Speakers & Topics

List of Speakers for 2023

Twila Beck

Mary Potter Kenyon

Mary Potter Kenyon graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in Psychology. She is a certified grief counselor trained under world-renown grief expert David Kessler and a Therapeutic Art coach. Mary has had hundreds of pieces published in newspapers, magazines and anthologies, including essays in ten Chicken Soup books. She is the author of seven non-fiction books, including the award-winning "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace," and "Called to Be Creative: A Guide to Reigniting Your Creativity." Her children's book on grief will be published by Familius Publishing in 2024. A member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, she has been doing workshops and programs on expressive writing for healing, creativity, and writing for conferences, women's groups, libraries and community colleges since 2011. Mary founded a grief retreat and Faith Writers conference in Dubuque, where she lives with her husband Nick Portzen.  

Sheri Shonk

Linda McCann

David LaBelle

Mary Jedlicka Humston

Shelly Beach

Wanda Sanchez

Steve Thompson

Cherie Dargan

Practical Magic: Lessons for Writing  (Historical) Fiction 

The true story of how I used family stories and artifacts to create Grandmother’s Treasures, a series of Historical Fiction novels—and became a debut author at age 68! Each of the five novels has dual timelines and narrators, with Gracie O’Connor and her family as the main characters of the contemporary stories, set in the fictional town of Jubilee Junction, Iowa. 

I’ll share the strategies used to finish my first novel, The Gift, and write four more during the first year of Covid, with lessons learned about planning, drafting, and rewriting my novels. I’ll also share resources for finding information to create your story world & what I discovered about blending family stories, artifacts, and history.