Stanislaus Reads and Writes

Stanislaus Reads and Writes image

In 2014, local authors collaborated to write a community novel, Ashes in a Teardrop. The novel begins when a young couple stumbles across an abandoned teardrop trailer during a weekend bike ride along the Tuolumne River. What follows is a suspenseful mystery set against the familiar landscape of Stanislaus County.

Author Biographies
Podcast on iTunes

Community novel cover art image Jasbinder Kaur Atwal, the winner of the Stanislaus Reads and Writes Cover Art Contest, was born and raised in England, in the southern part of London, where she discovered her passion for art. As a child, drawing became a favorite hobby, and soon she was taking every art class in school, and entering many art competitions. At the age of 19, Jasbinder moved to the United States. She is self-employed and attends Art Instruction Schools. After earning her art degree, she hopes to pursue her dream of becoming a great artist. She was motivated to enter the cover art contest in the hope that her love of drawing would translate into a picture that strongly represented the interesting plot of Ashes in a Teardrop. Since her artwork was selected as the cover art for the Community Novel, Jasbinder has been further inspired to become a professional artist. Jasbinder resides in Waterford with her husband and two sons.

Chapter 1
- Micheal Maxwell ---- Audio 1
Chapter 2 - Kent Johnson ------- Audio 2
Chapter 3 - Louise Kantro ------- Audio 3
Chapter 4 - R. Garrett Wilson --- Audio 4
Chapter 5 - Jennie Bass ---------  Audio 5
Chapter 6 - Alexandra Deabler - Audio 6
Chapter 7 - Julia Washington --- Audio 7
Chapter 8 - Dana Ardis ----------- Audio 8
Chapter 9 - Tally Scully ---------- Audio 9
Chapter 10 - Ellie Cummins ----- Audio 10
Chapter 11 - Doug Souza ------- Audio 11
Chapter 12 - Loretta Ichord----- Audio 12
Chapter 13 - Girish Parikh ------ Audio 13
Chapter 14 - Bridget Foster ---- Audio 14
Chapter 15 - Clyde Collard ----- Audio 15

Author Biographies

  • Micheal Maxwell - Chapter 1

    Michael Maxwell

    Micheal Maxwell was taught the beauty of the English language by Bob Dylan, Robertson Davies, Charles Dickens and Leonard Cohen.

    With family roots dating back to the 1880's in Stanislaus County, Mr. Maxwell was raised in Modesto. He attended Stanislaus Union School, Grace Davis High School, Modesto Jr. College and CSU Stanislaus, before receiving his Master's Degree from Chapman University in Orange, CA.

    Mr. Maxwell has traveled the globe, dined with politicians, rock stars and beggars. He's rubbed shoulders with priests and murderers, surgeons and drug dealers, each one giving him a part of themselves that live again in the pages of his books.

    The Cole Sage Mystery series is published on Amazon Kindle. He's also the author of Three Nails, and is included in the Mystery/Thriller Anthology, Eight the Hard Way, published in the UK.

    Micheal Maxwell lives in Modesto, California with his lovely wife of thirty-seven years.

  • Kent Johnson - Chapter 2

    Kent Johnson photo Kent L Johnson holds a BS in Biology, one patent and worked in the agricultural sciences for over twenty years. Kent, at one time a road warrior, traveled all over the world and numerous places in North America where he managed to see distinct cultures first hand, eat and drink, and drink some more from expense reports that mirrored fine fiction in their ability to deliver a theme capable of full reimbursement. Life happens, divorce happens and he currently writes in Modesto, California. Kent's completed three novels, all in the editing stage, and many published short stories. If his Internet site is up to date you can read some of his work and see what he's been up to.

  • Louise Kantro - Chapter 3

    Louise Kantro photo Louise Kantro, who retired from teaching English at Modesto High School in 2012, received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in 2003. Since then, she has published poetry in Quercus Review, Song of the San Joaquin, and Poet's Corner, and was featured in the regional poetry anthology, more than soil more than sky. Her short stories, creative nonfiction, and poems have been published in journals from all over the country such as the new renaissance, South Loop Review, Oasis, Literary Mama, and Peralta Press. Recently she became a member of the National League of American Pen Women, through which she has met many talented local writers and artists. She and her husband raised their two sons in Modesto. She enjoys playing bridge, going to movies and plays, reading, "games days" with her family, and weekend breakfasts out with her husband of more than forty years.

  • R. Garrett Wilson - Chapter 4

    R Garrett Wilson photo

    R. Garrett Wilson was born and raised in California's Central Valley. He has a Masters of Software Engineering from Penn State University and currently works as a programmer/analyst. Garrett enjoys reading, writing, photography, and woodworking, and belongs to the Fresno Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer's critique group. Some of his stories have been published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact and FSFW's 2010 anthology, I Dreamed a Crooked Dream. When Garrett was younger, he was president of the Literary Club at Turlock High School and had poems published in two volumes of the THS Literary Annual.

  • Jennie Bass - Chapter 5

    Jennie Bass photo

    Jennie Bass was born and raised in Modesto, California, where she has spent all but five years of her life. Although she teaches high school math, and enjoys both her job and her students, she has a deep appreciation for the written word. Her husband of twelve years sighs whenever she nears a bookstore, knowing that she will always purchase more than she had intended. In addition to her two daughters, each with personality to spare, and her husband, she lives with an assortment of dogs, cats, and chickens (the latter of which live outside!). Jennie is a First Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo and and has no intention of stopping there. She also enjoys the outdoors, working in her yard, rocks, singing, and purchasing time shares she doesn't need with her husband. She has published one book, a contemporary romance titled Year of the Dog, under the pseudonym Kat Madigan.

  • Alexandra Deabler - Chapter 6

    Alexandra Deabler photo Alexandra Deabler is an aspiring freelancer writer currently working at The Modesto Bee newspaper. She recently moved back to the Modesto-area after living in Boston for a year where she survived a hurricane, a blizzard, and a bombing.

    She graduated from the University of California, Davis in 2011 with a BA in English literature. In college, she made the Dean's List and had an essay she had written on King Lear selected to be presented at an annual Shakespeare event.

    In her spare time, Alexandra practices yoga and plans to become a yoga instructor. She enjoys traveling and has visited five of the seven continents. She also likes spending time with her neurotic cat, Francis.

    She writes short stories and comedic personal essays for her blog, This is her first collaborative novel writing experience.

    She is told she owes all her talent to her "adoring parents and loving sister."

  • Julia Washington - Chapter 7

    Julia Washington photo

    Julia Washington is a Modesto native currently working on a Bachelor's Degree in Creative Writing with a concentration in Fiction at Southern New Hampshire University. By day she works as a Director of Volunteer Services for the Area Agency on Aging. Always looking for ways to feed her creative soul, she has assisted in projects with You're Us, Sankofa Theatre Company and now the Stanislaus Reads and Writes Community Novel. An avid blogger, Julia is eager to finish her education so she can devote more time to her blog She has never been professionally published though her writing experience includes agency newsletters and brochure development. When she's not parenting, reading, working, studying, blogging, or organizing little league, she is cheering on the boys in orange and black ... Go Giants!

  • Dana Ardis - Chapter 8

    Dana Ardis photo

    Dana Ardis never goes anywhere without a book and a pen. She grew up reading a generous mix of literary classics, science fiction, and fantasy. This has probably done something irreparable to her brain. She's been to eight countries on three continents and keeps track of such things on a map in her art studio. She currently works at the Stanislaus County Free Library in Modesto, surrounded by books. It's a perfect fit. Find her on Twitter @zooluki.

  • Tally Scully - Chapter 9

    Tally Scully image

    Tally Scully of Modesto loves to share her love for nature and all of its creatures and plants with others in her community. Tally has spent the last decade working in high-end California nurseries. Tally has been a member of the Modesto Garden Club since 2010, serving as Director of Internet. Through CA garden clubs' civic initiatives, Tally has successfully run two elementary school garden programs. In addition, she also volunteers with the First Tee of the Central Valley.

    Bringing her Liberal Arts degree from the University of Mississippi full circle, Tally can now add author to her list of accomplishments. Tally recently co-penned Houdini and the Magic Molt, an educational children's garden adventure story, with her niece that was illustrated by her mother. She is enjoying sharing the story with elementary school students through presentations. In her spare time, Tally loves to boat, garden, and hike with her husband Mike Scully.

  • Ellie Cummins - Chapter 10

    Ellie Cummins photo

    Ellie Cummins, a writer of fantasy fiction and paranormal romance has been obsessed with anything that makes her heart flutter. From vampires and monsters to regular humans--she loves to write about extraordinary beings that bring a level of something good, even though the odds are stacked against them. Born and raised in Modesto California she spent her summers climbing trees and chasing adventures, be it a rock concert, a hike through desert trails, or taking in the latest thriller. Having her breath snatched away by an unexpected twist has always been her favorite thing and that's what prompted her to start writing her own stories. She is currently signed with Keith Publications awaiting the release of three books and can hardly wait to set her characters free inside the minds of those who read about them.

  • Doug C. Souza - Chapter 11

    Doug Souza photo

    Doug C. Souza has always had a love for the art of storytelling. His favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, but he enjoys a good yarn of any variety. His story “Mountain Screamers” will be published in “Asimov’s Science Fiction” magazine this summer. Other works have appeared in numerous anthologies and ezines. As a member of the local writers’ Meetup group, he helps aspiring writers find their voice (and possibly a paycheck) for their work. The talent hidden within the Central Valley continues to amaze him. Doug C. Souza teaches fourth grade in Modesto, California where he lives with his wonderful wife (and main reader/editor) Nicole. You can find him at

  • Loretta Ichord - Chapter 12

    Loretta Ichord photo

    Loretta Frances Ichord has five published non-fiction middle-grade books with Millbrook Press/Lerner Publishing. Four are in a series called, COOKING THROUGH TIME: A history of American food from colonial times to the present. The fifth book is TOOTHWORMS AND SPIDER JUICE: A history of dentistry for kids. Two of these books were placed on the list of Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People. She has also written numerous articles and essays for newspapers and magazines.

  • Girish Parikh - Chapter 13

    Girish Parikh photo

    Girish Parikh is an award-winning author and journalist based in Modesto, California. He writes prose and poetry in both English and his mother tongue Gujarati(the language of Gandhi.)

    His latest printed book in English is THE DAY OF GLOOM AND GLORY! (available from the company ). The Kindle e-book is titled SEPTEMBER 11: THE DATE OF GLOOM AND GLORY! and is available from ).

    Inspired by Richard Attenborough's film GANDHI, Girish has written a 200-page screenplay for the world class epic dramatic period feature feature film VIVEKANANDA. He is now searching for a filmmaker to create the film in both English and Hindi.

    He is author of several books including seven on computer software.

    Pronounce the 'Gi' like the 'gi' in 'give,' and 'rish' should rhyme with 'wish.' Speak 'Pa' like 'pe' in 'pearl,' 'ri' like 'ri' in 'ritual,' and 'kh' like 'kh' in 'Ekhart' or 'sikh.'

  • Bridget Foster - Chapter 14

    Bridget Foster photo

    Bridget Foster was a columnist for ten years, has contributed numerous articles to education publications, was editor of a reference collection of online resources for H. W. Wilson and has just completed her first novel, a mystery set in a northern California ranching community. A former teacher and administrator, she now works in the education technology industry with companies in the US and Europe. She resides in Knights Ferry and spends her free time at home on the ranch with her family and numerous horses, dogs, and cats.

  • Clyde V. Collard - Chapter 15

    Clyde Collard photo

    Clyde V. Collard, a native Californian and graduate of Livingston High School experienced a wide variety of industrial and scientific occupations in his youth, employed mainly in quality control and experimental laboratories. He spent 9 years with Kaiser Permanente Cement and Kaiser Aluminum, and 12 years exploring the affects of water chemistry on metal for the Chemical Engineering Division of General Electric's Atomic Power Equipment Department. He received two degrees from San Jose State University before earning his doctorate in sociology from Louisiana State University. He spent 30 years in education and was a professor at California State University, Stanislaus for 20 of those years. He was the Chair of the Department of Sociology before retiring in 1998. As an academician he wrote and published in his chosen field for many years before turning his literary skills to the realm of fiction. He has published 4 books.