By Heidi Simmons

The Coachella Valley is home to an incredible array of talented and interesting people!  

One way to meet some of these amazing folks is to attend the Desert Writers Expo, which is presented by the Palm Springs Writers Guild and held at the Rancho Mirage Library & Observatory’s Community Room. 

The Expo provides an opportunity for authors to share their work, talk to readers, sell and sign books.  This year marked the 7th Annual event and featured fiction, nonfiction, poetry, fantasy, cooking, travel, health, memoir and children’s books.



Finishing Strong: Strength Training for Old(er) Guys by Ron Marinella (Allamo, 262 pages), is an informative, well researched and organized book about getting into shape and maintaining health as an older person.  Though it’s directed towards men, women may find it useful.  The author includes references and helpful appendices.

New to the Expo, Brian Peyton Joyner debuted his novel The Wisdom of Stones (Goldenrule, 353 pages) about a boy who promised God and his grandmother that he’d be a Southern Baptist preacher, problem is he can’t pray away the gay.


Author David M. Hamlin returned to the Expo with Winter Gets Hot (Open Books, 290 pages) a sequel to his thriller Winter in Chicago.

Wall Street Journal Bestselling author J.D. Horn had his latest novel available The King of Bones and Ashes: The Witches of New Orleans (47North, 359 pages).  This is Horn’s seventh novel!  He has also published four collections of short stories.

Sonja & Carl by Suzanne Hillier (Brindle & Glass, 313 pages), is a love story, and The Troublemakers by Jenny Terrell (CreateSpace, 310 pages) about three nuns on the run to outfox their bishop.  Both are fun fiction.

Author C. Claire Lucka and her gal pals made the Expo a party while she shared her novel The Women of Saint Germain: Tour of Duty (CreateSpace, 300 pages) part one of a historical romance series.

Playwright and author Matt Cutugno’s The Godless Men (Stay Thirsty, 219 pages) tells the fictional story of two men who head West after the Civil War.

Kameleona by Judith Fabris (Sunacumen Press, 210 pages) is a novel that takes place on the island of Molokai and tells a story of transformation and redemption.

Written and illustrated by Rachel Druten, Paradise Found: The Adventures of Hazel Flick and Her Pesky Pup Fanny tells the story of a woman who leaves her “deadbeat family” and moves to Palm Springs.  Druten donates ten percent of every book to “Tools for Tomorrow,” a valley charity that helps school-age children.

Actor and author Michael Dante was back again this year with a new book Whitehawk’s Land (BearManor, 108 pages), a fictional sequel based on the film Whitehawk in which Dante played the title role.

Young adult author Elizabeth Jane Morgan was back at the Expo with her new book Silver Rose (452 pages) about a 16-year-old girl discovering a strange world and its secrets.

The prolific and charming Ariella Moon displayed her colorful array of teen and young adult medieval fantasy adventure novels; Fire Spell, third in the “Teen Wytche Saga” (Star Tribe, 305 pages) is set in the CV and Joshua Tree.


Author and entrepreneur Penny Farmer was busy at the Expo talking about two of her nonfiction books Playboy Laughs and Playboy Swings.  While each has playboy in the title, there are no centerfolds — although there are dozens of terrific photos.  Playboy Swings is a fascinating look at Hugh Hefner’s passion for music and his influence pertaining to jazz.

Returning author Cat Cohen, Chicken Soups From Around the World, had his new book Cat Tracks A Budget Train Travel Adventure: Insights and Images From California to New England

After 31 years of bringing in over 6,000 vessels from the Pacific Ocean, Crossing the Bar: The Adventures of a San Francisco Bay Bar Pilot by Captain Paul Lobo (Seahorse, 272 pages) is a fascinating professional memoir.

Playwright and theater director Andy Harmon’s book Change Journey: Voices of the Creative Quest (Actor’s Mind, 158 pages) writes about the challenges to live a truly creative life.

Author Renee Baribeau’s Winds of Spirit: Ancient Wisdom Tools for Navigating Relationships, Health and the Devine (Hay House, 249 pages) shares the beauty, spirit and power that is carried in the wind.

Self-help books included: Changeless Change by Carol Davis (84 pages) shares vignettes that can change lives from ordinary to extraordinary.  Author Elizabeth Schadrack returned with a new book for parents, Ask Thank and Praise: The Art of Communication (CreateSpace, 84 pages).


Ben Dinat: Authentic Family Recipes From the Island of Mallorca by Maria V. Sbert has pictures and directions to make delicious food and drinks that native islanders have been eating and drinking for centuries. 


There were nicely illustrated children’s books by Ruthie Darling: The Hole Story, Miranda the Panda and Mrs. Libra and Zoey Zebra, and Linda Sue Crosby The Adventures of Baylard Bear and Why is Pookie Stinky, part one of the “Silly Puppy Series.”


A lawyer turned poet, Nick Stone’s Fragments (Indie Authors, 59 pages) contains 60 poems about the sea, nature, family and life.

This year, the Palm Springs Writers Guild celebrates 40 years in the CV.  Forty locals participated in the Writers Expo.  Former teachers, healers, lawyers, actors, business tycoons and entrepreneurs have turned to writing to share their stories and wisdom. 

Check Amazon to purchase any of the books mentioned above.  And, next year, be sure to attend.