Keynote & Panels – Spring 2023

The BookFest Adventure

Featuring Keynotes, Panel Discussions, Conversations and Segments for the Reading and Writing Communities

Day 1 – For Readers

Saturday, April 1st, 2023

Day one of The BookFest Spring 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 Doug McIntyre.

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.

10:30am PT
Welcome Message from The BookFest Founder Desireé Duffy

We’ll start The BookFest Spring 2023 with a welcome message from its founder Desireé Duffy.


10:35am PT
Opening Keynote – Randi Braun
Ignore those Selfcare Myths — We’re on the Precipice of Something Major

Randi Braun is a sought-after thought leader, speaker, and author of the women’s leadership book Something Major: The New Playbook for Women at WorkShe discusses her five selfcare myths in the opening keynote for The BookFest Adventure Spring 2023.

10:45am PT
Salute to The BookFest Award Winners Spring 2023

A video montage spotlighting many winners of The BookFest Awards Spring 2023. Portions of the video air throughout The BookFest in between programming. You can also see the winners listed under the Awards tab. The full video Salute to The BookFest Winners airs at the end of The BookFest on Day 2, and is posted on The Books That Make You YouTube Channel.

11:00am PT
A Conversation with Tosca Lee

This conversation explores the enduring power of story with New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee. She discusses her writing journey and experiences in the publishing world while on the road to literary success with Aimee Ravichandran of Abundantly Social.

Tosca Lee, multiple award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels whose number one goal is to entertain and transport her readers

Moderator: Aimee Ravichandranof Abundantly Social

11:45am PT
When Science Fiction Is Based on Science Fact

Eventually technology catches up and the fantastical becomes plausible and may even become factual. Join author E.A. Smiroldo in this tantalizing segment. She is a nuclear engineer who based her cli-fi novel, The Silent Count, on real textbook climate change science.

EA Smiroldo, novelist, musician, and nuclear engineer who infuses real climate science and imagines the possibilities in her debut novel The Silent Count

12:00pm PT
Where Do They Get Those Wonderful Ideas?

How much muse do authors use, anyway? Do they get their ideas in dreams, in their travels, from life experiences? This fun panel features an array of writers who share their creative methods. Discover the process behind the creation of your new favorite books.

Steven Joseph, author of the Snoodles Children’s Books Series who is occasionally cranky

Sara Winokur, author of Double Blind: The Icelandic Manuscript Murders and the forthcoming Ivory Bones: The Lewis Chessman Murders

Beth Freely, author of the award-winning novels Behind the Eyes of Dorian Gray and Beyond the Steps of Stone

Moderator: CJ Lopez, founder of The Authors Porch magazine, podcast and blog and multi-genre author

12:45pm PT
Writing, Reading and Working Doesn’t Have to Be a Pain in the Neck

Let’s find out how to take care of your body while writing or reading your heart out. A 12-minute discussion of ergonomics and stretching to care for your body as you write, read, work, and of course, as you watch The BookFest Adventure.

Valerie Fentress, writes children’s books to communicate biblical truths through simple stories, and is the author of Beneath the Hood, and an avid blogger

1:00pm PT
Readers and Writers, You Need to Be Smarter than a Robot – and Quick

As artificial intelligence becomes more prevalent, much of the content you read may be written by a robot. Online articles, blog posts, short stories, and even full novels may be produced by the technology, not to mention illustrations and book cover art. What does this mean to booklovers? What should you keep in mind when reading content produced by robots? Will knowing that a book was written by AI influence your opinion to buy or read it? Where should technology draw the creative line?

Russell Nohelty, USA Today bestselling author, publisher, and founder of Wannabe Press

Lori H. Schwartz, known as The Tech Cat – short for Technology Catalyst – author, entrepreneur, regular fixture at CES and many technology conventions

Moderator: Desireé Duffy, founder of Black Château, the Webby Award-winning Books That Make You brand, and The BookFest

1:45pm PT
Think like a Writer: Act like a Superstar

Discover 10 acting hacks for writers and speakers for enhanced fan engagement and fun.

 Dr. Raye Mitchell, Harvard creative rights and content expert, producer of The Mouthology® Show.TV, author of Breaking the Insidious Silence: A Story About Storytelling and Winning in the Court of Public Opinion

2:00pm PT
From Book to Screen—Authors Reveal Their Journey

Books are being adapted into film and TV at an astounding rate. This is good news for booklovers because we get to see our favorite reads come to life. If you’ve ever wondered how a book is pitched, selected, produced, and what it feels like to see one’s book on the screen, then join these authors who will share their tales.

Melinda Curtis, USA Today bestseller of over 80 sweet romance, romcoms & women’s fiction. Her book Dandelion Wishes was made into a TV movie – Love in Harmony Valley

Rich Davis , author of, Cult of Dracula, a Top 100 Best Selling comic in 2021. His next comic, Prometheus In Chains, has been tabbed as one of the most anticipated horror comics of 2023

Ace Antonio Hall (Nzondi), author of the Bram Stoker Award-winning novel, Oware Mosaic. The TV series, Feeni Xo

Edo van Belkom, author of Wolf Pack. The TV series stars Sarah Michelle Gellar, on Paramount Plus

Moderator: Scott Ryan, author of Moonlighting: An Oral history and the upcoming Lost Highway: The Fist of Love

2:45pm PT
Entitled: What Makes a Great Book Title?

What makes for a great book title (or article title)? How do writers come up with a title, and when does this happen? What works, what doesn’t work? What are readers looking for? Does the title really make a difference if the book is great?

Donalee Moulton, award-winning freelance journalist and the author of The Thong Principle: Meaning What You Say and Saying What You Mean

3:00pm PT
A Conversation with a Member of the Manson Family

Join co-authors of Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties, Dianne Lake and Deborah Herman, during this Conversation about one of the most notorious cults of the twentieth century. At age 14 Dianne Lake became one of “Charlie’s girls,” and though she never participated in any of the group’s gruesome crimes and was purposely insulated from them, Dianne was arrested with the rest of the Manson Family, and eventually learned enough to join the prosecution’s case. With the help of the cop who first arrested her and later adopted her, the courageous young woman eventually found redemption and grew up to lead an ordinary life.

Plus! Join Dianne and Deborah in the Live Author Chats following their Conversation.

Deborah Herman, founder of Author Branding Solutions, publisher, author, and former literary agent with over thirty years’ experience in the publishing industry

Dianne Lake, author and former member of the Manson Family, dubbed the youngest member of the family but didn’t participate in the horrific acts

3:45pm PT
Salute to The BookFest Award Winners Spring 2023

A video montage spotlighting many winners of The BookFest Awards Spring 2023.

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 Doug McIntyre.

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 winner of the Grand Prize BookFest Big Bundle of Books Giveaway will be announced.

Host: Doug McIntyre, novelist, columnist, TV/Screenwriter, radio host and event emcee and author of Frank’s Shadow

Co-Host: CJ Lopez, founder of The Authors Porch magazine, podcast and blog and multi-genre author

4:10pm PT

Deborah Herman, co-author of Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness That Ended the Sixties talks about writing the book with Dianne Lake and answers audience questions.

4:30pm PT 
Lucia Matuonto, host of UNCUT with Lucia by World Authors and The Relatable Voice, speaks about, Stories Unleashed: how a podcast became her platform for celebrating authors and storytellers.

4:40pm PT 
Tasheena Anderson, author of Fill Your Cup, will speak about the power of saying yes.  

4:50pm PT 
Dr. Sheila H. Forman, author of Tame Your Appetite: The Art of Mindful Eating and Mindful Bite, Joyful Life: 365 Days of Mindful Eating. Will read parts of her two newest books.

5:00pm PT 
Glenda Benevides, an Award-winning, RECORDING ACADEMY Voting Member, and GRAMMY® considered artist, author of Find your Fire and Ignite your Life, speaks about what it takes to have Clarity, Courage, Confidence, Commitment and Community. 

5:10pm PT 
Charles Breakfield & Rox Burkey, both technology experts and authors of the award-winning Enigma series, speaks about the emphasis of techno-thrillers and detection of cyber technology with elements of writing within artificial intelligence. 

5:20pm PT 
Dr. Roger Leslie, scholar in the fields of success and education, speaks “The Joy is in The Journey.” Dr. Leslie will share how to build consistent momentum for a writing career by leveraging anticipation for success with meaningful, day-to-day practices that develop skill and sustain artistic creativity. 

5:30pm PT 
Danièle Cybulskie, writer, professor, TEDx speaker, and podcaster. She is the author of Life in Medieval Europe: Fact and Fiction, and The Five-Minute Medievalist, will share what medieval monks can teach us about living happy, healthy, meaningful lives in the modern world.

5:40pm PT 
Gavin Seah, CEO of Soil Of Humility, and author of the award-winning book, True Humility: Finding Peace and Balance in Today’s Modern Society, will be speaking on overcoming adversity to find true Humility.

5:50pm PT 
Kelly Anne Manuel, a children’s book author who released an astonishing 31 books at once, speaks about how children’s books are a launching pad discussion and discourse and will explain the theme of each of her four series and read from The Night Quiet.

Grand prize announcement

Day 2 – For Writers

Sunday, April 2nd, 2023

Day two of The BookFest Spring 2023 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 2 with panel discussions, conversations and segments covering the craft of writing, transforming your book into a profitable online course, world-building, book reviews, book proposals, leveraging book awards, breaking into the library market and 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.

10:30am PT
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.

10:35am PT
Keynote – Virginia Fox
How a Moment Makes a Writer

Bestselling author Virginia Fox kicks off Day 2 of The BookFest Adventure with an opening keynote about how a moment of her life led to a successful writing career. An established author in the German-language market, she launched five books in the “Rocky Mountain Romances” series which have garnered a half million page reads (so far) on Amazon KDP.

10:45am PT
A Salute to Flo Selfman Winner of the Honorary Achievement BookFest Award

Selfman is an in-demand copy editor and proofreader for award-winning books, scripts, business materials, and websites, working across many genres, both fiction and nonfiction. Her distinguished career in book publicity and author promotion resulted in major media coverage for her clients and created lasting relationships with media, clients, and colleagues. In addition to her work in book publicity and editing, Selfman conducts engaging workshops on grammar and punctuation for adults. She is a PR consultant for books, authors, and arts events, and is currently writing her own memoir.

Honoree: Flo Selfman, Independent Writers of Southern California Past-President, and co-founder of Words à la Mode

Presenter: Steven Sanchez, Independent Writers of Southern California Vice-President

Presenter: Gary Young, Independent Writers of Southern California President

11:00am PT
A Conversation – Running Wild with Lisa Diane Kastner and Jonathan Maberry

She’s the founder and Executive Editor of Running Wild Press and RIZE Press who believes we can change the world through story. Joined by New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry, discover what today’s publishers are looking for, the importance of building a solid foundation for your publishing career, and what it’s like in the world of Lisa Diane Kastner.

Lisa Diane Kastner, Founder and Executive Editor of Running Wild Press and RIZE Press

Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author 5-time Bram Stoker Award-winner, and comic book writer

11:45am PT
Transform Your Book into Premium and Profitable Online Courses

How do you offer your readers a comprehensive experience? Are there ways to capitalize on the online course revolution? Is making a course right for you and your book’s audience? Join Parchelle Tashi, founder of The Author’s Leverage in this info-packed segment.

Parchelle Tashi, M.A.Ed., founder, The Author’s Leverage

Moderator: CJ Lopez, founder of The Authors Porch magazine, podcast and blog and multi-genre author

12:00pm PT
It’s a Mad, Mad Author’s World

When authors build worlds, anything can happen. From intricate science fiction multiverses and fantasy worlds to subtle time slips and historical fiction and beyond, the places that writers create are captivating escapes for readers. Find out how worlds are developed and get inspired by this array of authors who build the worlds readers love to live in.

Rebecca Inch-Partridge, freelance editor, who specializes in speculative fiction, mysteries, and memoirs, and author of YA science fantasy novel Escaping the Dashia

Mark J Rose, scientist, adventurer and author of the Matt Miller in the Colonies time travel historical fiction series

Dennis E. Taylor, author of the acclaimed sci-fi “Bobiverse” book series, is a former computer programmer and member of the prestigious X-Prize Foundation Science Fiction Advisory Council as a Visionary Storyteller

Moderator: Chelsea McKenna, author of The Blood of the Lion, the first book of “The Vorelian Saga”

12:45pm PT
Turning Bad Reviews into Positives

All authors face bad reviews no matter how well the book is written. Some stories don’t resonate with book reviewers. A message might not be powerful enough to reach the intended audience. Bad reviews can be used as a learning experience. Book reviewer Tawny Molina shares her expertise and advice about book reviews.

Tawny Molina, book reviewer and blogger with Books and Games, Reedsy and more

Moderator: CJ Lopez, founder of The Authors Porch magazine, podcast and blog and multi-genre author

1:00pm PT
Presentation: The Library Market for Authors

How can authors increase book sales in the library market? What in-roads do you need to make? How can small press and publishers get the attention of librarians in today’s information over-loaded world? Join author and librarian Robin Currie for a presentation that will help you understand the library market today.

Robin Currie, public librarian and author of How to Dress a Dinosaur

1:45pm PT
Leveraging Book Awards and Accolades

What happens when you begin getting the recognition you deserve as a writer? How can you make the most out of book awards? Get tips on social media, public relations and marketing from the founder of Book Award Pro.

Hannah Jacobson, founder of Book Award Pro

2:00pm PT
Decoding the Book Proposal

What are literary agents and publishers looking for in a book proposal? What do writers need to do to make their presentation stand out and not end up in the “slush pile”? Get the inside scoop from a literary dynamic duo as they decode the book proposal and deliver salient advice for today’s savvy authors.

Deborah Herman, bestselling author, publisher, former literary agent, CEO of Micro Publishing Media (MPM) and intuitive writing coach who is also an expert at author branding and skilled in navigating the modern publishing world

Jeffrey Herman, literary agent with more than a thousand domestic and international book deals made—including many bestsellers—specializes in adult non-fiction, and author of Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents

2:45pm PT
Salute to The BookFest Award Winners Spring 2023—Full Video

A video montage spotlighting many winners of The BookFest Awards Spring 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 on The BookFest Website to see the full list of winners and honorable mentions.