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Joanne Vruno

Joanne Vruno grew up in Maplewood, Minnesota, just houses away from Battle Creek Regional Park, where she spent most of her childhood days hiking and exploring. Her love for nature and the wooded parkland bordering Battle Creek created the magic of the Seasons of Elves series, just as her love for the lakes created her first novel, Loon Child. Today Vruno lives in Saint Paul with her husband. It isn’t unusual to find her working in her yard, walking her two dogs, exploring new places for another novel, or having a picnic while spoiling her five grandchildren.

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Zaylore Stout

Zaylore Stout is an attorney, community organizer and author. Originally from Southern California, he received his B.A. in International Business Management then his J.D. from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He founded Zaylore Stout & Associates in 2012, a law firm handling sexual harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination, and wage and hour matters. Stout was an inaugural recipient of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s Business of Pride Award in 2018, serves on the board for RECLAIM and Quorum, and won a 2017 Lavender Magazine Community Leadership Award. He led the charge for the passage of a Gender Inclusion Policy in the St. Louis Park school district making it the first suburb in the state to do so. He authored Our Gay History in 50 States, an LGBTQIA+ educational book highlighting significant people, places, and events on a state-by-state basis.

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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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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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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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Vincent Wyckoff

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Vincent Wyckoff dedicated a career to the U.S. Postal Service. His first book, Beware of Cat, celebrates the life stories of people on his route. For a short time he lived on the Northshore of Lake Superior, from which he developed the background for Black Otter Bay. He and his wife, Sybil, are long-time residents of south Minneapolis. They have three children and six grandchildren.

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Bill Meissner

Bill Meissner is the author of two short story collections (one from Random House Publishers), five books of poetry, and a novel, Spirits in the Grass, which won the Midwest Book Award.

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Brittany Chaffee

Brittany Chaffee is an avid storyteller, professional empath, and author. On the daily, she gets paid to strategize and create content for brands. Off work hours, it’s all about a well-lit place, warm bread, and good company. Her first book, Wild Morning was released in 2017. Her recent work, Borderline: A Series of Essays, is a collection of prose essays about memory, time, change, and wonder. She lives happily in Saint Paul.

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Leanne M. Benson

Leanne M. Benson is an author and illustrator of her premiere book, The Lion of Tupungato. Designing a book cover along with illustrations are important tools she uses to fully tell her stories. She received her Arts degree from the University of Minnesota. She has enjoyed working to empower young people through several programs and projects, including more than a decade in the English Secondary Language (ESL) Program in the public-school system, as an Art Adventure volunteer, as well as coordinator, and high school student services secretary in Prior Lake. In 2008, she and her husband moved to Minnesota Bluff Country.

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