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Maren Cooper

Maren Cooper, an avid reader and keen observer of human nature throughout her career as a health care executive in the Midwest, now resides in Minnesota. She writes best on the shore of Lake Superior where she retreats frequently. Her debut novel, A Better Next, was published in 2019.

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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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Mary Strand

Mary Strand practiced law in a large Minneapolis firm for 16 years until the day she set aside her pointy-toed shoes (or most of them) and escaped the land of mergers and acquisitions to write novels. The first novel she wrote, Cooper’s Folly, won RWA’s Golden Heart award. She lives on a lake in Minneapolis with her husband, two cute kidlets, and a stuffed monkey named Philip. When not writing, Strand lives for sports, travel, guitar, Cosmos, Hugh Jackman, and ill-advised adventures that offer a high probability of injury to herself and others. She writes YA, romantic comedy, and women’s fiction novels, and her four-book Bennet Sisters YA series, starting with Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras, is out now.

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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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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.” His recent works include The Last Tsar’s Dragons, Crow Not Crow, and Fly with Me.

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Michael Allan Mallory

Michael Allan Mallory is the co-creator of mystery’s first zoologist sleuth, who has appeared in two novels: Death Roll and Killer Instinct. His short stories have appeared in numerous mystery anthologies and other publications. Mallory has co-edited several crime anthologies. He currently lives in St. Louis Park.

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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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Erin Soderberg Downing

Erin Soderberg Downing has written more than 50 books for kids, tweens, and young adults. Some of her most popular titles include the middle-grade novel Moon Shadow and three chapter book series: Disney’s Daring Dreamers Club, Puppy Pirates, and The Quirks. Soderberg loves creating stories that are accessible and help inspire a lifelong love of reading for fun. Before becoming an author, she was a children’s book editor, a cookie inventor, and also worked for Nickelodeon. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, three hilarious kids, and a mischievous pup named Wally (the star of Puppy Pirates!).

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