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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 Joanne lives in St. Paul, Minnesota 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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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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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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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 (Iowa Short Fiction Prize, 2000)
  • Departures (Penguin, 2004)
  • Twelve Rivers of the Body (Gival Press Novel Award, 2007)
  • Fallibility (Many Voices Award -New Rivers Press 2008)
  • 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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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. His debut novel, Our Senior Year, was published in 2014 by North Star Press. His second novel, Last Man on Campus, was published in 2015, also by North Star Press.

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Marilène Phipps

Marilène Phipps was born and grew up in Haiti. She 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 new book, Unseen Worlds, literary nonfiction, is published by Calumet Editions. 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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Roma Calatayud-Stocks

Award-winning novelist and composer Roma Calatayud-Stocks holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music and Psychology from the University of Minnesota, and post-graduate studies in creative writing from the University of St. Thomas.

Roma is the author of two historical novels, A Song in My Heart, and A Symphony of Rivals. The third installment of the series, An Ode to Joy, will be published in 2020. And in line with her life passion to bring forth the contributions of all cultures through the arts, Roma’s narratives, set to music, provide a window to locations across the world, politics of the era, cultural diplomacy, and history.

Roma has 20 years of experience working for arts organizations, including Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra, MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Vocal Essence, and Walker Art Center. She has toured the United States to present her work at universities, libraries, and book fairs.

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Susan Thurston

Susan Thurston’s grandfather loved a poem she wrote in second grade, and within the glow of his appreciation, she decided to become a writer.

Later, a well-meaning adult mentioned that as a journalist, she could earn her living. She became a reporter and editor, but wouldn’t really say what she earned was a living. She did get to work with some of the finest people she has ever known. Along the way, she has created and produced programs for adult education, travelled in search of her soul-deep home, mothered two fabulous kids, learned to make really good bread, flown in a hot air balloon, and a lot of other things. And always–writing. She has published, performed, and earned awards for a lot of her poetry and some of her prose, co-authored a cookbook, published the novel Sister of Grendel, and taken a few plays from page to stage. She is also the executive editor of The Black Hat Press, assumed from dear friend and fellow writer Beverly Voldseth.

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