Carol J. Amato is a writer, editor, and small business writing coach and mentor. As a writer she has published twenty-six books, over 175 articles, and two short stories. She has written software user manuals, training guides, policy and procedure manuals, marketing materials, and general business documents for software development firms, banks, aerospace, and commercial industry.
Her editorial experience includes twelve books, two book series, and numerous articles, and she has served as editor for two magazines and several newsletters. She is a guest lecturer, has given many papers at conferences, and has appeared on television and radio shows.
Ms. Amato conducts communications training seminars in the corporate world and train-the-trainer and APA seminars in the academic arena. An adjunct faculty member of the University of Phoenix (Online and Southern California Campuses), where she teaches communications classes, Ms. Amato served as the Area Chair of Communications for the Online Campus. She served as the Area Chair of Communications at the San Diego Campus from 1990-1994. In addition, she has taught at the junior high and high school levels, both in the United States and England.
Ms. Amato has a B.A. in Spanish and French from the University of Portland in Portland, Oregon, and an M.A. in Environmental Anthropology from California State University, Fullerton, California. She is a past president of the Professional Writers of Orange County and a board member of the Writer's Club of Whittier, a professional writers' critique group. She was a board member of the Orange County Section of the Independent Writers of Southern California from 1988-1993. She is listed in Who's Who in America, Who’s Who of American Women, Who's Who in the West, Who's Who in Orange County, and the World Who's Who of Women.
Nickolae Gerstner began her freelance career writing stories for love magazines. She says, “Their typical reader has to be emotionally captured in the first paragraph, and writing for that market was an invaluable experience.”
She enjoys doing research and writes nonfiction features on a wide variety of topics for newspapers and magazines. Accepting an invitation to teach, she designed writing classes for adult schools, and several of her students have become published writers.
As a staff writer for Los Angeles County, she handled a great variety of assignments and had extensive contact with the general public. Her first books were historical novels, and she intended to continue in that genre. Then she attended a writers’ conference with Barbara Pronin. After they heard Mary Higgins Clark give the keynote address, they played with the idea of writing a mystery together. Their book, Finders Keepers, was born on the ride home from the conference. It became a best seller and, as a Reader’s Digest condensed book, was distributed all over the world. Nickolae’s next book, Dark Veil, a mystery about a clock dealer, was born when she flew to England seated next to the clock dealer who talked clocks all across the Atlantic.
A native Chicagoan, she graduated from the University of Illinois. She and her husband, John, divide their time between homes in California and New York.
BBH McChiller is the pseudonym for three Southern California writers:
Lynn Kelley worked as a court reporter for 25 years. She is the author of the picture book, Merry as a Cricket (WhipperSnapper Books). Her story, “The Jobo Tree” won her Highlights For Children’s Author of the Month award. She has written for the Highland Community News and is currently working on a Young Adult novel. She’s a big scaredy cat and is afraid to watch horror movies.
Kathryn Sant is a retired Obstetrician who has witnessed the births of thousands of future readers. She has published a middle-grade novel, Desert Chase (Scholastic), and written for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s newsletter. She is currently working on another middle-grade boys’ adventure novel. Her interest in genealogy has led to a love of world travel.
Maria Toth has a background in journalism. Her work, including children’s stories, has appeared in The Los Angeles Times and the San Bernardino Sun. She is a Reading Buddy at local schools and has appeared on Storytime, a children’s television program. Her novel Butterfly Hollow is scheduled for release in 2013. Her favorite holiday is Halloween. She enjoys ghostly tales and reading epitaphs at historic graveyards
Gretchen McMasters grew up in South Carolina, and she spent a lot of time outside. “My dad really loved to be outdoors,” said Gretchen. “He taught me to swim, fish, hunt, water ski, ride motorcycles, hang glide and do other things that girls just didn’t do back then.”
In elementary school, Gretchen struggled to read. Her mother took her to the public library. There, she discovered the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. A huge horse lover, Gretchen devoured all of Farley’s books. Suddenly, she was reading everything in sight. By the time she reached the sixth grade, she was a good reader.
Words were a big thing around Gretchen’s house. Her father was self-educated, and he had a voracious appetite for knowledge. “If Dad heard a word that he didn’t know, he would trot to the bookcase and pull the dictionary off the shelf. I remember watching his long fingers turn the pages as he searched for the word. Then with eyes gleaming, he would read the definition out loud.”
When Gretchen was in the sixth grade, her teacher, Mrs. Mabry, put a sign over the blackboard that quoted Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Gretchen looked at the sign every morning. The words stuck. “I still remember that sign. I never forgot the words, and I’m proud to say that I learned to apply them.”
Gretchen wasn’t always a writer. She’s done many things over the years. She started and ran her own businesses, helped other people start and run their businesses, worked in TV production and high-tech, trained people to do their jobs better, taught school and finally became a published author.
Gretchen became Aesock’s mother when he dropped in from Static Island for a visit…and stayed! The little fellow explained who he was and then returned several dozen pairs of odd socks that had gone missing over the years. Once his mission was accomplished, he found a comfortable spot in the living room where he now sits except when he’s helping Gretchen write.
“Actually, Aesock does all the writing. I just type,” said Gretchen. “He’s really committed to helping kids and adults learn that all things ARE possible to those who believe.”
Gretchen loves to read, travel, write, talk to kids, and share time with her cat, Hollis. She now lives in sunny Southern California.
Thomas Midgley IV is not a chemist nor is he an engineer. He admits to having a lot of wonderful people help him put together From the Periodic Table to Production: The Life of Thomas Midgley, Jr., the Inventor of Ethyl Gasoline and Freon Refrigerants. This book, the life story of his grandfather and namesake, was a project upon which he embarked simply because he felt strongly that this story should be told.
Midgley IV was born in Columbus, Ohio, when his father was a freshman at Cornell University’s School of Engineering. He spent his first four years in Ithaca, New York, and upon his father’s graduation from Cornell, lived in Birmingham, Michigan, and Hartford, Connecticut, before moving to California at the beginning of World War II.
He attended the Chadwick School in Rolling Hills, California, as a boarding student from 1944-1954 and graduated from the University of Oregon’s School of Business Administration in 1958 with a double major in business and economics. He competed as a sprinter on both his high school and college teams and ran the 100-yard dash in the world-class time of 9.7 seconds, which, at the time, was 4/10ths of a second off the world record.
Following college, he served as a Naval officer and a stockbroker prior to pursuing a 25-year career in advertising sales, from which he retired in 1997 as Executive Vice-President of his advertising firm. Since his retirement, he has become a single-digit handicapper on the golf course, which he jokes is fine for someone on Medicare.
He has been married to the same lovely lady, Sandy, for 39 years; they have three children and three grandchildren. He loves pointing out that Sandy has devoted over 30 years to raising scholarship funds for students in engineering, science, and medicine and is held in high esteem by all of the universities in Southern California that she has supported.
Sandra Suran is a broadly experienced, highly accomplished Change Management and Implementation Consultant. As a former CPA auditor/business advisor, current consultant and active Board member, she has worked with executives to accomplish change in hundreds of private companies, not-for-profit organizations and governmental agencies.
Sandra takes on a wide variety of projects, including complex and difficult ones, moving them forward when the organization and other consultants are stalled. Whether she’s working with a billion dollar construction project, a monastery, or a complex international professional association, her integration of the people dynamics with all the other resources and systems creates major changes that last far beyond Sandra’s involvement.
No other consultant on the West Coast accomplishes what Sandra does — show organizations how to implement changes that last and plan for growth that sustains itself. Sandra’s reputation extends beyond Oregon: she has been asked to go to New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., numerous times to help with nationwide change initiatives.
From her earliest years in Guyana, where her father was an Air Force finance officer, to her career experience with hundreds of organizations, Sandra learned about people. She learned about adaptability and leadership, both personally and professionally. She learned what enabled some organizations to face challenges with courage and grow while others, confronted with similar challenges, reacted with fear or denial and stalled into mediocrity or died.
Sandra’s education in making organizations profitable began early. In high school and college, she worked for her father, then a successful savings and loan turn-around executive. She attended his Board of Directors and business association meetings, learned his technical finance strategies, and observed his people skills in personnel team building and customer service.
Sandra now lives in Portland, Oregon, where she consults, sits on numerous boards and task forces and enjoys the symphony, hiking and cooking for friends.
Diane Weklar has been igniting business growth and profits for 25 years, in the corporate and consulting arenas, as well as a serial entrepreneur across a wide variety of industry groups. Diane is the author of: Mastering the Money Maze: 10 Secrets to Winning Business Financing, which provides practical insight for business owners and managers who need to raise capital.
With this unique combination of industry insight, her forte is synchronizing strategic goals with business functional areas, including management, marketing, finance, IT, and service delivery, to achieve peak performance. She is adept at identifying and pursuing aggressive growth opportunities in both strong and weak economic markets.
In addition to consulting to a broad base of established companies, Diane’s background includes launching ventures which provide eGovernment solutions to local government entities, a web-based portal providing recruitment services to businesses, an advocacy group providing large energy users a voice in developing issues addressing the market rules for electricity, as well as, co-founding the first company to provide corporate marketing solutions and management tools to the legal industry.
Diane is President of the Weklar Consulting Group, an international consulting firm, and CEO of the Weklar Business Institute, which provides training and coaching on a variety of services to businesses, including strategic execution, performance optimization, integrated marketing solutions and obtaining capital.
She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Redlands. A sought-after advisor, she has lectured and written extensively for many organizations. A true teacher, she uses real-life examples and cutting-edge research to provide innovative, step-by-step methods for success through her presentations, training programs, and books. Diane has an MBA in Finance and Marketing and a B.A. in Economics.