledgling writers” at the high school level. “I love working with beginning writers, especially when they’re open to new ideas and concepts.  I’ve seen them try and then fly.  How exciting that is!”  Gail is currently a writing instructor at Madison College. Also, Gail is an online instructor at All Writers Workplace and Workshop.

Lastly, Gail is currently board secretary for the Kathie Rasmussen Women’s Theatre (KRASS) of Madison. KRASS is a community theatre company that produces plays and performances written and directed by women. Men and women participate in this all-volunteer organization. KRASS has given voice to local women playwrights and opportunities to local actors and women directors.  Ten Thousand Moons from Here was first commissioned and produced by KRASS, 2013.


Dr. Julie Tharp is a professor of English with courses in Composition, American Indian Studies, Women’s Studies, and Film Studies.  She has a deep interest in global film, cuisine, and travel. As a Fulbright recipient in 2001, she taught at the National University of Singapore and as a Fulbright scholar in 2016, she did research on gender and Bollywood film in Mumbai, India.  She has also taught in Ireland, Scotland, and China.  Her Dinner and a Movie class in Continuing Education is her passion and hobby. She has provided dinners and classes on over seventy films.







Jesse Torrey’s life ticked all the boxes. A college degree in Fine Arts from Goucher College and a Master’s in Art Education from New York University. She was married to a wonderful man, had two perfect children and enjoyed careers as an art teacher and a photographer. But, in 2007, her life and family unraveled. Her perfect son was diagnosed with a rare disease that left him with significant health issues and a very challenging life. Initially, Jesse started writing to keep her friends and family aware of Jack’s progress. Ten years later, she’s accepted her family’s new normal. Now she writes to share her never-ending mission to create a normal life with a special child on her blog, and recently published her memoir, Smiles and Duct Tape sharing her family’s journey. Some days are more successful than others, but she continues to find peace and laughter even in the most unexpected circumstances.

Jesse lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband, Dan, her children, Jack and Anna, and their dogs, Keegan and Finn.




As an elementary student, Jennifer Van Haaften got her hands on a copy of the book On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder. That book sparked a love of history and the career she has today. In college, she realized she could make money demonstrating historic life at Living History Farms, a living history site in Des Moines, IA. After earning her bachelor degree in history at the University of Northern Iowa, her master’s in history at the University of Manchester, and her master’s in historical administration at Eastern Illinois University, she continued her work in museums. For ten years, she was Associate Director of Historical Programs and Resources at Old World Wisconsin. There, among other projects, she directed the annual month long World of Little House event, giving every visitor a chance live like Laura. Since 2015, she has been Assistant Director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. From all she has accomplished, that day she became a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan is still evident today. She recently had an article about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s family ties in Wisconsin titled “Re-examining the American Pioneer Spirit: The Extended Family of Laura Ingalls Wilder” published in the Wisconsin Magazine of History. It seems she has come full circle in her love of history.



Nancy L. Van Brunt is Professor Emerita of Music having capped a 35 year career teaching in the University of Wisconsin Colleges.  Her husband, Craig W. Hurst, retired this past June after 24 years of teaching for the UW Colleges.








Carolyn Walker is the author of the memoir Every Least Sparrow, a book about raising her daughter Jennifer, who has the rare Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome. In May, 2017, the book was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by Garn Press.

Currently working on a memoir about her parents, she also writes essays and poetry.

Walker is a creative writing instructor for Writer’s Digest University, Springfed Arts, and All Writers Workplace & Workshop. She has led writing workshops in Michigan, Vermont, Nantucket, and Newfoundland. She earned her Master of Fine Arts in Writing degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2004.

In 2013, she was made a Kresge Fellow in the Literary Arts by the Kresge Foundation.

Walker’s work has appeared in The Southern Review, Hunger Mountain, The Writer’s Chronicle, Gravity Pulls You In: Parenting Children on the Autism Spectrum, HOUR Detroit, The Detroit News, and many other publications. Her essay “Christian Become a Blur,” published in the literary journal Crazyhorse, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Walker has been a writing resident at Vermont Studio Center, and Noepe Center for Literary Arts on Martha’s Vineyard. She is a lifelong Michigan resident, and the married mother of three adult children.

Larry Watson was born in 1947 in Rugby, North Dakota.  He grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota, and received his BA and MA from the University of North Dakota and his Ph.D. from the University of Utah.  Watson has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (twice) and from the Wisconsin Arts Board.

He is the author of nine novels, among them Montana 1948, White Crosses, Orchard, American Boy, Let Him Go, and As Good As Gone, as well as the fiction collection Justice, and the chapbook of poetry Leaving Dakota.  Watson’s fiction has been published in more than a dozen foreign editions and has received prizes and awards from Milkweed Press, Friends of American Writers, Mountain and Plains Booksellers Association, New York Public Library, Wisconsin Library Association, High Plains Bookfest, and Critics’ Choice.  Montana 1948 was nominated for the first IMPAC Dublin international literary prize, and Let Him Go was nominated for the same prize in 2014.

His short fiction and poetry have been published in Gettysburg Review, New England Review, North American Review, Mississippi Review, and other literary magazines.  His essays and book reviews have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Washington Post, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and other periodicals.  His work has also been anthologized in Essays for Contemporary Culture, Imagining Home, Off the Beaten Path, Baseball and the Game of Life, The Most Wonderful Books, These United States, and Writing America.

Watson taught writing and literature at the University of Wisconsin/Stevens Point for twenty-five years and presently teaches at Marquette University.  He has also taught at Warren Wilson College and Colorado College.  He has been a featured writer at conferences in Colorado, Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, and in St. Malo and Caen, France.  Watson has given readings and presentations at many libraries, colleges and universities, and he has also served as a judge and panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts.  Ripon College awarded him an honorary doctor of letters, and the High Plains Literary Festival, the Wisconsin Library Association, and the Mountains Plains Library Association have given him lifetime awards for his body of work.  Watson’s novel, Montana 1948, has been selected for more than thirty community reads programs, and it’s taught in high schools and colleges throughout the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

He and his wife Susan live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  They have two daughters and two grandchildren.

Christopher Werkman is native to and lives in northwest Ohio, currently on a few acres just north of Bowling Green with his partner Karen and too many cats. He majored in art education at Adrian College, with a minor in English. He received his masters in art education at University of Toledo. Werkman taught high school art for thirty years, retiring in 2000. He still draws and paints, but his passion is writing fiction. His short stories are published in over twenty literary magazines and anthologies. His novel, Difficult Lies, was published by Rogue Phoenix Press in 2015. His short story collection, Girlfriending, will be published in August of 2017, also by Rogue Phoenix. When he isn’t writing, Werkman spends too much time playing golf in the summer, playing indoor tennis in the winter, and riding his Kawasaki Ninja anytime there is sufficient traction.

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