Welcome Spring 2018 Cohort: Student Bios

Home/Uncategorized/Welcome Spring 2018 Cohort: Student Bios


Brian Asman writes horror and other mutant strains of dark fiction. He loves a barrel-aged beer on a sunny Southern California day, punk rock blaring in the background, and his Staffordshire terrier, Emma. His stories have been featured in California Screamin’, Behind the Mask: Tales from the Id, and Deciduous Tales, among others. He’s currently serving as president of the San Diego Chapter of the Horror Writers Association and Managing Editor of Deciduous Tales. 


Anjali Becker grew up in Minnesota and called Chicago home for a decade, where she worked in publicity for a Chicago-area independentpublisher, among other more random jobs. In 2014, she and her husband took off to live in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for three years. During that time, she learned how to drive on the other side of the road, became obsessed with bird watching, and failed at learning how to cook. She’s now adjusting to life back in the U.S. and is excited to begin her MFA in Creative Writing at UCR. She would like her parents to know that she’s drinking butterbeer in the photo.


Oliver Brennan lives in Portland Oregon. He gets outside as much as possible, loves to play in the snow with his wife and kids, surfs in the cold pacific northwest ocean whenever he can and manages to get through the dark Oregon winters by rereading Elmore Leonard under a lizard lamp. His writing can be seen at Out of The Gutter Online and Near To The Knuckle. He’s working on his first novel and is the submissions editor at Near To The Knuckle.



Emmet Browne is an Independent business owner from Corona, California. Originally from the mid-west, he has had a passion for writing since the age of six, when he toted around Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein on his hip wherever he went. Despite the writing being way over his head at the time (pun intended), he enjoyed style and plot more than any normal six-year-old probably should. When he is not working to physically rehabilitate people and help them live healthier lives he spends his free time writing a half dozen fiction manuscripts. An avid movie watcher as well he is pursuing a sub-genre in screenplay writing. Excited and honored to be here with these brilliant minds, both students, and faculty, alike, he looks forward to this adventure of seeing dreams come true.


Alexandra (Allie) Bruno is a wife, mother, small business owner, and Louisiana native who never left. While in her undergrad, she pursued many degree paths, but never lost her desire for language and storytelling. After opening her business in April of 2017, she decided that she wanted to pursue creative writing further, and gave into the (supportive) pressures of her family and friends. Per their encouragement, she began the adventure that is continuing education. It was with great surprise and pleasure that she was offered a position within the screenwriting concentration in UC Palm Desert’s low residency program, and accepted! In her (very little) spare time, Allie enjoys time spent with family and attending Speech and Debate conferences nationwide. She is a woman who wears many hats, and looks forward to this new venture that is graduate school and earning her MFA.


Martin Cossio was born in L.A. but raised, by Mexican immigrants, in San Bernardino, CA. He grew up playing video games, shooting hoops, and watching professional wrestling. As a teenager, he fell in love for the first time—with skateboarding. He suffered a compound forearm fracture as a result of that love. As a JC student, he filched a Robert Graves hardcover and ever since has dedicated himself to poetic craft. That culminating love has led him here. Martin is the former editor/publisher of a zine of prose, poetry, and art called The Metrophobiac (“metrophobia” being the irrational fear of literature). He has been published by Frogpond: The Journal of the Haiku Society of America and has received an honorable mention from the Academy of American Poets. Today, Martin writes out of a studio in Redlands, CA and works as a substitute teacher, tutor, and mentor in his hometown of San Bernardino.


Patricia Forg is a 22-year-old senior-dog mom to Dorcas (Doe) who can cook just about anything except spaghetti in a microwave. She started her career when she was six years old and wrote a six-line play about her mother’s distant retirement. She has lived in two cities of literature (Iowa City and Dublin), and visited two more (Prague and Ljubljana). She studied Russian while studying English and Creative Writing, is pursuing her graduate degree in Fiction and Screenwriting, and cares more about superheroes than the Oscars.


Lindsay Gallagher grew up in Brooklyn, NY, but has lived in Los Angeles since 1997. After graduating from Vassar College with a BFA in English, she worked as a motion picture camera assistant on feature films and television (hour drama). During that time, she sold a screenplay and optioned two others. After she had two children, she was part of a group that started and then helped run what are now four charter schools in Los Angeles. During that time, Lindsay wrote what became her first published novel. She continues to live in LA.


Cooper Gillespie was raised in the wettest parts of the Pacific Northwest. She escaped to Los Angeles as soon as she was able and was overjoyed to discover the sun actually exists. Most of her life has been spent as a traveling troubadour, and she is currently working on a memoir about her life in rock’n’roll. Presently, she resides in the High Desert with her husband and their two enchanting hounds, Moonshine and Mojo Jojo.


Jamie Guista earned her BA from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015. Since then, she has become an award-winning journalist. Her first love, however, has always been creative writing. She lives on the Central Coast of California with her six animals, seven if you include her husband.


Glen Helfand is an independent writer, critic, curator, and educator. His writing about art, film, and culture has appeared in many publications including Artforum, The Guardian, Aperture, Photograph and SFMOMA Open Space. His most recent catalog essays have appeared in Cary Liebowitz: Museum Show (Contemporary Jewish Museum), and Art AIDS America, (Tacoma Art Museum). He’s Associate Professor in the graduate fine arts department at California College of the Arts, where he teaches courses on contemporary art. He also teaches in the graduate and undergraduate art programs at Mills College. He has curated exhibitions for the MH De Young Museum, San Francisco; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; Mills College Art Museum, Oakland; San Jose Museum of Art; the Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena; Rena Bransten Gallery, San Francisco; the Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco Art Institute; Dust Gallery, Las Vegas; Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco; and Fused Space, San Francisco; among others. Born in the San Fernando Valley, he currently lives in Oakland, California.


Diana Love is a fiction writer with a flair for short-short stories and flash, though she’s eager to branch out and try new things at UCR. She grew up in Los Angeles amidst the inanities, adventures, and mundanities of the greater San Fernando Valley. For the last few years she’s been taking writing classes at Santa Monica College, UCLA Extension, and Writing Workshops Los Angeles. She is an excellent whistler.



Julie Markowitz lives in Brooklyn. They have published articles on happiness economics, collaborated with teens in West Africa on pregnancy prevention, and now work at a non-profit that conducts HIV vaccine research.



Wendy Maxon received her PhD in European history from UC San Diego in 2002 and has since been teaching world history and Humanities at the high school level. Her love of all things weird led her to study avant-garde German artists during the 1920s and has recently fueled her interest in Japanese Ukiyo-e art.  She appreciates satire and cultural subversion and recently designed a school field trip involving the Madonna Inn, various art galleries, and roller derby. Writing has been a dream of hers since she wrote a two-page novel at age five, and she’s thrilled to get the chance to dive in.



The only labels that Andrew Navarro holds that matter are son, husband, father, Latino, and Christian. When he was younger, Andrew had large dreams. The type of dreams that only the naive young conjure up because they know no better. Now, he only has one dream and it’s a simple one. Before he dies, he wants to write something beautiful.



Daphne Nikolopoulos is an award-winning journalist, novelist, lecturer, and writing instructor. Under the pen name D.J. Niko, she has written three novels in an archaeological thriller series titled The Sarah Weston Chronicles and a historical novel titled The Judgment (Medallion Press, 2016). Her debut novel, The Tenth Saint (Medallion Press, 2012), won the Gold Medal (popular fiction) in the Florida Book Awards. The Judgment won a national Bronze Medal in historical fiction in the IPPY Awards 2017 and first place in historical fiction (pre-published) in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. All four books have been translated and published internationally. The fourth and final book in the Sarah Weston series, Firebird, will be released in 2018. Daphne is current editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine and editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group. Prior to that, she was a travel journalist who logged hundreds of thousands of miles traveling across the globe, with emphasis on little-known and off-the-beaten-path locales—many of which have inspired her novels. Daphne is a writing instructor at Florida Atlantic University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, where she also lectures about ancient cultures. She also teaches principles of writing fiction at the Florida Authors Academy and the Mandel Library of West Palm Beach, and has lectured on her research and travels nationwide. Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Daphne now resides in West Palm Beach with her husband and twin son and daughter. You can find her on the Web at djnikobooks.com and connect with her on Facebook (AuthorDJNiko) and on Twitter: @djnikobooks.


Pamela’s  passion is the help people discover their gifts and achieve their goals, and impact people with her poetry, which is her gift. Pamela Peté is a poet, inspirational speaker, goal coach, and photographer. She holds Masters of Business administration from the University of Phoenix, Bachelors of Business Management from the University of Phoenix, an Associates Degrees in Human Resources from the Community College of the Air Forces and is currently enrolled to obtain a Master’s of Fine Art in Creative Writing/Poetry at the University of California Riverside. She is also, hold certificates in human resources, speech, training, sales, recruiting, and more. She is the CEO and founder of Masterful Purpose, LLC. A business that ignites into flame, gifts and goals in its clients. She is also the founder of the “Wisdom Readers” reading club, and “M2G Yusafi Ahadi” a girl’s self- esteem builder and empowerment program. She is the author of “Masterful Purpose” a daily planner and guide a tool she uses to teach business men, women and young adults how to discover their gifts and achieve goals. Pamela has written poems for fifty years and delivered them for organizations, and at events attended by thousands of people, with great reception. Pamela, Chief Master Sergeant (Retired), has over 20 years of professional speaking and coaching experience, and has inspired audiences of thousands at standing room only venues. She has discovered that “ONE THING” that is the key to success when it comes to reaching one’s goals. She teaches, writes, and speaks about that key whenever she gets an audience. She can set the gift and goal embers burning inside any client, into flames of achievement.


Dennis Spencer currently lives in San Francisco’s East Bay and teaches in the Oakland public school system.  He has had a long career straddled between the film industry and education. After receiving his BA in Film from Wesleyan University he went to work in development at TriStar and Columbia Pictures for Sony Pictures Entertainment. Unfulfilled by his work at the studios, Dennis left and spent several years outside of the film industry teaching in south central Los Angeles.  Eventually, he returned to work as a screenwriter and story consultant to his former colleagues at several different studios and production companies. In 2009, he returned to teaching in northern California and has spent the years traveling up and down the state continuing his work consulting on pilots and screenplays for feature films and television. He sees the MFA program at UCR Palm Desert as an opportunity to reinvigorate his writing and recalibrate the focus of his professional work back to the realm of story craft and screenwriting.


Jaime Parker Stickle started her journey in Detroit, but has considered herself an Angelino since the day she arrived in California, nearly 15-years ago. She/I (are we doing first person, or third?) has spent her career writing for other people: stand-up, television, film, web-series, candy packaging, and morning radio. Having spent a vast amount of time behind and in front of the camera, Jaime has learned the most important thing about herself – creating stories, worlds, and characters for audiences to fall in love with, laugh with, cry with, gossip with – is her happy place. Mom to a feisty toddler, she decided now was as good a time as any to jump head first into this amazing MFA program.



By | 2018-04-02T11:30:39-07:00 March 28th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|Comments Off on Welcome Spring 2018 Cohort: Student Bios

About the Author: