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Writers' Workshops

Thank you for attending the 2022 DSM Book Festival!

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Love to write? You’ve come to the right place. In these dynamic presentations, attendees heard about the writing journey from successful, published writers and local publishers. Festival guests had the opportunity to hear about the writing journey from journalists and successful published authors from genres across the board.

Event Schedule

  • 9:30 a.m.  |  Thrill(er) Ride: Lessons Learned on the Journey to Becoming a Novelist
  • 11 a.m.  |  Future of Journalism Panel
  • 1 p.m.  |  Publishing 101
  • 2:30 p.m.  |  Published Authors Perspective Panel
  • 4 p.m.  |  Non-fiction Writers' Panel

Thrill(er) Ride: Lessons Learned on the Journey to Becoming a Novelist – Sponsored by BookPress Publishing

Facilitator: Joseph LeValley, Author of "Performing Murder"

The workshop is for fiction lovers. If you enjoy reading or writing fiction, join award-winning author Joseph LeValley for a presentation and discussion of the lessons he learned while writing five novels. Four of LeValley's mystery-thrillers have been published, with the fifth scheduled for publication later this year. The published books have won three first-place awards and two other recognitions in fiction competitions in the U.S. and Canada. The workshop will cover a range of topics based on LeValley's experiences, such as: laying the groundwork for success; essential rules and tips for the writing process; the author as a marketer; the changing world of publishing; and more. This promise to be a fun, interactive session for all who attend.

Future of Journalism — Sponsored by Beaverdale Books

The development of digital media has delivered innovations and prompted many changes in all aspects of journalism practice, the journalism industry and scholarly research in the field of journalism studies. Join journalism professionals as they share insights into how to evolve in this new digital space.


  • Doug Burns, Co-owner/Columnist at Carroll Times Herald/Herald Publishing, Founding Member of Iowa Western Journalism Foundation
  • Craig Crile, Chief Strategist, GroupC Digital
  • Rachelle Chase, Columnist, Des Moines Register
  • Carol Hunter, Executive Director, Des Moines Register
  • Susan Patterson Plank, Executive Director, Iowa Newspaper Association
  • Kathie Obradovich, States Newsroom, Iowa Capital Dispatch

Moderator: Julie Gammack, Producer, Okoboji Writers' Retreat

Publishing 101 — Sponsored by Bookpress Publishing

Facilitator: Dr. Anthony Paustian, Author of "A Quarter Million Steps"

So you've written a book — now what? This workshop will help unravel the complicated and often confusing world of publishing for experienced authors and aspiring ones alike. Topics will include the forms of publishing, business models, production, distribution, lead times, metadata, the current state of the industry, the book marketplace and many others.

Published Authors Perspective — Sponsored by Beaverdale Books

Now you're published — what happens next? This workshop offers a unique opportunity to learn the perks and perils of four talented authors as they share their unique perspectives.


  • Laura Belin, Editor & Publisher, Bleeding Heartland
  • Heather Gudenkauf, Author of "The Weight of Silence"
  • Denise Williams, Author of "How to Fail at Flirting" and "The Fastest Way to Fall"
  • Julie Stone, Author of "He's with the Band"
  • X. H. Collins, Author of "Flowing Water, Falling Flowers"

Moderator: Kay Fenton Smith, Author of "Zakery's Bridge"

Non-fiction Writers' Panel Discussion — Sponsored by BookPress Publishing

Whether from work, home, or halfway around the world, sometimes the most intriguing stories aren’t found in fiction, but instead nonfiction. Personal experiences and ideas that shape our lives must be shared to help others and placing them on paper is a great place to start. Whether writing creative nonfiction, memoirs, articles, or even blogs, this workshop will help both beginning and experienced writers hone their craft and help answer many of the questions related to getting work published. The panel of current authors will also discuss their personal writing and publishing experiences.


  • Danny Beyer, Author of "The Ties that Bind"
  • Bryan Dewhurst, Co-author of "Uncommon Wealth"
  • Jackie Haley, Author of "Brenda's Wish"
  • Dr. Jill Friestad-Tate, Author of "Messages on the Moon

Moderator: Dr. Anthony Paustian, Author of "A Quarter Million Steps"