Rita M. Gardner grew up on her expatriate family’s coconut farm in the Dominican Republic. Home-schooled as a child, she began writing, reading and painting at an early age. She now lives in California where she follows her passions – writing, traveling, hiking, and photography. Her published essays, articles, poems, and photographs have appeared in literary journals, travel magazines and newspapers. Rita was awarded a writing residency in Hedgebrook, a literary non-profit organization benefiting women writers. Her memoir “The Coconut Latitudes: Secrets, Storms, and Survival in the Caribbean” was published September 2014 by She Writes Press.
In spring 2015, “The Coconut Latitudes” was honored with a Gold Award in 2015 Benjamin Franklin Awards. In May 2015 it won another Gold Award from 2015 Next Generation Indie Awards and is a finalist in PNWA’s 2015 Nancy Pearl Book Award. She is involved in the Bay Area’s Writer Coach Connection volunteer program that provides mentors to middle and high school students. Rita continues to dream in Spanish and dance the Dominican merengue. Her favorite color is Caribbean blue.