Sterling Lord Writers and Readers Festival


10AM - 2PM                          Local Author Showcase
11 AM                                    Russ Fry on Self-Publishing
Noon                                      Author Panel on Writing, Publishing, and Promoting
1 PM                                      Bruce Carlson on Getting Published
1:30 PM                                 Berenstain Bears Story Time and Activity

Meet the Authors

Gina BurnsBurns

Gina is owner and artist of and is the author of the newly published children's book "We All Have Guardian Angels".  Gina enjoys teaching and speaking about the Angels she adores and encourages all of us to be the Earth Angels that God created us to be.

Bruce Carlson

Bruce has written 160 books and published those plus 145 more through his business, Quixote Press and Hearts 'N Tummies Cookbooks, Co. Locally, his best known book is "Ghosts of Des Moines County." 

Barbara CarrollCarroll

Barbara is editorial director, partner, and writer for Moon Hollow Enterprises. She has published four children’s books: Harry the Mouse who Lived in My Car, Valentine, the Purr-fect Kitty, 3 Little Pugs and Other Dog Tails, and There’s a Snake in My Room. She integrates non-fiction elements into entertaining and whimsical stories using her 35 years of experience in education. 

Brandon Crews

At 24, Brandon became a first time novelist when his book, A Contingency Story, came out this January. Brandon is a father of two and says that is the only thing he likes better than writing.

Austin Engle

Austin started writing freshman year of high school and had a poem on bullying published in a collection of poems entitled Famous Poets of the Heartland. Always being bullied in school inspired him to write his first book Life's Abyss (a collection of poems and quotes) that was published his senior year. 

Austin's most recent work, ILL Scene, has been called uplifting, inspirational, and has readers finding a sense of belonging. He has been told that book is known as the "anti suicide handbook." Written during a dark time in his life when he was homeless and suicidal, the book not only helped him, but he also started receiving emails from readers telling him how much it helped them. The book has been called uplifting, inspirational, and has readers finding a sense of belonging. He has been told that book is known as the "anti suicide handbook." 

Russ Fry

Russ Fry pic

Russ Fry is a lifelong resident of the Burlington area. Since his retirement from Community Corrections several years ago he has been written 9 books and made 10 documentaries on local historical events. He is most proud of Black Hawk's Final Resting Place. It corrects 163 years of mistaken history. Copies of all his work are available at the Burlington Public Library. He does presentations on his findings and shows his award winning documentaries at film festivals around the nation. He can be reached at

Lyle GibsonGibson

Lyle is a life-long resident of Burlington, Iowa.  His first book is “A Lifetime in Motion: Lessons Learned From a Student of the Game(s)”  and his brand new book is titled “From the Bench and Beyond," a series of true stories that give a behind the scenes look at a variety of sports. His first book reached #26 on Amazon’s “Top 100 List” in its’ category and #9 on the Kindle list. The new book is a collection of humorous, sometimes serious, inspiring and at times almost unbelievable stories of personal life stories as both an athlete and a coach. Lyle's life in athletics has included

  • A National Champion in Baseball
  • A tennis professional (having once played Bill Cosby and also the #1 ranked doubles player in the world)
  • A marathon runner---having qualified for the Boston Marathon 7 times.
  • A Burlington High School tennis coach being named conference “Coach of the Year”
  • A Burlington High School and Notre Dame High School baseball coach with more than 450 victories to my credit
  • A community volunteer

Lisa Knopp


Lisa is the author of six books of creative nonfiction. Her most recent book, Bread: A Memoir of Hunger (University of Missouri Press 2016), explores the causes and meanings of eating disorders and disordered eating, especially among older women. 

Knopp is a Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where she teaches courses in creative nonfiction. Please visit her website at or contact her at

Adam Kugler

Adam lives in the small town of Aledo, Illinois, and has been in the area his whole life except a 9 month period of time when he lived just south of Chicago while going to College. He holds a degree in three subjects: American History, Political Science, and Sociology. Adam is currently a writer for and also pursue a life writing novels and looking forward to the book that he is currently writing about the Battle of Shiloh. He has worked with the local newspaper to write a historical column on area history and is also preparing to write a book on local history as well. 

Sandra Levins

Sandra Levins is the author of award-winning picture books Eli's Lie-O-Meter: A Story About Telling the Truth; Bumblebee Bike; Was It the Chocolate Pudding? A Story For Little Kids About Divorce; and Do You Sing Twinkle? A Story About Remarriage and New Family. Her latest venture, Either Way, Story of a Gay Kid, is a Graphic Novel. All of Sandra's books are published by American Psychological Association's children's imprint Magination Press.

Dustin RenwickRenwick

Dustin is a freelance writer who is originally from Monmouth, IL. His most recent book, 
Beyond the Gray Leaf, is a biography of a famous but forgotten Civil War poet from Kirkwood, IL. J.P. Irvine presented his work to President Ulysses S. Grant and 10,000 spectators in Washington, DC. That poem was lost, along with Irvine's legacy. Until now.
Keith Schulzschulz

Keith embarked on a novel as a retirement project after a few sessions at the Summer Program of the Iowa Writers Workshop.  After he and his wife purchased an old home in his hometown Burlington, he thought that the community (Bruders Landing in the novel) would make a great setting for a creepy novel.  Five years and many words later KEEPERS OF THE RIVER was published.  He apologizes to Burlington for taking liberties with its geography and embellishing some its features.  Although he borrowed several surnames that are familiar locally, he assures that no character is modeled after an actual person living or dead (except one, sort of).  Meanwhile he is flailing away at another story.
Sarah SprostonSproston

Sarah just released her first book April 30th called Underground Secrets and its book 1 in The Underground Series. Book 2 - Underground Race was released October 1st. She plans on releasing books 3 & 4 in the series next year (Underground Vengeance and The Messenger). These are a Dark, Romantic Suspense books. Sarah is also working on a Contemporary Romance Novel and YA Fantasy Novel, which will hopefully be released late fall next year and the beginning of 2018. 

Erik Therme 1

​Erik Therme

Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering for his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his seventeen-year-old. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only twenty places in the world UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.

Debbie Wagenbach wagenbach

Debbie, also know as "Miss Debbie," is a retired youth services staff member at the Burlington Public Library.  Her picture book, "The Grouchies," is published by Magination Press and shows children creative ways of turning a grouchy day around.

Ann Wolf

Ann is the illustrator for Moon Hollow Enterprises as well as a business development director and partner. Ann has illustrated Harry, The Mouse Who Lived in My Car, There’s a Snake in May Room!, and, the soon to be published, Molly’s Mermaid Wish. She has a Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa and owns and manages a working farm in eastern Iowa. 

Adam J. WhitlatchWhitlatch

Adam is the author of The Weller, Birthright - Book I of the Temujin Saga and the upcoming novelization to the feature film Oceanus: Odyssey One.  His works span the genres of post-apocalyptic adventure, military science fiction, and horror. Adam lives in Bonaparte, Iowa with his wife and their three children. 

Winner of the Burlington by the Book "Jefferson Street Local Author Bloodbath.” 

Steve Brayton
Alexander Dawson
David Dorris
Terry Durbin
Anthony Gerst
Mary Krohlow
Mary Martsching
Daniel Roberts
Joshua Rudolph
Austin Sane
Patricia Murphy
Rex Troute