Read Local Author Fair
Love local lit? You won’t want to miss the second annual JPL Read Local Author Fair on Saturday, February 24, 2024! Stop by for some refreshments then mix and mingle with local authors at this open-house style event from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. Authors will present their latest works, answer questions, and sign books in this open house style event. You’ll have a chance to browse a selection of books for purchase and enter to win fun literary prizes. No registration is necessary to attend this fabulously literary and fabulously local event! More info about this event is available here.
Check Out Our Featured Local Authors for 2024
Susan R. Lawrence
Susan Lawrence is a speaker, an author, and a storyteller. She grew up on a farm in the heart of Iowa. As a child, she learned to love country life, writing stories, and animals. She graduated from Kansas State Teacher’s College and taught special needs children for twenty-six years before putting away the chalkboard to devote more time to writing, speaking, and storytelling. Susan lives and travels with Gary, her husband and best friend for fifty-two years, and their rescue pup, Maggie. She has three adult children and seven brilliant and beautiful grandchildren who love to hear her stories. When Susan is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking in the woods, bicycling, and traveling. Her published works include two family devotion books; three novels, Atonement for Emily Adams, Restoration at River’s Edge, and her newest, Flight of the Red-winged Blackbird; two middle grades novels, The Blue Marble and The Long Ride Home; and a picture book, Shepherd of eSwatini. Her latest release is a devotional with the stories of her three rescue dogs, Three Dogs' Tales.
Lois Kennis lives in Ames, Iowa, within thirty minutes of all six grandchildren. She writes realistic fiction to stir hearts with a healthy gleam of hope. Her debut novel, Rise on Eagles’ Wings, was released by Elk Lake Publishing Inc., in June 2023. It is a bittersweet coming-of-age story of a teen mother’s tenacity, the ever-changing definition of family, and the redemptive power of community—set in Iowa during the 1990s. In 2023, Rise on Eagles’ Wings was Winner of the NYC Big Book Award in the category of Christian Fiction. Kennis is a member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA), American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and The Authors Guild.
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T. Patrick Graves
Author T. Patrick Graves is a retired attorney and magistrate judge in central Iowa. He has been married fifty years and has two children and four grandchildren. He has served on various boards and now serves on the Urbandale library board of trustees. Graves faced a five year battle with head and neck cancer and is in full recovery. He has written four novels and is working on number five.
Diane T. Holmes
Diane Holmes is a wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and Iowa author who enjoys writing in her retirement. Raised on a farm in north-central Iowa, Diane Holmes loved the wide open spaces. She even had a pony named Dolly that she’d ride to the pasture to round up cows for milking in the barn. She cherished her home life with five siblings and loving, caring parents. Diane attended schools in that area then studied at the American Institute of Business (AIB) in Des Moines, Iowa. After having roots in the ground for many years, she married Lyell, a career Marine Corps officer who flew helicopters and fighter jets. Together they made their home in many states, going from duty station to duty station. She loved the adventure of living in different states and learning about each one and what they had to offer. Diane worked seventeen years for a large school district in California supervising workers’ comp and property/liability insurance programs. She and her husband raised two daughters and a son, all of whom they are very proud.
Nick Holmberg is an award-winning author who grew up in Northern California. He earned his BA in English from SJSU in 2000. While earning a Master’s in creative writing at The City College of New York, he started work on his first novel, The Emergent. Since 2004, he has lived and worked as an educator in his native California, as well as South Korea, Illinois, and Texas. Throughout all of this, he has experimented with content, form, and function on his website and in the novel. He now resides in Des Moines, where he is currently at work on his next project, a novella and five short stories tentatively titled Anxiety and Other Comedies.
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Jeff Kluever is a life-long student of the American Civil War. A former museum professional, including service as the Education Supervisor at Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier. Jeff grew up in Norwalk, Iowa, graduated from Grinnell College, and began his career as a teacher and as a high school football coach. He also served as an assistant football coach at the collegiate-level and earned his Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Carroll University in Wisconsin. He served as Executive Director of the Allen County Historical Society in Iola, Kansas, Education Supervisor at Pamplin Historical Park in Petersburg, Virginia, and Director of Programs at The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. He currently serves as the Director of Corporate Training for MidAmerican Energy in Des Moines.
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Texas transplant Angie Dicken lives in Iowa with her family of six, balancing a busy schedule of school sports and activities, date nights with her husband, and get-togethers with her longtime friends. Setting sweet romance stories in the beloved heartland seems as natural as sweet corn in the summer and snowplows in the thick of winter. Angie is a multi-published author and an ACFW member.
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Colorado native Sharee Stover lives in the Midwest with her real-life-hero husband, three too-good-to-be-true children, and a ridiculously spoiled German Shepherd. A self-proclaimed word nerd, she loves the power of the written word to ignite, transform, and restore. She writes Christian romantic suspense combining heart-racing, nail-biting suspense and the delight of falling in love all in one.
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Gayl Siegel has lived in Des Moines, Iowa for the past thirteen years and now considers it home. She published her first book, a murder mystery entitled “Blood Stained”, a year ago and is working on the sequel as well as an illustrated book about adoption. She has a background in public health and veterinary medicine, and now stays at home taking care of her husband, a retired Lutheran pastor, their ten-year-old daughter, and three cats. When not writing, she spends her time home schooling their daughter, baking, reading, doing puzzles, and playing the piano.
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Kristina Helfert is a freelancing artist who enjoys Japanese cuisine, theology, and dragon lore. She lives in Iowa with her husband, son, and Prince Caspian (her cat).
Kelsey Josephson is a sci-fi fantasy author and member of SFWA and ALLi from the Midwest. She has a deep love for Universal Monster movies, all things related to Nikola Tesla, and iced coffee. Her work includes Strange Happenings, a gaslamp fantasy series set in an alternate timeline, and Forsaken Beauty and the Etherbeast, a steampunk fairy tale retelling.
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I'm Harold Cloninger, I write fantasy and paranormal stories. Terranum Legends: Stellian Slave is available. This story focuses on Stellian, who was the main protagonist in the Terranum trilogy. This book and its follow-up will explore how he became "evil". Terranum: Knight's War is the conclusion to the Knight trilogy but isn't the last time we'll visit this world. The Lonely Mall was released on March 16, 2017 and has been a head turner. My first dalliance with a romance novel: Love Never Fails was released on September 15, 2016. Injustice, the long-awaited sequel to Knight's Fall has been released. This story addresses the repercussions from the first novel and how the actions of the few effects many. I don't want to exclude my favorite book thus far: The Grand Phantom. This is a novella where I get to dip my toes into supernatural story telling about a haunted theater in my hometown. It was by far the most fun I've had writing and is still my favorite story.
Autumn Rozario Hall
Autumn Rozario Hall is a Latina painter, dreamer, mother, and sharer of stories. She lives and works in Des Moines, Iowa. She is a recipient of two Community Art Grants from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and is working within the rewilding movement, blending art with environmental outreach in the form of gallery shows, native plant workshops, and writing. Her second book, Tales from the Scraggle Wood was created with a grant from Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in partnership with Iowa BeWild ReWild. It is a collection of urban wonder tales. Other publications include Wings, Thimble, Thorn, an illustrated Folktale (2021) and work in Cultivation, The Hopper (2021), When We are Lost, How We are Found, About Place Magazine (2021).
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Damian graduated from the World Wide College of Auctioneering in 2012 and started Beard Bid Auctions, LLC in 2013 with his wife, Janice. Like Auggie, he sold anything and everything he could upon graduating- even if it meant recruiting his family to help with the auctions (which they lovingly did without pay)! Damian resides in West Des Moines, Iowa with Janice and their two children, Ellie and Beckham.
Alison Van De Pol
Alison Van De Pol is a Human Design Specialist, Holistic Health Coach, and Registered Nurse. She is a serial learner who loves her sauna, family walks, and all things spiritual. She lives in Dallas Center, Iowa with her husband and two young children. The Moon is her first book and part of her #surrenderstory.
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Joseph "Joe" LeValley credits his love of writing for every success in his life. He was a reporter-photographer for daily newspapers for seven years, covering crime/ criminal justice as his primary beat. Subsequently, he served for more than 30 years as a healthcare executive. During that time, he and his team won four national awards for communications excellence. He began his latest career, as an author and public speaker, in 2018. He has published five award-winning mystery/thriller novels. His sixth released in November 2023. Also a musician, Joe was inducted in 2016 into the Iowa Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. A lifelong Iowan, Joe has a degree in journalism from Drake University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Iowa. He and his wife Jane have six children and live in Waukee, Iowa.
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Brian Darr is the author of psychological crime thrillers that explore the depths of the human psyche, with gripping narratives and morally complex characters.
Dennis Maulsby is a retired bank president living in Ames, Iowa with his wife Ruth, a retired legal secretary, and his dog Charlie, a retired CIA operative. His poems and short stories have appeared in The North American Review, Star*Line, The Hawai’i Pacific Review, The Briarcliff Review (Pushcart nomination), and on National Public Radio’s Themes & Variations. His traditionally published books include: Near Death/Near Life (Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) gold medal winner), Free Fire Zone (MWSA silver medal winner), Winterset (Eric Hoffer Award and Global eBook gold medal winner), Heart Songs (American Fiction Awards first place for poetry), and House de Gracie (Reader Views and Global eBook silver medals). Maulsby holds memberships in the SFWA, the SFPA, the MWSA, and is a past president of the Iowa Poetry Association.
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Randy "Sherpa" Brown is a former newspaper reporter and veteran of the Iowa National Guard’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry “Red Bull” Division. In addition to other accolades, he is a three-time poetry finalist in the Col. Darron L. Wright Memorial Awards, administered annually by the Chicago-based literary journal Line of Advance. His 2015 collection, "Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire," was awarded a gold medal distinction from the Military Writers Society of America. His chapbook "So Frag & So Bold: Short Poems, Aphorisms & Other Wartime Fun" was published in 2021. A hybrid history-memoir-poetry monograph, "Twelve O'Clock Haiku: Lessons Learned from Old War Movies & New Poems," was published in 2022.
Kelsey Bigelow is a spoken word and page poet based in Des Moines. In her work, she molds incredibly specific emotions into something human, digestible, and cathartic. She is the author of "The Coffee Cherry" (2023), "Depression Holders and Secret Keepers" (2021), and "Sprig of Lilac" (2018). Her work is published in or forthcoming with Central Avenue Publishing, Pile Press, Lyrical Iowa, Backchannels Journal, Spirit Lake Review, and elsewhere. Kelsey is a 2024 Pushcart Prize nominee, a 2023 Button Poetry Video Contest Finalist, and a 2023 Central Avenue Poetry Prize shortlist finalist. She's the founder and leader of the Des Moines Poetry Workshop, the chair for the Iowa Poetry Association Poetry Slam, the co-tournament director for the BlackBerry Peach National Poetry Slam, and more.
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Sue E. Burns
Sue Burns is a life-long Iowan with solid, living roots to a family farm in northern Polk County. She currently lives in the Des Moines area with her husband. After graduating from Iowa State University, she began a 30-year career in Information Technology with a locally headquartered, global agricultural company. She ended her career there as a Business Analyst with well-honed skills in data analysis, research, and software testing and implementation. She was also point person for an in-house developed suite of agronomic software tools. As the key contact, she traveled the world teaching the software programs to agronomist employees, documenting processes, and providing technical support. Her experience being in plays in high school, teaching classes during her career, and as a live storyteller prepared her to address groups with confidence. She participated in the premier Des Moines Storytellers Project event, on stage at the Des Moines Community Playhouse February 16, 2016.
Sara Jordan-Heintz is an award-winning journalist, editor and historian based in Norwalk, Iowa. Her writing appears in a variety of nationally distributed magazines and local newspapers. Jordan-Heintz is a recipient of the Genevieve Mauck Stoufer Outstanding Young Iowa Journalists Award from the Iowa Newspaper Association. She is the author of the biographies Going Hollywood: Midwesterners in Movieland and The Incredible Life and Mysterious Death of Dorothy Kilgallen. Her novella “A Day Saved is a Day Earned” was published in Rod Serling Books’ inaugural anthology Submitted For Your Approval edited by Anne Serling. Her fictional stories, heavily inspired by film noir, The Twilight Zone and everyday observations, have appeared in: 101 Words, Red Planet, 365 Tomorrows, Friday Flash Fiction, Blink Ink, The Mambo Academy of Kitty Wang, Better Than Starbucks, Potato Soup Journal and Shady Grove Literary.
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Anna Larson is currently a student at the University of Iowa. She is originally from Johnston where she grew up and graduated from high school. When Anna was twelve, her father's family, being her grandmother, grandfather, and uncle, all passed away. Anna journaled her experience as a young child dealing with grief, which she self-published as a memoir when she was fifteen.
Retired USPS Postmaster. Retired US ARMY Staff Sergeant.
Mental health advocate. Wedding officiant.
School bus driver.
Author of 8 books: Personal Memoirs
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B. John Burns III
B. John Burns is an obscure Johnston, Iowa songwriter celebrating his Golden Jubilee in 2022. Since writing “Last Airport Home” in September 1972, John has written approximately 5,000 songs in nearly every genre of music. He has appeared in 25 states, and continues to perform his tunes for mostly small, intimate audiences on piano, guitar and ukulele. To put food on the table, John has worked as a busboy, a stereo salesman, a bank messenger, a criminal defense attorney, a grill cook, a Pinkerton guard, a political organizer, a bank bookkeeper, a published author, a paid actor, and a martial arts instructor. Through it all, he has continued to write music on nearly a daily basis.
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I began writing my memoir “Iowa Trouble '' in 2020 for my infant daughter in case anything were to happen to me as she would have a book about her father and family history. “Iowa Trouble” is a memoir of some of the most poignant moments in my life including stories from my time playing football, going to punk concerts, and working for various political campaigns. I have recently released my second book and my first children’s book “The ABC’s of Ethanol” a fun & scientific look at renewable fuel through the eyes of a child. I have greatly enjoyed self-publishing and I am happy to share my stories with you.
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Laurie Hazel is the Library Director at the Cambridge Memorial Library and also enjoys working as a Library Clerk at the Johnston Public Library. Before her work in libraries, she was an elementary educator who enjoyed teaching the littlest angels for over thirty years. Laurie Hazel is a professional angel reader and Reiki Master with over seventeen years of experience in working with Divine guidance and healing. Her mission is to teach others about angels and to bring angelic messages of healing, hope, and love to all people.
Trudy C. Carlson
Trudy is a first-generation immigrant, who moved to Iowa at 18, only to face a difficult start. Healthwise, she discovered she needed open-heart surgery. A procedure that later changed her life when complications started to arise. She endured two strokes and lost vision in one eye. Financially, her mother made an emergency trip back to Kenya for a year while Trudy was still integrating to life in America, leaving her and her siblings to navigate life's complexities alone with no guidance, financial understanding, or essential resources. This experience not only built resilience in Trudy but gave her life lessons that she later used to ignite her new-found mission and purpose. In 2020, she founded Conversational Lounge Media, a talk show platform that connects, mentors, and inspires others by engaging in insightful interviews and sharing the real-life stories of immigrants and locals; connecting diverse networks of people and fostering a sense of belonging.
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