Commerce Loves Reading Book Festival - March 10, 2018

Meet the Creative Minds Behind Your Favorite Books!

(Check out information from last year's event!)

Bring your books to get them autographed, or buy a copy at the festival, courtesy of Once Upon a Time Books!



Commerce Loves Reading 2018 Keynote Speaker: 

Gretchen McNeil

Gretchen McNeil has been an opera singer and a clown, perhaps an ideal mix for a writer of teen horror and suspense.  Her first book, Possess, is about a teen exorcist and her second book, Ten, is about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer.  It has been made into the Lifetime Movie, Ten: Murder Island.  The horror continues in her Don’t Get Mad series, pitched as “John Hughes with a body count.”  Then, get ready for her latest on August 7: #murdertrending!  You’ll want to read these, just not in the dark!

Joined by...

Photo of Author Maria Alexander


Maria Alexander is a multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning and Anthony Award-nominated author of both YA and adult paranormal thrillers. Her short stories and poems have been appearing in print since 1999. When she's not slinging a sword, she's being unbearably spooky or writing Doctor Who filk. She lives in Los Angeles with two ungrateful cats, a Jewish Christmas caroler, and a purse called Trog. Want more? Visit



Elana K. Arnold writes books for and about children and teens. Her most recent YA novel, WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and her middle grade novel A BOY CALLED BAT is a Junior Library Guild Selection. Some of her books have been included on School Library Journal's Best Books list, Kirkus's Best Teen Books list, the New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles Public Libraries' Best Books of the Year list, the Bank Street Best Book list, the YALSA “Best Fiction for Young Adults” list, and have been selected for inclusion in the Amelia Bloomer Project. Her YA novel, INFANDOUS, won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award and the Westchester Fiction Prize. She holds a master's degree in Creative Writing/Fiction from the University of California, Davis and currently lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her family and a menagerie of animals.



Livia Blackburne: New York Times bestselling author Livia Blackburne wrote her first novel while researching the neuroscience of reading at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Since then, she’s switched to full time writing, which also involves getting into people’s heads but without the help of a three tesla MRI scanner.  She is also the author of MIDNIGHT THIEF (an Indies Introduce New Voices selection), DAUGHTER OF DUSK, and ROSEMARKED (an Amazon best book of the month).


Demetra Brodsky is an award-winning art director and designer turned writer. She has a B.F.A. from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and lives in Southern California with her family of four and two lovable rescue dogs where she is always trying to make time for the beach. She is a member of International Thriller Writers and her debut novel, Dive Smack, is dedicated to the Monarch Butterfly she once saved from the brink of death. 



BT Gottfred is a screenwriter, producer, director, playwright and young adult novelist. He wrote and directed the digital series THE BOONIES, which premiered on go90 in 2017. His debut novel, FOREVER FOR A YEAR, was released in July 2015 by Macmillan/Holt, followed by THE NERDY AND THE DIRTY in November 2016. His third book, THE HANDSOME GIRL AND HER BEAUTIFUL BOY, will be released in May of 2018. Brad wrote and directed the play WOMEN ARE CRAZY BECAUSE MEN ARE A**HOLES that played to sold out audiences for over four years in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and San Diego. The critically acclaimed play made its Off Broadway premiere at the historic Cherry Lane Theatre. Gottfred also wrote, directed, and executive produced the feature film THE MOVIE HERO, which played at over 20 film festivals worldwide, winning numerous awards including the Audience Award at the Austin Film Festival. 



Emily Ziff Griffin lives in LA where she writes, produces, teaches, daydreams, and mothers two young kids. ‘Light Years,’ her debut novel for young adults, was published in the fall of 2017 by Simon & Schuster’s Simon Pulse. Formerly, she co-founded Cooper’s Town Productions with Philip Seymour Hoffman and produced the Academy Award-winning film, ‘Capote,’ along with Hoffman’s directorial debut ‘Jack Goes Boating.’ As a producer, she is currently in post-production on Jeff Roda’s feature directing debut ’18 To Party.’ She has run three marathons, slowly, and holds a degree from Brown University in art-semiotics, the study of how images make meaning. She believes children are way more perceptive, sophisticated, and intelligent than adults typically give them credit for and she writes for the teenager who is ready to claim their own worldview and be grounded in their own power.



Diane Lang has been sharing nature with children for the last 16 years, teaching classes, working with raptors such as hawks and owls, leading walks, and writing poems and short plays about animals and the world they live in. She volunteers at two nature centers in California, and has written several picture books.

She loves all animals, wild and domestic. Her pets have included rats, birds, a snake, and many dogs, plus the puppies she raised for a guide dog school. Right now she and her husband share their home with two dogs, two tortoises, and a very sweet tarantula.



C.B. Lee is a bisexual Chinese-Vietnamese American writer based in Los Angeles, California.

NOT YOUR SIDEKICK was a 2017 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist in YA/Children’s Fiction and a 2017 Bisexual Book Awards Finalist in Speculative Fiction. SEVEN TEARS AT HIGH TIDE was the recipient of a Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Fantasy Romance and also a finalist for the 2016 Bisexual Book Awards in the YA and Speculative Fiction categories.

CB has been featured at literary events such as YALLWEST, Pasadena Litfest and Lambda Litfest’s Celebrating the Asian American LGBTQ+ Experience at the Chinese American Museum, as well as a guest at  popular panels and discussions such as DragonCon’s “LGBTQIA in YA” , “BiScifi: Queer Heroes in Science Fiction and More”, “The Craft of Dystopia”,  “Magic and Worldbuilding,”, WonderCon’s “Sisterhood of the Self-Sufficient,” Emerald City Comic Con’s “Diversity in Publishing,” and San Diego Comic Con’s “Super Asian America” and “Into the Fanzone!”



Nicole Maggi began writing poems about unicorns and rainbows at a very early age.  She detoured into acting, earned a BFA from Emerson College, and moved to NYC where she performed in lots of off-off-off-Broadway Shakespeare.  After a decade of schlepping groceries on the subway, she and her husband hightailed it to sunny Los Angeles, where they now reside, surrounded by fruit trees, with their daughter and two oddball cats.  She is the author of THE FORGETTING, a 2016 International Thriller Writers Thriller Award Finalist, a 2015 Junior Library Guild selection and a #1 Kindle Bestseller, and THE TWIN WILLOWS TRILOGY. Her next novel, WHAT THEY DON’T KNOW, will be out in October 2018.



Lauren Miller grew up in Georgia.  She went to college at Yale and law school at Berkeley, then got married and moved to Los Angeles to practice law.

She liked it.  But at the same time, felt like she was supposed to be doing something more creative.  That feeling got stronger.  So she started writing.  It wasn't long before she found herself typing out random bits of dialogue on her phone and pitching story ideas to her co-workers.  One of those ideas became a script for a TV pilot.  When it didn’t sell, she wrote another one and another one.  Soon, she was ducking out of work to go to pitch meetings at studios and networks.  It felt like she was getting somewhere. 

Her debut, PARALLEL, came out in May 2013 from HarperTeen.  Her second novel, FREE TO FALL, followed it a year later.  Her third, ALL THINGS NEW, came out in August 2017 from LA-based indie publisher, Three Saints Press.



Roxana Preciado is an indie author and artist recognized for her work as a poet and activist. Born in Jalisco, Mexico, she immigrated to the US at 4-years-old and has been writing poetry since the age of twelve. “Not a Fairytale” is Preciado’s first book which recounts her life through poetry encompassing the harsh realities of overcoming family tragedy, homelessness, and learning what life is like without an anchor to parent or country. “Not a Writer” is Preciado’s second book, exploring such topics as depression, suicide, sexuality, resilience, and immigration. Preciado is completing her graduate degree while working on her autobiography. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with her wife and son.



Benson Shum is an author/illustrator that enjoys creating and telling stories through animation and illustration. Benson is also an Animator at the Walt Disney Feature Animation Studios, where he was a part of such films as Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia and Moana. His inspiration comes from his love of children’s book illustrations, and observation of the little things in life. Originally from Vancouver, BC, Benson now resides in Burbank, California.

Benson's first children's book Holly's Day at the Pool was published April 2017 with Disney-Hyperion.


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