Peter Gajdics

Peter Gajdics (pronounced "Guy-ditch") is an award-winning writer whose essays, short memoir and poetry have appeared in, among others, The Advocate, New York Tyrant, The Gay and Lesbian Review / Worldwide, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Opium. Raised in Vancouver, Canada, to immigrant parents from Europe, Gajdics knew from an early age that he was gay, but, for myriad reasons, that truth only seemed to cause him pain. In his early 20s, while struggling with an overwhelming sense of shame, Gajdics turned to a local psychiatrist for help. Within months he found himself embroiled in a bizarre sort of conversion therapy that attempted to "cure" him of his homosexuality. The Inheritance of Shame documents Gajdics' six-year journey through, and eventually out of, this therapy; the legal battle with his former psychiatrist; his complicated family history; and his attempts to reclaim his life — and, most especially, his truth. Gajdics is a recipient of a writers grant from Canada Council for the Arts, a fellowship from The Summer Literary Seminars, and an alumni of Lambda Literary Foundation’s “Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices.” The Inheritance of Shame: A Memoir is his first book.

Twitter: @HungarianWriter

IMG_9394 copy 2.jpg

Wendy Thomas Russell

After an award-winning career in journalism that spanned more than a decade and brought her out to California from her native Missouri, Wendy Thomas Russell left newspapers and fell, as fate would have it, into the surprisingly fascinating world of secular parenting. Her groundbreaking blog, Relax, It’s Just Godoffered a thoughtful and often hilarious look inside her own life as she navigated the thornier sides of religion with her young daughter. Her no-nonsense yet compassionate approach to religion detailed in her book has been hailed as a breath of fresh air for progressive parents looking to raise well-informed, open-minded children who feel empowered to make up their own minds about what to believe. Russell writes the Natural Wonderers blog on Patheos and contributes an online parenting column to the PBS NewsHour. She lives in Long Beach, Calif., with her husband and daughter.

Twitter: @WendyRussell


Tim Grobaty

Long Beach Press-Telegram writer Tim Grobaty was promoted to columnist at his newspaper back when it was still a glamorous and coveted job.He rose through the ranks of copy boy, news reporter, features writer, music reviewer and, finally, the much-hailed position of columnist. He has won numerous awards, including being named the Best Columnist in the Western United States by Best in the West, and is the author of Growing Up in Long Beach: Boomer Memories from Autoettes to Los Altos Drive-InLocation Filming in Long Beach; and Long Beach Chronicles: From Pioneers to the 1933 Earthquake. In I'm Dyin' Here, his most autobiographical book to date, the author means two things: He’ll likely die at the job that he’s spent nearly four decades doing, and at the same time his profession, too, is seeing its last days. Weaving together personal history and a selection of columns written over the course of his storied career, Grobaty offers readers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a dying breed: the local columnist. With everyday life — fatherhood, holidays, suburbia, and random encounters with animals — serving as fodder for his column, Grobaty reveals his sources of motivation and vulnerability, all the while struggling to maintain relevance in a rapidly changing industry. A native of Long Beach, Grobaty lives (he still lives!) in the city with his wife, daughter, and two pups. 

Twitter: @Grobaty

Alan Rifkin

Alan Rifkin's latest book,  Burdens by Water: An Unintended Memoir, takes us on a series of strangely resilient personal adventures — often beginning with breakups — in which everyplace from a glacier in the Alps to a condo in Van Nuys becomes an epicenter of what the author calls "invincible longing."  Rifkin is a former Details  and L.A. Weekly  contributing editor who has also written for PremiereLos AngelesBlack Clock and The Quarterly. Of his first book — Signal Hill   The Los Angeles Times  wrote, “Hauntingly beautiful, the work of a gifted storyteller with a sharp eye but a tender heart,” and Kirkus Reviews  wrote, “Rifkin is what might have happened had Nathanael West lived on and been even more talented. . . Exquisite.”  A finalist for both the PEN Center-USA Award in Journalism and the Southern California Booksellers Award in Fiction, Rifkin has led workshops in magazine writing, short story and creative nonfiction at Santa Monica College, Chapman University, California State University-Long Beach, and UCLA Extension. He lives in Los Angeles and is the father of three children.