Accomplishments

Gwendolyn Alley, Wine PredatorGwendolyn Alley, wine blogger: "English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge said the aesthetic is that which engages the whole soul. It's a mantra for Gwendolyn Alley, a former Ventura newspaper arts columnist who started her blog, Art Predator, in the mid 1990s and followed it up with Wine Predator. The writing coach, college instructor and "yogini cycling activist mama," blogs about everything from Uruguayan tannat to birthday bubbly at winepredator.wordpress.com." Excerpt from San Jose Mercury News.​

Tolstory in RiyadhChris Cryer, author of Tolstoy in Riyadh: "In 1982, Chris Cryer spent a year in Saudi Arabia, teaching English to women at King Saud University. Accompanied by her fourteen-year-old son, and a few books by and about Leo Tolstoy, Chris found a sense of connection where she least expected it. The fast-moving, slightly comic, always fascinating adventure pulls us directly into the journey. We come to respect and love the mother-son duo for their unprejudiced outlook and their cool-headed survival of matawas (moral police), strict laws, and customs. This book is one of very few based on true events, written from the inside out, that show the Arab side in the Islamic world, a place long held in mystery under the dark images of Western media. The author presents the Saudi culture at that time with a sensitivity to their need to preserve values and traditions in the face of modernity."

Iran: A Persian Tapestry coverKianoosh Motaref, author of Iran: A Persian Tapestry: "This novel takes you to the land of roses and nightingales, where the larger threads of Iranian history entwine with the characters' lives. The characters are threads within the tapestry woven in the book.  They face their own challenges, and yet, those challenges are shaped by the generations that have come before them and will pattern the lives of the generations that come after them. The four main characters are commoners whose lives are interwoven with threads very different from those of kings and queens of the past hundred years. The resulting tapestry intertwines four generations - Mitra; her mother, Iran; her grandmother, Shirin; and her great-grandmother, Zahara. Each chapter follows the daily lives of these women, illustrating how they were pulled between their religion, Islam, and the modernization dictated to them by their kings. Today, many children of Persia are scattered all around the globe. Even so, they keep her close to their hearts and yearn for a day when Persia will regain her past glory." 

S. Asher SundS. Asher Sund, blogger at Field Notes: S. Asher Sund’s work has been published in the Kenyon Review, Mississippi Review, Front Porch Journal, Fringe Magazine, Willow Springs, Clackamas Literary Review, and Briar Cliff Review, among many others. In 2005, he won the Marjorie J. Wilson Award, judged by Joyce Carol Oates. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart. He lives in Southern California where he writes and produces music with Andi Starr