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.

Laura Jean Baker, raised by therapists and married to a defense attorney, writes where mental health, crime, and family intersect. She earned her M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Michigan, where she was a Colby Fellow and went on to earn the Nicholas Delbanco Award for her thesis The Neighbor Girls, upon graduation.

Her poetry and memoir have appeared in several publications, including The Gettysburg Review, Confrontation, and The Connecticut Review, among others. Her work has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her essay “The Year of the Tiger” was named a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2013.  Her work has also appeared in Salon.com and The Washington Post.

​Her memoir, The Motherhood Affidavits, was released by The Experiment, an independent publisher, on April 3, 2018. Her latest work came to fruition many thanks to her husband, attorney Ryan Ulrich, and their five wildly inspiring children. Find more at www.laurajeanbaker.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.

James Brakken writes Wisconsin historical fiction from his home in Bayfield County. Brakken recently launched his 9th title, Billyboy, the Corner Bar Bear plus 37 “Fairly True” Tales from Up North. Brakken’s writing has appeared in Sports AfieldOutdoor LifeField & Stream, School Arts, and Boys Life magazines. Awards he’s received include a WWA Jade Ring and the 2013, 2014, and 2016 Lake Superior Writers Award. Brakken’s first adventure novel, The Treasure of Namakagon, placed 2nd in Amazon’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Awards. Regarding Brakken’s work, Amazon Books wrote, “The flow of words is like an old fashioned song.”

A UW- Oshkosh alumni, James Brakken created Badger Valley Publishing to publish his titles and those of other independent authors.

Cheryl I. Brehmer has been a Winnebago County deputy coroner for 6 years and has investigated approximately 800 on-scene deaths. She is currently attending Fox Valley Technical College working towards Forensic and Mortuary Science degrees. She serves on the county’s Child Death Review Team and helps train Victim Crisis Response, and has training in child fatality investigations and medicolegal death investigations.

Barry L. Busby has served as the Winnebago County Coroner since 1997. He has a Bachelor degree from University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in Criminal Justice, Political Science, and Sociology. He served in the US Army Military Police and has experience with insurance investigation. He worked at the Oshkosh Police Department for 27 years. Busby was one of the first coroners to be certified by the American Board of Medico-Legal Death Investigators and has assisted the author of 5 booklets for Wisconsin State Council On Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse. He is a member of Wisconsin Law Enforcement Officers Association, Wisconsin Homicide Investigators, and Wisconsin Coroners and Medical Examiners Association. Busby also began many new initiatives, including Suicide Prevention Community for Hope, Re:Think Coalition, and the Heroin Task Force.

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.

From the moment Michelle Grajkowski first opened the doors to the 3 Seas Literary Agency in August of 2000, she has been living her dream. (What could be better than surrounding yourself with amazing authors and their exciting and imaginative books?)  Since then, her agency has sold almost 700 books to all the major publishing houses, and has grown from one agent to three! 

Michelle’s client list includes New York Times Bestselling Authors Katie MacAlister, Cathy McDavid, Kerrelyn Sparks and C.L. Wilson. She primarily represents romance, women’s fiction, young adult and middle grade fiction along with select non-fiction projects with a terrific message. 

When not curled up with a great manuscript, Michelle loves to spend time with her husband, children and her two crazy puppies, who refuse to grow up.

Shaun Harris grew up in Connecticut. The son of a homicide detective and very Irish mother, he attended the University of Notre Dame where he had an unadorned career as a fencer and earned a degree in both American Studies and Film and Television. He taught high school social studies in Chicago and South Bend, Indiana. His first novel, The Hemingway Thief, came out in the summer of 2016. His graphic novel, Las Vegas Repo, is due out  July 2018 through IDW Publishing. Harris currently lives in Wisconsin with his way-too-good-for-him wife, Anne, their two kids, and their two dogs. Find more at www.shaunharrisauthor.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.

Lynn Kuhns, a Wisconsin-based free-lancer, has more than four decades of experience as a professional writer and creative-writing instructor spread over a whopping variety of venues and topics. She’s served as a journalist, staff writer, copywriter, editor, essayist and corporate communicator, with articles in the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel, Silent Sports, Fox Cities Magazine, Bamboo Ridge literary magazine, Wolf River Country and other publications.            

Lynn is completing an insightful and sometimes spicy contemporary novel set in rural Wisconsin and working on a series of children’s books showcasing the amazing lake sturgeon. She creates and leads entertaining and effective writing workshops.

Carmen Leal is an Oshkosh resident and the author of ten published non-fiction books including Faces of Huntington’s, You Can Market Your Book, and The Twenty-third Psalm for Caregivers. Carmen’s writings have been featured in Guideposts, Focus on the Family, Decision Magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, and numerous national and local publications. Her personal experience stories have appeared in several Chicken Soup for the Soul collections and dozens of compilation book series. A storyteller with a dramatic testimony, she is a popular presenter at women's retreats, church groups, conventions and writers’ conferences on a wide variety of inspiring and relevant topics. Her wit, humor, and poignant personal observations, coupled with her down-to-earth style and common sense approach to dealing with life, inspire her audiences. Through her transparency, she has the ability to encourage and bring hope to all.

Miles Maguire is the editor of Oshkosh Independent Magazine and a professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, where he teaches writing, editing, reporting, media law, and film. He is the author of a popular textbook, Advanced Reporting: Essential Skills for 21st Century Journalism, and of a murder mystery, A Special Detail: The Untold Story of a Reporter’s Suspicious Death. Before coming to Oshkosh he worked for a range of publications, including daily newspapers, magazines and newsletters, in cities such as New York, Washington, Baltimore and Milwaukee. He serves as an associate editor of Literary Journalism Studies. Maguire was the founding editor of the Oshkosh Community News Network, a nonprofit online news organization whose work was cited as a notable innovation in journalism in the 2005 Knight-Batten Awards. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland College Park and a master’s degree in business administration from Loyola University Maryland.

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 OwensIrish 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 a member 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.

Ann Scheckel grew up on a family farm near Eastman, Wisconsin. Ann graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in English and Library Science, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Masters degree in Library Science.  She began her teaching career at New Lisbon High School and was later selected to be the Head Librarian and IMC Director at Tomah High School. Ann enjoyed a 31 year teaching career, retiring in 2010. Ann loves to read and heads a local reading club. She and her husband, Larry, live in Tomah, Wisconsin and love to travel.

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.

Jill Swenson is a book development editor and literary representative at Swenson Book Development LLC in Appleton, Wisconsin. She is originally from Appleton and attended Lawrence University before earning her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Jill taught journalism and media studies at the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia and earned tenure from the Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. Teaching, editing, and coaching writers for more than 30 years, she returned to the Midwest in 2015 and teaches at The Mill, a place for writers, in Appleton.

Ryan S. Ulrich is a criminal defense attorney at Ulrich Law Office, LLC located in downtown Oshkosh.  Born and raised in Oshkosh, he earned his undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse and he went on to earn his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison.  He has been practicing in Oshkosh and the surrounding communities for the past 10 years and recently collaborated with his wife, author Laura Jean Baker, on her first memoir, The Motherhood Affidavits.

Barry Wightman’s first novel, Pepperland, received a starred review on Booklist, and won a Silver IPPY for best fiction from the Independent Publishers Book Awards. He has an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, Vermont, and is past fiction editor of Hunger Mountain, a journal of the arts. Barry Wightman’s “Sound & Script” provides writers of all genres with a wide range of literary, editorial, and voiceover services. 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.