Linda Weber, President
(Bio to come)
Donald Riggio, Vice President
Originally from The Bronx, New York, now residing in Las Vegas, Donald has long been a fan of rock and roll music, especially the songs of the first decade of rock and roll, the 1950’s & 60’s. In 2007 he testified before the Nevada State Legislature alongside music luminaries including, Jon “Bowzer” Bauman of Sha Na Na, Sonny Turner of The Platters and Mary Wilson of the Supremes for the successful passage of the Truth in Music Bill, which protects original members of performing groups and their fans from fraudulent imposter acts. He is the published author of fiction and non-fiction works on both the local and national scene. Donald is the author of a series of rock and roll novels chronicling the evolution of the genre: Seven-Inch Vinyl (1953-1969), Beyond Vinyl (1969-1986). Both books were Kindle #1 best sellers in the music category. He is currently working on the third book in the series: When Gold Turns to Gray (1986-2002) is set for publication December 2015. Donald is the Vice-President of the Henderson Writer’s Group.
Darrah Whitaker, Treasurer
Darrah Whitaker has written five screenplays, one which was produced and another optioned. His short stories have been published in the Writers Bloc III, IV, and V anthologies. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers as well as the Henderson Writers Group in Las Vegas, Nevada, serving on its Board of Directors. His first novel, My Life as a Sperm, takes on notions of God and destiny in a most unusual way. He lives in Las Vegas where, despite the myriad temptations, he still finds time to write.
Audrey Balzart, Secretary
Audrey Balzart, a retired Air Force communications planner, writes YA, science fiction, and fantasy under her maiden name — A.L. Campbell. Her sci-fi short story, The Selection, is published in HWG’s own Writer’s Bloc III. The Round Up, a fantasy short story can be found in Nightfall Publications’ A World of Their Own. She is currently working on The Gift of Ancestors, her first novel in the young adult AJ Silver MisAdventure series.
Paul Atreides, Publicity Chair
Paul Atreides is an author and playwright. He has an extensive 30+-year background in theatre and has written for a variety of periodicals, penned a monthly theatre column for Las Vegas Night Beat, has been a guest columnist and is currently a theatre critic for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Davenport Theatrical of New York City described his first play, Phallusies, as “very clever, funny, and meaningful.” It opened to good reviews and garnered Pick of the Week by Las Vegas City Life. New York City’s 9-11 Museum collections team described his ten-minute play, Fusion, as “a very powerful piece that is indeed thought-provoking and magnificently written,” and it has been posted to their website Artist’s Portfolios in written form until it can be filmed for future exhibition. His debut novel, (Marvin’s) World of Deadheads, which advanced to the semi-finals of the Amazon Breakout Novel Award contest, is now available in both print and Kindle editions on Amazon.com. His short stories have been published in various anthologies and a tiny collection, 5:4:99, has been published exclusively for Kindle. He is currently working on Sins of the Fathers, a new drama for the stage, a novel about domestic violence titled Monster in the Shadows, a collection of short stories about the human condition titled Voices From the Dead, and a World of Deadheads sequel. For more information and to follow his blog, log onto his website.
Jenny Ballif, Conference Coordinator
Jenny Ballif has worked as a molecular biologist and a wild land firefighter, and at several jobs that fall in-between wearing a lab coat and wielding a chainsaw. She is known to a lot of folks as “Science Mom,” the YouTuber who makes educational videos and Science Mom Guides—pocket sized coloring books that you can fold from a single piece of paper.
Tonya Todd, Education Chair
Tonya Todd is an author, actress, and Sin City cinephile whose sundry background ranges from content writer to software programmer to booth babe. With a cast of characters as diverse as her career, her fiction explores the infinite hues of what drives us all: relationships and desires.
In addition to serving as Education Chair for the Henderson Writers’ Group, Tonya coordinates their Dime Grinds program, which exposes local authors to the public via coffee house readings. Her short story “Mourning Sacrifice” is featured in Tales from the Silver State IV.
Inspired by the lack of diversity in literature, Tonya’s stories renounce quirky goth girls, trite naive virgins, and reluctant patrician heroes to transcend beyond black or white, good and evil, love or hate. As a reader, she’s yet to discover a satisfying narrative of mixed race characters or interracial couples; as an author, she aims to change that.
Amanda Skenandore, Grant Writer
Amanda Skenandore is an infection prevention nurse and a writer. Her short fiction “Proving Ground” appears in Writer’s Bloc IV (2012) under the pen name A. R. Shenandoah. She writes fantasy and historical fiction and has completed two novels. A native of Colorado, she enjoys travel, being outdoors, and the sleuth-work of research—both for her novels and her own family history. Her favorite author is Zora Neale Hurston.
Arleen Sirois, Membership Development
Arleen Sirois has been a private investigator (NV license 1299) in the Las Vegas area for over 20 years. A former tax fraud investigative aide with the I.R.S. Criminal Investigation Division and former federal investigator with Office of Personnel Management, Office of Federal Investigations (whew!), she writes, and is asked to speak, about her experiences. “The secret to my success as an investigator is that I don’t look the part.”
A proud French Acadian, she was born and raised in the St. John Valley in the small border town of Madawaska, Maine. Her account of the plight of the Acadians, Recalling when Grand-pere explained our Acadian Story, was published in the St. John Valley Times in 2015.
Arleen is a member of the Nevada Society of Professional Investigators, the Rotary Club of Las Vegas, and the Henderson Writers’ Group. Her Psychology degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas has been immensely useful in her career. In 2015, Max & Buddy’s Halloween was published in Spooky Story Night, Volume II, an anthology of Flash Fiction. The illustrated account was later released separately for children.
She lives in Henderson, NV with her husband, Michael Gagnon, and Belle Marie, an ailing Llasa Apso rescue who never fails to brighten their home.
Deb Dorchak, Webmaster
Deb lives in Las Vegas, with Pete the human and the Las Vegas Cat Boys 2.0—Lakota, a Pixie Bob and Tiger, a Lynx Point Siamese.
Deb runs a design and coaching business, Blue Sun Studio, with her friend, business partner and co-author since 2010, Wendi Kelly. In addition to website and book design, all things technical, and mentoring budding authors, Deb has written two paranormal series (seven books and counting), Bonds of Blood & Spirit and Tau’s Pride, and is penning a solo project in the same universe, Benediction.