Mary Lawlor is author of Fighter Pilot’s Daughter: Growing Up in the Sixties and the Cold War (Rowman & Littlefield paperback 2015); Public Native America: Tribal Self-Representation in Casinos, Museums and Powwows (Rutgers UP, 2006); and Recalling the Wild: Naturalism and the Closing of the American West (Rutgers UP, 2000). She lives in Allentown, PA and Gaucin, Spain.
About the editor...
Blue Heron Book Works loves stories and we are dedicated to the idea that everyone’s individual story—not just those who live in the glare of the celebrity spotlight—is essential to the bigger story of who we are.
It’s not politically correct to assign characteristics to nationalities, and in fact most Americans wouldn’t consider being American a nationality, claiming that we all come from somewhere else. And yet, after even one generation here—often sooner—the thing that we all have in common, the thing that makes us American, asserts itself and that is this: we look at everything with a child-like sense of the new. Nothing has associations that can’t be reworked or reimagined. That’s what Americans do: we reinvent ourselves constantly, create ourselves from scratch because all of us are starting over in some way. It’s this looking at a situation for what it is without the judgement of generations that makes us the most creative people on the planet.
This quintessential American point of view is captured beautifully in journals and blogs, letters, in unedited and unreflective short bursts of observation and it is what we are celebrating in Songs of Ourselves.
Some of the amazing writers who are contibuting to Songs of Ourselves: America's Interior Landscape coming soon in paper and ebook. Much more later--and links to their other work and bios-- as we gather their thoughts together!
About the authors......
Tomas Benitez was born and raised in front of a TV set in East LA. He has been an arts and cultural advocate for nearly forty years. As a writer he has written films (SALSA, Cannon Films, 1987) and theatre, as well as fiction, poetry and television. He is a freelance proposal writer and cultural commentator. He is Chairman of the Board of the Latino Arts Network, and is a former commissioner with the County of Los Angeles Arts Commission. He is a contributing writer and founding member of the Baseball Reliquary’s Latino Baseball History Project, a study of the Latino experience in America through the lens of baseball. He continues to live in East Los Angeles with Jinx, a cat who thinks he’s a dog.
G. Bruce Boyer
G. Bruce Boyer has been a noted men’s fashion writer and editor for more than forty years. He was associated with Town & Country magazine as Men's Fashion Editor for fifteen years. His feature articles have also appeared in Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Forbes, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Departures, and The Rake among other national and international magazines. He was the first American fashion journalist to write for the noted Italian fashion magazine L’Uomo Vogue .
He is the author of two books on the history and direction of men's fashion: Elegance (W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1985); Eminently Suitable (W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1990). Additionally, he is the author of two books on the history of fashion in the cinema: Rebel Style: Cinematic Heroes of the Fifties (Assouline Press, 2006), and Fred Astaire Style (Assouline Press, 2005). He is a co-author of a three-volume study of American menswear in the 1930s, entitled Apparel Arts (Gruppo GFT, Milan, 1989), and a contributor and consultant to The Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion (Charles’ Scribners’ Sons, 2004). He co-authored Gary Cooper: Enduring Style (PowerHouse Books, 2011) with Mr. Cooper’s daughter Maria Cooper Janis.
He has appeared on national TV, National Public Radio, and as consultant and commentator on the TV documentary series for American Movie Classics, The Hollywood Fashion Machine.
His latest book, True Style: the History & Principles of Classic Menswear, was published by Basic Books in September, 2015. He is currently working on a study of menswear in the 1950s, titled All Shook Up: Men’s Fashion in a Postwar Culture.
Jim Brega earned his BA from San Diego State University and an MFA from the University of Illinois. His work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including, among others, Lunch Ticket, Lime Hawk, Hippocampus Magazine, Red Savina Review, Plenitude, r.kv.r.y., and the anthologies The Best of Foliate Oak (2012) and A Year in Ink 5. He has crossed the US by car six times, and believes there’s only one way to appreciate the vastness of America, the spirit and resolution of her people, the beauty and variety of her geography. You must be on the ground. You must be willing to drive. You must travel her.
Jim lives near San Diego with his spouse, the artist and writer John Castell. You can find more of Jim’s work on his blog, jimbrega.com.
Nancy Canyon’s prose & poetry is published in Water~Stone Review, Fourth Genre, Floating Bridge Review, Able Muse, Poetry South , Main Street Rag, Exhibition, Obliquity, Labyrinth, Sue C. Boynton, Clover: A Literary Rag, and more. Ms. Canyon holds the MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University. She’s a creative writing instructor for Whatcom Community College and visual artist. Her eBook “Dark Forest” can be found at Amazon.com. “Saltwater” a book of poetry can be purchased at www.villagebooks.com. She keeps an art studio in the Morgan Block Studios in Historic Fairhaven. www.nancycanyon.co
Freddi Tachman Carlip
Freddi was born in South Philadelphia and grew up in Northeast P hilly. She graduated from Temple University with a degree in Elementary Education. Writing has always been her first love.
Running gave Freddi the wings she needed. Freddi was a pioneer in women's running. She took her first running steps in 1978 and has never stopped.
In 1981 Freddi purchased Runner's Gazette, America's first running newspaper, and became its editor/ publisher, while using a Compugraphic typesetting machine.
In 1994 Freddi became Eastern Director of the Road Runners Club of America and in 2000 was elected its third woman president. During her tenure, she acted as publisher of Boom! 40 Years of Running and Writing for the RRCA and developed her alter ego, Miss Road Manners, to help new runners learn the etiquette of running.
Poetry has always been a vital part of Freddi's life. She's composed poems while running, while traveling, and during life changes that sparked her muse. She led a local poetry group for five years.
Freddi's travels have taken her throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Great Britain, Kenya, Israel, and South Korea. She loves to travel, experience life as it comes, watch classic movies, dance, watch her Philly sports teams, listen to music, and read. She finds peace and contentment enjoying the wildlife at her home.
Frreddi writes a social column for the local paper and covers events throughout the area. Her publisher dubbed her the “Hedda Hopper of the Susquehanna Valley.”
Freddi celebrated her bat mitzvah at age 70 after studying with her rabbi for almost a year.
Freddi lives in Lewisburg, PA with her four cats, two dogs, and her guy. She had two children and two grandchildren. Freddi continues to write, to dance, to laugh, and to follow her muse.
Tom Carter is an outdoor enthusiast, a professor, and an executive in a revolutionary clean energy firm. He is an avid cyclist, trail runner, hiker, open-water swimmer, and animal lover. He is the Vice President of Government Affairs at Blue Planet, Ltd, which is developing processes to turn carbon emissions into concrete. He teaches classes on various environmental issues at both George Mason University and at the University of Maryland. He also teaches rock climbing and is certified as a facilitator in outdoor challenge course. Tom also loves travel, film, and music. While earning his Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Carolina, he founded a music management company and record label and toured extensively with an indie rock band.
Nicholas DiGiovanni is a novelist, essayist, award-winning journalist, blogger and teacher of creative writing. His novella “Rip,” a modern-day parody of Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” was published in 2011 by Black Angel Press. His fiction has appeared in Paterson Literary Review, Identity Theory, The Caribbean Writer, and elsewhere. He has been the recipient of five fiction-writing fellowships at the prestigious Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. DiGiovanni founded the Delaware Valley Poetry Festival, held annually in western New Jersey from the late 1990s through the late 2000s, which featured many widely-acclaimed poets including former U.S. poets laureate Robert Pinsky, Rita Dove and Louise Gluck and Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Muldoon. He grew up in Yonkers, N.Y., and currently lives in Highland Park, N.J. His website, “World of Wonders,” can be found at www.nicholasgiovanni.com.
Susan Lee Feathers
Susan Lee Feathers received a B.A. in American Literature from East Tennessee State University and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Tennessee. Susan devoted the first 15 years of her professional life to teaching English and Life Sciences, and another 10 years in environmental education. Her nonfiction publications include: ) Paean to the Earth (2008); SEJ Journal of the Society of Environmental Journalists, Hope Beneath Our Feet (2011) an anthology of essays edited by Martin Keogh and published by North Atlantic Press, and travel articles inPensacola Magazine (2010-11), and Panoply Zine (2015). Susan’s blog, WalkEarth.org has published her nonfiction and fiction works since 2009. Susan resides in Pensacola, Florida where she writes, supports businesses through Susan Feathers Associates, and enjoys living on the Gulf. Susan writes about humans and nature. Threshold, her first novel, will be published in 2016. It focuses on climate change in the Southwestern U.S.
Mary Flood is a blogger and observer of the absurd. Growing up as the eighth of eleven children, she discovered early on that the way to be heard among all the babble was to speak softly, but even then she had a lot to say that was lost in the chorus surrounding her. Now through her writing she raises her voice and is heard among the din. Mary lives in Connecticut in her childhood home where she is busy encouraging the walls to talk. Follow her at https://ramblingonline.wordpress.com
Victoria Franzese is a fierce New Yorker who worked for many years as a marketing executive in the financial and information services industries. Then she owned, operated, and wrote for a profitable and critically acclaimed online travel guide, ultimately selling it to a major media outlet after fifteen years. Now, thankfully, she can write on a variety of different topics and all of her travel is purely for fun. She is a contributing writer for BuzzFeed, Imaginate magazine, and Mapquest. She also does freelance writing for a number of corporate clients.
Victoria is a graduate of Smith College and New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business. She lives with her darling husband, two strong-willed and opinionated teenage sons, and a sweet Goldendoodle named Jenkins.
Peter W. Fong
Peter W. Fong is the author of the award-winning novel, Principles of Navigation, a love story set in the Florida Keys. His work has appeared in American Fiction, Gray's Sporting Journal, the New York Times Sophisticated Traveler, and many other magazines and anthologies. He lives in Tangier, Morocco.
Fortunate by birth and circumstance. Magna Cum Laude at an elite private school. Graduated from an Ivy League college. Two weeks after graduating, ran for it. Spent the next 5 years working on shrimp boats, oil exploration boats, partnered a shipyard. Lost a virgin wife to a virus. Afterwards, a decade itinerant in Maine and Spain and Third Avenue barrooms. Been almost everywhere. Done almost everything. Have an imagination. Worship the Enlightenment. Dangerous.
Linda Marsh graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education. She then taught special needs children for seven years before earning a Master’s of Religious Education from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, VA. After marriage and a move to the mid-west, Linda taught developmentally delayed preschool children. She is currently employed as a technical writer for a telecommunications company. Linda has other published works including an American History curriculum as well as Sunday school and Bible School curricula, an adult study book on Women in the Bible, and a preschool Advent activity book. Linda and her husband Gary have a goal of seeing a game in every Major League baseball park now that their two children are grown.
Ann Sonz Matranga
Ann Sonz Matranga grew up on Long Island in the 1950s. With four well-hidden Jewish grandparents, surrounded by the anti-Semitism of the day, she was raised a Roman Catholic. Thus it may not be surprising that she writes about characters with secret identities. She graduated from Marymount Academy, Tulane University, and the Heller School at Brandeis. Ann worked for a health insurance organization where she founded a program known as SLA (Service Level Agreement, not the Symbionese Liberation Army). She raised her two children in Brookline, Mass. and in 1990, the family moved to northern California. Ann has three grandchildren who call her Bubbe, pronounced bubbie, Yiddish for grandma. For the past fifteen years she has served as developmental editor for many published authors of nonfiction and memoir. After a long hiatus, she is also working on a novel, and she’s excited to have guidance from Bathsheba Monk. She says of her writing, “It’s all about the secrets.” Her editor’s web site is www.annmatranga.com.
The centers of Jonah Matranga's heart for the last 20 years have been raising his daughter, singing, making stuff, and speaking up. He lives in San Francisco, out by Land's End, with rent control.
G. B. Miller has worked in theatre for over 40 years as an actor, director, playwright, designer and educator. He is Artistic Director of Selkie Theatre, a dual citizenship theatre based in Allentown and Galway, Ireland.
Well known for his solo shows, he considers himself a student of history and theater, creating performances and characters by commission for educational and historical organizations, including Mark Twain, General Harry C. Trexler, Asa Packer and T. S. Eliot.
New plays George has written for theatre include “Walking with Daylight” about Bethlehem’s Moravian’s and the Lenni Lenape; “Street People: Ghosts at the End of the Century” portraying the transparency of the homeless; and “A Moment with Nelle Harper Lee,” a co-written solo show .
He has served as a journalist and reporter for the Evening Courier and The Times News, and his freelance writing can be seen most recently in the Inside Allentown guide published annually by the Chamber of Commerce.
Judith Farmer Miller
Born, Feb. 19, 1931 in Brooklyn,New York. Parents moved to Manhattan when I was a toddler. At five years old I first heard my father’s “Big Band” play an afternoon gig at Rockefeller Center. Our family then moved to New Jersey. There I went to public elementary school until we moved to Hillside, NJ. Where I entered 4th grade and graduated from Hillside High School and continued my education at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA . Worked as a Home Service Representative for the Elizabethtown Gas Co. in Elizabeth,N.J. In December of 1952 I married my husband Morton. Our wedding was at the Ambassador Hotel in NYC. My father’s band played for our reception. We have 2 grown children and 3 grandchildren.
I was born February 12, 1924 in Brooklyn, NY. I attended elementary school at the Hebrew Institute of Boro Park in Brooklyn through 9th grade.I moved to Allentown, Pa at the age of fourteen and graduated from Allentown High School in 1941. I matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania upon graduation from high school until March of 1943 when I was inducted into the Army Air Corps. I remained in the service until October of 1945 and returned to Penn in January of 1946 and graduated in June of 1947. At that time I started an apparel manufacturing business in partnership with my brother-in-law. I was married to my wife Judith in December of 1952. We have two children. I sold my interest in my business in 1990 and have been retired since then.
Gail Reitano was born and raised in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, the granddaughter of a farmer and the niece of a property developer, and her work focuses on that unique sociology and physical environment. A recently completed novel, Headfire, is about fire ecology and the fight of a lone wolf with a distrust of authority to preserve this natural treasure.
Gail’s fiction has been published in London, where she lived for twelve years. She won a short story prize from Glimmer Train Press, and her work was featured on public radio in San Francisco, where she now lives, just north, in a small coastal town called Bolinas.
As Executive Director of a local land trust, Gail helped develop two affordable housing projects and she continues to consult to nonprofits in the areas of housing, environment and education, most recently for the Prison University Project at San Quentin Prison. More information can be found at Gailreitano.com
After a career in technical writing, Sherry Stratton has focused on the subjects closest to her heart. Her work has been published in Bird’s Thumb, Portage, Snowy Egret, A Prairie Journal, and Seeding the Snow. Sherry is copy editor for Fifth Wednesday Journal and editor of the DuPage Sierran newsletter. She and her late husband, Dick Thomas, chose a home at the edge of a forest preserve in northeastern Illinois. There, near pond and stream, she finds inspiration for her writing.
Patricia Wellingham-Jones has lived in an old ranch house on a creek near the top of the Sacramento Valley for 35 years. Her life revolves around the land and the seasons in this agricultural (prunes, walnuts, almonds and olives primarily) and ranching region. She is a former psychology researcher and writer/editor/publisher with articles and poetry widely published in journals, anthologies and Internet magazines. With a special interest in healing writing, she has poems recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press). Chapbooks include Don’t Turn Away: poems about breast cancer, End-Cycle: poems about caregiving, Apple Blossoms at Eye Level, Voices on the Land and Hormone Stew.
Pamela Varkony writes what she knows: Her non-fiction topics range from politics to women's empowerment, from small town and rural Americana to historical perspectives. Pamela's view of the human condition has appeared in newspaper editorials; magazine feature stories; and on-air commentaries.
An award-winning writer, recognized by the Pennsylvania Women's Press Association for "Excellence in Journalism", and a much requested speaker, Pamela is also an advocate for women's rights and empowerment. She has worked around the world, including two fact-finding missions to Afghanistan.
Born and raised in Haycock Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Pamela often weaves the lessons learned and characters encountered on those back country roads throughout her stories. Her father used to say she grew up like “a wild Indian”. Pamela believes her early life filled with peace and freedom, alongside a deep love of homeland and family, is her longtime, lifetime muse.
Donna is Development Director of Covington Ladies Home, the only free-standing personal care home exclusively for older adult women in Northern Kentucky. Her stories have appeared in dozens of print and online journals, including PANK, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Front Porch, Watershed Review, Gargoyle, Hinchas de Poesia, Contrary, Corium Magazine, Southern Women’s Review, Change Seven. and most recently (this summer) The Butter. Her novel AT BOBBY TRIVETTE’S GRAVE will be published by Rebel E Press in 2016. Her unpublished novel FEED MATERIALS was a finalist for the Bellwether Prize and is currently under agent representation. Other finished novels wait in a trunk. The pieces featured in this collection are part of her “Year of Episodic Writing.” That would be this year, 2015.
Raymond M. Wong
Raymond M. Wong knows what it is to be an outsider. At age five, he left Hong Kong with his mother to come to America. In 1996, he returned to Hong Kong at age thirty-three and met a father he couldn’t talk to because they spoke different languages. Words Unspoken is a series of journal entries Wong wrote to his father in 2013, an attempt to connect with a man he never really knew.
Wong is a husband and father in San Diego. He graduated with the MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. His award-winning memoir, I’m Not Chinese: The Journey from Resentment to Reverence, was published by Apprentice House in 2014. His writing has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today, San Diego Union Tribune, Small Print Magazine, Segue, Marathon Literary Review, and other publications. Visit him at www.raymondmwong.com.