Authors share advice, encourage novice writers at BVS forum


March 2, 2019

A “Meet Our Local Authors” forum, organized to help novice authors navigate the tough process of writing and publishing, filled the community room at Oak Tree Country Club on Feb. 24.

Sponsored by the Bear Valley Springs Cultural Arts Association and organized by writer/producer Andi Hicks, authors on display with their books represented – as Hicks wrote in the biography handout – “a tantalizing (but incomplete) sampling of our local, published authors.”

The works of the 20 authors ranged from autobiography and lavishly illustrated children’s books, to self-help, race relations and history.

Former Tehachapi mayor and co-owner of Fiddler’s Crossing Deborah Hand-Cutler, author of her first novel “The Snake in the Garden,” said she was inspired by stories that a friend told her of growing up in Arkansas under Jim Crow laws. The work started as a screenplay.

“The characters are mine, but I feel it is my friend,” Hand-Cutler said.

She said she preferred to rely on the experts for marketing.

“I suck at marketing. Unless an agent or publishing house is going to do full-out marketing, what’s the point?” she said.

Craig Luther, PhD, an Air Force historian for 27 years, spent 12 years researching and writing “Barbarossa Unleashed,” a detailed study of the German campaign in Russia in World War II.

Luther interviewed German soldiers in their 80s. “I got them at five minutes before midnight, before they were gone,” he said.

The volume weighs five pounds.

In marketing his niche books, Luther endorses the committed use of Facebook and interconnecting online sites.

“You have to hump it, day in and day out.” His additional advice: “Stay away from politics.”

Screenwriter, professor and producer Neill Hicks advised novice writers to “learn English... learn punctuation, the rules. It makes it easier to read.”

Panelist Gabriele de Ginant, who has followed her exquisite “Rosabella” with “Snowflower,” recommended a “hybrid” publisher. “You pay for printing. They do the rest,” she said.

The bonus speaker was Alex Zonn, who has narrated 36 books, mostly westerns.

In addition to the panelists, the following local authors were on hand to display and discuss their books:

• Sandy Adams edits and produces her husband Gary’s books and her own books about riding and running, including “The Compact Trail Runner’s Log Book.”

• Dan Bronson (unable to attend because of the change of date due to snow) is story analyst and screen writer, best known for HBO’s Ed Harris thriller “The Last Innocent Man” and NBC’s “Death of a Cheerleader.”

• Sharron Domingo is an art teacher who creates prints, paintings and ceramics, she turned her talent to writing and illustrating children’s books, notably “My Star.”

• Ilona Klar Gaiser, a Master Chef and restaurateur, shares kitchen secrets in her charming “The Bare Bottom International Party Chef” and is working on a book about her escape from Communism in her native Hungary.

• Ron Gaiser, an event producer and short story, song and television writer, introduced his debut novel, “The War Angels,” based on his U.S. Air Force pilot father and their Jewish family history in Europe.

• Nichole Hamblin shares faith-based life lessons in her first book “Do You Know I Love You?” that took her eight years to write.

• Andi Hicks, the forum organizer, is a former travel and technical writer and produced screenwriter who is working on an historical novel about the 18th century silver aristocracy in New Spain.

• Linda McDermott shares her love of nature, mountain climbing, hiking and traveling (to all seven continents, including Antarctica) in her book “No Regrets.”

• Fiona Nelson, a zoologist who has worked with wildlife programs and parks in Africa and zoos in the U.K. and the U.S.A., wrote a series of educational stories for children under commission from the U.K. government about marine life, including “Busy Puffins.”

• Anne Marie Novinger, a busy volunteer whose roots run deep in Tehachapi, shares her remarkable life in her lighthearted memoir, “Where Did Murtz Come From?...and How Did She End Up in Tehachapi?”

• Robin Ray, an expert in leadership skills, has written a series of books designed to help people navigate through life – “Let’s Talk Communication Skills,” Let’s Talk About Stress” and “Cold Turkey, a Goal-setting Book.”

• Lauraine Snelling writes Christian fiction, often of a romantic nature. Her more than 100 published books include “A Heart for Home” and “An Untamed Heart”.

• Deborah Scott loves tigers. Her book, “Tiger Tales,” tells the story of the visionary developers of a Bengal tiger breeding program in Mexico that widened the gene pools for zoos and compounds.

• Marti Sprinkle, who specializes in aquatic therapy and rehabilitation, teaches water aerobics and shares her knowledge in her book “Water Wonder Works – A Guide to Therapeutic Water Exercises,” which is complete with photos.

• Brenda Sutton Turner, a gospel singer who, with her musician husband Michael Sutton, were songwriter/producers for the Motown label; Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and others recorded their work. They also wrote for artists at Capitol and Columbia.


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