Friends: Authors, Storytellers 5

One of the great joys of being part of the community of writers is the friendships made with remarkable, dedicated, creative people. This page lists people I have met in a variety of ways, and I have noted for each how we met. They include writers who have published novels, short stories, screenplays, nonfiction books and articles, and poems. One is a filmmaker, one produces radio shows, and another produces podcasts–so they are either storytellers or authors, and usually both. They invite you to check out their websites, subscribe to their blogs, buy their books, and connect with them on social media.

Since people whose last names begin near the end of the alphabet are sometimes missed, I list them here from Z to A.

Holly Warah, author

Holly Warah

Suzy Vitello, Roxy Soule, author

Suzy Vitello as Roxy Soulé

Heidi Yewman is the author of Beyond the Bullet: Personal Stories of Gun Violence Aftermath (photos by Kathy Carlisle), and numerous articles. As a board member of the Brady Campaign, presenter, media spokesperson, and community organizer, she is an advocate for reducing gun violence. Soon after the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, I heard her speak at a church we were both attending about how Columbine had been her high school, and the impact this had on her. She lives in Washington State. Her book’s website is

Laura Whitcomb’s books include YA supernatural novels A Certain Slant of Light, Under the Light, and The Fetch as well as the writing books Novel Shortcuts and Your First Novel. Her fiction has been published in eleven languages. She sings in a Renaissance choir, hosts monthly supernatural tea parties, and is now writing an adventure about fairies. We met at a Willamette Writers conference. She lives in Oregon, and her website is

Holly S. Warah, who tragically died in 2017, authored Where Jasmine Blooms, published earlier that year by Skyhorse Publishing. Over three hundred ratings on Goodreads generally give it four or five stars, attesting to the appeal, importance, and quality of this novel. It won first place in the PNWA annual literary contest. Warah’s short fiction and novel are set in Washington State and the Middle East (she lived in Dubai). Holly and I met in 2009 at the PNWA writers conference, and remained close after that, despite our geographical distance. I continue to mourn her loss. More information can be found at

Suzy Vitello is the author of The Moment Before, and the first book in The Empress Chronicles series, both from Diversion Books. She also writes under the pseudonym Roxy Soulé—check out her spicy Victorian novelette Dragon Duchess series here. Tight Laced debuts August 11, 2015. Suzy (and Roxy!) lives, edits, writes and teaches writing in Portland, Oregon. When Cheryl Strayed no longer had time to mentor me, she referred me to Suzy Vitello, and I participated in a writing critique group she led in her home. I wrote about her in this post. (Click for links.) She blogs at

Cheryl Strayed, author

Cheryl Strayed

Erin Popelka, authors, friend of Maureen Kay, author

Erin Popelka

John Clark Vincent is currently serving as poetry editor for The Timberline Review and is working on a new collection of poetry. He has published both poetry and nonfiction, and has received recognition for poetry and screenwriting. We met at the Willamette Writers conference. He lives in Oregon, and he is online at

Cheryl Strayed, author of the #1 New York Times best-selling memoir, Wild, is also the author of the novel Torch, and the best-selling advice book Tiny Beautiful Things. Brave Enough, a collection of her quotes, is coming soon. Wild was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, and was adapted for the screen. Strayed and co-host Steve Almond dispense wisdom through the WBUR podcast Dear Sugar Radio. The story of how I met her can be found here, and another post I wrote about her is here. She lives in Oregon, and her website is

Erin Popelka’s short fiction has won awards. She has been published by Johnny America, The Berkeley Fiction Review, Page & Spine, The Tower Journal, among others, and soon by Main Street Rag as well. We met as volunteers at the Willamette Writers conference. Previously from Washington, DC and McMurdo Station, Antarctica, she now lives in Oregon. You can read some of her published work at

R. Marquez is finishing a mystery series set in the Pacific Northwest. Her short stores have been published in print and online magazines. We met during the launch of a new writers’ group, but formed our own group instead, and then became close friends. She lives in Washington State; she can be reached at

Brian Lindstrom, filmmaker

Brian Lindstrom

Bog Dugoni, Robert Dugoni, author

Robert Dugoni

Brian Lindstrom is a documentary filmmaker who made the award-winning Finding Normal (2007) about three recovering drug addicts, Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse (2013) about police brutality of a mentally ill man, Mothering Inside (2015) about a project to build family bonds for mothers in prison, and other movies (click links to view trailers). As the husband of Cheryl Strayed, I met him when I went to their home for mentoring from her; then my husband and I became fans of his films that challenge the way we view marginalized people. He lives in Oregon. More information about him can be found at

Ruth Lepson is poet-in-residence at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. She is the author of the poetry books Ask Anyone, I Went Looking for You, Morphology, and Dreaming in Color, as well as poems published in dozens of magazines. She edited Poetry from Sojourner: A Feminist Anthology, and is now on the poetry board of the online poetry journal EOAGH. We became friends when she organized an annual poetry benefit at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre for Oxfam America where I was special events director. She lives in Massachusetts, and her website is

Rick George, a wildland firefighter for four seasons earlier in life, wrote Drip Torch, a literary/romance novel in which ribald and rugged firefighters confront the consequences of how they think and speak about women; he’s currently revising a thriller featuring a helitack firefighting pilot. The Timberline Review summer 2015 edition will include two of his poems. We met at the 2014 Willamette Writers conference. He lives in Washington State.

Robert Dugoni is the #1 Amazon and New York Times bestselling author of ten novels and three short stories, including the Tracy Crosswhite series, My Sister’s Grave, the #1 Amazon and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, Her Final Breath, and the to-be-released A Clearing in the Wood. Dugoni is also the author of the best-selling David Sloane legal thriller series, The Jury Master, Wrongful Death, Bodily Harm, Murder One, and The Conviction. His books have twice been recognized by the Los Angeles Times as a top-five thriller of the year, and have won numerous other awards. I was impressed hearing his journey of perseverance to overcome obstacles and become a successful author when he gave a speech at a PNWA writers conference. I made a point to speak with him a few times at the annual conferences over the years since. Reading his enthralling books, I have been impressed how he integrates his values into action-packed plots. He lives in Washington State, and his website is

Mary Dessein’s short stories have been published in print and online. A story won a PNWA award, and an article was included in an award-winning anthology. For sixteen years, she hosted and produced the radio program, Global Griot: Stories & Music from Around the World on 90.7 FM, and now has a new radio program, The Writery, on the same station (click for links). We met at a PNWA writers conference. She lives in Washington State and blogs at

Curtis C. Chen, once a software engineer in Silicon Valley, now writes fiction and runs puzzle games around Portland, Oregon. His debut novel, Waypoint Kangaroo, a science fiction spy thriller, will be published by Thomas Dunne Books in 2016. I met him when we both attended the first meeting to form a writing critique group, and though both of us chose other avenues, my husband and I attended a lively writing event he hosted at the Lucky Lab Tap Room in Portland. He lives in Washington State, and has a website at

Curtis C. Chen, Author Friends of Maureen Kay

Curtis C. Chen

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