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Terry Brooks

Author Guest of Honor

Terry Brooks was born in Illinois in 1944. He spent a great deal of his childhood and early adulthood dreaming up stories in and around Sinnissippi Park, the very same setting for Running with the Demon. He received his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College, where he majored in English Literature, and went on to earn his graduate degree from the School of Law at Washington & Lee University.

A writer since high school and heavily influenced by William Faulkner, it took him seven years to finish writing The Sword of Shannara, which was published in 1977. It became the first work of fiction to ever appear on the New York Times trade paperback bestseller list, where it remained for over five months. He continued the series with The Elfstones of Shannara in 1982 and The Wishsong of Shannara in 1985.

Since that time, he has written thirty-nine bestselling novels, and was hand-selected by George Lucas to write the novelization of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, which hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. In 2003, he released Sometimes the Magic Works, a memoir of his writing life. He has sold over fifty million copies of his books domestically and is published worldwide.  

The Shannara Chronicles, a 10-episode TV series, premiered January 5, 2016 on MTV. It adapts The Elfstones of Shannara and featured the creative talents of Jon Favreau, Al Gough, Miles Millar, Jonathan Liebesman, and Terry Brooks as an Executive Producer. A second season premiered on October 11, 2017 on the Spike network.

His latest novel, The Last Druid, the fourth book of the Fall of Shannara series, and the final book in the thirty book series, will be published in early June 2020.  

Terry Brooks lives with his wife Judine in the Pacific Northwest and on the road meeting his fans.

Rhiannon’s Lark

Music Guest of Honor

Have you ever wanted to hear a Disney princess singing about the things you love… board games, ninjas, and krakens? Rhiannon’s Lark is happy to make your wish come true. This geek-goddess-girl tackles everything from t-rexes to moral dilemmas with insightful lyrics, gorgeous vocals, and gentle humor. Creator Alyssa Yeager has been touring the festival and convention circuits since 2007, bringing her unique perspective and small orchestra of instruments to appreciative crowds at GenCon, Starwood, DragonCon, and many more.

T. Eric Bakutis

T. Eric Bakutis is an award-winning author and game designer. His first fantasy trilogy, Tales of the Five Provinces, is complete, and Analog Science Fiction and Fact actually liked his grimsnark scifi thriller, Supremacy’s Shadow, which he happily admits is filled with violently explosive nonsense. His second thriller, Supremacy’s Bounty, is now available, and is basically The Mandalorian meets Xena: Warrior Princess. When not writing, he is probably in Skyrim VR.

Dr. J. “Cal” Baldari

Dr. Cal Baldari is a retired U.S. Army Sapper and military instructor turned professor of ethics. His research credits include alternative military ethics, Aristotelian excellence, moral conflict in literature, implicit bias mitigation, modern heroics, RPG morality, and many others. He has published both academically and creatively, with author credits in short military science fiction and fantasy, as well as philosophy. As an avid table-top role-player, Cal has run games for over a dozen systems professionally, and many more for fun. His side business, BEC Ltd., also provides expert services for authors, game designers, and comics writers; advising on ethics and consequences both within the stories they write and the effect it has on the reader. Finally, Cal is firmly entrenched in the battle to bring diversity and inclusivity in fandom. His work on implicit bias often references the broadening of “geek culture” and the awesome efforts many geeks have put forth to make this hobby one in which everyone, absolutely everyone, can enjoy it with impunity.

Sandra Baldari

Sandra Baldari grew up watching sci-fi and fantasy shows and movies, she found comic books in high school, and worked at a comic book store as she made her way through university. She attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO, and received her B.S. in Journalism. After the daily grind of working at newspapers she now works as a substitute teacher. In her spare time she reads several genres; including steampunk, cozy mysteries, and sci-fi/fantasy; writes book reviews; and enjoys crafting things.

Philippa Ballantine

New Zealand-born fantasy writer and podcaster Philippa (Pip) Ballantine is the author of the Books of the Order, The Chronicles of Art, and The Shifted World series.

She is also the co-author of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series with her husband, Tee Morris.

In non-fiction, Pip has co-written with Tee Social Media for Writers from Writer’s Digest.

Her awards include an Airship, a Parsec, the Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice, the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for steampunk, and a Sir Julius Vogel.

Hannah Bauman

Hannah Bauman is an editor, author, and writing coach based in Raleigh, NC. After completing her graduate studies in editing and publishing at Florida State University and working as a corporate editor, she founded her editorial company, Between the Lines Editorial, in 2016. Since then, she has worked with hundreds of authors from around the world. When she’s not editing fantasy and sci-fi novels, you can find Hannah writing new stories, playing video games, and drinking lots of coffee.

J M Beal

J M Beal began writing seriously in 2001, behind the retail check-out counter on purloined bits of receipt paper or whatever she could get her hands on; the result, a novel full of drama and romance and epic sword battles. To date she’s written four full-length novels for adults (one stand-alone space western and a paranormal series of mid-western monster hunters) and three books of the Watch-Cat series, Edgar Allan Poe stories set with animals and retold for grade-school-aged children. She is also co-owner and Jane-of-all-trades for Golden Fleece Press.

Jim Bernheimer

Jim lives in Chesapeake, VA with his wife Kim, and daughters Laura and Marissa. By day, he works as an Information Assurance Specialist for the government and runs his own side Information Technology consulting firm, EJB Networking, which can be found at

Blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with an overactive imagination, Jim has long been a fan of science fiction and fantasy. Seeking to put that imagination to use, he has started to write his own original works in hopes of making his mark on the literary world.

Now a publisher, Jim has started Amber Cove Publishing to help make other authors’ dreams come true.

Les Carter

Born into a Navy family in Washington, D.C., Leslie Roy Carter lived all over the United States, as well as in Argentia, Newfoundland, while growing up. After receiving a B.S. in Physics from the College of William and Mary, he was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. While serving as a naval officer, he earned an M.S.E.E. from the Naval Postgraduate School majoring in Electronic and Radar Systems. His career as a surface line officer took him to many ports such as Pearl Harbor, Long Beach, San Diego, and Charleston, culminating in command of the U.S.S. Reid (FFG-31). He then switched to the acquisition specialty, eventually becoming a major program manager for a naval weapon system. He retired in 2002 with the rank of Captain. In retirement, he turned his attention to writing as well as his volunteer service in the Civil Air Patrol, flying and managing Air Search and Rescue missions.

Fantasy novels co-authored with Margaret L. Carter: Wild Sorceress, Besieged Adept, Rogue Magess, Legacy of Magic. He has several short stories appearing in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover anthologies.

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