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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, traveled 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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Dale A. Swanson

Dale A. Swanson is a published author, poet, screenwriter, and playwright. His historical novel, The Thirty-ninth Man, made the Star Tribune “Best book read” in 2013. The sequel, Tears of Sorrow, was released in 2018. His fantasy chapter book, The Wild Ways: Mystery of the Hanging Tower, for 9- to 99-year-old readers, was published in 2015.  He has had poetry included in two annual stage productions by the Bloomington Arts Council, and two of his radio plays have been performed live and aired statewide. Swanson’s screenplay, Creation Story, was filmed for the nonprofit, Native Strong ARC. In addition to writing, Swanson is an accomplished speaker, having given talks on the US-Dakota War of 1862 to area schools 6th-grade classes and many other venues. His talk about growing up in the ’50s has been popular with 4th-grade classes and senior centers alike.

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Richard Thieme

Richard Thieme is an author and professional speaker who addresses challenges posed by new technologies, how to redesign ourselves to meet these challenges, and creativity in response to radical change. His speaking addresses “the human in the machine,” technology-related security and intelligence issues as they come home to our humanity. He has published hundreds of articles, dozens of short stories, five books, and delivered hundreds of speeches.

His novel, FOAM, was published in 2015 and A Richard Thieme Reader, fiction and non-fiction, in 2016. His column, “Islands in the Clickstream,” was distributed to thousands in 60 countries before collection as a book in 2004. When a friend at NSA said, “The only way you can tell the truth is through fiction,” he returned to writing fiction and Mind Games, a collection of 19 stories about anomalies, infosec, and professional intelligence, was published in 2010.

Many speeches address technology-related security and intelligence issues. He spoke in 2018 at Def Con for the 23rd straight year. He has keynoted conferences around the world and clients range from GE, Microsoft, Medtronic, and Johnson Controls to the NSA, FBI, US Dept of the Treasury. Los Alamos Lab, and the US Secret Service.

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Rob Jung

Born in the wine country of California; grew up in a beautiful, little Mississippi River town in Wisconsin; educated in the Minnesota state university system and Harvard Law School, Rob Jung now lives the writer’s life in suburban Saint Paul with his wife, Kathy. A newspaper writer for seven years while getting his undergraduate degree at Winona State University, Jung has practiced law for 47 years. He began working on his fiction-writing craft more than a decade ago. A life-long student of history, geography, and religion, Jung has traveled in every continent except Antarctica, and his stories often find their origins in historical events from countries outside the U.S. Jung also lists among his “credits”: inventor, entrepreneur, gourmet chef, master gardener, fishing guide, and storyteller. His best work: three grown children, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

Jung has written four novels, the first two of which are safely tucked in the back of a drawer so as not to injure either reader or the literary world. His third and fourth novels, Cloud Warriors and The Reaper, were published in 2019. He has also had nonfictional work published in newspapers, legal forums, and periodicals of limited distribution.

*Rob Jung is the pen name of Robert W. Junghans. He also writes limericks and tells stories under the name “C.J. Rakham”.

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Mary DesJarlais

Mary DesJarlais is the author of two fiction novels, The Cutter’s Widow and Dorie LaValle. She lives and works in Saint Paul.

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Maureen Millea Smith

Maureen Millea Smith is a librarian at the Hennepin County Edina Library. She received her Master of Arts in Library and Information Science from the University of Iowa and an MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of Wyoming in English Literature. Her novel, When Charlotte Comes Home won the 2007 Minnesota Book Award for Novel & Short Story. In 2015, her collection of linked short stories, The Enigma of Iris Murphy won the Tartt First Fiction Award and was published by the Livingston Press of the University of West Alabama.

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Gary Eldon Peter

Gary Eldon Peter’s short stories have appeared in Water~Stone Review, Great River Review, and other publications. His debut linked short story collection, Oranges, won the 2016 New Rivers Press Many Voices Project competition in Prose. Oranges was also a finalist for the 2019 Minnesota Book Award. Peter’s other awards include a McKnight Artist Fellowship for Writers/Loft Award in Creative Prose as well as two Minnesota State Arts Board grants. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College as well as a JD from William Mitchell College of Law. He has worked as a judicial law clerk and as a lawyer in private law practice, and spent many years working in the legal publishing industry. He is currently a faculty member in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.

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Marisha Chamberlain

Marisha Chamberlain is a multi-genre writer. Her debut novel, The Rose Variations, was published by Soho Press and favorably reviewed by the New York Times. Her play, Scheherazade, won the Dramatists Guild/CBS National Award, and in screenplay version, played on public television across the country. Her plays, available through Playscripts, Inc, have been staged all over the world. The World Beloved, her collaboration with composer Carol Barnett, out on CD on the Clarion label, is widely performed. Their collaboration, Mortals & Angels, premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2016. Chamberlain has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bush Foundation, the Jerome Foundation and the McKnight Foundation. She’s been artist in residence at MacDowell, the Anderson Center, and the Rockefeller Retreat Center in Bellagio, Italy. She has taught at Carleton College, Macalester College and in the writing program at the University of Minnesota.

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Paul Legler

Paul Legler grew up in rural North Dakota. He was educated at the University of North Dakota, University of Minnesota, and Harvard University. He started his career as a poverty and civil rights attorney, representing migrant farm workers and indigent people throughout Minnesota and North Dakota. He was later appointed by President Clinton to serve as a policy advisor in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services where he served for eight years. Most recently, he worked as a public policy consultant for state and county governments across the country.

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Loretta Ellsworth

Loretta Ellsworth grew up in Mason City, Iowa. A former teacher and a graduate of Hamline University with a Master’s Degree in Writing for Children, she is the award-winning author of four young adult novels, The Shrouding Woman, In Search of Mockingbird, In a Heartbeat, and Unforgettable. Stars Over Clear Lake, historical fiction set in Iowa, is her first novel for adults. She lives in Lakeville, Minnesota.

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