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Local Authors Shine at the 2021 DSM Book Festival - Part 1

2021 Local Authors

The DSM Book Festival will showcase more than 60 authors with Iowa ties, giving local voices an opportunity for exposure in their own community. In part one of our blog series on local authors, you will find information on the following genres: Biography/Memoir, Children’s and Fiction.

Local Authors


Patrick Deluhery

Patrick Dunn is the author of his own memoir, “Engaged: Patrick Deluhery and the Golden Age of Democratic Party Activism,” which follows his time as an Iowa State Senator and Assistant for U.S. Senator Harold Hughes. Dunn has also written biographies for Randy Hundley, Don Kessinger, Joe Decker, Kevin Tapani, Kerry Wood and Charlie Hollocher, as well as other news and sports stories, editorials, columns and features.

Anna Larson

In “Dear Déjà vu, I Hate You,” Anna Larson describes what it was like to lose three close family members in the span of a few months. This memoir is told through the lens of a child, and Larson’s raw and poignant story transcends generational barriers and juxtapositions childhood memories, everyday life and the harsh realities of losing loved ones at a young age.

A.J. Neumann

A.J. Neumann is the author of “Get Up, Get Going: Tales of a Country Veterinarian.” The book is written with Renae B. Vander Schaaf. Vander Schaaf is also the author of “A Place of Refuge” and “A Place of New Beginnings.”

Gary Porter

Follow the amazing career of everyone’s favorite Bulldog … in his own words! Gary Porter shares Griff’s story in “Griff: My Life as Drake’s Top Dog.” Porter is also the author of “Town Kid: Reflections of a Midwestern Boyhood.”

Joy Riggs

Author of “Crackerjack Bands and Hometown Boosters: The Story of a Minnesota Music Man,” Joy Riggs depicts the life of G. Oliver Riggs, an Iowa native who built a reputation as one of the most successful directors of youth bands in the U.S. The story follows the career of G. Oliver, his talented wife, Islea, and their children, through times of war, peace, economic hardship and personal tragedy.


Marie Ballard

Marie Ballard is the author of “The Little Lost Llama.” In this true story, beautifully illustrated by artist and Llama rescuer, Tracy DuCharme, find out how the community joins together to save one baby llama.

Becky Carlyle

As author of “Baby Silly Sickies” and “Baby Squashy Face,” Becky Carlyle is also a graduate of Iowa State University. In “Baby Silly Sickies,” Baby is going to a well-child visit. He/she feels many things are wrong, like growing a fish fin, hair turning pink and crying green tears, just to name a few. Carlyle hopes that children reading this book will feel more comfortable sharing things that bother them, even if it seems silly.

Joe Carter

“Brick — You Decide What Your Day Will Be Like.” is the latest book in the Marshall T. Trowel series written by Joe Carter. Children will see the benefits of a career in the trades and the importance of practice, patience and dreaming big. Other books in the series include: “Concrete — Work Hard. Work Together.” and “Drywall — You Can Be Anything You Want to Be.”

Joseph Cassis

The Squire With Fire series is written and illustrated for readers ages 7-10 by Joseph Cassis. In “Squire With Fire — A Happy Dragon Tale,” Grandpa delights seven-year-old Mac with tales about the brave squires and knights who populated their family history, including the famous knight in the Scottish Rothesay Castle who shares the same name. Mac is particularly curious about the ring Grandpa wears and its thrilling history: it once belonged to a squire with the dreams — the same dreams Mac now has, 600 years later.

Megan Cline

Megan Cline is the author of “Winston’s Wet.” The story brings back everybody’s favorite Wombat, who with the help of his mom, learns why rainbows appear when there's mist in the sun and how it's just like friendship and love — something miraculous that you can feel and enjoy, even when you can't catch it in your hand. Cline is also the author of “Winston Winks” and “Winston Wiggles.”

Natalie Elliott

In “Peny’s Purse,” Natalie Elliott shows how age is just a number! Peny, the penny-saver, has a passion for protecting endangered animals. When she learns that some of her favorite creatures are going extinct, she struggles to figure out a way to help them. At 80 years old, what could she do? Peny's age leads her to embark on a journey where her new black purse turns her into local and national hero.

Amanda Harden

Amanda Harden, author of “Our Mama’s Surrogacy Journey,” tells the story of surrogacy through the eyes of children. This illustrated 32-page book is tailored for children of surrogates but is a great resource for all children as it embraces the diversity of families and is narrated by two children of a surrogate, Eli and Ella. H4 – Bonnie James In “A, B, C: The Amana Colonies,” Bonnie James explores a National Historic Landmark in eastern Iowa.

Susan Lienau

Susan Lienau is the author of “Ruford Visits The Farm,” a story about a four-month-old eagle who lives in Decorah, Iowa, who is ready to take his first solo flight. He soars over the Bluffs and visits North Star Farm before returning home.

Dan + Mary Nance

In “Greubie and the Cats,” lovable dog, Greubie, is so excited to arrive at her new forever home. While exploring, she meets kittens Tom, Lippy, Socks, and Fluffy …and comes to believe she is a cat, too! The book is based on the true story of the beagle-basset hound writers Dan and Mary Nance rescued.

Sarah Petrosky

Sarah Petrosky is the author of “The Magic of Making Friends,” a story about a big move and starting over at a new school, in a new town.

Jay Reeves

“Kitty Kat Kitty Goes to the Circus” is a full-length, illustrated novel designed for adults to read to children illustrated and written by Jay Reeves.

Robert Schanke

Robert Schanke is the author of “Katy Has Two Grampas,” a book based on the true story of a first-grader with a lisp who is misunderstood by her classmates and teacher. When she talks about her two gay grandpas, (or “grampas,” as Katy says) she is frustrated when her teacher thinks she means to say “grandpa and grandma.” Because she has such love for her gay grandpas as people who understand her, she unexpectedly shines when introducing them as a married gay couple at a classroom celebration of Grandparents Day.

Amy Varcoe

In “Lovey Adventures,” Amy Varcoe tells the true tales of our lovies, snuggle buddies and stuffies. When you are scared, tired or hurt — lovies are right by your side. Ever wondered where they go and who they meet?


Xixuan Collins

Xixuan Collins is the author of “Flowing Water, Falling Flowers.” The story follows Rose Ming, an art history professor who agrees to accompany her mother on an annual visit to relatives in her Chinese hometown of Three Rivers after losing her job and her lover in one fell swoop. Through her journey, Rose learns the meaning of love, friendship, family, faith and the sacrifices people are willing to pay to achieve them, a lesson that allows her to face her own future with new courage. Collins is also the author of the short story, “The Foreign Devil,” in the anthology “Out of This World,” as well as other essays and fiction writing.

Jean DeVries

In “Brought Us Together,” Amy Miller really doesn't need a man in her life. She has her work at the Amish Country Market and her time baking with her elderly friend, Ella. She is just fine without the risk that comes with a relationship. But when Nathaniel Shetler moves to town and into her workplace, she is challenged to accept the changes his presence brings. As things she holds most dear are gently pulled away, she must find a new way forward. Will Amy be able to face all she has lost and hold her hands open for all God longs to give her in its place? Jean DeVries is also author of “Bestow On Us Your Grace.”

David Furneaux

David Furneaux is the author of the Numbland Security series, including his most recent release, “Numbland Security: Before the Fire,” a story that follows Jeff Hanford and Carrie Station and their journey over 15 years to the National Office of Intelligence, Homeland and Military Liaison Agency. Furneaux is also the author of “Numbland Security” and “The Journey to NOIHMLA.”

Erin M. Grillot

Erin M. Grillot is the author of “Turn,” a story about power, tough choices and strategic moves. In “Turn,” Grillot introduces Nathan, a leader within Department 5, and Eli, a cheerful new recruit to the organization. H4 – Diane Holmes “Two Sisters' Secret” is a historical fiction novel about the immigration experience in Iowa, based on Grandma Bernadine's life; but the uniqueness is this secret between the two sisters separated by eras, 1892-1940.

Susan Lawrence

Susan Lawrence’s “Restoration at River’s Edge” follows Jon Washington as he restores the River’s Edge Restaurant after his wife’s death. After a fire nearly destroys the restaurant, Jon must decide if he will turn his back on it or turn to the only One with the power to heal. Lawrence is also the author of “Atonement for Emily Adams” and “The Blue Marble.”

Amy Lee Lillard

Lee Lillard's multilayered debut story, “Dig Me Out,” ranges from the speculative to the historical, from magical realism to forensic realism. It carries the reader somewhere new — and newly thrilling — with every story, and constitutes a dazzling and rightfully dangerous work of literary art.

Jarod Meyer

“William of Archonia: Revelation” is the fourth and final installment of the William of Archonia series. Other books in the series written by Jarod Meyer include “William of Archonia: Redemption,” “William of Archonia: Retaliation,” and “William of Archonia: Desolation.”

Find out more information about festival authors at the DSM Book Festival here.

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Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 23 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 400 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.