Keynote & Panels – Fall 2023
The BookFest Adventure
Featuring Keynotes, Panel Discussions, Conversations and Segments for the Reading and Writing Communities
Day 1 – For Readers
Saturday, October 21st, 2023
Day one of The BookFest Fall 2023 is devoted to readers. If you’re a booklover, then get ready for a bookish good time.
In addition to a full day of panels and conversations, there are special segments, the Big Bundle of Books Grand Prize Giveaway, and the Live Author Chats hosted by Beth Worsdell.
Sit back, curl up with your furry pal or text your friends so you can hang out and enjoy the presentation. Don’t forget to join the chatroom on YouTube to network with your new book-buddies. There are often lively conversations happening there. Either watch on The BookFest Home Page or go to the Books That Make You YouTube Channel.
All times listed in Pacific Time. Programming is subject to change.
Welcome Message from The BookFest Founder Desireé Duffy
We’ll start The BookFest Spring 2023 with a welcome message from its founder Desireé Duffy.
Opening Keynote – Steven Joseph: Crankiness Is Your Superpower
Opening The BookFest Fall 2023 is award winning author and crankiness expert Steven Joseph to talk about how we can unleash our inner crankiness and use it for good. Yes, crankiness is a superpower, one we all have, that when harnessed correctly, can ignite a more understanding, patient, and positively cranky version of ourselves.
A Salute to Wade and Cheryl Hudson – Winners of the Honorary Achievement BookFest Award
Wade and Cheryl Hudson are the founders of Just Us Books, an independent publisher of children’s books that celebrates the diversity of Black people, history, and culture. Founded in 1988, 2023 marks its 35th anniversary. Its titles include board books, picture books, non-fiction, poetry, middle reader series, and novels for young adults. Just Us Books is an institution in children’s publishing and remains one of the nation’s few Black-owned presses. The Hudsons have received numerous awards and honors, including a Children Book Council Diversity Award, an Eric Carle Honor, and the Ida B. Wells Award from the Hurston-Wright Foundation.
Honoree: Wade Hudson, president of Just Us Books and an award-winning author. His latest includes Invincible, Fathers and Mothers of Black America and Defiant, Growing Up in The Jim Crow South
Honoree: Cheryl Willis Hudson, award-winning children’s book author and co-founder of Just Us Books, her most recent work is: Brave. Black. First. 50+ African American Women Who Changed the World published by Crown Books
A Conversation with Deborah M. Pratt — Weaving Stories Across Time and Space
Join us for an intimate and uplifting conversation with Deborah M. Pratt, a pioneer in the realm of speculative fiction and a driving force in Hollywood. Gain a unique perspective on her illustrious career, her philosophy on writing and storytelling, and the challenges she’s faced in an ever-evolving industry. Plus, jump into the phenomenon of Quantum Leap and find out about her thoughts on the future in regard to DEI, technology, and her forthcoming Sci-fi series “Vision Quest” and “Warrior One” novels.
Deborah M. Pratt, acclaimed author, screenwriter, and TV producer, known for her work on the iconic show Quantum Leap (as co-Creator) and Executive Producer on both the original and current QL reboot as well as her visionary, speculative fiction
Moderator: Scott Ryan, TV historian, publisher, author of The Last Days of Letterman; Moonlighting: An Oral History and the forthcoming The Last Decade of Cinema
What’s it Like Inside a Shallow Grave with Doug Kari: Dig into Immersive Research with True Crime Author and Investigative Journalist
Dive into the gritty depths of true crime research with Doug Kari, a true crime investigator known for his immersive approach. In this segment, Kari explores his experiences from laying in shallow graves in the Mojave desert to interviewing migrant refugees in Mexico. Get ready his forthcoming book, The Berman Murders from Rowman & Littlefield, Spring 2024 and gain insight into the meticulous dedication it takes to craft compelling crime narratives.
Doug Kari, lawyer and true crime author of The Berman Murders, adventurer, and journalist
Moderator: K.J. Matthews, an Emmy Award-winning journalist with two decades in TV and entertainment, started as a reporter for CBS, ABC, and FOX-TV affiliates nationwide
Why Horror Matters with Brigids Gate Press
Delve deep into the psyche of horror with the author team from Brigids Gate Press as they dissect the evolution of horror and its impact on pop culture. Discover the influences and fears that shape their stories and contemplate the future of horror as a pop-culture phenomenon. A must-attend event for readers keen on uncovering the nuances of horror in contemporary culture.
Keith Anthony Baird, author of In the Grimdark Strands of the Spinneret, and creator of Diabolica Britannica horror anthology
Stephanie Ellis, author of The Woodcutter, Reborn, and Paused, and is the co-editor of Trembling with Fear, HorrorTree.com’s online magazine
Francesca Maria, author of The Black Cat Chronicles and They Hide: Short Stories to Tell in the Dark, writes dark fiction surrounded by Cats near the Pacific Ocean
Mo Moshaty, trauma specialist turned horror writer, author of Love the Sinner, co-founder Nyx Horror Collective and co-producer of the 13 Minutes of Horror Film Festival
Moderator: Aimee Ravichandran, award-winning CEO of Abundantly Social, Co-owner Top Shelf Magazine and named Top 10 Women Changing the Face of Business
From Boring to Dynamic: Crafting Enticing Book Clubs
Do you have trouble getting people into your book club, or just want to start one and aren’t sure how to keep it from being the same ol’ snoozefest? Learn how to elevate your book club with interactive discussions, diverse book selections, themed meetings, and engaging activities. Transform your next gathering into a fun and enticing literary experience.
Marisa Brown, former Wildland Firefighter, founder of Venus Promotions, revolutionizing promotions with a fresh and innovative approach. She empowers clients, guides authors, and champions women’s growth.
Energy, Sustainability, and the Human Equation: Making an Equitable Energy Transition through Literature
As we face the urgent reality of developing sustainable energy solutions for our world, and the shift to renewable energy becomes a global imperative, how can we possibly be fair and just to all people on our planet? How do we ensure this transition is equitable? How does it impact our societies, our buildings, our politics, and most crucially, our people? This panel brings together three unique perspectives exploring the intricate links between sustainability, equity, and the future of energy.
Korynn Newville, architectural designer, artist and author of indiscernible elements: Calcium, which views the future of architecture and the changing world we live in through the unique perspective of the element calcium
E.A. Smiroldo, nuclear engineer who specialized in weapons nonproliferation, punk rocker, and author of The Silent Count which uses real science to imagine a nuclear weapon used to combat climate change
Moderator: Desireé Duffy, advocate for storytellers, futurist, entrepreneur, and founder of Black Château, the Webby Award-winning Books That Make You brand, and The BookFest.
Why Grandparents Are the Heartbeat of a Child’s Literary Journey
Drawing inspiration from his relationship with his grandson, Ricky, William “PopPop” Stevenson’s series “Ricky’s Dream Trip” takes readers on an adventure through time and across continents. In this segment, Stevenson illuminates the pivotal role that grandparents play in fostering a love for reading and learning in their grandchildren. He will share how a simple book for Ricky evolved into a widely celebrated series and the power of making a child the hero of their own story.
William “PopPop” Stevenson, children’s book author and creator of the “Ricky’s Dream Trip” series
Moderator: CJ Ives Lopez, Air Force Veteran, author, founder of The Authors Porch®, event producer for The Book Fest® and Books That Make You, project manager for Hourly Concepts at BookBrush.
Wait, What? You Mean I’m an Author?
Sometimes life throws curveballs and we become published authors without ever having imagined doing so. Sometimes the journey of writing that first book is filled with unexpected obstacles. And sometimes we don’t realize there’s a story in us until an unexpected plot twist sends us hurtling into the second act and never lets us go back. Find out how these authors wrote and published their first books during this enlightening panel discussion.
Kelly Anne Manuel, a self-described “uncommon” author who released 31 children’s books at once under four series, including: The Essentials Series, The Rainbow’s End Series, The Classics, and the My Name Is Series
Em Marinelli, author of the forthcoming sneaky memoir, Comfort Sequels: The Psychology of Movie Sequels from the 80s and 90s
Jonathan N. Pruitt, lifelong educator turned fantasy author who, with his debut novel The Amber Menhir, delivers biting humor, deep human insights, and a unique scientist’s perspective
Doug McIntyre, his journey writing his novel took many twists and turns and nearly 20 years to release Frank’s Shadow
Moderator: Scott Ryan,TV historian, publisher, author of The Last Days of Letterman; Moonlighting: An Oral History and the forthcoming The Last Decade of Cinema
When Horror Hits Home
What happens when horror hits us in our homes? When the terror is in our own backyard? With deep sense of place in their writing, authors Susy Smith and P. L. Hampton invite readers to question the sanctity of home and family. Are our safe havens also a hotbed for hidden terrors? How do the secrets we keep within our families shape our stories? Listen as these masterful writers discuss crafting narratives that transform the familiar into the foreboding.
Susy Smith, author of the “Asylum” series set in rural Oklahoma which begs the question: what would you do if society collapsed and you needed to protect your home and family?
P.L. Hampton, author of Shadowland, a dark fiction novel about a family, inspired by his own family and heritage
Moderator: John Palisano, award-winning author and past president of the Horror Writers Association
Let’s NOT Talk About Sex: How We Can Empower Kids and Teens with Queer History — A Fireside Chat with Sarah Prager and Lee Wind
In this powerful conversation, authors Sarah Prager and Lee Wind challenge traditional historical teachings by emphasizing the vital role of queer history in children’s literature. They discuss the importance of authentic representation, confronting book censorship, and crafting nuanced, age-appropriate discussions about sexuality and complex historical themes. Dive deep into the challenges and triumphs of illuminating untold stories of those who dared to love and live outside conventional norms.
Sarah Prager, author of Queer, There, and Everywhere, Rainbow Revolutionaries, and A Child’s Introduction to Pride
Lee Wind, writer of Red and Green and Blue and White, No Way, They Were Gay?, and the upcoming The Gender Binary is a Big Lie.
4:00pm PT to 6pm PT
Live Author Chats and Readings
Part afterparty, part networking, and part authors doing whatever the heck they want, this fun interactive event presents authors and literary folks in fast-paced chats with host Beth Worsdell.
Some authors may do readings, some may take audience questions, some may even craft recipes, or do a performance. One thing we know for sure, there will be a lot of surprises. Plus, the winners of The BookFest Big Bundle of Books Giveaway and The BookFest Children’s Book Giveaway will be announced.
Host: Beth Worsdell, English author of the sci-fi Earth’s Angels Trilogy and comedy Calling Clarissa. Founder and host of “The Witty Writers Show”
Co-Host: CJ Ives Lopez, Air Force Veteran, author, Founder of The Authors Porch®, event producer for The Book Fest® and Books That Make You, project manager for Hourly Concepts at BookBrush
Sarah Prager, author of Queer, There, and Everywhere, Rainbow Revolutionaries, and A Child’s Introduction to Pride
Lee Wind, writer of Red and Green and Blue and White, No Way, They Were Gay?, and the upcoming The Gender Binary is a Big Lie
Alan Henry, special projects editor at WIRED, former editor at NY Times/Lifehacker, and author of Seen, Heard, and Paid delves into workplace marginalization and offers career-boosting tips
Mark Leslie, paranormal raconteur and author of Haunted Hospitals, Creepy Capital, and Tomes of Terror will share a true story from his years of researching eerie tales
Kalee Boisvert, Money Guru and author of Make Money your Thing! and kid’s picture book Moneywise Mabel’s Bursting Bank, shares her top tips for making money less SCARY
Ann Charles, USA Today bestselling author of humorous mysteries and supernatural stories, shares several anecdotes of how life imitates art—or rather her art imitates her life
Gwen Overland, award winning author of Hot in Hawaii Series will be demonstrating how to make a Mai Tai
Aleksandra Tryniecka, Assistant professor and writer, introduces her character Bunky, discusses her historical book, explores “Halloween” from 1872, and shares an 1887 pumpkin pie recipe
Jim Potts, an award-winning author and lawyer will discuss the ethical challenges of representing a confessed child serial killer, clashing with deep moral values
Lisa Niver, award-winning travel writer and author of Brave–ish, shares how to banish your inner demons, awaken the hero within, and courageously craft an extraordinary life
Herman DeBoard, US Veteran turned enterprenuer/founder of Huvr, Inc., discusses the Versus Virus and how to evaluate your own beliefs to stop relying on what other tell you through critical thinking skills
Winners of The BookFest Big Bundle of Books Giveaway and The BookFest Children’s Book Giveaway announced
Day 2 – For Writers
Sunday, October 22nd, 2023
Day two of The BookFest is devoted to writers. If you’re part of the writing community, a professional in the literary world, a student or just starting out on your writing journey, this day is dedicated to you.
An array of professionals and fellow authors contribute to Day two with panel discussions, conversations and segments covering the craft of writing, discovering your “deep voice” as a writer, how to write with a partner, the ethical and practical implications of artificial intelligence in the publishing world, ways to get more bang for your book, plotting your novel, and The Critiki-Bar is back, plus more.
Pull up a cozy chair, brew a cup of tea and enjoy the presentation. Please join the chats on YouTube to network with your new book-buddies, too. There are often exciting conversations happening there. Either watch on The BookFest Home Page or go to the Books That Make You YouTube Channel.
All times listed in Pacific Time. Programming is subject to change. Sign up to be a BookFester and get email alerts, BookFest news, and to receive a complimentary Virtual Gift Bag at the end of The BookFest delivered to your inbox.
Welcome Message from The BookFest Founder Desireé Duffy
Day 2 starts with a quick welcome message from founder Desireé Duffy. She’ll tell you about what you can look forward to during The BookFest’s second day, which focuses on writers. Don’t forget to enter The BookFest Writers Giveaway, too.
Keynote by Russell Nohelty – The Future of Publishing is So Bright I Gotta Wear Reality Augmented Shades…Or Else…
Is this the greatest time in the history of the world to be a writer? It’s certainly the most complicated, but with a little know-how and some elbow grease, you can have control of your career like never before. Author, publisher, and co-creator of The Future of Publishing Mastermind in New Orleans 2024, Russell Nohelty delivers the Day 2 keynote address for the writing community.
A Conversation with Jack Grapes — From Poetry to Prose: The Multifaceted Journey of a Word Artist
Join us in a captivating dialogue with Jack Grapes, a literary powerhouse with a flair for experimentation in various formats. From hauntingly profound poems in The Naked Eye: New & Selected Poems to an unconventional memoir penned in haiku, Jack’s writings challenge conventions and evokes thought. Dive deep into his unique Method Writing approach, get a glimpse of his journey to find one’s “deep voice”, and understand the synergy between his life in Los Angeles, his global virtual classroom, and all the teachers—good and bad—that shaped his writing journey. This conversation promises a blend of wit, wisdom, and literary insights to resonate across genres.
Jack Grapes, award-winning poet, actor, and playwright, renowned for books like Method Writing, The Naked Eye, and theatrical hit Circle of Will
Moderator: Desireé Duffy, advocate for storytellers, futurist, entrepreneur, and founder of Black Château, the Webby Award-winning Books That Make You brand, and The BookFest
How to Be a Writing Dynamic Duo
Have you ever considered teaming up with another writer to pen a book? Join successful co-authors Kelly Florence and Meg Hafdahl as they share their journey, insights, and practical advice on creating compelling narratives as a team. Find out how they navigate challenges, foster creativity, and balance perspectives in a writing partnership. A must-attend for aspiring co-authors seeking to turn their collaboration into a rewarding literary adventure.
Meg Hafdahl, horror author with stories in anthologies and audio, wrote Daughters of Darkness and Her Dark Inheritance. Co-hosts Horror Rewind podcast and co-authored The Science of Monsters
Kelly Florence, American author and podcaster, co-wrote the Science of series with Meg Hafdahl. Known for Horror Rewind and Be a Better Communicator podcasts.
Automating Imagination — Exploring Ethical and Practical Implications of Artificial Intelligence in the Writing Community
What has ChatGPT written for you lately? Truth be told, it helped write this description, but the words you are reading are indeed mostly human. As a writer assistant, sure, it can be helpful. But will AI ever replace human creativity? If it can, should we let it? How are writers, publishers, and the literary world reacting to the ever-changing AI landscape? Is AI going to be our friend, our enemy, or land somewhere in between and become our new frienemy? Let’s delve into the pros, cons, and even the unforeseen consequences of a world written by AI in this sure-to-be dynamic panel discussion.
Julie Broad, founder of Book Launchers and Amazon #1 bestselling author specializing in nonfiction writing and marketing strategies for writers
Darren Campo, co-author of the coming book, Artificially Intelligent: How Do We Co-Exist, multi sci-fi author, TV producer and adjunct assistant professor of the Entertainment, Media and Technology Program at NYU
Desireé Duffy, advocate for storytellers, futurist, entrepreneur, and founder of Black Château, the Webby Award-winning Books That Make You brand, and The BookFest
Cameron Sutter, Plottr inventor, software developer, YA sci-fi/fantasy author, and literary enthusiast committed to empowering writers and championing classic literature
Moderator: Monica Matulich, expert in strategic communications, public relations, senior marketing management, business development and government relations, founder of PR Hollywood and author of the forthcoming The Accidental Arms Broker releasing in 2024
Is Ghostwriting Right for You?
Have you ever considered becoming a ghostwriter? It could be an extra stream of income or even a totally new career path. Join Cody Blocker, creator of the Ghostwriting Summit, as he delves into the intricacies of ghostwriting, invaluable insights, plus the pros and cons you need to consider.
Cody Blocker, Best Selling author of Becoming Self Aware: A Three Week Journaling Experience and creator of the Ghostwriting Summit
Moderator, Chelsea McKenna, author of The Blood of the Lion, debut to The Vorelian Saga and winner of four distinguished awards, including silver medalist in fiction – 2022 Readers’ Favorite.
A Conversation with Parchelle Tashi — 5 Ways to Get More Bang for Your Book
Parchelle Tashi, founder of the Author’s Leverage, will reveal powerful strategies to maximize the impact and success of your book. Learn how to leverage your writing journey beyond just publishing, with insights into building a strong author platform, implementing effective marketing techniques, and creating a loyal reader community. Uncover the secrets to turning your book into a powerful tool for personal growth and professional success. Whether you’re a seasoned author or just starting your writing journey, this presentation promises to equip you with the essential tools to unlock the full potential of your literary masterpiece.
Parchelle Tashi, Creative Entrepreneur, Educational Film Director and founder of the Author’s Leverage
Moderator: CJ Ives Lopez, Air Force Veteran, author, founder of The Authors Porch®, Event Producer for The Book Fest® and Books That Make You, project manager for Hourly Concepts at BookBrush.
Making a Just Transition: How Your Words Can Impact the World
Books with grand ideas can change the world. NJ Ayuk, the author of several bestsellers, discusses how to make such an impact. Discover the path he took to writing A Just Transition and what it means for the people of Africa. If you’ve ever considered making a bold statement to the world with your writing, then this segment is for you.
NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of Centurion Law Group, author of A Just Transition: Making Energy Poverty History with an Energy Mix, Billions at Play, and Big Barrels.
The Critiki-Bar: Page One Manuscript Critiques (An Agent and an Author Walk Into A Bar…)
Gather ’round to watch and listen to a rare two-sided assessment from both the business and the craft side of writing — served with wit, insight, experience, and punch. Witness how a highly-regarded literary agent and a New York Times bestselling author discuss — and debate — aspects of creating a skillfully told story and navigating the professional side of publishing by dissecting that oh-so-important first page. Now, with a twist as the authors are given the opportunity to revise their writing.
David L. Robbins, New York Times bestselling author, creative writing professor, founder of James River Writers and The Mighty Pen Project, and co-founder of the Podium Foundation
Katharine Sands, Literary agent representing fiction, non-fiction and memoir. Agent provocateur of Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye, a collection of pitching wisdom from leading literary agents.
How to Plot Like a Pro with Plottr
Have you ever dreamt of weaving tales like a master storyteller? Learn to plot like a pro with Plottr and unearth the secrets of crafting compelling narratives with the premier visual planning tool. Unravel Plottr’s hidden features and let your plot thicken with expertise.
Cameron Sutter, Plottr inventor, software developer, YA sci-fi/fantasy author, and literary enthusiast committed to empowering writers and championing classic literature.
Cultivating Community Among Writers and Readers
The magic of storytelling thrives in the connections made between writers and readers, where shared passions and insights create vibrant communities. How important is community for booklovers? What can we do to foster deep connections in our digital age? Let’s explore building bookish communities that champion the love for literature.
Lucia Matuonto, author, podcaster, children’s physiotherapist, and publisher of Relatable Voice Magazine which provides the Special BookFest Issue for reader and writers.
A Salute to The BookFest Award Winners Fall 2023 Full Video
A video montage spotlighting many winners of The BookFest Awards Fall 2023 played in its entirety. Congratulations to the winners—we look forward to seeing many of you up in lights in Times Square. Visit the Awards Page to see the full list of winners and honorable mentions.