Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone

photo of Murphy and Simone with books

Opening keynotes from top—Sierra Simone and Julie Murphy

Wednesday, September 27, 2023
10-11:15 a.m.
Duke Energy Convention Center Rooms 230-233

Best-selling authors and best friends Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone will discuss their first author-duo title, A Merry Little Meet Cute, and the impact libraries have had on their careers. During this fun and engaging session, they will talk about their friendship, their work as librarians, and what they learned from forming this “odd couple” writing partnership. They’ll also discuss why body positivity in their characters is so important and how the romance industry is changing to feel more inclusive.

Julie Murphy is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the young adult novels Dumplin’ (now a film on Netflix), Puddin’, Ramona Blue, and Side Effects May Vary. Dear Sweet Pea is her debut middle grade novel. Murphy lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her and her cats who tolerate her. After several wonderful years in the library world, Julie now writes full-time. When she’s not writing or reliving her reference desk glory days, she can be found watching made-for-TV movies, hunting for the perfect slice of cheese pizza, and planning her next great travel adventure. Her writing partner is Sierra Simone and their romance debut was A Merry Little Meet Cute.

Sierra Simone is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling former librarian (who admits she spent too much time reading romance novels at the information desk). Her notable works include Priest, American Queen, and Misadventures of a Curvy Girl, and her books have been featured in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Weekly, and Buzzfeed. She lives with her husband and family in Kansas City.



Justin A. Reynolds

photo of Reynolds

Thursday keynote — Justin A. Reynolds

Thursday, September 28, 2023
10:30-11:45 a.m.
Duke Energy Convention Center Rooms 230-233

As a kid growing up in Northeast Ohio, Justin A. Reynolds always wanted to be a writer. His mother, a librarian and substitute teacher, instilled a love of reading in Reynolds and his sister. They would often spend time at their local library, borrowing dozens of books at a time. From a NASA intern to a night security guard to a maintenance worker in a steel mill, Reynolds has done it all. He was a registered nurse before his debut novel, Opposite of Always, was published in 2019.

Reynolds tackles tough topics with all of his novels, from death and dying to social justice issues, while also weaving in humor and joy. During this session, Reynolds will discuss how he found his niche writing for teens and pre-teens and the impact Ohio libraries continue to have on his career.

Opposite of Always, his debut YA novel, was an Indies Introduce selection and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and has been translated into 19 languages. His second YA novel, Early Departures, was a Kirkus Reviews Best YA Book of the Year. His debut middle grade, a Miles Morales graphic novel titled Shock Waves, was an indie bestseller. His latest release, House Party, offers a delightful snapshot of diverse classmates getting ready to say goodbye to high school. Reynolds is also the co-founder of the CLE Reads Book Festival for middle grade and young adult writers. He hangs out in northeast Ohio, but will make the trip to down I-71 to join us in Cincinnati.


Jennifer Pastiloff

photo of Pastiloff

Closing keynote — Jennifer Pastiloff

Friday, September 29, 2023
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Duke Energy Convention Center Rooms 230-233

Best-selling author, yoga teacher, and life coach Jennifer Pastiloff will lead an inspirational session and discuss her book, On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard.

Born with tinnitus, Pastiloff’s condition worsened to the point where she can only hear with supersonic hearing aids combined with reading lips. During this session, she’ll share how hearing loss taught her to listen fiercely, how years of waitressing taught her to seek out unexpected beauty, and how imperfections can lead to a life full of happiness.

Pastiloff has been featured on Good Morning America, New York Magazine, CBS News and more for her unique, infectious, raw, and fun-loving style of teaching which has inspired and changed lives around the world.

Note: Pastiloff will lead a morning yoga session for attendees on Fri., Sept. 29 from 7:30-8:15 a.m. See more special events.