Speakers Announced for the Fourth Annual High Desert Book Festival


T.Faye Griffin

By Staff Reports

(Hesperia)– Wordsmith Productions has confirmed its lineup of presenters for the 2019 High Desert Book Festival, which will be held on Saturday, October 12that Hesperia Civic Plaza Park. The nonprofit wants the public to know that there are many opportunities to get involved in this wonderful cultural event – as an exhibitor, volunteer or sponsor.

Are you or your civic group looking for a great volunteer event? Does your high school student want a community service project to add to their college applications? Have you ever wanted a chance to speak directly to a literary agent about your writing or meet publishers in person? Have you always wanted to market yourself directly to the public as either an author looking to increase sales or an illustrator who needs to network with future clients? All of these things are possible at the High Desert Book Festival.

The book festival is cosponsored by Hesperia Recreation & Park District and the City of Hesperia.

“We have a really eclectic group of speakers,” said Wordsmith CEO Davida James. “There are literary agents, a memoirist, a TV comedy writer, and a college professor who is a poet and editor. We are hosting a wonderful panel on the literature of the California Desert inspired by an article in the Desert Sunby Benjamin Goulet titled The Literature of the California Desert is a Diverse Mix.”

James said that as the book festival’s planning committee looked at the many elements of the festival, they agreed that celebrating literature and poetry that focus on our California deserts would be perfect.

Ruth Nolan

Ruth Nolan, English professor at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, leads the panel. Nolan, a previous resident of Apple Valley, is the editor of the anthology No Place for a Puritan: The Literature of California’s Deserts. It is a compilation of the writings of over 80 authors whose works focus on the desert. Nolan will conduct a writing workshop on Friday, October 11that the Hesperia Library, and will give a 90-minute presentation and Q&A at the book festival Saturday, October 12th, focusing on the authors in her anthology. The second panel is still being developed, but will include Madeline Gornell author of Reticence of Ravens. Gornell is a High Desert resident whose writing is inspired by Route 66, and will join other authors and poets whose works are desert-inspired.

“We are hoping poets who write about the desert will brush off those poems and get in touch with us if they want to be involved in the festival and perhaps do a reading in our Poetry Corner,” James said.

James said that one couldn’t ask for a more perfect location for an outdoor book festival than Hesperia Civic Plaza Park withits lovely grassy areas, paved sections and fountains. “We are so honored by this collaboration with Hesperia Recreation & Park District and the City of Hesperia.”

Other presenters include T.Faye Griffin and John Saunders, who will be traveling from his home in Australia especially for this book festival.

T.Faye Griffin is an award-winning Writer-Producer-Director who has put words into the mouths of Academy Award winners, comedians, politicians, and everyday folk alike. From A&E to BET to PBS, Griffin’s impressive credits include the landmark comedy series In Living Color.Griffin was a member of the faculty of the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop at the University of Dayton.

John Saunders’ recently published Amazon Bestselling book, One In Six,is the courageous story of healing broken hearts. It’s a compilation of 30 years of significant healing moments that taught John about his innate capacity to give and receive love and now help others do the same as a counselor. One In Sixis so much more than a story of overcoming childhood sexual abuse. It’s a story of manhood, of relationships, of awakening and of the commonality in our life’s journey.

“We hope to have other social service professionals share the panel with John to discuss the powerful healing nature of writing and memoir to overcome childhood trauma,” James said. “We feel honored that John chose our book festival to help expand his presence to U.S. audiences.”

The High Desert Book Festival has four literary agents involved with the October event, three of whom will give a presentation entitled, “How to Make an Effective Pitch to an Agent.”

Wordsmith Productions is offering writers the opportunity to submit a ten-page writing sample to one of the agents for a nominal fee detailed on its website. Writers will get personal feedback on the good, bad and in-between of their submissions during a one-on-one brief meeting at the book festival.

Committee member Mary DeSantis said, “There is a tendency now with so many people self-publishing to overlook the importance of securing a literary agent. When you send a carefully crafted pitch to agents, if they don’t choose to sign you, the only thing you get is an impersonal form letter saying, Sorry, this is not for us.’ Nothing beats meeting an agent face-to-face and establishing a rapport. You get to sell the whole you, which you can’t do in a letter or email.”

The agents taking part are Paul S. Levine of the Paul S. Levine Literary Agency, Carlie Webber of Fuse Literary, Annie Bomke of the Annie Bomke Literary Agency, and Steven Hutson of Wordwise Media.

“We’ve taken a page from a lot of writers’ conferences that now offer this literary agent critique as part of the conference,” James said. “We want to encourage writers to sign up early, because there will be a limited number of slots. It really is an incredible opportunity to get personal feedback on your writing. And it’s always possible that a writer could get signed as a client.”

The book festival website – www.highdesertbookfest.org– has links for exhibitor registration, volunteers, sponsors, and the literary critique submission. The speaker presentations are free, but will be ticketed through Eventbrite.com starting September 1, 2019.

“For us to make this book festival a destination event for San Bernardino County, we need the public’s support in so many ways,” James said.  High Desert Book Festival organizers can be contacted at hdbookfest@gmail.com.

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