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Jill Kalz

Jill Kalz is the author of The Winter Bees: Fiction, a collection of interconnected short stories set in rural Minnesota (her current home) and a 2019 Midwest Book Award finalist. She has published stories individually in American Fiction Vol. 15 and Minnesota Monthly, and poetry in the Nebraska Review, the Ohio Review, Cream City Review, and other magazines. A 2008 Minnesota Book Award finalist and winner of the Readers’ Choice Award for her picture book Farmer Cap, Kalz is also the author of more than 70 children’s books. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and works as a children’s book editor.

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Joy Riggs

Joy Riggs grew up in Alexandria, Minnesota, and graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism. She specializes in writing about history, travel, and parenting. Her essays, articles, and award-winning columns have appeared in numerous publications, including the Star Tribune, Minnesota Parent, Minnesota Monthly, and the Des Moines Register. She lives in Northfield, Minnesota, where she serves on the boards of the Vintage Band Festival and the Northfield Historical Society.

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Steven Hopstaken

Steven Hopstaken was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he spent his formative years watching and reading science fiction and horror. He has a degree in journalism from Northern Michigan University and spends his free time traveling; writing screenplays, short stories and novels; and practicing photography. He moved to St. Louis Park, Minnesota in 1994 where he currently lives with his wife and co-author, Melissa Prusi. In addition to their first novel, Stoker’s Wilde, they have sold two screenplays.

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Elliott Foster

Elliott Foster is an emerging Minnesota writer of memoir and fiction. He is particularly drawn to stories of the Upper Midwest. In addition to his longer published work, Elliott’s short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in the Green Blade literary journal, the Huffington Post, and the Daily Journal of Southern California. He lives in Saint Paul.

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Laura Packer

Laura Packer knows that the best way to the truth is through a good story. Whether folktale or true, epic or flash, her spoken and written stories captivate audiences. She is committed to helping others find their voice, tell their story, and change the world. Packer is the 2018 MN Grand Slam Champion and Best in Fringe KC 2018, among others. She holds a degree in folklore and mythology and is the author of From Audience to Zeal: The ABCs of Finding, Crafting, and Telling a Great Story. Packer has coached, told, taught, ranted, raved, consulted, and considered storytelling around the world.

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Elizabeth Oness

Elizabeth Oness is a poet and fiction writer who lives on a biodynamic farm in Southeast Minnesota. Her poems and stories have appeared in The Georgia Review, The Gettysburg Review, Glimmer Train, The Hudson Review, and other magazines. Her stories have received an O. Henry Prize, a Nelson Algren Award, and the Crazyhorse Fiction Prize.

Her books include Articles of Faith, Departures, Twelve Rivers of the Body (Gival Press Novel Award 2007), Fallibility (Many Voices Award -New Rivers Press 2008), and Leaving Milan (Brighthorse Books Novel Award 2014).

Oness directs marketing and development for Sutton Hoo Press, a literary fine press, and is a professor of English at Winona State University.

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Bukola Oriola

Bukola Oriola is an international public and motivational speaker, bestselling author, mentor, advocate, entrepreneur, consultant, and member of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking – appointed by President Barack Obama in December 2015, and reappointed by President Trump in 2018. Oriola is an award-winning journalist and a survivor of labor trafficking and domestic violence.

Depicting her experiences in two memoirs, she has dedicated her life to helping others by sharing her story and offering practical solutions to service providers and community members on how to help victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. Her work has reached millions around the world. Oriola is the founder of The Enitan Story, a Minnesota based nonprofit organization with a mission to advocate for victims and empower survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.

She is the CEO of Bukola Oriola Group, LLC, formerly known as Bukola Braiding & Beauty Supply, LLC. She is an entrepreneur who uses her skills to help others become entrepreneurs through book publishing and small business startups.

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Natalie Fowler

Once a practicing attorney, Natalie Fowler is an author, a freelance editor (for FATE Magazine), paranormal investigator (for Ghost Stories Ink) and a psychic medium. Fascinated by good ghost stories from a very young age, now she writes her own stories inspired by her work as a ghost hunter and psychic medium. An avid researcher and self-proclaimed history nerd, Fowler’s works are also influenced by the dark depths of history.

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John Abraham

John Abraham is a published author and freelance journalist located in the Twin Cities, where he lives with his wife Mary and their cats Marble and Morrison. He has published two novels, Our Senior Year and Last Man on Campus.

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Marilène Phipps

Born and raised in Haiti, Marilène Phipps has held fellowships at the Guggenheim Foundation, Harvard’s Bunting Institute, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, and the Center for the Study of World Religions. The Company of Heaven: Stories from Haiti, won the 2010 Iowa Short fiction Award. Her poetry won the 1993 Grolier prize, and her collection, Crossroads and Unholy Water, won the Crab Orchard Poetry Prize. Her most recent book is Unseen Worlds. She has contributed to American anthologies and collections such as The Best American Short Stories; Haiti Noir: The Classics; The Beacon Best; Ploughshares; River Styx; Callaloo; and Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and she edited Jack Kerouac: Collected Poems for The Library of America. Phipps is the recipient of the NAACP’s Award of Excellence for outstanding commitment in advancing the culture and causes for communities of color.

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