Jean Forsythe started making up stories in kindergarten. Since then, she has completed four novels, published several short pieces, and has won four writing awards–including Best Unpublished Novel for Children from the San Diego Book Awards. She has an MA in psychology and is now president of the San Diego Book Awards. Jean lives in Oceanside with her fur kids who, along with her human daughter, Diane, and grandson, Cole, are her biggest inspirations. She is currently working on a cozy mystery series and a nonfiction series for kids about dogs.


An award winning journalist of narrative non-fiction for non-daily newspapers and magazines, Ferris writes every day (fiction being a guilty pleasure) and is a voracious reader and collector of first edition books.

Served as a SDBA judge in 2014 for Published Fiction and in 2015 for Fantasy. She is honored to be serving SDBA and the literary community in her current capacity.

Ferris is an active member of the San Diego Press Club, serves as director on the SDPC board, and served as 2016 gala chair for the ”Excellence in Journalism Awards” ceremony. She has also served with the San Diego International Film Festival as a screener and manager of the Industry Panels since 2012.


Joan Gerstein, originally from NY, has resided in CA since 1969. She is a retired educator and psychotherapist with several advanced degrees in both education and clinical psychology. Joan has been writing poetry since childhood, and her poems have appeared in SD Poetry AnnualMcGee Park AnthologyA Year in InkTidepools and Expressions as well as national and international periodicals. She loves her volunteer job as a creative writing teacher with incarcerated veterans at the Vista jail and is editor of the Veteran’s Section of the SD Poetry Annual.


Melody Fleetwood has a BA in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine and an MA in Counseling from the University of San Diego. She has retired to North County after over 20 years as a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT) in San Diego. Melody writes short stories and poetry and has a number of her poems published in SD Poetry Annual and Tidepools. She has been a judge for the San Diego Book Awards for four years and is pleased to serve on the Board of Directors as Secretary.


Tiffany Vakilian earned her MA in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard College, and continues her quest to use her word-art as a facilitator of social commentary and change through community involvement in her hometown area of San Diego. Tiffany also freelances as a Publishing Analyst and Social Media technician for companies and personalities all over the world, and is working on her first novel. In her first book of poetry, Ugly Drawers, Pretty Panties, she shares verbal vignettes of dreams, experiences, perspectives and people. She’s the quintessential Renaissance Gal- also a member of ASCAP, The National Forensics League, and Transformative Language Arts Network.

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