2018 Presenters

Announcing the 2018 Presenters!

Silvia Acevedo is a television personality and former news reporter and anchor who’s spent many years reporting objective fact. She’s interviewed presidential candidates, covered national and international stories, and given breaking news reports for CNN and local television and radio stations around the country. She also occasionally guest hosts a television morning talk show for a local NBC affiliate. Roman gods, however, have been curiously absent during this time, so Silvia decided to put fiction – especially mythology – back into her life. The result is the God Awful series of books, starting with God Awful Loser, followed by God Awful Thief and the upcoming God Awful Rebel. Find Silvia at http://www.silviaacevedo.com/.


Beth Amos is a USA TODAY bestselling author who is also published under the pseudonyms of Annelise Ryan and Allyson K. Abbott.  Beth has enjoyed a varied writing career that included a stint as a book reviewer and several years of nonfiction freelancing. Now she writes only fiction, and in stark contrast to her "day job" as an ER nurse, the one common factor in her fiction, is that someone always dies.

As Annelise Ryan she writes a mystery series featuring the wry, and often politically incorrect, nurse-turned-coroner, Mattie Winston. As Allyson K. Abbott she writes a mystery series featuring bar owner, Mack Dalton, who uses her neurological disorder, synesthesia, to help solve crimes. As Beth Amos she wrote three thrillers: Cold White Fury, Eyes of Night, and Second Sight. In addition, she has self-published two additional thrillers: Nick of Time and Face of Death.

Beth has her pseudonyms in part because she figures her current ER patients might not be comfortable knowing she spends her spare time thinking up devious and clever ways to kill people. She knows a lot of them at this point, so it’s probably best to stay on her good side. Find more at bethamos.com.

Valerie Biel is a public relations professional as well as the author of the award-winning Circle of Nine series, stories of magic steeped in the Celtic mythology of Ireland’s ancient stone circles. She holds a degree in Journalism (Public Relations/Broadcast News) and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin and has spent more than 25 years working in the public relations field. She edits manuscripts, develops marketing materials, and implements publicity plans for other authors via her agency Lost Lake Press. She often teaches about writing topics at conferences, libraries, and schools. She also creates a monthly Writers’ Forum column with the latest news from the publishing industry and writing world on her website www.ValerieBiel.com.

Jerome F. Buting is a shareholder in the Brookfield, Wisconsin, law firm of Buting, Williams & Stilling, S.C. He received his undergraduate degree in forensic studies from Indiana University and his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is author of Illusion of Justice: Inside Making a Murderer and America's Broken System in which he interweaves his account of the Steven Avery trial with other high profile cases from his criminal defense career.

He was board director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, past president of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and chair of the Wisconsin State Bar Criminal Law Section. He lectures worldwide and is frequently sought for his legal expertise. He is also the recipient of the Fierce Advocate Award from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the James Joyce Award from University College Dublin, and the Trinity College Dublin Praeses Elit Award. Find more at www.buting.com.

Dionne Kelm is proving that it is never too late by starting her writing career at 60. With the creation of her Grandma Hearts bedtime book series she spreads her message that every child is entitled to love, joy, care, and kindness.

Grandma Dionne was an art teacher for 25 years and became concerned that some children no longer had a regular bedtime routine. So, she decided to write a book (easier said than done!) addressing the problem. Along the way she discovered that she was going to be a grandma and Grandma Hearts was born. Now she is a featured author and speaker at numerous events, libraries, and bookstores, including Barnes & Noble.

Grandma Dionne and Grandpa Pete have been blessed with 4 grandchildren and are expecting a new grandbaby in May! Each of Dionne's 3 published books is dedicated to a grandchild and the fourth and fifth are in the works! Find more at grandmahearts.com.

Patricia McConnell, PhD, CAAB is an ethologist who has consulted with pet owners for over twenty-five years about serious behavioral problems. She taught "The Biology and Philosophy of Human/Animal Relationships" in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for twenty five-years and speaks around the world about canine behavior and training. Dr. McConnell is the author of eleven books on training and behavioral problems, as well as the critically acclaimed books The Other End of the Leash (translated into 14 languages), For the Love of a Dog, and Tales of Two Species. Her newest book, The Education of Will, is a memoir focusing on healing from trauma in both people and dogs.  Patricia and her husband live with their working Border Collies Willie and Maggie, and her King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Tootsie, along with a very spoiled flock of sheep. For more information, go to www.patriciamcconnell.com or visit her blog, and follow her on Facebook or on Twitter, @McConnellWrites.

Rex Owens’ Irish Troubles series includes Dead Reckoning, Murphy’s Troubles and Out of Darkness. The series was inspired by Irish newspaper reports on children injured in the Peace Zone in Belfast.

Owens is a devoted history buff and natural storyteller who believes that writing is his path to express his imagination. His fiction explores people’s motives when making life changing decisions and searches for common themes in our lifetime journey. Rex posts a blog each week at www.rexowens.us. In addition to writing, Owens hosts a radio show “My World and Welcome to It” on 103.5 FM The Sun Radio station.  The program is streamed live and archived at: http://sunprairiemediacenter.com/.

Lori Rader-Day is the author of the Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning novel Little Pretty Things and The Black Hour, winner of the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Her third novel, The Day I Died, was an Indie Next Pick and is a finalist for the Chicago Writers Association’s Book of the Year. Lori’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Good Housekeeping, and others. She lives in Chicago, where she is the president of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter and a board member of Sisters in Crime Chicagoland. Her next novel, Under a Dark Sky, will be published by Harper Collins in August. Find her at loriraderday.com.

Larry Scheckel grew up on a family farm in the hill country of southwestern Wisconsin. He attended a one- room country school, completed high school, served in the military, trained in electronics as a TV broadcast engineer, married, attended college, and started a teaching career. That career stretched over thirty eight years teaching high school physics and aerospace science.

Larry Scheckel has been named Tomah Teacher of the Year three times and has received the state level Presidential Award six times. He is the recipient of the Tandy Award, Kohl Award, Wisconsin Physics Teacher Award, Health Physics Society Award, Ron Gibbs Award, and Excellence in Science Teaching Award.
Larry likes to bicycle; jog; fly a Cessna 150; work crossword puzzles; read newspapers, historical books, and trade magazines; and fly radio controlled planes. Larry and his wife, Ann, are both retired teachers and live in Tomah, Wisconsin. Larry has written four books and has three on the way. Find more at larryscheckel.com.

Kathleen B. Stilling is a shareholder in the Brookfield, Wisconsin law firm of Buting, Williams & Stilling, S.C. She received her undergraduate degree and her law degree from the University of Wisconsin. Ms. Stilling is a founding member and past president of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. For the past five years, she has been a co-chair of the annual NACDL conference “Defending Sex Cases” and has published articles on the defense of child sex cases in The Champion. Ms. Stilling served as Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge from 2010 - 2011 and was an ad hoc member of the Wisconsin Judicial Council-Criminal Procedure Committee from 2012 to 2018. Her present private practice is entirely criminal defense, both trials and appeals. She lectures in the areas of sexual assault cases, ethics, judicial decision-making and trial practice. Find more at www.buting.com.

Barry Wightman was born in St. Louis and now lives in Elm Grove, Wisconsin. He earned an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2010. He is a talented voiceover professional and a Wisconsin Broadcasters Association award-winning essayist, whose work has been heard on WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio. He’s also a reviewer and review editor for the Washington Independent Review of Books. His music and book reviews have also appeared in various publications in Chicago, Milwaukee and Washington D.C. He is a voting member of the National Book Critics Circle. He is author of Pepperland, a winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards Silver “IPPY.” A rock-and-roller at heart, he also plays in a band.

He is married with three grown children. Find more at www.barrywightman.com.

Detective Jeremy Wilson has served with the Oshkosh Police Department since 2005 and is currently assigned to the Investigative Services Bureau where he works as a Detective. Since joining the Oshkosh Police Department, Jeremy has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, worked undercover and as a forensic phone analyst. In addition to his role as a detective, Jeremy also serves his country in the Wisconsin Air National Guard and has been a member of the armed forces for over 19 years.

Christy Wopat’s debut novel, a memoir, Almost a Mother: Love, Loss, and Finding Your People When Your Baby Dies was published in 2018 by Orange Hat Publishing. A 4th-grade teacher by day, as well as a busy mama and wife, Christy has always relied on writing as a way to cope. Recently she decided to use that strength as a way to help others, so they don’t feel alone.

Christy is a regular member of the Friending podcast team, a contributing writer to Still Standing, an online magazine about infant loss and grief, and a blogger at Um, You Guys? a parenting/adulting blog where she tries to infuse humor into everyday life.

Christy was recently voted #3 best writer in La Crosse County in Explore La Crosse’s “5th Annual Best of La Crosse County.” She is a member of Women Writer’s Ink, an uplifting and motivating writing group in LaCrosse, and also Wisconsin Writers Association. Christy resides in Holmen with her husband, Brian, and her two kids, Avery and Evan. You can find Christy at www.christywopat.com.