Author Biographies

Lois Ann Abraham was born in the Dust Bowl and raised in the American Southwest where she still has strong roots. As a child, she enjoyed reading and imagining stories of her own, but only as she nears retirement age has she collected her short stories in Circus Girl & Other Stories. She has also completed her first novel, Tina Goes to Heaven, about a sex worker looking for a better life and is halfway through the second one, Stillscape with Ashes, an epic about the life of an artist in the Gilded Age. Abraham teaches English at American River College and lives in Sacramento with her husband.

Galadrielle Allman was born in Macon, Georgia in 1969 at the same place and time her family’s legendary band, the Allman Brothers Band, was also born. She went to her first concert as an infant where her father, Duane Allman, was playing. Just a few short years into his remarkable career, he was killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 24. Just two years old at the time, Galadrielle was raised in the shadow of his loss and his fame. She studied writing at Sarah Lawrence College, always hoping to tell her family’s story. On the eve of her 40th birthday, she at last began work on her first book, memoir Please Be With Me, A Song for My Father Duane Allman. Galadrielle Allman lives in Berkeley where she is working on her next novel.

Donna Apidone works at Capital Public Radio as a radio host and a respected interviewer. In news programs, and as a guide to classical and roots music, she has built a reputation for being truthful, reliable and funny. For 10 years, Apidone has led workshops and private sessions on the merits of missionary work, which her latest book TransForMission explores. She is also a certified life coach and interfaith minister. Apidone lives in northern California. (

Greg Archer is an author, award winning journalist, television host, and motivational speaker. His work covering agents of change, history, travel, health, architecture, celebrities, and the entertainment industry has appeared in The Huffington Post, Oprah Magazine, San Francisco Examiner, The Advocate, Bust, Palm Springs Life, VIA Magazine and a variety of cable television outlets. A four-time recipient of the Best Writer Award in a popular San Francisco Bay Area Reader’s Poll, his work shines the light on change agents near and far, Polish history, intergenerational; family trauma and under-reported issues in society. Archer’s memoir Grace Revealed chronicles his journey uncovering his Polish family’s odyssey surviving Stalin’s mass deportation of Polish people and the ripple effects that remain. (

Jim Averbeck was born and raised in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, a beautiful city built, like Rome, on seven wooded hills of oak, walnut, and maple where his childhood imagination ran wild. He joined the Peace Corps in his late twenties and went to live in Cameroon in western Africa for almost four years. It was there he first realized that he wanted to write for children. Averbeck went on to study writing and illustrating for children in Berkeley and his latest book, A Hitch at the Fairmont, is his first novel written for middle-grade readers. He lives, works, and plays in San Francisco. (

Todd Borg grew up in Minnesota with two fixations, reading mysteries and skiing the great, precipitous mountain ranges of the Upper Midwest. The second fixation led him and his wife to move to Tahoe in 1990, where they could ski on real mountains. Although Borg had written for many years, the Tahoe landscape gave him the idea for a detective series set in the mountains. The resulting Tahoe Mysteries feature an ex-San Francisco Homicide Inspector named Owen McKenna who quit the police department and moved to Tahoe to study art and become a private investigator. Borg’s most recent book, Tahoe Ghost Boat, is the 12th novel in a series that he expects to continue writing for many years to come. (

Patricia Bracewell’s love of stories led to a Master’s degree in literature and a career as a high school English teacher. It wasn’t until she was in her thirties that she began to actively study the writer’s craft by attending workshops and writing essays and short stories, some of which were published. Her latest novel, The Price of Blood, is the second book in a trilogy about Emma of Normandy, whose marriage in A.D. 1002 to an English king set in motion a series of events that would eventually lead to the Norman Conquest of A.D. 1066. Last year Bracewell was honored to serve as Writer-in-Residence at Gladstone’s Library in Wales. Bracewell has two sons and lives in Oakland with her husband. (

S.G. Browne was born in Arizona and grew up in the Bay Area, spending most of his formative years in Fremont, as well as a short stint on the island of Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. He attended the University of the Pacific in Stockton, where he majored in business and eventually realized that he wanted to be a writer. After college, he moved to Hollywood, where he worked as a driver and an assistant producer doing post-production work on television spots and theatrical trailers for Disney Studios. He eventually moved to Santa Cruz, where he lived for fourteen years writing novels and short stories and working as an office manager. His latest book, Less Than Hero, takes a satirical stance about the over-medication of our society. Browne currently lives in San Francisco. (

William Burg grew up in Sacramento’s suburbs but made regular visits to downtown Sacramento starting in his teens. After studying history at Humboldt State University, he moved to Midtown in 1993 to be part of Sacramento’s music and art scene. There he wrote for small-print music magazines, performed in local bands, theater and film, and promoted music festivals and nightclubs. He became a volunteer docent at the California State Railroad Museum in 2003, rekindling his interest in history. Since 2006, Burg has written six books and approximately 100 articles about many aspects of Sacramento’s history. His latest book, Midtown Sacramento: Creative Soul of the City, focuses on the many defining aspects of Midtown, including urban development, ethnic history, railroads, labor and industry, food and restaurants, music and nightclubs, artists and art galleries, gay/lesbian history, and counterculture of Sacramento.

Jan Ellison grew up in Tujunga, California. Before writing and parenting, Ellison had a brief and befuddled career marketing derivatives trading software to big banks, which followed a two-year stint backpacking and working in Hawaii, Australia and Southeast Asia. Her undergraduate years were spent at Stanford, where she earned a degree in history, but which she wishes was in English. She left Stanford for a year at nineteen to live on a shoe-string in Paris, and work in an office in London. She scribbled notes on yellow legal pads, and years later those notes provided the inspiration for her debut novel, A Small Indiscretion. Ellison lives in the Bay Area with her husband of twenty years and their four children. (

C.W. Gortner was raised in southern Spain. His obsession with the past led him to an M.F.A. in Writing, with an emphasis in Renaissance History. For ten years, he worked as a bi-coastal fashion executive. In his late twenties, he wrote an epic historical novel that was rejected by every publisher on the planet. Thirteen years later, he sold two subsequent novels at auction to Random House. Now an international bestseller, with over a million copies in print and translations in twenty-five languages, he is a full-time writer. His latest novel Mademoiselle Chanel focuses on the dramatic life of iconic designer, Coco Chanel. Gortner lives in the Bay Area and Antigua, Guatemala, with his partner. (

Anara Guard grew up in Chicago where her first job was tending the corner news stand for a penny a minute. She later worked in a thrift shop, pharmacy, food co-op, community radio station, small town library, as a maid, and as a women’s self-defense teacher. Her professional career has been focused on injury prevention, and she published a series of children’s picture books on safety topics before turning to fiction. Guard’s latest book Remedies for Hunger is her second collection of short stories. Her poetry has been published in Convergence and Late Peaches, an anthology of Sacramento poets. Guard lives in northern California with her husband. (

Stephen D. Gutierrez was born and raised in the greater Los Angeles area, and attended public schools and a Catholic high school before leaving the City of Commerce for Chico State, already determined to be a writer. He later earned an M.F.A. at Cornell. His subject matters are the Mexican American working class, his own personal trauma stretching back to earliest childhood, his father’s terrible sickness during Gutierrez’s adolescence, and the glories and miseries of art-making itself. These themes are found in essays and stories in his three books, his most recent of which is The Mexican Man in his Backyard. He has also produced plays and won many literary awards. Gutierrez currently teaches at California State University East Bay. (

Ann Lewis Hamilton grew up in Staunton, Virginia in a house full of typewriters – her grandfather was the editor of the local newspaper where her father worked as a reporter and her mother wrote for the society page. Hamilton’s goal was to write and draw for MAD magazine, but instead she graduated from the University of Virginia and holds an M.F.A. from UCLA. She has written for TV and film where her credits include, among others, “Haven,” “The Dead Zone,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Saved,” “Party of Five,” and “Thirtysomething”. Her first novel, Expecting, is a sometimes sad, sometimes humorous look into the world of infertility. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children. (

John C. Hampsey grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where his boyhood memoir Kaufman’s Hill is set. The memoir begins when the narrator is seven years old and focuses on that threshold time between the late 1950s and the full counter-cultural world that arrived after 1968, as well as on the graphic yet mythical world of boyhood that vanishes right into the twilight. His previous book, Paranoia and Contentment: A Personal Essay on Western Thought, was the first book to view paranoia in a positive light, and to use the concept to re-examine Western thought. Hampsey is a professor of romantic and classical literature at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he has won the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award. (

Peter Hecht began reporting on America’s marijuana phenomenon in 2009 for The Sacramento Bee, starting with a quixotic medical marijuana taxation vote in Oakland and continuing with coverage of pot legalization efforts and cannabis commerce that swept California and beyond. His marijuana coverage was honored for explanatory reporting in the “Best of the West” journalism awards and earned an Excellence in Journalism prize from the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. His nonfiction book, Weed Land, is based off on his many years of journalistic work. Hecht currently lives in Shingle Springs, California. (

Tracy Holczer holds a deep love for the mountains in her native California, which leads to them being written into her stories. A 2014 Indies Introduce New Voices pick and Indie Next pick, her debut middle-grade novel, The Secret Hum of a Daisy, was written in praise of both nature and family, and all that can be found if you’re willing to hunt for treasure. Her second novel, The Strange and Wonderful Odyssey of Samantha Rossi, is forthcoming. Holczer lives in southern California with her husband and three daughters. (

Jessica Barksdale Inclán has degrees in sociology and English literature from C.S.U. Stanislaus and a Master’s degree in English literature from S.F.S.U. She has gone on to teach a variety of subjects: composition, creative writing, mythology, and women’s literature at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California, and online novel writing courses for UCLA Extension. Inclán is the author of thirteen novels, including the best-selling Her Daughter’s Eyes, The Matter of Grace, and When You Believe. Her latest novel How to Bake a Man is a tale about a woman struggling to save her business and find her path in life. Inclán lives in Oakland with her husband. (

Josie Iselin is a photographer, author, and designer of seven books, with new projects in development in her San Francisco studio, Loving Blind Productions. Her most recent book, An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed, looks to Rachel Carson as muse and mentor: How do we write personal stories that illustrate the science of seaweed and are understood by the non-science readers among us? For twenty years Iselin has used her flatbed scanner and computer exclusively for generating imagery. As a fine artist, Iselin exhibits large-scale prints at select galleries and museums. She holds a B.A. in visual and environmental studies from Harvard and an M.F.A. from San Francisco State University. (

R. Franklin James grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her love of writing was nourished at the early age of eight when she and her best friend would write wandering tales of pirates and damsels in distress. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley where she cultivated a different type of writing—legislation and political policy. After a career of public policy and advocacy she focused on her first love, writing, and in 2013 her debut novel Fallen Angels Book Club was published. Sticks & Stones, the second in her six book series, was released last year. James is married with two sons and resides in northern California.  (

Emily Jiang grew up in Dallas, Texas, where as a teenager she competed in many piano competitions, which formed the basis of her lifelong love for music. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College of California and a B.A. in English from Rice University, where she studied the craft of poetry and fiction. Her latest book, which is also her first picture book, Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and Prose was inspired by her research for a young adult novel about magical musicians in an alternate ancient China. Jiang currently lives in the Bay Area where she is working on several young adult novels and composing an album that is a musical companion to her picture book. (

Jamie Kain grew up in Kentucky, but has had a nomadic adulthood. After college, she began writing for adults but found her groove when she tried her hand at teen fiction. Aside from her work as a writer, she has also spent much of her life as a teacher of kids of all ages. It was partly her love of working with teenagers that led her to write young adult novels. She is the author of The Good Sister, and her next teen novel Instructions for the End of the World will be released this year. Jamie lives in Sacramento with her husband and three children. (

Shelly King is a native Southerner who packed her bags and moved to Silicon Valley at the beginning of the Internet boom. Until recently, she worked for a major software company as a social media strategist and information architect. Her short stories have been published in the GW Review, Epiphany, Slow Trains, the Dos Passos Review, and the Coe Review. Her latest novel, The Moment of Everything, is a funny, romantic novel about a young woman finding her calling while saving a used bookstore. King lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband. (

Meera Ekkanath Klein grew up in south India where she learned the art of Indian cooking in her mother’s kitchen. Her debut novel My Mother’s Kitchen: A Novel With Recipes combines her love of cooking and storytelling. The novel is loosely based on Klein’s own life, and each chapter ends with a recipe in tribute to her late mother, Leela Sadasivam. A former reporter, her work has been published in The Sacramento Bee, Ventura Star-Free Press and Camarillo Daily News. Klein lives in Davis with her family and is working on her next book. (

Anne Leonard has been writing since she was in middle school. After a career with as many detours as Odysseus, she published her first novel, Moth and Spark, last year. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from the University of Pittsburgh and wrote the first drafts of Moth and Spark years later while a law student. The novel was inspired by mixing her loves of Jane Austen and epic fantasy. She is currently at work on another fantasy novel whose characters include an assassin turned actress and a spy disguised as a gardener. Formerly from the east coast, Leonard lives in Sonoma County with her husband and teenage son. (

Julia B. Levine‘s career as a poet began when she was a little girl trying to get her father’s attention away from his work as a neurologist and onto her. Drawing on her work as a child psychologist, Levine’s writings explore the themes of nature, desire, violence, and redemption in a world where beauty and tragedy co-exist. The judges for one of her four award-winning collections, wrote, “If a fearless gaze could speak, this would be its voice.” Her latest volume, Small Disasters Seen in Sunlight, was chosen to inaugurate a new poetry series for Louisiana State University Press.

Katherine Longshore created her own university major in cross-cultural studies and communications, planning to travel and write. Forever. Four years, six continents, and countless pairs of shoes later, she went to England for two weeks, stayed five years and discovered history. A former travel agent, coffee barista, and Montessori preschool teacher, Longshore is the author of three novels for young adults set in the court of Henry VIII, the latest among them being Brazen. She now lives in northern California with her family, three of whom are British citizens. (

Heather Mackey studied Greek and Latin in college, never dreaming that such obviously lucrative studies would one day land her in professions as varied as ghost writer for a World War II spy and “Dogs Editor” at A childhood spent in the parched Sonoran desert left her with a lifelong sense that trees were exotic and a bit spooky—an unease with vegetation that she drew on to write her first novel. In her middle-grade fantasy adventure Dreamwood, a young girl undertakes a quest to find the secret at the heart of a possibly homicidal forest in the pacific northwest. Mackey lives in Berkeley with her husband and two children. (

Lori Mortensen still remembers the day she checked out Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are from her school library. Imagine! A boy surrounded by monsters. Whoever wrote those books lived far away from her ordinary home in Pleasant Hill, California. It wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mother of three that she discovered her own passion for writing. Since then, she’s published more than 70 books and over 350 stories and articles. Her latest title, Cowpoke Clyde & Dirty Dawg, was one of Amazon’s best picture books of 2013. When she’s not removing her cat from her keyboard in her northern California home, Mortensen works on all sorts of projects that delight her writing soul. (

Nayomi Munaweera was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. At the age of three she immigrated with her family to Nigeria. In 1984, a military coup necessitated a third migration and her family settled in southern California. She holds a B.A. in literature and a mMaster’s degree in South Asian literature. In 2001, she abandoned her Ph.D. studies after it became impossible for her to ignore that her heart belonged to writing. She relocated to the Bay Area, taught at a community college, tutored students, and wrote a novel. Her debut work Island of A Thousand Mirrors tells of a long and brutal civil war in Sri Lanka and the burdens of exile and belonging. Munaweera lives in Oakland and is working on her second novel. (

Patricia Newman started work after graduating from Cornell University as a programmer for a computer software company. She traveled everywhere fixing computer problems and selling software—Maryland, North Carolina, Texas, South Dakota, Hawaii, Illinois, even Alaska in January: eventually coming back to Cornell to work as the assistant director of its western regional office. Since then, she has written several award-winning fiction and nonfiction trade books, school and library titles, and magazine articles for children. Her latest book Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch focuses on a real-world issue to open readers’ eyes to ocean science and the scientific method. Newman lives with her husband and two children in the Sacramento area. (

Eve Pell was raised as an American Princess in enclaves of privilege and wealth. Pell eventually defied her family and moved to San Francisco where she broke out of her upper-crust wifely role to join the 1960s fight for social justice. Turning to political activism and reporting, she has reported on three award-winning PBS documentaries, is an award-winning writer published in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Nation, and other publications, and is author of the nationally acclaimed memoir We Used to Own the Bronx. She has been a staff reporter at the Center for Investigative Reporting, taught journalism at S.F.S.U. and has lectured at Stanford. Pell’s latest book Love, Again: The Wisdom of Unexpected Romance reveals a dynamic picture of modern romance for seniors and how to approach later-in-life love. (

Gayle E. Pitman is a professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at Sacramento City College. She is the author of the award-winning book Backdrop: The Politics and Personalities behind Sexual Orientation Research. Her newest book, This Day in June, is a whimsical, exuberant children’s story about an LGBT Pride parade. She developed and currently teaches a class called “Psychology of Sexual Orientation,” which is the only class of its kind to be offered within the California community college system. She has written extensively on topics pertaining to sexuality, gender, and intersectionality. In addition to numerous journal articles and academic papers, Pitman is a contributor to three edited books.(

Joseph Di Prisco was born in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and attended an all-boys Catholic high school, Syracuse University, and lastly U.C. Berkeley, where he did graduate work. He has taught people of all ages for some twenty years, middle school, high school, and college. Di Prisco has sat on and consulted with several nonprofit boards in the areas of education, mental health, children’s welfare, and the arts, and he is chair emeritus of Redwood Day School in Oakland.  He was co-author of two books about child and family development and has also published two books of poems. His memoir Subway to California recounts his hilarious and heartbreaking battles with personal demons, bargains struck with angels, and truces with family. Di Prisco lives in northern California with his wife. (

Julia Reynolds, when as editor of el Andar, a magazine on U.S. Latino life, never wanted to write about gangs. But as an investigative reporter, she discovered a heartbreaking fact: California’s farm towns had astonishingly high murder rates while the rest of rural America experienced almost no violent crime. This propelled her into a decade-long journey deep inside one of the West’s most infamous criminal gangs: the Nuestra Familia. She set out with one question: how do normal, good kids turn into full-time violent criminals? The answer is Reynold’s book Blood in the Fields, an intense, intimate nonfiction narrative that, while painstakingly sourced, reads like a thriller. She drew inspiration from John Steinbeck and masters of narrative nonfiction Kurt Eichenwald and Laura Hillenbrand. (

Barbara Rhine is a lawyer, activist, and writer. She blogs on books and politics and is the author of the novella, The Lowest Form of Animal Life. Her articles have appeared in The SF ChronicleOakland TribuneContra Costa TimesThe Recorder , and online in Counterpunch. Inspired by her own experiences, Rhine’s debut novel Tell No Lies tells the story of three radical activists—a black militant on the run, a farm worker organizer and a Berkeley feminist—who get caught in a love triangle during a huge United Farm Workers march led by Cesar Chavez. Rhine is an avid hiker, tennis player, swimmer, and amateur pianist. She currently divides her time between her husband, daughters, and her grandchildren in Oakland. (

Daniel Rounds spent the better part of a decade in UCLA’s graduate political science and sociology programs studying political economy, social theory, and social movements, before abandoning graduate school to become a labor activist. He has worked for various labor unions, environmental organizations, and community groups. Inspired by such thinkers as Deleuze, Badiou, and Agamben and such subjects as mathematical paradox and scientific method, Rounds’s debut work, Some Distant Lateral Present, is poetry that challenges the reader even as they challenge what poetry does, what it can do, even what it is willing to address as a form. His poetry has appeared in Aufgabe, 3rd Bed, Aught, XConnect, Good Foot, Fish Drum Magazine, and the American River Review. Rounds lives and works in California.

Joanna Rowland grew up in Sacramento, where she spent her days daydreaming and hot summer nights as a synchronized swimmer. She earned her B.A. in child development and  is currentlyan elementary teacher for the San Juan Unified School District. She discovered her dream of writing after a teacher training about writing. Her first book, Always Mom, Forever Dad was written for children of two homes so they will never doubt they are loved. Rowland lives with her husband and three daughters in northern California. (

Linda Joy Singleton has published over 35 young adult and middle-grade books about Goths, psychics, mermaids, aliens, cheerleaders, clones, parallel worlds, spies, dogs and ghosts. When she was 8, she wrote animal stories and by age14 she was writing mystery novels. Recently she’s crossed genres to publish her first picture book, Snow Dog, Sand Dog. When Singleton isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, movies, country walks, camping, bowling and reality shows. She’s a longtime member of Sisters in Crime and the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators, and enjoys speaking at school, libraries and writing conferences. Singleton lives with her husband in northern California, in a country home where she’s surrounded by a variety of animals, such as horses, peacocks, dogs, and cats. (

Danna Smith was born and raised in Utah. She grew up playing with words, mixing them up and twisting them around into a silly poem or a story that sparked emotion. Smith was exposed to all sorts of creatures through her father who trained, bred, and rehabilitated animals. It was not uncommon to find bobcats, alligators, monkeys, hawks, or even vultures at her home. Her love of animals and nature has spilled over into her love of writing, such as in her latest children’s book Balloon Trees. She now lives in northern California with her husband, two grown children. Smith enjoys spending time outdoors and painting with watercolors but most of the time, you can find her at her computer playing with words. (

Susan Spann is a transactional attorney and former law school professor. She received an undergraduate degree in Asian studies, in particular Chinese and Japanese cultures. Her deep interest in Japanese history, martial arts, and mystery inspired her to write the Shinobi Mystery series. Her second novel, Blade of the Samurai, follows Hiro Hattori, a sixteenth-century ninja who brings murderers to justice with the help of Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit priest. When not writing or representing clients, her hobbies include Asian cooking, traditional archery, martial arts, horseback riding, and caring for a marine aquarium where she raises seahorses and rare corals. Spann lives in northern California with her family. (

Talia Vance is a practicing litigation attorney living in northern California with her real life love interest and two-point-five kids. She has been writing since she could talk, making up stories for every doll, stuffed animal and action figure she could get her hands on. Vance grew up hoping to write the great American novel, but her life ran more along the lines of tortured romance and fast paced thrillers, which her latest young adult novel, Spies and Prejudice, reflects. (

Maureen O’Leary Wanket is a Sacramento author and high school teacher. She wrote How to Be Manly in response to the inspiring courage, resourcefulness, and loyalty of the students she meets in her English classes. An alum of Squaw Valley Community of Writers, her short fiction can be found in the pages of Esopus magazine, Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine, and Xenith, to name a few. Wanket is also the author of The Arrow, Book 1 of the Children of Brigid Trilogy. She loves West African dancing and drumming, reading other people’s books, and working out at old-school gyms. Wanket also enjoys attending high school football games, but only when she has taught at least half the players on the field.  (

Tawni Waters grew up on a remote mountain in New Mexico. Deprived of television and other modern forms of entertainment, she regularly raided a nearby abandoned commune library to get her literary fix. As her love for words consumed her, she began writing stories. She spent her early adulthood following rock bands around the world, making time to feed her literary addiction by scribbling away at rest stops between shows. The first of these scribblings eventually became Beauty of the Broken, a coming of age novel about a lesbian teen struggling to find the courage to be herself in rural New Mexico. (