Keynote & Panels – Spring 2024

The BookFest Adventure

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


The BookFest Special Engagement with Dr. Michael Greger Author

Can diet combat the effects of aging? Are there ways to avoid the diseases commonly encountered as we get older? Physicians often treat aging as a malady, but what if getting older didn’t mean getting sicker? There are eleven pathways for aging in our cells, and Dr. Michael Greger is here to share how we can disrupt them, potentially live longer, and stay healthier. The How Not to Age Presentation will be followed by a live audience question and answer session in this not-to-miss BookFest Conversation. 

Dr. Michael Greger, MD, New York Times bestselling author, physician, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition. His latest book, “How Not to Age,” is disrupting notions about aging and offers practical advice based on the research 

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

Day 1 – For Readers

Saturday, April 6th, 2024

Day one of The BookFest Spring 2024 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 Scott Ryan.

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 2024 with a welcome message from its founder Desireé Duffy.

10:35am PT

Opening Keynote – Kelly Anne Manuel: The Ingredients of an Uncommon Author

What do you get when you take a pinch of wisdom, a tablespoon of resilience, a cup of life experience, and toss it all into a literary mixing bowl? This unique recipe is the best way to introduce Kelly Anne Manuel, an uncommon author who can alchemize the common into a tasting menu that is both fulfilling and delicious.  

10:45am PT

Salute to Jack Grapes – Winner of the Honorary Achievement BookFest Award

Jack Grapes receives the Honorary Achievement BookFest Award in recognition of his contribution to the reading and writing communities. He’s the author of over 15 books of poetry, including “The Naked Eye: New & Selected Poems” and “Exit Music” which includes 100 of his original paintings and 50 new poems. He’s also written several books of non-fiction, a memoir in haiku form titled “Wide Road to the Edge of the World”, and two books on writing, “Method Writing” and “Advanced Method Writing”. He wrote and starred in “Circle of Will”, a metaphysical comedy about the “lost years” of William Shakespeare, which ran for two years in Hollywood, and won theater critic awards for Best Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor. Jack teaches online classes in Method Writing with students from all over the world from Hawaii to India. He’s delivered numerous presentations and talks to help inspire and guide writers, contributing in countless ways to the literary world. 

Honoree: Jack Grapes, award-winning poet, actor, teacher, and playwright 

Presenter: Lisa Segal, Los Angeles-based artist and poet

11:00am PT

A Conversation with Josh Malerman: Out of the Box Exploring the Creative Process with the Bird Box Author 

Josh Malerman is truly a renaissance man. In this honest, and often hilarious conversation, Josh talks about his upcoming (and most terrifying novel) Incidents Around the House. The conversation leads to his hope to one day do stand-up comedy, the many times he has scared himself while writing, as well as his body of work and how his life has shaped everything he has written. 

Josh Malerman, New York Times Bestselling author of Bird Box, Incidents Around the House”, and co-singer/songwriter from The High Strung with hit “The Luck You Got” theme song for “Shameless on Showtime 

Jennifer Anne Gordon, award-winning author of “Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent and “Pretty/Ugly”, co-host of the Vox Vomitus Podcast, as well as “House of Mystery” on NBC Radio

11:45am PT

Unite Against Book Bans: Support Right to Read Day & National Library Week 

If you believe individuals should be trusted to make their own decisions about what to read, young people deserve to see themselves reflected in a library’s books, and parents should not be making decisions about what to read for other parents’ children, then join us and Unite Against Book Bans. Find out how you can support Right to Read Day and National Library Week 2024. You’ll also be introduced to Book Résumés, which helps teachers, librarians, parents, and community members defend books from censorship. 

Jennie Pu, member of the American Library Association’s Policy Corps Cadre on Proactive Advocacy Opposing Book Banning and director of the Hoboken Public Library, the first book sanctuary city in New Jersey 

Desireé Duffy, advocate for storytellers, futurist, entrepreneur, and founder of Black Château, the Webby Award-winning Books That Make You brand, and The BookFest

12:00pm PT

Fresh Off the Press: Showcase of New Releases and Trending Genres 

A dynamic exploration of books and genres capturing the imagination of the literary world today. This panel gathers authors, experts, and industry insiders to discuss several new releases across a variety of captivating genres. If you’re looking for a new book that challenges and informs, then you’ll enjoy this panel discussion. 

Dr. Paul M. Corona, is a physician reshaping the future of psychiatry and family medicine using mind and body healing with his latest book, “The Corona Protocol”, which challenges conventional methods treating mental health 

Teresa L’Heureux, former competitive powerlifter and bodybuilder, survivor of domestic violence, and author of “My Rock My Hard Place” where she shares her journey of surviving domestic violence 

Hannibal B. Johnson, Harvard Law School graduate, attorney, consultant specializing in diversity, equity, and inclusion issues, and author of “10 Ways We Can Advance Social Justice — Without Destroying Each Other” 

Itua Uduebo, born in Lagos, Nigeria, graduate of Georgetown University, and author of “Parade of Streetlights”, an introspective book that explores New York City in a captivating millennial experience 

Moderator: Lucia Matuonto, author, podcaster, children’s physiotherapist, and publisher of “Relatable Voice Magazine” which provides the Special BookFest Issue for readers and writers 

12:45pm PT

Getting the Good Bits Version of an MBA: The Business Leaders Lab 

Ever notice how theory-heavy courses can leave you scratching your head about how to apply those methods in the real world? Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur ready to build your dream business, or you’re an avid reader curious about the business world, cutting through the clutter and getting to the “good bits” might be for you. With a PhD in Organization and Management, and 20+ years teaching MBA students, Dominic McLoughlin knows how to help people turn their creative fire into business power. Let’s get a clear explanation of the 8 pillars of business success — and get the “Good Bits” in this bite-sized segment. 

Dr. Dominic McLoughlin, author of “Be a Better Manager in 5 minutes a Day” and creator of the Business Leaders Lab: “The ‘Good Bits’ Guide for Passionate Professionals”

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 

1:00pm PT

Unraveling the Mysteries: A Deep Dive into the Thriller, Suspense, and Mystery Genres 

Why do we gravitate towards stories that make our hearts race and our minds whirl? What does it take to pen a story that stands out in these genres? Whether you’re a die-hard fan, a casual reader, or are simply curious about what goes on behind the scenes of crafting thrillers, suspense and mystery books, this panel promises an intriguing exploration of the magic behind these authors’ pens. From the classic whodunnits to psychological thrillers that delve deep into the mind’s darkest corners, our panel explores the vast landscape of one of literature’s most enthralling genres. 

Lee Lindauer, award-winning author, member of the International Thriller Writers, former co-editor of “Big Thrill” magazine. His forthcoming novel “The Salvation of Henry Maxwell” is an emotion-packed, character-driven novel

donalee Moulton, award-winning freelance journalist and author of “Conflagration!”, “Hung Out to Die”, “The Thong Principle”, and co-author of “Celebrity Court Cases: Trials of the Rich and Famous”

Moderator: Amy Wolf, author of 12 novels and 38 short stories including the Amazon Kindle Scout-winning novel “The Misses Brontës’ Establishment”, and former Hollywood studio executive with 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers 

1:45pm PT

Puzzles and Prose: Why We Love Enigmatic Stories  

Something intriguing happens when we are faced with puzzles, doesn’t it? Readers love parsing clues and guessing the motives of their favorite protagonists, and their favorite villains. Nothing gets us engrossed in a story more than figuring out how the puzzle pieces go together. Samuel Burr, a seasoned TV executive turned celebrated author, discusses how he captivates his audience. Discover the artistry behind enigmatic storytelling and why it resonates so deeply with us, through the lens of a cat-loving creator with an old soul. 

Samuel Burr, author, freelance TV executive, and cat-lover who is old at heart, his book “The Fellowship of Puzzlemakers” is part mystery and part coming-of-age novel that unfolds through puzzle-infused prose 

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 

2:00pm PT

A Conversation with Michael Hingson – Trust, Triumph, and a Thunder Dog 

Join us for an inspiring BookFest conversation with Michael Hingson, the New York Times bestselling author of “Thunder Dog: The Story of a Blind Man, A Guide Dog, And the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero”. Michael’s remarkable story of survival and trust during the chaos of September 11 with his guide dog Roselle highlights the unbreakable bond between a man and his guide dog, while challenging perceptions about blindness. This session will delve into the lessons of teamwork, resilience, and overcoming adversity that Michael has shared with millions of people. Attendees will gain insights into a journey that transforms understanding of capability and courage in the face of America’s darkest days. Michael’s narrative is not just a survival story but a testament to the triumph of trust and the indomitable human and canine spirit. 

Michael Hingson, author of “Thunder Dog” and “Running with Roselle”, speaker, and social advocate for change concerning disabilities through his involvement with the National Federation of the Blind 

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 

2:45pm PT

Evaluating Your Cup of Life and Learning to Say Yes 

How many times have you heard the saying, Fill your cup or been asked, Is your cup half-full or half-empty? Join us as we dive into this topic and focus on removing barriers that may be holding you back with an expert who thrives on providing insights, reflections, and practical guidance to help readers find the strength to move forward. 

Tashena Anderson-Place, bestselling author, BookFest Award-Winner, and inspirational speaker on a mission to empower individuals to evaluate their cup of life to find hope and renewed purpose 

Moderator: John Palisano, award-winning author and developmental editor who has been featured in the “Los Angeles Times” and “Vanity Fair Magazine” 

3:00pm PT to 5pm PT

Live Author Chats and Readings

Join us for our lively afterparty and networking event where we invite authors to take the stage and do whatever they want for 10 minutes. Hosted by Scott Ryan. 

Readings, Q&A’s, and more with your favorite authors. Don’t forget to join us to hear the winners of our The BookFest® Big Bundle of Books Giveaway and The BookFest® Children’s Book Giveaway during this event. 

Host: Scott Ryan, Pop culture historian and author of “The Last Decade of Cinema”, and many others. Founder of “The Blue Rose Magazine” 

Co-Host: J. Gordon Curtis, Freelance journalist and podcast producer with bylines in “The Daily Beast” and “Filter Magazine”. Producer for The Book Fest® Live Author Chat 

3:05pm PT

Michael Hingson, congenitally blind author and survivor of the Twin Towers attacks will join us after his Trust, Triumph, and a Thunder Dog conversation for questions about his powerful story 

3:20pm PT 
A. M. Colman, the award-winning author of “LOVE MY HAIR,” will be talking about the value and importance of books representing children of color, inclusivity, and diversity

3:30pm PT 
Amy L. Bernstein, author of “Wrangling the Doubt Monster,” will reveal her deepest doubts and ask others to bravely share their own as part of an inspiring conversation around creativity

3:40pm PT 
Dennis J. Petersen, U.S. Navy Reserve Officer, will discuss the history and importance of the NATO Phonetic Alphabet and share samples from his new children’s guide, “Alpha Bravo Charlie” 

3:50pm PT 
Kim Lengling, the #1 Top New Release author of “Paw Prints on The Couch,” will share the touching story of adopting Dexter, a rescue dog 

4:00pm PT 
Michele Kwasniewski, award-winning author of “The Rise and Fall of Dani Truehart” trilogy and former Hollywood insider, will discuss good and bad moments from behind-the-scenes and the enticing trap of fame 

4:10pm PT 
K.T. Anglehart, award-winning author of “The Wise One,” shares how her high school English teacher sparked her fascination with folklore and Ireland thanks to a mystical encounter of his own 

4:20pm PT 
Becca Fox, author of The BookFest Award-Winning Series,Chosen by the Masters,” will be sharing tips on how to create realistic relationships in fiction 

4:30pm PT 
Stephanie Dooley, author of several series, standalone novels, and short stories will share her 10 secrets for new writers that nobody else will share along with highly impactful insider information 

4:40pm PT 
Wendy Van Camp, a poet laureate specializing in astropoetry and science-fiction haiku (Scifaiku), will read from her poetry collection, “The Planets,” and discuss the active, international community of speculative poets 

4:50pm PT
Donna D. Conrad, award-winning author of “The Last Magdalene,” will read a preview from her new book and share anecdotes from the notorious past of its main character 

5:00pm PT

Winners of The BookFest Big Bundle of Books Giveaway and The BookFest Children’s Book Giveaway Announced.

Day 2 – For Writers

Sunday, April 7th, 2024

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 realms of inspiration, collaboration, and narrative craft as a writer, uncovering the art of historical storytelling, navigating potential scams, and expanding your authorial horizons 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

We’ll start the second day of The BookFest Spring 2024 with a welcome message from its founder Desireé Duffy. 

10:35am PT

Keynote – Lisa Diane Kastner: Build Your Writing Career from Scratch

Feel lost? Frustrated in your writing and publishing endeavors? Then join Lisa Diane Kastner, the Founder of Running Wild Press, LLC, as she walks you through the basics of developing your own personal career roadmap. 

10:45am PT

Book Series CollaborationStraight Talk with the Creative Team Behind the Snoodles Books 

Join us for a glimpse behind the pages with Steven Joseph, the award-winning author of the “Snoodles” book series, and Andy Case, the series’ publisher and illustrator. The creative team will discuss the art and advantages of building a captivating children’s book series. Discover the collaborative process that brings the “Snoodles” world to life and learn how creating a series can foster a dedicated readership. This segment promises invaluable insights for authors who are considering developing a series. 

Andy Case, professional illustrator with experience working for book publishers, record labels, and magazines in many different countries 

Steven Joseph, award-winning author of the “Snoodles” series and “Cranky” books for adults, first-generation American, son of a Holocaust Survivor, masterful attorney, seasoned negotiator, engaging speaker, and long-distance runner 

11:00am PT

A Conversation with Doug Kari Exploring Immersive Investigative Journalism

This eye-opening conversation with Doug Kari invites writers to explore his methodology as an investigative journalist. Known for his immersive techniques, he will share how he combines rigorous scholarly research with the visceral impact of firsthand experiences. From lying in a murder victims grave in the Mojave Desert to mingling with migrant refugee children at the Mexican border, discover the untold stories he unearthed through his relentless pursuit of truth in the most remote and dangerous corners of our world. This conversation is a must for anyone fascinated by the power of journalism to shine a light on the darkest aspects of human nature, true crime, and the dedication it takes to help find justice for the victims. 

Doug Kari, true crime author of “The Berman Murders”, his investigative stories have run on the front pages of “LA Weekly”, “Las Vegas Review-Journal”, “San Francisco Daily Journal”, and other respected outlets 

Moderator: Beth Freely, is an award-winning author, copywriter, and BookFest Bellwether. Her novels include, “Beyond the Steps of Stone”, “The Loch”, and “The Legend of Captain St. Pierre” 

11:45am PT

On Memory and Metaphor: Bringing the Past to Life 

Sensory knowledge, written descriptively, helps in recalling past events. From there, we metaphorically and thematically string memories together. By reflecting on our lives, we see truths not initially observed in the past. Memories are dynamic, not static. They change as we change. When we write our sensory memories, they present us with fresh perspectives. This second life doesn’t just recapture past actions, it gives them depth and meaning. 

Sue William Silverman, is an award-winning author of eight works of nonfiction and poetry, including her latest book “Acetylene Torch Songs: Writing True Stories to Ignite the Soul” 

12:00pm PT

The Science of Storytelling: How to Use Science, Structure and Sizzle to Create a Bestselling Novel 

Join #1 New York Times bestselling authors James Rollins (Sigma Series), and W. Craig Reed (Red November), for an entertaining and exciting look at how stories affect readers at a primal level. Discover how to harness that power for your own writing. You’ll learn how the latest neuroscience research relates to storytelling and how it can help you create compelling characters that leap off the page and structure engaging that sizzle. You’ll also learn how to use personality profiling to create sympathetic characters, riveting plots, effective dialog, visual settings, and spine-tingling tension.   

James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of award-winning thrillers that appeal to Michael Crichton fans, including “Tides of Fire”, the latest in the popular “Sigma Series”, and “The Starless Crown, the first in a new fantasy series 

Moderator: W. Craig Reed, New York Times bestselling author of business/military/political thrillers and non-fiction books including the award-winning books, “Start With Who”, “Red November”, and Amazon-bestseller “Spies of the Deep” 

12:45pm PT

Authors Beware: Scammers Are Targeting You 

Have you been approached about turning your novel into a movie? Solicited by a literary agent? Had your Facebook page duplicated? Scammers disguising themselves as reputable firms and people, taking over pages, and spamming and scamming authors. You can’t fight it by merely filling out a form. Find out what dangers lurk out there for authors and how to protect yourself. 

Desireé Duffy, advocate for storytellers, futurist, entrepreneur, and founder of Black Château, the Webby Award-winning Books That Make You brand, and The BookFest 

Kathleen Kaiser, President of the Writers & Publishers Network, book marketer, author of five books and four plays. Her goal with WPN is empowering writers with resources and knowledge for success 

1:00pm PT

The Critiki Bar: Page One Manuscript Critiques (An Agent and an Author walk into a Bar…)

A BookFest favorite returns. 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. 

David L. Robbins, New York Times-bestselling author, creative writing professor, founder of James River Writers, The Mighty Pen Project, and co-founder of the Podium Foundation 

Katharine Sands, literary agent who represents 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 

1:45pm PT

AMPlify Audiobooks:  Take Control of Your Audiobook Success 

Do you have or plan to produce an audiobook edition of your book? This segment will provide information critical to your success. AMPlify Audiobooks™ is a game-changing platform that delivers higher royalties and a suite of marketing tools that provides more control. Learn about the AMPlify Audiobooks movement and how you can sell directly with your own store, marketing tools, and team. Join us to learn how to take charge of your audiobook success. 

Becky Parker Geist, author of, The Left Turn: Two Lives, Worlds Apart, book narrator, and founder and CEO of Pro Audio Voices, Inc 

2:00pm PT

A Conversation with James Dashner – Running Through the Maze with Famed Author and Screenwriter

Join us for an insightful conversation with James Dashner, celebrated author of the #1 New York Times bestselling “Maze Runner” series and the enthralling “Mortality Doctrine” series. Beyond captivating millions with his novels, Dashner has seen his dystopian visions come to life on the big screen, with the “Maze Runner” film trilogy becoming the fourth highest-grossing film series based on young-adult books. Now living and writing in the Rocky Mountains, Dashner’s latest venture into adult horror with “The House of Tongues” showcases his adeptness at crossing genres and mediums, including a foray into screenwriting. This discussion will explore Dashner’s journey from page to screen, his creative process, and what fans can expect next as he continues to expand his storytelling horizons. 

James Dashner, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling “Maze Runner” series, the bestselling “Mortality Doctrine” series, and the horror novel, “The House of Tongues” 

Moderator: Keri-Rae Barnum, owner and CEO of New Shelves Books, publishing and book marketing expert 

3:00pm PT

A Salute to The BookFest Award Winners Spring 2024 Full Video 

A video montage spotlighting many winners of The BookFest Awards Spring 2024 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.