Featured Authors - Book and Literacy Festival 2024

Claire E. Parsons

Claire E. Parsons is a Florence resident and a school law, employment, and litigation attorney at Bricker Graydon LLP. She’s also a mindfulness and compassion teacher, and a frequent speaker and writer on the topics of attorney well-being, mental health, stress management and more. Claire shares writing, resources, and meditations on her blog, Brilliant Legal Mind and she’s the author of two books, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, and Mommy Needs a Minute. To get to know Claire more, follow the blog or connect with Claire on LinkedIn.

Mirsada Kadiric

Mirsada Kadiric was born in Bosnia & Herzegovina and immigrated to the United States as a war refugee in the summer of ’98 when she was sixteen years old. Her long journey from war-torn Bosnia to the U.S. epitomizes resilience. Overcoming cultural and language barriers, she graduated with honors from high school and excelled at Northern Kentucky University (NKU), earning her Bachelor’s and MBA. NKU recognized her as Outstanding Student in Marketing at the conclusion of her bachelor’s and then as Outstanding Young Researcher of the Decade in recognition of her successful career path in the Marketing Research field.

Currently an Associate Director of the Analytics & Insights Center of Excellence at Kao USA, Inc., Mirsada is not only a corporate leader but also a passionate human rights advocate. Moved by the global refugee crisis, she actively contributes to RefugeeConnect, serving on its board and mentoring fellow refugees. Her impactful story is featured in the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center museum, whose board she also serves on, as well as actively participates in their community engagement events geared towards creating more Upstanders for human rights in our community.

Mirsada’s commitment further extends to her memoir, “I Am a Refugee: Finding Home Again in America,” released in 2018. This powerful narrative sheds light on the struggles of refugees worldwide and helps foster constructive dialogue on the topic. Since its release, she has engaged in conversation with thousands around the Greater Cincinnati community, all with the hope of creating a more understanding and welcoming community for newly arriving refugees. Beyond her professional and advocacy roles, Mirsada continues to explore the world, driven by a love for travel. Residing in Northern Kentucky with her husband and two children, her writing remains a heartfelt hobby, with more reflections on the horizon.

Hal McFarland

Hal McFarland is a Burlington, Kentucky native and a graduate of Georgetown and Xavier Universities.  He also attended Butler University and, in Germany,The Goethe Institute.Following his career in education, first as a speech and drama teacher at Boone County High School and later as a guidance counselor in the Cincinnati school system, he began hIs long-postponed interest in writing, his latest novel being  “Connections,” released in 2020. His novels are, as he suggests, attempts at electronic immorality. Some of his other works include “A Dream Within a Dream,” a story of the Joan Kiger Boone County murders; “Fear the Moonlight,” one of his favorite genres, science fiction; “The Life and Times of Dexter,” a children’s novel; “Braving the Shadows,” a look at both internal and International intrigue; and “Deadliest Love,” of course about love and murder!

One of his side passions became the duplicate the events of an intriguing story he had seen years ago on “This Old House”: the creating a home out of an old barn; and he just happened to have one such structure on a farm he and his wife, Barbara, had owned for forty years.

Hal is now in his 90th year and still looks forward to whatever adventure awaits him just around the corner.


Hallie Lee

Born and raised in Louisiana, Hallie Lee’s writing is inspired by the southern landscape. Her first novel, Paint Me Fearless, launched the bestselling Shady Gully series and was Bookfest 2022’s Gold medal winner in Contemporary Christian fiction. She and her family, furry kids included, currently live in Kentucky, where she aspires to write relatable novels that inspire readers.


The Shady Gully Series

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Michelle Bennington

Born and raised in the beautiful Bluegrass state of Kentucky, Michelle Bennington developed a passion for books early on that has progressed into a mild hoarding situation and an ever-growing to-read pile.

When she’s not creating contemporary or historical fictional worlds full of mysteries, she obsesses over all things British and historical. The Great British Baking Show and Outlander bring her to tears in equal measure and she can often be found binge-watching reruns, longing for more.

Michelle still lives in central Kentucky with the best husband and the best dog ever. In rare moments of spare time, she can be found engaging in a wide array of arts and crafts, attending ghost tours, and planning dream vacations to the United Kingdom.

Follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterest, and GoodreadsAnd be sure to never miss an update by following Michelle’s Musings and subscribing to the monthly Mysteries and Histories newsletter.

I was born and raised in Louisville, (“Lou-a-vull”), Kentucky. Like any good Kentucky-born girl, I grew up drawing horses. My love of art led me to Murray State University, where I earned a degree in Fine Art / Graphic Design.

I worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world until 1997, when I went solo with Driscoll Creative. Since then, I’ve enjoyed the flexibility of writing, illustrating, and designing from home, with the added perk of working in my pajamas.

When I had children, I rediscovered my love of picture books, and found my true passion. I am the author and illustrator of Duncan the Story Dragon (2015), Wally Does Not Want a Haircut (2016), Klondike Do Not Eat Those Cupcakes (2018), and Little Grump Truck (2021), all published by Knopf, as well as the author of the forthcoming Under Anna’s Umbrella (Penguin/Rocky Pond, 2025), to be illustrated by Luisa Uribe.  

I am a proud member of SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).

From my home in Fisherville (a suburb of Louisville), I write, illustrate, and design. Often while wearing pajamas.

Lynn Slaughter

Lynn Slaughter is addicted to the arts, chocolate, and her husband’s cooking. After a long career as a professional dancer and dance educator, Lynn earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Her first mystery for adults, MISSED CUE, came out in August from Melange Books. She is also the author of four award-winning young adult romantic mysteries: DEADLY SETUP, LEISHA’S SONG, IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU, AND WHILE I DANCED. The ridiculously proud mother of two grown sons and besotted grandmother of five, Lynn lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where she’s at work on her next novel, sings with a community chorus, and plays with her newly adopted cat, Lacy Lou Lommasson.

Brad Asher

Brad Asher is an independent scholar and writer. He holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago. Brad has also contributed several articles and book reviews to different academic journals. He has taught U.S. history at the college and high school levels at various institutions around the country. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife and two children.

Robert Schrage

Robert Schrage is active in local history circles. He has served on numerous local historical boards and is a frequent speaker on local and regional history. In 2015, Schrage received the William Conrad Preservation Excellence Award for Lifetime Achievement in preservation of local history. His previous works include The Hidden History of Kentucky Political Scandals, Lost Northern Kentucky, Legendary Locals of Covington, Eyewitness to History: A Personal Journal (winner of honorable mentions at the New York, Amsterdam and Florida Book Festivals) and more.

Ben Naas

Benjamin Matthew Naas was born in Edgewood, Kentucky in 2001, living the first couple years of his life in nearby Independence before moving to Erlanger and finally Verona, where he now resides. Ben attended R.C. Hinsdale for elementary school before his move, then going to Walton-Verona for middle school and high school, graduating from the latter in 2019. In the following summer, he picked up a job at Kroger as a deli clerk, where he stayed for two years. After leaving—for more reasons than he had time to list—Ben started working at Better Blend, a healthy fast food restaurant that serves meal-replacement protein shakes, as well as smoothie bowls.

Ben first started writing junior year of high school off a random urge and hasn’t stopped since. He wrote one other novel and two short stories before beginning Shadow of Fear.

Currently, Ben goes to Northern Kentucky University as a senior and is studying neuroscience with a minor in psychology. His intention is to move on to graduate school to become a physical therapist as to fulfill his other passion of helping people.

When he’s not slinging blends, studying, or writing, Ben can be found in the gym, hanging out with friends or family, or reading a book.


Stacy Schilling

Stacy Schilling was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where she developed a passion for the visual arts at a young age. After graduating high school in Kentucky, where her family relocated in 1990, she attended the University of Kentucky and earned a degree in Journalism. However, her true calling lay in graphic design, and she honed her skills working in Cincinnati, OH. Despite initial setbacks in her design career, she didn’t give up and enrolled in Northern Kentucky University’s Graphic Design program where she graduated with honors.
With renewed determination, Stacy returned to her hometown of Los Angeles to pursue a career in the competitive design industry, working with prestigious clients such as NBC and UCLA, and quickly establishing herself as a talented and respected designer and teacher.
After spending more than a decade teaching and working in the industry, Stacy noticed a gap in the market for children’s literature that addressed hair care for young readers with curly or wavy hair. In 2022, she began writing a series of books to fill this gap and empower young readers to embrace and care for their natural curls.
Stacy is recognized for her tireless work ethic, dedication to her craft, and has earned several awards and accolades for her contributions in the visual arts. In her free time, she enjoys learning about health and wellness, teaching web design, painting, and finding creative ways to express herself.
Stacy is a truly remarkable individual, serving as an inspiration to those around her with her positive impact on the world through her work and kindness. She continues to inspire and make a difference in the lives of many.

Lynda Rees

This multi-award-winning, multi-genre author brings you the best in mystery and suspense with a dash of romance and a smidgen of history. The free-spirited world-traveler’s diverse background and previous corporate career as Mktg. and Global Logistics Mgr. at P&G, brings varied expertise and rare perspective to her writing.

Appalachian-born coal miner’s daughter, Lynda, is part Cherokee with workaholic tendencies. Her love affair with books, mystery, and American history stem from being immersed in the Mob’s reign when No. KY prospered as a mecca for gambling and sin. These experiences fuel her writing.

Lynda is published in mystery/suspense, contemporary and historical romance, MG mystery, children’s books, and nonfiction.