Litfest

Saturday, August 19 • 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. • Downtown Library

About LitFest

Writers of all ages, skill levels, mediums, and genres are welcome to join us for LitFest! Enjoy the opportunity to learn from industry professionals on a variety of topics ranging from editing, pitching, and publishing. All programs are designed to help you take your writing to the next level!

2023 LitFest Programs

LitFest 2023 will be a day chalk full of events! From children's specific programs to over 20 panels, workshops and more for adults, you won't want to miss out!

Highlights of the schedule include:
• Critique Partner Speed Dating*
• Spanish language workshops
• Poetry reading and Q&A with poet Quraysh Ali Lansana
• Plus author-led writing sessions in a variety of genres and formats such as comic books, screenwriting, KidLit, romance, true crime, D&D, and more!

 

*Pre-registration is required for Critique Partner Speed Dating and can be done here.

Library Books & Resources

LitFest Events

This event is in the "Teens" group.
This event is in the "Adults" group.

LitFest

10:00am - 4:00pm
Downtown Library
Registration
Library Branch: Downtown Library
Room: Onsite (Downtown)
Age Group: Teens, Adults
Program Type: Author Events, Books & Reading, Writing
Registration Required
Seats Remaining: 200
Event Description:
Join us for the 7th Annual LitFest - our free writer's conference! LitFest celebrates writers and content creators from all genres, skill levels, and mediums. Participants can learn from industry professionals on a variety of topics. Sessions...

Disclaimer(s)

The library makes every effort to ensure our programs can be enjoyed by all. If you have any concerns about accessibility or need to request specific accommodations, please contact the library.

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Past Author Panels

Fireside Chat with Nisha Sharma & Adriana Herrera

ABOUT NISHA SHARMA: Nisha Sharma is the author of critically acclaimed YA and adult contemporary romances including My So-Called Bollywood Life, Radha and Jai’s Recipe for Romance, The Singh Family Trilogy and Dating Dr. Dil which is the first in the If Shakespeare was an Auntie series. Her writing has been praised by NPR, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Teen Vogue, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly and more. She lives in Pennsylvania with her Alaskan husband, her cat Lizzie Bennett and her dog Nancey Drew. You can find her online at nisha-sharma.com or on Twitter and Instagram @nishawrites.

ABOUT ADRIANA HERRERA: USA Today Best Selling author Adriana Herrera was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last fifteen years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings. When she’s not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a trauma therapist in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Her Dreamers series has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist and has been featured in The TODAY Show on NBC, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Library Journal and The Washington Post. Her debut, American Dreamer, was selected as one of Booklist’s Best Romance Debuts of 2019, and one of the Top 10 Romances of 2019 by Entertainment Weekly. Her third novel, American Love Story, was one of the winners in the first annual Ripped Bodice Award for Excellence in Romantic Fiction. Adriana is an outspoken advocate for diversity in romance and has written for Remezcla and Bustle about Own Voices in the genre. She’s one of the co-creators of the Queer Romance PoC Collective.

Writing Romance: How and Why of the World's Most Popular Genre with Jade Lee/Kathy Lyons

ABOUT JADE LEE (AKA KATHY LYONS): Kathy Lyons is the wild, adventurous half of USA TODAY bestselling author Jade Lee. A lover of all things fantastical, Kathy spent much of her childhood in Narnia, Middle Earth, Amber, and Earthsea, just to name a few. Meanwhile, ball gowns and rakish lords caught Jade’s attention and her fascination with historical romance began.

Both Kathy and Jade have a gift for creating a lively world, witty dialogue, and hot, sexy humor. Winner of several industry awards including the Prism—Best of the Best, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice, and Fresh Fiction’s Steamiest Read, Kathy/Jade has published 60 romance novels and says she’s just getting started.

Why I Started Writing with Julian Winters

ABOUT JULIAN WINTERS: Julian Winters is the author of the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Award-winning Running With Lions; the Junior Library Guild Selections How to Be Remy Cameron and The Summer of Everything; and the forthcoming Right Where I Left You. A self-proclaimed comic book geek, Julian currently lives outside of Atlanta, where he can be found reading or watching the only two sports he can follow—volleyball and soccer.


Author Hour: with Jaye Robin Brown, Sarah Guillory, and Lisa Maxwell

ABOUT JAYE ROBIN BROWN: Jaye Robin Brown, or JRo to her friends, has been many things in her life--jeweler, mediator, high school art teacher--but now lives the full-time writer life where she crafts heartfelt young adult and adult romance novels with a decidedly sapphic bent. She lives with her wife, dogs, cats, and horses in a sweet house in the NC woods where she aspires to live happily ever after.

Her debut young adult novel, No Place to Fall, is a love song to small town girls and mountain music. A companion novella, Will's Story is available from Epic Reads Impulse, a digital only imprint. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit is the story of Jo Gordon, the out lesbian daughter of a moderate evangelical minister. It's a love story and a look at the sometimes conundrum of having faith and being queer. It was named to the ALA Rainbow List for 2017 as well as being a Kirkus Best Teen Book of 2017. The Meaning of Birds is a story about loss, love, and the healing power of art. It was named a 2020 Lambda Literary Award Finalist in the Children's/Young Adult Category. The Key to You and Me is a dual POV romance between one girl chasing her dream while escaping a broken heart, and another girl trying to figure out her heart's desire. Her first adult romance, Five Months or Forever, debuted in 2022. It's a heartwarming story about two women tangled in an attraction and timing conundrum. Set on the South Carolina coast, it's sure to appeal to anyone who has ever chosen to start over.

ABOUT SARAH GUILLORY: Sarah Guillory is an award-winning teacher and author. Her debut young-adult novel Reclaimed garnered the GOLD 2013 Foreword Book of the Year and the SILVER 2014 IPPY Book Award, both in Young Adult Fiction. Reclaimed was also named to the 2016 Louisiana Teen Readers' Choice Award List as well as ALA's 2016 Most Popular Paperbacks for Young Readers. Her middle-grade debut, Nowher Better Than Here, released on September 20 with Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan. She lives in Louisiana with her husband and dogs.

ABOUT LISA MAXWELL: Lisa Maxwell is the author of The Last Magician, The Devil’s Thief, and Unhooked. She grew up in Akron, Ohio, and has a PhD in English. She’s worked as a teacher, scholar, bookseller, editor, and writer. When she’s not writing books, she’s a professor at a local college. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two sons. You can follow her on Instagram @LisaMaxwellYA or sign up for her newsletter to learn about her upcoming releases.

Four Authors—Four Takes on the Highs and Lows of the Publishing Journey

ABOUT JEANNE DEVLIN: Jeanne Devlin is the founding editor of The RoadRunner Press and an award-winning editor of magazines and books.

ABOUT GAYE SANDERS: Gaye Sanders is an award-winning children’s author; her picture book The Survivor Tree won the Comstock Read Aloud Book for Children’s Literature.

ABOUT BARBARA HAY: Barbara Hay is an internationally published haikuist and the author of the beloved reluctant-reader series The Bulldoggers Club.

ABOUT ALTON CARTER: Alton Carter is the award-winning author of The Boy Who Carried Bricks and Aging Out.

ABOUT LINDA MCDONALD: Linda McDonald is an award-winning novelist and playwright; her novel Crimes of Redemption won the Oklahoma Book Award for fiction.

Battle of the Romance Trope with Nikki Payne and Regina Black

ABOUT NIKKI PAYNE: Nikki Payne is an anthropologist who can. not. turn. it. off. I love to force my characters into new environments new cultures and in finding love, they change the way they see the world. Church, cemeteries and romance novels are still the most segregated places in America. My romances, inspired by the classics turn expectations on their head. It's cultural commentary, for the hopeless romantic.

ABOUT REGINA BLACK: Regina Black is a former civil litigator who now writes diverse love stories with big emotions and passionate connections. Her debut novel, The Art of Scandal, is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing. She currently resides in the southeastern United States with her husband and daughter.


612 Center - Hedy and Her Amazing Invention

Comic Arts Q&A with Jerry Bennett

LitFest Online image

ABOUT JERRY BENNETT: Jerry Bennett is a full-time artist creating comic books, children's books, and shirt designs for licensed brands (Lucasfilm, Marvel, DC, Saban). He storyboarded for Mattel and Dreamworks and created animated book trailers for Scholastic and Lerner Children's Books. He also art directed Even in Death, an award-winning animated short, with talented students on the autism spectrum. He served as the 2018-2019 Paseo Arts/Skirvin Hilton Artist in Residence, creating and involving the community in participating in the process of comic art. Jerry is currently drawing more comics and creating licensed hand drawn sketch cards for Star Wars, Walking Dead, Stranger Things, Outlander and MST3K that are randomly distributed in their trading card packs.

Special Storytime with Oklahoma Author Mark Woommavovah

ABOUT MARK WOOMMAVOVAH: Mark Woommavovah is a Comanche author that grew up on the Southern Plains of Oklahoma. He joined the Army and spent his career running all over the world. He was inspired to tell his story after seeing the joy that books brought to children during a Storytime in Hawaii. Since then, he used his childhood running messages for his grandmother, his Comanche heritage, and love of running to create his first children's book, The Little Indian Runner.


Bestselling Author Zoraida Córdova

ABOUT ZORAIDA CÓRDOVA: Zoraida Córdova is the acclaimed author of more than a dozen novels and short stories, including the Brooklyn Brujas series, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, the Hollow Crown series, and The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina. In addition to writing novels, she serves on the Board of We Need Diverse Books, and is the co-editor of the bestselling anthology Vampires Never Get Old, as well as the cohost of the writing podcast, Deadline City. She writes romance novels as Zoey Castile. Córdova was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and calls New York City home. When she’s not working, she’s roaming the world in search of magical stories.

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Practical Observations on the Craft of Writing with Camron Wright

ABOUT CAMRON WRIGHT: Camron Wright has a masters degree in writing and public relations. His books have received numerous awards and been published in countries around the world. His works include The Other Side of the Bridge, Letters for Emily, The Rent Collector, and The Orphan Keeper. He and his wife, Alicyn, are the parents of four children. Learn more about Camron and his books at AuthorCamronWright.com.

Evolution of Urban Fantasy Q&A With Seanan Mcguire

ABOUT SEANAN MCGUIRE: Seanan McGuire was born in Martinez, California, and raised in a wide variety of locations, most of which boasted some sort of dangerous native wildlife. Despite her almost magnetic attraction to anything venomous, she somehow managed to survive long enough to acquire a typewriter, a reasonable grasp of the English language, and the desire to combine the two. The fact that she wasn't killed for using her typewriter at three o'clock in the morning is probably more impressive than her lack of death by spider-bite.

Often described as a vortex of the surreal, many of Seanan's anecdotes end with things like "and then we got the anti-venom" or "but it's okay, because it turned out the water wasn't that deep." She has yet to be defeated in a game of "Who here was bitten by the strangest thing?," and can be amused for hours by almost anything. "Almost anything" includes swamps, long walks, long walks in swamps, things that live in swamps, horror movies, strange noises, musical theater, reality TV, comic books, finding pennies on the street, and venomous reptiles. Seanan may be the only person on the planet who admits to using Kenneth Muir's Horror Films of the 1980s as a checklist.

Seanan is the author of the October Daye urban fantasies, the InCryptid urban fantasies, and several other works both stand-alone and in trilogies or duologies. In case that wasn't enough, she also writes under the pseudonym "Mira Grant." For details on her work as Mira, check out miragrant.com.

In her spare time, Seanan records CDs of her original filk music (see the Albums page for details). She is also a cartoonist, and draws an irregularly posted autobiographical web comic, "With Friends Like These...", as well as generating a truly ridiculous number of art cards. Surprisingly enough, she finds time to take multi-hour walks, blog regularly, watch a sickening amount of television, maintain her website, and go to pretty much any movie with the words "blood," "night," "terror," or "attack" in the title. Most people believe she doesn't sleep.

Seanan lives in an idiosyncratically designed labyrinth in the Pacific Northwest, which she shares with her cats, Alice and Thomas, a vast collection of creepy dolls and horror movies, and sufficient books to qualify her as a fire hazard. She has strongly-held and oft-expressed beliefs about the origins of the Black Death, the X-Men, and the need for chainsaws in daily life.

Years of writing blurbs for convention program books have fixed Seanan in the habit of writing all her bios in the third person, so as to sound marginally less dorky. Stress is on the "marginally." It probably doesn't help that she has so many hobbies.

Seanan was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and her novel Feed (as Mira Grant) was named as one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2010. In 2013 she became the first person ever to appear five times on the same Hugo Ballot.

View Books in our Catalog

Anthologies with Dahlia Adler & Shaun David Hutchinson

The World of Picture Books with author Seth Fishman

Author Hour: Short Story Collections with Alaya Johnson & Isabel Yap


Interview with Author Scarlett St. Clair

We’re In This Together – A Conversation About Beta Readers and Critique Partners

From Query to Shelf: A Publisher's Perspective (with Liz Pellitier of Entangled Publishing)

Tip & Tricks Videos

Scripting a Podcast with H.R. Owen

ABOUT H.R. OWEN: H.R. Owen is the creator of the podcast Monstrous Agonies, which follows a weekly advice show for creatures of the night. As well as Monstrous Agonies, Owen also works as a freelance writer specializing in science fiction and horror.

Writing KidLit with Sonja Thomas & Jenn Reese

ABOUT SONJA THOMAS: Sonja Thomas (she/her) writes stories for readers of all ages, often featuring brave, everyday girls doing extraordinary things. Raised in Central Florida—home of the wonderful world of Disney, humidity, and hurricanes—and a Washington, DC transplant for 11 years (go Nats!), she's now “keeping it weird” in the Pacific Northwest. Ruled by coffee & cats, a few of her favorite things are: dancing to music blasting in the living room traveling to new places and buying a magnet before leaving snuggling with her furry friend, Gabbie Lu (just don't let her roommate's 3 other cats know!)

She's a contributing author for Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic. Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence is her debut middle grade novel.

ABOUT JENN REESE: Jenn Reese (she/they) writes speculative fiction for readers of all ages. She is the author of A Game of Fox & Squirrels, an NPR Best Book of 2020, a finalist for the Andre Norton Award and the Mythopoeic Award, and winner of the Oregon Book Award and Oregon Spirit Book Award. Their other publications include the Above World trilogy and numerous short stories and essays. Jenn lives in Portland, Oregon where she makes art, plays video games, and talks to the birds.

Creating a Graphic Novel with Misty & David Wilson

ABOUT DAVID WILSON: David Wilson is an illustrator, designer, writer, and filmmaker with an MFA from Kent State University in Visual Communication Design. David entered the freelance world over ten years ago, working on illustration, design, and video projects for clients such as The Atlantic, The WWE, Boom! Comics, The Boston Globe, Harvard, Forbes and many more. He is a Creative Director at Belt Publishing where he was a recipient of AIGA’s “50 Books 50 Covers” award for his Belt Revivals book covers. He is the co-author/illustrator of Rust Belt Arcana, author of The Everyday, and the writer/director of The Disposal of Dead Ned (Best Comedy Film at Poor Life Choices Film Fest). His latest work, Play Like A Girl, written by Misty Wilson, was released in September 2022 on HarperCollins.

ABOUT MISTY WILSON: Retired seventh-grade football star Misty Wilson received her M.A.T. from Kent State University and has since taught in a number of positions, including reading intervention, both third and fourth grade, and as a special education tutor. She’s an avid reader who loves to introduce her students and her daughters to new books. She loves binge-watching television series and watching rom-coms. If she’s not writing, you’ll most likely find her eating good food with her husband—illustrator David Wilson—playing with her young daughters, reading for hours on end, or watching TV. Play Like a Girl is her middle grade debut.


From Autographs to Workflow: Ten Tips from the Publisher's Desk with Laura Stanfill

ABOUT LAURA STANFILL: Once upon a time, Laura Stanfill lived in a New Jersey house filled with music boxes, street organs, and books. She grew up to become the publisher of Forest Avenue Press. Her work has appeared in Shondaland, The Rumpus, Catapult, The Vincent Brothers Review, Santa Fe Writers Project, and several print anthologies. She believes in indie bookstores and wishes on them like stars from her home in Portland, Oregon, where she resides with her family and Waffles the dog.

Tips for Writing YA with Aaron Aceves, Casie Bazay, and Erica Waters

ABOUT AARON ACEVES: Aaron H. Aceves (he/him) is a bisexual, Mexican-American writer born and raised in East L.A. He graduated from Harvard College and received his MFA from Columbia University. His fiction has appeared in jmww, Epiphany, and them., among other places. He currently lives in Texas, where he serves as an Early Career Provost Fellow at UT Austin, and his debut novel, This Is Why They Hate Us, was released on August 23 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

ABOUT CASIE BAZAY: After leaving the teaching profession to become a stay-at-home mom in 2010, Casie decided it was time to chase a dream she’d long had: writing professionally. Following the old adage, write what you know, she opted to focus on horses and found her first break writing for The Horse. Around this time, she also began her blog, The Naturally Healthy Horse. She’s since gone on to contribute for other publications such as Natural Horse Magazine, Country Extra, Horse Network, and Oklahoma Horses Magazine. She even expanded her horizons to write an article about a bull named Fidel No Castro and a tear drop camper built by her husband.

Casie’s primary writing goal, however, has always been to use the traditional route for publishing a young adult fiction novel, and after years of hard work (and four completed manuscripts), she finally achieved that goal when her debut novel, Not Our Summer, released in May of 2021 from Running Press Teen/Hachette. She’s now working toward publishing a second young adult novel. When not writing or shuffling her two children to school or activities, Casie can often be found outdoors, hanging out with her kids and/or animals. She has a fondness for rescue animals and currently has five cats, two dogs, three horses, and two goats.

ABOUT ERICA WATERS: Erica Waters grew up in the pine woods of rural Florida, though she now resides in Nashville, Tennessee, with her spouse and two terrible dogs named Nutmeg and Luna. She has a Master’s degree in English and works as a university writing tutor. She is the author of Ghost Wood Song, a Bram Stoker Awards finalist and a YALSA 2021 Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee. Her second book, The River Has Teeth, was an Indie Next pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and a Kirkus Best Young Adult Book of 2021. Erica’s forthcoming book, The Restless Dark, was published in fall 2022.

Writing Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy with David R. Slayton, Mia Tsai, and S.L. Choi

ABOUT DAVID R. SLAYTON: David R. Slayton grew up in Guthrie, Oklahoma, where finding fantasy novels was pretty challenging and finding fantasy novels with diverse characters was downright impossible. Now he lives in Denver, Colorado and writes the books he always wanted to read.

David’s debut, White Trash Warlock, was published in October 2020 by Blackstone Publishing and was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. Book two in the series, Trailer Park Trickster was released in October 2021. Book three, Deadbeat Druid, was released in October 2022.

ABOUT MIA TSAI: Mia Tsai is a Taiwanese American author of speculative fiction. Her debut novel, a xianxia-inspired contemporary fantasy titled Bitter Medicine, was published by Tachyon Publications on March 14, 2023. She lives in Atlanta with her family, and, when not writing, is a hype woman for her orchids and devoted cat gopher. Her favorite things include music of all kinds (really, truly) and taking long trips with nothing but the open road and a saucy rhythm section. She has been quoted in Glamour and Washington Post's The Lily and, in her other lives, is a professional editor, photographer, and musician. Her most recent appearances were as a panelist at FIYAHcon 2021 BonFIYAH and at a Writing the Other webinar on sensitivity reading.

ABOUT S.L. CHOI: S.L. Choi is an urban fantasy and paranormal romance author with a deep love for humor, fast-paced action, and hit-you-in-the-heart feels. She grew up imagining goblins living in the rocks outside her bedroom window, while fairies flew through the flowers. Now she puts those stories to paper. When not writing, she's either photographing the beautiful New England area, hiking, gaming with her equally nerdy husband, or attending to the small furry overlord who rules them both.


Growing Your Online Platform with Marisa Mohi

Creating Series Characters with William Bernhardt

Paranormal Writing with Oklahoma Author Jeff Provine


Self-Publishing with Andrea Foster

Creating Online Platforms with Marisa Mohi

Kickstarter for Aspiring Authors with Travis Hanson

ABOUT TRAVIS HANSON: Travis Hanson is an Eisner nominated fantasy/comics illustrator. He is also an expert on getting projects crowdfunded through Kickstarter. With 10 successfully funded projects, he has a strong working knowledge of the process, along with an active interest in teaching others how to navigate the intricacies of crowdfunding.


World-Building from the Fatal Flaw with David R. Slayton

Storytelling for Roleplaying Games with Dan Wells

ABOUT DAN WELLS: Dan Wells is the DM of the TypeCast RPG Gaming Show and author of science fiction and horror novels including the John Cleaver series and the Partials series.

Creating and Marketing Digital Content with Marisa Mohi


What to Look for in a Literary Agent with Seth Fishman

The Structure of Storytelling with author Lou Berney

How to Start Your Own Freelance Editing Business

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Summer Writing Program for Teens

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