Clara Kensie

Clara Kensie, author of dark fiction for young adults …don’t forget to breathe…

Clara Kensie grew up near Chicago, reading every book she could find and using her diary to write stories about a girl with psychic powers who solved mysteries. She purposely did not hide her diary, hoping someone would read it and assume she was writing about herself. Since then, she’s swapped her diary for a computer and admits her characters are fictional, but otherwise she hasn’t changed one bit.

Today Clara is an award-winning author of dark fiction for young adults. Her debut, the super-romantic psychic thriller Deception So series, was named an RT Book Review Editors Pick for Best Books of 2014, and Deception So Book One: Deception So Deadly, is the winner of the prestigious 2015 RITA© Award for Best First Book.

The first two books in the DECEPTION SO series, originally released as a six-part serial titled Run to You, are now compiled into full-length novels, DECEPTION SO DEADLY and DECEPTION SO DARK (Snowy Wings Publishing). The series will continue with the never-before-published DECEPTION SO DANGEROUS. The DECEPTION SO series is available for order in paperback everywhere books are sold, and the ebooks are available exclusively for Kindle (free on Kindle Unlimited). Look for a special DECEPTION SO short story in the MAGIC AT MIDNIGHT anthology!

Clara’s critically-acclaimed novel Aftermath (Simon and Schuster), a dark, ripped-from-the-headlines drama about hope, healing, and triumph over tragedy in the tradition of Room and The Lovely Bones, is on Goodreads’ list of Most Popular Books Published in November 2016, and Young Adult Books Central declared it a Top Ten Book of 2016.

Clara’s favorite foods are guacamole and cookie dough. But not together. That would be gross.

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J.L. Callison

J.L. Callison thinks of himself along the lines of the old-time storytellers more than as a writer. He has published Stranded at Romson’s Lodge (Morgan James, 2016) and My Donkey and the Master (self). His novella, Rotund Roland, will release early fall 2018.

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Janet Riehecky

Janet Riehecky is a freelance writer for children. She published her first book, Sharing, in 1988 and since then has published 132 books for children. Her work includes both fiction and nonfiction and ranges from preschool picture books and character values to science, history and biography for elementary-aged students. Her twenty-four volume series Dinosaurs! won the 1989 Summit Award for Best Children’s Nonfiction, and her Tasmanian Tiger was a 2008 Junior Library Guild selection. In fiction, she has done a series of fairy tale rewrites and several mystery novels.

Janet has worked as a high school English teacher, a college professor, and a children’s book editor. She earned a B.A. in English Education at Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois; an M.A. in Speech Communication at Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois; and an M.A. in English Literature from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. She served two terms on the Midwest Board of Mystery Writers of America, and she served as the National Director of Mystery Writers of America’s literacy outreach, Kids Love A Mystery, from 1998 to 2004. She is an adjunct writing professor at Judson College in Elgin, Illinois, and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Mystery Writers of America, and the Society of American Magicians. She is a popular speaker in elementary schools where she gives a variety of talks, including The Magic of Writing, in which she uses magic tricks and illusions to illustrate the fiction writing process; Writing Magical Nonfiction, in which she uses magic tricks and illusions to illustrate the nonfiction writing process; and Dinosaur Encounter, in which she uses her extensive collection of fossils and casts of dinosaur bones to teach how scientists learn about dinosaurs. She also has a program for young children, The Care and Feeding of Pet Dinosaurs, which is just for fun.

Janet is married and has one son. She loves to read, is active in her church, and volunteers her time with the American Baptist Church’s White Cross, which helps disadvantaged kids and disaster victims. She also loves dinosaurs. On a dig in western Colorado she dug up the first bone found of a brand new dinosaur, Mymoorapelta. She currently lives in Elgin, Illinois, USA.

Connect with Janet on her website.

Amanda Moncrefe

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

My name is Amanda Moncrefe, and I was a reader long before I became a writer. I read all sorts of books, but my favorites are fantasy, paranormal, romance, and erotica. Read below to find out more interesting facts about me!

Where you were raised?

I was raised during the school year in Crest Hill, Illinois (formally the Willow Bridge apartment complex). I spent my summers in Newton and Jackson, Mississippi with my step-grandmother and cousins.

Where did you attend college?

I attended Alcorn State University (HBCU) in Lorman, Mississippi from 1990-1994 on a full academic scholarship. I majored in Political Science and graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

How many siblings do you have, how many children do you have, and ages?

I have 3 children who I refer to as my Triple A’s, Alexander (age 29), Ashlynn (age 24), and Alliyah (Age 21). I connected with my paternal side of the family in my twenties; and discovered I was also the oldest child of 3 siblings: Jody, Jerry, and Jessica.

Where did your love of writing come from?

My love comes from spending HOURS (literally) at the Crest Hill Library across the street from my apartment building. The library was practically a substitute babysitter many times during my childhood. My reading challenge take home books were always a mixture of Charlie Brown Peanut comics, Harlequin romance novels, and Stephen King thrillers, seriously. Yes, it’s a weird mix, and probably explains a lot about my personality and my writing style (wink).

Keeping busy as a Mom, surrounded by friends who are just as crazy and jazzy as I am while still holding my full time job, I like to use my down time to create and put to paper my own stories. I will strive to have my characters, after a bit of soul-searching reconciliation, receive everything their heart desires, even if their heads are sometimes too stubborn to see it.

How has being a mother impacted the way you live and the way you write?

Becoming a teenage mother shaped every aspect of my life, particularly in understanding that having a strong support system, both emotionally and physically, can help any young person overcome the challenges of a teenage pregnancy. It can also guide the way in highlighting the importance of education, and staying academically competitive to secure a solid foundation and future.

What genre are your books?

I write erotic, contemporary urban romance.

What draws you to this genre?

I often tell my friends, I’m drawn to intelligent, witty, and perverted personalities. I love the humor and relevance found in contemporary fiction, the sexiness of erotica, and the HEA of a good romance novel. If I can have all of them nicely wrapped in a good story line, I’m in heaven.

What are the title of your books and release dates?

My books in The Lady Chronicles Book Series are as follows:

Book One – The NSU Beginning: The Painted Lady–published August 27, 2015

Book Two – The Swan Lady: published January 16, 2016

Book Three – The Diamond Lady–published May 2, 2016

Book Four – The Hidden Lady–published September 19, 2016

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Karen Bedore

On a typical day, one could find Karen in the throngs of adolescent wonderment, trying to create harmonious music-making to these next-generation superstars. From the first squeaks of “Hot Cross Buns” to the lavish lyrical sounds of “Danny Boy,” there is much magic that occurs within the four walls of the band room.

After being fueled by many cups of coffee to sustain the never-ending insanity of middle school energy, she arrives home to the role of wife (to a wonderful husband) and mother (of an amazing little boy), cherishing every moment (okay, perhaps not the whining…).


Secretly (well, not so secret any more), she is an undercover author, who laces up her trainers for a run to build endurance-not just for running-but to escape from this world to an alternate one, where history and romance meet, fueled by suspense-and of course-wonderful music.

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Bibi Belford

Barbara Belford—Bibi—moved from the western suburbs to a condo in the Chicago loop to spend more time on writing. In her career in education in Aurora, Illinois she’s been a classroom teacher, a reading teacher, a literacy coach, and a reading consultant. She’s incurably addicted to working with students, now volunteering in a CPS school in Bronzeville and consulting in public schools while working on her middle grade novels. Canned and Crushed-2015, The Gift-2016, Crossing the Line-2017 (A Christopher Award Winner), and Another D for DeeDee-2018, all published by Sky Pony.

Her goal is to write books the students she’s taught will want to read, with characters they can identify with, to inspire them to make positive changes in the world around them. One of her greatest joys was reading the Advanced Reading Copy of Canned and Crushed to her former students who’d promised they’d read a book if she wrote one. She loves visiting her former school that is the only place she has celebrity status. She earned her BA in English and Education, and her MA in Bilingual Literacy with endorsements in ESL and Reading. She’s a member of Chicago Writers Association, SCWBI, and ACWF.

D.E. Malone

D.E. Malone writes contemporary romance and is the author of Love Like Water the first book in the Hearts in Hendricks series. Her second title, Love Like Fire, is forthcoming in November 2018. She is also the author of middle-grade novels Bingo Summer and The Upside Down, writing as Dawn Malone. As a former newspaper reporter, she’s had the pleasure of writing about a myriad of subjects, from award-winning irises and a creole cooking school, to small-town politics. Her work has appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal, Highlights for Children, Pockets, and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She loves traveling to places off the beaten path which inspire the fictional settings in her stories. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, hiking, working with shelter dogs, and continuing her never-ending quest for the holy grail of bakeries.

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Ericka Bailey

Rev. Ericka Bailey was born in Chicago, IL. but moved to Quincy, IL. at an early age. She received her education at Quincy Public Schools and earned her Bachelor of Science Degree at Western Illinois University. She has spent the majority of her career in the Social Service field. She is certified in Mental Health First Aid and is a state certified Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) facilitator.

Rev. Bailey is the wife of James C. Bailey who is the Pastor of St. Stephen A.M.E. Church in Chicago, IL. She is the mother of four adult children. She accepted her call to preach in 2006 and was ordained in September 2009. While she gladly serves in the pulpit on a weekly basis, she firmly holds that true ministry is lived outside of the churches four walls. She strives to make a difference in the lives of all she come into contact with.

Rev. Bailey is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She is active in addressing social issues within community and works diligently to uphold the standards of this most illustrious public service sorority.
She strives to live by the scripture “to whom much is given, much is required”.

Rev. Bailey is the founder of I Survived Ministries whose purpose is to inspire others to live by faith and hope in spite of adversity. She has partnered with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) serving as a Lead Presenter for the Ending the Silence Program as well as serving as a regular panelist for the Cook County Sheriff’s Department and Chicago Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). She speaks throughout Chicago Public Schools and various universities sharing her personal testimony which includes a history of childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, living with depression and anxiety. Her story further highlights components of her recovery including an active faith, proper nutrition, daily exercise, getting adequate sleep, and maintaining regular contact with her physician.

In 2017, Rev. Bailey’s life was portrayed on stage through Erasing the Distance which is a non-profit arts organization based in Chicago that uses the power of performance to disarm stigma, spark dialogue, educate, and promote healing surrounding issues of mental health.

In 2018, Rev. Bailey was nominated and received the Top Ladies of Distinction Crown Jewel award for Dedication and Commitment to Community Partnership.

Rev. Bailey is the author of the book ‘I Survived’ which was written as a testament of God’s immeasurable grace, undeniable forgiveness, and as a demonstration of His glorious power of restoration. It gives credence to the fact that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things!

Her book is available for purchase on her website and on

Angela Seals

Angela Seals is an award-nominee, Chicago native with an awesome imagination for storytelling. She holds a Bachelors degree in Business and is currently working on her Masters in Accounting. She works as an accountant and in addition, she is a Co-Founder of Book Euphoria, a group of Chicago authors that hosts Book It Chicago bi-annually.

Angela pens contemporary romance and women fiction. Her novels offer real life issues and compelling love affairs. Angela’s novels speaks to her readers desire to find love by providing life, imagery and words to their thoughts and fantasies. These dynamic stories derived from her love of reading, which began in her early teens. It was during this time that she started reading short stories, and soon moved into romance novels.

Out of her love for all genres grew her alter-ego, Angel de Amor. Manifested from the edgy characters floating around in her head that could not be contain, Angel de’ Amor was born to dominate her love for her fiery contemporary romance stories. She continue to write under both names to offer her readers a variety of stories filled with temptation and forbidden love affairs.

Angela loves connecting with her readers and quenching their thirst for suspense. Currently, she is hard at work on her next dynamic and sultry story.

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Norm Cowie

Norm Cowie is an award-winning business columnist and author of eight humor books (and one horror book that he wrote one year when his funny bone went AWOL). He’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and founded the Humor Writers of America because he likes to hang with people who think Whoopie Cushions are funny. Over the years he’s had three different publishers, seen a lot of author friends sell a lot of books and seen a lot of author friends struggle to sell any. He falls somewhere in between. Visit Norm at