General Nonfiction

Weilert, Benjamin

Birth City: 
Fort Collins
Birth State: 
CO
Current Location: 
Colorado Springs, CO
Occupation(s): 
Missile Defense - Civil Service
Biography: 

14er Climber, Rocket Scientist, Published Novelist, Movie Connoisseur, and Amateur Photographer, Benjamin M. Weilert was born in Colorado in 1985.

While he went to school for Mechanical Engineering (eventually earning a Master’s Degree), he has found science to be interesting enough to write fiction about it. He likes to classify his novels as “science fantasy,” wherein the science is real and (semi) accurate, but portrayed in a fantasy setting to make it accessible to non scientific readers. If you want stories that are surreptitiously educational, he’s your man.

He currently lives in Colorado Springs and his most recent book is Fourteener Father, a memoir of climbing all of Colorado's 14,000-foot mountains with his dad.

Education/Training: 
"Creative Fiction Writing" course at the Colorado School of Mines
Organizations: 
The Midnight Writers - National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), municipal liaison for the Colorado Springs region
Speaker Availability: 
Yes
Speaker Topics: 
Self-publishing (writing, editing, formatting, cover design, etc.) - National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) - Submitting to short story anthologies

Kimbrell, Judith

Kimbrell, Judith
Birth City: 
Princeton
Birth State: 
NJ
Current Location: 
Colorado Springs, CO
Occupation(s): 
Photographer - Author
Biography: 

Judith has specialized in capturing breathtaking scenic and nature images for over 20 years. She shares her vast knowledge through private and group photo tours of Garden of the Gods as well as other Colorado locations. You can also join her for photographic seminars and workshops. Visit her website to view portfolio images, fine art prints and see free instructional videos at www.mothernaturephotography.com.

Judith says, "Showing up at a location and photographing nature by literally recording the moment is different from capturing nature as an artist feels it should be viewed; using light, weather, equipment, and an artistic interpretation to show Mother Nature’s beauty and power. Both methods are useful in photography, but each has a distinct time and place. My goal is always to make each image intentional, represent my artistic vision, and create a piece of art that will be loved for a lifetime.

I have spent the majority of my life in Colorado Springs, moving here as a child. I remember my joy while climbing on the rocks of Garden of the Gods early in my life. Though I moved to Michigan for ten years, Colorado always echoed in my heart. Now that I have returned to “The Springs,” I often frequent Garden of the Gods, spending much time hiking and photographing this breathtaking open space with my loving husband and children."

Education/Training: 
Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art, Hillsdale College - Addition studies in photography at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI - Staff Photographer for R.J. Michael's, Inc. (an advertising agency in Jackson, MI) - Studio Manager and Second Shooter for Don Jones Photography (a commercial photography studio in Colorado Springs, CO) - Twelve years as both an art and photography faculty member and head of the Professional Photography department at Pikes Peak Community College.
Speaker Availability: 
Yes
Speaker Topics: 
General landscape and nature photography tips and techniques - Best practices to learn and study photography, and start a photography business - Local landmarks and parks including: photography site favorite locations around the city and tips to make amazing photos in each place; the history of Garden of the Gods; issues pertaining to the preservation of the land and wildlife.

Walton, Vikki

Birth City: 
Colorado Springs
Birth State: 
CO
Current Location: 
Colorado Springs, CO
Occupation(s): 
Author - Designer - Nonprofit Consultant - Speaker/Trainer - #workquilter
Biography: 

I have lived in Colorado Springs for the last seventeen years. I was born in Chicago, later moved to France (father in the military), returned and moved to Kansas before spending most of my time in Texas (San Antonio area). I have held myriad positions in my life. I like to undertake more than one thing at a time, thus I refer to myself as a #workquilter combining various avenues of income. These include:
-Author of nonfiction and fiction.
-Certified permaculture designer and previously worked as a registered interior designer.
-Suburban Homesteader (have gardens, chickens, bees).
-Speaker/trainer on myriad topics.
-Global house- and pet-sitter.
-Nonprofit consultant, certified grants specialist (proposal writer, donor communications, fundraising strategy)

Awards/Honors: 
Honor of Community Trustee (Leadership Pikes Peak)
Education/Training: 
Bachelor of Science, Organizational Management in Christian Leadership, GCU (magna cum laude) - Associate's degree, Registered Interior Designer, St. Philips College in San Antonio, TX - Certified Grants Specialist - Certified Grants Reviewer
Organizations: 
Colorado Springs CDBG Board Member
Speaker Availability: 
Yes
Speaker Topics: 
Writing - Creative writing - Self-publishing - Backyard farming (permaculture principles, food forest, perennial gardening, lasagna gardening) - Travel - House/pet sitting - Getting what you really want in life - Work quilting - Nonprofit topics (e.g. Fundraising 101) - Entrepreneurship - Design (Interior Design, Landscape design using permaculture zones)

Cook, Doug

Cook, Doug
Birth City: 
Dayton
Birth State: 
OH
Current Location: 
Colorado Springs, CO
Occupation(s): 
Author - Chair AAPG Astrogeology Committee - Sr. Geophysical Consultant (ret.)
Biography: 

Doug Cook has spent over two thousand hours underwater exploring and photographing life in the oceans. He is retired from a thirty-four year career as a petroleum geophysicist. This career allowed him to explore five of the world’s continents and live in Saudi Arabia for eighteen years. A career highlight in petroleum exploration was participating in ten years of deep-water submersible oil seep studies in the Gulf of Mexico. These seeps have associated chemosynthetic communities of life. As extremophiles, these organisms relate to Doug’s interest in astrogeology and exobiology.

Doug has always had a passion for astronomy and space exploration. He now pursues this passion as an author. The beauty of the mountains and geology lured Doug to retire in Colorado. He has two daughters and lives in Colorado Springs
with his wife Elizabeth.

Education/Training: 
BS Oceanography, University of Michigan, 1976 - MS in Carbonate Sedimentology, University of Florida, 1984 - Exploration Geophysics (Conoco, BHP Americas, Saudi Aramco)
Organizations: 
Member, American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) - Chair AAPG Astrogeology Committee, Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) - Member-at-Large Colorado Springs Astronomical Society - Member of the Planetary Society, National Space Society, and Adjunct Astronomy Professor PPCC.
Speaker Availability: 
Yes
Speaker Topics: 
1) The Aquila Mission- It’s 2023. Our crew enters deep space to study asteroid Bennu and comet 125P- a step to mankind’s first voyage to Mars. A rigorously scientific yet thrilling story of man’s first journey beyond the Moon. (2018 print and eBook) - 2) Earth Impacts and the Threat from Near Earth Asteroids - 3) Research Submersible Exploration on Chemosynthetic Communities that Eat Oil and Gas, 2600 feet Down in the Gulf of Mexico - 4) Discovering Ancient Ship Wrecks in the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia.

McConnaughey, Janyne

McConnaughey, Janyne
Birth City: 
Albuquerque
Birth State: 
NM
Occupation(s): 
Educator - Retired faculty Emeritus
Biography: 

Janyne McConnaughey, PhD, retired from a career in education that spanned forty years—from early-childhood educator to college professor—in order to heal from the effects of the childhood abuse she had suffered. During therapy, Janyne wrote her way to healing and now is redeeming her story by helping others to understand and heal from childhood trauma.

Along with Brave: A Personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma, Janyne is working on two forthcoming sequels. She also keeps busy blogging at Janyne.org, and guest blogging for other organizations that address childhood trauma.

Janyne enjoys full-time RV living with her husband, Scott, at the edge of Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and treasures the time she spends in the Seattle area with her children and grandchildren.

Awards/Honors: 
2009 - Lawrence E. and Verna A. Vredvoe Award for Distinguished Scholarship and Christian Leadership in Education
Organizations: 
PhD University of Colorado, Denver, Department of Education (Educational Leadership and Innovation) - M.S. Southwest Missouri State University, Education - B.A. Point Loma Nazarene University, Child Development and Christian Education
Speaker Availability: 
Yes
Speaker Topics: 
The Effects of Childhood Trauma - Behavior through the Lens of Childhood Trauma - Trauma Sensitive Schools - Personal Story of Healing from Childhood Trauma/Dissociative Disorders
Local Authors Genres: 

Nations, Linda Nija

Nations, Linda Nija
Birth City: 
Oklahoma City
Birth State: 
OK
Current Location: 
Anywhere USA
Occupation(s): 
Author - Psychotherapist and life coach - Animal Communicator - Public speaker - Workshop leader
Biography: 

I moved to Colorado Springs in 1986. I ran a very large psychotherapy practice (counseling) until 1997 when I was sidelined for 12 years by a very severe brain injury requiring a craniotomy. As a result of the changes in my brain I was forced to completely change my modus operandi. Eventually I returned to counseling and wrote a memoir of my seven and one-half years post TBI. I lived in Colorado Springs until 2015, when my husband and editor, sold our home and moved into our 5th wheel, to experience additional locations in the US.

Education/Training: 
Master of Arts degree in Counseling
Speaker Availability: 
Yes
Speaker Topics: 
Animal consciousness - Overcoming Adversity: The art of not giving up - Animal communication training - Women: The Rebirth of Soft Power
Local Authors Genres: 

Jadusingh, Laul

Current Location: 
Colorado Springs, CO
Occupation(s): 
Author - Translator
Biography: 

A resident of Colorado Springs since 7/2015. Active writer and translator. Have held three book-signings at Bookman bookstore on Colorado Avenue since October 2017.

Education/Training: 
Harvard University, 1972-1976, Sanskrit and Indian Studies/Buddhist Studies; U.C.Berkeley, 1987-1989, Buddhist Studies
Speaker Availability: 
Yes
Speaker Topics: 
Buddhism - Yoga Philosophy - Comparative Philosophy (East-West) - Comparative Religions - Indian Philosophies/Religions - Buddhism and Science - Tantra: Buddhist and Hindu

Thomas, Roger

Thomas, Roger
Birth City: 
Oak Park
Birth State: 
IL
Current Location: 
Colorado Springs, CO
Occupation(s): 
Freelance Writer
Biography: 

Roger moved out to Colorado Springs from the Washington, DC, area, in 1994, and has been here ever since. The whole family grew up here and still live in the area. After a 30-year career in high tech, Roger decided to follow another passion- writing. After writing user manuals, training materials, and other writing assignments as a part of his regular IT duties, he launched his own career as a writer. As of 2018, he has five books published- two on bowling and three historical mysteries set in Laramie, Wyoming, in the 1880s. More mysteries are coming, and maybe a science fiction book or two.

Education/Training: 
BS in Political Science and History - MBA Project Management
Speaker Availability: 
Yes
Speaker Topics: 
Any topic related to writing- the process, my experiences, freelance, indie, etc..
Local Authors Genres: 

Riley, Gina

Riley, Gina
Birth City: 
Detroit
Birth State: 
MI
Current Location: 
Colorado Springs, CO
Occupation(s): 
Former librarian and teacher - Cherokee Two-Spirit Shaman
Biography: 

I was still living as a man when I moved to in the year 2000. Having been outed as transgender, and fired at the Prep-School where I had been working, I was recruited at the National Librarians' Conference to be the Coordinator of Information and Technology at Mitchell High School, where I was again outed and fired.

In 2007, after being outed and fired at CollegeAmerica, I transitioned to living full time as a woman. My storytelling-performances in The Story Project in Colorado Springs and for The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers are viewable on YouTube. I also sing karaoke and do an occasional standup open-mike.

Awards/Honors: 
First Place - Bowling This Month, Amateur Bowling Writers Contest
First Place - Best Creative Non-Fiction 2013, Loyola Maryland University Literary EZine
Education/Training: 
Master's Degree in Library Science - Bachelor's Degree in English, Wayne State University, Michigan
Speaker Availability: 
Yes
Speaker Topics: 
Storytelling - Transgender - Theory of Mind - Education

Gould, Peg

Birth City: 
Olean
Birth State: 
NY
Current Location: 
Manitou Springs, CO
Occupation(s): 
Journalist - Author - Chaplain - Massage Therapist - Spiritual Advisor
Biography: 

A career writer and editor from upstate New York, Peg moved west to Colorado and Alaska, where she renewed her love of photography on the stunning Kenai Peninsula. She worked for several decades in daily newspapers (Gannett and Freedom) and freelanced for years for business and lifestyle magazines. She is licensed both as a massage therapist and a spiritual advisor and has worked in hospital spiritual care. She writes about people and what they believe, career development, small and corporate business, health care and education, psychology and nature.

Peg and her husband Todd raised a family in Manitou Springs and still live there, but also enjoy working on their log home in Alaska.

Awards/Honors: 
Mark Hellinger Award, Journalism
Sigma Delta Chi Outstanding Graduate, Journalism
First HS Journalism Award
Well Dones, Colorado Springs Gazette
Education/Training: 
MBA, University of Colorado - BA Journalism, Cum Laude, St. Bonaventure University - Alaska's oral history
Organizations: 
Member, AMTA (Message Therapy)
Speaker Availability: 
Yes
Speaker Topics: 
Grief - Bereavement - Interviewing - Self publishing - Travel - Parenting - Nature and Animals - Outdoors

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