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Pamela Carter Joern

Pamela Carter Joern is an award-winning author of three books and numerous journal publications. In Reach won the 2015 Nebraska Book Award for Fiction (short story) and was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. The Plain Sense of Things was a Midwestern Booksellers Association Connections Pick, and The Floor of the Sky received a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers designation, a Nebraska Book Award, and an Alex Award. She has twice won Minnesota Monthly magazine’s Tamarack Award for short fiction. She has written six plays that have been produced in the Twin Cities and was co-director of Role Over Productions, a theater company housed in Sabathani Community Center. She has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

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Robert Spande

Robert Spande has worked as a 911 dispatcher for Minneapolis 911 for about 19 years. He wrote The Born and the Made over 10 years. When he was finished, he figured how to make a book from YouTube. As the publisher, he submitted his novel to the Minnesota Book Awards, where it became the first handmade, self-published book ever to be considered as a finalist in the 29-year history of the awards. He loves to give presentations and welcomes opportunities to talk at bookstores and at group or book clubs. His journey has been a unique one with a positive message for writers who may not want to publish their book in the conventional manner. Spande has a lot to say about making books, which he feels is a great way for writers to get their books out to readers.

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Gwen Nell Westerman

Gwen Westerman is an award-winning writer and visual artist who lives in southern Minnesota, as did her Dakota ancestors. Her roots are deep in the landscape of the tallgrass prairie and reveal themselves in her art and writing through the languages and traditions of her family. She is an enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Neither of her parents spoke English before they were sent away to boarding schools in Oklahoma and South Dakota, so she knows the importance of the role language plays in who we are.

A first-generation college student, she is now Professor in English and Director of Humanities at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She is the author of Dakota in Minnesota; Follow the Blackbirds, a poetry collection in Dakota and English; and co-author of the Minnesota Book Award-winning Mni Sota Makoce: Land of the Dakota, a history of Dakota land tenure in Minnesota. Her essays and poems have appeared in numerous journals and collections, including Yellow Medicine Review, Water~Stone Review, A View from The Loft, Natural Bridge, POETRY, and New Poets of Native Nations.

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Charles Baxter

Charles Baxter is the author of five novels and six books of short stories, including There’s Something I Want You to Do and The Feast of Love, which was a National Book Award finalist and the basis of a movie starring Morgan Freeman. He is also the author of two books on fiction: Burning Down the House and The Art of Subtext. Baxter has taught at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Iowa. He lives in Minneapolis.

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Nicole Helget

Nicole Helget is the multigenre author of six books for adults and young readers. She and her work have been recognized in People magazine’s “Critic’s Choice,” as a Barnes and Noble “Discover New Writers” selection, as a Minnesota State University “Distinguished Alumni,” and with many literary and service grants, nominations, and awards. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and is pursuing a Master of Public Policy concentrating in rural arts, education, and environmental issues. With her family, she lives in St. Peter where she works as a teacher, editor, and manuscript and story consultant.

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Lesley Nneka Arimah

Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up wherever her father was stationed for work, which was sometimes Nigeria, sometimes not. Her work has received grants and awards from Commonwealth Writers, AWP, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Jerome Foundation and others. She was selected for the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35. Her short story collection What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky was published by Riverhead in April 2017 and won the 2017 Kirkus Prize. She currently lives in Minneapolis.

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