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Susan Wardell

Susan Wardell grew up in Saint Paul and graduated from St. Cloud State University in Special Education. She taught preschool and ECFE for many years, but when their youngest graduated from college, she and her husband took the plunge and sold their home in the city and moved to their lake cabin, which is now home. After the birth of their first grandchild, Wardell became inspired to write children’s books. Her passions include advocating for children and working with dogs and cats at their local shelter, Paws and Claws.

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Jill Kalz

Jill Kalz lives and writes in New Ulm, Minnesota. She is the author of The Winter Bees: Fiction, a collection of interconnected short stories set in rural southern Minnesota. Kalz has published poetry in the Nebraska Review, the Ohio Review, Cream City Review, and other magazines. Her short stories have appeared in American Fiction Vol. 15 and Minnesota Monthly. 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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Brandon Vreeman

Brandon Vreeman is a children’s picture book author who has a passion for helping kids become better people. He loves doing author visits and talking to kids about topics such as being different, being happy with yourself, bullying, and more. He also uses part of his talk to demonstrate to kids how a book is made. Brandon is husband to an amazing wife and father to two incredible kids.

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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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Adam Stemple

Adam Stemple is an author, musician, web designer, and professional card player. He has written eight novels, including Pay the Piper (with Jane Yolen), winner of the 2006 Locus Award winner for Best Young Adult Book. Of his debut solo novel, Singer of Souls, Anne McCaffrey said, “One of the best first novels I have ever read.”

Recent works include The Last Tsar’s Dragons (Tachyon, 2019), Crow Not Crow (Cornell Labs, 2018), and Fly with Me (National Geographic, 2018).

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Sabina Mugassa Bingman

Sabina Mugassa Bingman, who also goes by “Sabby,” was born and raised in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania, the tenth of eleven children. From a very young age, she enjoyed spending time with and telling stories to her nephews and nieces. She moved to the US in 1999 and graduated from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul with a master’s degree in Management Information Technology. She currently works as a Microsoft Windows server administrator. Sabina enjoys serving in toddlers’ and babies’ classes at her local church. Her hobbies include running, listening to music, reading, writing, watching movies, and cooking. She and her husband Christopher are proud parents of two wonderful children, 7-year-old daughter Malaika and 5-year-old son Kai. They reside in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.

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Lisa Bullard

Lisa Bullard is the author of more than 100 books for young readers. Her offerings range from picture books to nonfiction titles to a middle grade mystery. Her novel Turn Left at the Cow was a Maud Hart Lovelace Award nominee for the 2017-2018 school year. Lisa enjoys doing school visits and is a long-time writing teacher at the Loft Literary Center. Her Writing Road Trip blog, carried by Bookology magazine, offers tips for teaching writing to young people. Lisa grew up in small-town Minnesota and now lives in Blaine.

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Sean Jensen

Sean Jensen was born in South Korea, but he was raised in California, Massachusetts and Virginia, mostly on or near military bases. Given his unique background, he’s always been drawn to storytelling, a skill he developed at Northwestern University and crafted for the last 16 years, almost exclusively covering the NFL.

During his career, he’s fostered strong relationships with athletes in multiple sports, and he’s earned distinctions from the Illinois Associated Press, Minnesota Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Pro Football Writers of America and Associated Press Sports Editors. In 2006, he received a special achievement award from the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Initially inspired by his two children, he created the Middle School Rules series, which tells the inspirational, childhood stories of professional athletes. He’s humbled each time he’s provided an opportunity to speak to children about values emphasized in the books, such as gratitude, kindness and perseverance.

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Claudia May

Claudia May, Ph.D., is a storyteller, poet, educator, spiritual director, consultant, author, and specialist in Practical Theology and African American, Caribbean, and Ethnic American literature. Her work has been published by Oxford University Press, Taylor & Francis, Walter de Gruyter, Lexington Books, and Routledge, among others. She has contributed articles and poetry to Patheos, Radix, The Mennonite, Red Letter Christians, and other publications. Claudia is an award winning author. She received a Gold Medal in the 2019 Illumination Book Awards in the Enduring Light Christian Children’s Book Category. This award acknowledges “exemplary Christian-themed books published since the year 2000.” May is an Associate Professor and Program Director of Reconciliation Studies, Bethel University, Saint Paul, Minnesota. She is a sought-after specialist in Reconciliation Studies and has more than two decades of experience working alongside, teaching, and learning from global practitioners of reconciliation.

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Patricia Bauer

Patricia Bauer recently retired after 38 years in education, where she shared her passion for history, music, art, and literature with students and staff. She has been a strong advocate for using picture books with older students and has presented many workshops for teachers on that subject. Pat is the author of B is for Battle Cry: A Civil War Alphabet, illustrated by her husband, David Geister. She was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by MN Council for the Social Studies in 2017. Along with Dave, she visits schools, libraries, and other venues to share her love and knowledge of history, literature, music and art. Their presentations can be tailored for any ages.

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