Keynote & Panels – Spring 2020

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

On Saturday, May 9th, starting at 10am PDT, the programming happened. But don’t fret, you haven’t missed a thing. Watch the re-play on the Books That Make You YouTube Page.

10:00am PT — Welcome Message from Desiree Duffy

We’ll kick off the LA BookFest with a welcome message from its founder. Plus, throughout the day Desireé Duffy will check in and bring you several special segments to enjoy in between panels.

  • Ora Nadrich, Founder and President of the Institute for Transformational Thinking and author of Live True: A Mindful Guide to Authenticity will present a Mindfulness Moment
  • David Ruggerio, Celebrity Chef-Turned Writer will present tasty recipe-making sessions
  • Steven Joeseph, Author of The Last Surviving Dinosaur: The TyrantoCrankaTsuris as well as the forthcoming The Crankatsuris Method: A Grownup Guide to Effective Crankiness, will do a segment on EMBRACING YOUR CRANKINESS

10:15am PT — Opening Keynote by NJ Ayuk

The opening keynote will be delivered by NJ Ayuk, author of Amazon number-one bestseller, Billions at Play and Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. He will discuss key themes explored in Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals and shed a light on the state of the African energy industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic and low oil price.

10:30am PT — Chit Chat with the Tech Cat

Lori H. Schwartz is the Tech Cat and an advocate for embracing technology. She chats with Desireé Duffy about the opportunities suddenly before us. Will we adapt? Will we thrive? Will we make mistakes? Will we have a choice? Find out in this special LA BookFest conversation.

  • Lori H. Schwartz, host of The Tech Cat Show, founder of StoryTech, leading speaker on technology innovation and marketing
  • Desireé Duffy, Founder of Black Château Enterprises, Books That Make You, LA BookFest and Lead Organizer for TEDxResedaBlvd

11:00am PT — A Conversation with Mitch Albom

In conversation will be best-selling author Mitch Albom, with Tuesday People podcast co-host and producer Lisa Goich. He will discuss Human Touch, a new serialized story of hope during the Coronavirus pandemic, set in the moment we are all living through together. Human Touch is being written by Mitch Albom in the present, one week at a time, offered free of charge in an effort to raise funds for COVID 19 related charitable activities in his hard-hit home city, Detroit.

He will also talk about his recent book, Finding Chika and the power of writing poignant stories like this, as well as Albom’s personal journey since releasing the all-time bestselling memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie, 23 years ago.

  • Mitch Albom, Author of Human Touch, Finding Chika, Tuesdays with Morrie and host of Tuesday People
  • Lisa Goich, Author of 14 Days a Memoir, founder of Girl on the Go, and co-host of Tuesday People

Noon PT —The Future of Fiction: What Are People Writing Today for Tomorrow’s Readers?

Visionaries and authors discuss future literature in light of societal shifts because of the virus, politics, policies and recent events. What happens to dystopian, science fiction and fantasy when we already feel like we’re living in a zombie apocalypse?  How will creatives be inspired? What does this panel of visionaries see for the rest of 2020, 2021 and beyond?

  • Maria Alexander, Award-winning author of adult and young adult dark fiction, writer of comedy crime fiction under her own name and Quentin Banks
  • Scott Brody, Author of political thriller The Org, radio station manager and political activist
  • Johnathan 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.
  • Russell Nohelty, USA Today bestselling author, publisher, and founder of Wannabe Press
  • Edgar Scott, economist turned computer scientist, futurist, and author of the forthcoming 418
  • Jenna Busch (M) Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Legion of Leia (now part of Vital Thrills) and has hosted and written for sites like SYFY Fangrrls, Nerdist, ComingSoon.net, Metro, Birth. Movies. Death., IGN, AOL, The Washington Post, Huffington Post and more. She co-hosted Cocktails With Stan with the legendary Stan Lee

1:00 PT — Intermission

We’ll take a half hour-ish break, but feel free to hang out as we have some fun stuff planned for you.

1:30 PT — Integrity in Journalism in the Age of Covid-19, Fake News, and Partisan Politics

What’s it really like reporting the news? What happens when the very veracity of information is questioned and not believed the public—by world leaders? What happens when governments lie? Hear from journalists in this candid discussion about the state of truth in media today.

  • John Kobylt, Co-Host of The John and Ken Show on KFI-AM, Los Angeles 
  • Dan Lothian, Former White House Correspondent for CNN covering the Obama administration, founder of Little Park Media
  • Claudia Piug, President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and a longtime critic on NPR’s Film Week
  • Deborah Zara Kobylt (M) Award-winning journalist best known for work on CNN, Fox11 LA, KCAL9 News, Turner Entertainment and her podcast Deborah Kobylt Live
  • KJ Matthews (M) Award-winning media and entertainment journalist and regular contributor to BBC News, DW News, and previously was with Extra News and CNN for more than a decade

2:30 PT — The Allure of the Memoir: Telling the Human Story

A well-written memoir is more than just the author’s story. Whether by a celebrity or someone else with a great story, it’s a dive into a human experience that’s relatable, inspiring and entertaining. In a time of Coronavirus challenges, we need such engaging tales more than ever! This panel will share memoirists’ stories and journeys, and also point out the memoirs that will touch your heart and keep you turning the page.

  • Bilal Alaji, Author, award-winning and best-selling This Ain’t My Life: One Man’s journey to finding his destiny. Best memoir of 2019 Pinnacle Book Award, SPR finalist 2020
  • Diana Lee Brown, M.A., M.F.T., Author, Fly By: A Daughter’s Journey from Tragedy to Tribute, Most Inspirational Book of the Year, IRWIN Awards, 2019 
  • Gerald Everett Jones, Host, Get Published! podcast and an author and editor 
  • Ray Richmond, Founder and President of Family Sleuth Memoirs, collaborates on memoirs and family histories. His clients include film legend Janis Paige, author of Reading Between the Lines: A Memoir
  • Sue William Silverman, Award-winning author of seven books of creative nonfiction and poetry. Her most recent memoir, How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences, was named “one of 9 essay collections feminists should read in 2020” (Bitch Media)
  • Robin Quinn (M) Award-winning LA Book coach and editor

3:30 PT — The World Is Getting Closer: How Digital Media Is Changing Society

We’ve adapted to social media and the internet for a generation, but suddenly we are using it like never before. Technology gives us the ability to stay connected, but how is that impacting social interaction in the age of social distancing? This panel discussion explores the way digital media is bringing us together and how we can adapt to this shifting platform.

  • Brandyn Cross, Screenwriter, director, producer, musician, and author of The Legacy Book Series
  • Debra Eckerling, Author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning, and Achieving Your Goals and founder of the D*E*B METHOD®
  • Celeste Duckworth, Author, President of Vertikal Life Magazine, and host of A Taste of Ink LIVE Radio Program
  • Kathleen Kaiser, President of the national literary organization Writers & Publishers Network (formerly SPAWN) and founder of Kathleen Kaiser & Associates
  • Ryan Southwick, Author of The Z-Tech Chronicles and software developer in 3-D gaming and mission-critical business applications for the medical industry
  • Monica Matulich (M) Senior VP PRHollywood and senior business and marketing consultant to Fortune 500 companies including Coca-Cola and Disney

4:30 PT — A Conversation with Sarah Kendzior

Journalist, podcast host of Gaslit Nation, and author of The New York Times bestselling The View from Flyover Country, Sarah Kendzior, will discuss her newly released Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America. Find out what Sarah wants to world to know. And discover what drives her passion in telling us. Connie Schultz will conduct the Conversation with Sarah Kendzior. Schultz is a writer, journalist, and has a nationally syndicated column for Creators Syndicate. She has written three books, her latest being The Daughters of Erietown, releasing June 2020 from Penguin/Random House.

  • Sarah Kendzior, Journalist, podcast host for Gaslit Nation, and best-selling author
  • Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winner, Writer, journalist, and author of The Daughters of Erietown

5:30 PT — Power Pitching Your Manuscript or Screenplay: How to Make them Love Your Story

Everyone has at least one story inside them, waiting to get out. What steps should a reader-turned-writer take in getting their story published? How can one begin to plan their pitch for TV or film? If you are a writer, or dream of becoming one, learn form the pros in this conversation about pitching best practices. Discover the dos and don’ts in getting your story out to the masses.

  • Sheryl Benko, Screenwriter, post-production supervisor, and author of The Last of Will
  • Bob Diforio, Founder and principal agent at D4EO Literary Agency, formerly with New American Library [Dutton / Penguin USA] where he helped launch the paperback careers of Erica Jong, Robin Cook, Stephen King, Ken Follett, and Robert K. Tanenbaum
  • Paul S. Levine, Founder of the Paul S. Levine Literary Agency and entertainment attorney
  • Gerald Everett Jones (M) Host, Get Published! podcast and an author and editor

6:30 PT — Closing Power Talk with Raye Mitchell, Esq.

Raye Mitchell, Esq., Boss Girl, a part of the Genius Agency, will deliver a talk titled: Be Genius™ – Bossology 101: 5 Power Moves to a Big Idea, which is about mastering the art and science of Bossology™ and realigning your vision in challenging times, telling your story in any form, and how to plan for the release and strategy of your intellectual property.

  • Raye Mitchell, JD, MBA, Boss Girl and Chief Content Officer, The Genius Agency, Inc.

7:30 PT — After Party

The LA BookFest After Party takes place in the same stream. Hang out and enjoy musical performances, quick takes with LA BookFest participants, and find out who wins the Big Bundle of Books and other bonus prizes. 

Oh! And at 8:45 PDT, the party will end with a special reading of Goodnight Moon by a surprise guest (to be announced soon!)

  • Kiera Lyons musical performance
  • Brandyn Cross musical performance
  • Art Time Painting Fun with Dacey Villarreal 

8:45 PT — Goodnight Moon Reading

The classic bedtime story  Goodnight Moon will be read by Danny Trejo. A must-see for all ages.