Great Valley Bookfest 2023 Authors & Poets

Northern California Publishers and Authors


Sharon Darrow is an entrepreneur, author, speaker and publisher. A small business owner, vice president of NCPA, and now independent publisher of Samati Press, Sharon has completed the award-winning Laura’s Dash series of historical fiction based on her own family history. She is also the author of books on rescue animal care and continues to mentor kitten foster parents in the Sacramento area. Visit and for more details. 






ML.  Hamilton teaches high school English and journalism in Central California. Since her earliest memory, books have been an integral part of her life, so pursuing a career teaching what she loved came naturally. However, she always dreamed of publishing her own novel. That dream came true. Her first novel, Emerald, was published by Wild Wolf Publishing in 2010. Since that time, seven more books in the World of Samar series have been published. In 2013, the Peyton Brooks’ Mysteries were born, allowing her to branch into a new genre. After seven novels in that series, she moved the main character into the FBI. In 2014, she began the Avery Nolan Adventures, an urban fantasy series set in beautiful Lake Tahoe.

In addition to teaching and writing, she has three sons, two dogs, and a cat. And sometimes a stray rabbit living under her deck.





Yang Huang grew up in China and came to the U.S. to study computer science. While working as an engineer, she studied literature and pursued writing. Her novel MY GOOD SON won the gold medals in NCPA, Nautilus, IPPY, and IBPA Benjamin Franklin Book Awards. Her linked story collection, MY OLD FAITHFUL, won the Juniper Prize, and her debut novel, LIVING TREASURES, won the Nautilus Book Award silver medal. She works for the University of California, Berkeley and lives in the Bay Area with her family.





Jessica O’Dwyer is author of Mother Mother (National Indie Excellence Award finalist) and Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir (San Diego Book Award winner). Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, SF Chronicle, Scary Mommy and MUTHA. An alum of Squaw Valley and Bread Loaf, Jessica earned an MFA from Antioch Los Angeles. She’s an adoptive mother to two young adults and lives in Marin County.







Gold Country Writers


By day, Rebecca Inch-Partridge is the mild-mannered freelance editor. At night, she’s the ruler of Paraxous Star Cluster. For years, she entertained friends and family with tales from the Paraxous. Now, she’s excited to have her first Paraxous Cluster novel, Escaping the Dashia, coming out in March of 2023 from Black Rose Writing. Rebecca lives in Auburn, CA with her husband, their dog, two cats, four chickens, and one turkey. And when she is not editing or working on her young adult, science fiction novels, she can be found engaged in some activity related to Gold Country Writers where she serves as the director of break out critique groups.




Rev. Dr. Betsy Schwarzentraub is the author of four Christian nonfiction books about worship and stewardship, and a United Methodist minister (retired). She was a contributing author in thirteen other books, has published more than 1,000 articles in the U.S. and Canada, and was the Religion Editor for a secular newspaper as well as a stewardship consultant. Currently she is working on her fifth book, called Time to Forgive?









Frank Nissen grew up in the heart of the gold country, roaming the hills and canyons through which the American river flows. He worked in animation for over forty years doing visual and story development for projects such as Mulan, Treasure Planet and Tarzan. After retiring from Disney Studios, he returned to the landscape that inspired his first novel, Fortune’s Call, which was released in August, 2022. Frank, currently serves as the President of Gold Country Writers. 





Kathryn May Shields has authored, On the Point of a Star, an exciting  novel of two fourteen-year-old girls who must overcome peer bullying, jealousy, and family problems to follow their dream of performing on Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.

For Mosby Publishing Company, Kathryn has written textbooks and video scripts.  She was their Technical Advisor on numerous nursing videos, winning an Academy Of Medical Films award for creative excellence in educational media.  She is a lifelong musician, who plays several instruments and has performed all styles of music.  Her enjoyment of photography and writing motivated her to start her venture, Wonder All Around, creating photos and books which encourage each of us to find beauty and magic in this world.  Kathryn is a Masters Degree, R.N., and lives in rural Northern California, surrounded by the shelter animals and wildlife she loves dearly.


Barbara Young writes to inspire wellbeing, creativity and empowerment using poetry, flash fiction, short story, nonfiction and in coffee table books featuring her photography. Her lifestyle, travel, hobbies and diverse career as a nurse, holistic consultant and mind-body skills educator inspired her first nonfiction book. The Heart that Rocks Health Care, received a Silver award for nonfiction and a Silver award for cover and internal design. It is an empowerment book for people suffering stress, particularly addressing nurses and their work environment. She has numerous stories published in NCPA anthologies and was awarded the Risk Taker Award for “On the Porch with Miss Lizzy” in their 2019 anthology More Birds of a Feather. Presently she is writing a gift book, Mother’s Pearls, planned for release in 2023. She is the vice-president of internal affairs for Gold Country Writers and a member of NCPA and SSWC. 


San Joaquin Writers California Writers Club


John Britto is a Charter Member of the San Joaquin Valley Branch of the California Writers Club. His work has been published in The Caliope, the University of the Pacific anthology, and The Delta Breeze, a San Joaquin Delta College anthology. He was a Guest Columnist for The Stockton Record where he wrote on a variety of topics of local interest. He also served as the Editorial Committee Chairperson for the San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury. John is the author of a yet-to-be-published collection of short stories.









Terry Wells Brown grew up in the deep south, chasing frogs (kissing one or two), catching crawdads from the local creek (much to her mother’s dismay), and traipsing through poison ivy (half her childhood was spent covered in calamine lotion). She now lives in the lush California Zinfandel wine country with the Love of Her Life and their two rescued pups. T Wells Brown is the author of the romantic suspense series; Women of Wine Country, the contemporary fantasy series; Earth Magic, and the international collaboration; Sisters of Sin. She is also the feature writer for Best Version Media; a community magazine.







Kimberly Ann Wiley, MD, is a San Francisco native, a graduate of University of San Francisco and UC, San Diego Med School. For the last 22 years, she’s practiced adult primary care at Kaiser Permanente, where it has been a privilege and joy, listening and hearing patients, helping them navigate their care. Preventive care and chronic disease management has been her focus, along with health disparities, cultural competency, and health literacy. She adores the diversity of the Sacramento region and the vibrant arts/writing community and has dabbled in crochet/knitting, golf, and portrait drawing, while reading murder mysteries for fun, and she’s penning her first novel, now turning a page and looking forward to the next chapter of her own story: retirement.


June Gillam: A native of the Central Valley, June lives cradled between California’s Coastal Range and the Sierra Nevada mountains. She writes the Hillary Broome social justice crime novel series, inspired by her obsession with what drives ordinary people mad enough to kill. She loves the company of writers and readers and was honored with a Jack London Award for her service to the writing community. June’s work is published by her imprint, Gorilla Girl Ink. She offers writing workshops through her website:







California Writers Club Sacramento


Linda Champion, a retired public-school teacher, writes original fairy tales suitable for family reading and enjoyment.  Her book titles include  Fairy Tales for Life and More Fairy Tales for Life.  Come by her booth and take a look at her lovely hard-back books complete with gilded fairies.









Bernard Wozny Je Suis un Ingénieur gives away my engineering background. In the English language, the word engineer, has its root in the word engine. In the French language, the word Ingénieur has its root in the word ingenuity.I am an engineer, but I do not invent engines. I am the ingenious one, who works with engines in new and novel ways. I have proved myself to be a ‘cunning artificer’, or person of unique ‘ingenuity’ in the world of software development. Therefore, I like to identify myself with the French root phrase of ingenuity. I have left my lucrative career of engineering behind me to explore the creation of stories. Being a new addition to the literary world, I bring fresh ideas to challenge the mind while portraying the story in a clean, stimulating manner. I am primarily writing Science Fiction, or dare I say Science Thrillers.

Christine L. Villa is a children’s book author, poet, publisher, speaker, photographer, and mixed media artist. Among the ten picture book titles she has published since 2014, seven have won awards in the Northern California Publishers and Authors Book Award Competitions, Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, and Story Monsters Approved Book Awards. Her poems, photographs, and artwork have also won recognition and several awards. She is the founder of Purple Cotton Candy Arts, a business that offers publishing services. She teaches a workshop entitled “Essentials of Writing a Picture Book.”





Capitol Crimes


James L’Etoile uses his twenty-nine years behind bars as an associate warden in a maximum-security prison, a hostage negotiator, and director of California’s state parole system to influence his novels, short stories, and screenplays. His most recent novel, Dead Drop released in July 2022. Find out more at









Claire Booth is a former journalist who has reported on high-profile stories all over the country, including that of a California cult leader who became the subject of her nonfiction book The False Prophet. After spending so much time covering crimes so strange and convoluted they seemed more fiction than reality, she had enough of the real world and decided to write novels instead. Her Sheriff Hank Worth mysteries take place in Branson, Missouri, where small-town Ozark politics and big-city country music tourism clash in – yes – strange and convoluted ways. The latest, Dangerous Consequences, came out in May.


Jessica Arden (aka Jessica Cline) is the author of Once Ghosted, Twice Shy, the first in the Ghosted paranormal cozy mystery series. She’s stomped grapes in her native California, hiked 350 miles on an ancient pilgrimage route in Spain, had breakfast with a coatimundi in Costa Rica, and spent the night in a monastery. But wherever life takes her, her true north will always be with her husband and two energetic boys.

When she’s not writing, you can find Jessica teaching, crafting, or hyperfocusing on her latest research obsession. Jessica's short fiction has appeared in Woman's World as well as multiple anthologies.



Richard Meredith, a resident of Sacramento, is a retired marine scientist and wildlife biologist. His first thriller, Sky Dance, was based on his ecological restoration work in the oil fields of Ecuador. His second book, The Crow’s Nest, drew on his experience on commercial fishing boats in the Pacific, and won the Silver Falchion Award for the best Action-Adventure novel at the 2021 Killer Nashville Mystery and Thriller Writers Conference. His third book, Maskirovka—The Russian Art of Deception, is set for publication in early 2023.







Elk Grove Writers Guild & Others


Former middle school teacher Margaret Duarte lives on a California dairy farm with her family and a herd of “happy cows”, a constant reminder that the greenest pastures lie closest to home. Margaret earned her creative writing certificate through University of California Davis Extension and has since published four novels in her “Enter the Between” visionary fiction series.








Rae Rankin is an award-winning author who has always had a passion for reading and writing. In addition to writing, she has been in the marketing and graphic design field for nearly 30 years both in the corporate world and as an independent contractor.

She released her first book, Cowgirl Lessons in 2017 and has since written seven other books with her latest, Ten Little Chickadees, releasing this fall.

She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Northern California Publishers and Authors.




Pamela Atherstone began writing in 2009 following her retirement. She has written and published a historical fiction novel based on her ancestral history and two children’s picture books. She has been instrumental in the production of two cookbooks for non-profit entities. Additionally, she has had articles printed in national and international publications. She is currently working on a sequel to her novel, a compendium of her writings, and additional children’s books.








Nan Mahon is an award-winning journalist and novelist. Her works include Blind Buddy and MoJo’s Blues Band, Junkyard Blues, and Pink Pearls and Irish whiskey.  Her short stories appear in many anthologies and she has written and produced four large musical productions for the city of Elk Grove. As a writer, band agent and theater producer, she has learned a sense of the artist’s struggle and tells those stories. She also reaches back to her childhood in her family anthology Hard Times and Honeysuckle.

 Often gritty, her work gives voice to the disenfranchised and people living on the fringe of society. 




Michael Baldwin also know as Black Pearl in poetry circles found peace and security through the rhythmic expression of poetry. After serving 26 years in prison Black Pearl has returned from the tombs of the unwanted to motivate-inspire and shine his light.


Stella Beratlis is the author of two poetry collections, Dust Bowl Venus and Alkali Sink. She is poet laureate emeritus of Modesto and lives in Modesto, where she works as a librarian.


Rhony Bhopla is a poet and visual artist whose poems and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in PRISM InternationalThe HopperNotre Dame ReviewCherry Moon: Emerging Voices from the Asian DiasporaNorthwest Review, and Harvard Review. She is a member of the Mapmakers Alumni Institute, and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Pacific University.


Tina Curiel is a Xicana and Boricua almost native, Central Valley poet and artivist currently living in Modesto, California with her three cats and as many books and records as possible. Her poetry explores her family history, dealings with incarceration and the criminal legal system, activism, addiction, and hope.


Angela Drew is a mother, poet, author, and self-proclaimed linguistic artist who has loved the
rhythm of words for as long as she can remember. She is the author of ElderBerry Wine, a
children’s book written in poetic verse, celebrating the beauty and majesty of our elders. To
learn more, visit her on IG @she_spits_fire and online at


Nancy Gonzalez St. Clair is a Chicana poet, educator, and activist. She is the inaugural poet laureate of Lodi, California.


Tamer Said Mostafa is an Arab-American, Muslim poet and storyteller from Stockton, California, whose debut book of poetry, Where Will I Find America? was released in Summer, 2021. Tamer lives life through spirituality, community work, and the music of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.


Salvatore Salerno is the Poet Laureate of Modesto.  He is also the president of Stanislaus Audubon Society.


A doctor and poet, in her native Dominican Republic, Vielka continues her work in both areas, here in the San Joaquin Valley and around the world. Veilka has been actively working to bring poetry as a means of therapy to women and children that have experienced domestic violence or other trauma, in neighborhoods too often overlooked.


Jenny loves poetry’s ability to create spaces where nuanced feelings are seen and called to life, and has performed in Beijing, Modesto, and Phoenix. She is an alumni of the Attic Institute, Juniper Summer Writing Institute, Lighthouse Writers, and Aspen Summer Words.


Gary Thomas is a retired English teacher living in Turlock, California.  His full-length poetry collection, All the Connecting Lights, was published by Finishing Line Press in August 2022.


Gillian Wegener is the founding president of the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center, and a former poet laureate of Modesto, CA. She is  the author of two poetry collections, The Opposite of Clairvoyance (2008) and This Sweet Haphazard (2017), both from Sixteen Rivers Press.


Tricia Gardella’s books are heavily influenced by ranch, animals, and family life. She has tried it all and almost mastered some: canning, cooking, knitting and other fiber arts, rug-making, gardening, and various business ventures. Her passion is writing and helping others to write quality picture books. In the 90s she published four books with major publishers, while writing a weekly picture book review for a local paper, then took a twenty-year sabbatical from writing, and is now enjoying the creative control of indie publishing. Picture books might be her favorite writing genre, but she has always read whatever grabbed her attention since childhood. She has a BA in Ancient History and Classical Archaeology, three children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, all giving her much food for thought. She lives with two self-centered cats in Central California.


After a nursing career spanning 41 yrs., along with 12 yrs. as a commercially rated hot air balloon pilot, Claudia is now retired and enjoying her new career as an author. She has published 14 nonfiction books covering a variety of topics from WWII to life as a redhead. “I enjoy the research it takes to create an interesting look at history and other topics that would peak the readers’ attention,” she states. When not researching or writing she enjoys reading, gardening, and tending to her cats.
Visit her website at:


My passion for writing began 15 years ago  when I hosted parties at my home. I wrote various games, brain teasers, puzzles, scavenger hunts, word challenges and other games for family, friends, and colleagues as a way of entertainment. It was great fun and everyone enjoy them.   The entertainment brought fun, laughter and enjoyment. In fact, I received compliments on the games and I kept  writing even when I wasn’t hosting any parties. This gave me a sense of passion and creativity. I continued  writing and published two books.

 In 2022, I published two books. The first book “The Zany Brain Teaser” has over 100 brain teasers which cover many topics, puzzles, challenges and solutions. The book is great for anyone who likes to tackle brain teasers and is perfect for anyone, regardless of age. To date, I am working on a sequel to The Zany Brain Teaser book. It will become available in 2024. The second book I published is “Let’s Add the Numbers”. This book covers the fundamental of adding numbers. The emphasis is on simple arithmetic, basic equations, how to count, mini quizzes, basic arithmetic facts and short stories. The book is ideal for young readers, educations, parents and anyone who is interested in teaching young children on how to add the numbers.

Subject to change.