Past Lakefly Presenters

2022 Lakefly Presenters

Malinda Andrews is a multi-genre author of over a dozen published works and holds a BA in Creative Writing from the UW-Milwaukee. She balances writing and publishing while caring for her two young children.

Please visit malindawrites.com to learn more.

Abayomi Animashaun is an immigrant from Nigeria. He has an MFA from the University of Nevada and a PhD from the University of Kansas. His poems have appeared in such journals as Poetry Ireland Review, Diode, TriQuarterly, The Cortland Review, African American Review, The Adirondack Review, Ruminate Magazine, and Versedaily. A winner of the Hudson Prize and a recipient of a grant from the International Center for Writing and Translation, he is is the author of three poetry collections.

He currently works as an English professor at the UW-Oshkosh and is a poetry editor at The Comstock Review. You can learn more about him at abayomianimashaun.com.

Celeste Anton has been designing and marketing websites for over 20 years. As owner of Dandelion Web Marketing she has developed and managed digital marketing projects for businesses large and small. She especially enjoys helping writers get their platforms up and running so they can start connecting with their readers!

Learn more at dandelionwebmarketing.com.

Ryan R. Campbell is an author, speaker, and software engineer whose work as R.R. Campbell has earned him accolades, including finalist placement in the International Book Awards.

He is the founder of the Writescast Network and the co-founder of Kill Your Darlings Candle Company. Previously, he taught for the University of Wisconsin’s Division of Continuing Studies in Writing, and he is a regular speaker at conferences throughout Wisconsin and beyond. His website is https://ryanrcampbell.com

Ryan lives in Milwaukee with his wife, Lacey, and their cats, Hashtag and Rhaegar.

Thomas Cannon was selected as the inaugural Poet Laureate of Oshkosh in 2021. He is the author of the books, The Tao of Apathy and Shattered. With his essay “Part of the Gift,” Cannon was the lead contributor to Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Autism. His poems and short stories have been published in various journals such as Midwestern Gothic and Corvus Review. Thomas is active in the Oshkosh writing community, having helped establish the Lakefly Writers Conference.

He and his wife have three children and two grandkids. Learn more about him at thomascannonauthor.com.

Ryan Cappleman is a quadruple threat (performer, choreographer, musician, and teaching artist) based in Milwaukee.

Ryan graduated from the UW-Milwaukee with a BFA in Inter-Arts Musical Theater Performance in 2011, and has gone on to make a full time living doing what he loves, performing and teaching.

He is an adjunct faculty member at the UW-Parkside. He’s also taught all over the country including the Milwaukee Ballet, the Minnesota Summer Dance Intensive, the Virginia State Thespian Conference, Skylight, Danceworks, First Stage, and Pink Umbrella.

Ryan is the proud dad of a black mouth cur named Dolly.

Nick Chiarkas grew up in the Al Smith housing projects on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. When he was in the fourth grade, his mother was told by the principal of PS-1 that “Nick was unlikely ever to complete high school, so you must steer him toward a simple and secure vocation.”

Instead, he became a writer, with a few stops along the way: a US Army Paratrooper, a New York City Police Officer; the Deputy Chief Counsel for the President’s Commission on Organized Crime; and the Director of the Wisconsin State Public Defender Agency. On the way, he picked up a Doctorate from Columbia University, a Law Degree from Temple University; and was a Pickett Fellow at Harvard. His website is nickchiarkas.com

How many mothers are told their child is hopeless? How many kids with potential simply surrender to desperation? That’s why he wrote Weepers and Nunzio’s Way — for them.

Dan Cramer’s love of reading started when he was young with The Chronicles of Narnia. While he loves all books, his heart beats for children’s literature for many reasons, but the main reason is children’s literature is fearless. These books and their authors are not afraid to tackle tough topics, to celebrate diversity, or bring awareness to issues that others would turn their backs on. Children’s literature never ceases to surprise him with its fortitude.

Dan has two undergraduate degrees from West Virginia University: Forensic and Investigative Sciences and Psychology. He has two graduate degrees from Benedictine University: MBA and MS Management and Organizational Behavior. Prior to starting his own agency, he was an Associate Literary Agent with Flannery Literary.

 Dan lives in Burr Ridge, IL with his husband and their rescue dog, Timmy. When Dan is not reading, he enjoys the outdoors, horror movies, and baking (and he’s definitely not imagining he’s on the Great British Bake Off… ok, he’s totally doing that.)

Visit pageturnerliteraryagency.com/agent for more information about his literary agency.

Candace Decker has performed her one-woman cabarets throughout the mid-west and east coast, including performances in Wisconsin for Waukesha Reads, Big Read in the Falls, literary and holiday inspired shows. She is a NY Cabaret Symposium Fellow, an Indiana Arts and Wisconsin Laird Foundation artist grant recipient, and guest cabaret artist with the Virginia State Thespian Conference. She has worked professionally as an actress, singer, theatre/cabaret teacher for over 30 years. You can connect with her via LinkedIn.

John DeDakis is a novelist, writing coach, and manuscript editor John DeDakis is a former editor on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.” DeDakis is the author of five mystery-suspense novels. His most recent novel, Fake, earned Honorable Mention for the Reviewers Choice Award and was a Finalist for Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion.

A native of La Crosse, DeDakis now lives in Baltimore. DeDakis, a former White House correspondent, is a 1977 graduate of the UW-Madison journalism school and worked as news director at WLSU radio (NPR) in La Crosse and as a reporter/anchor at WMTV (NBC) in Madison. His first two novels, Fast Track and Bluff are set in south central Wisconsin.

Website: johndedakis.com.

Bobbi Dumas is a freelance writer and eclectic reader who reviews and writes about books, mainly for Kirkus, but including NPR, Barnes & Noble, and the New York Times Book Review. She advocates for romance because the industry and the books are empowering, inspiring agents of change, especially for women.  Bobbi believes that women have the right to read whatever they want to, without being shamed for it, and that women writers have the power to change the world, one book, one reader at a time. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Bill Gillard is a Professor of English at the UW-Oshkosh. His writing has appeared in dozens of journals, and he is the author of the poetry collection, The Vade Mecum of the True Sublime, the novel Down a Man, the short story collection, Crawl Cram Grind Fail, and a few others. He is co-author of Speculative Modernism, a scholarly study of the origins of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

He earned an M.F.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University, is a recovering youth hockey coach, and lives in Appleton with his wife and two daughters. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Kendra Griffin is an indie author, professor, and developmental editor who has never met a good dog or a good underdog she didn’t fall in love with. She is addicted to writing (and reading) about quirky misfits and diverse ensemble casts. She recently published two novels in her dystopian young adult series: The Pox Ward and Apocalypse Thoughts; she also writes science fiction serials on Kindle Vella.

Kendra has an MA in Literature. She teaches creative writing for Aims Community College, and mentors authors of all levels through community programs, local libraries, and professional conferences. She works as a freelance writing coach and developmental editor as well as for Status Quill Editing and is a member of RMFW and Borderlands Writers.

Her website is kendragriffin.com.

Bailey Hansen spent her unconventional childhood traveling the continental United States with a clown and a clarinetist (aka her parents). She graduated from the University of Evansville with a BFA in Creative Writing, lived for a few years in Spain, and has since settled in Wisconsin. A technical consultant by day, she happily writes at any time for both love and money. Freak Camp is her debut book.

Check out her podcast at anchor.fm/brhansen.

Christine Keleny is an award-winning author, editor, book designer, and publisher. She loves writing and helping others publish the book of their dreams through her indie publishing company: CKBooks Publishing.

Christine also teaches workshops for both youth and adults, speaks at writers conferences and loves talking to book clubs. You can find all of her books at christinekelenybooks.com.

Author and speaker Pam Parker writes fiction and nonfiction from wherever she is, most often the Midwestern U.S., but she loves visiting her native New England & her adopted country, Scotland.

She holds an MFA in fiction from Sierra Nevada University.  Her stories and essays have appeared in Hypertext Magazine, Washington Post, Presbyterian Outook and The Potomac Review, three anthologies, and numerous other print and electronic venues.

Her writing often explores surviving and resilience; finding identity and meaning; the dignity found in the fabric of family; advocating for the struggling — especially those who’ve had breast cancer and/or depression, as she has. She tries to be an encourager, a smile bringer, and a blessing to others, whenever she can.

Learn more at pamwrites.net.

Gregory Lee Renz is an author and retired Milwaukee Hall-of-Fame Fire Captain. His multi-award-winning debut novel, Beneath the Flames, asks the question, “Can a young guilt-ridden firefighter and a brash adolescent inner-city girl overcome their cultural biases and join forces in the fight of their lives?”

Gregory is currently working on the sequel, hoping it won’t take ten years. He writes from Lake Mills where he maintains a website, glrenz.com.

Dean Robbins is an award-winning children’s author and journalist whose nonfiction picture books include Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass (Scholastic); Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote (Knopf); Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing (Knopf); The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The True Story of Alan Bean (Scholastic); Thank You, Dr. Salk!: The Scientist Who Beat Polio and Healed the World (Farrar Straus Giroux); The Fastest Girl on Earth!: Meet Kitty O’Neil, Daredevil Driver! (Knopf); Mambo Mucho Mambo!: The Dance That Crossed Color Lines (Candlewick); and You Are a Star, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Scholastic).

 Dean’s books have been praised in The New York Times, USA Today, and other publications; chosen for best-of-the-year honors; adapted for film; and featured on Public Radio International.

 As a journalist, Dean has written for USA Today, The New York Daily News, The Village Voice, the Grammys, Wisconsin Public Radio, and dozens of other media outlets, along with serving as editor in chief of the alternative newsweekly Isthmus. He has won state and national awards for arts writing, news writing, and multimedia journalism.

Learn more at deanrobbins.net.

Patricia Skalka is the author of the award-winning Dave Cubiak Door County Mysteries. Currently there are six books in the series: Death Stalks Door County, Death at Gills Rock, Death in Cold Water, Death Rides the Ferry, Death by the Bay, and Death Washes Ashore.

Skalka turned to fiction following a successful career in nonfiction. Her many credits include: Staff Writer for Reader’s Digest, freelancer, ghost writer, writing instructor, and book reviewer.

 Skalka is past-president of the Sisters in Crime Chicagoland Chapter and a member of several professional organizations, including The Authors Guild of America, Mystery Writers of America, and Society of Midland Authors.

She divides her time between Milwaukee and Door County.

Website: patriciaskalka.com.

In a career that included work as a journalist, a psychologist, and the founder of a national art consulting company, Maggie Smith added novelist to her resume with the publication of her debut, Truth and Other Lies in March 2022. During her launch month, she was the guest on over twenty writing podcasts including Game of Books, A Mighty Blaze, The Sh*t No One Tells You About Writing, and Rebel Author and her book was featured as a top spring read in Marie Claire, Pop Sugar, The Nerd Daily, and the spring GoodReads newsletter.

In addition to her writing, Maggie hosts the weekly podcast Hear Us Roar, where she interviews debut authors about their novel and their path to publication and blogs monthly for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. A board member of the Chicago Writer’s Association, she’s Managing Editor of their Write City Magazine, and coordinator of Book Nook, which highlights Chicago-area independent bookstores. She resides in Milwaukee with her husband and her aging but still adorable sheltie.

Her website is maggiesmithwriter.com.

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 barrywightman.com.

David Michael Williams has suffered from a storytelling addiction for as long as he can remember. He flaunts his love affair with the written word as an author of fantasy and science fiction, including The Lost Tale of Sir Larpsalot, Magic’s Daughter, The Renegade Chronicles, and The Soul Sleep Cycle—a genre-bending series that explores life, death, and the dreamscape.

In 2021, he released the collection Ghost Mode & Other Strange Stories as well as Vol. 1 of his fantastically retro webcomic Curmudgeons & Flagons. His first tabletop roleplaying game, The Curse of Er’Mah’Gerd, will launch later this year.

David lives in Wisconsin with the best wife on this or any other world and their two weird-in-a-good-way children. Visit his website at david-michael-williams.com to learn more.

Christy Wopat is the author of the award-winning memoir, Almost a Mother: Love, Loss, and Finding Your People When Your Baby Dies, as well as a picture book titled Always Ours, released in May of 2020 and After All: Pregnancy After Your Baby Dies, releasing in June. Her personal essays have been featured in Still Standing Magazine, The Educator’s Room, and MadCityMom, among others.

Christy is a 4th-grade teacher and lives with her husband and children in Holmen. Find her on Facebook at Um, You Guys? where she’ll make you both laugh and cry.

She is repped by Tina Schwartz at The Purcell Agency; her website is christywopat.com.

Past Lakefly Presenters