The month of July is filled with reminders of our nation’s independence, freedoms, and patriotism, even in the humble appearance of star-spangled paper plates in the supermarket discount bin. I’m prompted to sing to myself the Star-Spangled Banner. The lyrics were originally written as a poem, by Francis Scott Key during the defense of Fort McHenry during the war of 1812. To Key, the flag symbolized freedoms, and to us, 200 years later, those freedoms are vital. As authors, we have the right to express ourselves in our written words, and the obligation to respect the rights of others to do the same.

Meet our talented featured authors, and over 60 more, at the Desert Foothills Book Festival on October 21.

Editors, Rita Goldner and Trish Dolasinski


“One of my favorite roles as an attorney is teaching my clients and prospective clients how to take basic preventive steps to avoid costly future legal expenses,” says Maria Crimi Speth. She loves teaching

workshops to entrepreneurs, writers, and artists about how to protect their intellectual property as well as how to protect themselves from claims based on misuse of the intellectual property of others.

For many years, Maria has presented workshops to teach authors about the nuances of copyright ownership, protection, licensing, and fair use. Finally, upon the encouragement of participants, Maria decided to write a book covering these topics.

Protect Your Writings: A Legal Guide for Authors was the first book in her non-fiction series. The book covers the mistakes that authors often make and how to avoid those mistakes. The book also includes cases and actual examples. Maria’s second book in the series is Protect Your Photographs: A Legal Guide for Photographers. This second book is based on the same core concepts but niched to the photography world. Maria plans future books in the series for other creative fields as well.

Maria Crimi Speth is a shareholder with the law firm Jaburg Wilk. She can be reached at or 602-248-1089. Her full bio is at Her books are available on Amazon.


Diana M. Grillo is a short story author and playwright. She grew up in a struggling Italian immigrant family while living in a wealthy suburb in Westchester County, New York. The neighborhood’s substantial wealth and social status starkly contrasted with her family, making her feel like she never quite belonged. She began writing short stories in high school and continued through college. However, it was not until her adult daughter Laura’s sudden and tragic death that Diana assembled her short

story collection into a book and dedicated it to her daughter’s memory.

Diana grew up in a physically and mentally abusive home. She used those experiences from her childhood and her difficult adult life raising two children, often alone, to create stories that emotionally touch the reader and entertain at the same time. Those life experiences have contributed to the rich material she uses in her semi-autobiographical/ fiction collection of short stories.

Diana’s short story collection, An Accidental Murder and Other Stories, The 2021 Firebird Book Award winner is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble website. In addition, her speak-up talk radio interview can be found on her website,, and authors series.

Diana is an Arizona Authors’ Association member and an Artistic member of the Theatre Artists’ Studio, Scottsdale, AZ. Diana has completed an adaptation of her short story An Accidental Murder into a stage play. In addition, she has written two short ten-minute plays.


“Never in my wildest dreams, would I think of being a children’s book author. Writing is just not my forte,” said Eileen Pieczonka. Yet, Eileen’s destiny and inspiration for pets changing lives, and literacy awareness inspired her to become a children’s book author and literacy advocate.

Her writing inspiration began in 2011 with the adoption of Jamie, a 7-year-old senior rescue —a “karmic” dog who changed her perspective and helped her to realize the potential she possessed for writing. When Eileen learned about a library program called, “Reading to the Dogs,” she

thought Jamie might be a good fit. With some insecurities and two years of training, Jamie (affectionately called “Bear”) overcame her phobias and became a registered therapy dog. Eileen and “Bear” now volunteer at libraries throughout the Valley, helping reluctant readers become

reading fans. “I am especially moved to help reluctant readers since I was once one too,” says Eileen.

Her “Blueberry Bear Tales” series evolved from noticing how Jamie loved blueberries. “My skills were weak,” says Eileen, “however Jamie showed me how to overcome obstacles.” Eileen has written two award-winning books and is currently working on the third in this series. She attributes her writing success to the adoption of Jamie. “He helped me discover my purpose to support children’s literacy and turn my own reading adversities into a tool for helping kids,” said Eileen.

Eileen Pieczonka co-founded Loving Literacy Authors, a professional group of authors who make presentations on a variety of topics to students at local elementary schools (K-6).

She can be found on Facebook: Blueberry Bear Tales and Instagram:

and @lovingliteracy authors


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