Saturday, February 13, 2021 - 9:00AM-4:00PM {UTC-8}

Virtual Festival
of Books

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Virtual Festival of Books

Welcome to Virtual Festival of Books!

Who Is Nadia?

Nadia Gilkes is an attorney, artist, and author of the Amazon Bestseller: Woke Up Dead. She served as a logistics manager and public relations manager for an International organization, planning large scale events for both in-person and online audiences.  

In 2020, Nadia decided to turn the pandemic into a positive. It is her long-held belief that everybody has a story. The world is waiting to be inspired by our stories. Nadia created a workshop – From Idea to Self Published – that helps passionate artists get their work into the audiences’ hands. She also has a passion for event planning and helps individuals and small businesses facilitate virtual events – from small executive board meetings to conferences and galas. 

To work with Nadia, email connectwithme (at) or call 817-789-8949. 

August 27, 2020, 12 Noon Pacific {UTC-7}

Woke Up Dead Anniversary Party

Join me as I celebrate my one year anniversary of becoming a published author. There will be a champagne toast, a brief reading from Woke Up Dead, and prize giveaways. I thank all who have offered support and encouragement as I traveled this journey. I look forward to sharing this momentous occasion with you.

Up Next: Virtual Festival of Books - February 2021

Keynote Speaker

Linda-Marie Miller

Linda-Marie Miller is the First Runner-Up in the 2020 World Championship of Public Speaking.  She is an Inspirational Public Speaker, a Certified Experiential Trainer and ICF Certified Ontological Coach.

Linda-Marie is an influential thought leader in the domain of leadership and public speaking.  As the owner of Empowered Living, LLC, she offers trainings and coaching that inspires everyone to be Champions in the world.  Her signature program, “Champions of Change” is a visionary leadership development program designed to transform participants into leaders in their lives, their organizations, their family and their communities.  Through her “Life of No Regrets” Coaching Program, Linda-Marie calls forth greatness and amazing results.

Linda-Marie is a founding member of The Transformational Learning Consortium, an organization that focuses on elevating the skills of Trainers, Coaches and Learning & Development Professionals and creating community for collaborative projects.

One Shared Humanity is Linda-Marie’s latest project.  She is committed to creating a world that works for everyone and where everyone gets that they matter.  By celebrating our differences and standing for equity in the world, we can create a thriving world of possibility and hope.


Derrick Boyd

Owner of Knowledge Lounge Books

Living on both sides of the Illinois/Iowa border, I saw we were missing a very important outlet in the black community: a wealth of information for us, about us, and most importantly, by black authors. With that, I decided to give my community what I thought was missing, while working closely with my mentors at Third Eye Books, Accessories, & Gifts, LLC in Portland, Oregon, I formed Knowledge Lounge Books, LLC. in August of 2020. 

We live in a very diverse community, and in light of the unfortunate police killings of unarmed black men and women, we believe the world has heard our cries (through protests), and are seeking the information to better understand just what being black in America is really like for our perspective.

We have local authors whom we plan to work closely with. Showcasing them and their works. We plan to grow from an online store to include a brick and mortar location. As well as becoming more involved in the community with the youth.

Sonjia "Lioness" Mackey

Unleash The Beast: Escape Corporate Life To Live Your Dream Life


Sonjia “Lioness” Mackey is a powerful motivational speaker; international, best- selling Amazon author; and life-changing professional coach. However, she is most proud of being a freedompreneur and mediocrity escapologist. Sonjia escaped the corporate chains in 2016 to live her dream as a home-free and location-independent global citizen and digital nomad – living, working, and playing anywhere her wanderlust desires. To date, those desires have taken her to all 50 states and 79 different countries across all 7 continents.

Author of Unleash The Beast: Escape Corporate Life To Live Your Dream Life and Owner of (Im)Possible Living, LLC (based on the belief that we hold infinite power to determine what is possible in our own lives), Sonjia is a 4P Quadfecta Strategist – helping women launch scalable, online businesses and digital products where Purpose, Passion, Personality, and Profit converge so they can enjoy more impact, freedom, authenticity, and wealth. Says Sonjia, “Women who invest in my transformative systems and programs learn to affect change in the world, excel in their realm of expertise, and maximize their profits – all while being their most authentic selves and doing the heart and soul work that inspires and invigorates them – from anywhere in the world!”

In Sonija’s Facebook community, Mediocrity Escapologists, more than 7,000 women of diverse demographics, backgrounds, and experiences come together in a supportive sisterhood that encourages and empowers new, aspiring, and established entrepreneurs. Here, they also learn to overcome fears, past failures,

personal traumas, self-limiting thoughts, and self-sabotaging behaviors that prevent them from stepping out of their comfort zones to launch and manage thriving businesses and design and live their best, happiest, most fearless, and fulfilling lives!

Sonjia’s career history includes more than 20 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, working for Fortune Global “Top 10” companies Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell in various business capacities such as internal auditing, financial analysis, risk management, contracting and procurement, and global supply management. Consequently, she has a keen understanding of the corporate environment and the strong, innate desire to perform meaningful, motivating work that fills your wallet and your soul!

When Sonjia isn’t in business beast mode, you can find her gallivanting around the globe, checking off-the-beaten-path destinations and unique and unusual adventures off her beloved bucket list.

Carol Ross-Burnett

Chicken Soup For The African American Soul
Chicken Soup For The African American Woman's Soul

Carol Ross-Burnett’s published works include stories in the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul book franchise’s first books in the series written by and about Black people. Carol’s stories were among those selected from over 5,000 submissions for each book: “You Go Salt & Pepper” in Chicken Soup for the African American Soul (an Essence Magazine Bestseller) and “Forgiving Daddy” in Chicken Soup for the African American Woman’s Soul. Carol was a key member of both book teams with author Lisa Nichols. She participated in both book launches and national book tours, sharing the stage from coast to coast with Lisa and other contributors to give dramatic readings and host book signings.

Carol is a woman of faith who brings a unique blend of creativity, expertise and experience to her professional and creative endeavors. She is also a singer, songwriter and music producer who has close relationships with friends who are industry talent and executives. This gives her keen insight into what both aspiring and experienced creatives want and need. As a result, Carol founded The Platform Workshop for Christian Artists for singers, songwriters, authors and speakers in 2015. The Platform Workshop is held in Los Angeles (now virtually) each August. 

Carol also has twenty-five years plus of experience as a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) professional and is a nationally known speaker and published author in this field. Her work as a DEI professional and consultant is driven by her dual lived experiences growing up in the Jim Crow South and then in Berkeley, California. Carol now helps organizations identify implicit bias and structural racism and educates them on ways to reduce/eliminate such bias in individual behavior and institutional systems. 

Her love of speaking, writing, music, performance and equity fuels Carol’s desire to help others enhance their gifts, work collaboratively and access the opportunities all deserve. Carol holds the highest Toastmasters International designation of Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) and is a professional and personal coach. She describes herself as a “possibility strategist” who helps people make their dreams come true! Carol holds a bachelor’s degree Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree with honors from San Francisco State University. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Organizational Change and Leadership at the University of Southern California.

Rhea Watson

The Scholarship Doctor

Rhea M. Watson, The Scholarship Doctor, is a lifetime learner and educator. As a freshman entering college she was awarded one of the largest financial packages her college had EVER offered. By the time she was a graduating senior she was actually paid $1000.00 per month to attend college. Additionally, she continued to be on salary as a student throughout her masters and doctoral programs. 

Her personal scholarship earnings have well surpassed the $300,000 mark. She uses her knowledge to help others realize their dreams of attaining a debt-free college education. To date, Rhea Watson has helped hundreds of scholars enter the college of their dreams, earning more than $75 Million dollars in scholarships.


Adalia Aborisade

Picky Girl Travels The World: A Guide To Teaching Abroad

Adalia Aborisade, better known as Picky Girl Travels, is a veteran educator, world traveler, and dedicated minimalist. Her life is guided by three simple rules: 1. defy convention 2. embrace adventure, and 3. regret nothing. She stayed true to these principles in 2016 when she traded in the “American dream” for a 60% pay cut and the opportunity to live in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. 

Joining Adalia for this international adventure was her then 15-year-old daughter and adorable miniature schnauzer. Living and working abroad as an international educator, first in Honduras and then China and Kuwait, afforded Adalia numerous travel opportunities and unique cultural experiences which inspired her to chronicle her life as an ex-pat on the blog, Picky Girl Travels the World. To assist other licensed educators interested in working abroad at international schools, Adalia wrote the Picky Girl Travels the World Guide to Teaching Abroad ebook. Additionally, she hosts the Picky Girl Travels Podcast. 

After more than 20 years working both as a social science teacher and as a technology integration coordinator, Adalia retired from K-12 education to focus on helping other women like herself looking to travel or live abroad. She now lives in Mexico City where she is determined to finally master the Spanish language.

Dr. Shafeeq Ameen

A Message To A Fatherless Generation

Shafeeq Ameen is a retired school administrator, middle school teacher and adjunct professor of education. He has spent the past thirty years teaching elementary, middle, high school, and collegiate levels at the private and public institutions. He is the author of HBCU Pride that chronicles the transformational powers of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the recently released A Message to a Fatherless Generation which details the devastating impact of absent fathers in the lives of African American boys. 

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Virginia State University, a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education from Norfolk State University, a Master of Educational Administration from Regent University and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. During his twenty-five-year career in Education, Dr. Ameen has served as a high school administrator, elementary, middle, and high school teacher and adjunct professor at Tidewater Community College, Averett University, Norfolk State University, Regent University and Virginia Wesleyan University. He lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia with his wife and stepson.

Authoress Tazz


Tazz TheCreative is an Authoress from Chicago, IL, partnered with Beauty and the Beast Publishing. Since Tazz was only five years old, she has always had a pen in her hand, winning Young Authors Award three years in a row.

Tazz has always been known for her macabre horror stories, poetry, and even songs that she wrote. However, horror is not her only niche. Tazz is also known for writing short amusing stories, comedy, romance, fantasy, and even children’s stories.

In addition to writing, Tazz is also a part time model in the Fashion/Boudoir genre. Her biggest goals are to one day model for Savage X Fenty and Dolls Kill and to have the honor of meeting role model Stephen King.

Meteria Francis

The L.O.L Strategy

Meteria Francis is a momprenuer who helped her 9 year old daughter Jadyn to launch a children’s book in March of 2020. While navigating how to help her daughter with this journey, Meteria quickly learned how costly book illustrations can be. She was diligent about finding illustrators who offered quality illustrations at an affordable price, and was able to do the entire book launch from soup to nuts for under $300! Jadyn was so inspired by the success of the first book, that she wrote another one just 2 days after the original launch.

Using the blueprint from the first book, together they launched the second book within 2 weeks! With questions from so many aspiring children’s book authors and budding momprenuers, Meteria took that blueprint and created The L.O.L Strategy™. This course teaches anyone from kids to adults to not only write their book, but how to LAUNCH it in 30 days on a shoe string budget with excellence. Authors will have their book completed, in addition to having access to affordable resources to ensure their book’s success. Her hope is that other writers will be inspired to write their books, without fear of affordability. She is determined to make the process easy and seamless, so that others can see their visions come to life.

Meteria lives in New York where she is a mom to 9 year old twin girls Jadyn and Maya, and wife to James.

Razgiem Huey


Razgiem Huey is a Cybersecurity Engineer and enjoys writing poetry and fiction-hence his debut paranormal romance, Coma.After writing the short to Coma years ago while in college, Huey spent 12 years in the Army, putting his writing on pause. Huey always said that he would go back and write the book, but he never found the time. Working from home and being quarantined during the Covid-19 pandemic, he finally fulfilled his promise. Coma has been years in the making. Huey resides in Florida with his two amazing children, and in his spare time, he enjoys the gym, volunteering at food banks, and the beach.

Jen Jen McKinney

Keep Calm, Bring Your Carry On

L.A’s well-known mental health advocate and community curator Gentamu (Jen Jen) McKinney has done it again. In her new book “Keep Calm, Bring Your Carry On,” she brings your favorite travel experts and influencers of color from across the globe to talk candidly about the stigma of mental health in black communities around the world. She highlights mental health awareness through travel by erasing the guilt, shame, and stigma associated with exploring the world. 

This is the in-flight tray table travel therapy book that will help you maintain your mental health as you experience life’s unexpected delays and turbulence. This is the ultimate self-care guide for travelers of color filled with hilarious travel stories, jokes, tips and more. You will be educated and empowered!


Joanna McLaurin

Karma Is A Motha

Joanna McLaurin was born in Jackson, Mississippi.  By the age of one, her family relocated to Atlanta, Georgia in seek of better opportunities.  She still calls Atlanta home to this day. Writing always came naturally to Joanna. At thirteen years old, she witnessed a friend write a book in class and became intrigued. “I had never seen anything like that.” Joanna went home that same day and wrote her first story. To date, she has written about 15 novels and published two. Her fiction works span a variety of genres – thriller, mystery, crime drama. Her dream is to become a best-selling author.

Joel I. Plummer

Sumo Wrestlers & Supermodels

Joel I. Plummer earned a B.A. in African and African American Studies, an M.A. in history, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa at Rutgers University-Newark. He earned a Supervisor of Instruction Certificate through the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. He has taught African American and U.S. history for more than two decades at the secondary level and currently teaches in the Africana Studies department at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

In addition to teaching, Joel I. Plummer has worked as a photojournalist for more than a decade. The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, Newsweek, NBC, CBS, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and numerous international media outlets have published his work. He is a product of the Plainfield Public School District in New Jersey, is a member of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., and still lives in Plainfield with his wife, Danielle, and their children, Alexis, Morgan, and Mason.

Tiffany Ward

The Manifesting Mommies Journal

Wife, Mother of Four, Co-Founder of DreamSAFE Project, and Author, is just a few of Tiffany’s responsibilities. With her third a newest publication “The Manifesting Mommies Journal” we learn her strategies on how to keep it together and stay on track. At a time when many women are challenged with their personal task, Tiffany has created aa helpful and needed resource.

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