Keynote & Panels – Fall 2020

The BookFest Brings You An Array of Panel Discussions, Keynotes, and Conversations

The BookFest returns with a fall theme and broader appeal to be inclusive to the rapidly-growing global stage for online events. Originally launched in May 2020 as the LA BookFest, the Fall 2020 Edition promises to be wider-ranging, will span a day and a half with more programming for those who love to read as well as those who love to write, plus many festive surprises to pair with the Halloween season. 

Day one of The BookFest, Saturday October 24, 2020

Day one of The BookFest Fall 2020, Saturday October 24, 2020, will be devoted to readers. Topics include:

10:00am PT — Welcome Message from Desiree Duffy

We’ll kick off The BookFest Fall 2020 with a welcome message from its founder. Plus, throughout the day, there will be special segments to enjoy between panels, including: 

  • Ora Nadrich, Founder and President of the Institute for Transformational Thinking and author of Live True: A Mindful Guide to Authenticity presents Mindfulness Moments.

  • Todd Debreceni, author of Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen, does special effects makeup to create Dr. Phinneus Pogo from The Umbrella Academy. 

10:10am PT — Opening Keynote by Sharon Koifman — Stop Surviving and Start Thriving

Sharon Koifman, CEO and Founder of DistantJob Remote Placement Agency and author of Surviving Remote Work, talks about not just surviving today, but thriving. He is a tech industry leader who survived everything from the dot com crash to building and leading a fully remote business spanning four continents, all with two toddlers in the room. 

10:30am PT — Danny Trejo Reads from Trejo’s Tacos: Recipes & Stores from L.A.

Join Danny Trejo, Hollywood’s baddest good guy, as he reads and shares stories from his book Trejo’s Tacos: Recipes & Stores from L.A. during The BookFest.  

Long before he was a Hollywood star, Danny Trejo used to joke with his mom that they should open a restaurant. Her inspiration led to an amazing journey the from ex-con to restauranteur.  

ITrejo’s Tacos, Trejo not only shares 75 recipes for cantina favorites like succulent carnitas, vegan cauliflower tacos, and pillowy-sweet cinnamon-sugar lowrider donuts, but offers insights into his life and pays respect to his hometown, his roots, and all of the colorful characters who helped him along the way, creating a delicious tribute to L.A. and the city’s vibrant Latino culture. 

11:00am PT — Self-Help Books When We Need Them Most

Reading has experienced a renaissance during quarantine as we have turned to books for information, inspiration and escapism. Bestselling self-help titles have included The 5 Love Languages, How to Be an Antiracist and Live. The BookFest’s wide-ranging self-help panel presents authors with such timely topics as channeling our crankiness, self-care for body and brain during COVID-19, enhancing your business relationships, addressing workplace diversity, and more wisely relating to our love partners.   

  • Steven Joseph, Author of The Grown-Up Guide to Effective Crankinessis an attorney, negotiator, marathon runner, and someone who is smart enough to know that he hasn’t figured everything out…except for crankiness. 
  • Ann O’Brien, Author of A Woman’s Guide to Conscious Love, is an intuitive healer, coach and teacher of practical spirituality and empowered living.  
  • Patricia Peyton, Co-Author of Physical Intelligence, has dedicated her 30+ year business consulting career to helping people, teams, and organizations reach their next level of excellence.  
  • Michelle Silverthorn, is a nationally-recognized speaker, consultant, and best-selling author of Authentic Diversity: How to Change the Workplace for Good.    
  • Ivy Slater, Author of From the Barre to the Boardroom, is a business coach, speaker, author, and podcast host. In her book she addresses harnessing the power of connection in business through authenticity.  
  • Moderator: Robin Quinn, an Award-winning LA Book coach and editor.  

Noon PT — Masters of the Macabre – Discussing the Things that Go Bump in Their Books

A conversation with today’s masters of horror about the things that give us chills and thrills on crisp Autumn nights. Find out what creeps us out the most, how we really should prepare for the zombie apocalypse, or vampires, or witches, and everything else that go bump in their books. 

  • Andy Davidson, Author of The Boatman’s Daughter, and In the Valley of the Sun which was nominated for the 2017 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. 
  • Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author, 5-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, and comic book writer. His vampire apocalypse book series, V-WARS, was a Netflix original series.
  • Lisa Morton, a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, the author of four novels and over 150 short stories, and a world-class Halloween expert.
  • Moderator: John Palisano, Current President of the Horror Writers Association, author of Night of 1,000 BeastsNerves, and Dust of the Dead.

1:00pm PT – Books and Education During COVID – What Are We Teaching Our Children?

As parents take on the roles of co-teachers, and educators adapt to new digital environments, we need to ask ourselves, what we are teaching our kids? This panel will talk about books, educational topics of these times, and what it means for books and education in the time of Covid. 

  • Rebecca Alexander, Author of A Kids Book About Body Image and Founder and CEO of AllGo, a community review platform for plus-size people. 
  • Zetta Elliott, advocate for anti-racist approaches to children’s literature and award-winning author of A Place Inside of Me. 
  • Katie Hughes, Founder of Girls Build and author of Girls Who Build: Inspiring Curiosity and Confidence to Make Anything Possible. 
  • Daniel Nayeri, Publisher of Odd Dot Books and author of Everything Sad Is Untrue: (a true story). 
  • Moderator: Betsy BirdCollection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library and creator of the 2016 FOLIO Award winner for Best Blog, A Fuse #8 Production. 

2:00pm PT — Books, Authors and Genres Evolving from Silicon Valley

Let’s pull back the curtain on the mystique of Silicon Valley. This discussion delves into the literature coming from a place where technology, culture, money, and power converge. Journalists and authors discuss their books and the exciting setting that Silicon Valley gives today’s readers. 

  • Joan Gelfand, Author of Extreme: A Novel, winner of the Cervena Barva Fiction Award and Past President of the Women’s National Book Association.

  • Ryan Southwick, Author of The Z-Tech Chronicles and software developer in 3-D gaming and mission-critical business applications for the medical industry.

  • Carole Stivers, Author of The Mother Code and medical diagnostics professional.

  • Moderator: Katie Hafner, Author of  Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet, former staff writer and current contributor to The New York Times on healthcare and technology. 

3:00pm PT — Words Matter: How to Deliver What Readers Want in this Age Reckoning with Cultural Inclusion, Race, and Racism

Entertainment producers, educators, diversity inclusion experts, and authors deliver a robust and uncompromising discussion in the midst of a national reckoning with race and racism. What does it take for the content, entertainment, writing, production, and the reading community to live authentic cultural inclusion in this historic moment in time? Words matter. This is a discussion for everyone, everywhere. 

  • John DeSimone, Author of Road to Delano and co-author of Broken Circle: A Memoir of Escaping Afghanistan and Courage to Say No by Dr. Raana Mahmood. 
  • Joey Franklin, Author of Delusions of Grandeur: American Essays and My Wife Wants You to Know I’m Happily Married. 

  • Dr. Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, Doctor of Psychology, professor, author, speaker, trainer, and executive coach.

  • Liem Le, Founder of Little Lion which provides diversity and inclusion building workshops as well as a digital interactive wellness platform for individuals and families.

  • Sharon Orlopp, Expert on diversity, inclusion and equity. Leads HR for a tech startup, Core Scientific, which is focused on AI and blockchain, and for 19 Orangetheory Fitness studios.

  • Moderator: Raye Mitchell, JD, MBA, Boss Girl and Chief Content Officer, The Genius Agency, Inc., and author of How Women Negotiate from a Position of Strength. 

4:00pm PT — Why We Love Stories: A Conversation with W. Craig Reed and James Rollins about the Allure of Fiction

This intimate conversation explores why we love stories and how they tap into our psyche at a primal level. Why do we fall in love with characters we know aren’t real? Why do we like suspense and thrillers? What is it about a great plot that makes us swoon? Find out as New York Times bestselling author James Rollins and New York Times bestselling author and neuroscience expert, W. Craig Reed, unravel the truth about the allure of fiction. 

  • W. Craig Reed, author of several award-winning non-fiction books including Spies of the DeepThe Seven Secrets of Neuron-Leadership, and the critically acclaimed Red November.

  • James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers including the bestselling Sigma Force series SandstormMap of BonesBlack OrderThe Judas Strain, and more. 

5:00pm PT — Young Adult Fiction in a Time of Tumult

Literature for young adults has become known for embracing edgy topics and controversial social issues. Panelists discuss how the current anti-racism movement and pandemic affect teens’ view of the world and how that will play out in YA fiction and publishing trends. 

  • Romina Garber (aka Romina Russell), New York Times and international bestselling author of the Lobizona and ZODIAC series, was born in Argentina, raised in Miami, and now lives in Los Angeles. 
  • Rebecca Kim Wells, the author of Shatter the Sky and Storm the Earth, can be found selling books at a fiercely independent bookstore in Massachusetts when she’s not reading, writing, or talking about either subject.
  • AmyLea Murphy is the debut author of Fine. She’s an attorney turned author who writes about life-changing moments that unearth the resilient beauty of the human spirit.
  • Gary Soto, National Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist, has published more than 40 books including Baseball in April, Living Up the Street, and Buried Onions.  
  • Ashley Woodfolk, author of The Beauty That Remains, When You Were Everything and the Flyy Girls series, lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her cute husband, cuter pitbull, and the cutest baby in the world.
  • Moderator: Christina Hoag, the author of Girl on the Brink and Skin of Tattoos, is a former foreign correspondent who recently won honorable mentions for essay and short story in the International Human Rights Arts Festival. 

6:00pm PT — After Party Co-Hosted by Jenna Busch and Desireé Duffy

The BookFest After Party takes place in the video stream. Hang out and enjoy musical performances, quick takes with The BookFest participants, and find out who wins “The BookFest Ultimate Bookish Giveaway” and other bonus prizes. 

  • Musical Performance by Craig Greenberg 
  • Mixing a special cocktail for The BookFest is author, Sara Winokur
  • Todd Debreceni, author of Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen, to reveal the special effects makeup for Dr. Phinneus Pogo from The Umbrella Academy

The programming on Sunday, October 25, 2020

The programming on Sunday, October 25, 2020, will consist of several panels focused on the craft of writing.

12:00pm PT — Welcome Message From Desireé Duffy

We’ll kick off day two of The BookFest with a welcome message from its founder. It is geared toward writers and industry professionals. It includes several panels, talks with writer organization leaders, and concludes with a Conversation with Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson titled: Black Books Matter.

12:15pm PT — Being Wickedly Creative – Adapting and Thriving Now

A conversation with successful creatives about agility and opportunity. Find motivation from several writers and creatives who are sure to inspire. How can you build or even rebuild your brand? Tap into these creative genius’s secrets and be empowered. 

  • Kevin J. Anderson, Publisher of WordFire Press with 56 international bestsellers, author of novels in the Star Wars and The X-Files universes, co-author of the Dune Prequel Series with Brian Herbert. 
  • Echo Chernik, Renowned commercial artist, clients include: Celestial Seasonings Teas, Dave Matthews, Disney, Mattel, Penguin, Random House, and more. 
  • Debra Eckerling, Author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning, and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD®. 
  • Russell Nohelty, USA Today bestselling author, publisher, and founder of Wannabe Press. 
  • Jeff Sweat, Author of The Mayfly and Scorpion, journalist, social media pioneer, and public relations expert. 
  • Moderator: Brandie June, author of the forthcoming Gold Spun, a Writers of the Future finalist, and playwright of an award-winning Oscar Wilde dark comedy. 

1:15pm PT — Chat with Tony Todaro from The Greater Los Angeles Writers Society

Tony Todaro from GLAWS™ is President of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society and a consultant to conventions and workshops on their writers’ program. He is a regular speaker at the Los Angeles Regional Science Fiction Convention, the San Diego Science Fiction Conventions, Baycon, the regional Westercons, and many more writers’ panels.

1:30pm PT — My Precious! Why Writers Should Stop Being Precious about Their Manuscript

Writers, are you strong enough to take a critical look at your manuscript? Editing, story development, ghostwriting and more can elevate a book to great heights, but only if the author is prepared to allow someone to help. Many writers get precious about their writing and they don’t want to make changes or accept the guidance of professionals. Join this frank and honest discussion with the experts, if you dare… 

  • Dayna Anderson, Expertise in the small press and indie publishing worlds as a publisher, associate publisher, director of marketing, and head of the production, now founder of Cardinal Points Consulting. 
  • David Farland, Nebula and Hugo Award nominee and author of several bestselling science fiction and fantasy novels and series, including The Runelords and Of Mice and Magic
  • Bill Hayes, Bestselling author and ghostwriter with a gift for adding historical context and artistic flair to any subject. 
  • Mandy Jackson-Beverly, Writing coach, speaker, and author of A Secret MuseThe Devil and The MuseThe Legend of Astridr: Birth, and The Immortal Muse. 
  • Jennifer Thomas, Award-winning author, editor, designer, and publisher. 
  • Moderator: Doug McIntyre, Columnist for Southern California Newsgroup, TV/screenwriter credits include: Married…with ChildrenWKRP in CincinnatiMike Hammer, former radio host KABC-LA. 

2:30pm PT — Chat with Gary Young, President of the Independent Writers of Southern California

Gary serves as President of the Publishers Association of Los Angeles, Executive Director of the Lifetime Achievement Foundation, Director of Professional Development for the Independent Writers of Southern California, and Vice-Chair of the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights.

2:45pm PT — The World Sucks, Let’s Build a New One – Imagining Tomorrow’s World Today

An irreverent take on the traditional world-building panel with an array of writers who imagine the fictional worlds we love to read about. From dystopian to science fiction and steampunk to fantasy, step into a speculative odyssey as they discuss the endless possibilities that we might face because of Covid, racial tensions, advancing technology, political divides, and of course, murder hornets. 

  • Kevin Groh, Author of The Omni Legend Series with the first book, The Commander: Guardian of Utopia, releasing in the United States in English in early 2021.

  • Laurel Anne Hill, Author of two award-winning novels: The Engine Woman’s Light and Heroes Arise.

  • Edgar Scott, Economist turned computer scientist, futurist, and author of the forthcoming 418.

  • Lon Varnadore, Author of Junker Blues, Mostly Human, and other sci-fi and fantasy fiction.

  • Moderator: Bill McCormick, Creator of multiple universes including those in his novels, Splice: Hit Bit Technology and The Brittle Riders Trilogy. 

3:45pm PT — Chat with Joni Labaqui from Writers of the Future

Joni Labaqui is the Director of the International L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest – launching writing careers for over 35 years.

4:00pm PT — A Conversation with Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson – Black Books Matter

Founders of Just Us Books, husband and wife team Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson speak about why black books and authors matter in this intimate conversation. As trailblazers, they founded Just Us Books in 1988 to address the need for more African American children’s books in the marketplace. How has the industry changed? What issues are impacting the publishing industry, our country, and our world? Join us for this conversation and Q&A during The BookFest. 

  • Cheryl Willis Hudson, Vice President and Editorial Director of Just Us Books, and author of many books for young children.

  • Wade Hudson, President, and CEO of Just Us Booksauthor, and poet.
  • Moderator: Ramunda Young Owner/Co-Founder of MahoganyBooks as well as the CEO and Founder of the Ramunda Young Group, LLC. 

Be sure to sign up for email notifications. In the meantime, watch the videos from the Spring 2020 event on the Books That Make You YouTube Page.