Chandler authors gather today for showcase, festival - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler authors gather today for showcase, festival

June 3rd, 2019 development
Chandler authors gather today for showcase, festival

By Coty Dolores Miranda

There’s a myriad of things to do, local wordsmiths to meet, and a diverse set of stories to hear at the KJZZ Arizona StoryFest & Authors Showcase today, June 1, at the Mesa Convention Center.

Except for the optional $10 ticket to the Main Storyteller Stage, everything is free of charge.

This event, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., has something for all ages beginning with the interactive and entertaining Children’s Storytelling Stage co-sponsored with the South Mountain Community College’s Storytelling Institute to the Author’s Workshop co-sponsored by the Arizona State University Piper Center.

Five Chandler authors will be among a number of writers from across the state to talk about their books that range from illustrated children’s books to novels to inspirational and self-help tomes.

StoryFest & Authors Showcase is a community-service fundraising event with proceeds benefiting Sun Sounds of Arizona that provides audio access to print publications for those unable to read print due to disabilities.

This is the third StoryFest sponsored by KJZZ and their second Authors Showcase. KJZZ is a listener-supported public radio station, and NPR member station for the region.

Besides having their own booth showcases, some of the 80 authors will present readings of their work at the Authors Reading Stage from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Award-winning teacher and author Sandra Marinella of Chandler has not only written ‘The Story You Need to Tell’ but encourages others to write — even if it is only in their own personal journals.

Although she began personal writing at age 9 when her father presented her with a journal, and continued in the writing field as both a high school and college writing teacher, it was a 2012 bout with breast cancer that focused her work on writing as a form of healing and personal growth.

She said she’d seen the power of writing in classrooms and this inspired her desire to “take it to populations who would need it most.”

She began volunteering with cancer patients and veterans, helping them to write and transform their personal narratives.

It was while researching her book that Marinella founded The Story You Need to Tell Project. Through this project, Marinella conducts workshops at hospitals and community venues locally and nationwide.

Another Chandler author, speaker and “hope coach” Evangeline Colbert, will feature her newest book, co-authored with Angela Williams, “Borrowed Hope,” which revisits infertility struggles as did her first book, “A Seed of Hope: God’s Promises of Fertility” that was drawn from Colbert’s personal experience.

Her second book, “Live to Win!” that offers “five essential and practical strategies” to better lives will also be available for perusal and purchase.

The former Hughes Helicopters and Motorola engineer, and mother of three, is also a featured author in the devotional, “If I Can Do All Things, Why Can’t I Find My Car Keys?”

She said she and Williams, a Chandler resident for four years, have appeared at other author showcases including the Tucson Festival of Books. They’re encouraging attendance for this Saturday’s free event.

“We’re inviting others to come so that they can discover great books that they may not easily find in local or online bookstores,” said Colbert, an 18-year Chandler resident.

“So many times, we as authors write wonderful content but just don’t get the exposure to our ideal reader,” she added. “Hopefully, this event will give readers the opportunity to connect with their ideal author.”

Children’s authors are also well-represented at the KJZZ Arizona StoryFest & Authors Showcase.

Nan C. Cataldi of Chandler has authored three books;  her first, “Rafie the Rattlesnake, Come Home!” was a well-received illustrated book for young children.

Her her last two books, “The Lost Key of Being” and “The Hidden Portal to Wren,” are fantasy chapter books recommended for the 7 – 12 set, but certainly appreciated by those older.

The two, the start of her “Keys of Being” trilogy, were prompted by her son whom Cataldi raised with his sister as a single mother.

“The story itself is a fantasy, based on the timeless fight of good vs. evil.  The focal point of the story is around the delicate balance of Mother Nature, which inspired me to write this series,” she explained.

The Blueberry Bear series by Chandler’s Eileen Pieczonka currently offers two books: “Blueberry Bear” and “Blueberry Bear – A Furry Friends Tale.”

Based on her dog, Jamie, a rescue dog who she’d nicknamed Blueberry Bear and who died in 2018, her books were kind of therapy.

She said she hadn’t thought of writing until she adopted Jamie. After training, the two went to area libraries as a “reading therapy team” to promote literature.

“Seeing how Jamie encouraged children to read inspired me to write,” said Pieczonka, admitting the process for her wasn’t an easy one. “This is my first time attending KJZZ’s Storytime — I’ll also be reading my books at the event.”

Kathy Peach is also a children’s book writer, a dream she harbored before moving to Chandler a decade ago with her husband, Bobby.

She not only accomplished that goal with the publication of her first book, “The Tiniest Tumbleweed,” but also realized her dream of graduating from college — in this case ASU’s Barrett, the Honors College.

She had enjoyed successful careers in banking and project management, but the desire to write a children’s book helping children “believe in a life with limitless possibilities” had been a long-held desire.

“I was studying Albert Bandura’s work in self-efficacy through Barrett, the Honors College at ASU and needed a project to graduate. So, one day, I said to myself, ‘Girl, here’s the opportunity to write your story AND graduate Barrett,” she chuckled. “I will forever be grateful to Barrett for the venue to write the book.”

The title subject grew from Arizona experiences she had: one, teaching a boy in a Chandler Sunday School who was “particularly small for his age”; and then, after moving to Arizona from Tennessee, her first sighting of a tumbleweed as she drove the freeway.

Free admission and parking is available for Saturday’s 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. event which is held in Building C of the Mesa Convention Center, 201 North Center Street. Tickets for the main stage are $10 and can be purchased online.

“StoryFest and Author’s Showcase is a unique opportunity to celebrate the art of stories,” said Linda Pastori, general manager of KJZZ/K-BACH Development, Sun Sounds of Arizona and SPOT 127 Youth Media Center.

“We are delighted to support local authors and storytellers because it aligns perfectly with the interests of our public radio audiences,” Pastori said. “We hope our community will come out and enjoy the day.”

The MCC allows no outside food or drink, including water bottles. Baby bags with bottles or sippy cups are acceptable said organizers.

Arizona StoryFest & Authors Showcase is presented by public radio station KJZZ. Both Sun Sounds and KJZZ are part of the Division of Public Service of Rio Salado College, one of the Maricopa Community Colleges.