By Rebecca Zornow

My first introduction to the Fox Cities Book Festival was in 2017. Previous to that, I had recently returned to the Fox Cities from living abroad in Africa and lost myself in the beauty of motherhood soon after. I had notions about becoming a writer myself but–though I read and wrote just as often as I always had–at that point, I had no connection to any type of literary community and hadn’t met any writers in person.

Attending the Book Fest brought everything together for me. I remember two events from that pivotal year: I saw the hilarious, likable Lesley Kagen speak to a packed room at the Kaukauna Public Library, and I learned plotting techniques from fantasy author Callie Bates at a writer’s workshop–both FCBF events, of course.

Since then, I have strived to attend as many FCBF events as I can because they are literary (literally?) magic. They fulfill me as a reader and writer and connect me to new friends in the community. I joined the FCBF board because I realized the gift I received from these events was one I wanted to pass on.

There are a number of events I’m excited for at the 2020 Fox Cities Book Festival, and I plan to attend as many events for writers as I can. If you’re a writer looking to learn more, or a reader who wonders how the publishing world works, I highly suggest these wonderful events focused on writing, publishing, and the author life. You can pre-register for any of them now. See you there!

Craft Talks & Workshops

R.R Campbell, author of Imminent Dawn, Mourning Dove, and Accounting for It All will share his best advice at “Keeping Your Scenes Afloat with the Five Fun Floaties of Scene Structure” on October 18, 2020 at 3 PM. Campbell also founded the Writescast Network.

Emily Carpenter discusses how growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, center of the Civil Rights Movement, shaped the kind of writer she would become in her talk “Writing the New Southern Gothic” on October 14, 2020 at 5:30 PM. Her most recent novel is titled Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters.

Jeni McFarland, author of The House of Deep Water, will teach writers how to flesh out a character in “Writing Realistic Characters” on October 17, 2020 at 7:30 PM. McFarland has an M.F.A. in fiction from the University of Houston.

Join Jamie Jo Wright for a fiction workshop focused on weaving two stories together. “Writing the Dual-Time Story” will start on October 13, 2020 at 1:30 PM. Wright is the author of The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus.

Janie Chang, author of The Library of Legends, will help writers walk the line between fact and fiction in “Turning History into Historical Fiction” on October 18, 2020 at 4:30 PM. The Library of Legends is a Globe and Mail national bestseller.

Learn from Judy DuCharme, whose historical fiction series is set in Door County, at “Bring Local Historical Facts to Life in Memorable Fiction” on October 17, 2020 at 4 PM. DuCharme will talk about the balance between research and imagination.

Michael Zapata, author of The Lost Book of Adana Moreau and former editor of the award-winning MAKE Literary Magazine, will lead “So, You Want to Make a Literary Magazine?!” on October 17, 2020 at 10 AM.

Graphic novelist Shawn Williams wrote, illustrated, and self-published a graphic novel called Five Pounds & Screaming and he is the illustrator of the comic strips Simple Pleasures and Supe & Indy. Learn more at “Book Illustration and Working with Authors” on October 12, 2020 at 4:30 PM.

Author Stories

Sarah Read is a dark fiction writer and you can find her short stories in a variety of publications, including her debut collection, Out of Water. Her debut novel, The Bone Weaver’s Orchard is a Bram Stoker Award winner. She will share at “From NaNoWriMo to Award Banquets: How I wrote my Novel” on October 13, 2020 at 10:30 AM.

Baptiste Paul’s debut picture book The Field received starred reviews from Kirkus. Hear from him at “Write What You Know” on October 12, 2020 at 6 PM. Paul will walk you through his creative process for fiction and nonfiction.

This year’s festival is held in memory of late board member Christopher Kunz. Before he passed, he recorded a talk titled “Letting Go: An Author’s Story” to be shown October 18, 2020 at 6 PM. Learn how Kunz dedicated himself to his writing and published his books before passing. This is an inspiring story that you will carry for years.


Children’s author and nature enthusiast Stephanie Feuerstein will share her story at “The Monarch’s Gift: A Journey Through the Steps of Self-Publishing” on October 15, 2020 at 10 AM. Feuerstein will discuss the process of writing, illustrating, and self-publishing a children’s book. She is the author of The Monarch’s Gift and Ella, Eddie, and Egg.

Lora Hyler was inspired by a challenge from the Emory Global Health Institute to write Our Bodies Home, Our Imaginations Run Free to help children stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Hyler was recently on Live with Kelly and Ryan to talk about her book. Be sure to attend her talk “An Author’s Journey” on October 18, 2020 at 12 PM.

YA author Nicole Kronzer will share her story of selling her first novel to a major publisher at “You Don’t Have to Live in New York to Be a Published Author” on October 15, 2020 at 4 PM. She will share advice about writing, perseverance, research, and making time for doing what you love.

Joy Ann Ribar writes the Deep Lake Mystery Series, inspired by Wisconsin’s seasons and neighborly culture. Join her on October 17, 2020 at 2:30 PM for “A Year of Truth and Dare: Writing, Hybrid Publishing, and Marketing“.

Social Events

Join in the fun at The Mill’s 2020 Awards Ceremony on October 11, 2020 at 4:30 PM. Awards will be given in fiction and poetry.

Though not just for writers, Short Story Night is an event no writer writer will want to miss. Take one part late-night talk show, a heavy dose of Intro to Lit 101, and you have Short Story Night. Join host Richie Zaborowske for an evening of virtual trivia, author interviews, literary discussion, and more on October 13, 2020 at 8 PM.


All of our panels are a wonderful way to hear multiple writer’s perspectives in one session. Be sure to register for them now:

Where Ideas Come From–And How We Turn them into Books! — October 13, 2020 at 9:30 AM

Dark Thrills and Sweet Chills: Happy Hour with Thriller Writers — October 14, 2020 at 8 PM

Women in Writing — October 15, 2020 at 8 PM (sponsored by the Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region)

Debut Author Panel — October 16, 2020 at 8 PM

Picture Book Panel — October 17, 2020 at 9 AM

YA Novelists Panel — October 17, 2020 at 11:30 AM

Rebecca Zornow is a writer and board member of the Fox Cities Book Festival. She reviews and recommends the newest science fiction and fantasy books at