BookFest 2017 Featured Authors
Saturday’s Participating Authors:
For twenty-six years Cindy McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. She was a professional dancer/choreographer. Nowadays she spents most of her time in front of a laptop. She has written nine novels, three novellas, and four children’s books. She reside on her forty-five acre horse farm in Hookstown.
Lois Rader is a gifted teacher by nature, as is evident by the insights and commentary found in her book, The Words of Jesus. She, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, writes her own sermons and scripts for seminars, life groups, NBCA Coffee Klatch, and does volunteer work at Friendship Ridge.
John C. Zappia
John C. Zappia taught conversational English in Italy and China. He has published 3 books: The Greatest Gift From Sicily, Teaching and Touring in China, and Recipe for a Happy Life. John served in the Marine Corps for 3 years and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Wisconsin Graduate School of Banking. He retired from PNC Bank as VP of Operations Services.
Janet Roberts is originally from Western Pa. She writes fiction set partially in her home state. Her novels have received positive reviews from Windy City Reviews. Her memoir is a collection of essays and memories about McDonald, Pa., where her novel, The Narrow Gate, takes place. She’s a graduate of both Temple University and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
Cori Nicole Smith Wamsley is the author of six fiction books, as well as a book editor, writing coach, speaker, and the executive editor of Inspiring Lives Magazine. Cori grew up in Bridgeport, W.V., and lives in Washington, Pa., with her husband and two daughters. Find out more about her books at www.coriwamsley.com/books.
Susan is a Beaver County native. She was raised in Koppel, raised her children in Bridgewater, and is currently living in Economy Borough. For Susan, being a wife and a mother is the cake in life, but being a “Gram” is truly the icing on the cake! With four local granddaughters, life is sweet!
Debra R Sanchez leads various writing groups and hosts writing retreats. Her writing has won awards in various genres, including children’s stories, poetry, fantasy, and creative nonfiction. Several of her plays and monologues have been produced and published. Her work has also been published in literary magazines and anthologies.
James Monroe is a research associate at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity in Gainesville, Florida, and is professor emeritus of physics at Pennsylvania State University, Beaver. His butterfly photographs have appeared in Nature’s Best Photography, American Butterflies, Butterfly Gardener, and numerous other journals.
Charles G Branz
Chuck Branz, from Economy Borough, was a physical therapist and a pastor and is now a home care chaplain. He has seen the devastating effects of the fear of death on many patients and families. He often helped people trying to cope with the prospect of imminent death. Often when sharing the simple message in his book, he has seen fear and despair turn to joy.
Nadette Rae Rodgers lives and writes in southwestern Pennsylvania. Her passion for writing developed at a very young age. She published her first novel, Illusion, at age eighteen. Her interest in dream analysis was the basis for this book series. Her goal in publishing this series is that her journey as an author will inspire others to follow their dreams.
Anissa Clay is the 17-year-old author of The God Conception. Anissa was the 2015 TAZ Pittsburgh Emerging Author and her novel received an Honorable Mention in the New York Book Festival. Anissa is also an accomplished musician and singer who attends Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School. She has a CD available with some of her original work.
Frederic S. Durbin grew up in rural Illinois. He graduated summa cum laude from Concordia College, River Forest, where he studied classical languages and mythology. A frequent workshop presenter, he writes stories and novels for adults and children. His latest work was named as a Reading List Honor Book by the American Library Association.
Stephanie Keyes is the bestselling author of the YA Fantasy series, The Star Child [Inkspell Publishing]. Her work was awarded the 2014 Dante Rossetti Young Adult Novel Award for Mythology. She’s been a 2015 BTS Magazine Reader’s Choice Award nominee. When she’s not writing, she’s a a blogger and teacher at www.thenerdgarden.com with her husband, Aaron.
Mary Jo Sonntag co-authored Write, If You Live to Get There with her mother, Mary Sonntag. This IPPY Gold Medal Award–winning book recounts the westward migration of the Phillips family from Vermont to western Pennsylvania to California, told through more than 200 letters dating from 1842–1962. The book paints a rich and detailed portrait of life in the 19th and 20th centuries. The authors compiled this book to honor their ancestors, their experiences, and the times in which they lived.
Beaver County has a long and interesting history filled with an assortment of historical characters and events. Strolling Through Time takes many of those documented historical dates, events, and people and puts them into an easy-to-use chronological order, allowing anyone to learn more about what happened here. In compiling this timeline, over 120 sources were consulted, including history books, newspapers, and web sources, some of them containing surprising and little-known information.
Nancy K. Wallace
Nancy K. Wallace is the author of 19 children’s books and a new Adult/Young Adult fantasy series, The Wolves of Llise, published by Harper Collins, UK. She reviews Young Adult literature for VOYA magazine and continues in her position as Youth Services Coordinator at Ellwood City Public Library.
Baden Academy Media Lab Research Fellows authors create books with leading scientists, academics, and professionals about topics that inspire them. Once the books are written, students explore e-publishing, e-commerce, and merchandising.
Cindy Lynn Speer is the author of several fantasy novels, including the Amazon bestselling and award-winning The Chocolatier’s Wife, which was recently re-released as a 10th anniversary edition hardcover. By the time BookFest rolls around, it will be joined by the sequel, The Chocolatier’s Ghost. When not writing Cindy can be found fencing and reading.
Pittsburgh-based, bestselling fantasy author Cat Bruno creates superhero-like protagonists and complex villains in her mythology-laced series, Pathway of the Chosen. Midwest Book Review praised Ms. Bruno’s debut novel, The Girl from the North, as “Exceptional entertainment with deftly created characters and unexpected plot twists.”
Cathy Corn loves Pittsburgh, the setting for her five adult paranormal romantic suspense novels. She’s grown closer to nature by writing her Lilith & the Faeries novel series and believes the faeries are waiting to help you feel great joy and happiness. A Reiki Master and retired RN, she practices massage therapy and teaches about the nature spirits.
Leea Baltes has a passion for creative design and writing that began at a very young age. She is an award-winning artist in various fields, including fine art paintings, photography, costume design, and one-of-a-kind miniatures. Leea grew up in Beaver County and now enjoys being creative in her Maryland studio.
Daisy Townsend’s writing has been published in magazines for more than 35 years. In 2014, she published Homespun Faith, Reflections from the Seasons of Life, an autobiographical devotional book. Coming soon: Sarah’s Legacy, historical fiction inspired by people who lived in their former home in Sandy Lake, Pa., in the late 1800s/early 1900s.
Lynn Almengor is a former indie filmmaker from Philadelphia, Pa. In a starred review, Booklist described her novel, Now That We’re Adults, as “poignant, quirky, cleverly humorous, and infinitely relatable.” When not writing, Lynn can usually be found playing video games, watching “bad” movies, or goofing off with her husband and their four ferrets.
Dana Faletti is a novelist with Pandamoon Publishing. She is the author of The Whisper Trilogy, a young adult paranormal romance, and Beautiful Secret, a sweeping drama of family secrets and forbidden love that was released by Pandamoon Publishing. She lives in in a suburb of Pittsburgh with her husband, three young daughters, and two snarky Shichons.
Johnny Ray Miller works in northeast Ohio as a theatre educator, director, and promoter. He has promoted concerts for David Cassidy and Davy Jones, among others. He also worked as an actor in theatre and film, appearing in Desperate Housewives, Rules of Engagement, and many other TV shows. When We’re Singin’ is his first book.
Beth Bishop and Brayden Wilmoth are co-authors and co-illustrators of their inspiring children’s book, Finding Ella’s Colors. Beth teaches second grade at Blackhawk School District. They are passionate about helping children and families overcome adversity, process grief, and support those around them to do the same. Gray times don’t last forever!
Susan Lower is a thrifty, creative, adventurous gal who loves black raspberry ice cream and chocolate. She’s married to an awesome guy who calls her beautiful and has three great kids who call her Mom. When she’s not writing, Susan enjoys reading, family adventures, and crafting. To learn more about Susan’s books, visit her at: susanlower.com.
Sabrina Fedel’s young adult novel, Leaving Kent State, was released last year from Harvard Square Editions. Her work has appeared in online and print journals, and she is a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee, a 2016 storySouth Million Writers Award nominee, and a Sundress Publications Best of the Net ’16 nominee. Sabrina writes from Pittsburgh, Pa.
Chrysa is a longtime feature magazine writer and children’s author. While writing adult nonfiction from home, one day it occured to her: Her poodles had a secret life—well, secret to her. She began watching them and discovered how funny their antics and personality traits were. And so it began. Chrysa lives in Bucks County with her family of three and two four-legged members.
Sheila Rae Myers
Sheila is a Christian author who writes both fiction and nonfiction. This year will feature her Christian nonfiction on various topics and an autobiography about her time as a Navy Hospital Corpsman, along with her crime and adventure novels. Sheila looks forward to meeting both readers and authors.
Wende Dikec is the award-winning author of three young adult novels and four adult novels under the pen name Abigail Drake. Wende enjoys teaching writing classes for children at local libraries and blogging about her naughty Labrador, Capone the Wonder Dog, on Facebook.
Carrie Anne Noble is the award-winning author of the young adult novels The Mermaid’s Sister and The Gold-Son. She lives in the mountains of Pennsylvania with her charming children, tolerant husband, a not-so-bright dog, two mischievous cats, and a flock of green-egg-laying chickens. Her favorite things include books, tea, and afternoon naps.
Pam Horter-Moore was born and raised in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Slippery Rock University with a degree in English and Fine Arts. She is the author of two books: Brief Candles and LoveQuest.
Alicia Stankay is a writer and photographer from Ambridge. She has written two books of short stories, two mystery novels, and a young teen time travel novel that takes place in Old Economy Village. She provides the photos for her book covers, and she will have a photo exhibition in October at the Merrick Art Gallery in New Brighton, Pa.
Ramona lives in Rochester, Pennsylvania. She write YA Science Fiction. Her first novel, The Eagle’s Eyes, was published in 2014 by Red EnginePress. It weaves together a Native American myth, nanites, and the advertures of Kristen Elliot, and her brother, Lawrence. It is the first book in The Eyes Trilogy. The second book, The Cat’s Eyes, will be out late 2017.
Kelly Haywiser is an inspirational women’s advocate, educator, holistic lifestyle coach, and intuitive healer with over 20 years of experience providing therapies and training in holistic practices. She has helped women on their journey from feeling lost and empty to finding their passionate side through self-discovery exercises and much more.
Joshua David Bellin writes science fiction for teens and adults. His books include the two-part Survival Colony series, Survival Colony 9 and Scavenger of Souls, and the deep-space adventure, Freefall. Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in nature with his wife and kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.
A.K. Downing grew up in the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania and spent her summers exploring the ﬁelds, woods and orchards of her grandparents’ farm. Her young-adult, post-apocalyptic novel, Into the Air, was a category finalist in the 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards. The story follows teenager Mia Bryn and her father as they leave the safety of their underground compound and try to survive in a world no one has inhabited for more than a hundred years.
Melissa Haas is a Pittsburgh author/illustrator who L-O-V-E-S sharing the spotlight with her better half, a rescued Cornish Rex cat who is also the star of Catula: The Misadventures of Dracula’s Cat. The two have been featured on Pittsburgh Today Live & can be seen annually at the Univ. of Pittsburgh’s Ghost Watch.
Betty Sue Schaughency
Sheridan Jeane is the award-winning author of five historical romances. Her books won as Best Historical Romance from Readers Crown, I Heart Indie, and others. Her suspense-filled Secrets and Seduction series takes place in the glittering world of Victorian London. Sheridan lives outside Pittsburgh near Sewickley with her family and four-legged fur babies.
Two years into her new career as a Professional Organizer, Dorothy L. Clear began to notice how many of her clients were dealing with grief. They would share their stories with each other. She started to specialize with the grieving client. Then, she became inspired to write a book of encouragement, Restore Order. Restore Joy: How to Get Your Life in Order After a Loss.
It all began with an ornery pony named George, and a desire to write beautifully illustrated books for her grandchildren. Now C.S. McDonald has four children’s books and a cozy mystery series too—the Fiona Quinn Mysteries. Ms. McDonald resides on her horse farm in Hookstown, Pa.
Wayne A. Cole
Wayne A. Cole is a retired English teacher from Blackhawk High School. He has written 18 books detailing the history of abandoned railroads, streetcar lines, and steel mills along the Western Pennsylvania and Ohio state line. The series is entitled Ghost Rails, with the newest book, Ghost Rails XIII: Coal Runners, dealing with railroads and coal mines in Butler and Allegheny Counties. Ghost Rails XIV: Hallowed Grounds is due in August 2017.
A sucker for a happy ending, Rebecca strives to write the kind of stories she loves to read—gritty, suspenseful, and featuring authentic, edgy and vulnerable characters, smack dab in the middle of action that explodes from page one.
Linda M. Au is an award-winning humor and fiction author with four books to her credit. A new humor book, Train of Thought, will debut at BookFest this year. Linda is the author liaison for BookFest and is also on other writing-related boards. She spends her free time binge-watching TV shows with James Spader and meandering around Sam’s Club looking for huge vats of salsa.
Ruth Webster was born and raised in Kentucky. She is retired from teaching U.S. History and language arts to middle-school-aged children. Ruth is a published newspaper columnist, essayist, and feature story writer. She won the fiction prize from the Backbone Mtn. Review in 2013. In Toe the Mark, Ruth combines her dual loves of history and writing.
Colleen plays many roles. Not only is she a veteran, a mother, and a practicing physician, but she is an award-winning writer of science fiction and contemporary romance. Colleen’s dreams include surviving her son’s teenage years, exploring every continent on this planet (except Antartica, ’cause that’s way too cold), and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Dream BIG! Currently, she is working on Whole Again, a contemporary romance that she hopes to see published in the future.
Catherine Dawgert is an author and illustrator. Winner of the 2015 Moonbeam Award and an Inkspokes Select Book Award, she is currently working on two new picture books and a middle grade novel. She lives in Pittsburgh.
Joseph Max Lewis has been a newspaper columnist and novelist for 15 years. He’s published 3 novels, a critically acclaimed short story collection, contributed short stories to an American Revolution collection, and authored uncounted newspaper opinion pieces. His first novel, a thriller titled The Diaries of Pontius Pilate, has been optioned for development as a motion picture by Hollywood producers Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon of Believe Entertainment—the co-producers and writers of God’s Not Dead, God’s Not Dead 2, and Do You Believe?
Chris McClean is a graphic designer and short-story writer from Philadelphia. He created the CrimeFighters: Defenders of Justice, which is a diverse group of superheroes that work together to fight crime. Chris has spent years in law-enforcement, and one of his goals is to rebuild the gap between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
A gourmet cook, world traveler, and self-admitted fashionista, Dolores lives by her own credo to make the most of every day. With her words, she strives to soothe, counsel, and inspire others to work through sadness and tough times by tapping into their own strengths and understanding their own feelings, spirituality, and purpose in the world.
Everett L. Foster
Everett L. Foster is 27 years old and lives in Evans City, Pa. His two books (and a third on the way) are published by Sound Impressions Publishing Co. from Boonton, New Jersey. Everett loves skateboarding, music, writing, and being with his family, fiancée, and puppy.
Larry Ivkovich’s short stories have been published in over twenty online and print markets. Published novels include urban fantasies The Sixth Precept and Warriors of the Light from IGWG Publishing. A finalist in the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest, Larry was also the 2010 recipient of the CZP/Rannu Fund award for fiction.