Author’s Showcase

Alani M’echel Weathers

Alani M'echel Weathers

My name is Cynthia Staten; however, in the performance and literary community my name is Alani M’echel Weathers. I am an actress, storyteller, and a writer. I am also a graduate of Lake Superior State University majoring in Communication with a minor in Public Relations and a second minor in Communication and Drama. In addition to pursuing my education, I help my mother raise my six nieces and nephews. My mother and I emphasize the importance of education and the importance of reading. My nieces and nephews are the major inspiration for the creation of The Horrible Huckleberry Hex authored under my pen name Alani M’echel Weathers.

As a child, when it came time for writing book reports, I found myself reading slave narratives and biographies from famous African Americans overcoming adversity. I wouldn't trade the knowledge and pride I received from these wonderfully written historic works for anything. Knowing one’s history and celebrating one’s heritage is a beautiful thing.

However, one of the most disappointing things for me as a child was looking for books to read that were full of adventure and mystical journeys that had characters that looked like me. I believe there is a great need for African Americans to create great literary works such as Harry Potter, The Spiderwick Chronicles, and The Bridge to Terabithia. I feel by creating fun and exciting literary adventures with ethnic main characters would not only help to increase literacy amongst minority children but would also help to cultivate the imaginations of all American children regardless of ethnic or cultural heritage. I cannot think of a more positive way to promote diversity than through the lighter side of education which is reading just for fun.

My story, The Horrible Huckleberry Hex, is a new, exciting, and spooky multicultural tale about an eleven year old named Jordan Davis. Jordan’s adventure begins when he and his family decide to go on a camping trip. During a nature walk, they discover a mysterious ancient oak tree that’s trunk is surrounded by giant mouth watering blueberries. It isn't long before Jordan soon discovers that the berries he and his family have been gobbling down are cursed and could lead to a dark fate more gruesome than any of them could ever imagine. The Horrible Huckleberry Hex also features some berry bone chilling blueberry recipes at the end of each chapter which encourages parents to get involved with their children and the story.

Laura Alexander

Laura Wood Alexander, Ed. D. is an educator, author, and presenter. She possesses over thirty years of experience working with children, parents, teachers, and administrators as a K-12 speech language therapist, and K-12 special education teacher, general education teacher, and administrator. Her experience also includes higher education teaching and administration. Laura’s diverse experience is highlighted with teaching in Ethiopia for eight years, traveling around the world, and participating in a visiting teacher program between Washington State and China.

Writing under her pen name, Dr. Wood, she published her first picture storybook, Ten Pretty Parrots; illustrated by Tim Haggerty, and will soon publish Sounds To Make Words; illustrated by Wooyeon Park. This noteworthy series of books address speech and language concepts. Her books are an enjoyable way for children to begin the reading process while learning to construct language. The picture stories also provide ways for children to build language skills by listening to the story and then participating in related activities presented at the end of the story. Her goal is to offer a fun way for readers of the books to communicate with young listeners.

Additionally, Laura gives presentations for parents and teachers entitled Was That A Positive Remark? The presentations draw attention to the effects of positive words in the lives of children and adults. Dr. Alexander can be reached through her company, Communication Services & Publications, 2750 New York Drive, Pasadena, California, 91107, by email or by calling 626-318-2416

Carolyn Lingenfelter

Carolyn Lingenfelter book cover

Minnesota author Sly Pepper believes reading should be fun and mentally aerobic; take the imagination out to play; stretch the what-if’s; jiggle the abs with a tickle of nonsense. Using children’s inherent fascination with fantasy and the hero’s tale, she has dressed up values, courage and motivation in the guise of an adventurous boy (Dugan Pickles) and sent him into unknown realms to face his fears and develop his character.

Dugan Pickles Through the Manhole, Dugan falls deep into the Earth where he meets many weird creatures and must use all his courage and personal resources to find his way home. Along the way he learns about deception, compassion and the real depth of friendship.

Dugan Pickles and the Keepers of the Crystal Flame takes Dugan in the opposite direction. The world is in a crisis. The Keepers of the Crystal Flame must uplight the grid around the Earth or the world will revert to the darkest of times. Dugan’s fall into a dimension of mystery and mischief lands him in the Domain of the Dragons. There he is tutored by a grand dragoness and given a dangerous mission into the lair of the hideous beasts who seek to stop the uplighting and seize control of the world. The flame of the dragons is strengthened by all the good thoughts and deeds of humans, while the Mortagons are thought-forms created by the collection of all the human evil and unkindness. To save the world, Dugan must first learn that how and what a person thinks shapes the individual’s life and life around them and he must then learn to control his own thoughts.

Amy Friedman

Amy Friedman head shot

Tell Me a Story writer Amy Friedman was born in Cleveland, Ohio, graduated from Barnard College and received an MA in Creative Writing from City College, New York, having had the great good fortune of studying with Donald Barthelme and Manuel Puig.

Amy worked in film production in New York and LA before moving to a sheep farm outside Kingston, Ontario where, for eight years, she wrote a weekly newspaper column, Hard Lines, in addition to serving as The Bedtime Story writer and editor for The Kingston Whig-Standard, Canada’s oldest daily newspaper. Her memoirs, Kick the Dog and Shoot the Cat, and Nothing Sacred: a Conversation with Feminism were published by Oberon Press in Canada. In addition Amy writes fiction and personal essays and has won several writing awards and published stories and articles in magazines, newspapers and journals across the US and Canada.

Amy also is a longtime teacher. She currently teaches writing the personal essay and creative nonfiction at UCLA Extension and The Memoir at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. After writing for and performing at several spoken word venues, Amy designed and teaches a course on how to write and perform spoken word.

You can learn more about Amy’s audio books by visiting Tell Me A Story.

Girard Sagmiller

Girard Sagmiller head shot

Girard, has traveled internationally as a consultant for a worldwide organization and moonlighted as a professional model for companies such as Levi Jeans and Anheuser-Busch Inc. He also offers classes through Universities, and contributes to other community services. Girard serves as board member for Kansas/Western Missouri Branch of Internal Dyslexia Association and President of the board and co-founder for The Gifted Learning Project both 501(c)3 organizations. He is also the co-founder of Cedar Ridge Financial an equipment financing company. In 2006 Sherri and Girard were selected for the FamilyFun magazine, Points of Light Foundation and Walt Disney Company's Outstanding Volunteer Award. Because of their commitment to helping the community, Cedar Ridge Financial donates 10% of their proceeds to approved non-profits.

Girard speaks on dyslexia and candidly about his struggles growing up and the negative perceptions people had of him. He explains how he overcame being told he was mentally incapable of functioning in school, to go on to achieve a Master's Degree in Business Administration.

He shares with the audience not only the deep personal pain of his life, but his own creative techniques and skills used to overcome this disability. He explains how he learned to live successfully as a dyslexic.

Girard understands learning hurdlers 1st hand, he is dyslexic and also the father of a child with a learning hurdle.

Girard's story will deeply touch you. It will remind you that everyone, whether having been diagnosed with a learning disability or not, can benefit from learning how to deal with the obstacles that threaten to hold them back in life.

Contact: Girard Sagmiller, DT Press, 816-803-4679, Email: